Is Philippine Retirement Right For You?
(Last Update 14 March, 2017)
- 0.1 That’s Not Really True
- 0.2 Is Philippine Retirement Right For You?
- 0.3 Are You Saying Philippine Retirement Is Right For Me?
- 0.4 Reasons Philippine Retirement May Not Be Right For You
- 0.5 Top 10 Reasons NOT to Retire Overseas!
- 1 Related Posts
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Some of you may be surprised by that headline. I have a reputation, with some, of being a guy who urges Philippine retirement on everyone, just because he, himself, enjoys it.
That’s Not Really True
Over my years online, and especially in the past 10 years or so since my focus has been about Philippine Retirement, Living in the Philippines and Earning a living in the Philippines, I have come across hundreds of articles and reports, eBooks and magazines all dedicated to the delights of living abroad in retirement. I’ve even written a few myself …
So many seem to expound the merits and benefits of retirement overseas to a more laid-back nation, where the sun shines more often, where a pension income goes far further, where one is taxed less and has much more time to enjoy pastimes and hobbies. Retirement in the Philippines certainly can meet all of those criteria, and more … for me.
But rather than blind encouragement, I always try to write or answer questions with tho=is in mind:
Is Philippine Retirement Right For You?
These articles are generally one-sided and they take it for granted that Philippine retirement or overseas retirement in general is the right option for the reader… for every reader.
Are You Saying Philippine Retirement Is Right For Me?
No, that is not always the case. There is no magic, “One Size Fits All” retirement solution, and certainly retirement in the Philippines doesn’t break this rule. Philippine retirement is not for everyone.
Reasons Philippine Retirement May Not Be Right For You
You mean there are times retirement in the Philippines not right? The answer is absolutely ‘yes’— retirement in the Philippines, or even abroad in other countries) is not right for everyone, every time.
If you’re currently contemplating whether you should perhaps go in search of new horizons or stay put. If you’re wondering whether the grass will be greener overseas or whether you prefer things the way they are, read on for my:
Top 10 Reasons NOT to Retire Overseas!
1. Philippine Retirement Affordability
Ideally everyone who wants to retire abroad will move to a nation where the cost of living is less.
Retirement in the Philippines usually meets this criterion, but depending on the person involved and their own needs and desires, it may NOT be cheaper to retire in the Philippines.
Imported foreign items, even common grocery store items back home may well cost more. Therefore, Philippine Retirement is not always a sure thing economically.
Overseas retirees in the also have to factor in changes in inflation and currency fluctuations too.
If you are earning in dollars, or pounds or Euros or Yen, you have to understand that everything you buy locally is going to have to be converted to Philippine Pesos. In just the 4 years I have lived in the Philippines, the Peso has ranged from almost exactly 50 to the US dollar down to below 40 … that’s a 20% or so fluctuation if my math skills serve me well … and it’s unpredictable.
Will this situation get worse, better or perhaps stay the same?
I don’t really know. I ordered a new, high quality crystal ball, but it hasn’t come in yet. The store clerk just keeps saying, “Out of Stock, sir”. (but she always smiles when she says it) 😉
What’s more, the cost of relocation itself is money down the drain, so if you don’t have money to burn, perhaps you shouldn’t stray abroad where you never know how high your living costs may spiral.
The Philippines IS cheaper than the USA on many things, but you can also live very cheaply in the USA, mainly in rural areas, and you don’t give up the benefits of the USA (some of which I’ll cover later in the article).
An online colleague of mine, a US retiree in his 60 or early 70’s, lived here in the Philippines for many years. Got married to a lovely lady, had a house, a car, everything he seemed to want in life.
But then one day he up and announced he and ho=is wife were moving to the USA, to a rural, midwest farming community.
They have been back there for a number of years now and my friend assures me his monthly expenses are still less than they were when he lived in the Philippines … “low prices” are not always what they seem.
2. Philippine Retirement Homesickness
If you like the house and the community in which you live, there are no two ways about it, you will sometimes miss home if you retire in the Philippines.
Even those people who are fairly ambivilent about their home country find that they miss aspects of home life once they relocate…. so if you really do like living where you currently are living, you will suffer from inevitable homesickness if you choose Philippine retirement.
Homesickness should not be underestimated; it leads to many expatriates returning home every single year… the last thing you want to be doing in retirement is having to reassess your life plans twice in a short space of time, and having to move back home from abroad if you discover you can’t get beyond feelings of homesickness.
My friend Bob has a pretty firm rule on this issue … he says you aren’t really ‘living in the Philippines’ until you have been here at least 5 full years.
When he first told me that, some years ago, I really didn’t know that I agreed with him … but after several times where I have been closer to the point of saying ‘let’s go’ than I was actually willing to admit, I now feel not only is Bob’s Five Year Rule accurate … for some it might be optimistic.
You won’t really know if Philippine retirement is totally right for you until you have been living in the Philippines five years or more.
3. Philippine Retirement Loneliness
If you retire abroad you leave behind your family and your friends, and it can be very hard to make new friends particularly if you’re a stranger in a strange land.
Are you comfortable with approaching strangers in a bar or a supermarket for example; are you happy to join social events all by yourself in the hope that you’ll meet a friendly face?
If you’re shy, you don’t like being alone and you love your current friends, you may discover that you actually hate retirement abroad as it brings enforced loneliness with it.
As an American now in my eleventh year of Philippine retirement one of the biggest stumbling blocks I see is the number of foreigners who enter into Philippine retirement with the “us versus them” complex.
If you want to retire to the Philippines and find and associate only with fellow foreigners … I suppose you can … but it’s going to be a tough row to hoe.
