Expat Philippines

Deciding to move to the Philippines for retirement may be one of the smartest decisions you could ever make. In fact a growing number of Filipinos living in the U.S. and Europe have chosen to come back home, renew friendships, and enjoy a peaceful, enjoyable and productive life within a close-knit extended family. A significant number of Europeans, fellow-Asians and Americans have also opted to study, do business and build a life in the Philippines.


One of the chief attractions of this country is its sheer beauty, with its 7,000 islands, its pristine beaches, the eerie chocolate hills of Bohol, and underground caves of Palawan, it is truly a sight to behold. There are only two seasons – rainy and dry but the weather turns cooler from November to February. Monsoon rains do cause flooding, especially in certain districts in Manila, but they usually subside within a few hours or at most one day. The northern capital of Baguio and Sagada, both located in the mountains of Cordillera, turn chilly from October to February, and remain relatively cool for the rest of the year.


The opposition parties performed well in the recent May 2007 elections. There is very little support among the people for the Arroyo government since it is widely perceived to be corrupt and ineffective. However, the people still have faith in the capacity of the electoral processes to bring about change. So far, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has managed to maintain control over the military establishment, although there was some tension some months ago when a few military officers attempted to link with both legal and illegal oppositions. The killings of opposition figures have been condemned by both local and international human rights organizations.

Contrary to popular belief, the Philippines is not overrun by terrorists and rebels. The strength and activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army have declined substantially. However, there are specific areas primarily in southern Mindanao where Muslim forces are still active. Apart from these areas, the rest of the Philippines is relatively peaceful. There are occasional protests against government corruption and violations of human rights but these are generally peaceful, even if they can cause horrendous traffic jams.

Tax System

The principal taxes levied include: taxes on income and gains, taxes on transactions, and taxes on property. Taxes on income and gains include income tax and capital gains tax on sale of shares of stocks and real property. Individual resident foreigners who derive their income from all sources in the Philippines and in foreign countries are taxed from 1-35% on gross compensation income (arising from an employer-employee relationship) and net on non-compensation (business and other) income are taxed accordingly: twenty percent (20%) on royalties, prizes, and winnings. Twenty percent (20%) interest on bank deposit and substitute arrangements, and five percent (5%) capital gains tax on sale of realty.

For more information about the Philippine tax system, read The Philippines at A.L. Pellas & Associates.

Medical Care

Most of the health facilities in the big cities of Manila, Davao and Cebu are top notch. Two examples are the privately owned St. Luke’s Hospital and the Philippine General Hospital. Medical care in these institutions are definitely less expensive compared to private hospitals in the US or Japan. Many Filipino migrants prefer to fly home to Manila for medical and dental procedures because they can receive relatively inexpensive but quality care. Filipino health professionals are well known for their bedside manner, especially for their kind and gentle treatment of children and elderly patients. Private nurses are available and one can also hire well trained and experienced caretakers who have a lower salary range (about US$150/month). However, medical care is often substandard in many lesser known public and private hospitals and clinics. For those who have the money, medical care is not generally a problem.

Real Estate

A spacious apartment in upscale Makati can be rented for about less than a thousand dollars a month. From there, one can easily reach Manila’s most exclusive shops and restaurants. If you prefer a more modest apartment in a nice, safe neighborhood in Quezon City, you will probably pay less than $500 a month. A three bedroom house in a suburban middle class neighborhood can cost a total of US$60,000 (about 3 million pesos). Condominiums are widely available in the Makati and adjoining areas. The price of course varies depending on several factors, including location. However it seems to be a buyer’s market and you can have a wide choice of living facilities to fit your budget.


The SM and other chains of malls attract the Filipino middle class, including families of overseas contract workers. There are more exclusive stores such as Rustan’s where high-end imported brands are available. For the thrifty and those with limited budgets, there are traditional shopping areas such as Divisoria which is crammed with clothes, toys, shoes and other items made by local producers, China, Korea, and other neighboring countries. Tourists from Malaysia and other nearby countries come to the Philippines to shop and take advantage of low priced and well made goods.

Cost of Living

The biggest attraction for persons who want to either temporarily or permanently settle down in the country is the low cost of living in the Philippines. A survey showed that the cost of living in Manila is lower than 134 other Asian cities including Tokyo, Jakarta and Singapore, and even lower in smaller Philippine cities and rural areas. For $US10, less than 500 pesos, one can afford to buy three tasty and substantial meals for the day. Expatriates can hire maids for just $US100 a month and a driver for about twice that amount.

If an expat lives and spends wisely he or she should be able to afford a comfortable retirement in the Philippines. However note that, usually there are few jobs available for expats except if they have been sent to the Philippines specifically by an employer. Some expats put up their own business but this needs capital and a lot of research and planning. It is not impossible as there are a number of expats who own beach resorts and other tourism-related businesses that are doing well.

Another advantage to living in the Philippines is that many speak English fluently or can at least communicate using basic English. Filipinos are also comfortable with and even prefer Western culture. Also, communication inside the country has improved greatly, with the widespread use of cell phones and the growing use of the Internet.

Extradition from Philippines

The Extradition treaty between the Philippines and the US was signed on November 13, 1994

This treaty was entered into force on November 22, 1996

Web Sites for Expats in the Philippines

Philippines Board

Excellent forum covering all aspects of visiting and living in The Philippines.

Retirement in the Philippines

Retirement in the Philippines has one of the best options for foreign retirees who want value for their retirement money.

A Texan’s Life in the Philippines

Heartwarming blog documenting the life of a Texas family in the land of smiles.

Map of Philippines