That is the big question many foreigners have, as time is growing near for them to retire to the Philippines. What to take with them and what to leave behind? I remember those days in 2009 when my wife and our son began the countdown to paradise living in the ‘Land of Smiles’.
It was easy for us to decide what to ship, sell and give away. Winter clothing was given away and that was a no brainer. We don’t need long johns, wool sweaters, corduroy pants, heavy jackets, etc, in the Philippines. We began shipping boxes of personal items we wanted to keep about 6 months before our actual move.
I gave my knife and sword collection to a Chinese friend the day before we headed to the Philippines for good.
You Just Can’t Live Without It
Some foreigners have personal items that they feel they just cannot leave home without. If that is you, by all means, take what you feel you cannot part with and be happy. If you later decide that the item or items were not all that important after all, you can always dispose of it here in the Philippines.
It has been amazing concerning some of the things I have personally seen that foreigners shipped over to the Philippines in a container. They spent thousands of dollars but they wanted to bring most of their things with them. Household appliances, furniture, electric guitars, dobros, drum kits, tools, kitchen appliances, gas BBQ grills, garden hoses and basically, their entire household goods.
Some just cannot leave their pets behind, so they spend up to $1,000 to bring Fido with them. I know a number of Americans who brought their dogs with them when they made the move. It can be done but a lot of legwork, paperwork and red tape, from what I’ve heard from most. Some say it was a breeze.
Fry and Die
Electronics is the biggie, which has brought many tear drops. Imagine when your helper or even your wife plugs your big screen TV into an electrical outlet in the Philippines. It will fry if it is 110v. You can buy Automatic Voltage Regulators in the Philippines or bring them with you to use with your American electronics. However, will you be able to watch all those electronics 24/7 and make sure no one plugs them into a 220v outlet?
When we made the move to the Philippines in 2009, my wife and I had budgeted for furnishing our entire newly built home. From top to bottom and that is what we did. Surprisingly, we did not spend half our budget and you can believe that.
A Whirlpool ref and freezer combo model, Carrier split type air con with an eco inverter, Panasonic washing machine, large screen Panasonic TV with home theater speaker system, American Chef gas oven, bedrooms furniture, dining room furniture, living room furniture, patio furniture, kitchen utensils and gadgets. The whole nine yards. Six years later, only the cheap microwave played out but we do not use a microwave often. All the other electronics and appliances are still alive and kicking.
SM Appliances has 1 or 2 annual 50% discount sales and you can really save a lot if you put off buying a few big ticket items until the day of the sale. That’s what we did and still do.
It was really fun buying everything new and having a fresh look. All things new and old things cast aside. A real new beginning.
More than Before
There are many more items available in the Philippines in 2015 than even 2 years ago. You can buy the George Foreman Grill here now. Kitchen Aid mixers are in the Philippines and so are many other western brand products. They are wired for the Philippines so no need to worry about frying them.
I know guys who still have friends and relatives sending them Balikbayan Boxes from back home with food products. Our tastes are all different but I cannot think of a single food item that I enjoy regularly that I cannot buy in Bacolod or in Cebu City. No, not one.
By all means, we want you to be happy in the Philippines. Bring with you all the things you need to keep you happy. It is something to think about. I’ve heard several guys say they wish they had not shipped all that crap here when they made the move. I’ve heard others complain that they wish they had shipped certain items they left behind. No one can tell you exactly what to ship or what to sell. However, those of us with long term experience in the Philippines can advise what is practical and what is not practical.
Have a great trip.
Randy Pelc says
Good advice. I was sad to find out that you cannot import a classic car. It was by no means a deal breaker but I love old cars and had hoped to bring one with me. Life goes on…
Michel Dumaguete says
I found out that living in simplicity has its values.
You become imaginative and after all you can do whatever you want.
Pasta strainer… just flip the pot with the cover;
kettle, boil the water in a pot…
Having less is an interesting experience that will teach you that you had too much !
You said it right there. I have given myself two years to sell everything (ebay, Craig’s List etc) and retire and live a simple life. You just don’t realize how much crap you have accumulated until you start selling it.
Steve Hayes says
Gary, good timing on this article! I am in the process of selling my furniture as I write this. I just sold my dinning set ten minutes ago. I will be in the PI on June 29. so I need to get rid of allot. I have pretty much decided to take only what can go in my suitcases and one additional item I can’t live without… My golf clubs!
I know I can buy a set of clubs there, but have read they actually cost more in the PI. My clubs are extra long as I am 6″4.” I figure I may have trouble finding extra long clubs there. My guess is, there is not much of a market for extra long golf clubs in the PI! Haha BTW I would enjoy reading an article from you about golf in the PI and expats.
See you in three weeks!
Gary McMurrain says
For sure, bring your golf clubs.
That’s great that you will be in the Philippines on June 29. It won’t be long now!
Thank you for the suggestion concerning an article about golf in the Philippines. I always welcome suggestions about future articles, which will be helpful to others.
Have a great trip.
