Is My Plan Realistic?

Hello everyone. My name is Glenn and my Wife is Lolita and we have been married for 28 years. We are seriously considering moving to her province in the Alaminos Pangasinan to retire. Our plan is to save up at least $15,000 US before we leave. My steady income will be $650.00 on a monthly basis. We plan to live at the home of a family member who lives abroad and will allow us to live in their house rent free. We would have to pay utilities, food and house upkeep. Several years from  now I will be eligible for social security . That will bring in at least $1500 a month more each month. The trick is to be able to live comfortable with the $650.00 I receive now. Does this sound like a realistic plan to those doing their own research or who live in the PI already? I appreciate your thoughts on our plan.

Provided you have little or no medical expenses you should be able to live on $650/month provided you are willing to live like the natives.  We live north of Pangasinan in Ilocos Sur, where electricity is less than $50/month while internet is $20 and cable tv is $20.   Plenty of seafood and rice in your diet.

Thank you for your feedback. Would it be that tight were we would need to live with limited food and resources? If so I need to rethink my plan by maybe increasing my nest egg to allow for more of a monthly budget. . I know budgets always look good on paper, that is why I posted this question.  Thanks again for your feedback.

$550 a month for food, meds, transportation should not mean you will be hungry or under nourished, the only problem could be big events.  Living with family means someone is always being married, graduating, having birthdays etc.  As long as you manage to have pot luck events the budget should survive.  I have a friend in Metro Manila who lives on about that same amount after paying rent, he and his wife enjoy their life.  Good luck with your plans.

Thank you very much for your advise. God Bless.

Hi Glenn and Lolita,

$650 USD (35,000php) would give a Filipino family a happy life. As they would have food on the table every day and be able to pay there electricity, water, stove gas bill, as well some basic internet (phone) usage, clothing.  And a few luxuary items such as some soft drinks / beers.

For the electricty don't count on running the Airconditioner to much or plan on cable TV, this will depending on how much you can hold back on a few luxuary items and what you need for the house upkeep.

As Mugtech said dont forget medical expenses.  And if you needed a flight back to the USA you would be in trouble.  And any other bills you may have ongoing in the USA.  You are wise in saving up the $15,000 USD as an emergency budget.  And you may be able to draw down on that prior to you revieveing your larger pension.

And currently inflation here is running at about 5% so if this keeps up, life will get hard for many people on 35,000php a month.  The other consideration may be currency exchange rate.



Hope that it all goes well for you both and i hope that this helped.

Thank you so very much pej1111. This information is helpful to us. I see that I would need to reduce some things until my pension kicks in. Lolita is very good at watching our spend. I guess I will have to start to listen to her  :)

It depends on your expectation and used comfort.
650 USD looks very good to Filipinos who is native here in Philippines and in a province.
And I don't think that this amount is good for big cities like Manila or Cebu Cities.
Also you should think what type of comfort you used to?
You need AC? - most of Filipinos use only fan.
Hot Water (for Shower)? - most of Filipinos use only cold water
Good European food? - most of Filipinos happy with rice only.
Normal Car transportation - most of Filipinos happy with tricycle or Jippney
and etc.
If you don't need comfort (which i used to) I mentioned above then 650 USD is good enough.
If you need a different comfort you used to - 650 might be very small.

Just for your information some of my expenses here are:
Electricity - 12000 Peso/month (this is due to AC, Hot water, water pump and etc)
Internet - 2500 Peso/per month (very slow and rubbish quality)
Petrol - 5000/per month (50 Peso per/Liter or1 USD/per liter)

Philippines is expensive country, but if you can live like a tribal man, then your expenses can be very low.

Thank you for your reply.

My question is do you keep your AC running all the time?
What you are paying in Cebu City for electric is what I pay here in the US for a three bedroom rental home (18000 sqft) keeping the central air at about 78 degrees Fahrenheit all day. Your expenses above are about $390 USD not including food. This would definitely exceed my budget, at least initially.

