In this article, you’ll get a comprehensive understanding of how to live in the Philippines as a foreign retiree.
The Philippines is a Haven for Retirement
Most Southeast Asian countries have a tropical paradise feel. This is the ultimate destination for those who want to get out of cold climates. I mean, who wouldn’t be enticed with the pristine beaches, lush forests, beautiful, luscious cuisine, and the warmth of the locals?
These are just a few of the many reasons for foreign retirees to keep flocking Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines. The visa programs of the Philippines are quite simple and inviting to those who wish to make the most of their golden years.
Let’s have a better look at why an increasing number of foreign retirees, specifically westerners, now call the Philippines their home.
You Get to Live in a Tropical Paradise
Who doesn’t want to bask in the sunlight while listening to birds singing? I know I do! There are magnificent beaches here in the Philippines, freshly caught seafood. There are more than 7,000 islands here in the Philippines for you to choose from.
Oceanfront residential properties at reasonable prices have all the essentials that a typical village in the city offers. There are also mysterious caves to explore and wildlife to observe. A few months ago, my boyfriend and I went to a bat cave and saw how a giant lizard hunted the smaller bats. You’ll surely be fascinated with the exotic flora and fauna in the Philippines. After all, it has been called the “Pearl of the Orient.”
Statistics Show that More Retired Foreign Nationals Live in the Philippines
The PRA (Philippine Retirement Authority) is an organization specially formed by the government to attract foreign retirees. They successfully enticed more people to live and invest here. This is a huge boost for the tourism industry and the economy as a whole.
Many foreign retirees eventually become small-scale entrepreneurs to keep themselves productive. The paradise lifestyle has attracted thousands of foreign retirees; most of them are from America, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, and other European countries.
The Asian retirees are mostly from South Korea, Japan, China, and the middle-eastern region. The 2019 statistical report from PRA shows that there are 64,512 foreign retirees in the Philippines. This is more than enough to prove that the Philippines is an ideal retirement destination. This truly is PARADISE for a more relaxed lifestyle retirees aim to accomplish.
Reasons why people are attracted to spend their retirement in the Philippines:
- Obtaining a visa is easy. The Philippines’ visa program scheme stands out in the region. While other Asian countries want to keep tight controls over their foreign residents, The Philippines welcomes them and treats them like kings. Best of all, they recognize that there are people who retire as early as 35. This has been deliberately crafted to boost the tourism industry and eventually attract more foreign corporations to invest in this island paradise. The required deposit for retirees who wish to acquire the Special Retirement visa here in the Philippines is only $10,000. This is significantly lower as compared to the other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. Read more about how to get a retirement visa here.
- Get the perfect tan you’ve been dying to have! This is is one of the top reasons why most Western men settle in the Philippines. Yes, it is not just the ladies… Joe. Here, you’ll certainly live a healthier and more active lifestyle. The tropical climate is ideal for outdoor activities. Bask in the sunshine while you’re on a scenic beach, river, waterfall, or lake whenever you want! Eat succulent, fresh fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system. There are endless mountains and valleys too, all of those are green with vegetation.
- Vibrant and luscious culinary scene. More Filipino chefs have been recognized globally. One of the very first attractions of any foreign tourist is the aroma and taste of the food. This is probably the most colorful cuisine in the Southeast Asian region. The centuries-old influence from foreign countries such as China, Spain, America, Japan, India, and the Middle East is the primary that made the modern Filipino cuisine so aromatic and tasty! All these, with the magical Filipino touch that makes the kitchen sizzle delightfully. The Filipino food industry is thriving. With the advent of social media, it has become increasingly popular in Western countries. Can’t wait to have a bite of pancit canton, lumpia, menudo, adobo, palabok or halo-halo? Book your flight now, and get lost in the food choices that await you!
- Stretch your money with the more affordable yet comfortable lifestyle in the Philippines. As a retiree, you’d probably be very concerned with how far your dollar will go. According to Numbeo, a website that has been popularly known to conduct surveys online, most retirees from America live a comfortable condominium lifestyle for as low as $1,300 to $2,000 a month. With this amount, you can have trips to beach resorts and fancy restaurant meals. If you choose to rent a house or apartment in a typical village, even $900 could go a long, long way.
- Scenic, vibrant, and colorful tourist destinations encourage a more active lifestyle for retirees. I’m not only referring to the beach and other bodies of water but the landscape itself—hundreds of miles of mountains and valleys that present you with the best tropical outdoor lifestyle. As a retiree, living a physically active lifestyle is highly recommended by all physicians. Why not do it here in the Philippines? There are many spectacular destinations to explore – more than 7,000 islands of various sizes in one beautiful country!
- The Philippines offers affordable, accessible, and competitive healthcare for foreign retirees. You might think that I am only promoting my countrymen because I am a Filipina writer. I really am not. My American boyfriend, who has been living comfortably for 2 years as a retiree, was the one who told me that dental care here is similar to Chicago City’s, but it’s more affordable. That’s Brian’s statement, not mine. He also has asthma and is borderline hypertensive, so he has a physician here in Davao City. The healthcare facilities will, of course, vary on which place you decide to settle in. In the major cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, though, you’ll easily have international level health care.
- The locals offer inexpensive and better housekeeping services to foreign retirees. There’s a painful truth that I have to admit. My country has people who multiply like rabbits! I only have 2 other siblings, but boy, others have as many as 9 siblings. We’re densely populated in the major Philippine cities. Since poverty is evident, ladies who have lesser life end up working as a “yaya” (Filipino word for nanny or housemaid). They’d gladly work for foreign retirees since they’ll be handsomely paid. The normal monthly salary of a housekeeper is around Php 5,000. They will cook, clean, wash, and do virtually all other house chores. You’ll never regret entrusting your house to a very domesticated Filipina housekeeper who’s not only meticulous in cleaning but also a great cook!