~ Gary ~
Jay Alexander says
Just throwing in my two cents… I’m not a golfer, but the most beautiful course I’ve ever seen in my life was in Baguio City at Camp John Hay in northern Luzon. I was on R&R. The weather was amazing, the people were the best hosts, and the scenery spectacular! Many fond memories including the 19th Hole restaurant!
I brought most everything X pet winter clothes and small electronic appliances. I had music equipment at 110V. Solution: wire my hobby room with a 110 transformer. My wife’s sewing equipment is done the same for her hobby room.
Golf: once you are a resident, you can get discounted but be prepared to pay in the city. Province is cheaper especially on weekdays. Too busy on weekends. Pay for umbrella girl, etc.
Martha Samaro says
Thank you Gary I love to read everyone’s comments. We are planning to retiring in the Philippines too. in ten years but it’s good to read to get ideas to plan for our big move in ten year. We live in Las Vegas Nevada. I am from San Antonio Texas. My husband was born in Philippines so our dream is to make the move. We are counting the years down we can not wait too relax and live life.
Thanks to everyone for your comments they help answer a lot of question everyone has.
Have a great day to all!!!
We are in the Davao area of Mindanao, and the same is true here… almost everything you’d be shipping from the U.S. is available here–from electronics to household goods, and most foods. A note on electronics… most electronics nowadays are dual voltage. Check your “brick” or owner’s manual and look for “Input Voltage” and you want to see 110/220v 50/60Hz. But things with heaters and motors on them (household appliances and tools) do NOT usually have dual voltage. For example, your vacuum cleaner will be useless without a voltage converter. Also note that the inexpensive voltage converters do NOT convert the frequency, so some 220v appliances (from anywhere else in the 220v world) will not work in the Philippines. We brought a window aircon with us from Malaysia that doesn’t work properly here..
Graeme F.Duncan says
I intend to move permanant to the Phil’s with the next 8 months plus and had intended to bring 90% of my full workshop of woodworking/engineering tools with me because of their quality ( as opposed to what can be bought there ),BUT i see now there is a 50% tax on anything over $500 ….i am to build a house ( with local labour ) and potter around in a workshop i intend to build too,thus the tools…… is now sending stuff to the Philippines in the mercy of the Customs Officer who may open the balikbayan box and charge on items at a price of what HE sees it to be,even though the said items are clearly 2nd hand??
I have already sent 6 boxes including clothing etc and other goods that my wife wanted to f=give to the family/extended family there without a problem,but it seems now the rules have changed ….. all feedback welcome …….. and by the way thanks for allowing me on this site
Marc H Langevin says
Before I retired to the Philippines in Dec of 2012. I researched it for almost two years. Talked with Philipinos I rode with in Jacksonville , Florida.
I also researched Central and South America. The Philippines won out For a couple of reasons.
That a lot of the people speak and or understand English ( I am half deaf and learning languages is extremely difficult.). And more importantly for me The VA Clinic in Manila. Nam vet currently at 60%.
Before the move I filed on line for the SRRV. I won’t go into all the why’s and what not. But I still do not have that Visa.
Having that application allowed me to ship a goodly amount of personal property And I wound up paying only about PHP1000in fees.
A year later I shipped two 8X8 vaults back to the States.
Why did I ship a 40 foot container over here. I brought a kingsize water bedframe and brand new memory foam mattress. And assorted furniture. Along with a extensive collection of unbuilt 1/25th and 1/24th scale models. two brand new surfboards.The models are very important to me for theraputic value.. So I had to bring them. And the surfing is a good way to be active and stay fit.
Would I do it again. Yes but I would ship less..
I lived in Liloan Cebu for a little over a year, Then moved to Bananwa. I lived there for a little over a year.
In March of this year I moved to Bacong, just South of Dumaguete. My wife and I currently split our time between Negors Oriental and Surigao Del Sur.
So for me bringing a lot of stuff worked out. But for most I would recommend a suitcase move.Buy what you need here.
I do hope to complete the SRRV application soon. It is now even more appealing!
Stephen Bewick says
I find it interesting, that everybody is asking about what to ship and not to ship, the reason to go and live in the Philippines is for a much simplier life than we have in the USa or as in my case UK.
YOu can get everything you need in Cebu City or Manila or any big city, but for me the more interesting things is to find a way around that thing you could not do with out, because now you have the time to find away around the problem instead of just buying something to do it for you and that is the complete point of going to the philippine to give ourselves more time to us to enjoy life more, instead or trying to keep up with everybody esle.
I hope to retire sometime next year, i already to 6 weeks UK them 2 week in Cebu City so got half way there,
Jeff Klosterman says
Great article, It gave me a lot to think about and talk over with the wife. But she is dead set on shipping her china we’ve had for many years. I can’t see a container for just china. Any ideas for doing this would be greatly appreciated. Will be retiring to Tacloban where she is from. And no tried to talk her out of it several times to no avail.
Galen Rogers says
Thanks for all of the great info you routinely provide. I do have a question about large appliances. I read somewhere that they sell washers & dryers over there that will invert the power back to 12V DC. Do you know of any such appliances and where they can be purchased? Also have you heard of any one rewiring their house to 110v or building that way from the start?