This is definitely something to consider as far as the potential cost of how we would like to live. However I expect to cut back on some of my comforts to live in this beautiful country the Philippines. The question becomes to what degree.

Thank you again for taking the time to reply.

Yes I keep running couple AC all the times.
Also you should think that Philippines is not developed country therefore lots of services are quite expensive.

Electricity is expensive - due to they use only Coil or Diesel Power Station. For example in my native country (Russia) Electricity 5 times cheaper due to Nuclear Power Station in my City.

Internet in my home country may be 50 times cheaper.

You should understand that Philippines is an Island in the middle of ocean and any things you want to buy they need to bring from abroad from very very far. For example all tiles in my home brought from Italy and I was waiting for almost 2 month after my order. And I believe that price of that tiles in Italy is twice cheaper.

Thats the catch.

These are good examples I need to consider. Can I ask you as to why you moved to the PI? There are some positives that out number the negatives that made you decide to live there right? What would they be?

For me the culture, the people and being close to the ocean is a big plus for me. Also my wife's family is there in the province we are considering moving to. My wife Lolita has been in the states for over 25 years so it would be good for her to spend time with them as well. Of course I believed the cost of living would be allot less compared to the US which would allow me to give her a good retired life. I need to be sure this is the case and need to prepare properly.

Thank you again.

glenlita :

My question is do you keep your AC running all the time?


This is definitely something to consider as far as the potential cost of how we would like to live. However I expect to cut back on some of my comforts to live in this beautiful country the Philippines. The question becomes to what degree.

Many buildings in the provinces are not very well constructed to make air conditioning very efficient.  We use numerous fans 24/7 and have electric cooktops and a refrig plus tv, cable, internet and a hot water heater we use in the shower in January,  and the electric bill is about 2,500 pesos, about $50/month.  The only other cooling advantage we have is a breeze coming off Lingayan Gulf at night from October to March, we often sleep with no fans turned on, just open windows.

The breeze coming off of the gulf sounds very nice. We would enjoy that. It appears we may be neighbors (somewhat) as we plan on going to Telbang.

2500 a month for electric sounds allot better. I see your point about the home construction and the efficiency of the AC.

What about the quality of medical care in the area, good I take it? What about emergency service like ambulance, police and fire?

We go into Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur, 15 km north of our barangay, for any medical needs.  The dental work is good and very cheap, have not used any other medical services.  My wife paid 3,000 pesos for an eye exam and new lenses and frames at the local eye doctor.  The meds I take for blood pressure and type two diabetes do not require prescriptions here, the prices for metformin range from 13 pesos for a 1000mg pill to 2 pesos for a 500mg pill.  Pays to shop around.

Thank you for your replies Mugtech, you have been a big help in answering our questions. I hope our paths cross again someday in the Philippines.

Glenn and Lolita.

Another thing you may want to consider is dual citizenship for your wife.  As a citizen of the Philippines she will be able to enter the Philippines with you and they will stamp your passport good for a year without a visa or having to deal with immigration.  In addition you will not need an exit ticket.  After a year you can leave and return with your wife and get stamped for another year.  For my wife, after she became a US Citizen she had to take the appropriate paperwork with her to the Philippines consulate in NYC and got her certified dual citizenship accomplished in one day.  Hope this helps.  Once your wife turns 60 and is a Filipino citizen she will qualify for all kinds of senior discounts.

Thank you will be looking into this

Howdy Glenlita,

First, If you need a bank account here you will need an ACR card issued by immigration. Same to get a drivers license so that means renewing your visitors visa every three months or so and that costs. As others have said here, inflation is hitting hard. Right now the exchange rate is in our favor and that helps a lot. What if the exchange rate drops back to around P40 to the dollar?

I'm married and have lived here in the islands for just over 15 years and live on a bit over your initial monthly amount. We are raising three kids, pay about $55usd for rent. A/C runs 24/7 with a power bill of around $100usd per month. We make it and do okay. Nothing fancy and eating out and local travel is limited due to the low income. Our food is a combination of local foods and about 70% foods I would eat if I were in the States still. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy and would not ever leave. Just giving information for you to digest.

