Jim Yuan – Digital Nomad Lifestyle in the Philippines

Ep 099 - Jim Yuan

In this episode, Derek is joined by Jim Yuan. He is working as a Digital Nomad with a background in IT consultancy and commercial strategy.  Jim will share his thoughts about the Philippine economics and future opportunities. On a lighter note, he is also going to talk about his impression of the Filipino lifestyle.



  • Jim highlights the beaches and nature in the Philippines.
  • Jim shares his insight about the tourism in the Philippines.
  • Jim encourages a lot of his backpacking digital nomad friends to come to the Philippines.
  • According to Jim, Cebu is seen as the more laid back, chill, Messiah’s island city wherein you have the city life but then you also have the country life if you wish.
  • Jim has a nomad’s perspective and he said that when you step out of your home country you see it with a much more fresh pair of eyes because you are not in the forest anymore. Also, you’re able to see things from a fresh perspective and a much proper lens.
  • He also shares the best strategy if you’re a Silicon Valley startup into outsourcing or if you want to move your development team to a place like Cebu, Chiang Mai or even Thailand because it’s so much cheaper.


Key Points

  • The Philippines is one of the top 3 diving destinations in the world.
  • Cebu is an ideal place to start outsourcing into if you wish to relocate to the Philippines
  • Cebu has a pretty high score on nomadlist.com, higher than Manila



  • outsourceaccelerator.com/99



[read more=”Read Full Transcript” less=”Hide Transcript”]

Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast.  My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode number 99.  So today I’m joined by Jim Yuan.  We were joined by Jim on episodes number 66 and 80 so do go back and listen to those if you want more information on Jim and more about our discussions there. So Jim is an international man of mystery.  Today we talk a little bit lighter, well that was the intention. We were going to talk about the beaches and the lifestyle in the Philippines and what it offers but we dove a little bit deeper in to the economics of that and the indications of that and the future opportunities for the Philippines so I think you’ll find that interesting. I certainly had a great time talking to him and I hope you enjoy listening so this is episode 99 if you want to get in touch with Jim or any of the show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/99.

Derek: Today, I’m joined again by Jim Yuan. Hi, Jim.

Jim: Hi Derek.

Derek: And Jim joined us previously.  He has spoken previously about his impressions of the Philippines from a businessman infrastructure point of view and then also from the startup community and commercial side.  So today we’re going a little bit lighter I want to get Jim’s impression of the lifestyle of the Philippines and ups and downs so just a bit of background Jim was born in China raised in the US and has since been traveling the globe pretty much working as a digital nomad at the moment with a background in IT consultancy and commercial strategy.  He has now involved in the startup world so Jim what are the beaches like in the Philippines?

Jim: Fantastic, very pristine beaches beautiful you know in the Philippines there are around 7,000+ islands. I was recently in Palawan actually just a couple of days ago, it was in Coron Palawan. My girlfriend and I did some island hopping over there and it’s just beautiful scuba diving and snorkeling and just being on the beach just incredible.

Derek: And Coron is a magical place isn’t it? It’s sort of like hundreds of very volcanic kind of thunderbirds islands and you know kind of rock formations with a little bit of white beach around and you really do wonder if there has ever been any humans actually venture into the top of those islands.

Jim: Sometimes they do.  We climbed up hills during the first day and just seeing everything that’s around it it’s so pristine, so beautiful and not just Coron or Palawan but if you go to Bohol, if you go to Cebu island anywhere in the Visayas especially it’s beautiful everywhere even if you go to the beaches in Luzon as well it’s just incredibly beautiful, unpolluted for the most part.

Derek: And it’s largely untouched isn’t in because as you say there are over 7,000 islands I think 7,107 islands and there are so many that are as yet uninhabited, unpopulated and I mean to be honest they don’t have any services and utilities either but there are still so many pure islands out there.

Jim: There is also animal national reserves. I think there’s a couple near Cebu and Bohol as well and in general just very very beautiful if you like diving if you like taking a yacht.

Derek: yeah I mean it’s one of the top 3 dive destinations in the world and there’s a lot of opportunities out there, I see it at least as compared to Thailand if not better you know there’s far more beauty here or range of beauty and volume of beauty here than in Thailand yet Thailand has 10x the tourism of the Philippines.


Jim: It does Thailand is the 2nd most well-traveled place in the world second only to France but I do see that in the Philippines you might have an optic and tourism in the coming years.

Derek: The Government being very proactive with that I think there deeper regulating the airspace as well so it’s easier to get the airlines in here and the government has said that they’re really trying to encourage travel as of 2016

Jim: And they should there’s certainly on top opportunities and I think you’re going to see an optic in tourist from mainland China coming in the coming years I think there’s a, couple years ago there were a little bit of bad relationships but now Taiwanese is always been…

Derek: and the Taiwanese and Koreans is also its a popular destination isn’t it?

Jim: Always been there’s a 30 flight from Taipei to Luzon and also from South Korea there’s a lot of Koreans coming over but the one group that you’re going to see a huge optic is from mainland China.  You’re going to see a lot of a tourism there’s already a lot of mainland Chinese tourist going to places like Malaysia, like Indonesia particular place like Bali for example and it’s not a far stretched imagine the same thing in terms of tourism income coming into the Philippines.

Derek: So in terms in getting the western world to the Philippines I have a theory that it starts with backpackers, you need to get backpackers in here the more adventurous ones and the people that are more comfortable with adventure and they go to places like India and they go to places like Bali and they go to places like Thailand and then there are better results and then you get the fancier crowd go and then you get the high-end outgo adventure

Jim:  That’s a very interesting hypotheses. I think it’s quite possible, I’ve been telling a lot of my backpacking digital nomad friends to come to the Philippines you know it’s beautiful out here and there are actually a lot of a backpacking digital mads who settle in Cebu. Cebu is the digital nomad hub

Derek:  It’s strange.  What’s with that?

