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The combination of the beautiful climate and incredible scenery make the Philippines one of the most popular retirement destinations for people all over the world. The relatively inexpensive price of property, transport and groceries means that practically anybody with a steady income and a small amount of savings can consider spending their autumn years in this peaceful part of the globe. As the cost of living in the west continues to rise, saving money for retirement can feel like an impossible task to some people, but with some organisation and a little self-discipline, it can done. Here is Probella’s guide to saving money for retirement in the Philippines.

Make a list of essentials first

This isn’t as difficult as it sounds as you can use your existing budget as a guideline to help you. Think about how you want your life to be when you arrive in the Philippines. Are you planning to live a luxury existence or are you happy with a more rustic, simple set up? Questions like this are important as your answers to them will define what you need and what you can live without. Cars, TVs, laptops and things like specific food or medicines should all be accounted for as these are things that you will use frequently.

Start planning as early as you can

This is easier said than done, especially for those with children or for small business owners, but the sooner you start putting away money for retirement, the sooner you will be able to realise your dream of retiring in the Philippines. Avoid taking out personal loans for the last few years of your working life if you can as this will allow you to put more of your salary towards your savings. If you do need to borrow in order to top up what you have already gathered together, there are several reputable companies, including Asteria, who can potentially help you with this.

Account for medical expenses

If you’re from the UK or Europe, you may be used to free, universal health care that is paid for by taxation. The Philippines does have some free clinics for emergencies, but you are expected to have health insurance or the means to pay for treatment, especially if you are likely to need any specific or ongoing procedures. When you are putting away your savings, whether in a pension fund or a higher interest saving accounts, always account for this as it is essentially money that you can’t afford to live without.

Have an Emergency Travel Fund

Even if your children have long since grown up and maybe even had children of their own, family emergencies that require you to go back to your country of origin can and do happen. Last minute air travel is notoriously expensive and flights from the Philippines to the USA and Europe that aren’t booked in advance will require you to pay premium prices. Keep your travel fund separate from the rest of your retirement pot so that you’re never in a situation where you can’t get to see your loved ones. Short term loans and credit cards can be helpful as a last resort, but in times of crisis, the last thing you need to be doing is negotiating with money lenders.

Choose Where You Would Like to Live Based on Your Budget

Cities are more expensive places to live than rural areas, though there are some exceptions. It’s also important to factor in things like the distance to the nearest supermarket or chemist, as you can potentially end up overspending on transport if you live somewhere that is particularly remote. Consider the price of a meal in a restaurant, grocery costs, entertainment and the cost of renting or buying property. You need to be able to live in a way that is equal to or ideally, more comfortable than your working life, so try to strike a balance between looking for a bargain and treating yourself to a little luxury. If you are fortunate enough to have a substantial amount of savings, you may want to consider a purpose-built luxury retirement resort. Though these places are expensive, they are also very well managed and generally good value for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

Replace loan repayments with savings contributions

As people get older, they generally find themselves in a position to pay off their debts comfortably. It can be tempting to use the extra money you have for treats and luxuries but if you have already grown accustomed to finding this much each month, it can make sense to pay it in to savings account instead. This won’t feel great initially, but if you can manage to keep this up for a few years, you will have saved a substantial amount of money that can be used as the lion’s share of your retirement fund.

Selling Property and Other Assets

If you are certain that you want to move to the Philippines to retire, selling your existing house and any other high value assets such as vehicles can be a way of generating money quickly. This is a big decision and one that can come back to haunt you if you don’t think it through carefully, but it is also the fastest way to generate a substantial retirement fund without having to spend several years saving. Property in the Philippines is much cheaper than elsewhere in the world, so if you are willing to shop around, you are likely to be able to afford somewhere that suits your needs and still have enough to live comfortably, too.


The key to managing money for retirement in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world is to be realistic about what you can afford and the kind of lifestyle you expect to live when you arrive. Lists of essentials, emergency funds and a clear saving strategy are all paramount if you want to make this dream a reality.

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