The location you will live in is good and can be low cost. Long way down to the Angeles area to find good stores and mall. Believe me, after a time getting to a mall or civilization becomes a necessity more than just a fun thing to do.

Your health may be good now but eventually, someday that will change. When it does, living in the location where you have chosen can cost you your life due to the extreme low quality and safety of medical care. Again, it is a long way to Angeles or Subic for reliable, life saving medical care.

If you do this, be very sure to hold out some of that $15,000usd and leave yourself a financial way out should it ever become necessary---it can be a life saver.



Very Best of luck for sure

Yes, I am glad you brought up the duel citizenship. Lolita became a US citizen and I always thought she automatically maintained her citizenship in the PI. This is something we should do for sure. You say it can be done it one day? that is great. How long before we make the move should she apply for this? Its sounds like it would be the best way as far as the immigration issue. Also the discounts she would be entitled to later in life will be helpful

Thanks again.

Hello Navajo52, thank you for your response.

It sounds like you are doing very well on what you are bringing in. Actually, raising three kids on it you are doing great. I am surprised about your thoughts on the quality of medical care in the Pangasinan region. I will definitely look into this further. I would hate to have to travel all the way to Subic or Angeles City for good medical care.

I see what you mean about visiting the mall from time to time. I am sure my wife Lolita will want that as well. LOL.

I will continue to look into this further and will remember your comments.

Thanks again.

glenlita :

Yes, I am glad you brought up the duel citizenship. Lolita became a US citizen and I always thought she automatically maintained her citizenship in the PI. This is something we should do for sure. You say it can be done it one day? that is great. How long before we make the move should she apply for this? Its sounds like it would be the best way as far as the immigration issue. Also the discounts she would be entitled to later in life will be helpful

Thanks again.

Probably best to get it done at your earliest convenience just because of the unknown factors involved.  You need to do research to find out exactly what the consulate would want to see.  You are in South Carolina, so I don't know where you will need to travel, perhaps Washington, DC.  As I said, my wife did it in New York City, but that was a few years ago.

glenlita :

Hello Navajo52, thank you for your response.

It sounds like you are doing very well on what you are bringing in. Actually, raising three kids on it you are doing great. I am surprised about your thoughts on the quality of medical care in the Pangasinan region. I will definitely look into this further. I would hate to have to travel all the way to Subic or Angeles City for good medical care.

I see what you mean about visiting the mall from time to time. I am sure my wife Lolita will want that as well. LOL.

I will continue to look into this further and will remember your comments.

Thanks again.

Howdy Again,

Actually my wife is the one that is good with the cash and to follow a good budget. The kids are great and surprisingly for a guy that never liked kids, they are the greatest joy in my life.

I am sure that where you plan to move you may find good medical care. When you get settled in you might try The Filipino Doctor site. There you can locate doctors and hospitals in any area and visit with a few of them just for fun. A
What Will be missing in your area is any reliable ambulance service and advanced life support in hospitals. Dangerous as we age eventually and health issues demand competent attention.

I haven't read other post that you have in so am wondering if you know that as a foreign citizen you can not own land. You can own a house but not the land under it. Unless or until one is married and living here for a few years it is quite risky to buy property. If the relationship/marriage fails for any reason you're out in the cold with no recourse at all.

At any rate, there are many things to learn as you go that can only be learned by living here for a time (usually the first two years or so.)
That going to malls and other places gets to be a pressure release valve when living locally and dealing with the locals gets to you.


Navajo

We looked online and found that there is an office in Atlanta which is about 3 hours from here. We will start the process here in the near future. Regardless of some of the negatives I am hearing, I am still thinking this is what we want to do. I may send Lolita to the province next spring to kind of check things out. I would need to stay back and work to build our nest egg. I will not consider doing this unless I am prepared. Hopefully this will work out.

