Expert Expat Spotlight: The Philippines Expat

GoodMigrations Whale


Many people dream of the day they get to leave city life and move abroad to a tropical island. Many people dream but never do. Not our expert expat Jonny Lis from He had nothing but a few bags and left his crazy busy life back in London to live on the tropical island of Cebu in The Philippines. The Philippines are comprised of 7,107 islands with the capitol city being Manila. Unlike its capitol city, Cebu has a much more laid back feel. Lets hear more from Johnny on the transition from one big island to a much smaller island.

The Philippines Expat- Cebu

What initiated your move abroad to The Philippines?

I was growing tired of the London ‘rat race’ and so was looking for something different. Fortunately, I came across an opportunity to work in the Philippines, and didn’t think twice about moving there after being offered the job.

What do you enjoy most about being an expat in The Philippines?

I feel that I have a lot more freedom and luxury as an expat that I didn’t have previously. Things like accommodation, food and transport are all comparatively cheaper, and there are some very luxurious beaches nearby. Not only that but I get treated with a lot of respect out here, which is a great feeling.

What’s the best part about living in The Philippines?

Housing is very affordable, I live in a luxurious building with an outdoor pool and gym, with fantastic views over the city of Cebu, so I would say that is the best part of living here.

What’s the hardest part about living in The Philippines?

Sometimes transportation can be disappointing – there is often traffic and as there are no trains, you can only take taxis or buses to get around. Even traveling to the other side of the island can take 4 or 5 hours as there are no direct roads or highways. Sometimes it can get very hot as well!

What was the biggest culture shock of your new location?

When I first came here, there were hardly any westerners. Back in 2012 when I first arrived I was definitely a minority.  I would get stared at/asked to be in photos quite regularly. It happens much less often now, as a number of foreigners have moved to Cebu in the last 3 years, but it definitely took some adjustment when I first arrived.

Would you live abroad again? If so, where?

I’m very happy living abroad right now but I’m not looking to move countries again, as I’m very settled in Cebu with both my job and my friends, so I will likely stay here for the foreseeable future. If I did need to move abroad though, then I would probably look to move to either Japan, Argentina, USA or Canada, as I’ve heard good things about all of those countries for expats.

What’s one thing you miss most from your home country of The United Kingdom?

I miss my friends and family, but also the food and range of things to do; I’m from London, so I’m used to a completely different way of living – food, technology, entertainment and culture are all vastly different there, so I miss all of that sometimes.
The philippines Expat- expat life in Cebu

Pepsi or Coke?

Dogs or Cats?

Sun or Snow?

What’s your favorite food to eat in The Philippines?
My favourite Filipino food is either lechon (whole roasted pig) or crispy pata (crispy pork), I’m also partial to some sizzling sisig which sounds disgusting (made from assorted parts of a pig’s head) but actually tastes great, especially when hungover.

What one thing could have made your transition from London to Cebu easier?
Moving with friends would have made it easier. However, I enjoyed discovering this place on my own anyway. I think at first I found it hard to make new foreign friends too, but since I moved here I’ve discovered a big network of foreigners in Cebu, so I always have people that I can go out and socialize with.

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