The Big Move

by Mike Stankavich on August 7, 2010

The two or three people who actually read this blog might be wondering why things suddenly went silent a couple months ago.  The explanation is quite simple.  I reached the cusp of a long term goal that involved a big career change, and I wasn’t ready for my current employer to find about about it just yet.  The decision process was also quite intense, so I pulled back on social media altogether to focus on making the right call.

By now you may be wondering OK, what’s the big deal anyway?  It’s this: I have been interested in living and working in another country for a number of years now.  I always thought that it was unlikely that it would actually happen.  But it did, and what’s more, I was actually offered two very different positions in two very different places.

The first position was a systems engineering and information security job in Kuwait working as a civilian contractor at a US military base.  The second position was a data modeler and reporting lead for a large investment bank in the Philippines.  I was offered the Kuwait position first.  The money was really good, so I accepted.  Then a few days later the Philippines offer came through.  It was for less money, so at first I thought I’d stick with the Kuwait job. But then I started really looking at the numbers and realized that I wasn’t taking cost of living and travel costs into account.  When I factored that in, everything came out pretty close, and both positions penciled out significantly ahead of my current situation. 

In the end, I chose the Philippines, because the Kuwait position required a 60 hour per week schedule, and I felt that the weather and the culture would be less amenable to my family.  My wife is from the Philippines, so I already have a fair idea what to expect there.  Yes, there are some some things that aren’t as nice as in the US, but it will be a good experience for us and our kids, at least for a while.  And we should be able to save some money too.

The other advantage to going to the Philippines is that I have long had an interest in building outsource businesses.  The Philippines has become a significant outsourcing destination over the last few years.  I definitely have a lot of great ideas for startups that I should really be able to kick into gear after I get there. 

We are scheduled to leave Portland on August 28.  So it’s coming right at us.  We definitely have a TON of things to get done before we leave.  The big moving sale is planned for next weekend (August 14 and 15), and there will be lots of stuff going on craigslist. 

There’s a lot more of this story to be told, but I’ll save those thoughts for future posts.  Stay tuned…

Diane Brown August 8, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Glad to finally hear your plans. Hope it all goes smoothly and you are able to sell a lot of your things. So glad we got to see you all this summer, as it may be awhile now. Do the girls like the idea of a move?

Mike Stankavich August 9, 2010 at 7:47 am

Thanks Aunt Diane! We are confident that we’ll be able to sell pretty much everything we aren’t taking, and if not, we can easily donate it to Goodwill.

I don’t think that the little girls comprehend what’s really going on. We tell them, and they seem interested, but I think it will be very different after we get there. I’m sure there will be an adjustment period, but we will work through it.

Jeff Tice August 9, 2010 at 7:56 am

I am trying very hard not to think too much about this change. You have been a coach, a mentor, a friend, and a guest in my home. Your knowledge of legacy systems is irreplacable. I will miss working complex issues with you, Mike. You made this a “Great Place to Work!”

Mike Stankavich August 9, 2010 at 8:15 am

Thanks Jeff, you’re too kind. And I certainly did appreciate your hospitality. But this is not goodbye – I’ll still be an email or a phone call away. And I KNOW that you and Val would love to visit the Philippines, right? We still have family here, so we’ll be back in the US from time to time. We’re already planning to come back over Christmas this year.

Balaji Murthy August 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Wow! This is a huge surprise!!! I am very excited for you. We have definitely drifted away since the time I left SPEED, and this would make it only more so. I have loved your companionship and wish you and Marissa all the best. I am sure she would love to be able spend time back in homeland. Do keep in touch!!!

Mike Stankavich August 9, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Thanks Balaji! While you’re right that we have followed separate paths, I do still value your friendship and hope that we can keep in touch. While we’re happy to be in Marissa’s home country, the situation is a bit more nuanced than you might think – we have to manage expectations of relatives that may think we have a lot more money to spread around than we actually do. But yes, I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Tuan Doan August 10, 2010 at 10:40 am

Hi Mike. Congratulations on your move. I hope it works out for you and family. Do let us know your experience over there.

Melinda August 11, 2010 at 10:42 am

Mike, I was thinking ahead you received a much better job offer here stateside and not abroad. Philippines? That is a bold decision to move there, but we know being a great family man you are, providing the best for your loveones comes first. Marissa and the kids will be loving the diferrent lifestyle there; the top on the lists is the very much affordable housemaid. We’ll be missing you guys. Goodluck on this new endeavor!

Mike Stankavich August 11, 2010 at 11:33 am

@Tuan Good to hear from you again – it’s been a while. I’ll definitely share our experiences here on this blog and on http://stankavich.com

@Melinda You’re right, it’s definitely a major change. But it’s worth the effort. And we’ll be back in the US at some point.

Kent Ellgren August 11, 2010 at 11:37 am

I am not sure if congrats is the correct response but I think you are making a strong leap forward. Getting out of the stove pipe world at Intel will be great for you. I wish you and your family luck in your new adventure, you will do well as always. Keep in touch!
Kent

Arun K Pandey August 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I wanted to wish you good luck with your new endeavor. I enjoyed working with you on the instrumentation project. It was fun. Let us keep in touch.

Mike Stankavich August 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

Arun, Kent, thanks for the good wishes. It definitely feels like a step forward. I certainly hope it plays out that way. I’ll definitely be keeping you and all of my friends and family posted by way of this blog and http://stankavich.com

kate August 14, 2010 at 9:20 am

wow! i am from the philippines and i wanna say it’s a great country!(love your own:) good luck on this new chapter of ur lives and take care always.god bless u and your family
p.s i just happen to CL looking for dresser and found ur link.

Gail Mundlin August 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

I truly wish you & your family the best!! Keep us posted on how your move goes & all that when you get settled in. We will miss you but know you are going to be happy in the Philippines.

Randall August 18, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Congrats on your move! I wish I was moving at the end of the month! Hope to meet you someday.

Mike Stankavich August 19, 2010 at 3:48 am

@kate @Gail @Randall thank you for your kind wishes. I’m sure that the move will go well. I’ll definitely be posting more details about our move.

FYI if you need a place to stay next time you visit Manila we are planning to set my wife up with a condo to rent out by the day or week. That should give her something to do that will make her more money than going out and finding a job. More on that in a few weeks.

Liz September 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Wow Mike! I’m so happy for you and your family. You did the right thing turning down the Kuwait offer. Congratulations! I also see potential for at least one “Expat Guide to the Philipines” eBook. ;)I wish you the best and I look forward to reading more about your great adventure overseas.

Mike Stankavich September 4, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Thanks Liz! I hope that things are going well for you too. Any more Corsica trips planned?

I’m feeling positive about choosing Philippines over Kuwait. Things have gone well for us so far. A few challenges, yes, but nothing insurmountable. I started writing an update a couple days ago but quickly realized I had way too much for one post. I plan to write some more today and break it down into reasonably sized chunks. I’m guessing I’ll have a series of 3-5 posts when I’m done.

I don’t have any plans to write an Expat’s Guide to the Philippines ebook. It’s a good idea, but I’m pretty sure my experience is not typical for a number of reasons. I have four solid business ideas in the pipeline already, so it’s just a matter of executing on them. I’ll likely post about that soon too.

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