Thank you again

Hello Navajo,

Thanks for the information around finding a doctor. Because Lolita's family lives there I am hopeful they will know how to obtain good health care. I read one of the other persons posting about possibly going to Guam for major medical issues. Besides, returning home and staying with my kids and getting treatment is another option if necessary.

Yes, we are aware that we cannot own land. We have family there that owns a house that will allow us to live there rent free initially, but later would allow us to lease the property long term. This may work as well but I am thinking the lease arrangement would be best instead of owning anyway.

Yes, I agree it will be best to go there myself and stay for a little while to see how I like it. However, because I work now it will be tough to go there and stay long enough. When I retire and I have my plan in place, if I don't want to stay I will return home. When I was in the Navy I lived off base in the Philippines for a few years so although not the same, I have an idea of the culture so it will not be a total shock to me. However, then I had a steady job and with the base was still somewhat associated with the US through the military.

This move would be different as we will be on our own. I have been with Lolita for 31 years now. If she walked then I would be lost anyway, regardless of where I am. Though this would be possible, I am not at all worried about it.

Thank you for taking your time to respond to me regarding my thoughts on a future in the Philippines. I am grateful.

Glenn

Your navy experience does give you a good idea of what life is like, but you will be missing seeing fellow Americanos.  In Ilocos Sur we have an informal group of 5 Brits, a few Aussies, 3 Americans, and a native Filipino who is also a duel citizen.  All have Filipino wives or girlfriends, and we meet about once a month for lunch at a local restaurant, communicating by email.  I met one of the members at the local cemetary on 11/1, quite the national holiday.  As a member of the local Catholic church I also met other westerners.  Hopefully your area will be similar.

That sounds real good. I am hopeful to meet other Expats and develop a friendship like you have. It will be important I agree. I have not seen many expat videos on YouTube from the Alaminos area. Not sure if there are many or not.

Its funny you mention the Catholic Church as both Lolita and I are Catholic and plan on working closely with the church. I am a permanent Deacon with the Diocese of Charleston SC. I would hope to be able to transfer my ordination credentials to the Philippines.

So then you understand what happens in the cemeteries every November, it is quite the event.  All kinds of vendors selling food and candles.  It has rained recently that day, locals telling me it is the tears of God for all the dead being honored.

Yes, all souls day. There was a cemetery on a hill just outside the base I remember. I never attended one but I remember the candles and how they lit up the mountain. It was a beautiful site. Lolita and her family would talk about this and how they actually give a plate of food to the deceased I believe. I am sorry I never took the time to attend one.

Hi, Glen / Lolita,

My wife (34 years) and I are also in the process of planning our retirement move to the Philippines. A few things I've learned along the way:

- For dual citizenship, if your wife is using your last name, you will need to get a 'report of marriage' along with her birth certificate from the Philippine Statistics Admin (PSA). Links are available on the Philippine Embassy website. If you didn't register your marriage with the Philippines (we didn't), you will need to, and they say it takes about 6 months to get the certified copy back. You will also need a certified copy of your marriage license or certificate. This is to validate her name. Lots of other documents required.
- She may be able to process her dual citizenship application in 1 day, but I'd recommend getting there early and have a lot of patience. If Atlanta is not a full-time consulate, you'll probably need to make an appointment for the days that they process these applications. Otherwise, Washington DC is the place for you (and us, since we're in Florida).
- I know this doesn't apply to you, but as a naturally-born Filipina, Lolita can own land up to 1000 square meters (about 10,000 square feet) without becoming a citizen / dual citizen.
- I highly recommend obtaining a 13A immigration visa for yourself. It isn't expensive and gives you lifetime residence without the need to leave every 3 or 12 months. She will need the dual citizenship first. That will also open the door to getting a driver's license and opening a bank account.

