Immigration Rules & Regs

Is it a Good Idea to Retire in The Philippines?

Most of the foreigners who retire here say yes.  As a Filipina myself, I would say that the culture and tradition we have encourages respect of the elderly.  Filipinos treat their elderly with more attention and care.

That’s why most of the older family members are taken care of by their children, grandchildren, and housekeeper–no nursing homes here.   In the last two decades, the island lifestyle, fresh food, and a warm climate have attracted an increasing number of foreign retirees.

And not just men either..  You’d be surprised at the older white ladies who are living comfortably in this sunny island-nation!

Retirement Visa Options for Americans and UK Citizens

The requirements for the retirement visa options from the SRRV (Special Resident Retiree’s Visa) for Americans, British, and most other nationalities are relatively easy to acquire.  For many retirees from western countries, this is the perfect visa choice.

First, let’s look at the age factor.  The Philippine government recognizes that there are people who choose to stop working earlier in life, that’s why the minimum age only 35-years-old

You must, however, deposit a fixed amount that would be between USD 10,000 to USD 50,000.  T if you decide, for whatever reason, to cancel your retiree’s visa.

You are also required to pay annual admin fees, again, depending on the specific visa.  When you decide to avail of the SRRV, you will enjoy hassle-free residency since you won’t be required to renew the visa frequently.

 

Residency Options Available for SRRV (Special Resident Retiree’s Visa) Holders

Let’s discuss the residency options in correlation with the SRRV mentioned earlier.  This time, however, let’s focus on the typical retirees who are at least 50-years-old and above.  If you receive an individual pension that is at least USD 800 a month and above, you’ll be qualified to have a long term residency in the Philippines.

The deposit required is $10,000 and must be deposited in a PRA (Philippine Retirement Authority) accredited bank.  If you meet these requirements, you are qualified to have a lease on any residential real estate or purchase a condo unit that has a value of at least $50,000.

 

SRRV visas, Spousal Visa, Tourist Visa:

 

  1. SRRV (Special Resident Retiree’s Visa)

The SRRV is a special non-immigrant visa granted to foreign retirees whose desire is to settle in the Philippines for good.  This visa is also given to foreign retirees who wish to practice their entrepreneurship skills.

Retirees who are registered in the PRA (Philippine Retirement Authority) can stay in the Philippines for as long as they want, without being required to give up their citizenship.  The minimum deposit needed for the SRRV is $10,000.

 

Pros of the SRRV

  • It is the most convenient visa if you have decided to make the Philippines your second home.
  • You don’t need to deal with the Bureau of Immigration as often as the Tourist Visa holders have to.
  • You’ll get perks and benefits that the Philippine government grants to Filipino citizens.

 

Cons of the SRRV

  • If you are an SRRV holder, your money is tied up in the Philippine bank.
  • You need to buy real estate, and at a minimum price of $50,000…which could be pricey.

 

  1. Spousal Visa

The Spousal visa is also called the 13A Non-Immigrant Visa to Non-Quota Immigrant Visa by Marriage.  Only foreign retirees who are married to Filipino citizens can obtain this visa.

Spousal visa holders get Permanent residence and other privileges associated with immigrant status. The requirements for this visa are relatively straightforward. Learn more here. You may also seek the assistance of Immigration experts and lawyers for faster processing.

 

Pros of the Spousal Visa

  • You’ll get multiple entries without any fuss.
  • It is easy for the foreign spouse to process this visa.
  • The cost of this visa is relevantly cheaper than the SRRV and Tourist Visa.

 

Cons of the Spousal Visa

  • You have to renew it in person annually
  • It’s attached to your wife, which means she can cancel it if you guys get in a tiff.

 

  1. Tourist Visa

Now, if you still aren’t sure if you’re going to settle in the Philippines permanently, this is the best visa for you.   The visa is short-term, but it isn’t complicated to get an extension.

The tourist visa is perfect if you want to go sightseeing before committing to permanent residence in the Philippines.  The fees for the tourist visa extension are very minimal and are listed here.

Again, this is to boost the economy and tourism.  Most foreign tourists talk about how much fun they’re having here.  It never fails to attract more foreign tourists in the Philippines.  The word-of-mouth testimony is the best kind of advertisement that the Philippine Tourism will ever have.

 

Pros of the tourist visa

  • The tourist visa is very convenient for retirees who aren’t sure they’re ready to stay put in The Philippines yet
  • Free for the first month upon arrival to the Philippines.
  • Processing is speedy, convenient, and can be done a month after arrival.

 

Cons of the tourist visa

  • Online processing has never been convenient, as most foreign visitors have personally experienced.
  • The cost is higher than the other visas.
  • When you go to the Bureau of Immigration, you are unable to pay using your credit card.
  • You have to renew it every 2-6 months, and there’s no guarantee of renewal.

Since you are now more aware of the three most applied for visas by your fellow expats, choosing the perfect visa will certainly be a breeze for you.  Just bear in mind that you have to prepare all of the documents and keep extra copies of the said documents for security purposes.

To successfully obtain a SIRV, a foreigner must deposit at least $75,000 into a special Peso Time Deposit for a minimum maturity period of 30 days and a maximum maturity period of 180 days, with either the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) or Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

Once you’ve made the deposit, you get a probationary SIRV. After that, you have 180 days to make the investment and report it to the BI. Read more about the investment requirements here.

