Did you know that you can migrate to and retire in the Philippines as early as 35 years old? Yes, you can! This is just one of the reasons why retiring in the Philippines could—and should—be on your bucket list. But before you pack your suitcases, it would be wise to research and weigh the pros and cons of such an important decision. Here is a list that will hopefully help you decide whether to get a retirement visa in the Philippines or not:
- Low Cost of Living
- Friendly Filipinos
- Picturesque Scenery
- Government Incentives
- Low Minimum Retirement Age
In a nutshell: If you want to live comfortably even on a budget, enjoy paradise-like surroundings, and interact with friendly English-speaking people, then this archipelago is the retirement destination for you.
Low Cost of Living
According to Investopedia, the Philippines is the fifth cheapest country to retire to for 2018. Most expats can live comfortably on about USD800 to USD1,200 a month—including dining out and in-country travel, at least according to International Living, a website that covers living costs in different countries.
Household help is also abundant and cheap, so you can easily find someone to cook, clean, and do other chores around the house—even with a small budget.
Filipinos are world-renowned for being happy people who serve with a smile. What’s more, they speak English well given its inclusion in the school curriculum and the prevalence of American tastes in pop culture.
If you’re an English speaker, you will find communicating with locals to be relatively easy. The English Proficiency Index 2019 ranked the Philippines as #1 in Southeast Asia (#2 in Asia, second only to Singapore) and #20 Worldwide (out of 100 countries surveyed), proving the country’s high proficiency in the language.
The Philippines is a beautiful country. Home to six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the tropical country has something to offer for everyone. From the mountains, beaches, and even sand dunes, the country is a sight to see — and you don’t need to break the bank to do so. The following is just a tiny sample of what you can expect:
- Boracay – white sandy pristine beaches
- Siargao – voted the 2019 Best Island in the World by Conde Nast Traveler
- Banaue – man-made rice terraces
- Vigan – Spanish-era architecture
- Palawan – More beaches. The Underground River in Puerto Princesa is one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature!
All these among many, many others.
A dedicated government office, the Philippine Retirement Agency (PRA), ensures the provision of benefits to expats such as senior citizen discounts, duty-free imports (up to USD7,000 worth of household goods, and exemption from airport travel taxes. Expats in the Philippines are also allowed to start and own businesses.
Lastly, holders of the retiree visa (called the SRRV or Special Resident Retiree Visa) are considered permanent Philippine residents and would no longer need to have periodic visa renewals. That means you can leave and return to the country whenever you please without having to re-apply for residency.
As mentioned earlier, you don’t have to wait until you’re 60 to enjoy the fruits of your labor. As long as you submit the requirements, you can retire in the Philippines even as a 35-year-old—something that sets the country apart from its peers in Southeast Asia. Application and process requirements for Philippine immigration are also relatively simple compared to neighboring countries.
In a nutshell: If you are used to First-World infrastructure and healthcare even in rural areas, or are easily spooked by the smallest possibility of risk, the archipelago could slide a little down your list of retirement destinations.
The local infrastructure may not be the same or at par with those of more developed countries. This is more of an issue with the rural provinces, but if you decide to live in the urban metropolises (e.g. Manila, Cebu, or Davao), you can expect good-enough transportation and utility services.
As of April 2019, the US has placed the Philippines in Alert List Level 2 and reminds its citizens to “Exercise Increased Caution” when traveling in the country. It must be noted though that five (5) out of the top 10 safest South East Asian Cities in 2018 came from the Philippines. If you avoid the southern island of Mindanao, you are generally safe from terrorist threats.
If you need regular check-ups and treatment, living in rural areas might not be the best option. The country’s capital, Manila, may be famous for its traffic jams, but it more than makes up for it with healthcare that’s both accessible and affordable for expats.
Where do you get a retirement visa in the Philippines?
The Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) issues the Special Resident Retiree’s Visa (SRRV), a special non-immigrant retirement visa in the Philippines. The PRA is actually under the Department of Tourism and NOT the Bureau of Immigration. Having the SRRV actually exempts you from some Philippine immigration requirements.
Is retiring in the Philippines for you?
Every country has its pros and cons. All possible factors should be carefully evaluated before making any decisions. though It may be prudent to visit the country a few times and to look at it from the perspective of a potential resident, not a tourist.