Retiring to the Philippines

What are your top 5 tips for retiring to the Philippines?

Don't x 5

Why not?

Have you and, if so, what do you most dislike?

Since 1990
Not worth the effort!

I'm moving there at the first part of next year. Proactively speaking, I feel the one of the most important thing is to not wait until all of your business affairs are concluded before making your move. To make your move a reality, I've concluded it's mandatory to charge some losses to "the game".

Welcome SDMiller57.

I would suggest the most important tip for those moving here is to take time to get to know the place and the culture before making any large or permanent commitments. Like several visits, or living here for at least a year. It is a developing country, and as such it takes some getting used to. Lack of infrastructure, noise, pollution, litter everywhere, etc.

Some don't mind it, some have difficulty (I'm in the latter category, unfortunately). But I love my girlfriend and her kids, and we have a lot of fun. I have to get out for a few months a year though, and still have property in the States to return to. For me personally, it would be rough if I didn't have that option.

Elaborate please

Elaborate on what? The situation in a developing country or not being able to take it all the time? Haha, not sure how to answer. First question - Have you been to the Philippines? If so then you probably understand what I'm taking about. If you haven't, then there's no way you could.

If you read some of the threads here you will see common problems such as incessant noise, barking dogs, traffic congestion and air pollution in cities, garbage on the streets and in the rivers, etc. Some of us aren't used to dealing with those issues and prefer to take a break from it now and then.. others leave after a few years and don't come back. Whatever you do, do not close off your options unless you know the place well and are making an informed decision.

There is also a lot of poverty, and a huge wealth disparity, with a few families controlling much of the wealth, and crime resulting from drugs and poverty. Philippines has one of the worst ratings for "impunity" meaning if someone wants to kill you they probably will, and no one will investigate it very far.  Finding a safe and quiet place to live can be difficult for some expats, especially those on a budget.

The people are generally nice, many work hard for very little and make do with what they have.. but life is hard and often short. Families are everything and I see a lot of happy smiling faces, and have never felt threatened personally. I respect the people and don't go out to bars or complain.  As expats, we can all help in little ways - helping a poor family out with some rice or school supplies, sending a kid to the dentist, or an adult for a check up.

Sdmiller57 :

What are your top 5 tips for retiring to the Philippines?

1. If you haven't been here. Read as much as you can from other expat experiences and watch a few youtube videos from the many expats who are quite willing to share their experiences in the RP.
2. Using Airbnb, Flipkey, or search on line for rentals (just type "for rent Tagaytay" into your browser, or the city of choice) and get to know the area before you make a more permanent decision.
3. Trust no one until it's earned. Your foreigner status for many is an invitation to scam you. Don't flash cash, wear a lot of bling, brag or be rude. Embarrassing a Filipino in front of his or her friends causes them to lose face and could end up being big trouble for you, don't argue, walk away.
4. If you haven't been here before, you may find a lot of younger ladies flirting with you, think with the head on your shoulders and be careful, there are a lot of scammers looking for wallet access. Though there are also many who are just looking for a good man. Be patient.
5. Know in advance what your likes and dislikes are as far as lifestyle.  The farther out in the country you get the less available are things like shopping, building materials, medical care, Immigration offices, airports, good restaurants, dependable utilities and airports.  Lowland areas are hot and steamy most of the year and you may want AC to cool off, dependable power is a must for the AC.  Higher elevations like Baguio or Tagaytay offer cooler temps year round. 

Read and research. Take a map of the Philippines and familiarize yourself with the areas you hear expats talking about. List the pros and cons of areas that interest you with regard to personal likes, recreation, immigration, hospitals, shopping, entertainment, malls, beaches, transportation, dependable utilities and housing costs. 
You can then whittle down your choices to those that offer a little of everything you feel are necessary for your lifestyle and needs. 

There are expats living all over the RP. Each has his own reason for enjoying the area in which he lives, while others may have an extreme dislike for the same area.  Point being, it's up to you to choose wisely. Due diligence is key to making a wise choice.

