Do you think of yourself as an expatriate or expat that lives in the Philippines?

What Is An Expat?

Defined From Wikipedia

In its broadest sense, an expatriate is any person living in a different country from where he or she is a citizen. In common usage, the term is often used in the context of professionals sent abroad by their companies, as opposed to locally hired staff (who can also be foreigners). The differentiation found in common usage usually comes down to socio-economic factors, so skilled professionals working in another country are described as expatriates, whereas a manual labourer who has moved to another country to earn more money might be labelled an ‘immigrant’. There is no set definition and usage does vary depending on context and individual preferences and prejudices.

In the 19th century, Americans, numbering perhaps in the thousands, were drawn to Europe—especially to Munich and Paris—to study the art of painting. Henry James, for instance, was a famous expatriate American writer from the 1870s, who adopted England as his home.

The term ‘expatriate’ in some countries also has a legal context used for tax purposes. An expatriate living in a country can receive a favorable tax treatment. In this context a person can only be an expatriate if they move to a country other than their own to work with the intent of returning to their home country within a period of no more than 5 fiscal years. This number of years can vary per tax jurisdiction, but 5 years is the most commonly used maximum period.

So, an expat must live in another country other than where he has citizenship.  If one obtains citizenship in that new country they are an immigrant.

Expat with Philippine Monkey

Rusty with his Philippine Monkey

There are other forms of immigration though. In the Philippines, you become a permanent resident if you qualify for certain immigrant visa’s.   The most common one is the 13A. There are several ways but the most common way is to marry a Filipino.

I wouldn’t split hairs over if someone is an expat or an immigrant. I think in every day usage one would be both.  You do gain more privileges in the Philippines if you become a permanent resident. But I still think of you as an expat.  You’ve also gained the status of immigrant.

Visitor or Expat?

If you come to the Philippines on vacation you’re not an expat. You’re a visitor but people will still refer to you as an expat and there’s really nothing wrong with that. What difference does it make?  None really.

I’ll make one distinction. It is far more likely that someone will be insulting and even hostile toward Filipino if they are a visitor. Really, why do you visit if you think so badly of the Philippines? Why do you stay? Why do you come back?

I do know a few foreigners that frequent the Philippines but do not live here. Some of them are quite knowledgeable. Usually though, I find gapping holes in their knowledge.  They may know a lot about doing business or buying real estate for example. Yet they know little of life outside of the malls and the bigger cities. There are no hard rules here either. Just what I commonly observe.

Is The Term Expat an Insult?

When I first heard the term expatriate, I thought, I’m still a patriot of the USA. I still love the USA. After three years though, I don’t really miss it any more.  The Philippines is now my home.

I think that’s really the key. Is the Philippines your home? If so, that is where you live.  I don’t say I want to go home, I say I want to go back to the States for a visit. By definition an expat is someone that lives in another country.  If one is a foreigner living in the Philippines then they are an expat living in the Philippines.

Are You An Expat?

Are you an expat?  Does it even matter?  I don’t know if it matters much but I am an expat.

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Filed under: Expats in the PhilippinesLiving In The Philippines

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