Philippines Residency by Investment (The Investor’s Visa)

The Philippine government’s desire to make the country a retirement haven has caused them to create a special visa to attract small and medium scale entrepreneurs to live and invest in the country.  This visa is called the SIRV (Special Investors Resident Visa).  It may seem somewhat similar to the SRRV, but with distinct differences, since it has different goals.

The Balikbayan Program

According to the Republic Act 6788, or more popularized as “The Balikbayan Program,” the Philippine government acknowledges the economic contribution of all overseas Filipinos.  That’s why this program was created for them to return home and enjoy their retirement with loved ones

Balikbayans are those who worked overseas for at least one year or former Filipino citizens who have been naturalized in another country.

The best part of the Balikbayan Program is that it extends to immediate family members.  If you wish to partake in the Balikbayan Program, the best way is to present your old Philippine passport or birth certificate as proof of your former Philippine citizenship.

 

Cost of Living in Manila and The Philippines

Life in the Philippines can be very cheap, but the costs do vary between areas.  Imported and luxury goods are mostly found in the larger cities – which have malls and amenities quite similar to larger cities in America, Canada, Australia, UK, and other European countries.

If you’re an average Joe, who is quite easy-going, then living in the Philippines is amazing!  When you learn how to live like a local, eventually, you’ll get to know your local vendors, who will gladly give you discounts.

It is also wise to avoid places that charge a ‘tourist tax’. I’m talking about places that overcharge foreigners. If you’re making $1,500 or less a month then you really need to budget if you want to live in the expat areas of Manila such as Makati or BGC.

Related: Pros and Cons of Living in Manila

Best Places to Retire in the Philippines

Now, it is time to have comprehensive information for foreign retirees who are seriously considering the Philippines as their new home.  Below is a list of the best places for foreign retirees:

 

Laguna

Laguna and Cavite Provinces

Laguna and Cavite’s close proximity to Metro Manila and access to most of the national agencies and offices are the best reasons why these two adjacent provinces should be on the list.  They’re also safe and have hot springs, decent beaches, valleys, and some mountainous regions too.  There are modern places that might remind you of living in a progressive country; cities like Dasmarinas, Cavite, and Santa Rosa, Laguna have big malls, high-rise condominiums, and a bustling metropolitan feel.

 

Subic

Clark and Subic Areas in Pampanga

Clark and Subic are on the list because of its history with American soldiers.  There used to be a vast space for American soldiers because of the military base.  The government, therefore, decided to build more infrastructures and develop the place for a permanent settlement for the Americans.  Retirees will feel less homesick since it looks a lot like America.

 

Banaue Rice Terraces

Baguio City

Baguio is known as the summer capital of The Philippines’ summer capital because of the much cooler climate here, all-year-round.  Surprising, isn’t it?  Baguio City is quite mountainous and tranquil, a great place to hone your artistic side!  There are beautiful parks and many outdoor activities in this small, picturesque city.  It also has good medical care, and of course, a modern-looking business district.

Palawan Island

Famous for the seafood and pristine white sandy beaches, Palawan Island has more to offer.  They have better medical care, more establishments for business and leisure, and a higher standard of living in the last decade.

People here are very friendly and more accommodating in helping out foreign retirees.  They recognize the importance of eco-tourism in Palawan.

 

Davao City

Davao is internationally known to be a very safe city as it is the hometown Rodrigo Duterte.  Here you will find a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, festivities, beaches, parks, and of course, modern business establishments.

Davao is considered to be the gem of Southern Philippines.  The cost of living here is relevantly lower than that of Metro Manila’s.  People here are known to be honest and kind.  You don’t have to worry about losing your phone or wallet because if you have your contact information, it will most likely be returned to you.

Dumaguete City

Dumaguete City has earned the nickname “City of Gentle People.”  It has, however, that small up-and-coming town feels to it.  Let’s manage your expectations first.  It doesn’t have huge malls, no large hospitals; the business center isn’t that busy too.

However, the cost of living here is much lower than the bigger cities in Metro Manila and even in Cebu City.  Dumaguete is an excellent place for relatively healthy retirees who don’t need advanced medical facilities and just want to rest easy in a hammock on the beach.

List of PRA Accredited Banks

It would be wise for you to get a pen and paper and write down the banks that you’ll read about in this list.  This is a list of banks that will make financial and banking transactions easier for all foreign retirees.

  • Bank of China
  • Bank of Commerce
  • Development Bank of the Philippines
  • BDO (Banco de Oro)
  • KEB Hana Bank
  • Malayan Bank
  • PNB (Philippine National Bank)
  • Union Bank of the Philippines
  • Yuanta Savings Bank

 

To Conclude

You’ll find that the Philippine government and Filipinos, in general, are quite welcoming.  However, before you finally decide to relocate here in the Philippines, it is still best to travel as a tourist several times to have a better understanding of the different places this island-country has to offer.

Unlike most of its Southeast Asian neighbors, the Philippines made an extra effort to make their retirement laws attractive foreigners.  The Philippines is a great place to retire, whether you’re into active living, looking to relax in the sunshine, or just want to enjoy a low cost of living with beautiful people inside and out.

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