Lastly, always have enough money set aside for an emergency exit from the RP.  You do not want to be stuck here should you decide to leave. 


I was asking lasvegan

Sdmiller57 :

I was asking lasvegan

Asking what?

Sdmiller57 :

I was asking lasvegan

Well interesting negatives from the OP. Let's start again, firstly welcome to the forum and hope you gain knowledge from those offering/contributing suggestions with regards to this post and mayhap others.

Perhaps you could introduce yourself and what you are really searching for instead of a blank canvas opening. (Mate it could have been 10 or 20 and all members here can supply 30 answers)
All the input provided by members to your OP is offered to assist based on your opening question (very  broad) and may I suggest some great info supplied with no disregard to yourself and also no thanks from yourself for members input, time spent and suggestions to date offered. I appreciated the input provided by members and agree with most.
Settle back and spend the time to read here and other sites to gain info.

Cheers, Steve.

Sdmiller57 :

What are your top 5 tips for retiring to the Philippines?

And my answer? Have you sir the time to hear all that is Filipino? Are you asking for positives, negatives or a mix?
Have you ever been to the Philippines (my question to you) and tasted the people, country, dirt, culture, idiosyncrasies, corruption, frustration and I could go on. The beautiful scenery, Filipino time, the smiles and always help offered from both beggars and wealthy, financial windfalls, the love of a partner, family orientations and again I could go on as I tend to do. (lol ask the members, research and do it again).

My top 5 tips Sd:

1/ Single on a budget PH. is not the first port of call.

2/ Partnered on a budget with a pinay in toe, taste the flavours then perhaps move on.

3/ If you are arrogant/pompous/short tempered/easily led astray by opportunists/ hate traffic or a tropical climate. Wrong country.

4/ Business  practices, banking, immigration, renting/buying/purchased, shopping, the legal system, internet, phone technology systems, electricity, cable/satellite TV,  phone plans with no voice mail, bottle deposits on a case of beer.

5/ Dealing with locals both advantageous or you got ripped off no matter the local cafeteria or a tradesman proffering expertise and then borrowing tools,

6/ whoops that would be too much info. To our OP please share.

Cheers, Steve.

Most of these people live in gated subdivisions and have no idea about real Filipinos they are here because most woman in their country wouldn't give them the time of day, I get a kick out of watching them being lead around by their girl friend the one with 2 kids, no one can tell you what to expect so don't worry just go with the flow I first came to the philippines in 1964 out of the army

Interesting observation/take Okieboy and I'm glad you said many and not all. Perhaps off topic as the OP asked for 5 tips for retiring to PH. LOL in 1964 I was only a 5 Y/O.
Perhaps you could enlighten us to the Philippines in that era with another post, I for one would love to hear the comparisons from the old guard.

Back to your post and only from my observations "most" (generalised) foreigners live within Filipino communities and not gated subdivisions for many reasons, love, finances, location (not in a restricted "subdivision"). "Many" of us mingle, laugh, hug, share, give, take, enjoy the local un gated surroundings/life. Asking these people westerners I meet, are they on expat sites is met generally with "what's an expat site"? Old school that have lived and made their lives without lots of tripe "yes guilty" or read between the lines, don't judge foreigners living in PH. based only on expat sites, as I always say, "get your hands dirty and then some".

I am simply a newbie, 8 years working and living here, PH. back and forth to Oz, recently took over our home there that we purchased some years ago, while yes mostly internationals in our chosen area, we deal daily with locals. (research)
I'm afraid to say that I and my better half enjoy living absolute beach front, 4 kms from town, quiet respectful neighbourhood, no barking dogs, no rubbish on our streets/locale friendly and no security guards needed, down side the occasional burning of rubbish/trash and an inept/vague aptitude, a topic already covered in hundreds of posts.