Best of luck!
-- Rich

Hi Glenlita,
          Something else you might want to consider would be Social Security benefits for your wife.  If she works 40 Quarters, 10 years, then she qualifies for retirement benefits.  No matter how much or how little she makes, if she qualifies she can receive benefits based on either her own earnings or half of your benefits.  So if you collect $1,500/month then she could receive $750/month.  If you die first she would switch to your $1,500/month as survivor benefits.

I have lived here for many years in the Philippines on $1300 a month from ssa retirement....So if you can get free rent it might be possible...I just bought a small house near a beach for $12,500 us dollars....at 76 years old its good for me.....good luck....JOE

Thank you Joe, very much.

Sergpol13: I read what you said below ...
"Just for your information some of my expenses here are:
Electricity - 12000 Peso/month (this is due to AC, Hot water, water pump and etc)
Internet - 2500 Peso/per month (very slow and rubbish quality)
Petrol - 5000/per month (50 Peso per/Liter or1 USD/per liter)"

I seen your above expenses that you sent to Glenlita and I've crunched my own Canadian expenses using your numbers and to me, those sound great. I'm just wondering if you live in a big city or if you live in a small town or village?
I'm planning on retiring in Davao City and I'm hope'n I can find something like you have and also, do you rent a small car or do you use a scooter or a motorcycle? Your help would be appreciated.

Jebster

I'm also Canadian and know the Phils quite well...

Electricity.
Electricity should not be that high, Sergpol13. But it may be 1200-3500p/month depending on your usage. Every district and even barangay in the Phils has a different wattage cost: last month we paid 4200p but we didn't trust our dishonest landlord. So may be somewhat inflated. We used our 1hp aircon almost constantly when home, and fan, ref, stove, lights, and any pump will add to the bill? Some places charge up to 18p/kwh; others only 13.

Internet
Please consider getting a "Globe at Home" router if you have a transmitter within reaonable distance from your domicile? You can take it anywhere in the country where there's a Globe signal, and never have to mess with passwords. The router we have is the larger of the two, and reportedly stronger for reception, and is still small enough to put in a large purse (woman's) or in a small luggage bag or packsack. Pretty cool, and most of the time it works just great. That way not have to rely on lousy signal with hardline or hotel wifi, at all!
Only 1-time purchase 2000p for the router and 1000p for prepaid cards that operate the same as phone cards on a mandatory monthly basis. No need for a 2-year plan that Globe and Smart try to sell you that locks you in often with lousy signal for the duration only at the location where you live.

Fuel for car or motorbike
We have a new Toyota VIOS 1500cc sedan, and it cost about 3000p/month but depends on how much and far you drive.
Of course motorbike will be much less, poss. 1/2 this cost. But will depend on how much used and cc of the engine. I had small 125cc bike, 150cc scooters, 1100 and 1600 big bikes, and it still comes down to how much used and your riding style...
If you are an island hopper, figure in costs for RORO barge/ferry costs? Can be from 800-1800p per trip for a car, and 180-300 for motor.
Although I spent most of my 12 years here in Manila and the Visayas, been to Davao 5 times and it's similar to most of the country in terms of bike or car. Get your 'mickey-mouse' driver's license, and depending on your budget, perhaps rent a bike or car first, and then buy? Let yourself get accustomed to the chaotic traffic conditions before getting your own vehicle might be helpful. If you hit someone or if they hit you, you might be stiffed with the cost of their transit to the hospital and at least initial medical costs (an Asian custom). So drive prudently but boldly or you may never got to your destination? smile.
So renting or buying is all about your preferences and budget. Most communities have some business(es) around that rent either or both. Oh yes, to go down on a bike in this country is going to happen. Dogs, cats, goats, cattle on the road, other bikes (many stupidly don't use their lights at night), cars, biggish dungcan trucks, lousy infrastructure, and esp. undisciplined kids may help create an accident or you going down. I rode bikes for about 12 years in Asia, and went down a few times with broken ribs, severe road rash, and such to show for it. If ride without a helmet, you could easily die if hit head hard enough. My half-helmet on one such occasion where a dog changed directions in a busy intersection dropped me only going 2mph (and I am not a shy rider!), and the half-helm saved my noggin! Hit hard on rocky roadside 2x and glad I didn't play the no-helmet game that many pinoy and some expats play.
Up to you, but you know yourself.
Oh yes, road discipline here is the exact opposite of Cda! These drivers are among the most selfish in the world! Push and barge in, don't respect traffic lanes or separation lines, split traffic, and their DL is meaningless cos no study or testing of skills needed. Got a few pesos, get a license by paying the many small fees at the many small windows at LTO where get stuff (Land and Transportation Office). If buy vehicle, will get registration several months after paying for it, or maybe never. Depends. But usually doesn't matter. If traffic guys or cops try to stop you, smile, wave and keep on going? Most times they won't chase you. Many of the informal checks for helmet or slipper use are to extort money from you, and your white face will be a red flag for them; the formal checks with true cops are to check you for drugs or guns, and stopping may be best policy.

