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Retiring and Living in the Philippines for expats, non-expats and returning Filipinos

By Pinay Mentor

Summary: Some simple practical preparations if you intend to move in the Philippines, an overview of government retirement package for potential foreign retirees and more.

Retiring and Living  - In the Philippines

The Philippines has enjoyed the privilege of being considered as a preferred retirement destination of retirees from all over the world. Our world-renowned Filipino hospitality, our diverse culture, and reasonable standard of living are only a few of the reasons cited by the retirees in choosing the Philippines as their new home.

Full Government Support of the Retirement Program

Under the Presidential Executive Order No. 1037 (also known as PRA Charter), the Philippine Retirement Authority is mandated to make available a comprehensive and attractive retirement package for potential foreign retirees who seek an easy and comfortable lifestyle. With this in mind, the PRA is committed to provide its retirees a wholistic retirement environment.

Some simple practical preparations if you intend to move in the Philippines.

  1. Get a police clearance and medical clearance and have them stamped by the local Philippine Embassy in your area. You can either go to their office or have those documents notarized and mail it to them, and they will send it back to you with their stamp on it.
  2. Get your passport updated, making sure that it will not expire in six months.
  3. Get your medical records on a digital form if possible. It is easier to bring your file that way rather than bringing a bunch of papers.
  4. Make sure that you have some savings so that you can live on your own without a job, or without relying on someone for at least a year. A budget of $1000 a month will be a good start, depending on your lifestyle and area where you want to live.
  5. If you are married to a Filipina, you still have to pay a visa fee to be able to stay as long as you want.
  6. If you are moving to the Philippines by yourself, there are conditions that needs to be met in order for you to qualify.
  7. Rent first, before you buy any real estate. Get a copy of the title deed, and have it verified from the Department of Housing Authorities.
  8. If you are moving in with a family and you are married to a returning filipina, agree on the area you want to live. Again, rent first, before you buy anything.
  9. If you are bringing household goods, contact a reliable shipping company that will ship out a 20-40 ft container. Compare, compare, and compare the prices and credibility of the shipping companies. Label your boxes properly with numbers and description and have a master list. You can get free boxes from the stores like Ralphs, Albertsons, etc. The fruit boxes are the best because they also give you the fruit cardboards that can be used to cushion your breakables.
  10. PRA (Philippine Retirement Authority) will meet and assist you and your family from the airport to your destination if you apply for the visa and let them know your flight details.
  11. If you have a some type of 401 (k) or IRa investment here, that is losing or earning less than 3%. Consider using a self-directed IRA and consult your own financial advisor. You might consider checking stable Philippine Banks that offers at least 6% on their time deposits which is equivalent to our CDs here. You can open a BPI account here in the US or I guess almost anywhere in the world, check their website for instructions and you can bring those to a local BPI remittance center. I don't get any commissions for doing this, but I am simply sharing this information just because I am doing it, and I am benefiting from their good return on their investments.
  12. There are a lot of wonderful places to retire in the Philippines. It will all depend on your preferences. I personally prefer cooler places like Tagaytay, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite. Although Baguio is the coldest place, it is way too far up to the mountains. Luzon is quite a big place from North to South. I prefer the Southern area because it is cooler and less hit by typhoons with higher elevations.

    Visayas is really hot, but surrounded by beaches and less expensive than Metro Manila areas. Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Leyte are some of the favorites. Mindanao is quite a wonderful place as well. There are a lot of what I can call virgin islands here. Never been commercialized. There are 10% muslims in the Philippines and most of them live out here in Mindanao.

    Davao, Malaybalay, Iligan, Misamis are some of the great ones that I personally been to. They are all wonderful places to visit specially if you love snorkling. DId I forget Palawan? one great place to visit too!

The people and the places, are simply marvelous.

