Filipinos have different reasons for choosing to migrate: joining their family abroad, work relocation, better career opportunities, pursuing higher studies, and more.
Even if Pinoys are known for their resilience, cultural adaptability, and other qualities that make immigration seem like a piece of cake, there are many practical considerations to factor in when deciding whether to stay or go.
Are you ready to make the big move? Is the country you want to call your new home suitable for you? Can you survive in it as a permanent resident?
Consider these nine critical factors before you migrate overseas:
1. Your Eligibility as an Immigrant
Holding an immigrant visa or permanent resident card is the first step to having a legal status as a permanent resident when you immigrate to a certain country.
Before applying for immigration, check first if you qualify for an immigrant visa category or an immigration program of your target country. This depends on your purpose of stay, job offer (if any), work experience, income/assets/net worth, and family members, among many other factors.
For example, you can immigrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the USA if you have a spouse, parent, or child who’s a citizen or permanent resident. These countries also issue a visa to skilled workers who are offered a full-time, permanent job from an overseas employer.
Particularly, the Canadian government offers a special visa for Filipino caregivers who want to immigrate to Canada. Likewise, New Zealand issues a special work visa to Filipinos who are interested in working full-time as a registered nurse, engineer, or farm manager in NZ.
Here are some useful links for more information on the immigration programs or immigrant visas in the countries where most Filipinos migrate:
2. Cost of Living
On the financial side, take into account not just the money you’ll be earning but also the cost of living in your destination country. Let’s say your overseas income is thrice as much as that of a middle-income earner in the Philippines. If you’re living in a country with very expensive food, rent, transportation, and other living expenses, you’ll surely struggle to make both ends meet.
Can you afford the daily expenses in your prospective location? Know how much money you’ll need to sustain your lifestyle there.
Expatistan data shows that some of the top migration destinations for Filipinos are also among the most expensive countries to live in. Out of 106 countries worldwide, Australia ranks 13th, while the U.S. is at the 16th spot on the list of countries with the highest cost of living index. New Zealand and Canada rank 17th and 24th, respectively.
If you’ll immigrate to one of these countries, make sure that your salary and benefits are commensurate with the local cost of living. You may also consider negotiating your salary with your overseas employer. This way, you ensure that you can cover your day-to-day expenses and set aside money for your savings.
3. Relocation Costs
Overseas migration can be very expensive—from transporting your possessions to transferring your money from the Philippines to your new home country.
In Canada, for instance, you also need to allot budget for government fees ranging from CAD 1,040 to CAD 2,380 if you’ll migrate under the Federal Skilled Workers program.
Check with your employer if it can sponsor any of your relocation costs or assist you with getting accommodation.
Also, research the cost of furniture and other goods in the country where you’ll settle in. They might be cheaper than shipping your own things from the Philippines. If that’s the case, you can hold a garage sale to sell the stuff you won’t be bringing with you abroad. Then buy your essentials when you arrive at your destination country.
4. Opportunity Cost
When you migrate, you’ll miss out on some opportunities—whether in your career, business, academics, or personal life—that might make you think twice about leaving for abroad. These benefits are called an opportunity cost, which entrepreneurs and investors use to make the best choice from among different options.
Carefully weigh what you’ll be leaving behind versus what you’ll gain when you move to a new country. This is where your priorities come into play. Does the prospect of earning higher income or pursuing your passion abroad carry more weight than the opportunities that await you in the Philippines? If so, then migration could be the better option for you.
5. Options Available for Schooling
The education system in your new country of residence is crucial if you’re a professional pursuing graduate studies or a parent relocating with your young family. Research the local schools, how they’re run, their course offerings, and their costs for permanent residents.
6. Proximity and Cost to Get Back Home
Although you’re planning to stay for good in a new country, there will be times you’ll need to visit your relatives and friends in the Philippines for important occasions like weddings, graduations, and funerals, or when you’re just feeling homesick.
Ideally, the country you’ll migrate to is both accessible and affordable to get home. Consider the cost and ease of travel from your new location. Can you easily make a quick and cheap flight back home? To know the flight schedules and costs between the Philippines and another country, you can use websites such as Google Flights and Skyscanner.
7. Rules and Laws of the Country You’ll Migrate To
Before you decide whether to migrate to a certain country or not, know its rules, laws, and religious beliefs to keep yourself from getting in trouble. Your lifestyle and habits—especially those you don’t want to compromise on—might be unacceptable in the country you’d like to call home.
For example, alcohol drinking and/or homosexual practices are illegal in some countries for religious reasons. Especially if you’ll migrate to a predominantly Arab country, make sure to familiarize yourself with its many religious restrictions.
Watch out also even for seemingly trivial things like creating and sharing memes in Australia. These are considered illegal activities because of the country’s strict copyright rules and laws.
8. Lifestyle Changes
Changing your way of living in a foreign country is unavoidable. It’s climate, culture, values, work ethic, and other factors may be totally different from what you’ve been used to in the Philippines. These can either improve or compromise your quality of life. So give migration a careful thought before you give it a go.
Can you handle the lifestyle changes you’ll have to make when you become a permanent resident abroad? Is the increased income opportunity worth making those changes?
For example, you might need to rethink your migration to Canada if you can’t tolerate extreme winter conditions. In the same vein, reconsider moving to Dubai or any Middle Eastern city if you dislike extremely hot weather.
In the U.S., people lead fast-paced lifestyles. Its culture is generally individualistic—far from the Philippines’ collectivist culture (aka bayanihan). Get ready to be your own person in America, especially if you’ll migrate there alone.
Do you think you can adapt to the work culture of the country you’re considering to migrate to? The Singaporean and Japanese work cultures, for instance, differ a lot from that of Filipinos. Failure is a cultural taboo in Singapore, while working long hours is the norm in Japan.
9. Learning the Local Language
Learning a new language isn’t a problem if you’ll move to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore. You won’t have to worry about communicating with people and even simple things like reading signs and directions because almost everyone can speak English.
But if you’ll live permanently in Japan, South Korea, and other non-English speaking countries, it really helps to study and practice the local language before you go. You may even consider taking language lessons. Even if it costs money, it will help ease the transition into your new life as a Filipino immigrant in a foreign country.
Regardless of why you want to build life anew in another country, migration is a major life-changing decision that you have to give a careful thought (plus tons of research!) before you set foot in a foreign land.