Pros and Cons of Being Employed

An expat, (foreigner) describes the pros and cons of being employed, having a job in a US country in the Philippine.

I spent many years living and working as an ex-pat in Europe, Africa, and Asia (incl. the Philippines). I worked for the world's # 2 distilled spirits company in the duty free, airline, and railroad markets in the sales division. $ 100,000 is a very realistic salary figure, but that comes with many, many benefits like cost of living allowances, overseas pay, paid housing,company cars and drivers, transportation of household goods from country to country, stock options, 401K plans, tax allowances, annual bonuses, etc. I was normally set up to live in one country, but was responsible for from 4 to 8 additional countries in the region.

For instance I lived in Manila but traveled extensively on a day to day basis to Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, plus a few trips every year to corporate headquarters in New York. I admit, the company I worked for was very generous, and my allowances often tripled my base salary and included a free trip to the U.S every year.

The downside of a job with a US Country is, do you really want to (and can) live this kind of life. It sounds great on the surface and provides a very good income but do you want to travel to 2 or 3 countries in one week while working? Do you want to be away from your wife and children 75 to 80 percent of your time while they live in a foreign country? Do you want to move to a new country every three years or so? It looks great on paper 1st Class travel, 5 star hotels, limo pickup at the airports, huge expense accounts and endless entertaining of customers.

This life cost me two wives and two houses and has left me not even knowing what country I belong to. I was born in the US, left there when I was 17 years old to go in the army and never lived in the US again (and still don't). I learned five languages and have lived what most people think of as a romantic and exotic life. But the people who really know me say they will never figure out how I lived this way for so many years. For me it was routine to live in airplanes and hotels most of the time. I also worked an average of it 70 to 80 hours a week and was constantly under pressure to meet sales goals and manage my employees while underway.

Sure my total compensation was in the upper six figures, but what does that really mean?

If you really want this kind of job, find a company that operates multi-nationally and get hired into their overseas department in the US. Put your name on the list in Human Resources as willing to work overseas. If you prove yourself, an overseas assignment will not be long in coming. Most people, even in international companies do not want to move overseas because they see and know what the life is like. Be prepared to learn and understand different cultures very fast. When you work in Japan in the morning, and Korea in the afternoon, you better understand the cultural differences and how to deal with them.

Do I regret how I lived my life? I don't know because it's the only life I had, and I don't understand how someone can live in one city, or country for their whole life. Should anyone do it for the big money? No way, it will never work for that reason. I earned every dollar I ever made but that was not why I chose that life. That life chose me and I forgot about how normal people live.