Choosing a partner that leads you through the malls  with a nose ring is for another thread and I am sure the OP will see the obvious with a little research. Yes while prattling on, this submission only touches base within question number one of the 5, as said let's move it out to 10 or 20, seriously there is no need to stereotype foreigners that chose to call PH. home and where they live is a choice governed by many factor.


I was asking them to elaborate. That’s all.

I’m the OP. I don’t recall any negatives. I thought it was a good question, but it seems maybe it was not. I was merely looking for some thoughts. Thank you to those who offered them. I’ll continue to follow the forms and I’m sure, benefit from the comments.


Sdmiller57 :

I’m the OP. I don’t recall any negatives. I thought it was a good question, but it seems maybe it was not. I was merely looking for some thoughts. Thank you to those who offered them. I’ll continue to follow the forms and I’m sure, benefit from the comments.


Your OP question Sdmiller was very vague and obviously will receive both positive and negative input, varied opinions and left field comments such as my own. Sd, you did receive input both good and bad and I asked you as a courtesy to introduce yourself so that members can offer decent input and advice based on your situation/needs and their (members) experiences.

There is an introductory for new members at the top of the forum listing or you can do it here.

Different take on your OP 5 questions and a little different to earlier answers from myself and others.


1/ Have plenty of money. Don't be a tight ar*e.
2/ Pick up a girl and the family that comes with her, have even more money or nip it in the bud day one as the wise do.
3/ 3rd world developing nation expect little when it comes to services/technology and western norms.
4/ Select where you decide to live extremely wisely and then some, don't ever lock yourself into something you will probably regret.
5/ Traffic, road rules unfollowed/pollution/corruption/opportunism and naivety abound depending on how street wise you are/become.


1/ Have plenty of money. Definitely be a tight ar*e and farm it out as you see fit.
2/ live a single life, partnered  no different to other countries first or third world.
3/ There are plenty of cheaper places to live than PH. they also offer better services and conditions, research sunshine. Visa requirements are harsher in those counties.
4/ If you are serious, read/research then do it over and over to learn as the converted have.
5/ Welcome to the Philippines, or as the locals say "it's more fun in the Philippines" open to conjecture from my measly 8 years here but prospering.
6/ An extra one. If you find comfort and love in PH. then go back to 1 and 2.

At the end of the day Sd, we can only offer opinions based on your info supplied, asked, scant at best and perhaps time to give/reach out for definitive answers.

Cheers, Steve.

When I came to the Philippines it was an invitation from a Filipino first Sgt. In my unit he was retiring same time I was getting out, and wanted me to come to the Philippines and stay with him and his family, this was in April 1964 I stayed a few weeks and returned about every year I had a vacation if I remember I had to have a visa before I came, the peso to the dollar was about 3 to 1 but things were in centavos than ,it was as I look back so poor, very few foreigners where I was in Mindano I live here now and things are better but still a long way to go, corruption is in the culture it won't go away easy, I think also the different parts of the country have different culture, you have adapt, keep your eyes and ears open when you get here, learn don't get friendly with people quick,after a few years you will be wise enough to either go or stay

These are GENERALIZATIONS!  Not applicable to all people nor all situations.  They only represent a significant percentage of probability.  You can mitigate alot of this static by simply not being an arrogant, my way is the only way, tourist.  The choice is yours.

1, Like Dorothy said, "we are not in Kansas anymore" .  You are not Philippino foriegner, and never will be!  YOU must be willing to make the many attitude adjustments needed to live within a VERY different culture.  If not be rich enough to create your own little oasis mimicking as much as possible your home and being very offensive to your neighbors.

2.  Navigating the changes in daily life will be extremely difficult on your own.  Surprise when you walk into a government office and hear the tapping and smell the ink and oil of typewriters and have to look hard to find computers.  Not just antiquated methods and procedures but will also seem to you to be absurd, inefficient, silly, ........  But it works here about as well bureaucracy does anywhere else on this planet.

