The Price Of Everything But The Value Of Nothing

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This article is kind of a follow-on to the piece I wrote recently here called Decide by Facts which was mainly suggesting near-heresy in some people’s minds, simply by pointing out the the popular Philippine Permanent Visa 13 series, for the family of Philippine/former Philippine citizens, was NOT the ONLY answer for living full-time in the Philippines.

And even when it is, long-term, the best option, there is no need to go through the hoops of getting that visa before you make the move to the Philippines and even find out if you are really going to be able to stand living here.

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It’s like placing artificial stumbling blocks in your way just to make your move even harder.

Today I’d like to talk sense about another very important program for foreigners wanting to live in the Philippines, permanently (as in for life, or as long as they desire), called the SRRV (Special Resident Retirement Visa).

Some of you already have your cursor poised over the “Back” or “Next” button, because you already “know” about the SRRV and you aren’t prepared to hear any more for one simple reason …

EVERYBODY KNOWS the SRRV is Expensive!

Maybe it is the “expensive option”.  And, then again, maybe it’s not.

If you are bound and determined to skip over this subject, no problem, it’s your prerogative, but you might want to invest a few minutes in reading and even ‘fact checking” what I’m going to say here … just in case.

I could have chosen the title of this article based around almost any number of subjects.

Whenever I try to answer people’s questions or offer advice about living in the the Philippines, I invariably hear, from the vey beginning, comments and even arguments from people who know the cost of everything.

And, almost invariably, the cost is always “Too High” and therefore they don’t even want to listen any further, because their minds are made up and any “thinking person” would be insane to chose any options which cost money (or appears to cost money, at any rate).

Rule One:  Always Go With The Cheapest.

Good advice?  Well maybe, sometimes.  But it is in my opinion a bad rule to follow slavishly without considering value received as well.

People are really, really, really good at knowing what things cost.

But, many times, they are not nearly so good at figuring out the value of things.

ChevySparkChicago1226.jpgPrice vs. Value

For a quick example, how many of you who live in the USA have one of these in your driveway?  (I know it won’t be in your garage, because your garage is full of tons of “stuff” you bought, are paying for credit, and have no where else to put)?

Are you kidding me?  I’ll venture a guess of “not many”.  A tiny little three-cylinder roller skate of a car that’s more like a skate board than an automobile?  No way, man.

Never mind that it is sold as a good old American brand, Chevrolet, that it’s the cheapest list price of any car sold in America, that’ it’s price hasn’t increased in more than two model years, that it has possibly more airbags than any other car sold in America … the list can go on … in automotive quality and feature terms is definitely a well made little car.

But I doubt there’s many readers here who are lusting for one of these in their garage.

Me neither.

If I were to move back to the USA, this is NOT a car that’s high on my list of possible purchases.

But after all, it is a car, an American branded car, pretty well made. all required features, and it does basically what every other 4 wheeled vehicle does.

Isn’t price the deciding factor, after all?

Hmmm.  Maybe Always Choosing the Cheapest Is NOT the Way To Go?

The overwhelmingly pervasive message you will get from this site and many others about living in the Philippines is that the 13 series Permanent Visa is the only viable way to live in the Philippines full-time.

For those of you already married (successfully married) that is to Filipino or former Filipino citizens, then this view may indeed be be correct. (as long as you didn’t marry just to get a visa … wow I could write a book on that … maybe I’ll title it, “The Most Expensive Visa You’ll Ever Own” or something like that.  But that’s a (horror) story for another day).

