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Where do foreigners retire?

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I get a lot of questions from people who want me to help them decide where in the Philippines they should retire.  What city is best for a foreigner?  Well, that question has as many answers as there are people!  Everybody is different, has different interests and desires vary from person to person.

Maybe you are a person who likes a lot of privacy and quiet?  If so, maybe you would be making a mistake by settling in a City, perhaps some secluded  beachfront in the middle of nowhere would be more suited to you.  Maybe you are the type who enjoys beaches.  If so, you wouldn’t want to settle in Baguio, because it isn’t on the beach.  Again, if you are looking for warm weather and sunshine, Baguio offers a cooler climate with more rain and probably wouldn’t suit your needs.  If you are hooked to your foods that you enjoy in your home country, better to settle in a larger city like Manila, Cebu or Davao (and a few others) to ensure that you will be able to get a good supply of imported goods.  Every city is different, and offers different benefits (and drawbacks too), so just do some research before making your decision.

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Another thing to remember – narrow your list down to a few cities that are of interest, then go and see them!  It is not expensive to travel around the Philippines, so you have the perfect chance to do some investigation and sample the flavor of each city that you think is interesting.

Now, with those things in mind, let’s look at a few cities that seem to be favorites of ex-pats:

  1. Angeles City:  This is probably the favorite retirement haven for Americans, and Australians are starting to favor it too.  There are a huge number of US Military retirees here, due to the fact that this is the former home of Clark Air Force Base until it’s closing in the 1990’s.  Angeles City is famous for it’s bar scene, with plenty of liquor flowing, and plenty of girls dancing at the bars.  For me, that is not what I was looking for when I moved here, so it is not the right environment for me
  2. Baguio City:  Not as popular as Angeles, but a totally different atmosphere.  If you are looking for cooler weather, Baguio should be high on your list.  Baguio is known as the City of Pines because it sits among lush pine trees, which is unusual for the Philippines.  This is not really a tropical atmosphere as you find in most of the Philippines.
  3. Manila:  Personally, I don’t care for Manila.  It is too polluted and crowded for my enjoyment.  Also, the cost of living is very high there.  However, if you want to be where the action is, that’s Manila.  Any kind of activity that you may enjoy would be available in Manila.  All kinds of foreign goods can be purchased there too.
  4. Cebu City:  I would guess that among foreigners, Cebu is a close second to Angeles City when it comes to retirement destinations.  Cebu is hugely popular among foreigners coming to the Philippines.  Cebu is also going the way of Manila when it comes to overpopulation and such, though, so at some point in the future it may not be such a desirable location.  At this time, though, Cebu probably has among the best infrastructure to be found in the Philippines, good shopping, good access to air travel, both domestic and international.  Cebu would be fairly high on my list if I were to reconsider where to live.
  5. Davao City:  A lot of people are scared to death when they think of coming to Mindanao, let alone living there.  However, for me, I consider Davao as the best place to live in the Philippines.  I feel that Davao is extremely safe, despite all that you hear about danger in Southern Mindanao.  Davao has a hard line Mayor who does not put up with crime – petty or violent!  Davao offers many of the advantages of Manila and Cebu, while maintaining more of a “small town” feel.  Personally, I would not consider moving from Davao, I find it to be a perfect location.
  6. Cagayan de Oro City:  Many of the same comments that I said about Davao apply here.  Cagayan is, in my opinion, a safe place to live.  It offers many activities for foreigners, and makes for a nice retirement area.  Keep in mind that Mindanao is the only island in the Philippines that is outside the typhoon belt, so no matter where you choose to live in Mindanao, you will experience better weather than in many other Philippine destinations.

Of course, ex-pats choose many other towns and cities in the Philippines.  I have just listed a few places that seem to have higher ex-pat populations.  For me, a higher number of ex-pats means that you are more likely to find the goods and services that you expect or hope your new home to have.

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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Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hi Danny – While I am not certain why, I rarely hear of foreigners settling down in Olongopo City/Subic. Yes, there are some, but it does not seem to have the attraction that some of these other places have. Certainly, if you have an interest in that area, I would pursue it and see if you find it a good fit for your lifestyle!

DANNY
DANNY
14 years ago

hi bob,
greetings again ! kumasta po ? i noticed you omitted subic ? is there a particular reason for this ? my wife and i honeymooned there and we loved it ! ran into a lot of expats too. seems like it would be a good place to settle down in. any thougts on this ? salamat po……
ps……coffee or lunch sounds good someday ! sige po……..

Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hi Quentin – you are right about the mining, and more foreigners coming to Davao in connection with mining. Most of the mining is up in Davao del Norte and in the Compostela Valley, so Davao is the natural place for the people to come for recreation and to recharge from their work. I do find Davao to be a great place to live. If you are in the area, be sure to look me up!

Quentin
Quentin
14 years ago

Bob, I must agree with your comments on Davao City. Whilst I have not retired yet, I have been travelling to Davao (from Darwin, Australia) for a number of years and find it safe, welcoming and a great city to be in. I do plan to set a business there and (depending on the success of the business/s) settle there full time in the not too distant future.
The other thing to bear in mind, over the coming decade with the increase in mining activity in Mindanao, Davao City will become an increasingly popular spot partciularly with expat miners.

julius
julius
14 years ago

Hi Bob, you may want to consider adding to that list La Union (great for surfers), Vigan, and Ilocos Norte (the Marcoses' hometown). Developers are popping everywhere in that region because of the accessibility to the ocean, the mountains, and the rich soil for growing. The region also has clean air and as not as populated. However, that may change in a couple of years. Till next time….

Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hi Julius – thanks for the info. I didn't realize that many foreigners were flocking to those areas too. It's good to know!

Steven Moore
14 years ago

😎 Love your site…you tell it like it is! I want to retire in the philippines too. I currently live in Oregon and travel to cebu/bohol every jan. Married to a filipina. Hope to live there someday. Keep ut the great site thanks.
Steven.

Bob
Bob
14 years ago

Hi Steven – Thanks for visiting the site, and I'm glad that you find it useful. I do try to tell it like it is, having lived here for 7 years I sort of have gotten to where I know the goods and the bads. Luckily, it's mostly good stuff about living here, and I hope to help keep it that way!

Hey, where do you hail in Oregon? I came from Vancouver, Washington before moving here, which is right on the border, near Portland.

julius
julius
14 years ago

Everyone seems to favor areas near the water and on higher grounds to avoid flood zones. Myself, I live in a flood zone area, so my van performs two duties. A family van and an amphibious vehicle. We bought a property (about 375 square meter) in Tagaytay, but it'll take a couple of years before the subdivision starts construction. The property is pres-selling right now. So I'm looking to relocate somewhere less congested, polluted, and away from flood zone areas. Till next time….

Bob
Bob
13 years ago

Hi Zois – Sorry, I haven't been up that far north yet. Maybe somebody else can post a comment to let Zois know whta it is like in Vigan.

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