Note from MindanaoBob – I would like to welcome a new writer to the site, RT Cunningham! RT is a long time Expat Blogger in the Philippines and has operated a number of his own blogs over the years. I am happy to have RT aboard on LiP, and look forward to his contributions! If you can visit RT’s blog,
As a military retiree, living on a modest pension, I could have picked almost any place in the world to live after I left the active work force. I chose Olongapo City for just a few reasons, which I’ll do my best to explain. I met my wife, Josie, near the former Subic Bay Naval Base next to Olongapo in 1983. We married, in the United States, in 1985. We both visited Olongapo in 1986, 1987, 1998 and 2003 for various reasons other than living in Olongapo. My wife and other family members, without me, visited between 1998 and 2003. I had the exploratory visit advice given for expats wanting to live in the Philippines covered from all angles without even knowing it.
In 1987 or 1998, Josie bought a house and lot for the rest of her family in the barangay called “Santa Rita”. It was in an undeveloped area heading up into the mountains, with only a dirt road leading up to where the house was. I say was because the house was rebuilt after that. The original house could barely survive the typhoons affecting that area every year. In 2005, our younger son, Jon, accompanied my mother-in-law back to the Philippines to live in her house. Sometime that year, Josie bought the barren, washed out lot next door that bordered a creek just so no one else could.
Shortly after they left, Josie and I discussed living in the Philippines. The stress of the job I was working at made retirement tempting since we no longer had anyone but the two of us living in a 4-bedroom, 3-bath house. When I decided to do it, we took advantage of the United States housing bubble and put our house up for sale. We finally sold it in February of 2006, with the profit deposited in our bank in time for us to prepare for the big departure date in April. Josie always tells me I’m a genius for figuring out how to get more than twice as much as we owed (the profit was over $100,000).
The Olongapo Decision
We didn’t decide to live in Olongapo right away. We spent more a month and half looking for a home to buy, in Olongapo and further south. Building our house on our recently acquired lot was our last choice in the matter and it made sense back then. Looking at things in hindsight, we probably should have just found a decent place to rent, further away from her side of the family. I can’t complain, though, because we have a nice house, a low-mileage car and no recurring credit payments.
Our house is at the end of a road, paved just after we arrived in 2006. We live about two kilometers from downtown Olongapo, about three kilometers from the Kalaklan Lighthouse Gate at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and less than a kilometer from the “Olongapo Proper” sign going the other direction.
To summarize, these are my reasons for retiring in Olongapo City:
- I wanted to eventually retire in the Philippines
- I was familiar with the Olongapo City and Subic Bay area
- Josie and I already owned two lots in Olongapo.
Living in Olongapo, or the Philippines for that matter, hasn’t been a bed of roses. I’ve lived in many places over the last 40 years (not counting the city I grew up in) that I don’t care to remember and Olongapo is a far better place than a lot of them.