NOTE for those who are looking into marrying a Filipina. Here are some areas you need to discuss:

  1. Financial issues- if you get married, will you be supporting any member of the family? will any of the family member staying with you?
  2. Please try to understand Filipino culture: our parents work hard all their life so that they can bring their children to school up to college and sometimes up to advance degrees. Once the children are done studying and start working, they are expected to pay back their parents by letting them retire from work and the children support them financially.
  3. Communication- Filipinos like saying yes even if they mean no. Learn how to bring out what she want to express and be patient. One of the things that I admire the most with my husband is his patience in asking me whether I am upset or not and what is making me upset. I've learned to say, I "FEEL" hurt, or frustrated
  4. Does she really want to live in the Philippines or she would prefer to live here in the US or anywhere else you might be? Take note: if your fiancee will prefer to get married in the US or Europe or anywhere in the US, find out if part of her reasons will be to sponsor her parents and her siblings. If you are okay with that, then, your plans of living in the Philippines will mean 5 years later.
  5. If you intend to stay here in the US, if she has a tourist US Visa already, I suggest that you get married here and plan on getting married in the Philippines later. It is easier for visa purposes.
  6. Religion- Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic. At least 50% are born-again, spirit filled Catholics. Discuss now your preferences of which church to go to if you don't go to the Catholic church.

Join our Philippines Expat Forum

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About the Author

A Christian woman of God, loving wife and mom, lifementor, Financial Fitness Coach, Senior Real Estate Specialist, has been in the financial industry for more than 20 years, a real estate investor for more than 9 years, holds multiple licenses on real estate, insurance, Ambassador of South Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Board of Director of Mission Viejo Chamber of Commerce and member of Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, RBN (Relationship Business Network). Co-founder of Comprehensive Life Care Network and Worldlinks4u and Veterans Villages. Co-founder of Zoe Life Institute, whose mission is to educate, empower and equip people on how to be happy, healthy, wealthy and wise. Passionate about helping in any way she can. We are currently assisting expats, non-expats and returning filipinos settle down in the Philippines comfortably with less headaches. Click here for information.

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Comments about this Article

guest
Nov 17, 2010 17:30

At 64, I am forcibly retired due to the job market in the USA. Single and with a retirement income of only $20,500 annually is it feasable to actually retire in the Philippines. I did live there for 6 years in the distant past, (about 30 years ago) and fell in love with the people and their culture as well as the climate. My target area is the Northern Mindanao vicinity of Caguyan De Oro outskirts. Any information would be most helpful, Thankyou, RW

BigRed
Jan 29, 2011 20:16

Hello everyone. I was just wondering about line #5. Even if im married to a filipina I still have to pay a visa fee. Can anyone tell me how much that is a year?? Thanks

guest
Mar 18, 2011 02:27

Yes you can survive at $20,500 annually if you don't live too extravagantly. Manila is greatly changed now and is quite a robust city, but I'm not sure about Cagayan de Oro. For how much the visa is per year. If you're only a tourist and your wife doesn't claim you as a Filipino. The first extension cost $68 dollars for 3 weeks. The next 3 week extension costs $181. I'm not sure about 1 whole year.

guest
Aug 18, 2011 15:29

Hi, You mentioned that you have been in the financial industry for more than 20 years. I am trying to seek advice on our situation. We are a Filipino-American couple living and working in the US and we plan to move to the Philippines permanently next year. My wife and I are both dual-citizens of the US and the Philippines. My question is with regards to our 401k. Since we are less than 59 1/2 yrs old, I know that withdrawing any portion or full amount of our 401k is subject to 10% premature distribution, plus ordinary taxable income. Is there a way to rollover our 401k to bank in the Philippines as an IRA without paying these penalties/tax. A follow-up question is if you are already living there in the Philippines and you make a withdrawal of a portion of your 401k (that is still in the US), is this money considered earned income under US tax law? What about Philippines Tax law? As a filipino citizen also, is this withdrawal considered taxable by the Philippines even though 401k is considered salary earned in the US (pre-tax deferred compensation)? What is the best way to withdraw this money to limit or reduce tax liability in both countries other than withdrawing it after 59 1/2 yrs old?