Cultural differences
As you bring your NA standards here, go slow at first in all things?
Be patient, expect very few things to work simply except for readied hands to accept your cash.
Keep a tight rein on opening your wallet for anyone or anything. You are seen as 'rich' no matter your status in Cda, and for them to share your largess is expected: entitlement but with a dishonest twist easily outpaces millennials and 'homeless' back home.

I started 8 small businesses here: if the corrupt government doesn't get you, your business associates will. Broad hint!

Keep a low profile, be friendly and respectful, as revenge is common if someone's thin-skin is pierced. Walk and talk tall, but not boastful, and most pinoy will not bother you.

I've been in the worst of rural and urban areas in the country, as well as the most wartorn (muslim extremists vs army/police), and it's all about how you handle yourself.
If your risk-taking threshold is high, then be guided by a friendly self-discipline.
If it's low, then go slow and if sth looks great, ask around and keep safe.

Many expats can be as untrustworthy as many pinoy, and so be selective, as well as with filiipinas? Bar girls will target you and take your cash without a thought. In Davao was ripped off by a single mother for a goodly sum of cash 10 years ago: so pls don't trust even those who claim their child's life on your 'gift', etc. Compassion for the wretched living conditions can only go so far, as this society will drain your life savings as fast as you can pull it out of your bank account. Please know that i am not a pessimist, but to be realistic here is essential.

I hope some of this helps. I don't know you, jebster, but if you want to ask any specifics, go for it?
gl

Jebster :

I'm planning on retiring in Davao City and I'm hope'n I can find something like you have and also, do you rent a small car or do you use a scooter or a motorcycle? Your help would be appreciated.

Just an FYI: https://philippineslifestyle.com/canadi … ao-travel/

Hey daenr:

     Thanks for the info about the Philippines. I've vacationed there before for 2 weeks near Dumaguete & Siquior Island so I know a little bit about being there. I would like to ask why the "Globe at Home" router and where one might get one from. Also, I use a BuzzTv Android Box so would that come in handy for watching Tv? Being Canadian, I'd like to watch my Bluejays, NHL hockey and NFL / CFL football so I'm hope'n that will work over there.
     Have you lived only in Manila for the past 12 yrs or have you also lived other places, like say Davao City, Mindinao? I've been looking for information about Hotels / Inns in both Manila and Davao City, so when I do finally go there, I'll have some place to sleep in Manila (from the long flight) and then Davao City, where I'll meet up with a Filippina friend who'll be showing me around.
     Anyway, thanks again for your help and if you could help me with these other questions above, I would really appreciate it.
Thanks,

Jebster

My wife and I live in Quezon City and even here we can live on $650 a month while paying rent. That said, we are very frugal with our groceries buying a lot of beans, rice, sardines, oranges, bananas, etc. Also, while we could live on $650 a month, we prefer to live on maybe $900-1,000 a month so we can eat out, watch movies, fund hobbies, and travel around a little. Since you won't be paying rent, $650 should be plenty if you are happy with a simple life.

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