But What about:

  • Those of you NOT married to a Filipino/ former Filipino?
  • Those of you married to a partner with other than Filipino citizenship/birthrights?
  • Those of you who have “His, Hers and Our” children … children of, say a first wife who wasn’t Filipino can’t be included in a 13-series visa)?
  • Those of you happily NOT married who don’t feel the need to “run with the herd” and get married to someone you hardly know and then spend the next 10 years moaning and bitching about her money-grubbing relatives?
  • Those of you happily partnered with same-sex companions?
  • Those who don’t want to be bothered with  the Annual Reporting hassles, with needing an ECC and paying extra travel taxes just because they are on a permanent visa.
  • Those of you who unlike a majority of Americans actually have some savings and want to put them to work in retirement?
  • And quite a few others …

In short, we are all humans and we don’t all fit into the same “shoe box”, even if many in the “move to the Philippines” community seem to think we should,

The SRRV Is An Answer, But It Does Cost Something

But if you look at the facts (not the scuttlebutt) and the value received, it may, in fact, turn out to be a very good value.

First of all, I re commend you learn just what an SRRV does cost, instead of relying on all the wild and often inaccurate prices I have seen flying around the Internet over the years.

All SRRV Visas Are Not Alike

There are four basic flavors or “Options” in the SRRV family.  This graphic tries to simplify how the options break down and which retirees they might be suitable for.

First of all, let me make a comment about cost and value regarding the SRRV program in general which makes it very unique … and a tip that will save you money.

Over the years I have heard of a number of folks who have paid for help in getting a Thirteen series visa or an SRRV.

From what I have been told, folks have often paid fees of up to $1000 USD or even more.  I would say there is really no need to pay for “help” with either visa, but then again, you technically don’t “need” to pay for help with your income taxes, either .. yet most of us do.

If you choose the BI 13-series visa, you’re on your own.  The BI will do their job and process your application when it is all correct, but if you can’t figure out how to get all your “ducks in s row” for the visa, nobody else cares.

You Don’t Pay For Help With the SRRV

Unlike the confusing and sometimes even conflicting choices one is faced with by the options for the 13 Series visas, getting an SRRV is much, much simpler … mainly because an agency of the Philippines actually cares if you get you SRRV or not.  That is the PRA (Philippine Retirement Authority), whose job in life if to connect foreigners who want to live in the Philippines with a visa.

I’ve heard about people paying a thousand dollars or even more for “help” in getting a 13 series visa.  One should not have to do such a thing, but given the unclear instructions and many choices an applicant is face with, I can understand why people chose to do this.

But you should never, ever have to pay for help with the SRRV, because the SRRV are marketed by accredited marketers licensed (and PAID) by the PRA (Philippine Retirement Authority).

Here’s an example of one such person, there are many others (courtesy of my friend Bob Hammerslag who maintains another excellent blog on living in the Philippines, My Philippine Life:

Maria Rose Baranda is a myphilippinelife.com reader and is accredited by the Philippine Retirement Authority to assist those of any nationality desiring to obtain a Philippine SRRV retirement visa.  She will personally handle your application from start to finish. … Maria Rose promises prompt personal attention, no bribes and no dodgy-backdoor dealings.  If interested, email us at myphilippinelife@outlook.com.  We will forward your request to Maria Rose. Please download the assistance form below and then print it out, and email it to the above email address.  If you need help with the form, let us know.  Click this link for the form:  Assistance_Request_SRRV.pdf

Three Types of SRRV I Want To Discuss (Just so you Know):

srrv_selector_thumb2The SRRV “Smile”

This is the “bottom line” visa with the least flexibility and the highest “Non-Convertible” investment requirement.  The non-convertible aspect requires that you make an upfront investment of $20,000 USD and that money is locked in to a PRA approved (interest paying) bank for so long as you remain in the SRRV program.

Time and time again I hear people ranting and raving about the fact that “the Philippines” is making you “Buy” a visa.

Actually nothing could be farther from the truth, but it must be my old age showing, perhaps.

Many years ago, when I was a boy (and dirt had just been invented), it was considered prudent and wise o have saving in the bank.  Today, the USA has the lowest savings rate of any developed country, and apparently (especially listening to the “chowder heads” who call into Suze Orman’s show)(these are really Americans who went to school in the USA? … God help us all) … having money in savings is virtually a sin..