CAteacher
Aug 21, 2011 00:45

Hi! I recently read that you and your husband are working on a real estate developement in the area of Taal. My Filipina wife and I (an American) are planning move to the Philippines in the next two years, and Taal is one of the areas we are considering. Can you tell us more about your plans? Thanks

pinaymentor
Sep 26, 2011 21:52

Hi there, First of all, I apologize for not being able to respond immediately here. I didn't realize until now that there were comments after my article as I was not informed. Anyway, let me answer one comment at a time. Please see my responses below for this comment: Hi, You mentioned that you have been in the financial industry for more than 20 years. I am trying to seek advice on our situation. We are a Filipino-American couple living and working in the US and we plan to move to the Philippines permanently next year. My wife and I are both dual-citizens of the US and the Philippines. My question is with regards to our 401k. Since we are less than 59 1/2 yrs old, I know that withdrawing any portion or full amount of our 401k is subject to 10% premature distribution, plus ordinary taxable income. Is there a way to rollover our 401k to bank in the Philippines as an IRA without paying these penalties/tax. A follow-up question is if you are already living there in the Philippines and you make a withdrawal of a portion of your 401k (that is still in the US), is this money considered earned income under US tax law? What about Philippines Tax law? As a filipino citizen also, is this withdrawal considered taxable by the Philippines even though 401k is considered salary earned in the US (pre-tax deferred compensation)? What is the best way to withdraw this money to limit or reduce tax liability in both countries other than withdrawing it after 59 1/2 yrs old? With your 401 k/IRA< you can now roll over to self-directed IRA through a trusted Administrator from California. Send me a PM and I will send you her information. We did ours with her and her group. You can direct the Administrator to invest your money to almost any investments here like the Bank,or on real estate. If you have extra savings that you want to invest on a higher interest earning instrument, I can get you to a trustworthy company as well. If you earn money for less than the minimum, you don't have to pay US taxes. YOu have to pay the Philippines taxes. But we both know that if you set up a business here, you can easily create strategic income tax savings. If you take out money from the self-directed IRA, you really have to pay taxes whether we like it or not. As long as we are US citizens, we are bound by the US tax laws. Once I get the chance, I will post the requirements for US Citizens, there is a form to be filled up by US citizens and declare their financial assets here or anywhere in the world. If you put your investments here and start earning money, then, you have to pay taxes here, report it to US on your IRS 1040 and assess whether you have to pay more or not. WE can help you effectively if we get into more details. Please don't try to do this on your own. I already have lawyers and accountants and administrators based in US who are working with us. If you want to have a smooth transition, course it through our group. I will send you all the contacts in California so you can easily communicate with them. But we need to set up an agreement first, would that be okay? Send me a PM, pinaymentor

pinaymentor
Sep 26, 2011 21:54

At 64, I am forcibly retired due to the job market in the USA. Single and with a retirement income of only $20,500 annually is it feasable to actually retire in the Philippines. I did live there for 6 years in the distant past, (about 30 years ago) and fell in love with the people and their culture as well as the climate. My target area is the Northern Mindanao vicinity of Caguyan De Oro outskirts. Any information would be most helpful, Thankyou, RW Sorry for the delay, are you already here in the PHIlippines? I didnt' see this message until now. I hope you were able to come in smoothly. Please let me know how else we can help you. Pinaymentor

guest
Jan 25, 2012 05:46

Pinay mentor-i am 64 and teaching english in Shanghai.Will retire to Philippines.I am planning on getting my 21 day and 38 extension(59 days total) here in Shanghai before I depart for Phill for I am pretty sure it will be cheaper here.Do you advise differently? My base touch down destination will be Pangasin Mangaldan for I have an American friend there married to a Pinay wife.They have agreed to rent me a room for 3,500 pesos a month.Just buy my own food.Dont think I can find a better deal than that.If I like it with them I will stay there a while and explore Cavite-Tagaytay-Imus as a retiremet haven for I understand the weather there is cooler than every where else accept Baguio where I have visited 7 years ago.I will have about900-1100 usd a month to live on.Will that be plenty as I know the locals live on 200-400 usd a month so I should be ok.I am not a big spender and a bit frugle.

