Why I decided to Work as an OFW Abroad, should you do it as well?

There are several reasons why Filipinos opted to go and work abroad but one of the primary purpose is to improve our personal finances. Working abroad as an OFW is the most common resort for us if we want to get higher salaries.

Even professionals go here as the salary base for experienced worker is slightly higher than in the Philippines. I was just able to understand this difference after working for quite some time here. Yes its true, I came here just with slightly higher salary than when I was at home but after few years and salary adjustments, I was aligned with the company normal rates which is higher than my Philippine company.

I will be telling you here my personal story of moving abroad for work.

Most of my personal work history is related to working in a Semiconductor company where majority of activities supports Manufacturing or assembly of electronic products. Although my first job is not related to an electronics company the manufacturing environment help me prepare to be able to have confidence to work for this kind of environment.

My longest work tenure is in Amkor Technology Philippines as a Process Engineer, helping production personnel solve manufacturing line issues and improve productivity. I stayed in the company for more than 7 years. I really don’t have plans to go abroad during that time since overtime pay covers most of what I need. There are times that I could get 2x my base salary (after having 160 hours work week though). I was just happy back then that I could earn as much as I can and just concentrated on saving from my earnings back then.

I was good at saving at the time because I was able to save some money to buy a small parcel of land at my province, I have mention this in my article about the Rat race mentality, you can check it here. Thinking I have done a lot, I was quite satisfied with my job and I stayed on this company. During this time I still don’t know much about the concept of investing as saving is the only thing I know.

The work is strenuous, but I am able to sustain this type of work (even working 7 days a week at a time) partly because, maybe I was still young during that time.

Then came 2008-2009 if you can remember this, there was a financial crisis related to financial bubble cause by homebuyers in the US, a property crisis much similar to the dotcom bubble in 2000.

Suddenly most of us working in the production line felt the impact as overtime pay was removed abruptly and as I support production line issues, there are times that I still work overtime without pay. So it doesn’t feel good as we gave value to the company but we are not properly compensated. These are the times I started thinking of moving on from the company (not yet abroad at this time, some of my friends move to nearby companies)

When the economy started to comeback late in 2010, I suddenly notice that most of my colleagues are starting to apply abroad, there are news of companies hiring Filipinos to work in Malaysia. And one by one most of them accepted jobs abroad.

You can feel the atmosphere is very different during that time as people you know started to moveout one after another (and there jobs started to pile up for those left behind).  I still stayed at the company due to a promised from my boss (promotion normally).

It is not until a year that those who stayed behind in the company like me have received news from our colleague that each of them who moved out abroad in Malaysia started to buy their own houses. This opened my eyes on the difference on working abroad than locally. Upon inquiry from these friends I learned also that living and working condition in Malaysia is pretty much the same or even better than the Philippines. Surprisingly its true, Manufacturing Boss in the Philippines are more stricter than the locals here. Could it be our Japanese working culture and too much discipline during our younger years that shape our working behaviors? Filipino managers are more stricter than their foreigner counter part.

This was the time I decided to follow the paths my colleagues have gone to.

I also really wanted to buy my own house at the time and gathering all the information from my friends working abroad, comparing all the computations and if I decided to stay in my current job, I found out that I could do 2x my current earning capacity in one year if I work there. For example, if my base salary is 20k at the time, Jobs in Malaysia offers (remember this is 10 years ago) it can go as high as 40k so it is like if I work 6 months abroad it is equivalent to work in my company for 1 year. Doing the numbers, I can work for 5 years abroad equivalent to 10years in my country. How convenient!

And so I flew and took my chance in Malaysia.

Luckily after 10 years of working, I still keep my job on the same company (after few times of trying to move on), and  looking back at it now I can say I made the right choice.

The photo below is one of the conferences held in Malaysia, Filipinos (like me) are presenting our projects as well. For my 7 years in my previous company I never got the chance to do this, whereby here as long as you do your job diligently you will have the chance (I was doing this every year since I came here).

The best part of which aside from getting good income as time goes by, I learned more about improving my finances by doing side hustles, investing and learning how to see the future as my eyes were open on opportunities. I could not say the same if I stayed in the Philippines. I was not mature enough back then so I could not tell if it was possible by then.

In summary here are some of the benefits of working abroad.

  1. You get to know that there are lots of alternatives for our current job, not just locally but across the globe

Now that I have gain the experience of working abroad, I came to know that Filipino skills are comparative to other countries as well. We just need to take the courage to do the next steps that will improve our career.  It’s a big world out there and who know there are more people willing to hire you specially if you have acquired skills that requires expertise over time.

Currently Filipino colleagues have taken another step by moving to Europe. A lot of job openings have been posted lately, always check your Linkedin for updates.

2. It helps you expand your network

Various people from other countries who you work with can put a good word when you apply for a new position. And you can get clues from them as well whether they are in good job location or not especially if your new peers are working in other companies but within the same industry

3. You become more valuable than you were before.

Remember my salary is low last time before I went abroad. There was once a time I tried to move back to Philippines and applied on the same company or similar industry, my offer salary is way higher as compared before (more than 4x) as the basis will now be your current salary (which has a higher conversion rate).

This I did not anticipate, if I stayed too long on my company I could not even think of having such a high salary offer the  second time I tried to come back.

HR may find you more adaptable to changes and you have work with different culture so you are more adept to overcome issues you might encounter. HR values experiences when you work abroad

4. Your experience will be far more better when you work abroad

Your eyes will be open to new cultures and technology when you work to a country with higher standards or especially if the company you go to has more opportunities in terms of technology as compared to Philippines.

5. Working overseas give us the leverage of getting higher salary

Since some countries have higher standards of living, in a way the salary is adjusted to suite that as well. When you go back to your country and apply for a job, your base salary will be higher. In addition make sure also take benefits from better conversion rate as compared to Philippine current. In Malaysia, 12.5 pesos=1 ringgit, Singapore 40pesos=1 SGD or 57pesos= 1 USD.

6. Better living and working standards

Do not forget to check the living standards if comparable to Philippines and if after taxes net income is higher. This is a must so that you won’t end up working for a lower salary. Lucky for me I did not have to worry about it here because we almost have the same cost per meal.

We are not required also to work overtime unless necessary. This is one of the reasons I stayed here because after work hours, I still have energy to do my side hustles or side income like blogging and vlogging.

Also in Malaysia, gas is cheaper by as much as 2x compared to Philippines so the convenience of using and buying a car is more affordable here.

In the end I was able to complete down payment for my house and currently on the 7th out of 10year of my amortization plan. Part of my side income is now being use to renovate it. Almost done!

I hope you like the story of how I ended up here in Malaysia and continue supporting this blog site. Of course you can achieve the same thing if you started early having the same mindset or discipline of saving and investing early. I just got lucky that by chance people here know a lot about investing and so I was influenced as well. I hope this story could open your eyes as well as to how to see the future in a positive way that there will always be opportunity as long as you seek for it.

If you want to learn how to invest in Philippines check my Patreon channel for Stock trading or investing or Patreon channel for creating your own online Business which is similar to what I am doing now.

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