It looks like the Philippines, especially Metro Manila, will be stuck in zigzagging levels of quarantine for another five years. I’m half-kidding. Do you honestly think the Philippines will reach the same level of progress as Taiwan and New Zealand soon?
We already know that isolation, stress, and the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic are fertilizers for mental health issues, no matter how many house plants you’ve purchased. I understand if your head is about to explode at the thought of going through version 2 of 2020. We’re all going through quarantine fatigue.
There’s a growing number of Filipino freelancers and remote workers who’ve decided they’ve had enough of their cramped condominium space and have moved to the beaches or mountains, where they can do exactly what they’ve been doing on their computers in Manila, but this time by the ocean.
My real estate agent friend told me that most of his Manila clients are now renting or buying properties in Batangas and Tagaytay. I’ve also seen a surge of people now living with one suitcase in Boracay, Siargao, and other island getaways.
I’ve seen people make it happen, and I too am considering it. Here are few questions you need to ask yourself before you buy that one-way piso flight to one of our 7,107 islands:
1. How will you earn a living? Do you have a stable freelancing gig or remote job that allows you to work from anywhere? Will it be enough to pay for your monthly bills with enough left for savings and investment?
2. Does your job entail having a strong and stable internet connection? Some islands like Siargao have poor cellular and internet signal. You can’t just leech off the café’s WiFi forever. Unless your location provides a decent internet connection, many digital nomads invest in a WiFi router.
3. Would you consider downgrading your career? I have a friend who used to have a stressful but high-paying corporate job in Manila. Pre-pandemic, he decided to move to Siargao, where he now works as a hostel manager and musician. The pay is smaller, but the cost of living is cheaper on the island. He’s also happier with his daily life of surf, sand, and sea.
4. How long do you want to get away from the city? One year? Six months? Indefinitely? I have another friend who’s giving remote working a try in Boracay for one month, just to see if it’s really what he wants.
5. Do you have responsibilities that you’re leaving behind in the city? Being single doesn’t sound so bad all of a sudden, huh? I have one married friend (no kids) who’s handling some businesses in Boracay, while her husband is handling the other businesses in Manila, and they’re temporarily making it work. I know someone who was able to relocate her entire family—preschool kids included—to La Union. I know another person who got stuck in Cebu at the start of the pandemic and continues to juggle several part-time jobs there. While it’s much easier for the single and unattached, I’ve seen it work for families and couples.
6. What type of accommodation can you afford? Tourism suffered massively in the last year, so many hotels, hostels, and home rentals are offering discount prices for digital nomads.
7. Do you have the patience to work on the requirements? Just like traveling for leisure, there are requirements needed before you can move to an island or province outside Manila. Unfortunately, our country does not have a uniform set of protocols yet, and each travel destination gives zigzagging announcements every month. You’ll be doing a lot of research.
8. Will you promise to follow health protocols when you land in paradise? It’s easy to forget that there’s a pandemic when you’ve set foot on the white sand, but please don’t let your guard down. Continue to wear a mask in public, social distance, and wash your hands regularly. Even if the place you’re relocating to has low COVID cases, it does not mean you can party like it’s 2019.
Have you successfully relocated during the pandemic? Tell me your story in the comments section!