Retirement in the Philippines by Retired Americans
While a lot of Americans wait until they’ve reached a retirement age in the United States, not all of them wait. I didn’t.
In the past, most Americans living in the Philippines consisted of retired US military service members, but those types of retirees are dwindling in number and have been since the US base closures in the early 1990s. Some retirees are pure Americans, some are dual American/Filipino citizens and some are pure Filipinos who never attained US citizenship before retiring.
My Retirement in the Philippines
My circumstances are probably not unique but they’re probably not commonplace either. I didn’t plan on retirement before the 2020s and I didn’t plan to retire in the Philippines. My wife and I were both working full-time jobs, paying for a house we’d lived in since 1994. Both of our children were out of high school and one was out of the house already. We were living comfortably in Phoenix, Arizona.
When the ill-fated housing bubble was near its peak, we decided to sell the house and move to the Philippines. My wife was a dual-citizen and I only needed to meet the requirements for a permanent resident visa. I was drawing a military pension, which was enough to make the house payments and then some, but not enough to live on in the US if neither of us were working.
We owned land in Olongapo City. After staying with my mother-in-law for a few months, we had our own house built from part of what we had left after selling our house in Phoenix.
There are three ways to retire in the Philippines. The first way is to marry a Filipino and get a permanent resident visa – your spouse has to be a Filipino citizen or a dual citizen.
The second way is by getting a special retirement visa. You have to deposit a specific amount of money as a certificate of deposit for a year in a specific bank in the Philippines. It’s a large chunk of money, but you get it back after that year. [Correction: You have to leave it forever, but you can get it back if you get the other visa.]
The third way is to keep extending your temporary visa. You can extend it for up to a year and then you have to leave the country for at least 24 hours (many go to Guam). You can then return and start doing it all over again. This is the most expensive way of doing it.
If you want to know more about moving to and living in the Philippines, I recommend reading everything at RAO Subic, starting with an article about moving there.