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Palawan, Philippines

Retire in Philippines

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Retirees share their experiences living in Philippines. What are the challenges and rewards of retiring in Philippines?

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William Russell Health Insurance

What is it like to retire in Philippines?

"Angeles City is the home of the former US Clark Air Force Base. There are many, many foreigners here and Americans are not in the majority. Angeles City is known as the Entertainment Capital of the Philippines and nightlife abounds. There are also very good golf facilities and other recreational opportunities," explained a retiree in Angeles City.

"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," explained one retiree living in Cebu City.

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What advice do overseas retirees have for others considering retiring abroad?

"I think the two most important attributes you MUST have is a thick skin and a sense of humor. If I have to explain why, please stay home," explained a retiree in Philippines.

"I would recommend it for anyone who like to explore the world and is not bound by family or finances to stay in their home country. Retiring abroad is not for everyone. But it has been a Blessing to me," explained one retiree living in Angeles City.

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What are the most challenging aspects of retiring in Philippines?

"1. Being away from family 2. Different ways of doing business in the Philippines (things move so slowly) 3. The poor image of Americans I see on tv 4. The incorreect impressions Americans have of Filipinos (and other lower income nations)," explained one retiree living in Angeles City.

"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," said another retiree in living in Cebu City, Philippines.

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What are the most rewarding aspects of retiring in Philippines?

"1 I have so many friends here 2. The people for the most part (overwhelmingly) are so nice 3. Foreigners, regardless of nationality, seem to stick together and support one another," remarked another retiree in Angeles City.

"For me, just the relaxation, and avoiding the cultural shift that has happened in the US over the past decade," said a retiree who moved to Cebu City, Philippines.

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What are healthcare services like in Philippines?

We asked retirees if they have access to good medical care in Philippines. They wrote:

"Yes. My regular physician is US trained and services most of the expats I know. His referrals for special services have been spot on. Medical costs here are exceptionally low compared to costs in the US and I have not yet needed to use my US health insurance," said another retiree in living in Angeles City, Philippines.

"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," explained a retiree in Cebu City.

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How do I meet people in Philippines?

When we asked people living in Philippines about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"I've met a lot of fellow expats at my apartment complex. Most of them have lived there for years and are currently in their 60s or 70s. It's also easy to meet new Filipinos. Everyone has a smile on their face and most are quite friendly," added another person in Dumaguete.

"I am a rather elderly male married to a Filipina for 25 years and spend 2-3 English Winter months in Bonifacio Global City in a condo, which we share with my daughter, who has been resident there for 5 years (was a gap-year!) and she is already fluent in Tagalog! This area is fantastic, with the newest and largest SM Aura Mall, and fairly new Market-Market Mall, both with loads of shops and restaurants plus the new wider roads and even more shops and restaurants. There are many tower blocks and new condos. The only thing I miss is expats for chats, meetings, etc. So I would welcome news of any expats/expat clubs and meetings in or near to Bonifacio Global City.," remarked another retiree in Taguig.

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What is life like in Philippines?

When we asked people living in Philippines what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Filipino culture revolves around the family. They are much more cohesive and loving than the average Western family. That being said, locals are very welcoming to foreigners here. The Filipino couple that owns the sari-sari (small store) down the street invited me over to sing karaoke," explained one retiree living in Dumaguete.

"Well, it's well-known that when you marry a Filipina, you also marry her family! Mine are many, and obviously have lots of young and beautiful children to spoil. But they also have financial problems, and shortage of employment prospects (many are poorly paid even as balikbayans (overseas workers) but never ask for help, so it gives us expats the chance to provide direct-charity, which makes one feel good," said another retiree in living in Taguig, Philippines.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What do I need to know before retiring in Philippines?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Philippines, they said:

"If coming from the United States: 1. Make sure that you have a reliable income of at least $1,500/month. Lots of older expats here live on SS or pensions. 2. Open an account at Charles Schwab bank before you depart, as they refund 100% of your ATM fees each month. Philippines is a mostly cash society so you will be doing lots of ATM trips. 3. Practice driving a motorbike if coming to Dumaguete. There are no taxis here, public transit is limited and cars are quite expensive. We actually live in Valencia which is 8 miles outside of Dumaguete. The higher elevation means that it is cooler. Motorbike is a must otherwise you are stuck! 4. Eat like a local to save a few bucks. Foreign foods are available at a few stores but prices are high. 5. Keep an open mind and calm down! Filipino society is much more laid-back than the U.S. You will need to be patient at times. 6. Have fun! I've visited many other places in The Philippines but so far Dumaguete is my favorite," said another retiree in living in Dumaguete, Philippines.

"Please come! Several of my friends have done, but all are in other locations and mainly retirees like myself. Several have taken permanent residence in Philippines; I should add - particularly now that UK has become degraded (say-no-more!)," explained a retiree in Taguig.

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What type of recreational activities are there in Philippines?

"There's a great golf club and driving range in the CutCut area and it's patronized by expats and locals alike. All top hotels have swimming pools that offer daily rates to casual visitors and many have a kids play area. All suburbs have a football/ sports pitches, but are not always well maintained. Unfortunately, there are few sports clubs," explained one member in Angeles City.

"Swimming can be done in the public pool of a sports stadium rather close to where I am living. Golfing in a nearby golf course by members of the golf club. Hiking in a public park nearby," said another retiree in Manila.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Philippines?

"There are large supermarkets dotted all around the city and there are numerous markets with fresh produce. Shopping malls, with all the latest gear, as well as nice affordable gear are found in most areas," explained one retiree living in Angeles City.

"Shopping can be done in malls or markets. They are located in practically all cities in Metropolitan Manila," said another retiree in living in Manila, Philippines.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Palawan, Philippines

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