Do you envy the life of luxury being enjoyed by people in developed countries, wishing you too could life such a life but lacking the $10,000 of monthly income needed for such a life? Well, I challenge you to consider living in the Philippines, either on a full or part time basis. Retirement is not a matter of age; it is a matter of having enough ongoing income. With a $2,000 monthly income (or pension or annuity), one can truly live a life of luxury. I present how this is done and list the primary expenses of living in the Philippines as a foreigner.
#1 DO NOT LOCATE YOUR RESIDENCE IN MANILA.
Manila is a bustling and exciting city, but full of congestion and expensive real estate, much as any major city in the Western world. The further one gets from Manila, the lower the cost of living accommodations. Of course, there is always the trade off of the more a remote location you to, the less comfort and Western world amenities will you find.
For this reason, I always counsel people to consider the major secondary cities of Cebu or Davao, or the Subic Bay area, or resort or university communities such as Baguio, Dumaguete, Tacloban, and Cagayan De Oro. The cost of housing in these areas is substantially below Manila, yet they have readily available air access in and out of the community, and because foreigners tend to favor residing in these areas, there are more upscale housing accommodations to select from.
The two cities with the most luxurious amenities for a Westerner, outside of Manila, are Cebu City and Davao City.
In these two cities you can expect to pay from $300 monthly for a small apartment to a high of $800 monthly for a luxury house in a gated community with a swimming pool. A similar rental in the USA would could about $3,000 to $4,000 monthly. A similar house in Manila would cost about $1,500 to $2,000 monthly, or more, depending on the location in Manila.
#2 HIRE A COUPLE OF MAIDS AND PERHAPS A DRIVER.
For the luxury life, you will want a couple of maids, one to tend to the cooking and shopping, and another to tend to the laundry and house cleaning. They will do all the grocery shopping (at a lower cost than you could ever get), wash and iron all your clothes, and have your favorite food ready for you at each meal. A real luxury which is completely unaffordable in the Western world on $2,000 per month. Two maids would cost less around $100 to $120 monthly.
A driver would probably be desired should you choose to purchase your own automobile. While living in Cebu City a few years ago, I had a new vehicle that I drove myself, but I found quickly that by hiring a driver for $80 a month, the vehicle was always kept in immaculate condition, and I had someone to tend to the vehicle while I was at restaurants, shopping, or at business appointments. I never had to worry about where to park the vehicle or petty theft or destruction of the vehicle. While living in Butuan City I tend to not use a personal vehicle as much, but I have found it still worth having a driver.
#3 PURCHASE A GOOD INTERNATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN
With $2,000 a month income, I would not opt for local Philippine health insurance programs, rather I would purchase an international for foreigners living overseas. Depending on your age and any preconditions, a policy for which you would pay $500 monthly in the USA would cost you round $200 monthly.
#4 ALL OTHER ITEMS
With your housing, maid services, transportation and health care provided for with approximately $1,200 monthly, this leaves you $800 monthly everything else. Utilities (electric, water, phone, cell phone, high speed internet service and cable TV) will add up to around $150 monthly, bring the cumulative total to $1,350 monthly.
This leave $650 monthly for food, entertainment, fuel for your car, travel, personal care items. Groceries will be about $250 monthly, and fuel and personal care items might total $50 monthly, which leaves around $350 for meals in restaurants, entertainment and travel. Eating dinners out a couple of times a week and monthly entertainment would cost around $200 monthly, so you would still have $150 monthly of excess funds for savings.
CEBU CITY OR DAVAO CITY - WHICH TO CHOOSE?
Each is different from the other in many ways, and Davao City living costs are less than those in Cebu City, so your lifestyle there can be even greater.
Cebu has a large population of foreign retirees in relation to its population. Foreigners are drawn to its abundance of beaches and resorts. It is a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Like Manila, it too has its upscale, modern shopping malls, casinos, and a great night life.
Those who love living near the seaside, have interests in diving and other water sports, yet like the efficiency and amenities of a smaller modern city, then Cebu City would be your choice.
Davao City is THE city of Mindanao, and by square miles it is the second largest city in the world. Its population is approximately 1.4 million. Located on the southern of Mindanao, it is the more rural of the two cities, and it has the lowest cost of living. So, if you enjoy the lifestyle of a large city, and want more money in your pocket at the end of the month, then Davao is the place for you.
Davao City does not get large numbers of foreign travelers as does Cebu City, yet for those seeking outdoor adventures, the options are plentiful. Living in Davao is a bit like living in both an urban and a rural city, as the city has modern shopping centers, upscale gated communities and hotels, yet living there you become deeply rooted to the land outside the city.
The important thing in living in the Philippines is to do your research, based on your wants, needs and desires, and tie into someone who has gone before you and can provide you wisdom by guiding you through the array of questions and anxieties.