Is Overseas Retirement Right for You?
So asks a large circulation on-line publication with a large readership … but very little information about living in the Philippines.
After you’ve been lured by the low cost of living; after you’ve been razzle-dazzled by white sandy beaches or towering mountain views; long before you sell everything you own and move off to a foreign land, there is one question that still needs to be answered:
• Don’t forget about the lifestyle killer … Inflation:
Well there is little doubt inflation has affected us a lot over the past five or ten years. But has inflation caused that much of a “dent” in living decently here in the Philippines? My view is no. Food is higher, electricity is higher, and gasoline, of course (so are your costs for these, no matter where you live, but there are dozens of things on my monthly budget that are still virtually unchanged from 2006 when I came to the Philippines to live, full-time.
We think we have it bad here… (‘here’ meaning the USA)
Although it’s widely believed to be underestimated, the CPI in the US is on the lighter side of inflation compared to the 70 other countries listed below. As shown, the median CPI for the 71 countries is 5.83% (YoY) compared to the most recent CPI of 4.2% in the US. The highest inflation rate goes to Venezuela and the Ukraine at 31%, followed by Sri Lanka (26%), Vietnam (25%), Egypt (19.7%) and Pakistan (19.27%).
Although our “official” inflation rate is below the majority of the countries we analyzed, prices here are higher than major countries like France, Germany, the UK, Canada and Japan.
Read the full article on world inflation rates, which sadly doesn’t include the Philippines. To see what the rates in the Philippines are, see here:
I don’t know about you, but the difference between 4.1% and 4.4% isn’t enough to spend a lot of time agonizing over … Inflation here in the Philippines is just not a big factor for expats, in my educated (by practical experience) viewpoint.
• Is overseas retirement right for you? … This, to me, is the really big question. Especially the issues so many seem unable or unwilling to talk about.
Does the thought of watching your grandchildren grow up via e-mail cause you pain? If so, you might not be ready to make the leap across the Pacific just yet.
Family separation issues are a leading reason that overseas retirees pack it up and move back home. You also have to consider the issue that many friends and even close family members are going to consider you a bit “nuts” to even think about such a move. And after you make the move? Expect contact with friends and family back home to dwindle constantly, even when you work at keeping relationships alive. Out of sight, out of mind so to speak.
How’s your patience level? If getting your driver’s license renewed in your home country makes your nuts, wait until you encounter the bureaucracies in countries where it can take weeks to get a telephone installed and hours to send a bank wire. Here in the Metro Manila area, where the Philippines has perhaps it’s most robust infrastructure, let’s look at something so simple as receiving money via Western Union. You’ll likely have to “stump” from office to office, all displaying the well-known Western Union logo, before you find one that is actually paying out money. Then, you have to hope that they are “connected” on that particular day … by my own experience, Western Union offices here are off-line more than they are on-line. It can take hours to get actual money in your hand.
Today a huge issue here in the Philippines is electrical service. Mine here in Marilao has been fine, but thousands of expats in most of the country are suffering with their electricity going off without notice at least once per day and some have reported it stayed off for a long as 20 hours straight.
In my particular subdivision we are know for having “good” water service. The home owners association has a well and a pump and a big water tank, and we deliver over our own piping network to all the homes. There times a day that is .. 0500-0700, 1130-1230 and 1800 to 1915. It’s better than many of the local competing systems. How do we make sure water comes out of the faucet when we want it to? Easy. We also have our own individual tanks.
Do you have the ability to pick up new languages easily? Sure, while many people do speak English as well as their native language, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to speak it to you. Even if you do encounter English-speaking people, the odds are pretty good that you’ll need to know a bit of the native language to show respect for your host country, communicate to those people who do not know English, read local signs and newspapers, and help expand your social circles. Another reason to learn the local language (and the Philippines has a plethora of them, take you pick ;-). How else will you know when people are talking about you as if you weren’t even there … or what chismis … gossip, your neighbors are spreading. If you think they won’t, then you haven’t been to the Philippines. The country “runs” on gossip.
Think you know anything about the law and how to keep yourself on the right side of it? Many Americans in my own experience have come to the Philippines and gone about their business as if they were still back in the USA. The Philippines is a sovereign country and many laws here are way, way different than comparable laws in the USA .. and they absolutely apply to you, always. Oh, and you can kiss the protection of your country’s constitution goodbye. Those rights do not follow you to new lands. Americans who get in trouble and seek help from the US Embassy normally get a pamphlet of Embassy-recommended local lawyers and a good-luck handshake …in a great many cases there is nothing else the US State Department can do.
Do you make friends easily? Remember, you’re a stranger in a strange land. Even if you move into an established ex-pat community, you’re still the new kids on the block and there is no guarantee that you’ll have an instant social circle waiting for you. You’ll have to earn your friendships in your new community just like you did where you live now. Are you violently opposed to any particular religious or ethnic beliefs or customs? There is essentially no such thing as separat
ion of church and state here. It’s a Catholic country by and large, and when Bishops talk, lawmakers listen … and if you don’t like hearing prayers broadcast over the PA system in stores while you shop, you won’t like shopping here.
Also, there is a significant Muslim population here, including a whole separate Sharia (Muslim Law) court system. I’ve had many contacts with Americans who are rabid Muslim-haters, especially since September 11th. That’s their business. But if they come to the Philippines and think they can find others who want to talk the way people of the Islamic faith are talked about by many in the US? Better think again ..your next door neighbor might be Muslim, or the traffic patrolman who pulls you over.
In general, the Philippines is way, way more race, religion and sexual-preference tolerant than the US … if you think in Racial terms, wave the Confederate battle Flag every day, or take pains to write out the President’s names as; Barack Hussein Obama, as I see many Americans doing … the Philippines is not the best choice for you .. in my view of course.
Still think the issues are mainly about how much per month you can live on?