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Retire in the Philippines, is it for me?

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Today, we have a guest post from my friend, LeRoy.  LeRoy is trying to make the decision of whether he should retire in the Philippines and is asking for input from the LiP community.  So, give LeRoy some advice and let him know what you think!

I thought I would invite others to give me feedback as I evaluate my retirement choices.  As a side note, in addition to my business background, I have a masters and PhD in counseling and have made an effort to evaluate myself as I would if I was working with a client instead of simply tooting my own horn.

49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines

Summary; due to arthritis and related health problems, the cold weather in “Cornfield County” Indiana causes severe discomfort about 6 months out of the year.  I am looking for a warm climate outside of the USA to retire within the next 1-3 years.   I have narrowed it down to the Philippines because of friends living in Mindanao, Central America or a couple locations in South America.   Because of wanting to retire earlier in my life, I have chosen to live outside of the US for cost of living.   I would have a moderate nest egg to start life in retirement, but mostly living on about a $2000 a month retirement income besides the online work that I do.

My background growing up was very similar to the Amish to the point that most of our neighbors assumed that our family was Amish.   By that, I mean that I am used to the rural life with a focus on self sufficiency and little dependence on conveniences with a healthy dose of tolerance for others.  As I grew older, I have to a large extent kept the same outlook on life.   I have a TV that I watch movies on 4 or 5 times a year.   I instead, prefer to read several books a week and to write on subjects that interest me.

I am very comfortable being around and in groups of people that are culturally different and speaking other languages.

Years ago, a young woman from Laos that I worked with was having health problems and didn’t recognize how serious things were but due to her trust in me, when I insisted that she go to the doctor, she allowed me to take her and he explained how close to death she was at that time.

From that time, she referred to me as her brother, and quite honestly, her and her family is closer to me than my blood brother and sister.   At the plant where we worked then, the approximately 800 Asian workers, mostly from the Golden Triangle know me as Tao’s brother even if they do not know my name.   I am invited to many of the events within that group of people and am happy to go because we are friends even though I might be the only or one of the only “white” people as they say, in attendance.   I can speak enough of the various dialects to offer greetings to friends and pay my respects to the elders.   Unlike my ex wife, when they are talking in their various dialects, I do not assume that they are talking about me because I know that I am not that interesting and I also know that I am among friends.

I find that these events, whether it is a new year’s celebration or a birthday party is a time of being  with friends and getting to try new and different foods.   I will try most foods at least once or twice and enjoy the opportunity to experiment with foods that are out of my normal routine.  A few, I decline as graciously as possible because I have a hard time getting it past my nose.

I have placed the Philippines on the top of my list because of friends from Mindanao.   There is a family that I came to know well when I worked at the plant referred to above, and I have visited the rural area where their family lives several times over the last number of years.  I have very much enjoyed my stays there and could see that as a potential long term retirement area.

I also understand that there is a huge difference between visiting and living.   That is why I am trying to get some feedback.

Some bullet points for consideration.

My needs are:

  • coffee
  • books
  • enough power to charge my laptop for writing
  • access to internet service to check email and news on a generally daily basis.

An item that is a little easier in the rural area than in the village is a reasonably quiet place for writing.

I enjoy cooking and here in the US I participate in BBQ competitions.  I enjoy butchering, making sausages of various kinds as well as curing hams and bacon.

I do not smoke or drink.   I do not need to be in a crowd to have a good time but if that happens I enjoy it also.   My job requires quite a bit of public speaking and often at get togethers that my sister puts on, I will find myself with a bunch of children around me asking me to tell stories.   They also know I keep candy of some kind for them.

I have found that my background was helpful for me when I was visiting and the electricity was intermittent because growing up we did without for many years.

In my several years working in the plant, I worked with people from 42 countries but over 2/3 of the employees were from various Asian and Spanish speaking countries, I found that I got along with most people in spite of language barriers.  We would share food at break and lunch times, when we met in town, I would get introduced to the families and still, several years after leaving there, people will stop in my place of business just to say hello and sometimes accept a cup of coffee or tea that they know will be offered.  Quite simply, giving respect and courtesy almost always gets you the same in return.

A smile, a handshake, a pat on the arm, a gesture of respect, occasionally a hug can say much more than the limited words that sometimes stand between us when we meet friends but often when there is a problem or something that they do not understand they know that they can come for help.   I do not feel the need to change the way anyone does something, but if asked, I will help a person to the best of my ability.

That is a summary of me.  I would welcome feedback as to your thoughts of a person with my background fitting in to rural Mindanao retirement and especially the areas that you would think might be a challenge or a poor fit.

LeRoy

I am in my early 50’s, living in North Central Indiana. I was medically retired from law enforcement and went back to school earning a MBA and a Masters and a PhD in counseling. My primary occupation is business turn around and consulting for business both large (Fortune 500) and small. In my spare time I donate my time to work with many of our recent immigrants in town.

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germs
germs
8 years ago

Kidapawan city, north cotabato

Mark Rutherford
Mark Rutherford
8 years ago

I’am writting this from Texas.My wife is from Davao city.In the future we talk about moving over there.Places that i would suggest to look into are Davao city, Cebu, Bahol.Good luck with your search.

