Spreading over 7000 islands, between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, the Philippines is famous for its friendly community, tropical climate and stunning beaches. Throw in the extremely reasonable cost of living, and it’s no wonder the Philippines is a popular place for retirees.
Whether you're a Brit, an American or an Australian you might be considering setting up your home overseas to enjoy expatriate life in retirement. If you are looking for a new experience in a country where your money will go further, then it’s certainly worth considering the Philippines.
Here’s a complete guide to how to retire in the Philippines as an expatriate.
What’s the money like there?
The official currency in the Philippines is the Philippine Peso. You’ll see it written using the currency symbol ₱, and the code PHP in exchange offices and online. One Peso is made up of 100 Centavos (the word Centavo might also appear written as sintabo or sentabo). Mostly, bank notes are used in the Philippines, although there are also smaller denomination coins in circulation.
Exchange rates rise and fall, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the market so you know what your money will be worth in the Philippines. You can always get the most up-to-date figures by using an online currency converter, but at the moment, here are some general, rounded figures to give you a basic understanding:
- 1000 GBP (pounds) = 63,840 PHP (Philippine pesos)
- 1000 USD (U.S. dollars) = 47,480 PHP (Philippine pesos)
- 1000 AUD (Australian dollars) = 37,370 PHP (Philippine pesos)
What's the cost of living?
Life in the Philippines is fairly cheap, but the costs do vary between areas. Imported and luxury goods can be found in the larger cities - which have malls and amenities like any large western cities might. However, they can be relatively expensive. Despite this, if you live a little more like a local, get to know your local vendors, and avoid places where you might be charged extra as a ‘tourist’, you can attain a very high quality of life for a relatively low cost.
The data site, Numbeo, provides average cost of living data which can give valuable insight into the prices of everyday essentials, entertainment and travel in different locations.
|Regular goods||Average price in the Philippines (USD)*|
|Three course meal for two at mid-range restaurant||$14.13|
|One litre of milk||$1.53|
|Loaf of white bread||$1.02|
|Bottle of wine (mid-range)||$6.06|
|Petrol (One litre)||$0.82|
|City centre apartment rental (One bedroom)||$239.48|
|City centre apartment rental (Three bedroom)||$464.04|
*These calculations are from Numbeo, which aggregates cost of living figures entered by locals. They’re an average across the country. Therefore, the actual costs will vary by region and city.
It’s definitely a good idea to do your research, and take into account all the costs connected with retiring in the Philippines.
One expensive pitfall for many expats is the high fees levied for international money transfers. If you need to regularly move money from a bank account at home to your bank account in the Philippines, then it’s good to know that your home bank might not be the cheapest option for this service. Often, banks apply high charges for international money transfers you may not be aware of - the fees might be hidden in poor exchange rates. A much better bet is a specialist service like Wise, where you can move your money from one country to the other using the real exchange rate, and with a low fixed fee - leaving you with more money to enjoy your retirement.
How much money do I need to retire in the Philippines?
The cost of living in the Philippines varies enormously based on the type of lifestyle you lead, and where you choose to live. However, it's certainly possible to retire cheaply in the Philippines, without feeling at all deprived. International Living Magazine estimates that you could fund a modest retirement in the Philippines with just $760 a month, including rent. This assumes that you’ll live, eat and shop like a local. If your aim is to retire on a limited budget, then looking to live somewhere slightly outside of the centre of town, or in one of the lesser known resorts, will mean you can get more for your money.
On the other hand, if you’re moving to retire in a more luxurious setting, then you can live an extremely comfortable life for a relatively low cost. If you want a lifestyle of golf and country clubs, with restaurant meals and some help at home thrown in, it’ll still not break the bank. Something in the region of $1140 a month should be enough to afford some of the finer things in life during your retirement in the Philippines.
One of the main drivers of your living expenses will be rent. The costs of renting a property vary enormously depending on where you chose to live. Of course, you might prefer to buy a property in the Philippines, which could bring down your daily expenses significantly. If this is your preference, then check out the rules carefully, as foreigners can only own property under strict conditions in the Philippines.
You can estimate the cost of living in the Philippines, based on the city and lifestyle you're interested in.
What’s daily life like?
The Philippines is a large country with a varied geography, leading to huge differences in the temperatures and climate in the regions. There are four different climate patterns depending on where you are in the country. These can be characterised as tropical rainforest, tropical savanna, tropical monsoon and humid subtropical. The temperatures are always pretty hot, although some highland areas get some reprieve from the tropical humidity at times.
There are also strong monsoons in some parts of the country, so it’s worth doing your research before choosing an area to live in. Manila, for example, has dry periods from January through April, when the weather can be very pleasant, with the rainy season kicking in during May.
|City in the Philippines||Average Lowest Temp||Average Highest Temp|
|Manila||26°C (78°F)||30°C (85°F)|
|Cebu||27°C (81°F)||30°C (85°F)|
|Baguio||18°C (64°F)||21°C (70°F)|
|Davao||24°C (75°F)||25°C (77°F)|
One major advantage of life in the Philippines is that English is very widely spoken. This makes it very easy to get by day by day, but also to find new friends and acquaintances. There are large expat communities in the cities and popular beach areas, which include a high proportion of retirees, meaning you can always find other seniors to join in activities and explore with. It’s good to know that there's an especially high number of US military retirees in the Philippines, and this leads to active expat communities. There are also voluntary organisations run by and for ex military personnel in the Philippines, many of which open their activities to non-military folk as well. Check out what’s on offer in your local area, online.
