How and Where to Retire in the Philippines

Foreign retirees now find a number of towns and cities in the Philippines as ideal for retirement.  The cost of healthcare and nursing care in the Philippines is among the most affordable in the world.  It has unparalleled natural attractions that attract about five million foreign tourists a year.

Although traffic is a nagging problem and infrastructure is lacking, the friendliness of the Filipino people make the relocation easier.  For first-time visitors exploring the Philippines as a potential retirement site, you will find that the country extends a six-month visa.

The Retirement & Healthcare Coalition (RHC), a group composed of American, European, Japanese, and Korean chambers of commerce, said the six-month visa is comparable to those of Thailand and other potential retirement destinations in attracting foreign retirees.

RHC Executive Director Marc Daubenbuchel said thelong-stay visitors’ visa extension is the ideal vehicle to market the country as a long-stay destination and second home for foreign retirees. 

The new visa extension allows foreign travellers to extend their stay to six months from the previous two-month extensions.  The visa can be obtained in succession, thereby allowing a foreigner to stay in the country up to 36 months with approval from the Bureau of Immigration.

Meanwhile, retirees choosing the Philippines as their permanent destination could avail of the special resident retiree’s visa, which is a lifetime visa that allows the holder to permanently reside, gain employment or study in the Philippines.

The Philippines promotes Metro Manila, Cebu, Dumaguete, Clark, Subic and the Calabarzon area as retirement destinations.  It is also studying seven new destinations including Bacolod, Bohol, Davao, Iloilo, La Union, Puerto Princessa and Puerto Gallera as new ideal destinations for foreign retirees.

“These places all have foreign communities, mature enough, and offer a wide range of healthcare and lifestyle products,” Mr. Daubenbuechel said.

The Philippines is ideal as a long-stay and retirement destination as it provides of world-class medical care and wellness while having an excellent price-performance ratio and an adequate infrastructure for travel.

Japanese retirees are in fact now looking at the Philippines.  Former Japanese Senator Hajime Ishii, who is also the former chairman of the Japan-Philippine Parliamentarians’ Friendship Association, said the Philippines could accommodate part of the 20 million retiring Japanese nationals.

Mr. Ishii, a part of the 40-member Japanese Trade Mission that visited the Philippines recently, said his company Number One Associates Co., Ltd. had identified two pilot sites for the project.  “We’re looking at Tagaytay for a rural setting retirement village and Makati for retirees opting for more urban dwelling,” he said.

His company is negotiating for a two-hectare property in Tagaytay as an initial site for 200 retirees while existing high-rise buildings in Makati might be able to house as many as 500 retirees.

He said in Japan, ageing people comprise 40 percent of the population and control 80 percent of the money in the country.  “This only means, the most Japanese retirees are moneyed. They have the resources to spend. An average retiree may spend about US$2,000 to US$3,000 a month,” he said.

Mr. Ishii teamed up with CDC Holdings Inc., one of the top real estate developers in the country, for the development of a realty plan.  CDC Holdings President and CEO Elsie Chua said more than 500 units are available in Makati, if Japanese retirees decide to “come and spend the rest of their days in the Philippines.”

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