A New Life in the Philippines
The Philippines is made up of more than seven thousand islands. The count actually varies, depending on whether it is high tide or low tide. A unique island is typhoon battered and ruggedly beautiful Batanes, where people live in low stone houses without any locks, use homemade lamps to light their homes at night and go fishing in wooden canoes in 20 foot waves. The archipelago has many other wonderful sights and sounds from a country with over a hundred ethnic groups, a cacophony of foreign influences making for a unique nation and character. Expats who decide to make the Philippines their retirement home can explore this and other islands, and find that each one has its own particular charm and delights.
Climate in the Philippines | Government in the Philippines | Medical Care in the Philippines | Tax in the Philippines | Real Estate in the Philippines | Shopping in the Philippines | Cost of Living in the Philippines
Climate in the Philippines
The Philippines is hot, humid and wet. The mean temperature for the entire year is 26.6 degrees C. The summer capital, Baguio, has a mean temperature of 18.3 degrees C, which is why droves of local tourists head for the mountain city during summer break. The rainy season starts June, the same month that school opens, and lasts till November. The dry-cool season starts December and ends February while the dry-hot season lasts from March to May, a time of rice harvests, town fiestas and the May festival of flowers (Flores de Mayo).
Those locations in the archipelago that face the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year round. The summer capital of the country is Baguio, with cooler temperatures as it is located in the mountainous region of the country.
Government in the Philippines
Political commentators call the Philippine political system an “elite democracy” since it is dominated by a number of interrelated families that are both politically and economically powerful. Age-old social problems are still very much evident despite the 1986 successful People’s Power Revolution that kicked out the dictator Marcos. Poverty is still prevalent, and the gap between the rich and poor is wider than before. To support their families, millions of Filipino women and men have joined the exodus of Filipino contract workers mainly to the Middle East, other Asian countries, Europe and the U.S.A. The system of governance is by unitary presidential form of government with an autonomous region and a bicameral Congress consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate.
Philippine agriculture and industry have been hit hard by the increased entry of imported goods. There is widespread opposition to the present administration and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was implicated in widespread cheating during the previous election and other anomalies. Her “Strong Republic” is now on its last year and is now preparing for the next presidential elections. There seems to be no immediate threat to government, with the decrease in the strength of the “legal and illegal” left and relative quiet among the ranks of the military.
Medical Care in the Philippines
The quality of medical care in the Philippines varies widely, from world class in Manila’s best-staffed and best equipped hospitals and medical centers, to primitive and downright life threatening in the boondocks. It is best to have a list of reputable establishments and health professionals inside and outside Manila (if you live there), make your choice of physicians and hospitals, and make arrangements for your care before and not after you get seriously ill. Friends, patients’ advocates, and local associations of health professionals can help you do this. In the country, medical and dental care is most expensive in Manila but it is still much cheaper than in the U.S. or Europe. Many Filipino immigrants combine their vacations in the Philippines with medical procedures because of this combination of quality care and affordability. Retirees can also take advantage of relatively low labor costs if they need trained caregivers and nurses.
Real Estate in the Philippines
Foreign nationals cannot acquire land in the Philippines except as an inheritance. Existing investment policies, however, allow foreigners to invest in corporations registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and which may own real property. An expat shared their experience in a post at the Rest of the World Expat Forum last September 1, 2009:
I think you would like it here in the Philippines ,as far as owning land if you are married to a philippina it can be in her name ,but i believe you can get a lifetime lease.
Government and private business are trying to attract Filipinos to return to the Philippines and retire here. There have been positive results. Half the buyers of condominiums in a retirement project in Subic (former U.S. base) are Filipino-Americans who spend their time in the U.S. and in the Philippines. They have the best of both worlds. Many homes and apartments (old and new) are available in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao although properties in smaller cities and towns are much cheaper. You can also build your home from scratch since labor costs are low but it would require close supervision from you or a capable and honest representative.
Shopping in the Philippines
You can be adventurous and try shopping in the old established markets, namely, Baclaran, Divisoria, and Quiapo. In Divisoria, you will need three to four hours to explore the sprawling buildings and open markets. There are good bargains mixed with the bad. Large blankets from China can cost as little as US$2-3. Well-made embroidered cotton blouses are available at US$4-6. However, there are many items that are shoddy and self-destruct after you wear or wash it once. Baclaran offers locally made, cheap and durable children’s dresses, jeans, pajamas, cotton underwear, etc. Again you have to keep looking for the real bargains. Quiapo is famous for handicrafts sold in open stalls located under the bridge and in air-conditioned buildings. However, if you prefer to shop in comfort and for high-end products, Manila is filled with malls.
Cost of Living in the Philippines
A couple can live quite comfortably on $1,500 a month and luxuriously on $2,000 a month in Metro Manila. In some other cities in the country, an expat shared their experience at the General Expat Discussions last June 27, 2008:
With your $2,400 monthly income you will live like a king in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. You can rent a two-bedroom house in a middle class subdivision for $500.
Utilities will cost another $200 if you use air-conditioning. You can have excellent meals for about $300. If, on the other hand, you have to be frugal, you can live simply in a small city like San Pablo in Laguna (a 2 ½ hour ride from Manila) for less than $1000 a month ($250 for rent, $200 for food, $100 for utilities, etc.). The city is clean and cool because of its high elevation. The people are friendly and laid back. San Pablo is famed for its chain of seven lakes and is a steppingstone to other tourist attractions in the Southern Tagalog area. The cost of living does change and is dependent on your location.