Expat retirees in the Philippines are welcomed by the government and local community. You can expect to find a notoriously friendly community, and have the support of the authorities as you settle into your new life.
What are the best places to retire to?
The Philippines is a large and varied country. The capital, Manila, is a truly global city, with a huge expatriate community. It’s popular because of the choice of amenities like theatres and malls, but also the good quality of private medical care available. However, life in Manila is relatively expensive, and heavy traffic means the environment isn’t always great. An alternative is to live somewhere outside of Manila but in an easy travel distance so if you want - or need - to get to the capital quickly, you can. Laguna and Cavite are popular choices, with strong transport links, good property on offer and facilities such as golf and country clubs.
If you’re considering Manila as a retirement destination, it’s also good to know that there are areas of the city which struggle with levels of crime. On average, crime in Manila is moderate to high, as in many large cities, and you should exercise caution. You can compare the crime rates in Manila with those of your hometown online.
Other choices for expats, which balance an attractive lifestyle and minimise the potential safety concerns of the large cities, include the highland city of Baguio, known as the ‘City of Pines’. Here crime levels are low, and the climate more moderate than in Manila. However, Baguio is some six hour drive from Manila, which might be problematic if you need to visit regularly.
What are the visa requirements for me?
The Philippines offers a special retirement visa for anyone who meets certain requirements. This means that if you’re a Brit, an American or Australian citizen looking to retire in the Philippines this might be the right visa choice for you.
To be eligible you must be over must be over 35 years old, and pay a fixed deposit amount to the authorities in exchange for your visa. This deposit amount is then returned when the visa is cancelled. You’ll need to hand over between $10,000 and $50,000 usually, although the exact amount depends on your age, and whether or not you have a pension coming in once you move to the Philippines.
You also need to pay admin fees to get your visa, and may be subject to a small annual fee which entitles you to some ongoing support. This might be used to help you access government services or find the right medical care, for example. The full details are available on the dedicated government website, and you can also apply online and upload the documents needed to support your application.
The opportunity of retirement in the Philippines attracts people from all over the globe. Whether you’re looking to spend time in the busy city, or by the beach, you’ll be welcomed by a community of expats who have already made the leap.
Good luck, and enjoy planning your dream retirement in the Philippines.
How much do you need to comfortably retire in the Philippines? ›
International Living, a magazine that extensively covers the costs of residing in different countries, reports that most expats can live comfortably with $1,000 to $2,200 a month. That includes housing and going out to enjoy what the Philippines has to offer.What is required to retire in the Philippines? ›
You are at least 35 years old and make a deposit of at least $50,000 in a bank account in the Philippines; or. You are at least 50 years old and have a pension. You can financially support yourself and any dependent family members that may join you.Is it easy to retire in the Philippines? ›
The Philippine government makes it very easy to retire there with their Special Resident Retiree's Visa (SRRV). This visa allows multiple entries into the country which means you can travel as much as you'd like. Better yet, it offers the right to stay indefinitely without the need for constant renewals.What 3 things might be important to retirees when it comes to choosing where to live? ›
Major factors to consider in a retirement move include cost of living, taxes, amenities, and access to health care. It's always a good idea to visit several areas before you decide to move anywhere for your retirement.Is retiring in the Philippines a good idea? ›
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.Can a US citizen live permanently in the Philippines? ›
If you wish to settle in The Philippines and you are at least 35 years old, you may apply for a Special Resident Retiree's Visa (SRRV). The SRRV is granted by the Philippines Retirement Authority (PRA), and you may reside indefinitely in the Philippines with free entry and exit.Can you receive Social Security in the Philippines? ›
The Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) in Manila provides services for the Social Security Administration (SSA) and other federal benefit agencies to customers in the Philippines and over 40 other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region.How much does a retirement visa cost in the Philippines? ›
What does a retirement visa for the Philippines cost? A one-time application fee of $1,400 for a single applicant and $300 for each dependent. An annual fee of $360 (up to three family members) and $100 for each additional dependent.How much bank balance is required for Philippines visa? ›
The bank balance required for a Philippines visa is the minimum amount you will need in your bank to be able to apply for a visa. The Philippines embassy has set this amount to be at least $1000.Can I collect my Social Security if I move to the Philippines? ›
Can I Collect Social Security if I Live Outside the U.S.? If you are a U.S. citizen and qualify for Social Security retirement, family, survivor or disability benefits, you can receive your payments while living in most other countries.
Where do most Americans retire in the Philippines? ›
Most US expats start off living in Manila. As the capital, it has the most western amenities and makes acclimating to life in the Philippines easier for Americans. But Americanized shopping malls, high-rise condominiums, and fast food options are not why Americans move to the Philippines.Where do most Americans live in Philippines? ›
Most expats in the Philippines live in the Metro Manila area, particularly in Makati City – home to many international corporations and the heart of the country's diplomatic community.What is the number one concern for retirees? ›
Paying for health care
Health care costs are the top retirement concern for Americans. According to the survey, 28 percent of people are worried their medical expenses will be in too high.