Jim:  So there is this website

Derek:  There’s a few good restaurant, yeah?

Jim: There is. There is this website called nomadlist.com where you can filter by different conditions and Cebu has a pretty high score on nomadlist.com higher than Manila cause Manila is seen as the commercial capital, the financial capital city where is capital of the Philippines where is Cebu is seen at the more laid back, chill, Messiah’s islands city where you have the city life but you also have the more countryside if you wish.  It’s kind of like…

Derek: As a bit of context so Cebu is a maybe 10x smaller it’s far smaller population but it has infrastructure needed but then it’s also right next to the beaches and then right next to the whole slew of superb islands that you can island hop so it’s got a good life balance.

Jim: It does, it had actually had an IT park so if you are a digital nomad you want to do something intact, the infrastructure there actually got a friend Red, he’s from Australia he started a company in Cebu building out the internet infrastructure over there.  He’s trying to expand to the rest of the Philippines as well so the pinpoint he’s trying to solve is the internet infrastructure is not as good.  We need more fiber lines, so he started with his own building is expanded across Cebu basically building out..

Derek: Is that Evan Jones?

Jim: Red Jones,  he has a brother as well he works with his brother I met him in a rugby tournament in Manila, you may be talking about his brother they run a company they have a headquarters in Cebu.

Derek: It’s amazing I can’t believe they’re taking on like cable.

Jim: They are, very ambitious you know taking on PLDT and other cable companies as they should I think there is room for a lot more players in the space and I wish the best for them

Derek: So you’re an ongoing digital nomad and you know we could have an entire episode on that itself.  How do you find and what motivates you but how do you find these sort of places in enabling your nomadism.  Is it the cheaper lifestyle? Is it the sunshine?

Jim: I like to go from place to place.  I think you know it’s a great thing to meet more diverse people and appreciate more diverse perspectives and I consider both the United States and China as my home countries and I feel it’s always great to a time step out of your home country both China and the United States and really see the world which is more than those 2 countries.  The world is more and more fabulous and sometimes when I go back to the US or when I go back to China I appreciate things more because of being able to step away for some time and then see the world through different lens and sometimes as a nomad when you step out of your home country you might as well have done with Australia, you see it with much more fresh pair of eyes because you are not in the forest anymore and you’re able to see things from a fresh perspective and a much proper lens.

Derek: Which is very powerful if you are in the line of work of entrepreneurship and startups and innovations yeah? because I sometimes wonder you know all these people sitting in the boiler room of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, they’ve all seen the same things you know and there’s a lot of value to getting out and experiencing the world and also seen the world as a developer in a developing world.

Jim: I agree, I think the best strategy for startup if you’re a silicon valley startup in to outsource or move your development team to a place like Cebu or Chiang Mai, Thailand because it’s so much cheaper, you know apartment in San Francisco $ 3,500. You can get something equivalent or better in a place like Cebu or Manila from times less you can pay 10x less for a developer in this part of the world and then you can still start your business development guys in silicon valley or if I were someone doing that I will put that person Portland, Oregon.

Derek: And it’s actually a major proponent of obviously this podcast is about outsourcing and creating an outsourcing Ecosystem but I’m actually a major proponent of having the entire company operation sitting in a lower cost center such as the Philippines.

Jim: I think you can have business developments and fundraising in Silicon Valley or for this part of the world in Singapore or in Beijing or that’s ok.

Derek: But it basically has minimal resources in the high-cost centers.

Jim: Correct, just one person your CEO or  CFO but have your CTO have your VP of Development in Cebu or Manila or Chiang Mai somewhere much cheaper.

Derek: And I see a big opportunity there for BPO’s u can affect fully market yourself as a virtual COO or effectively a virtual back-end operations for startups and Taskus is a little bit positioned like that but just basically go to all these well-funded startups take them a lot of them are young kids and take them and say we will operate your company and we’re going to do it from overseas but we will do it for you.

Jim: You could. again we were a startup. The burn rate is huge and you want to minimize the burn rate as much as possible I remember I took a trip to Silicon Valley once and actually the most recent time was in 2016, early 2016 just when I left Brazil and I was about to pack up for Asia.  I took about 2 weeks I was visiting some friends in Palo Alto and I remember staying in Airbnb where it wasn’t actually a room it was a garage room, basically a garage that actually not even a garage it was 1/4 of a garage that only fit a bed, had no ventilation whatsoever we should probably break a lot of laws in other places but I thought it was a tremendous bargain. I only paid $70 US a night that’s a tremendous bargain near Stanford in Palo Alto that’s like you don’t find that anywhere else like Yes yes yes oh my goodness I’m only paying $70 US a night which if you’re in Manila.

Derek: I mean Manila is more expensive but actually in a,

Jim:  But you could also get something very nice.

Derek: In Bangkok, you’d get about a 4-star hotel for that.

Jim: You would probably absolutely but even in Manila, you can get something quite nice.  You could probably house 4 of BPO workers for that money and you won’t be in a garage.

Derek: Hope you enjoyed that, that was Jim Yuan.  If you want to get in touch with Jim then go outsourceaccelerator.com/99 and if you want to ask us anything, anything at all then email us at [email protected]  See you next time.


Related outsourcing resources


    James D. has submitted "3 free quotes"

    Start Now

    days ago.