The TMBA guys and I spend a lot of time comparing the Philippines and Bali.
A few months back, 3 of us met up in Bali to do TMBA stuff. Eventually, we all needed to make visa runs (ah Indonesia!).
I was game. I needed to go hang out with Damian Thompson (TMBA V) anyway.
As has been reported, we had way too much fun.
Yesterday, I was talking to Damian about his start-up. He plans to base it in the Philippines. It got me thinking about the advantages of doing so. It’s good timing too– we are currently writing our 8th internship offer. It will be the third based in the Philippines.
There are a lot of reasons the Philippines would appeal to somebody over a place like Bali. Here are some that I see. I’m interested to hear what you think.
1. Particularly if you are a dude (but this extends to the ladies who are game too), the Philippines is the best value I’ve ever seen for a knock-down drag-out party.
One “rock star” night in Bali and you are on the financial ropes until your next check comes in. In the Philippines, you can have regular massive nights and barely notice the impact on your pocket book.
I’m not going to belabor this point– unless you call me on the phone…
Let’s just say this: if you like to party, the Philippines is worth a visit.
2) Hiring and team-building opportunities are truly unique.
Even with the explosion of outsourcing in the Philippines, there still aren’t enough good jobs for all the smart young people that are being pumped out by the country’s university system.
Particularly for those Filipinos who haven’t gone abroad, or moved to Manila and Cebu, there aren’t many quality opportunities.
There are a lot of smart people in the Philippines who would love to make $300 bucks a month working for your company.
Despite the challenges you will face, it’s a world class opportunity to hire and train intelligent English speakers.
3) A friendly visa goes a long way.
Last night I was talking about Indonesian visas with some entrepreneurs at the TMBA house.
I think the conversation went on for 15 minutes or more.
In the Philippines, the Visa conversations don’t get past the first sentence.
“Today I’m renewing my visa.”
In Indonesia, the penalty for overstaying your visa is 20 dollars a day.
20 dollars a day!
In the Philippines I never once renewed my visa on time.
I paid the late fees and re-newed when it was convenient to me. You can stay in the Philippines for about $1.50 USD a day for 2 years until you need to make a visa run.
It’s difficult to put a number on it, but it’s a nice luxury to not worry about your visa situation.
4) Lower absolute costs.
I concede that if you are in absolute baseline mode the Philippines is cheaper than Bali.
I know only a small handful of people who take advantage of that. To do so, you need to live Filipino style.
I’ve met westerners living in remote places in the Philippines for under $400 bucks a month.
You could easily have a nice lifestyle there for under $800 bucks a month.
I reported earlier that a baseline scenario in Bali would could cost you $1,100 monthly. Just off the top of my head– if I imagined that same person getting comparable services and products in the Philippines the budget range would be higher– maybe $1500 monthly or more.
So while the Philippines can be cheaper that Bali, it wasn’t for me because I lived a western lifestyle. Bali is a better value for most westerners.
It’s a matter of priorities and what kind of lifestyle you like to lead.
5) Being a pioneer + being a big fish in a small pond.
Places like Bali are relatively grown up, figured out, and populated with businesses and infrastructure. Sure– there are a lot of outsourcing guys in the Philippines who have been set up for years, but if you think the Philippines as a place where digital nomads and internet types are flocking, think again.
Most westerners don’t hang around in the Philippines for long.
Walk the streets of Davao– a city of 1.5 million people– and you’ll regularly get looks like “what is THAT guy doing here?”
The kinds of business you’ll be starting, the kinds of jobs you’ll be offering, the kind of ambition you’ll have, are new.
That’s fun. That’s exciting. That’s an adventure.
It’s also tough as hell.
As they say in the Philippines: “its up to you!”
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