Putting $20,000 USD in the bank is hardly the same as “buying” something for $20,000.  The money is still yours and you can get it back at any time you want to leave the SRRV program and either leave the Philippine or revert back to another visa.  As just one example (and we all hope it never comes true for us .. but .. suppose you are living happily here in the Philippines on your SRRV “Smile” visa with your required investment in the bank and you suddenly get struck down with cancer.  You decide you are going to go back to the USA and put yourself under the “tender care” (or at the mercy ) of US Medicare.

Well, sorry to see you go, but having $20,000 in your pocket will certainly help in the transition, wouldn’t it.

We used to tell people “save for a rainy day”, and a major illness is definitely a rainy day.

The SRRV “Classic”

This visa requires a larger deposit for younger applicants, but it features the all important aspect of flexibility.  Once the deposit is in the bank and your visa issued for 30 days, you have the option of requesting the money be released for an approved investment.

What’s is an “Approved Investment”?  Well, among other things you can purchase a condo unit.  This is very easy to do in the Philippines, especially with a $20,000 or more down payment.

And, no, there is no requirement that you yourself LIVE in that condo unit.  You can purchase a unit and just let the real estate developer rent it out for you.  There are thousands of people availing of this sort of deal in Manila and other large cites, and if you follow the “Golden Rule” of real estate (Location, location, location) it should be easy to rent it for more than the required mortgage amortization.  Plus, all income tax advantages of owning rental property come into play … it’s worth considering.

Another “Approved Investment” you can opt for is the lease of land and a home.  Foreigners can’t “own” real property in the Philippines, but they can legal lease real estate easily for 25 years with an option for another 25 years.  Something many people don’t seem to consider when they move here, and think about the “cost” of an SRRV is, you have to live somewhere, don’t you?  It might be a very smart thing to make one SRRV deposit serve the purpose of getting you a life time visa _AND a place, of your choosing, to live.

The SRRV “Courtesy”

Many of our readers here, like me, are retired  from the US (or other Philippines allied nations).  If they aren’t married to a Filipina/former Filipina, this visa is very, very attractive.  As long as they are receiving a military retirement pension, the required deposit is only $1500 USD.  The details of this program are not yet on the PRA SRRV site, but I can assure you this program is alive and well.

I mean what advice will most financial advisors give you when you ask them what to do with $20,000 to $50,000 USD that’s “idling” in the bank at today’s low interest rates?

Invest it, they are going to say, and a prime investment recommendation is always going to be real estate … especially if you don’t already have a roof over your head.

But, whatever, I want you to consider something absolutely astounding about these programs …

All Of Them Start at Only 35 Years of Age!

Just stop and think about that for a moment.  Free at 35 years of age!  And think for a moment also about the word and more importantly the basic concept of FREEDOM.

The vast majority of my readers here are Americans and a large percentage are also from other, highly developed “Westernized” countries like Canada, the UK, Germany,the Scandinavian counties, Australia, New Zealand, et al.

All those countries are known world-wide as countries where freedom is both prized and practiced.  Yet how free, really, is a citizen of any of those countries when the norm, and even the law in many cases, requires you to work at a J*O*B, often herded into a cubicle like cows in a barn or brood pig whose feet never touch the ground … existing only to produce the next litter of babies to “feed the system” and then be impregnated artificially (bend over and submit, it won’t hurt at all) and made to complete the cycle over and over again until you reach a certain age.

If That Is “Freedom”, I’m Not Sure I Want It

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Daniel Christian
8 years ago

Good info. Thanks. I was in Phil Health the other day and I noticed foreigners with a valid residency visa can also get Phil Health.

8 years ago

Thanks for contributing, Daniel.

Yes indeed Phil Health covers foreigners who are not married to Philippine citizens. Very few seem to be aware of that fact.