3. This place is Asian.  Workers have no ability to go outside their procedures, bend the rules, give any more effort than is required by their position, Many can bend if an additional gratuity beyond the kano tax is offered.   Oh the kano tax is sometimes applied because you are a rich foreigner.

This IS NOT a generalization but a tried and true law:
4. Your road will be greatly smoothed out by a wonderful Philippino woman.  One committed enough to deal with the cultural differences in a lifetime relationship.  Once the ooey gooey stars in the eyes, birds sing phase ends,  You do not approach, or solve disagreements in a compatible manner.  Many of the expectation each is to meet are different....  Commitment of real Jesus taught love is the only solution.  We can blend the strengths of our cultures into something wonderful while trashing many of each cultures weaknesses...

5. your pockets will become dry with a not so wonderful woman.  But that is another topic.

Teejay -- solid advice throughout. This should be on the expat homepage, as it applies universally. For the Philippines, I would add that family is everything - if you don't have one in the Philippines, you'll probably have a more difficult time assimilating and enjoying the culture. I have visited, I think, 7 times, and we're moving there permanently next spring. I am really looking forward to it.

1. Send yourself a Balikbayan box with all of your essentials. The first thing I would include is any OTC meds you use. Neosporin, Tylenol, Cold meds etc. You can't just go buy tylenol here. You have to spek to a pharmacist who will recommend an OTC.

2. Bring 3-5k to set yourself up. That will include renting and furnishing an apartment, installing AC, buying a washer, and such. I blew through 3k pretty fast my first month.

3. Make sure you have enough income. You  can come here and live on $1,000 a month, but I wouldn't. I would plan on twice that.

4. Get an S&R membership. It's a warehouse club like Sam's Club and it's where you will find things like American coffee.

5. If you are a veteran you will acclimate faster. If not, you have what we call the crud from the local germs so expect to get a little sick. You can also expect swollen feet for a few weeks. You should get through it just fine. Worst case you might need an antibiotic if you get bronchitis.

We moved back to retire here in 2015. Wife is Filipina and I’m retired military and civil service.

1. Do your do diligence to find out all you can about living here. Hopefully you are familiar with philippines. Learn about cultural differences.

2. Establish a minimum time that you would stay here before you ever think about returning to your home country. I gave myself 4 years. It took that long to adjust living here.

3. If you are not definitely about staying here put your things in storage. After couple years if you are sold on it. Return home sale you things.

4. Make sure you have enough money to live on here. There isn’t a safety net for expats. It’s nice if you have a couple of pensions. Or a lot savings to sustain yourself here. I would suggest you have a couple banks (better credit unions) in home country that your pension goes to. Bring money over as needed. If you need borrow for like car, credit unions have better rates.

5.  Come here being very flexible. If you have anger issues don’t come. Prepare to expect the unexpected. Attitude is everything here. Patience is a big bonus here. Focus on more positives here than negatives. There is so much more but you will learn.

Hmm Lotta advice here so might throw my 2cents in. I first to the Phils in 1979 for a couple of weeks and stayed a couple of months and have routinely been back many many times. I/we own a couple of properties in the Visayas.
But it boils down to who you get involved with . The good the bad or the ugly and that shapes your life experiences and draw you in or repel you like oil and water. Be enthusiastic and slow to make any big decisions, for the most part just go with the flow. Laugh at what's funny  and remember that the event is important not the timing of it. So things dont  happen on time rarely if ever, go with it :)
Me, I got lucky and ended up with the good and knowing some really great people who helped me  greatly and in return I have helped them and others as well.
Things have changed greatly since my arrival back in the late 70's for the most part for the good. The man at the helm I like at least he gets things done and hes intolerant of many things that were screwing up the Phils. From my point of view hes good for the county, unorthodox yes and rough around the edges and not every one cup of tea. But as Napoleon said 'if you want to make an omelette you must break some eggs '.

lasvegan :

Don't x 5

:lol:  :lol:  :lol:

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