Moving to PI- For Retirees and Workers Alike:
Issues to be Considered:
1.) Do you speak the language?
Most Filipinos take mandatory English classes in elementary and high school. You can speak English to them and they understand, they just have trouble following you when you speak normally, which to them is speaking too fast. They will have a hard time responding, some out of shyness, some with the English language difficulty. If you intend to stay, you should expect that you will need to learn some Tagalog in order to conduct your daily business. This is not difficult for the alphabet is Romanized, the pronunciations phonetics.
2.) What is your source of income? [Retirees]
It is imperative that you have at least a minimum USDollar source of livelihood. Whether that be thru a retirement account, an SSS pension, or a business in the US. The idea is to leverage your USDollars to the Philippine currency to benefit maximally on this exchange.
You will need a Philippine bank account as recipient of your US funds then withdraw in Philippine pesos. Presently the exchange rate is approximately P44.50 (Nov. 20, 2014) Philippine pesos to 1 US dollar. You obtain ATM cards from the bank.
There are no banks in rural areas therefore you will need to open an account at a bank in a nearby city.
3.) Culture- are you aware of the differences?
A personal recommendation from me; come on a tourist visa for a month and see how it works before you “up and go.”
The Philippines is a very easy culture to assimilate to. This country had once been a US dominion and won independence only as recently as the end of WW2, in 1946 July 4th. Presently, the Philippines or “RP”, short for “Republic of the Philippines” celebrates its Independence Day on June 12th, a National Holiday.
Of course there is a caveat: it is a foreign culture. Come with open mind and an attitude ready for “adventure” and you’d do just fine. After all— that is why you’re here right?
Living in the rural area- The Resort is in a rural agricultural area, different still, than living in a city like Manila. Rural life is “laid-back”. You have to busy yourself with ‘something’.
I work 24/7 and must try very hard to find time to “rest on the Sabbath”… so it just depends.
4.) Friends, Family, Conveniences like Internet, Television, etc- would you be able to give them up?
You will be away from the extended family, from all creature comforts like cable tv shows on demand, 24/7 news or PPV shows and sports events, movies, even radio. Be honest with yourself- can you do it?
Prior to The Resort having internet I hardly had any interaction with the outside world unless I drove 1 hour to San Jose- the nearest town with amenities.
Don’t brush this off cavalierly. To start a new life is with challenges. The Resort ( I am! 😉 will help facilitate transition as smoothly as possible.
The Resort itself is of the Western-style that we are used to. I’m proud to say I am the first ever to build in this style here in Mindoro Occidental province.
Phones / Cell Phones- landline phones are only in the city. People use cell phones 100% in the rural areas. The economical mode of communication is via text.
Internet- We have internet at The Resort and communication had improved a lot. You may subscribe to your own service for P1000.00 per month, or equivalent to $24.00 with a limit of 3-5G monthly.
Electricity- Mindoro is an island, and living in an island has its challenges. There is a recurring electrical blackout that is due primarily to lack of source of power. According to the local government it is being remedied. For homes it is advisable to have a generator.
5-A.) Laws and Legality: USA Dictates:
As long as you are a USA citizen you are subject to certain USA laws; but Uncle Sam’s hold does taper off..
a- Tax- $98,000.00 is what you are allowed to earn without paying taxes to the USA Fed. That’s good news!
Tax filing- yes you do have to file Fed. tax returns. You don’t pay taxes on the first 98K but it does have to be reported.
b- Banking- every year on your Fed. taxes, you have to provide a scan image of your highest amount balances on your foreign bank account. You do this by scanning your Philippine bank book for the year and providing your CPA with it. Retain a USA-based CPA or go to USEmbassy, Philippines and find a domestic CPA who specializes in USA taxes.
1) “Special Resident Retirement Visa” or SRRV, if you meet the financial and other requirements, this is the way to go. There is a special program for US Military retired personnel specially those who did a tour of duty in the Philippines.
See the Bureau of Immigration website for specifics, or their Facebook page for latest up-to-date information. The Philippine Retirement Authority website has information on the SRRV.
2) Work Visa, other Visas- see here. If you are going to work this is mandatory that you obtain one.
3) Extended Tourist Visa for families and friends up to 6 months, renewable every 3 months for a total of 1 year Visitor visit.
6.) Finances: day-to-day expenses, dovetails issue #2 above:
What are they and where/ how do you procure these?
a- Food/ Grocery- there is a local market for quick needs like fresh vegetables, fish and fruits, sometimes meat. A wet market in Sablayan, 45 minutes drive satisfies my needs. In San Jose one hour away is a bigger wet market where you’ll find just about all you need, except juicy beef steaks of course. For USDA steaks you go to Manila.
b- Electricity- per kilowatt it is more expensive in the Philippines.
c- House Lease or Rent long term- lease the real estate from me, then we build you your house. Your own design, you decide how big or small you want, then lease per year. This process circumvents the 40% to 60% split Philippine law requirement which states that you as a foreigner can own only 40% of an interest, whether business or individual/ personal.
d- Water- only the electrical use of a pump. This will be included in your lease. This is very clean spring well water. We drink it. Filtered water drinking if you prefer is available, much like in the US.
e- Internet- you can avail your own pre-paid use of pocket WiFi through a domestic carrier- Globe for Mindoro.
f- transportation- you will need a car or a bike for easier movement. Recommended is a pick-up or SUV for high wheel clearance. Or take the public transport system. It will take you half a day to run an errand in San Jose, the nearest town. g- cooking gas or fuel- LPGs are readily available in retail outlets all over. Just like your standard barbecue tanks in the US. It cost about P900.00 pesos per tank. Or save more with the use of charcoal briquets made from branches of discarded trees. The Native will be happy to trade these with you. These are cheaper and fun to cook with.
7.) Medical Concerns- what are your medical issues? Where do you go when you need medical attention?
Grave medical issues are addressed in Manila.
You are not required to carry insurance at all. The care is top notch at Saint Luke’s Hospital. I prefer their ER better than the ones in California. I’ve been to both several times. Clean. No waiting. Excellent doctors. CHEAP, INEXPENSIVE, NOT A LOT OF MONEY, how else shall I say it? And if you want an American doctor that can be arranged too.
In Mindoro you may contract independently with doctors who can be your regular care provider. There is a district hospital but for Westerners it would seem only a clinic. In San Jose there are private doctors with ample enough gadgetry. The one I saw was an MD at Cleveland Clinic.
For a comparison bill, see here for USA charges, and see here for St. Luke Hospital, Philippines charges.
8.) Police and Security- The LGUs or local government units have designated peace and order officers. Their function is just like a mediator. There are no 9-1-1 services. Freedom of movement and the kind of life you want to live free of too much regulations does have their tradeoffs and this is one of them. Frankly I like this way better.
Mindoro Island is safer than any other islands further away from the capital city of Manila. There is a detachment of National Police and a battalion of Army invited in by the Governor’s office ready to assist if needed. There had not been any safety concerns where they’ve been needed since we arrived in the area.
In places around the world it is important who you know. Defer to the locals and smile a lot. They’re stoked by a foreigner “needing” them. Socialize and it’s sweet from there.
If you’re not interested in this socio-‘interplay’, it’s ok. I had lain the groundwork. Good thing for you. This is why you stick with me. Capisce?