Facts on expat retirement in the Philippines

  Facts on expat retirement in the Philippines

Facts on expat retirement in the Philippines

For would-be expats who’ve grown tired of just about everything in Europe, the Philippines could be the perfect answer.

Retiring to another continent may be the answer for expats in Europe, should Brexit cause severe damage to the Bloc’s economy as well as to that of the UK itself. Admittedly, it’s an adventurous alternative, as Asia is split into expensive, politically stable states and those which are amazingly affordable but less than perfect politically. China is a present-day hotspot for start-ups but doesn’t welcome retirees, Japan is expensive with tricky visas regulations and Malaysia has toughened up its immigration regulations.

Southeast Asia’s alternatives also have their problems, with Thailand losing more long-term expats than it’s gaining due to new visa rules, Cambodia now being taken over by Chinese developers and Laos still too wild for the majority of expats. One acceptable alternative for retirees is the Philippines, popular for its year-round warmth and its genuinely welcoming citizens. Its cost of living is extremely low, and the government is attempting to extend the country’s welcome to those who’re at present living in neighbouring states.

Visa requirements are comparatively simple and stable, with retirees needing to be 50 years old or older and able to provide an initial $10,000 deposit in a Philippines bank if there’s a guaranteed monthly amount coming. If no pension is being received, the deposit increases to $20,000. ‘Pensions’ include social security benefits paid from expats’ home countries, and the visa application fee is $1,400 with a further $300 for each renewal. Also required is a certificate of registration card, costing $50 each year.

Expats are allowed to buy a townhouse or condo, but can’t buy a free-standing home. If you’re prepared to invest some $50,000 in a property, you’re allowed to use your initial deposit as part payment. Location is all important, as the country’s infrastructure isn’t great in some areas, with water and power outages a regular experience. If you live within easy reach of Manila or other major cites, healthcare is available at far less cost than in either neighbouring countries or your homeland. In addition, you can join the government’s healthcare plan.

Although the majority of locations are safe for expats, Mindanao is regularly named in Western travel advisories as being best avoided. In general, the country is spectacularly beautiful, but it’s also subject to frequent storms and cyclones which can cause damage to unprotected buildings. For those whose income arrives from overseas, there’s no tax liability and, if you’re earning within the country, rates range between 20 and 35 per cent. If you’re fully in retirement, there’s no tax due on your pension income or retirement plan.

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