I had a chuckle a few nights ago while watching the news from ANC … ANC is part of The Philippine Channel, a commercial service of broadcast giant ABS-CBN in Manila which reaches something like 100 countries, either as a cable channel or as a direct broadcast satellite service … it’s available across the US, I highly recommend in if you are missing the Philippines or if you are thinking of moving here and wondering what it’s like. They have correspondents in six or eight countries, it’s kind of like a miniature CNN for the Filipino.
Their London correspondent put together a really well done feature on an English fellow (apparently a single man) who lived in a London suburb and had just qualified for his retirement pension and was packing his bags to go live in the Philippines.
The correspondent did a very professional job on the segment, much the sort of work you’d see on CNN or BBC World as far as broadcasting quality, but I couldn’t help chuckling at her inability in hiding her amazement that this man, who ha lived all his life in England would even think of packing up and moving to the Philippines. It was as if she had never heard of such a thing in her life.
Well figures on foreign retirees here in the Philippines are not easy to pin down, but I have seen some that give me a pretty good idea there are more that 250,000 retirees in one for or another drawing payments from the US federal government. Not all them are Americans, mind you, because back until a few years ago when the US military decided it would rather accept convicted felons the foreigners into service a great many non-US Filipinos served in the US military … but that aside there are still a pretty appreciable quantity of American retirees here. I know a day doesn’t pass at the mall, the doctors office or driving around town that I don’t see another “Kano”.
Now that “Kano’ may well be Australian, Kiwi, Canadian, German, Dutch, Swiss, English or a Turk …I’ve met men from all those countries and probably a few more in the first two years I have here in central Luzon, but my point is, we foreign retirees are hardly unique. If there are more than 200,000 US government pensioners, plus quite a few more living on private means, plus all the government and private retirees from all those other countries, we certainly are not just a tiny dot on the landscape.
I really don’t think the average Filipino in business or government realizes just what a potential resource they have right under their feet. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the biggest thing holding back business and development here in the Philippines is the Filipinos own inferiority complex. Anybody who can rub two pesos together wants to move somewhere else. And anyone fortunate enough to have a retirement income must certainly want to live 9and spend) elsewhere.
Well, it just isn’t necessarily so. This country is not the right choice for every retiree in the world, certainly, but it’s a darn good choice for some. I’m in my third year now and I have only one regret … that I waited so long. Most readers know that I am engaged in a number of entrepreneurial activities, but that’s strictly a bonus for me. I could turn off the Internet tomorrow and live well for the rest of my days.
In the US my chief recreational activity would be hanging out at the discount coffee shop with the other ‘gray panthers’, moaning about how low the Social Security COLA was this year and how much my 401K had lost. Here I have money in the bank, places to go, cheap medical care a warm climate and a favorable tax situation. It really shouldn’t be news when a ‘Kano’ decides to retire here. It merely shows he knows how to evaluate his options with his head rather than his heart.
There are some good signs that some Filipinos and non-Filipino business men here do recognize the value of the retiree market. The Special resident retiree Visa program has been modified in several ways, including a new category that requires only a $10K USD investment which can be applied to the purchase of a condo or the rental of any style home, as long as the retiree can show a pension of $800 USD monthly.
Here’s just one example of facilities I have seen which also cater to the single retiree. This company (I believe the owner/operator is US) has been around for at least 15years now. Furnished rooms with everything included for prices in the $300 to $400 per month range, caregiver service for $6 a day, doctors and dentists on site or nearby, American food next door and … contrasted with my rant yesterday, proudly wheelchair accessible.
Maybe I should just stay quiet … if too many of us retirees make the move the place will start looking like a seniors village in Florida. if it does, I’m out of here.