There are 7,107 reasons why the Philippines is the pearl of the orient. Each of its 7,107 islands has a pocket of paradise. Come hell or high tide, the Philippines will never run out of places that will leave you in awe, you will not run out of things to do, cost of living is incredibly cheap, food is great, weather is fair, people speak English and are simply the sweetest and the happiest bunch in the world. So when the Tourism board says retirement is more fun in the Philippines, they mean it.
Whether you are a returning resident or someone who worked abroad as an Overseas Filipino worker or OFW for almost your entire life, or a foreigner who fell in love with the country, you are sure to enjoy the many conveniences the Philippines has to offer.
In the 2013 Retirement Index released annually by the publication International Living, the Philippines ranked 15 among the “best places to retire” in the world. It is up there with Ireland and France.
Cost of living
The survey showed that the Philippines topped all countries and scored an overwhelming 100 per cent in terms of cost of living. In short, you can live a dozen or so lifetimes in the Philippines and still be comfortable.
The cost of living in the Philippines will fit any expat’s retirement plans. According to the study of International Living, a retiree can live on $800 to $1,200 a month including household help. Food and transport are incredibly cheap. You can get a decent meal for under a dollar and get around the city for $0.05.
Private health care is also inexpensive. Filipino doctors and nurses are among the best in the world.
And the best thing is, the Philippines has a special retiree visa. If you are over 50 years old and have a monthly pension of $1,000, you may qualify for permanent residency. There are also options for those who have the luxury to “retire” at 35.
Where to live?
It could be just about anywhere. From the big cities to the coastal towns are potential places to retire. MoneySense magazine came up with the top 20 best places to live based on three components. These are: standard of living, infrastructure and quality of life. Standard of living pertains to the dynamism of the economy as a whole like income, growth and the opportunity to do business. Infrastructure measures the quality of modern living. And finally, the quality of life refer to access to medical care, environment, quality of services, among many others.
Sixty five cities were included in the survey and Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental in Western Visayas, topped the list. Davao, Cebu, General Santos and Baguio also made the cut. But dominating the top 20 is Metro Manila. Eight of its cities made it: Makati, Marikina, Las Pinas, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Manila and Muntinlupa.
One of the biggest markets of the real estate industry in the Philippines are returning residents, fondly called balikbayan, or OFWs. City living is made easy by real estate companies who tailor fit their terms for returning residents who want a valuable investment.
For foreigners who want to settle in the Philippines and own a property, there is some good news. As a general rule, a foreigner is not allowed to own a property in the Philippines — unless it’s a condo. So if you see a lot for sale sign somewhere, forget it.
Republic Act 4726 or the Condominium Act allows foreigners to purchase a condo unit. A Condominium Certificate of Title will be issued by the property developer. This is as good as the land title given to residents. This is the main argument for owning a residential condominium as oppose to a townhouse or apartment.
Condo living is a refreshing way to enjoy all the goodness that the Philippines has to offer. It offers all the luxuries and conveniences — from security to leisure.
Pieces of heaven
From Batanes in the north to Jolo in the South, the Philippines is easily one of the top destinations in the Philippines. In 2013, more than 4.6 million international visitors explored the Philippines. This is almost half a million more than tourist arrivals the previous year. That feat is extraordinary especially because 2013 was a challenging year for the Philippines, which was hit by a strong earthquake and a devastating typhoon.
In 2013 alone, three beach resorts in the Philippines made it to CNN’s list of the 100 beaches in the world: Puka beach in Boracay, El Nido in Palawan and Palaui Island in Cagayan, also the location of last season’s Survivor.
Returning residents and foreign retirees will not have enough time on their hands to explore the entire Philippines. There’s just too many. For example, there is the underground river in Palawan, which is among the wonders of the world. Among the favourite destinations and activities are: whale sharks sighting in Sorsogon, diving in Malapascua island, surfing in Siargao, hiking in Sagada, and of course, feeling the finest white sand in Boracay.
There’s nothing more refreshing than living around happy, positive people. Imagine walking out of your door and the first time that greets you is an honest, beautiful smile. That is simply priceless, isn’t it?
Filipinos are among the happiest people in the world. A 2012 survey by the US polling firm Gallup revealed that the Philippines is the fourth happiest nation in the world. It said that Filipinos posted one of the “highest positive emotions” worldwide.
Consequently, a survey by the Viacom International Media Networks in 2013 showed that Filipino millennials are the happiest and least stressed bunch in the world. The millennials, also known as generation Y, are those born between the 1980s and the early 2000s. Despite uncertainties for employment, the millennials have always looked at the bright side, just like generations before them.
So who doesn’t like to grow old around positive people? When you are at your prime, isn’t happiness the only thing that truly matters?