7 Best Places to Retire in the Philippines
First of all, please note that many expats recommend checking out your future retirement home in the Philippines and live there from 3-6 months. As a result, you’ll have a better feel for the place. When my lovely asawa and I retired to the Philippines over nine years ago, Guimaras was our first choice. Due to the fact that my wife grew up in Guimaras and already had a house there, it made sense for us to move there. However, maybe you don’t have a concrete notion of where in the Philippines you would like to retire. Thus this post: “7 Best Places to Retire in the Philippines.”
UPDATED OCTOBER 21, 2019
I first posted this article last October 2018. Consequently, after some further research, I felt the need to update this post. Therefore, I have added three more cities to “Honorable Mention Status.” I feel these additional locations qualify as some of the best cities in the Philippines to retire.
Honorable Mention #3
LIPA CITY, BANTANGAS
Lipa City is a 1st class city in the province of Batangas, Philippines. Lipa’s is about 86 kilometers from Manila. That is approximately a 90-minute drive via the Southern Luzon Expressway.
It is fast evolving as a key city in the province of Batangas. Moreover, it is becoming a major institutional/administrative center, medical center, commercial center, financial center, agro-industrial center and residential center.
Cost of Living 33% Cheaper than Metro Manila
According to expatistan.com, the overall cost of living in Lipa City is 33% cheaper than in Manila. Housing costs are 50% cheaper than Manila. A one-person 480 sq. ft. studio apartment with utilities included costs 1,500 pesos a month.
Honorable Mention #2
(Photo courtesy of pixabay)
Chances are you have already heard of the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” Maybe even visited there. Baguio City’s biggest draw is their cool and moderate climate as seen in the chart below.
(Source of statistics: Holiday Weather.com)
However, expect to pay more for living in a cooler climate in the Philippines. The cost of living in Baguio City is only 17% cheaper than in Manila. That’s according to Expatistan.com.
Honorable Mention #1
CALAMBA CITY, LAGUNA
The last city to be included in this update is Calamba City, Laguna. The city is known as the “Resort Capital of the Philippines” because of its numerous hot spring resorts, which are mostly located in Barangay Pansol, Bucal and Bagong Kalsada.
It’s the 24th most populated city in the Philippines with a population of 454,486 people according to the 2015 Census.
Calamba is the birthplace of the national hero of the Philippines, Dr. José Rizal.
Calamba is a good mix of big city life and the province for future retirees to the Philippines. It’s the gateway to southern provinces of Luzon. A monthly budget of 55,00 to 60,000 pesos, 1,100 to 1,200 US dollars, for two people makes it affordable for many foreigners.
Here’s the original article I posted last year:
I researched the World Wide Web extensively for this article. Above all, I wanted to see what other travelers and retirees had to say. It made sense to me since I personally haven’t visited all of the Philippine retirement destinations on this list.
Because of my exhaustive research, however, I feel comfortable in placing cities on this list that I have not personally traveled to. That said, here’s my review:
7 Best Places to Retire in the Philippines
Santa Rosa, Laguna
Easy Access to Metro Manila
Santa Rosa is easily accessible from nearly everywhere in Metro Manila. It’s also close to major destinations in the Calabarzon. The Calabarzon is comprised of five provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon.
Santa Rosa is 40 kilometers south of Metro Manila and just 40 minutes away from Makati City. It is also easy to reach from ports in Manila and Batangas and is 1.5 hours from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It has nine hospitals and 11 commercial centers.
Makati of the South
Santa Rosa has a wide range of special economic zones and industrial parks: Laguna Technopark Inc, Greenfield Automotive Park, Toyota Special Economic Zone, Lakeside Evozone Nuvali, Daystar Santa Rosa Industrial Park, Santa Rosa Commercial Complex and the Meridian Industrial Complex.
Cost of Living
A monthly budget of at least approximately $1,200 US dollars is recommended for two people. This amount includes a 10,000 peso rental fee, 185 US dollars, for a one-bedroom house.
Enchanted Kingdom, Cuartel de Santo Domingo, Museo De Santa Rosa, Ancestral Houses, Santa Rosa Arch, City Plaza, Solenad, and the Santa Rosa de Lima Parish Church.
Sources: City of Santa Rosa website, imoney.ph.com
Photo credit: Iloilocity.gov.ph
Iloilo City, “The City of Love”
Iloilo City is the capital city of the province of Iloilo and the regional center of Western Visayas.
My wife and I travel from Guimaras to nearby Iloilo City via a 15-minute pump boat ride two or three times a month. Due to the fact that Iloilo has a lot more shopping venues than our island province, we like to visit the big city.
We travel most of City Proper via a jeepney which now costs 8.50 pesos per person, 16¢.
