Our retirement in the Philippines…

My wife and I chose the Philippines as our retirement home and lived here full time since 2006.  Our future in Iloilo was sealed when bought a property and built a house outside of Iloilo City, in the small seaside town of Tigbauan, about one hour west of the city proper. Iloilo City continues to be our main center for shopping, medical care, dining and other urban amenities and necessities. We’ve posted an extensive account of our house building experiences and recommendations regarding purchasing property in the Philippines.

Iloilo City Riverside Esplanade

Iloilo City Riverside Esplanade

We are pleased with Iloilo. The wonderful people are its treasure. Routine Medical care is available and educational opportunities are extensive. Thousands of doctors, nurses and seamen are trained in Iloilo every year. There are decent restaurants, and you can find and buy most of what you need at the markets, numerous malls or the downtown commercial area.

While we enjoy living in the Philippines, we try to present a balanced view of the pluses and minuses of retirement there.  The Philippines is not an economy version of Hawaii.  The Philippines is decidedly a developing country with all the limitations that suggests. Further, there are other affordable retirement destinations to consider.  Malaysia and Thailand are popular with retirees and offer better infrastructure and amenities. Cambodia is an inexpensive option. On the plus side, many Filipinos speak some English and generally are friendly to foreigners. Be sure to read our short essay: Reality Check: the Philippines – a tropical paradise for the retiree?


Beach on nearby Guimaras Island

Philippine Retirement Visas.  The Philippine government offers some the easiest and least expensive options for foreign retirees. Philippine Retirement Visas

You can explore further using the topics list on the right side of every page. Comments, criticisms and additional information are very welcome. Address to hammerslag@gmail.com






Comments (17)

  1. Hi,
    first of all, I’m a Filipino and found this not just very informative but an interesting read. I’ve always been curious why there are foreigners who choose to live in a third world country when they’re better off in their homeland(at least that’s what I think). I also wanted to see my country from a different point of view because I am starting to not like what the Philippines and its people has become. I am proud to be a Filipino but not proud about the negative traits we have that seem to become prominent in the past couple of years, overshadowing the nice things we’re known for (hospitality, etc). I am glad to hear that you’re happy living here and can still see glimpses of the good things this country still has to offer and hoping that you’d still see more of it.

    Sigh! If only it is possible for this country to rid itself of the disease of corruption, which is not just causing the need for its people to resort to bad habits but it has also actually “infected” them so that it’s become second nature for them to lie, cheat, laze around, etc. I’m looking forward to a time that the Philippines would become a paradise.

    P.S. I bumped into this site after Googling “Safest City in the Philippines,” (which everyone thinks–I do too–is Davao City) and found your “Crime against foreigners” entry.
    Also, “Mag-anak” actually means “relatives,” family is “pamilya.” 😀

    • Hi Mark,

      Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments. I am not unaware of the negatives in the Philippines. I think of my life here as floating on the surface of a pond. I know there are many dark evils in the deep, so I just try to stay on the surface and enjoy the sunshine and hope that none of the creatures below will bother with me. I stay home at night, am not involved in any business, I don’t loan money, don’t have girlfriends, don’t go to bars, try not to piss anyone off and stay away from politics. I try to be blissfully ignorant as I can. I try to enjoy the local color, warm climate, modest cost of living, our lovely neighborhood and especially the smiles, undeserved respect and friendliness I receive whenever I am out and about.

      This might be shallow, and even insensitive given all the problems here, but it’s my way of trying to avoid the pitfalls of life here as a foreigner.

      Thanks also for correcting me about mag-anak. I revised the post.

      Best regards,


  2. Good morning Bob (and Asawa).

    My (Ilongga) Asawa and Mom are currently in Oton visiting with Family… been there for two weeks already… have another 3 weeks to go (before they head back to Orlando, Florida area). They’re looking for a place to buy a life jacket/vest so they may take Mom on a boat (we want to buy our own)… any suggestions where they may find life jackets/vests for sale?

    I’ve been reading your site for several years… enjoy your stories and information you’ve shared over the years.

    They went to the Dinagyang Festival on Sunday and they’ve taking Mom fishing almost everyday at a pond somewhere there in Oton (and catching fish). My Asawa and I were there in Oton in 2010 to take care of a Family members passing, so I didn’t have time to reach out at that time. Maybe one of these days I’ll get back there for enjoyment.

    Later. / Ray

    • Ray,

      I would start with the Gaisano Mall in Oton. If they don’t have them you could check out the stores in SM City. On Iznart Street in Iloilo City there are some fisherman supply stores. I think I saw life jackets there. The shops, as I recall it. are on the east side of Iznart between the monument and the public market.

      Carol and I lived in Lake Mary for awhile before we came to the Philippines.

      Bob and Carol

  3. hi bob and carol,-30/1/2014
    thank you for your great information to expats wishing to live in the philippines.i am an australian citizen on my second visit to the philippines haveing been to tacloban just before the typhoon visiting a lady i had met through my laptop. i have since returned to the philippines on 31/12/13 and wish to apply for a visa to stay permenantly as we wish to marry in the next two weeks.I have a pension of $700Aus per fortnight, and we wish to settle on a small block of land in tacloban owned by her family (1 hectare) I am asking for your advice on the following matters. As we wish to marry in the next two weeks. What sort of visa should i apply for,if we lease 3 hectare of lands,(hoping to grow vanilla bean,cocoa trees,and cinnamon trees)will i have still deposit $US 10.000.00 into a bank. Do we have to have a license to do this farming. What other requirements do you know that i may have to fullfill.