pinaymentor
Jan 25, 2012 21:47

Jimmy, It will be okay for you to retire here with your monthly income. Just make sure that you have some emergency funds saved up for health and other type of emergencies. I suggest, that you stay first with your friend in Pangasin Mangaldan while you save up your monthly income. Save, save, save until you have at least one to two years of money that will cover your monthly expenses. Expect at least let's say $1000 a month worth of expenses wherever you decide to live multiply by 24, that will be $25000 (P1,000,000) worth of emergency funds. As a Financial Fitness Coach, I don't only recommend the usual 3 months emergency funds because when reality hits you, it really takes a while to recover when you get into a catastrophe of sort. Let's look at your numbers, let's just say you have at least $1000 or P40000 pesos(conservative rate), with rent of P3500, share of food to your friend about P5000 a month, personal stuff you need maybe P3000, expenses to go explore the other areas of Metro Manila,P10,000, you should have savings of P18,500 a month. Which means that if you do this with your money, it will take 54 months to save up for P1 Million pesos. If you want to have that P1 M in one year, you have to save at least P80k a month. Once you've saved up the P1M, you have options to invest it with at least 10% rate of return and your money will be available anytime you need it. YOu can work out the numbers the way you want it, bottomline, would you like to depend on the US Embassy to provide for you when you run broke? or would you rather be financially independent while you are enjoying your stay here in the Philippines? more tips to expats retiring here: during your first few years, if you follow my advice on saving up for at least a million pesos, and simply invest that safely while you are still getting your pension, get a local health card, stay healthy, live a clean and healthy lifestyle, I can assure you that you can truly retire like a king! Be very cautious about your money, about your passports, about your personal things. Be wise, be smart and be alert at all times. Filipinos can be the sweetest gal you can meet, but she can be the devious on the other side... I will have someone go out and look out for some places to stay near Tagaytay area that is inexpensive but safe so you guys can explore without paying too much and will be accompanied by a local guide. FF UP on RW, are you already here? FF UP on the guy who was asking about 401 k, I haven't received your information, where you able to roll over to a an IRA Account? I can help you invest it with a local bank that can transact with a California Administrator. They have a US based bank in CAlifornia too. Plan well. eat well. live well. Please check out my new website which will be up soon. www.pinaymentor.com Pinaymentor

guest
May 12, 2012 16:08

Hi, I find your article very informative especially using a Self Directed IRA. I am looking at the feasibility of using SDIRA to invest in real estate and hopefully my FUTURE retirement home in Cebu/ Bohol areas. Currently scouting for a reputable low cost US based SDIRA Provider who can help me with that goal. Any info would be highly appreciated. VicR

Daganflyer
Dec 27, 2012 02:36

Healthcare is a issue for me. I am a US citizen and planning on moving there some time within 2014. I have health issues. I plan to move near Bacalod City. As a secondary issue, I thought after I married a Filipina that I could apply for a extended visa? I was also told I could apply for citizenship and thus have dual citizenship?

beldog
Feb 12, 2013 19:05

Very well written and informative. I am planning on coming to Davao in April on a one year visa and taking time to explore as much as I can before making any final decisions. I have been doing "world" research for quite sometime and I find the most attractive area of the PR is the consistently high quality remarks on the friendliness and culture of the people of the Philippines. I look forward to the journey

Billabong2002
Jan 14, 2014 03:23

I did not see one thing which would be a retirement package...

jmvalle
Sep 20, 2014 13:15

My wife and I are currently considering a move to Tagaytay because of its cooler climate and the fact it is not flood prone, and it gives us some privacy from her family. I will be still working for the next ten years or so but plan on retiring there in the end. Our move won't be for a couple of years yet due to having to liquidate all our belongings but hopefully before 2017 we will make the move what do we need to do to get started and what are the pitfalls involved? lastly I am a diabetic and I need to find out if getting my meds will be a problem? I'm sure I have a thousand other questions but they will come with time. Thanks for the article

marigb
Jul 19, 2016 14:03

Hello, my partner and I are looking to start a small business in Palawan. How is the process to buy land? thank you

jamesmaybel
May 13, 2017 15:20

what are the financial requirements for living in the Philippines for a person retiring there who has a philippino wife

First Published: Jan 17, 2010

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