Can You Handle The Truth?
This article is written especially for those of you who are continually wondering if you can live in the Philippines for nearly nothing and have very little income. It is written from the point of view of an American man who has lived in the Philippines for nearly 8 years now on a modest US pension and modest earnings from Internet business earnings. I tend to talk straight and I definitely do not look at the world of living here with rose colored glasses. So if you are uncomfortable with a spade being called a spade, feel free to move on, cause I am going to tell a few of you things you don’t want to hear. Fair warning.
Still With Me? Good.
A while back a really “meaty” comment came in from reader Bob NY in regards to a post I wrote … Decide by Facts … Here’s my response to what Bob wrote.
Hi Bob NY,
Thanks for contributing. As usual your comments are just full of valuable insights. Here’s a few thoughts and answers.
As I recall there is a 10K USD and a 20K USD SRRV visa. With the 10K USD plan you must have your retirement money ( Social Security, Pension or other such regular payments ) direct deposited into your SRRV approved account. You CAN withdraw those monthly direct deposits to use as you wish.
This is a little off in some details.
As the article you’re commenting on mentions there are 4 major types of “flavors” of the SRRV. Rather than repeat yet again, you (and others reading) are invited to visit:
The deposit requirements vary from $0 USD up through $50,000 USD, depending on the applicant’s age and the “Flavor” of visa applied for. There is a Pension income requirement for some levels and no pension requirements for others. In NO case is there a requirement for direct deposit of a pension to you SRRV deposit account. In fact, this would be a very bad idea, because you can’t withdraw from this account without PRA approval. The language reads:
Show proof of monthly pension remitted to the Philippines (US$800.00 for single applicant and US$1,000.00 for married couples)
You do NOT have to have the pension funds direct deposited … many pension sources in the USA will not do direct deposits .. US Military and US Civil Servic4e retirements as just one example. But applicants who can show proof of funds and a banking record which shows the amounts are coming to the Philippines should have no problem.
With the 20K USD SRRV you do not have to have your monthly Social Security or other retirement regular payments direct deposited into your SRRV account.
Yes. In the SRRV “Classic” option the choice is between showing enough pension income or making a larger deposit.
A suggestion worth considering, if you qualify for either of these visas and you can not afford even the 10K USD SRRV, do you think you really have enough money to move to and reside in The Philippines ? That deserves some serious consideration.
Amen to that, Bob. This one paragraph is really the heart of what I am trying to convey. Folks, you have to have realistic expectations. It seems like 90% of the questions I get are about the cost of things here, and many of the folks asking those questions make it clear they have virtually no income at all, or no income over and above a very minimal Social Security or disability income.
You Can’t Live On Love — Or Wishes
Folks, I’m not a rich man. I don’t look down my nose at people who have less income than I. But if you can’t come up with, say $10,000 USD and still have money left to live on? The Philippines is NOT a good goal for you at this time.
You can’t come here and live on “nothing”. And many whom I deal with never even consider the fact that they are living in a totally artificial environment in the USA. There are government and private charity programs galore which help- people in the USA. When you come here you get NOTHING.
If you get sick, for example, you’ll get medical care … certainly life-saving care, even if you have absolutely NO money. Hospitals routinely overcharge those who do have money/insurance to make up the expenses they incur treating destitute patients. For the slightly less poor there are many government programs and even the hated, but mandatory insurance coverage of the Affordable care Act. In the Philippines, you pay or you die.
It’s very hard for some folks to get their head around this … I know. I hear from people all the time who are ready to move here with zero, or minimal incomes, who have not given a moment’s thought to medical care. A typical response if I ask about this usually is something like “I’m not worried, I’m in good health.”
Well so was everyone else who died today, before they had a heart attack or before they got run over by a bus.
And I am sorry because as I write these words I just know there are people out there already getting angry and just foaming at the mouths to send me an angry email. But save your bile and and anger, guys.
You CAN Come to the Philippines With Nothing In Reserve
You want to come here with less than $10,000 USD (at a minimum) in reserve. Fine, go ahead … but remember, ITYS. (for those who don’t look things up, that means I Told You So)
But What If I Come to the Philippines and Get a Job?
Getting a job for a foreigner in the Philippines is typically quite problematical. I, myself, strongly advise against it … 10 Reasons You Don’t Want A Job In The Philippines … however Bob is correct that with certain categories of the SRRV (and with a large enough cash deposit) you are allowed to seek employment in the Philippines without seeking a Work Visa.
I believe but am not sure, I think you may also be able to be employed at least to some extent and there are also other benefits in having an SRRV ( if you qualify ) as opposed to staying and meeting the requirements of the tourist visa.
Basically if you are on an “flavor” of SRRV which does not require a monthly pension, you are allowed to be employed.
If you are at the level where a pension is required, then you are not eligible to be employed. The logic behind this, I believe is, at least to the Philippine authorities, if you are retired, you don’t need a job.
And though this may seem unfair to some, even a very minimal US pension is equal to a very, very handsome salary in the Philippines, so it’s easy to see why it goes against the grain for the Philippine government (financed by the taxes of ~100,000,000 people, 95,000,000 of whom are way poorer than you) to help you become even “richer”.
For me, one of the SRRV visas would be the most practical way to go. The way I see it, in the end it would be less potential headaches, you would get whatever are the most benefit of permanent residency, no obligation to keep renewing a tourist visa and paying a fee and having to make a periodic visa run to another country
Absolutely, Bob. You summed it up really well there. Thanks again and Godspeed.
Basically, Come With an Income or Don’t Come At all
Now this last section is where I am going to tell a few of you just how the cow eats the cabbage.
- You need an income, in my judgment anyway, at least $1500 USD per month.
- You need at least a few thousand USD in a “getting started” fund. Things like first, last and one or two months of rent, in cash, in advance. A bed. A refrigerator. Something to cook on. An air conditioner and or multiple fans just to be able to sleep … etc. I’m not even talking about luxuries like a TV, and Internet connection, bottled water, paying for help to get you moved in … I’m just talking basics.
- At least $10,000 USD in liquid form, accessible, but not all that easy to spend on a day to day basis. This is your emergency fund. Don’t dip into it unless it is literally life or death.
If you aren’t already in such financial circumstances then get busy and get yourself that way BEFORE you come here. Perhaps:
- Stop spending.
- Pay off all your credit cards but one, and then cancel them.
- Get rid of all but one car (or even all your cars if you can possibly get by on public transport for 6 months or a year).
- Get rid of cable TV, Cell phone subscriptions and everything that has a monthly bill except basic utilities
- Work overtime or get a second job, or a third. You are alive for about 768 hours a month, how many of them are spent watching sports or playing about on Facebook?
The list could go on, but I’ don’t want to bore anyone more than necessary, but if moving to the Philippines is your dream you can keep it from becoming a nightmare just by “sucking it up” for a few months and arriving here in the Philippines financially “whole” instead of a financial cripple.