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Retiring and Living Abroad – The Philippines

Considering retirement in a Tropical Climate? Have you been wanting to “Expatriate” for a while?

For many British, Australians and Americans, retirement time is just around the corner. At home, with low interest rates and high cost of living, the prospect of trying to live on a pension, in old age, is a daunting one unless you are prepared to substantially downscale your lifestyle.

For some, moving to retire in another country is an option which has been successful in the past with Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Puerto Rico being among some of the more popular destinations. But why not consider retiring in the Philippines?

The Case for Retiring in a Developing Country

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Manila City, The Phillipines

Over the past decade, the Philippines has become a retirement haven for thousands of foreigners, particularly the Japanese, Korean, and Northern Europeans.

Along with Thailand and Malaysia, the Philippines developed communications, infrastructure, and service delivery systems specifically geared to meet the needs of foreign retirees. Better yet, unlike most European Countries and South America, nearly everyone speaks ENGLISH in the Philippines.

The Philippines offers a significantly lower cost of living. The Philippine Peso (PhP) exchange rate is approximately PhP 45 to $ 1.00 or PhP 92 to 1 Pound [Sterling (GBP)]. Housing, food, and labor costs are quite reasonable.

A One bedroom condominium can be purchased for around $ 72,000 or GBP 37,000 or a Studio for only $ 45,000 or GBP 22,800 and one can dine out on average at a three star restaurant for less than PhP 500.

If you hire domestic help, a private driver’s salary is approximately PhP 10,000/month, while trained housekeepers earn approximately -PhP 5,000/month. These salaries are lower if you live in the provinces.

Same Comforts as You’d Find Anywhere

Cable Television, Hi-Speed Internet and Satellite Communications are cheap. One can hire an air-conditioned taxicab for eight hours for less than $25.00. In a country where a provincial Governor’s salary is only PhP 28,000 per month, and a Presidential Cabinet Under-Secretary earns PhP 35,000, retiring abroad makes mathematical sense.

So, if you have a retirement income of approximately $1,500 to $2,000 per month ( PhP 80,000 to 100,000) you can live quite well in the Philippines.

Healthcare Expenses

As for health care, most U.S. Health Management Organizations pay for medical expenses incurred in the Philippines. Check with your HMO. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs presently has a task force headed by former Secretary Roberto Romulo working to have the U.S. government accredit a number of first class Philippine hospitals for Medicare reimbursement.

The Makati Medical Center, one of the nation’s best already has such accreditation.

Unbeknown to many is that for years, citizens of nearby countries such as Thailand, Nauru, Tonga, Indonesia, and Malaysia have flocked to the Philippines for medical care, particularly sensitive surgical procedures.

The quality of medical care at the better Manila hospitals such as the Asian, St. Luke’s, Medical city, Cardinal Santos, Philippine Heart Center for Asia, National Kidney Institute, and Makati Medical Center meets international standards.

A Japanese company is building a medical facility in Tagaytay city exclusively for Japanese nationals within the year. There are now close to 10,000 Japanese retirees in the country, and the number is growing annually. The British government recently acquired a large tract of land in Fort Bonifacio to build a new Embassy.

The British ambassador explained the larger facility is meant to help serve the growing number of British nationals retiring there as well. Japanese and Korean investment groups are buying homes and condominiums in Manila, and tracts of provincial land for retirees. This has caused a mini- Real Estate boom in the country. A retirement village exclusively for Japanese nationals already exists in Tagaytay, and more are planned. These are strong indicators of what is on the horizon

Language

English is the Philippines’ official business language. Most of the people you will meet, from hotel workers, taxi drivers, sales or service people, government employeesa all speak English, or have a working understanding of it. The middle class speak English, without exception. All major newspapers, and major broadcast companies use English. An English speaking visitor will never get lost in the Philippines.

It is the universal use of that language that has been a strong incentive to foreigners. As well, communications links within the country and to other countries via the various commercial gateways is up to international standards. For example, the use of cell phones and text messaging is so common that housemaids, street vendors and food hawkers can be seen using their cellphones incessantly.

Adventures

One will never want for adventure and sights to experience in the Philippines. There is always a colorful Fiesta, pageants, street festivals, and open public events going on. Lush with bountiful natural resources, one can enjoy the numerous beaches, resorts, golf courses, and play just about any sport, except skiing.

There is an ice skating rink in Manila, though. Scuba diving and fishing are among the sports which draw the most number of foreigners to the rich aquatic offerings.

Shopping is the Filipinos’ second most popular activity, the first is eating. Manila is Asia’s undiscovered shopping Mecca. You will love the golden purple sunsets, the fragrance of the flowers at dusk, and the wonderful array of fruit and food. I used to enjoy watching the Sun set from the bar at the Philippine Cultural Center.

There, you can listen to the Symphony, check out a play, or enjoy Grand Opera. There is just so much to explore and discover, specially in terms of nature, culture, and history. If you’re a betting man, there’s horse racing, the Jai Alai, numerous first class casinos, and of course, cok-fighting. Manila is well known for its exciting night life.

Conclusion

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Especially if you are retiring early like in the Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) movement, a retirement abroad can be a solid choice if you are looking to maintain a high quality of living for lower cost.

The Philippines offers affordable real estate and good investment opportunities for those seeking a retirement haven.

Even those who seek to do “Mini” 3-5 year retirements or long trips abroad (Digital Nomads) consider the Philippines, Thailand, or Latin American countries as a prime spot to get away from the “Matrix” (United States).

These countries offer many adventures, amazing culturally rich foods and cuisine styles, as well as a chance to start a new life at an extremely low cost of living.

As developing countries, should you choose to start a business, there will be plenty of opportunities as in the future, the global economy will be growing at 4.4 percent or more in the next decade.

This means that if you choose to retire abroad, your plans for Retiring Early can be even earlier than you expect!

Recommendation

After living my entire life in the United States, I have recently started to travel abroad. I’ve been to Brazil, Austrlia, and Morocco. Like many Americans today, this New Economy — borderless and digital, provides us with many opportunities abroad which we wouldn’t find at home.

I  bought Retirement Without Borders when I went on my mini retirement of 2 years abroad. It would’ve lasted longer, but I just needed to get back to work as I’d loved my previous job, but just had experienced some burnout.

This book is a great resource, and I recommend you to check it out if you are planning to Retire early, or travel abroad for extended periods of time. If you are NOT adequately prepared in your Retirement plans, expect to work even longer as you will most likely put your resources to waste.

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