How to retire in the Philippines

A guide to retiring in the Philippines

Retiring in the Philippines is a dream for many expats. Great weather, incredible cuisine and affordable housing are just a few reasons why. Continue reading to learn more about retiring in the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, including estimated monthly costs and visa requirements. 

Life in the Philippines

The first thing you’ll notice about the Philippines is the weather. With lows of about 18°C and highs in the thirties, the Philippines is ideal if you don’t like extreme climates. 

The Philippines is also a naturally beautiful country. Although cities like Manila look clustered, it’s the countryside, coastal regions and rainforests that make the Philippines picturesque. 

As a retiree, another advantage of living in the Philippines is that English is widely spoken. The absence of a language barrier makes things like banking and travelling easy to handle. Many Philippine regions are structured to make visitors feel welcome. From English signs to general courtesy, Filipinos understand the benefits of friendly hospitality. 

In fact, there’s even a Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA). Approved by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the PRA offers guidance to overseas retirees.  

The US military’s long history in the Philippines has produced a large expat community. Consequently, there are tons of businesses like pubs, diners and letting agencies all catering to foreign settlers. 

The extensive expat community also means there’s plenty of opportunities to socialise. So whether you’re into golf, salsa or cooking, you’re never far away from meeting new people.  

Retirement visas for the Philippines

The first step in retiring in the Philippines is getting a Special Resident Retiree Visa (SRRV). Also known as a ‘retirement visa’, an SRRV gives you the right to remain in the Philippines. The basic requirements for the visa are that you’re at least 50 years old and you:

  • Deposit at least £7,250 in savings into a Filipino bank account (or £14,500 if you don’t have a guaranteed monthly income).
  • Have evidence that your pension is at least £580 a month (or £725 for couples). You can count other benefits towards this amount. 

After that, you’ll need to cover other expenses like:

  • £1,010 for your visa fees plus £216 per extra family member.
  • £36 per year for an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR-I).

Opening a bank account in the Philippines

If you’re retiring in the Philippines, try opening an account with a so-called ‘big’ bank. These Filipino banks typically offer more services and boast larger networks. That’s everything from branches, staff to ATMs. 

Even better, you may be able to set up an account before you arrive in the country.

The biggest banks in the Philippines are: 

  • BDO Unibank INC.
  • Metropolitan Bank & Tco.
  • Land Bank of the Philippines.
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands.
  • Philippine National Bank.
  • Security Bank Corp.
  • Development Bank of the Philippines. 

Another option is to open an international bank account. First, you’d need to check that your bank operates in the Philippines; otherwise, Citibank or HSBC are great alternatives. 

In general, you should avoid rural banks as they usually have limited servicess. In addition, they may be less regulated than bigger banks. 

Need to transfer funds to the Philippines? Then read our guide on sending large amounts of money overseas beforehand. 

Where’s the best place to retire in the Philippines? 

Where’s the best place to retire in the Philippines?

That depends on your lifestyle and budget. Do you want tranquillity, nightlife or expat communities? Are you after a rural setting or the buzz of a city? The good news is that the Philippines has it all. 

If you enjoy living in big cities, look no further than Manila and Quezon City. Home to around 13 million people each, they are the country’s most densely populated and expensive cities. Yet, despite this, they’re perfect if you need modern amenities and entertainment. 

Cebu, the country’s second city, is just as modern as Manila but with less congestion. It also has better travel connections to the rest of the country. In addition, Cebu’s location means it’s an excellent hub for popular weekend destinations in the Visayas region.

Angeles City is two hours north of Manila, and its bustling nightlife makes it popular with single retirees. It also has an international airport which makes it a convenient destination for overseas visitors. Generally cheaper than other Filipino cities, Angeles is great if you want to meet locals and other expats during your retirement.

Cavite City is popular with retirees because of its reputation of being peaceful, safe and quiet. Consequently, new expat neighbourhoods are constantly popping up. Cavite’s proximity to Manila means that you have good access to essential services like hospitals, banks and transport hubs.

Want the best overall deal when transferring money to locations like Manila and Cebu? Get top tips from our how to send money to the Philippines guide, including how to get two fee-free transfers.

The cost of retiring in the Philippines

The cost of retiring in the Philippines

Money will be the biggest factor when you’re choosing where to live. According to International Living magazine, you can enjoy a modest retirement in the Philippines on only £550 a month, including rent. 

While housing is typically your highest expense, you’ll need to consider other costs such as:

  • Apartment deposits and agency fees.
  • Moving and shipping costs.
  • Flights to the Philippines.
  • Daily expenses.

If you like getting around in comfort, you’ll be pleased to know that Filipino taxis are relatively cheap. Fares usually start at £0.76 plus £0.20 per kilometre. That’s great if you don’t like crowded trains and buses.

Also, if you’re thinking of starting a business, you’ll need to research the country’s tax system. For instance, income tax in the Philippines is currently capped at 35%, which is much higher than basic rates in the UK.

To help out, Azimo has created the table below. Using data from Numbeo, the table shows some of the average costs in popular retirement locations.

CityCentral 1-bed apartment Monthly leisure centre fees Monthly basic utility billsRegular cafe cappucinoThree-course meal for two
Manila £500£39£86£1.80£17
Quezon City£235£32£107£1.60£15
Cebu£352£29£72£1.90£16
Angeles City£162£16£167£1.70£30
Cavite City£95£36£86£1.75£17

*Figures taken from Numbeo.com and some have been rounded up to the nearest pound sterling (£).

Get two fee-free transfers when you send money to family in the Philippines. Download the Azimo app on iOS or Android and start transferring funds today.