Living in the City
While encountering some problems with my mother-in-law in Guimaras several years ago, we moved out of my wife’s home to a rental home just outside of Iloilo City. We lived in Savannah Subdivision for 18 months before moving back to Guimaras and building a new home.
Iloilo City has numerous gated subdivisions which are guarded 24/7. Rents are reasonable. We have a niece who still lives in Savannah. She recently arranged a rental for a friend at a cost of 10,000 pesos a month, 200 US dollars. That rental includes all appliances and furnishings.
Plenty of Shopping Outlets
Iloilo City offers a wide range of shopping venues. The new Megaworld complex houses the Festive Walk Mall. SM City and SM Delgado are two of the shopping malls we frequent the most.
Budget-wise, we supported six people at one time at Savannah Subdivision for approximately 1,200 US dollars. That included a 5,000 peso rental fee for a three-bedroom home.
If you like big city life, but would not thrive in a mega metropolis like Metro Manila, Iloilo City certainly fills the bill.
Photo credit: PIRKKO & TROYTOURS, INC.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, Tagaytay City offers views of superb mountain ranges, ocean scenery, peaceful lake view that attracts retirees to stay.
The Manila Times reported this past July 2018 that The Retirement Haven Award was given to Tagaytay City in Cavite.
The Philippine Retirement Authority, PRA, presented the award. Stunning nature views and a breezy, cool climate come together to define relaxation in Tagaytay.
Second Summer Capital of the Philippines
Just two hours away from Manila, Tagaytay is known as the “Second Summer Capital of the Philippines.” (Baguio is considered the ultimate summer capital of the Philippines.)
Tagaytay City rests on the shores of Lake Taal, in the center of which sits Taal Volcano Island.
Its popularity as a vacation spot makes it quite costly to live in. Therefore, expect a monthly budget of at least 1,500 US dollars (80,000 pesos) for two people. That budget figure includes a rental fee of 13,000 pesos for a one-bedroom house.
Photo Credit: Project LUPAD
The City of Dumaguete is located in the Philippine province of Negros Oriental. It is the capital, principal seaport, and largest city of the province. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 120,883 people. The city is nicknamed “The City of Gentle People.”
Dumaguete is referred to as a university town because of the presence of four universities and a number of other colleges where students of the province converge to obtain a higher education.
The city is also a popular educational destination for students of surrounding provinces and cities in Visayas and Mindanao. The city is best known for Silliman University, the country’s first Protestant university and the first American private university in Asia. There are also 12 elementary schools and 9 high schools. The city’s student population is estimated at 30,000.
The city attracts a considerable number of foreign tourists, particularly Europeans, because of easy ferry access from Cebu City, the availability of beach resorts and dive sites, and the attraction of dolphins and whale watching in nearby Bais City
U.S. News and World Report states that Dumaguete is one of the most affordable places to retire in the world.
After Nha Trang, Vietnam, where an expat can live on $650 a month, and Chiang Rai, Thailand, $750 a month, and Ipoh, Malaysia, $897, Dumaguete, with a monthly projected budget of $1,000 a month, comes in at number four.
U.S. News describes the locals in the self-proclaimed “City of Gentle People” as welcoming, friendly and English-speaking. If you plan to retire to any affordable place in the world and English is in your wheelhouse, then it makes sense to move to a location where the residents have a fair command of the English language.
U.S. News and World Report’s makes the following claim regarding Dumaguete: “foreigners have the opportunity to make friends with educated professors and aspiring students, take classes and enjoy cultural opportunities not typically found elsewhere in the Philippines, including theater, ballet, art shows and libraries.”
Hip and Urbane
Affordable retirement in the Philippines means different things to different people. Dumaguete is also described as a university town that Lonely Planet describes as “hip and urbane.”
I’ve never been to “The City of Gentle People” but would love to visit there and check it out. It would make for a pleasant road trip and Negros Oriental is really not that far from us.
Of course, while Guimaras, our island province home, doesn’t have the refined culture of a university town like Dumaguete, it, too, is comprised of “gentle people.” However, watch out for fiestas where someone always ends up drinking way too much Red Horse.
Subic Freeport Zone, Zambales
Forbes Magazine, well known for its lists and rankings, has cited Subic Bay as a top retirement destination in the Philippines.
According to Subic Bay News, Forbes has ranked the Philippines at number 17, particularly mentioning Subic Bay as one of only two locations in the country that are popular retirement havens, the other one being Tagaytay.
Forbes ranked the top 20 best foreign retirement havens in 2015 by looking into issues such as cost of living, cultural attractions and scenery, safety, tax matters (especially breaks for retirees), local hospitality, weather, availability of adequate healthcare and prevalence of English.
