We ran across an article a few years ago which sums up why I decided
to retire to the Philippines:
WHY RETIRE IN THE PHILIPPINES?

ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

In the Loop

By Jose G. Caedo

Considering retirement?

For many Americans, retirement time is just around the corner. The prospect of trying to live on a pension, in old age is a daunting one. For some, moving to retire in another country such as Mexico (for North Americans) or Portugal and Spain (for Northern Europeans) is an option which has been successful. But why not consider retiring in the Philippines?

Over the last decade, the Philippines has become a retirement haven for thousands of foreigners, particularly the Japanese, Korean, and Northern Europeans. Along with Thailand and Malaysia, the Philippines developed communications, infrastructure, and service delivery systems specifically geared to meet the needs of foreign retirees. The principal appeal for retirement in the Philippines is the lower cost of living. At present, the Philippine Peso ( PhP) exchange rate is approximately PhP 53/40 to $1.00. Housing, food, and labor costs are quite reasonable. A two bedroom condominium in one of the posh "villages" in Makati City costs about $400 per month and one can dine out on average at a three star restaurant for less than $10.00, including tax and tip. If you plan to hire domestic help, a private driver's salary is approximately $200 per month, while a trained housekeeper will earn approximately $100 a month. These salaries are lower if you live in the provinces.

Watching a film in a first-run movie theater there costs only 25 cents, with a good light meal called "merienda" afterwards for about $2.00. One can hire an air-conditioned taxicab for eight hours for less than $25.00. Or take the MRT monorail from end to end for less than $1.00. And a pair of locally made blue jeans costs less than $10. In a country where a provincial Governor's salary is PHP 28,000 per month, and a Presidential Cabinet Undersecretary earns PhP35,000, your pension can go a long way. So, if you have an individual retirement income of approximately $1,500 to $2,000 per month ( Ph 80,000 to 100,000.) you can live quite well there. Incidentally, Peso-denominated Time Deposit interest rate now is 4.5% for forty-five days.

As for health care, most U.S. Health Management Organizations pay for medical expenses incurred in the Philippines. Check with your HMO. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs presently has a task force headed by former Secretary Roberto Romulo working to have the U.S. government accredit a number of first class Philippine hospitals for Medicare reimbursement. The Makati Medical Center, one of the nation's best already has such accreditation. Unbeknownst to many is that for years, citizens of nearby countries such as Thailand, Nauru, Tonga, Indonesia, and Malaysia have flocked to the Philippines for medical care, particularly sensitive surgical procedures. The quality of medical care at the better Manila hospitals such as the Asian, St. Luke's, Medical City, Cardinal Santos, Philippine Heart Center for Asia, National Kidney Institute, and Makati Medical Center meets international standards. I have been treated by American surgeons in San Francisco who have been to the Philippines where they performed surgical procedures. These surgeons have a high opinion of the Philippine doctors, nurses, and facilities they worked with. Heart, Liver, Kidney, Pancreatic, and Cornea transplants are done routinely in the better Manila hospitals.

A Japanese company will be building a medical facility in Tagaytay City exclusively for Japanese nationals within the year. There are now close to 10,000 Japanese retirees in the country, and the number is growing annually. The British government recently acquired a large tract of land in Fort Bonifacio to build a large Embassy. The British ambassador explained that larger facility is meant to help serve the growing number of British nationals retiring there as well. There are also Japanese and Korean investment groups buying homes and condominiums in Manila, and tracts of provincial land for retirees. This has caused a mini-Real Estate boom in the country. A retirement village exclusively for Japanese nationals already exists in Tagaytay, and more are planned.

These are strong indicators of what is on the horizon. English is the Philippines' official business language. Most of the people you will meet, from hotel workers, taxi drivers, sales or service people, government employees, speak English, or have a working understanding of it. The middle class speak English, without exception.

All the major newspapers, and major broadcast companies use English. An English speaking visitor will never get lost in the Philippines. It is the universal use of that language that has been a strong incentive to foreigners. As well, communications links within the country and to other countries via the various commercial gateways is up to international standards. For example, the use of cell phones and text messaging is so common that housemaids, street vendors and sidewalk food hawkers can be seen using their cell phones incessantly.

And for just Php1.00 per message, why not? Are you thinking of bringing household goods over? Your electrical appliances will work using the local electrical outlets, which provide either 220V, or 110V sources. Just ask.

One will never want for adventure and sights to experience in the Philippines. There is always a colorful Fiesta, pageants, street festivals, and open public events going on. Lush with bountiful natural resources, one can enjoy the numerous beaches, resorts, golf courses, and play just about any sport, except skiing. There is an ice skating rink in Manila, though. Scuba diving and fishing are among the sports which draw the most umber of foreigners to the rich aquatic offerings.

Shopping is the Filipinos' second most popular activity, the first is eating.

Manila is Asia's undiscovered shopping Mecca. You will love the golden purple sunsets, the fragrance of the flowers at dusk, and the wonderful array of fruits and food. I used to enjoy watching the sunset from the bar at the Philippine Cultural Center. There, you can listen to the Symphony, check out a play, or enjoy Grand Opera. There is just so much to explore and discover, specially in terms of nature, culture, and history.

If you're a betting man, there's horse racing, the Jai Alai, numerous first class casinos, and of course, cock-fighting. Manila is well known for its exciting night life.

Strategically located, the Philippines is an airline hub. Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, and Taipei are just an hour and a half flight away. With Tokyo, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Jakarta approximately five hours.  There are regular flights to those destinations from Manila's three international terminals.

Philippine Real Estate, medical/ social service, and Employment agencies are now working together under the aegis of the government's Philippine Retirement Authority ( PRA) to set up standards and make the retirement industry truly world class.  The PRA website is www.plra.gov.ph/ main.

Under the direction of Gen. Edgar B.Aglipay, chairman of the Philippine Retirement Authority, plans have been operationalized to ensure that the growing demand for housing and ancillary services for the retirees are met.

The objective is to turn the country into the retirement haven in Asia. This will also help employ more local Filipinos at higher wages so that they need not leave the country to seek work.

Visit the land of fun, flowers, food, fruits, and friendly people. You might not want to leave it anymore. Mabuhay!

Copyright Jose Caedo 2006


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