• This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Emigrate to the Philippines

Planning to move to the Philippines? Besides its scenic landscapes and stunning islands and beaches, its rich history and various cultural influences add to the country's appeal as an expat destination. Check out our guide to help you get started.

General Information and Thoughts on Emigrating to the Philippines

General Information and Thoughts on Emigrating to the Philippines

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active
The Philippines is considered one of the most westernized Asian countries. 400 years of Spanish colonial rule and 50 years of US administration have defined the development of the country.

Here people are open to foreigners. Millions visit the country each year on vacation, and many choose it as the best retirement destination after a life elsewhere. Living standards vary wildly, allowing a retiree to adjust to where they feel most comfortable.

Below are some of the good reasons to move to the Philippines

  • English is an official and widely spoken/understood language.
  • The Filipino people are incredibly warm and welcoming.
  • The cost of living is comparatively low, even in the three main cities. Luxury living can be had for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. A part-time house helper will cost about $ 50 per month, and a full-time resident will cost less than $ 100 (plus room and board).
  • Local markets offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost. Seafood is also cheap.
  • Public transport is developed and widespread. It is easy to live without having a car. Small motorcycles and scooters are popular for personal transportation (although it is not a necessity by any means).
  • Tropical weather complemented by excellent eco-tourism destinations, which abound in the country.
  • The country is an excellent base for traveling to Asia. When on sale, airfares to Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, or Thailand can be less than $ 100 (roundtrip).
  • There are a variety of living situations to choose from: major cities offer a fast-paced urban lifestyle, while the surrounding areas offer a peaceful retreat from city life.
illustration of pros and cons with weighing scale

Disadvantages of moving to the Philippines

Of course, there are also some downsides to moving into the Philippines permanently.

Note: These are common foreign complaints and may not apply to everyone.
  • Poverty is widespread, some have a hard time coming to terms with it. Income inequality is tough.
  • The government bureaucracy and corruption are real and obvious.
  • You will not be able to own lands in your name.
  • Business laws and regulations make entrepreneurship difficult.
  • It is not easy to find a decent job, much less build a career.
  • While many Filipinos are honest, you will always come across someone looking to take advantage of the rich foreigner.
  • Depending on the location, the weather can be a serious problem. The country is prone to typhoons, which can cause massive damage in some areas. Meanwhile, summers are very hot, it is not uncommon for overnight temperatures to be 32 C.
  • Imported food and products can be expensive.
visa application form with pen

Visas and work permits

There are several different types of visas available. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Generally, visitors from most countries can enjoy visa-free stay in the Philippines for 30 days. If desired, a 30-day visa will be issued by the office of immigration at the airport.

There is a requirement for an exit ticket, however, the ticket is not required to be within the 30-day window. Before the expiration date of the visa, the tourist can go to a local immigration office and for a small fee, it can be extended for another 59 days.

The main office in Manila can grant 6-month extensions (which can be repeated for a total of 16 months). After staying 60 days, the tourist must apply for a foreigner registration card, which is valid for one year.

Also once six months have passed after their arrival they need authorization from the local immigration office to leave the country. Once you get a feel for this process, it is relatively easy. Most Retirees living in the Philippines use this method. Working is not allowed for holders of this visa.

Special Resident Retiree Visa - This visa allows you a number of options and makes you a temporary resident. The visa is valid for two years and is easily renewed. There are some income requirements and other required documentation (varies by age). If you are over 50, you must make a term deposit of $ 10,000 and have a pension of at least $ 800 per month.

The term deposit can only be withdrawn for the purchase of a condo or similar living arrangement. You can work with this visa, but you must still obtain a Foreign Employment Permit.

The exit permit is not necessary for stays of more than 6 months. Many retirees eligible under this program do not apply due to the hefty initial application fee ($ 1,400).

Special Job Generation Visa - A relatively new visa that still confuses some people. If you are a business owner or part-owner and have managerial responsibilities in a business that employs at least ten workers, you are eligible.

Workers may be required to have specific skills or not, but exclude security guards and domestic workers. It is valid for a trial period of one year and then renewable every two years.

Special work visas: Available for the Subic Bay and Clark Freeport areas. To be eligible, applicants must have an Alien Employment Permit (AEP), which requires the sponsoring company to prove that no local Filipino is qualified to do the job. Officers of a corporation receive an AEP without restrictions.

This work visa is valid for two years and the renewals are simple. Those who have invested more than $ 250,000 are eligible for an investor visa (valid for as long as they own the investment).

There are two visas available for people married to a Filipino:

Section 13a visa (permanent residence): can be applied for before entering the country (or once here). It allows one to work, and an AEP is not required.

The Balikbayan visa (valid for 1 year): issued at the port of entry. To be eligible, your Filipino spouse must travel with you.
group of smiling Filipino people holding Philippine flaglets

Residence and citizenship

A natural-born citizen who has lost his or her Philippine citizenship can easily reclaim it back, as well as have the option to claim dual citizenship.

As for everyone else, while it may seem easy for a citizen of another country to be naturalized, it is not common (apart from the cases of being married to a Filipino).
hand holding Philippine peso bills to another hand

Cost of living in the Philippines

The Philippines is ranked 86 out of 139 countries in terms of cost of living (rank 1 here would be the most expensive, 139 the cheapest).

It is therefore a fairly inexpensive country (especially in everything related to labor-intensive products/services). Overall, with an income or pension of $ 1,000, you can live pretty well almost anywhere in the Philippines.

The main cost is that of housing, which, as in almost any country, varies greatly from one area to another. In certain prominent parts of Manila, the price rises a lot (more than 1,000 USD for a flat in a modern condominium), but if we have flexibility when choosing where to live, it is better to do it in other cheaper areas, less congested, less pollution, noise, etc.

  • Rent an apartment/house with 3 rooms in the center of a secondary city: 470-580 USD (15-20% less if it is in the suburbs, in a small town, or rural area).

  • There are some internet portals where you can find interesting apartments (mainly in cities) such as Carousell.ph, Lamudi.com.ph, RentPad.ph, or MyProperty.ph.  But the best option is the old-fashioned way, walking around the area where you want to live and looking at the “for rent” signs.

  • Electricity: It tends to be a bit pricey compared to other costs, about 100 USD / month and even more if the air conditioning is thrown a lot.

  • Internet: it varies depending on the rate and contracted provider, but if you want fiber optics (100 Mbps) with certain guarantees, you have to have about 60-90 USD / month. Here are some providers: Converge ICT, Globe Broadband, PLDT Home, SKY Broadband. Another thing is, the internet is one of the weak points for those who want to set up as a freelancer since in many places it is quite poor, at times non-existent.

  • Restaurant meal: 4-5 USD per person (half if eaten at street stalls)
  • Transportation: Tricycles and jeepneys cost $.20, for trains and buses, it's $0.25 and $0.35, Taxis: 2 to 4 USD each way.
  • Nanny, house helper, practically 24/7/365: between 120 and 220 USD (depends on the area).

Summing Up!

A good number of foreigners have been attracted to coming and settling in the Philippines after retirement. This is because the country has great tropical weather and of course, your retirement money can go a long way with the cheap cost of living.

We hope that this post has helped you learn about the necessary information you need if you’re planning to migrate to the Philippines.