In appraising the Philippines as a retirement destination, Forbes noted the appeal of the country to U.S. retirees due to its low cost of living in a tropical environment, and permanent residency that can be had on a minimal showing of retirement income.
Popular locations include Tagaytay because of its cooler climate, and Subic Bay with an infrastructure from the old U.S. Navy base, Forbes said.
Photo credit: The Happy Trip.com
Bacolod, “The City of Smiles,” has been dubbed twice as the Philippines’ best place to live in by two separate magazines in the years 2008 and 2017.
The Cleanest and Greenest and the Most Livable City in the Philippines. The capital of the Province of Negros Occidental which is the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines.
Bacolod City serves as the entrance of the sugar-rich cities and towns of the Province.
Visitor’s facilities abound, modern means of in-land transport can take guests for business or leisure to any point in the island of Negros.
Bacolod will charm you with the genuine warmth and hospitality of her people in harmony with their lilting melodious accent. Bacolod will delight you with food and cuisine that is as vigorous yet as subtle as the legendary Ilonggo gentility and taste for the good life.
The Masskara Festival is a festival held each year in Bacolod every third weekend of October nearest October 19, the city’s Charter anniversary. It’s currently going on right now.
The festival features a street dance competition where people from all walks of life troop to the streets to see colorfully masked dancers gyrating to the rhythm of Latin musical beats in a display of mastery, gaiety, coordination and stamina.
Major activities include the Masskara Queen Beauty pageant, carnivals, drum and bugle corps competitions, food festivals, sports events, musical concerts, agriculture-trade fairs, garden shows, and other special events organized ad-hoc every year.
You can save some bucks by living in Bacolod. Numbeo points out the cost of living in Manila versus Bacolod
|Rent Prices in Manila are 241.07% higher than in Bacolod|
|Restaurant Prices in Manila are 80.18% higher than in Bacolod|
|Groceries Prices in Manila are 15.64% higher than in Bacolod|
My spouse and I have been to Bacolod City numerous times. It’s only an hour away from Iloilo City where we do our shopping. While in Bacolod my wife and I checked out the various shopping malls and easily traveled by jeepney and saved some money by not using the local taxicabs.
They have a killer SM Department Store complex which we spent a good deal of time at. It was a short distance from our downtown hotel, The Check Inn Pension Arcade, a five-minute walk. Reasonably priced at 20 bucks a night for two.
Photo credit: Hotels in Cebu.com
7 Best Places to Retire in the Philippines
OUR #1: PICK CEBU CITY
Cebu City, “The Queen City of the South,” is the capital city of the province of Cebu. We list it as the best city in the Philippines to retire to. It’s also known as the “second city” of the Philippines and is the center of Metro Cebu, the second most populous metropolitan area in the Philippines after Metro Manila.
The Huffington Posts lists Cebu as the 20th best place in the world to retire overseas.
According to the 2010 census it has a population of 866,171 making it the fifth most populated city in the country. Cebu City is a significant center of commerce, trade and education in the Visayas Region and is known as the “Queen City of the South,” a title formerly held by Iloilo City.
Metro Cebu has a total population of 2.55 million people (2010 Census.) It is known as the oldest settlement established by the Spaniards in the country.
The city is located on the eastern shore of Cebu and was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. Cebu is the Philippines’ main domestic shipping port and is home to about 80% of the country’s domestic shipping companies.
Cebu also holds the second largest international flights in the Philippines and is a significant center of commerce, trade and industry in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.
Numbeo compares the cost of living in Manila versus Cebu City:
|Consumer Prices in Manila are 2.93% higher than in Cebu|
|Consumer Prices Including Rent in Manila are 14.23% higher than in Cebu|
|Rent Prices in Manila are 54.96% higher than in Cebu|
|Restaurant Prices in Manila are 11.18% higher than in Cebu|
The Queen City of the South
With Cebu City’s proximity to many islands, beaches, hotels and resorts, diving locations and heritage sites, high domestic and foreign tourist arrivals have fueled the city’s tourism industry.
Due to its geographic location, accessibility by air, land and sea transportation, Cebu City has become the tourist gateway to Central and Southern Philippines. Cebu City is a major hub for the business process outsourcing industry of the Philippines. In 2013, Cebu ranked 8th worldwide in the “Top 100 BPO Destinations.”
We’ve visited Cebu City, “The Queen City of the South,” many times and my wife and I both love it. Easy to get around in the traffic and the cab drivers are some of the most honest I have ever encountered in the Philippines. Plenty of great shopping outlets and good restaurants. The new SM Seaside shopping complex is the third largest mall in the Philippines. And, if you love ribs, you have to check out RACKS, some of the best pork baby back ribs I’ve ever tasted anywhere. Don’t miss it!
I’d highly recommend Cebu City as an excellent retirement destination for any expat.