    Thanking you kindly John


    • Hi John,

      Just enter on a tourist visa. You’ll have to go to an immigration office and renew it for an additional 59 day and then renew every 59 days. This will give you lots of time to refine your plans regarding visas. If you do marry a Philippine citizen you will be eligible to apply for a 13a permanent residence visa.

      While I appreciate your enthusiasm for your lady friend and your new life in the Philippines, and that you likely will brush-off any such advice, I suggest that you take things a bit more slowly, with respect to immigration, marriage and financial investments. It takes time to learn about a lady friend and her family and life in the Philippines. That said, we send your best wishes and would be glad to answer any questions you may have.

      Bob and Carol

  4. Hi I really enjoyed reading your other site, the one that had your down stairs apartment. I will be moving there in late February . My future wife is the HR officer for DTI. The building that you are living in was up for rent recently and we had an interest in it. It did not say upstairs of down, but I’m assuming it is the upstairs. If it is still up for rent perhaps you could let me know.
    You did a magnificent job in describing the pros and cons (not many cons) of what it is like in Iloilo. I have spent months in Bacolod City and enjoy it, but there were also a lot of negatives that were not attached to Iloilo. Thanks for all your fabulous advice.

    • Thanks for the very kind words. Actually, we rented the upstairs apartment. The two apartments are more or less identical.

  5. Nice article. Thank You for the kind words about Iloilo City, and Iloilo in general.
    I grew up in the city of Iloilo. Most of the criminals from Iloilo that I knew (they were arrested or salvaged), operated outside of Ilolio. We have a saying in our place, that “if you want to scatter your waste, you are better off doing it outside of your playground or get wasted by the locals.”

    Again, thank you for the kind words. The place where you reside is one of the best towns to live in Iloilo. I have so many friends in that town.


    Rodolfo of Boston, Massachusetts (Expats)

  6. Hi, Bob! My dad has been following your website for years now, and has been inspired by your your writings documenting your retirement journey as he prepares for his. He and my mom are both from Iloilo (and soon to retire from over 30 yrs of US civil service), and he appreciates all that you share for the curious public to read and learn of your experiences. For years, he has talked to me about everything you’ve written from dentists to markets and, most especially, the journey of the building of your home in Tigbauan as we are both architects and thoroughly appreciate the details one takes to document design experience and especially each phase of construction. We are big fans!

    On that note, we happen to be vacationing in the area and were wondering if you’d be so kind to take a moment of your busy schedule so we can meet you and say thank you for inspiring us. As an adult child whose parents plan to retire in the area, your website has contributed to the comfort I have of surrendering my parents back to their hometown. For that and much more, thank you…

    So looking forward to hearing from you,

    • 🙂 I’m certain you have made his day. You sound like the typical Filipina, loving and caring.

  7. Glad to know you are both ok. Martin’s family were very lucky too. God bless!

  8. Bob – hope you and Carol weren’t hit too hard by Typhoon Yolanda. How did the house fare? We’ll be moving in a few years to Bacolod. Will keep all your earthquake/typhoon/flooding tips in mind. Best regards, Angela, Berkeley CA

    • Angela,

      We had lots of wind and rain but no real damage. However many communities further north an Panay Island were really devastated. Thanks for thinking of us. Bob and Carol

  9. Always good reading on your website Bob. I especially enjoy the “building a Philippine house” as I lived through the experience. This category gives many expats thinking about building here in the Philippines a “starting point” and the input/comments you collect reinforce the content. It is, as you know, a stressful time in an expats life dealing with the construction differences from what they are used to in their home country compared to what is before them in building here in the Philippines. We were very fortunate to find an engineer/architect who did a great job for us (www.nebitandassociates.com) and continues to stand behind his work. In my experience, you must have patience, learn as much as you can, and continue an open dialog. We payed particular attention to the workers, showing them a level of respect, often offering some miranda (snacks), and just talking with them. This resulted in them being happy to put in the extra effort for us. There are many different approaches to building in the Philippines. Find out what works best for you and you’ll lesson your stress.

  10. Hi I am an expat from California having lived in New Zealand for the last 20 years. I am hoping to retire to Philippines and have a US benefit and work
    part time as a chiropractor and acupuncturist. I have done this for the last 30
    years. Do you have any advise or recommendations? cheers Thom Zydervelt

    • Hi Thom,

      I have another expat friend who gave up NZ for the Philippines!

      I have no idea what the market is for your services in the Philippines. Possibly it’s good. Just beware of licensing requirements. The Philippines is a place with many regulations but generally lax enforcement. There must be licensing for your occupations and they might be difficult for a foreigner to obtain. This leaves one open to problems if you are perceived as competing with others in your field. I have heard of foreign doctors on volunteer medical missions being unable to do their charity work because they are not licensed in the Philippines.


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