The Real Reason Americans Retire in Philippines

In this report, I will explain the real reason Americans retire in Philippines as I show you videos I took while traveling the world for the last 14 years. I left the USA in 2007.

Based upon the content of Youtube videos, most people would think people retire in the Philippines because of the beautiful friendly locals and the gorgeous scenery.

But there is another reason not as talked about which plays at least as important a role as the beautiful people and scenery. Once people get here, they fall in love with the place and decide they want to stay. So they start talking to other ex-pats and they quickly realize, they don’t have to leave.

I only remembered this secret larger reason when I received an email from Paul today. You see, we fell in love with the Philippines and didn’t want to leave. So we had to find a way to stay that didn’t involve retirement visas. Let me explain.

In his email, Paul explains that he only receives around $1500 USD per month in social security.

He sees all these videos on Youtube about people living on less than $1500 in many countries around the world. Then he checks into the minimum pension people must have to retire in many countries around the world.

And he finds a conflict there. Many countries require retirement pensions in excess of $1500 per month so he is asking how do all these people with low pensions get their retirement visas around the world? That question is what reminded me to share this idea with you.

In his email, Paul concludes with the following question,

“So my real question is, is it realistic to think that one can retire and live overseas full time comfortably on say closer to $1200 per month SS income, post-Medicare monthly deduction, and with no other form of income and virtually no retirement nest egg? When also taking into account many countries require more monthly pension income than $1200 to qualify for residency in those countries? Thanks. Paul”

So, Paul’s pension is around $1500 per month, but all he receives after paying his Medicare Part B is $1200 USD per month. Plus, he has virtually no retirement nest egg.

So how can he qualify for a retirement visa with such a low income and virtually no retirement savings when many countries require more monthly income or savings to issue a retirement visa?

First, thank you for such a great question, Paul. Sometimes I forget how much I assume everyone else knows about a subject until someone asks a great question like this.

Without the great questions we receive from you guys, it never occurs to us to teach specific details that others need to know. We forget what we learned along the way that you guys haven’t heard about yet. So here it goes.

Paul has more problems hidden in his question that I will get to at the end of this report, but first I want to answer the main question Paul is asking.

But the idea I am sharing now is not limited to the Philippines. The concept I am about to share applies to most countries in the world, not just the Philippines.

How do I get a retirement visa with such a low pension income?

Let me start by explaining, Paul might be asking the wrong question. I am not faulting him for asking the wrong questions. I do it all the time. In fact, we researched the Philippines retirement visa before we flew here.

We decided to just visit the Philippines since we didn’t like the terms of the retirement visa. But we have learned over and over again, in many countries, that there is more than one way to stay in a country than a retirement visa.

But you often don’t learn about the tricks until you get your feet on the ground and meet the ex-pats that know the tricks in each country. But even if it turned out there were no tricks, we were determined to see the Philippines. Travel to beautiful places is what we do.

Now, I am going to talk about the Philippines as I answer Paul’s question, but this discussion applies to almost every other country in the world.

If you go to the Philippines Embassy webpage in your home country, you will find the requirements someone from your country needs to get a retirement visa in the Philippines.

If you were Paul, or me, you would read that if you are over 50 years old, you will need either (1) $10,000 USD cash deposit and $800 per month pension or (2) $20,000 cash deposit with no proof of Pension to get an SRRV retirement visa in the Philippines.

Since Paul doesn’t seem to have the $10k deposit, the fact that he nets $1200 per month won’t help him. Since I am not a big fan of putting money in foreign banks, I counted myself out also. So, do we just stop there and look for another country?

Not me. I wanted to see the Philippines.

If the Philippines or any other country is your favorite in the world to retire, you need to start asking a different question.

What is the Right Question to Ask?

The visa question you should be asking is this, “What is the easiest way to legally stay in the Philippines long term with as little money or hassle as possible?”

For many of you, it will be the retirement visa in whatever country you want to retire. There is nothing wrong with that if you qualify and want to give them your money. But for me, it would not be the retirement visa if I decided to retire in the Philippines.

I prefer not to deposit large sums of money in foreign banks. I have read too many stories about delays and complications when people try to get retirement deposits back around the world.

So, we flew into the Philippines on a tourist visa. They gave us a 30-day visa upon arrival. We heard that we could extend the tourist visa by 30 days by paying an extension fee of about $25 USD. That is all we knew when we landed.

We were having a great time in the Philippines so decided to get the 30-day extension. When the extension was running out, we learned from an American ex-pat that we could keep extending it for up to 36 months before we would have to leave the Philippines.

One of our neighbors, an American, explained how he had been living in the Philippines for about 5 years without a retirement visa. He just extends his tourist visa 36 times.

He said most of the Americans he knows don’t bother with a retirement visa. They just get extensions for 36 months. You can even do 6-month extensions twice a year to reduce trips to the immigration office.

At the end of 36 months, you just do a visa run to another country and come back for 36 more months. Now that was a tune I could dance to happily.

The Real Reason Americans Retire in Philippines

So many Americans retire in the Philippines just because it is easier than in other countries. They don’t need to provide any evidence of a pension or make any deposit in Philippines banks.

Many people come to the Philippines and fall in love with the natural beauty, the white sand beaches, the lovely local smiles, and the low cost of living.

But they stay because the Philippines government lets them stay without creating a bunch of silly requirements or unnecessary paperwork. So people stay in the Philippines on tourist extensions.

So people come to the Philippines for the beautiful people and scenery, and they stay because they feel welcome by a government that appreciates them.