There are about 100 million people in the Philippines and perhaps only a few hundred thousand foreigners in Philippine retirement. In other words, we are ‘thin on the ground’. If you can’t imagine yourself making friends with and associating with Filipino friends, I feel strongly that Philippine retirement may not be your cup of tea.
4. Philippine Retirement Alienation
If you have no friends, you don’t speak the language and culturally you find yourself alienated from your new community, you may have to live your life out on a limb all by yourself.
You may never forge deep friendships or replace the network of associates you once had, and this can make life very hard.
Prolonged and enforced alienation goes against the grain for most humans – and for a retiree living in a the Philippines, it can mean abject misery.
Only you can answer the question … are you pretty self-reliant or do you feel abandoned and frustrated when you don’t have people around you to talk things over with frequently?
Can you watch others ‘do things wrong’ and resist the impulse to step in and ‘show them how to do things’?
Believe it or not, no matter how much you know, how many college degrees you hold and how expert you are at making things work right, you have to recognize that virtually no one wants your opinion and help.
Don’t even consider coming here if you think your Philippine retirement is going to be some sort of mission to help save people from themselves. The Filipino doesn’t really want to hear from you “how to do it better”.
Also, there are many times when the “Filipino way” is actually the “right” way, even though it’s different than the way you are used to, “back home”.
Expect to be ignored, often. Even more troubling at times, expect people to listen to your suggestions politely, nod their heads up and down in agreement, say, “Yes sir” and “Oh Po” a lot, and then go right back to doing it their way. It can make your teeth grind at times.
Philippine retirement is not for everyone, that’s for sure.
5. Philippine Retirement Accessibility
Can you drive, will you be able to afford a car when you move abroad and are you happy driving in a foreign country?
Driving here is not very enjoyable for many of us. And it’s purely impossible for some foreigners, who are so nervous and/or angered with Philippine road behavior that they find it impossible to reach an accommodation with local conditions.
Finally, have you thought about how easy or otherwise it may be for you to travel ‘back home’ to catch up with family and friends?
Will you be able to afford flights and transportation regularly enough to satisfy your need to see your grandchildren growing up for example? And also consider whether you can face the long journey back home and all that traveling entails?
6. Philippine Retirement Language
If you’ve come this far in life and never learned a second language, there is nothing to suggest you won’t be able to – however, the odds are stacked against you!
If you’re thinking of retiring to a nation where the main language is anything other than your mother tongue, how will you cope?
You may be lucky enough to have enough words under your belt to get by at the supermarket, but when it comes to making meaningful friends or calling a doctor in an emergency, you don’t want to be struggling to make yourself understood.
An advantage of Philippine retirement is that English is an official language of the Philippines and many people speak it. But not always comfortably and well. There are English language newspapers.
Signs, even if not in English are written in familiar western-style alphabet characters so you can usually ‘get the gist’ of the sign even when you don’t know all the words (this is a significant advantage of Philippine retirement over, say, Thailand, where the totally unfamiliar method of writing will take a Westerner years to comprehend).
But you will never have the full experience of living out you Philippine retirement without fluency in a major local language … people who aren’t comfortable with English won’t be willing to converse much in it, and ideas are very hard to get across at times.
Language can be a very real barrier between you having a good life in Philippines retirement.
7. Philippine Retirement Healthcare
As we age we inevitably acquire more aches and pains, issues and ailments. In many nations around the world healthcare available is sub standard, expensive, hard to access or even unavailable. For those with medical concerns, healthcare issues or who just value their wellbeing very highly, Philippine retirement could be a mistake.
A very big issue for most Americans is, US medicare does not pay for services received overseas.
You don’t, technically, lose the Medicare you have already paid for over the years (or the Medicare part B you will need to pay for monthly if you choose it), but you can’t use it, except for treatment received within the US and US possessions (such as Guam, which is 4 hours from the Philippines rather than the 14 or so to the US mainland).
And this leads exactly into a ‘plan’ I see many people thinking about as they plan their Philippine retirement … flying back to the US for treatment.
The reality of this plan is that it will not always work. It’s not unfeasible because of the cost alone … although that is an important consideration.
It’s not always possible because of the realities of illness and disease. If you, for example, contract some highly infectious disease, airlines may refuse to carry you.
If you suffer a serious heart attack, stroke, or any number of other grave illnesses, your doctor and the airline may well refuse to carry you as well.
Several years ago I wrote a two-part article I’m proud of … it’s still very current today. The foreigner (a Canadian in this case) was adamant that his wife be flown back to Canada because he was sure that Philippine medical care would kill her.
You might also be interested in: Health Insurance Quotes — Philippines
Philippine retirement Conclusion
The grass is never greener if you retire in the Philippines, it’s just different … so, if you like your life even just ‘quite a lot’ back in the USA (or wherever else you are thinking of retiring ‘from’), you need to think very long and very hard before you seek to change it so fundamentally with a relocation to Philippine retirement.
Philippine retirement will bring massive and very fundamental changes to your life – some of these will be positive and some of them may be negative.
As someone seriously thinking about moving yo the Philippines when they retire, you owe it to your future happiness to ensure it’s the right move for you to make.
Weigh up both the pros and the cons, and to help you make a decision about whether such a move is right for you, I’ve written hundreds of articles and reports here, dedicated to the theme of Philippine Retirement. Use the ‘Search’ function in the right hand sidebar, chose by category of article, or feel free to write my through the Spam Free Contact Form if there are specific Philippine retirement issues I haven’t covered enough for you.
So your thoughts on Is Philippine Retirement Right For You?