1. Not factoring in moving costs. One of the costly retirement mistakes people make when picking their forever home is failing to fully plan out the expenses involved in a big move. Although the destination itself might be affordable, a cross-country move may not.What is the first thing to do when you decide to retire? ›
- Take inventory of your assets. ...
- Build an emergency fund. ...
- Lower your debt. ...
- Know what you want your retirement to look like. ...
- Make an estate plan. ...
- Diversify your portfolio. ...
- Know when to withdraw funds.
Any amount received by a retired employee in excess of what is provided in the BIR-registered retirement plan shall be taxable. A retirement plan is duly registered with the BIR when it has been issued a Certificate of Qualification as a Reasonable Employees' Retirement Benefit Plan.What are the disadvantages of the Philippines? ›
- Terrorism. Unfortunately, violent people ruin it anywhere you go, and moving to the Philippines does not exempt you from terrorist exposure. ...
- Crowded Locations. ...
- The Rainy Season. ...
- Sometimes Too Hot. ...
- Terrible Wi-Fi (In Some Places) ...
- Extra Fees. ...
- Environmental Degradation. ...
No visa required for a stay not exceeding thirty (30) days. Traveler must hold valid ticket for return journey to country of origin or next country of destination and a passport valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the stay in the Philippines. No visa required for a stay not exceeding thirty (30) days.Does the US allow dual citizenship with the Philippines? ›
Dual Citizenship acquired by birth – A child born in the United States on or after 17 January 1973 when either or both parent/s was still a Filipino citizen is considered to be a dual citizen from birth.What are the requirements for an American to live in the Philippines? ›
- a passport valid for at least six to twelve months.
- two completed application forms.
- a copy of your employment contract.
- your curriculum vitae.
- several passport-sized pictures, signed on front bottom.
Is it hard for an American to live in the Philippines? ›
The Philippines is a top-rated destination for expatriates. The country has a warm climate, friendly people, welcoming culture, and low living costs make the country an ideal destination for expats.What happens to my Social Security if I leave the US? ›
If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your Social Security payments outside the U.S. as long as you are eligible for them. However, there are certain countries to which we are not allowed to send payments.Is US Social Security taxable in the Philippines? ›
Social Security (Article 19)
A US person who resides in the Philippines, then only the United states will be able to tax that Social Security income.
If you leave the U.S., we will stop your benefits the month after the sixth calendar month in a row that you are outside the country. You can make visits to the United States for specific periods of time, depending on how long you've been outside, to continue receiving your benefits.How long can you stay in the Philippines with a retirement visa? ›
Holders of the Philippines retirement visa (SRRV) are entitled to multiple-entry visa and the right to reside in the Philippines indefinitely.What is the best retirement age in the Philippines? ›
65 years old is the compulsory retirement age in the Philippines, but you can opt to retire early. Assuming you have not saved for a retirement plan at 40, just remember that the sooner you wish to retire, the higher your financial target will be. 2.Can a naturalized US citizen travel to the Philippines? ›
Can a US citizen travel to the Philippines right now? After nearly two years of lockdown, the government restored 30-day visa-free entry to citizens of 157 countries, including the United States, regardless of their vaccination status.Can a US citizen have a Philippine bank account? ›
Who can open a bank account in the Philippines? Anyone can open a bank account in the Philippines. In the past, non-residents, including those holding a temporary visitor's visa, couldonly open a foreign currency deposit account, or a peso account funded by foreign currency deposits converted to peso.How much money can you bring from US to Philippines? ›
A person may carry up to the amount of USD 10,000 (or equivalent in any other foreign currency), in cash or other monetary instruments, into and out of the Philippines.Can I open a bank account in the Philippines even if I am abroad? ›
The country hosts many global banks that also have branches in the U.S., making it easy to integrate your finances. To open a new bank account in the Philippines, you must be prepared to present identification in-person and have the proper visas.
What is considered high income in Philippines? ›
|Income classification||Monthly income|
|Rich||At least ₱182,000 and up|
|High income (but not rich)||Between ₱109,200 to ₱182,000|
|Upper middle income||Between ₱63,700 to ₱109,200|
|Middle class||Between ₱63,700 to ₱109,200|
And based on 2020 estimates, they receive a paltry average monthly pension of P18,525 from the Government Service Insurance System and an even leaner P5,123 from the Social Security System.Is Philippines a good place for expats to retire? ›
The Philippines has a long history of being a popular destination for expats looking for a new home. There are many reasons why expats choose to move to the Philippines: The cost of living in the Philippines is only a fraction of the price in the US or Western Europe.What is the average cost of living in the Philippines 2022? ›
Compare cost calculates the living index and as of 2022, the cost of living index in the Philippines is at 36.66. According to NUMBEO, a family of four estimated monthly costs 102, 006 pesos ($1,790.15) whereas they do not have rental costs. It is 29,198 pesos ($512.39) for a single person.