The Philippines is one of the most popular retirement destinations, not just in South East Asia but the whole world. If you’ve ever looked into it yourself, you’ll know why.
The government support for expats is fantastic, the cost of living is low, health insurance is cheap, and it’s a beautiful country. From the Philippines’ diverse and bustling cities to their many stunning beaches, international living doesn’t get much better!
The Philippine government has a whole department devoted to encouraging expats to retire there. This means that as well as cheap living, expats enjoy many other benefits, including:
- Duty-free import up to $7,000
- Exemption from airport taxes
- Partnership discounts
This guide will help you plan your retirement and the process of moving to the Philippines.
What is the cost of living in the Philippines?
Overall the cost of living in the Philippines is 50-60% lower than places like the US, UK or Australia.
Here are some average costs to give you an idea of what you need to live out there (in USD):
- Rent for a small apartment in a good neighbourhood: $300
- Monthly utility bill: $60
- Monthly Internet bill: $30
- 3-course dinner & wine for two: $30
- Monthly groceries bill: $250
- Private routine medical appointment: $15
- Men's haircut: $5
- Theatre for 2: $25
- A gallon of gas: $4
- Public transport for a month: $20
- Pint of beer: $1.50
The total cost to enjoy retirement in the Philippines is between $800 and $1,200 a month (£600-£950 or A$1,200-A$1,800).
Moving to the Philippines
The visa process in the Philippines is easy to understand, and there is far less work involved than some other popular retirement locations.
How much do you need to save?
You will need at least $10,000 in savings on top of your pension income to get your visa approved.
Depending on your circumstances, you might need more, and this amount doesn't include visa costs and other fees.
Visas & other documentation
Before you move to the Philippines, you'll need a Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV). To do that, you need to meet all of the following criteria:
- Be at least 50 years of age
- Deposit $10,000 into a bank account in the Philippines ($20,000 if you have no guaranteed monthly income)
- Deposit an additional $15,000 if you have a third dependent, plus $15,000 for your fourth, fifth, sixth etc.
- Have proof that your pension will pay at least $800 a month, or $1,000 for couples
There are a few extra costs to consider, too - the visa application costs $1,400 for the main applicant plus $300 extra per family member. You'll need to renew these every year, and that costs $360 for a family of 3, plus $100 for each extra child.
As well as a visa, you need to get an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR-I), which holds your fingerprints and other biometric data. The cost is $50, and you must renew it yearly.
If your pension doesn't pay $800 per month, then don't worry! You can count other benefits in your retirement income - like US social security payments, for example.
Cost for a couple with no guaranteed income
- $20,000 bank account deposit
- $1,700 visa costs
- $360 per year visa renewal
Cost for a family of 4 with a guaranteed income
- $25,000 deposit ($10,000 + $15,000 for the 2nd child/3rd dependent)
- $2,300 visa costs
- $460 visa renewal
Healthcare in the Philippines
If you need easy access to healthcare, you should consider sticking to big cities like Manila. In the countryside, hospitals are limited, and public transportation isn't always available to take you to see a doctor when you need one.
Taxes for expats
The income tax system is very straightforward and easy to understand. You will only be taxed on income that is earned from Philippine sources and never at more than 35%
However, you must get your visa and become a resident to avoid the final withholding taxes on earnings and winnings.
It's common for retirees to rent in the Philippines. Condos and apartments can be rented for around $300 per month.
If you want to buy, then you can do so, but you can't buy a detached home unless you have $50,000 invested in a Philippine bank. Whatever you do, make sure your Philippine home is located somewhere that has reliable infrastructure and is generally considered safe.
Tip: Consult the travel advisory for advice on which areas are best for international migrants.
General money tips
You can live a comfortable retired life in the Philippines for between $800 and $1,200 a month. That money may even stretch to having help around the house!
Entertainment, leisure and other activities don't cost anywhere near as much as they do in the US, UK, Australia or Europe. Going to movies costs less than $5, your average 3-course meal is around $7, and you can get spa treatments for under $10.
Soon after you settle down, you'll be able to distinguish between the 'local' spots and the 'tourist' ones. Getting familiar with local life will save you some money too!
Managing your retirement finances
Careful money management will let you enjoy all the benefits of retirement in the Philippines without worrying about money.
Banking in the Philippines
Because you need an account with a Philippine bank to get your visa, it is a good idea to have your pension paid into that account and use a Philippine credit card or debit card for day to day spending.
For the times when you have to send money internationally, you can avoid the high fees and less preferable exchange rates with us at WorldRemit.
Sending money to and from the Philippines
We believe that sending and receiving money internationally should be fast, simple and secure - and that’s exactly what our platform does for our customers.
We give you complete control over your money transfers and are upfront about the exchange rate and fees before you transfer funds. You can also track your transfers with our app, so you know exactly when the person you’re paying will receive the money.
Being on hand to financially support family and friends wherever they are and receive that support back when you need it is vital to our customers.
To set up your WorldRemit account, simply download our app, upload your ID, check the terms and conditions then you’re all set.