The Philippines government is smart. They know that the average American pensioner is making about three times what the average local family earns in the Philippines so they welcome us with open arms and smiles.

Every American they let in, on average, spends three times more than the average locals. So they are raising the standard of living for everyone by allowing us to stay longer.

You can stay for up to 36 months on tourist extensions. Then you just do a visa run to another country like Vietnam, Thailand, or Malaysia. Then return for the next 36 months as a tourist. Easy, peasy retirement life.

There is another reason Paul needs to chill out about getting a retirement visa so soon. After 18 months, he may find out about an amazing place somewhere else in the world that he wants to move to.

So does he make another deposit and get a retirement visa in the new country too before he arrives? No! You need to think of the world more like a bunch of countries that you are going to date for a few months or years each before you fall in love with one and live happily ever after.

Just take life easy peasy until you have lived somewhere long enough to know you will never-ever leave. By that time you will know the easiest way to live there for as long as you want with all the limitations you have including your budget.

Almost All Countries Have Other Visa Solutions

You might be asking the wrong question in other countries too. I have a friend that spends most of the year in Thailand. But he is too young to get a retirement visa.

He makes incredible money online with a few businesses he owns and he loves to travel the world. But he loves Thailand most. He is also very smart and frugal.

He got tired of doing monthly visa runs about 5 years ago. So he started asking the right question, “How do I stay in Thailand for as long as I want without doing visa runs?”

He found an answer. He applied to a school in Thailand to learn how to speak Thai. He now studies Thai a few hours per week on a student visa. He can take Thai kickboxing once he learns Thai fluently.

Just start asking the right question and you can probably avoid most if not all of the hassles and paperwork in most of the countries around the world. Be creative.

One of Qiang’s model friends from Eastern Europe stayed in Malaysia for a decade on a student visa. Now she is living in New Zealand on a student visa.

But there are many other kinds of visas around the world than retirement and tourist visas. There are business visas, religious visas, charity work visas, and many others.

I have another report that explains why you should not be trying to get a retirement visa right away, even if you easily qualify. Just click the link in the notes below this video.

Now, I promised to talk about other problems hidden in Paul’s question about how to get a retirement visa on a low pension. But first I want to talk about the other wrong question that many new and experienced ex-pats are asking.

Can I buy Real Estate in this Country?

One of the first things we learn growing up is that it is smarter to own our homes than rent. My mother used to say, “You don’t want to throw rent out the window do you?” In fact, nobody ever told me it is better to be a renter.

But I want to throw some cold water in your face on this subject. You see, I agree that you should buy your home in your home country. You know the laws there. You know all the right questions to ask or people that care about you can help you ask the right questions.

But once we leave our home country, we are naive. We are not stupid. We may even have a genius-level IQ. But the truth is, we just don’t know the rules of the game outside our home country, do we?

Once we leave our home country, we are not in Kansas anymore Dorthy. So we need advice from people that know the local laws and history. But most of us don’t have trusted family and friends outside our home countries. So, is it okay to trust strangers in foreign countries with our life savings?

There are companies out there that share cost of living data online about the best places to retire cheap in the world. They spend a bunch of time talking about how you need to buy real estate in foreign countries.

They explain how it might be the best investment in your life. They will argue that buying will freeze your living costs so you won’t have any problems with inflation as you age.

But do these strangers in foreign countries have a conflict of interest with you? I have heard that some of them are getting kickbacks if you buy real estate they are promoting.

I am not telling you what to do. I just think you should read my report about why retiree ex-pats should not buy real estate overseas before making a final decision, link provided.

Okay, I promised to discuss the other hidden problems in Paul’s question at the end of this report. So, here it goes.

Hidden Problems in Paul’s Question.

Paul said he has $1200 per month he wants to use to live happily ever after in some country on a retirement visa and never leave. He also mentioned that he has US Medicare health insurance.

So what happens when he gets old and needs some expensive healthcare treatment? He has Medicare so he can fly home and get treated. Hopefully, he has a friend or family with a couch he can sleep on for a few months while he recovers.

But Paul also says he has “virtually no retirement nest egg.” What happens to Paul if he rents a scooter somewhere in SE Asia and gets his leg broken? What if he is injured in some emergency and he can’t fly home for treatment? What if he has a heart attack or stroke and is rushed to the hospital?

In many of these retire cheap in paradise countries around the world, they will be able to provide some sort of emergency treatment to save him if he gets to the hospital on time.

But how will he pay for the services? Will they require a deposit from him upfront before they treat him?  It is true that the costs can be as much as 80% cheaper in some of these countries than they would be in the USA, but you do need money for these and other emergencies.    

I cover these questions and others in another report I have called, The Two Biggest Risks Of Retiring Cheap Overseas, link provided.

Finally, while you are at it, you should read my report, The Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees make, link provided. I don’t want to temper your excitement about enjoying the world in retirement, I just want to load your gun with ideas that will help you avoid many of the mistakes I made while traveling the world for the last 14+ years.

Okay, thanks for reviewing this report, the real reason Americans Retire in the Philippines. 

Make sure to grab a copy of my free eBook, “How I Fired My Boss and Traveled the World for 14 Years.”

This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube Channel for   The world is your home, what time will you be home for dinner?


4 thoughts on “The Real Reason Americans Retire in Philippines”

  1. Good website! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I’ve subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  2. Our friend could easily cut back on a few beers and fancy food or apartments. This way he could put away 1 or $200 a month towards his nest egg. Thats about $12-$2,400 a year. In 5 years its a nest egg of $12,000. Good for medical etc.

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