The Philippines Is Now a Practical Destination for Americans to Retire

If you grew up in a Filipino immigrant household, it’s likely that you’ve heard your parents talk about retiring in the Philippines ad nauseum. As soon as your immigrant parents would stroll down memory lane, recall the fun times they had in the Philippines, a life difficult but far more carefree than the U.S., you already know where this discussion would end up going – your parents talking about the possibility of retiring in the country they were born and raised in, again.

As the years passed and your immigrant parents got more settled and acculturated, you’d still hear stories of life in the Philippines, but following that talks of retiring there became less and less. The new dream would be replaced with your immigrant parents saying, “when I retire, I want to spend half the year in the Philippines and half in the U.S.”

So, what happened? Besides your immigrant parents moving further along the process of American assimilation and adaptation, their change of heart – from being certain to retire in the Philippines, to being there half-the-year, or completely abandoning the idea – is most likely rooted in a realization that the U.S. has so much more to offer than the Philippines for retirees like better health care. A senior doesn’t have to worry about repeated power failures and water stoppages due to poor infrastructure which can be common occurrences in the Philippines. Such worries would be too cumbersome and tiring for a retiree.

It’s a different Philippines
But if you haven’t been back to the Philippines in a while or keeping up with the country’s progress, the Philippines that your immigrant parents knew is an entirely different Philippines today. Some of the concerns and reservations that casted doubt for Americans to retire in the Philippines are no longer problematic issues. Of course, some remain, such as inadequate medical facilities in the countryside.

Today, you have places like Makati and many other parts of the Philippines that’s certainly at par with many of the most modern and advanced cities in the world. Filipino Americans who’ve been to the Philippines recently talk about how surprised they were when visiting certain areas. The skyline with futuristic skyscrapers, the high-end restaurants and clubs, luxurious theaters and giant malls, to name only a few, all leave the impression that it’s like living in the states.

For retirees, the new planned developments are smartly put together and resemble the trend we see in other new developments in U.S. cities that have in mind convenience where you can live and walk to get everything from stores to restaurants to coffee shops. All the entertainment and necessities including pharmacies and clinics are nearby. Infrastructure is reliable in such communities.

As far as modern convenience and amenities, retiring in the Philippines will not deny you of these. If in your retirement you plan to continue doing remote or distance work, internet access and reliability will be just as advanced as in the states.

Retiring in the Philippines (at least in many parts) is now practical. The country’s modernization efforts are finally paying off.

And it makes perfect sense that the Philippine government is wanting to reap the rewards for all their efforts by trying to tap a new income stream for the government’s treasury – and that is, the expat retirees’ market.

President Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos, Jr. after his bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden earlier this year appealed to Filipino Americans to consider retiring in the Philippines.

The government has some of the most enticing incentives to draw in expat retirees such as not taxing retiring foreigners’ pensions and annuities. The government has a department whose sole mission is to promote the Philippines as a destination for expats.

The Philippines also offers a very powerful visa for retiring expats that essentially makes them permanent residents, enabling these special visa holders to go in and out of the country freely and for as many times, without having to constantly renew their visas.

Making a smart, well-thought-out choice
We all know that there are so many factors to consider in choosing a retirement destination besides modern amenities and convenience.

Taking other family members’ input into consideration is another crucial factor.

Your health and what you would require outside of the normal care of a healthy retiree is important to weigh in the mix.

For anyone who has moved away from the comforts of their hometown to another town or city, you know a community’s dominant values can bear on whether you feel that you fit in or not. For any individual and certainly for a senior, fitting in and feeling emotionally connected to a place and its people arguably can be just as important as the practical factors we consider such as affordability.

This feeling of fitting in is really why Filipino immigrants give retiring in the Philippines serious thought in the first place.

We are very pleased at the progress that the Filipino people has made and continue to make in their country. There is a sense of pride for our community here to see our ancestral land develop and for it to be a practical alternative as a retirement destination.

At the same time, the fact that some Hawaii retirees who would love to stay and retire here but feel forced to move because of unaffordability – that’s a sad and unfortunate situation. And what does that say about our own leaders and community, our choices we’ve made in the course of some 30-40 years that’s making it more difficult for more Hawaii residents to retire in comfort.

Ultimately our retirement requires self-accountability. We must seize our own power to control our destiny in our golden years. We need to plan for retirement, put aside money as best possible and not wait until we’re in our 50-60s. If we do this right, at least we’ll have more options available for ourselves and our family when retiring age comes along.

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