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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Cebu City, Philippines

Aug 07, 2017


Cebu, Philippines

An American who recently retired in Cebu, Philippines talks about finding a place to live, expat life in Cebu, the cost of living in the Philippines an much more.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Cebu City

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

It was cheaper and much more interesting.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

Most of the year - about 10 months of the a year

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

Philippines is amazing. I can live well on $1200 a month, and it has a great social life and climate. Cebu is a great spot to launch on the way to other places, like Bohol, or Northern Mindanao.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

No, but worked in Saudi and Japan.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

For about three years. I will be fully retired in 2018.

How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?


What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

The challenges are less for me in Philippines because I have been visiting here regularly for over 20 years. I saved a fair amount working between the ages of 48-55. That, and social security in 2019 and I am set. The key for me is to be able to get away from some of the local nonsense, i.e. noise, pollution, scammers. I build a buffer from that.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

For me, just the relaxation, and avoiding the cultural shift that has happened in the US over the past decade.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

I am just starting. I think not much different because I really have educated myself about finances, local conditions, and other places to visit. For example, I have made two trips from Philippines to Cambodia. Cambodia has different things to offer, and a nice change of pace.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

Cebu has expats, great nightlife, tourism infrastructure, networking, you name it. It is an inexpensive destination that has a broad appeal to visitors. Many new hotels and retail outlets.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

So far I have just done visa extensions, making trips out of the country at least every three months. Later, I will go through the process to stay.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

I am renting with an eye on building something on leased land. It is made difficult, mostly by cheap available rents.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

With the local currency weakening over the past year, it has exceeded my plans. I have good spending power here, but try to economize when possible.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

Exchange rate, keeping your cash secure.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

I think the baseline is about $1000 a month, but with that you live modestly.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

There are many decent hospitals all over Philippines, with their staff trained to work in other countries. Fortunately so far I have not required much care.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

Petty crime, but I am alert to avoid it. Cebu is safer than most American cities.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

Public transportation is decent, cars are affordable, buses to other towns are a real bargain.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Philippines internet has a poor reputatiion. You can spend more to get more however.

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

I think it is not for every one. For example, I think older women may not enjoy a place like Cebu as much as I do...

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Comments about this Report

Oct 9, 2017 08:11

Re: the American expat who retired to Cebu City (as published here), I would like to invite him to visit the north particularly San Fernando City, La Union. This is the place where a lot of expats prefer especially Americans. It used to host the U.S. Wallace Air Base & the City is really likeable with a "small town feel". The local government ensures that everything is indeed peaceful, orderly and clean. Everything you need from high quality healthcare, international & local banks, KFC if you like etc. From the city & 4 kms further to the north is a surfing haven and is famous. San Juan, La Union is frequented by U.S. as well as European expats. Welcome to the City of San Fernando !

Jan 23, 2018 21:58

Thanks for this story, makes me want to go to Cebu more and more. I will be going to Manila first to meet my girlfriend first and have a lot of things to do there first, but will make a trip to Cebu before I have to return home for a short while.

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