Filipina in America · Starting Over Again

5 Questions to Ask If You Want to Migrate

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.


Do you believe in midlife crisis?  It happened to me. I woke up one day, looked at my “life accomplishments” and asked myself these question-  Is this all there is to it? I felt stuck and I wanted to be unstuck.

I found myself in Florida, having coffee with vice presidents of two large US insurance companies. I asked –“ If I want to move to the US, will you hire me?”  It was a yes.

Moving to  America was my version of midlife crisis. I didn’t buy the flashy car, or get the crazy tattoo – I decided to start my life all over again. 

Moving to another country is looking at something scary and embracing it!

People were shocked when I left a  successful career in the Philippines. Who starts all over past the age of 50?

You may not be going through midlife crisis but maybe, you’re looking at choices. People always ask me about migrating. Why? How?

Starting over is an exercise in self analysis. Away from my usual environment, and comfort, I was forced to challenge 50 years worth of beliefs, attitudes and way of life.

If you are at this point in your life, I would like to share some of the questions I asked myself and the lessons I’ve learned.

First, answer these questions. Be honest. No one is reading your answers.


  1. Why do you want to migrate?   
  2. What is your  game plan?  What are your marketable skills? What is your back up plan?
  3. How will you finance your new life?
  4. Do you have a support network in your new country?  
  5. What are you leaving behind or giving up?


1. HAVE A WRITTEN PLAN. We had a family meeting and for several months, we talked about this “big idea”. My sons and I actually wrote a game plan. We did our numbers, looked at all the pros and cons, delegated responsibilities and prayed.

2. HAVE A FINANCIAL PLAN. I gave myself a time table. Six months or my savings running out -whichever comes first. Within six months, I can still go back to my job.  This backup plans helped  ease our  anxiety. It gave us the confidence to execute our plan.

I had six months worth of savings to sustain my cost of living both in the Philippines and in the US. 

I was  fortunate to have a career that allowed me to take a paid sabbatical. I also had my retirement money if I decided to quit my job.

3. KNOW IT WILL BE TOUGH. The first six months were tough.  I didn’t even have a car so I  took the bus to LA everyday. It meant two hours commute one way. People thought I was crazy. Nobody lives in Orange County and commutes to LA. It’s just not done. But I didn’t know that.  All I knew was, I had to make it work.

My friend, Rica, taught me how to take the train

4. LEARN TO ADAPT. I learned to shower at night, put my coffee in the microwave to be heated in the morning. I had to be at the bus stop by 6:30 am  so I can be in LA before 9 am.  

The key to successful migration is not only measured  by the money you make. It is how well you have assimilated in your new country and if it has improved the quality of your life.


A whole new world . For a while, my friends felt sorry for me. But I looked at my life thru a different lens. Everything was exciting. I was in iconic LA. Scenes and places from  movies and TV shows I’ve  watched, all my life, became part of my daily reality.

A mural in downtown LA

Power of currency . I looked at the economics of the whole exercise –  when you are working for the same number  of hours but 52x the money, it has exponential effect on what you can afford.

Options for our family. But the benefits are not just economics. It is the new doors  we open for the next generation. It is showing our kids how to take risks and live fearlessly.

To some,  this simply means living in a place where the air is clean and enjoying clean rivers and beaches  without having to take the plane.

Enjoying a sunset walk at our apartment complex in Orange County
Enjoying the sunset at Newport Beach a 10 minute drive from home

The real cost of migration, though,  is relationships. Missed birthdays and moments that we can never recapture.

Reading FB posts from friends, back home. about long holidays spent with family, are always painful. These were days when I question my decision to migrate.

My grandson Franco

I missed the baby years of my grandson Franco, but I know that he will always thank me for giving him the chance to live in a country where the hawks can soar in the city and where the rivers are still clean.

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