American living in the Philippines after retirement

If your planning on living in the Philippines full-time and vacation here be aware the life your on is “holiday time” not reality as your habits would be forced to change over a period of time to suit your budget. What do I mean?

Your here for two weeks and arrived with $2000 spending money after you pre-paid your hotel etc. when you retire do you think you will be spending $1000 per week after expenses? In reality most people are living on $1000 a month or slightly over which doesn’t give you the mansion, maid, gardener, SUV and a high quality of life unless you work at it. Doesn’t mean some of it isn’t reachable by the way. Move out of the city and you can easily pickup a good residence for less than P20,000 a month and in some cases a farm. The building may not be to Western standards but often they are due to families relocating to the West and having land stuck here with no buyer so renting is the next option for them.

Getting a maid will set you back around P3,000 a month it used to be P2,000 but its getting harder to find staff these days as we are finding ourselves partly because if they get a flight into Manila the salaries are generally around P3,500 and it doesn’t take many maids etc. heading back to the provinces to tell people to head further north of Cebu to get nearly double the salary for people to start taking note and then like housing prices in the West the costs start to climb and suddenly it collapses as people get used to not having the staff or can’t afford them.

Anyway back on subject the SUV don’t bother with its dead money generally I find I don’t use vehicles as often as I initially thought I would. I have a Jeepy a multicab and 2 scooters. The jeepy and multicab will be going as they are simply not being used at all. If going to the beach easier to just hire a vehicle and split the costs between you and your friends. Maintenance on vehicles is a pain here as well as getting parts for many vehicles.

Quality of life is a choice thing which was the final thing on the list, fact is its difficult to say how your quality of life would improve or get worse here except if I give you some information about provincial and city living.

First one is pollution in the cities you find the rivers run a blue black colour with plastics mixed amongst it due to the high density of waste in the waters smog is everywhere and a layer of the soot can be seen on the buildings. In the provinces though pollution normally comes in the form of “put put” motorcycles where people think its clever to remove the exhaust on a motorcycle to make it sound bigger. At the same time roosters crowing at all hours of the day and you never seem to be out of earshot of at least one.

Power and water can be a problem depending where you live I know of people getting power issues on a regular basis and water that goes off at certain times of the day but at the same time we rarely have either issue in Minglanilla worth asking about that one when moving to an area otherwise you might find the 2am power cut while your asleep your awoken by 3am in a pool of soaking sweat. Locals are used to it and wouldn’t tell you as they would “assume” you know which is why ask!

Food quality varies considerably and my best food to be honest doesn’t come from the supermarkets its things people grow in the area. We also get fresh honey brought to us in a bucket as people wander around selling it. Naga has bee farms which is near us but also there are people collecting honey from wild bees. On top of that vegetables, goat meat, pork can often be found generally I stay away from meat products as hygiene levels don’t match mine and also when was the meat killed? So best advice stick to the fruit and vegetables if buying from wandering vendors. There are markets in most towns and cities which offer produce cheaper than supermarkets but only at certain times of the year as some of the stuff they sell can be found cheaper in the supermarkets, Prices fluctuate on seasons or religious festivals. Supermarkets aren’t hard to find although get a bit further away from the cities you may need to travel 30mins to it. For me not an inconvenience more of a day out but I know others wouldn’t think so.

Provincial life offers clean air, greener living with a quieter environment. City living like anywhere on the planet gives that mad bustle of everything rushing and having all your needs conveniently nearby. Personally I choose to be between the two although ideally in the future would like to get our mountain lot finished with a nice weekend retreat probably built completely with bamboo.