Initial thoughts on Davao

Sometimes a single event can change perspectives on everything.

Last night we experienced one of those such events here in Davao.

Earlier in the day Becky and I were discussing things, specifically doing a check-in, how do we feel things are going in Davao, with the kids, and with business.

We came to the conclusion that it's time for us to leave Davao. There are just too many strikes against the lifestyle we want to lead here. And we're only 3 days into being here.

Three Issues with our time in Davao so far

We have an airbnb house for our first week here, however we thought this would be a standalone house, instead it's more of a shared house, an apartment within a house.

For starters, we have four kids, and they have jetlag. I'm writing this post at 5am trying to keep the kids in their beds, quiet. They've been awake since 4am which is actually much better than yesterday. Granted Becky is somehow still sleeping despite the kids being loud, but yesterday Zander woke the whole neighborhood (literally, he started crying which got the neighborhood dogs to barking and the whole sub-development woke up). Nevermind the neighbors whom we share a wall/kitchen/front porch with.

We knew this before but we've been confirmed in the first few days that apartment dwelling is not for us, (this is why we tried to get a whole house via airbnb) our kids are used to a house in the country and are loud kids. Not just when they cry, but when they play, when they laugh, when they talk. We love them but we have to admit we're too loud of a family to be in an apartment/apartment complex.

In Davao airbnb houses are expensive, most short termers live in furnished apartments. We need to find a house that we can afford. From our research that wasn't possible.

Second issue is internet. I need a stable internet connection to run Connex. If I cannot run Connex we lose clients. If we lose clients we cannot afford to live. The dominos are already starting to fall as I have not been able to work since Thursday last week. We're approaching a week of apologies to clients. This is unacceptable. If we cannot get this lack of internet thing fixed we have to leave.

Third issue is climate. We knew we were moving into the tropics, we knew it's hot and hotter than hot. But we haven't ever lived in the tropics. We didn't know without a doubt how bad it'd be for us. And we also assumed we'd be at the beach or pool most days. Being here for three days has confirmed that due to the heat we basically stay inside during the day.

If we had a better place to live we'd be more likely to have access to a pool or the ocean, but we don't and so we decided to start making moves toward leaving.

Everything may have changed...

Then last night we hung out with a bunch of expats (aka expatriates or foreigners). And there's hope! We explained that internet and housing were making us prepare to leave. One of the guys in the group said, "No way, we'll get you setup in a great furnished house with a stable internet connection."

Dynamite Circle Davao City Philippines

Members of the Dynamite Circle at a Social Gathering in Davao City Philippines

It pays to know people :)

So in the span of a couple hours we went from thinking of leaving to being hopeful that there might be a house we can live in for a month or two here.

So is that all you judge a place on?

Other factors we're looking for in a place, in "home" as we travel through Asia is culture, affordability, transportation, food, friendliness of locals, do the kids like it, etc. However we've discovered that these are secondary to internet access/reliability and housing.

We're really pleased with shopping, affordability, ease of transportation, ease of communication and many other things. Frankly, if you're looking for a really safe cross cultural experience that isn't too severe as far as communication and language barriers Davao is a great place. It's perfect to dip your toe into the cross cultural experience, however don't expect good internet!

Last night we learned that in South East Asia the beaches are places for squatters & the homeless. Unlike in "the West" where waterfront property is a desired place, here it's considered only fit for the homeless. There are many resorts that are free of squatters but Davao is a city on the sea and yet there is no family-friendly beach here for us to enjoy, instead we have to visit the nearest island, Samal, which has many resorts.

So stay tuned as we try to solve the internet and housing issues. These are our only goals between now and Sunday. We might be leaving Davao/The Philippines earlier than we initially planned, but that's part of this trip, being flexible to move as we see fit.

What do you require in a place to find home?

Paul Kortman

Dad of 4, husband, blogger, digital marketer, follower of Jesus. I podcast at and own We're on this crazy journey to travel the world as a lifestyle. Looking for help in how to live as a digital nomad family? Join this Facebook Group!

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  1. Christy Jusino

    Well, I like to look for safety and space. Other than that,
    experience has taught me that finding home is what you make of it. Having
    a right heart attitude and making the most of the positives that you can find
    in each situation makes a difference in your satisfaction with a potential
    home. However, there are certain things that help to make a place more
    satisfying, ie. comforts of contact with support network, organization to make
    everyday functioning go more smoothly, and freedom to be yourself (loud or
    messy, etc!). Hope to hear soon what you decide! Prayers….

    • namtrok

      Yeah I totally forgot to mention how safe it is here in Davao, even in our little neighborhood. We don’t let the kids play without supervision but in general we don’t have to fear being mugged or harassed. It’s crazy to me, but Davao (unlike Manilla) is really safe.

  2. Henri Hakamaa

    Have been hanging around with the squatters for a week now.. The jolliest people in all Davao. Good internet also there, can not but recommend.


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