The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands around 500 miles from southeast China. It’s hard to imagine a country having so many islands just waiting to be explored. Of these islands only around 1/3 have been named and around 2,000 are inhabited. Think of the Philippines and you’ll no doubt conjure up images of pristine beaches that wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard.
You wouldn’t be wrong, that is something the Philippines certainly offers in abundance. The country has stunning beaches, thriving and bustling cities and many cultural attractions. Retire to the Philippines and you will be enjoying a comfortable lifestyle surrounded by a plethora of opportunities to enjoy yourself.
The Philippines is a fascinating place to retire to both in terms of its culture and natural landscape. The Philippines was colonized by Spain in 1521 and you can certainly see evidence of their colonial legacy. You’ll notice Spanish architecture in places like a 1571 citadel right in the heart of Manila.
It shares maritime borders with Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Palauand China. As a nation of so many islands it should be no surprise to hear that the Philippines offers some of the most attractive natural landscapes in the whole of Asia. From the stunning scenery of Mount Mayon in Albay province to the otherworldly turquoise waters of Coron Island in Palawan, this country is perfect for those retirees searching for an adventure. You can head to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan, an underwater paradise that divers will love. Traveling in the Philippines will leave you completely in awe of nature.
Spending your retirement in an idyllic sunny paradise sounds like a no brainer. If the country’s climate, culture and landscape wasn’t enough, the Philippines cost of living is another enticing factor. With the cost of living being significantly lower than in the U.S. you will find your retirement or digital nomad life in the Philippines to be jam packed with fun and excitement. What is more, the government’s enticing retirement program makes moving to the Philippines permanently an easy option. The ease of a move to the Philippines is further exemplified by the knowledge that one of the country’s official languages is English. You’ll find it easy to communicate in your day-to-day life creating no barriers for your fresh start in the “Pearl of the Orient”.
Typical temperatures in the Philippines are between 75°F and 90°Fthroughout the year. The rainy season is between June and November whilst the dry season is between December and May. It does get fairly humid in the Philippines with an average 80% humidity. Average annual rainfall varies dramatically because of the rainy season; it’s anywhere from 965 mm to 4,064 mm a year. Because of the rainy season, you will find an influx of tourists visiting between December and May to utilize the good weather.
Much of Filipino culture and lifestyle centers around food. When you arrive in the Philippines you will want to get stuck into all the local favorites. Adobo is perhaps one of the country’s most famous plates and is considered the Philippines national dish. Adobo is usually chicken or pork flavored with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and black peppers. For those who like their food adventures why not try Balut! Before you say yes to this infamous street food you should first know that Balut is boiled duck egg. But not any old duck eggs, they have been fertilized and allowed to incubate ideally for 17 days. Try if you dare, but you might want to close your eyes!
Filipinos amazing food comes hand in hand with their innate love of hospitality. Filipinos are generally known for treating visitors and expats with great kindness. You should certainly embrace the locals; it will shape a retirement lifestyle that is filled with friendships and experiences.
English along with Filipino is one of the official languages of the Philippines, so no need to worry about communication. Add this to the fact that almost every local you meet will be very friendly and kind and that should be more than enough to ease your mind.
Safety and Security
Of the Global Peace Index’s 163 nations the Philippines came out as the 120th most peaceful country in the world. So in terms of crime it’s best to exercise caution across the Philippines. Though most expats will not encounter any major crimes, pickpocketing and thefts do occur. It’s best to find a secure place to live and never keep too much cash at home.
The other safety concerns you should be aware of are natural disasters. The Philippines sits on the Philippine Sea Plate, a tectonic plate. As a result, the country experiences earthquakes, typhoons, floods, landslides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Yes, they get the entire shebang in the Philippines! These natural disasters don’t occur all the time, but you should still be aware of what to do if one occurs. During the country’s rainy season from June to November, the Philippines experiences around 20 typhoons.
Cost of Living
One of the best things about retiring in the Philippines is that the cost of living is around 72% less expensive than in the U.S. Most expats attest to being able to live comfortably in the Philippines for just over $1,300 a month. This includes food, basic healthcare, rent and recreational activities. Stretch your budget to around $2000 and you’ll be able to live a lavish lifestyle. On this budget you’ll be able to enjoy travel, massages, maids, and even country club membership.
If you retire in the Philippines the government won’t tax your income pension. They also won’t tax your 401(k), individual retirement account or retirement plan. You will also need to remember to file your U.S. tax return whilst in the Philippines.
Visas and Residency
So, you are thinking of retiring to the Philippines? You will want to know what the retirement visa process is like. You will be happy to hear that if you want to move to the Philippines then you can apply for the Special Residence Retiree’s Visa (SRRV). In a matter of no time you can join the 64,000 retirees who are currently living in the country.
To qualify for this Philippines retirement visa, you must be at least 35 years old and make a bank deposit of $50,000 or be at least 50 years old and have a state pension. You must also be able to prove that you can financially support yourself and any dependents. You must also complete a medical examination, provide proof of pension, and have a health insurance policy.
