Reader Thoughts on Retiring in the Philippines, Jan 2019

Reader Thoughts on Retiring in the Philippines.

(Updated January 11, 2019)

Here’s a great comment I received from a reader.  I wanted to make some additional comments and a couple of slight corrections, so I did, marked in blue.

Reader Thoughts on Retiring in the PhilippinesFood is exempt of the 12% sales tax and many stores in the provinces don’t apply it to their sales or services at all. but at the big malls, it is applied, most surely.

Partially correct, but the way you have stated it could be a little misleading.

Food, in the raw, in its natural state is not taxed.  Example, if you buy a kilo of rice, even though it may be milled and polished and cleaned, it is not taxed.

A head of cauliflower, as it comes from the field is not subject to taxation.

But something so simple as a basic can of beans is subject to the 12% VAT.  When you go to the supermarket as I do at least once a week, you’ll soon see that the taxed items far exceed the tax-free items.


Be aware of the jeepneys, they are cheap, yes, but if you are tall or old and overweight it can be an issue to get in and out!

This is very true.  When I first saw your “Be aware” heading I thought right away of theft, especially pick pocketing.  This is a major concern on jeepneys, along with people snatching the cell phone right out of your hand. 

I avoid jeepneys whenever possible.

Also many of the covered sidecars of the tricycles in some places are so small that only made for filipino body sizes!

This is certainly a problem for us oversized folks, and as you age it gets increasingly difficult to bend down enough to get under the sidecar roof.

I always try to ride side-saddle on the seat behind the driver.

One can shop at the mall or big supermarkets groceries stores and get almost anything you need, but many of the same products can be purchased at local stores too. The vegetable and fruit sections there are overpriced, so it’s better to go to the wet market for that and they are fresher. Nice big tomatoes are not available at wet marked in many places only the small sour types as Filipinos mainly don’t eat tomatoes in salads! Lettuce isn’t seen everywhere either and when there is they are extremely high priced!

I fully agree here.  My wife shops about once a week at a local supermarket, 2 or t3 times a week at the local palengke (wet market) and once a month at S&R Membership Stores, a chain that resembles a down-sized US Costco market, selling many US-branded items.

When you say things are really expensive, just make sure you are comparing apples to apples.  I spent a month in Florida at the end of last year and I was SHOCKED at the food prices in grocery stores.  I don’t think many grocery items in the Philippines are more costly than they would be in the USA … although I’ll agree they often seem too expensive no matter what country you live in.

Being a foreigner is almost the same everywhere you go, you are a foreigner! If you are still young and can learn the local dialect, then that’s an advantage so you can know what they are talking about as they always prefer to use their dialect between themselves even if they do speak fairly good English.

Very few of us foreigners bother to make the effort to learn a local language.  That’s a mistake so far as I see it.  Learning a local langue will make your life much more rewarding.

The Philippines is not the poorest country in the world, just take a look around you and see how many new cars they drive!

And that they can afford to eat out!

And extreme poverty is on the way out!

But, still much poorer than western countries, even though they have many resources and if they work hard they can become much richer, but then the prices will rise and then not so attractive to retire if you are an expat.

Well, I agree that the infrastructure, housing and the problems of poverty are getting better, bit by bit, every year.

But the Philippines is unlikely to become too Westernized any time within our lifetimes.

And I am struck by a conversation I had with a fellow expat a while back.  He was complaining about something or other being done in a way he considered as “backward”.

He said, “If only THESE people would learn how to do things properly, the Philippines could be just like Hawaii”.

Well, first of all, I just hate the racial bigotry a person shows by referring to other humans as “Those” or “These” people or “My Filipina” as if they were talking about their dog.

And secondly, I have visited Hawaii a number of times and did not enjoy it much at all.  So the Philippines is not yet a carbon copy of Hawaii?  Well thank the good Lord for that.

Any other Reader Thoughts on Retiring in the Philippines?