Mitch
Mitch
8 years ago

Is this by chance Seabee Master Chief Rutherford, 302 in the eairly 80’s

Kyle McKay
Kyle McKay
8 years ago

I am a recent resident of the Philippines (November 2012) and the main piece of advice is things do not go according to plan here. You may accomplish what you set out to do, but how you accomplished it may seem very convoluted.

I really enjoy living here but sometimes I have to put a smile on my face, slam the door to my brain and let me wife deal with it.

Maybe the main piece of advice if you want to live here, marry a good Pinay.

LeRoy Miller
LeRoy Miller
8 years ago
Reply to  Kyle McKay

Once I learned to reduce stress by letting go and enjoying the trip in life, I found that there are many ways to get to the end goal. So I understand what you mean about things not going according to plan.

Now I look forward to the surprises as I go through life.

Kyle McKay
Kyle McKay
8 years ago
Reply to  LeRoy Miller

You have the right mindset you should come fine. As an aside the local coffee is excellent. I prefer Barako blend, it is masarap.

John Leick
John Leick
8 years ago

Hi LeRoy, I have been traveling in the RP and Southeast Asia for over a decade, and will be moving to the Cebu area this year. My home is in Wisconsin, so howdy neighbor! Here is my take. The RP is a wonderful place and is my choice. It is easy to assimilate into the culture, English is everywhere and mostly Christian. It is my home away from home, almost like a little America in Asia. But I have a purpose for being there, I work in Southeast Asia and China. The drawback is it is a long way from… Read more »

LeRoy Miller
LeRoy Miller
8 years ago
Reply to  John Leick

International Living confirmed some of the comments of my friends about Ecuador and it is one of the potential locations.

I would not expect to travel more than once or twice a year other than residency visa related travel, but will take that into consideration. Dipolog would be about an hour and a half from where I would initially live if RP is my choice.

brian k
brian k
8 years ago
Reply to  John Leick

I’ve been to Ecuador,, its nice ..just lock your door and live like a prisoner at night !

donna west
donna west
8 years ago

Hi LeRoy, welcome to Lip and I hope you will find some constructive advice here as you are seeking. first, please consider that not all places on Mindanao Island may be safe. besides the insurgents, you have to consider that the Philippines is prone to natural disaster events such as mud slides and flooding triggered by typhoons and earthquakes. so therefore, I believe that should be your first consideration when choosing a place to live in the RP.as I am planning to spend my retirement years in the philippines my overseas living research is quite limited to only knowledge of… Read more »

Hira Sharifebrahimi
Hira Sharifebrahimi
8 years ago

Hey there LeRoy, I do not intend to change your mind by any stretch of imagination. As much as I respect what you say your requirements are(coffee, internet, power, etc.) you will not be spending less than what you already do in your hometown, because one way or another, westerners like us tend to keep the lifestyle that we have formed for ourselves in ages. Moving to Philippines does not necessarily mean that you’ll cut the expenses an awful lot. For all you know, you might even end up spending more than what you did. You mentioned a monthly $2000… Read more »

LeRoy Miller
LeRoy Miller
8 years ago

I find that in the part of Indiana that I live in, PhD and other education is generally of little use. For the most part, any education over high school is considered suspect and over qualified for most jobs, so I fully understand your comments. Fortunately, I have found a way to convert that into online income so my current location is of little relevancy. Maintaining that income stream when retired is one of the goals that I am researching. Thank you for your other comments. Please be assured they will all become part of the overall list to be… Read more »

Robert Von Hahnke
8 years ago

Much like you I am intending upon moving to the Davao area in the future if it appeals to me after a visit in mid March of this year. Not intending to work there I will take advantage of the SRRV and live off my retirement income as a primary source. I would like to find a long term rental house outside of the city proper as I would have no reason to travel there on a daily basis. Because of circumstances I have no family and look forward to possibly meeting ladies for a relationship. I will keep you… Read more »

Kevin K.
Kevin K.
8 years ago

great column, Leroy…I’ll be watching it closely.

joop
8 years ago

Welcome, LeRoy. A mid-life retirement in the Philippines is a very good idea when you are married to a Pinay or intend to marry one. It is also a great idea when you intend to raise small children of pre-school age. I did this myself and I must say our children have benefited very much from the sheltered family environment that the Philippines offers. Being retired allows you the quality time with your kids that they need, all the time. Get yourself a reasonably big piece of land , (2 acres or so will give you some privacy), in a… Read more »

LeRoy Miller
LeRoy Miller
8 years ago
Reply to  joop

I am planning my retirement with the idea that whether I get married or not, I will be spending a substantial amount of time in RP. As mentioned, I became well acquainted with several members of a family from Mindanao. One of the women that I thought very highly of was assaulted and a girl was born as a result. I have supported the girl as if she were my own and she considers me the only papa that she has ever had. I love her as my own and wish to spend as much time as I can with… Read more »

Lenny
Lenny
8 years ago

$2000 a month is plenty good…Sounds like you need some modern things for your lifestyle…I would recommend Davao as Bob here would…My wife is from there.. I also researched So. America but opted for Philly..I have some friends here that lived in So. America and they they all tell me there is no comparasion and that Philly is much better.. I live in Dumaquete and love it here you might research it also…However if your close relationships are in Mindanao I would think Davao would fit correctly..You would have more of a lifestyle your accustomed to living there….If your not… Read more »

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