The Biggest English Speaking Population in Southeast Asia
This, by far, is another great reason why people from The West, not just men but women, choose to visit the Philippines. Here, the people are warm and friendly.
Best of all, most of them speak clear English. There are many outsourced jobs here in the Philippines from medium and large-scale companies from America, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of Europe. By this, I mean the call center, online marketing, and website management industries.
How Can I Apply for a Visa in the Philippines?
There are several ways of applying for a visa. Still, the most popular ways are doing it online or upon your arrival in Manila or other international airports here in the country. If you intend to apply for a tourist visa, it will be most convenient to apply for it upon arrival, with all the necessary documents and requirements. If you wish to do it online, you have to do it through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office website. The typical processing period is from 2 to 10 working days.
What are the benefits of a retirement visa offered by the Philippine government?
- Work, study, and permanent residence
- Multiple entries and exit privileges with an indefinite stay
- Tax exemption on annuities and pensions
- Health benefits
- Custom duties exemption
- Travel tax exemption
- Discounts and other perks from accredited establishments
How Profitable is it to Establish a Business Here in the Philippines?
The country has been called one of the best countries to invest globally by the Wall Street Journal, and CNN International has reported this. This is due to the vast infrastructure projects that the current national administration is doing.
The United Nations data even mentioned that the Philippines is one of the most investor-friendly countries in Asia. It’s very pragmatic to have a start-up business here since the labor, operations, logistics, communication, housing, electricity, water, and transportation costs are only half of what Americans usually spend.
How safe is it to live in the Philippines?
Tricky question, I have to admit. However, just like in most other economically developing countries, it depends on where you choose to live. There are a few places in Mindanao that the US State Department has called as places where Americans have to practice “increased caution due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, malaria, dengue and measles outbreak….”
Here’s a list of those places:
- Marawi City, Mindanao
- Cotabato Province, Mindanao
- The Sulu archipelago in Mindanao
This practically means that most other places in the country are quite safe for foreign visitors and settlers. Let’s talk about the cleanest and safest places in the Philippines this time. Below is a list from Skyscanner, a website that is popularly known to gather information about travel and leisure:
Safest Places in the Philippines:
- Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte
- El Nido, Palawan
- Davao City
- Cagayan de Oro City
- Dumaguete City
Why are Metro Manila and Cebu City not on the list?
What about Manila and Cebu, you might wonder? Are they dangerous places for foreign retirees? Though they aren’t the most dangerous places in the country, they are definitely a far cry from the safest places since these two metropolitan areas are densely populated.
Not to mention overrated places to live in. I was born and raised here, so let me be very honest with you, theft has always been an issue in Metro Manila and Cebu City.
I have traveled to these places, and my boyfriend has been to these places too. No offense to those who live there, but hey, there are many other cleaners, safer, and modern cities in the Philippines. It would be best for the foreign retirees to have a more relaxed and worry-free lifestyle, so the list of the safest cities above is a better choice.
Come back home for your retirement, Kabayan!
Let me take this opportunity to reach out to my Kabayan (countrymen), who have been working overseas for decades. There’s still no place like home! Look, our government may be far from the best; they have, however, recognized all the economic contributions you’ve made. As much as you can, please come back home with the comfort and care of the family; the senior citizen home in any wealthy country might leave you feeling homesick.
Our government designed the BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM that allows all overseas Filipinos who decide to return to the Philippines one year free stay. For those who don’t understand the work “BALIKBAYAN,” it is a term for Filipinos who live overseas and return home for a vacation or permanent settlement.
The BALIKBAYAN PROGRAM even includes former Filipino citizens who have acquired foreign citizenship. You only need to present your old Philippine passport or Philippine Birth Certificate to get it.
Stretch your retirement money by living like a local
If you’re one of those retirees who would love to save more money, then the best solution is to practice living like a true native of the country. You don’t have to chop wood for cooking, nor hand wash clothes…no, no, no!
However, it would be best if you were mindful of how you spend your money. You’ll have to cook several times a week, decide how often you’ll travel locally and internationally, buy fewer clothes, and of course, maintain the cleanliness of your living space on your own. With these tips in mind, you’re probably going to live very comfortably with $800 US a month.
Here’s the bottom line…
Choosing how, where, and when to retire is one of the biggest challenges of anyone’s golden years. Now that you know how to retire in the Philippines, you might want to begin planning about it. You’re quite fortunate if you have friends who have been living a grand retirement here, but if you don’t, then plan wisely.
Remember, healthcare in the less modernized cities won’t be similar to what you’re accustomed to. This is not a wealthy nation. You have to manage your expectations and not be too demanding. Filipinos are sensitive when you compare your wealthy nation to the country often. When you do so, they’ll turn cold.
Contentment, kindness, friendliness are great characteristics to have and will earn the trust and respect of the locals. When the Filipinos are fond of you, they’ll treat you like family and will surely assist you. After all, this will not be called the “Pearl of the Orient” if the people aren’t genuinely kind and hospitable.
If you wish to ask more questions about retirement in the Philippines, feel free to comment below, or you may want to send us a message. Thanks for reading!
Why are the Filipinos good at English?
Here, even a 7-year-old child can answer an American’s questions in English confidently. Though the Philippines have hundreds of local languages and dialects, English is an official language. This is not an exaggeration. All Filipinos are mandated to learn English from preschool to the highest level of education they seek to achieve.
Isn’t it much better if you can communicate directly to the locals? Hey, you are supposed to be retired! You’re meant to do whatever you want, go wherever you wish, and literally have fun. Why bother learning another language? Visit the Philippines, where you’ll be pretty much understood wherever you are.