If you choose to retire in the Philippines, then you should consider your healthcare options. The Philippines is ranked at No. 60 globally among the world’s national healthcare systems by the World Health Organization. And to say Filipino healthcare varies dramatically would be an understatement.
Healthcare in the Philippines can be anything from dire to excellent. Most large cities like Manila, Davao City or Cebu have very good healthcare infrastructure, but if you live in rural areas you’ll find that both services and infrastructure are lacking.
The Philippines has both public and private healthcare systems. Those retiring in the Philippines and working expats tend to opt for private healthcare. Better services and facilities, coupled with lower costs than in the U.S. make this an attractive healthcare option. It’s also a big bonus for retirees in the Philippines that many doctors and nurses (especially in city hospitals) speak English, making for an easier hospital visit.
There are also a couple of other factors to consider in terms of healthcare when choosing to retire in the Philippines. Hospitals are allowed to refuse a patient treatment if they do not have the money to pay for the services. It is usually required to pay a deposit before you start treatment.
Though many expatriates choose to rent a property if you are thinking of retiring in the Philippines then it’s a good idea to look into buying. It should first be noted that foreigners are not allowed to own land in the Philippines, but they can own a residence. One of the best real estate options is to consider purchasing a condo through the Philippine Condominium Act. This act allows foreigners to buy condo units as long as 60% of the building is still owned by Filipinos.
If you are thinking about purchasing property, why not consider a long-term lease agreement with a Filipino landowner. There are also opportunities to purchase property through a corporation, again under the condition that at least 60% is owned by Filipinos. When purchasing property in the Philippines it should also be acknowledged that there are housing taxes. Capital gains tax is around 6% of the sale price, there’s a 1.5% stamp tax, transfer tax that is 0.5% to 0.75% of the property sale price and then title registration fees which are usually around 0.25% of the sale price.
Average city center property prices are around $207 per square foot, making a 1,200 square foot home around $249,000. Living outside major cities will reduce costs considerably with average prices at around $119 per square foot. Moving to the Philippines you can certainly take advantage of the attractive property prices and in most places will get more property for your dollar than back home.
Best Places to Live in Philippines
On a list of the best places to live in the Philippines, Manilla must be mentioned but it’s not to say it’s the best place for retirees in the Philippines. Yes, Manilla is the nation’s capital, and it does offer all the services and amenities you may need but if you are searching for a more idyllic relaxed retirement destination then some of these other top destinations in the Philippines will be more enticing.
If you still want to be in a lively city for your retirement to the Philippines, then Cebu City is a good option. Cebu City is known for its pristine beaches and rich culture. You will always have something to keep you entertained and fill your peaceful days of retirement. Another brilliant urban option is Davao City. Davao City is considered to be one of the safest places to live in the Philippines. Surrounded by luscious greenery this city has all the facilities to live a comfortable life as well as beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters.
So, you are thinking of retiring to the Philippines but want the complete relaxed island life? Then perhaps you should consider moving to Palawan. Winner of the “Best Island in the World” in 2020 by Travel + Leisure, Palawan is a beach lover’s paradise, and an amazing all-round place to be at peace. The locals on Palawan will make you feel welcome in no time. This, in addition to the laid back lifestyle and cost of living, make this an ideal place to retire.
Proximity to the United States
If you paid attention in geography class, you’ll know that the Philippines isn’t exactly close to the U.S. New York and Manila are 8,491 miles apart. Flights from New York usually take around 20 to 23 hours with a stopover in Hong Kong. Flights from Los Angeles are much shorter at around 15 hours. The Philippines is 13 hours ahead of New York and 16 hours ahead of LA.
Activities and Recreation
Aside from traveling around the country you are going to want to get stuck into some of the recreational activities enjoyed by Filipinos in their daily life. Hiking, snorkeling, diving, golf or surfing. Having retired in the Philippines you will need plenty of things to do.
Filipinos enjoy shopping, but not just for buying clothes. Malls in the Philippines are social gathering places, filled with restaurants, ice rinks, and movie theaters. Escape the heat and hit the shops! Manila is home to the fourth largest shopping complex in Asia, SM City North EDSA.
Both adults and children like to check out the amusement parks in the Philippines. Head to the popular Enchanted Kingdom in Santa Rosa for an entire day of fun! With the scorching sun beating down on you, you may want to check out the water parks too. Splash Island is an awesome waterpark in Biñan for all ages.
Living in a nation of more than 7,000 islands it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to head to the beach. The Philippines has some of the best beaches, not just in Asia but in the world. Head to Hidden Beach, Bocacay Malay or Malcapuya Beach in Palawan or Kota Beach on Bantayan Island, Cebu to experience the softest white sand and clearest waters you’ve probably ever seen.
The Philippines is without doubt one of the best places to retire. Not only is it a super affordable place to retire, it is also breathtakingly beautiful. The SRRV program gives you a clear and concise pathway to retiring in the Philippines, making the whole process easy. Once there you will begin to adapt to the Filipino lifestyle, embrace their culture, ways of life, and delicious food.
Here is a list of the Pros and Cons of traveling, living, moving and retiring in the Philippines
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