As a native Palaweña, I’ve lived almost my entire life in this famous island province.
Along with my profession as the Managing Editor of a Palawan Daily, I’ve built connections and met a lot of people from all walks of life, including expats who once came here for a short holiday and then decided to return and retire here for the rest of their lives.
In the last few years, Palawan has increasingly become a destination of interest for all types of retirees around the world. Due to this, the Central Business and Finance Districts of Puerto Princesa have attracted a diversity of working individuals, contributing to the growing expat community.
In general, Palaweños are known for our inherent hospitality and willingness to embrace the cultures of people from all over the world. This means that if you’re craving to find something that gives you a ‘little piece of home’, it is very likely that you’ll be able to find it in this island province.
So far, most, if not all the expats I know, have positive remarks about living in the Philippines. They especially like the weather, well, they either came from the US or Europe, so the tropical climate interests them a lot. If you enjoy the wet and dry seasons, then you’ll like it in the Philippines. They also like the natives so much because they are friendly, courteous and hospitable. You can approach anyone to ask your way or be helped. You will not have a problem with speaking English because we use it on a daily basis both conversationally and professionally.
But let’s be real here. Every expat has a different experience. And for those of who’ve been thinking about retiring in Palawan, here’s my few tips about reality:
1) Don’t move to Palawan if you expect it to be just like your home back in your country, just with more beaches and sunshine. It’s a developing province. I’m sick of foreigners complaining about how this and that is not like how it was back home. Or foreigners who insist on trying to live exactly as they did back home, and then complaining about how western stuff is so much more expensive.
2) Don’t move to Palawan if you’re just looking for sex or drugs.
3) Don’t move to Palawan if you’re racist and somehow think Palawenos are less important than you. That attitude is guaranteed to get you into serious fights. Be respectful to the locals, always. You are in their place. Don’t cut lines, don’t yell at people in public, don’t be condescending (even at beggars). The worst cultural sin you can do in the Philippines is be “matapobre” (condescending to the poor).
4) Don’t move to Palawan if you don’t know anything about the area. Do a longer temporary stay first, then decide. Do your research. I find that most westerners know next to nothing about the island and have seriously insane misconceptions about it due to negative things that are prominent in social media platforms. Even people who visit the country try for a week or so often end up with more misconceptions because none of them even bothered researching or asking locals about stuff.
5) Don’t move to Palawan if you plan on not interacting with the locals. I’ve seen so many foreigners here who regard every single local they meet as a potential scammer, and then wonder why nobody likes them. Build a network of friends. Without that, you’ll just have a house here, but you won’t truly have a home.
Palawan is very laid back, made up of a collection of small slices of paradise, joined together in a large mass, like a conurbation. They each have their own personalities, although you have to spend a bit of time finding that out.
In terms of natural beauty you’ll be hard pressed to find a tropical paradise anywhere in the world, quite like Palawan. But entirely moving here is hard, with major things to consider. And of course, expectations that need to be addressed before making that big decision.
Discussion about this post