Bob just wrote an excellent report on PhilHealth a few weeks ago after his recent hospitalization.
I am always amazed at the number of my American friends who seem to agonize over the question of the “worth” of PhilHealth. It’s worth it people, really. Trust me on that,

Bill Asberry
8 years ago

I know it’s not good for me for a couple of reasons: 1) I bought one of Bob Martin’s books that talks about visas, secondly, in MY case, he told me it wasn’t good for me, but again – that’s for MY personal situation. I’m going with the Tourist Visa. Thanks Bob for always helping out. I’m going to read Dave’s post because “Knowledge is Power”.

Bob Martin
8 years ago

Thanks, Bill. You are welcome for whatever little bit of help I was able to offer. 🙂

Bill Asberry
8 years ago

You caught me in the middle of reading Dave’s article. However, Bob there you go again! Who does that sound like? “There you go again”! President Regan used to say that all the time. haha Anyway, keeping with the theme – you are always modest. You have been a ton of help big time from the start. Thank you! Now back to the article I go like a good little reader. haha

Bill Asberry
8 years ago

I thought it was 10 grand in the bank, but no matter. Perhaps I missed the point there. Either way, a well written piece, but I’m going a different route.

Bob Martin
8 years ago

There are 4 different SRRV visas, each of them have different requirements and investment amounts.

Bill Asberry
8 years ago

That explains it. Thanks! I’m just going with a tourist visa and visiting area countries. Be a good vacation. haha

8 years ago

Hello..very informative and thank you for the info. I have a question?..I have been at this site and is this still valid?..it is listed as a 2011 posting. http://www.pra.gov.ph/main/srrv_program?page=1 And as a 62 year old without the required investable resources..are there any ways around something other than a tourist visa for me?.. 1) not married to a filipina 2) income of about 1500 usd/monthly 3) probably 4-6K usd upon arrival 4) pretty low expectations of USA “creature comforts”..:) I will do the tourist visa if I have to. I just would like to know if there are better options for… Read more »

8 years ago
Reply to  Richard

Hello Richard, Thanks for contributing. The information in the page you referenced above is still valid, it’s the latest page with that information on the PRA’s website. There are a number of modifications to the SRRV “Courtesy” visa that have not been published on the SRRV website, which is why I wrote the article. If you can not come up with the required deposit then there is no choice I know of except the Tourist Visa. You proposed amounts are doable, but TIGHT. Your major area of concern should be medical care. You can live easily on the amounts you… Read more »

Cordillera Cowboy
8 years ago

Doggone it Dave! another article to set my head to spinning. I had figured on the 13 series as my best bet, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Now I’m not so sure. One of these options is something my wife and I have discussed doing anyway. that is putting a substantial amount into a savings account and tapping the interest annually. If we’re doing that anyway, maybe we should also use it to fulfill a visa requirement. I’ll have to age a bit more in order to get my hands on the money without a big tax hit.… Read more »

8 years ago

Hi Pete, Thanks for another thoughtful contribution. Points to consider: When I mentioned having the requires SRRV in the bank as a “rainy Day” fund, notice I didn’t mention interest. The rates here are so abysmally tiny (and you’ll pay a mandatory 20% tax to the Philippine BIR on all interest anyway), that the interest on the required SRRV deposits are not worth figuring in my view. You’ll earn enough to pay the BIR and pay the $360 a year visa fee and not much more. On the travel tax, a great many readers here are only interested in coming… Read more »

8 years ago


A thousand pardons for being tardy. I am indeed working on a good reply to the cattle emails. I’m so far behind I wake up in the morning thinking I’m ahead .. until reality sets in. (Don’t as Bob how far behind I am on my articles here with LiP … it’s embarrassing *sigh*. Wish I had a J*O*B so I’d have time to catch up …

Brenton Butler
Brenton Butler
8 years ago

Hi Dave – I am not sure which retirement visa we got an application for but my wife is Australian 37, I am Australian 34, My son is 5 and my daughter is 4. My wife as primary applicant can cover us all. The cash works out to circa $2500 for everything + investment amounts. $2500 for the family isn’t so bad.


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