Retirement Destinations

You’re considering to retire in the Philippines. But where in the Philippines do you set up home? Of course, if you are married or in a relationship with a Filipina/Filipino, you may be looking at retiring in the area where she or she is from. However, if you’re single or simply wish to live elsewhere, you will want to explore what your options are.

Questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I want to live in a big town or do I prefer to live in a rural location? Are you a city person? Do you need the facilities of a big town (e.g. good hospitals, education, entertainment, shopping, sports facilities etc.)
  2. How accessible is the location? Do you, for example, need to be near an international airport?
  3. What are the healthcare facilities like? The best hospitals are usually in the big cities. Elsewhere facilities may be of a far less standard than you are used to.
  4. How safe is it? Both in terms of crime and the risk of natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes and typhoons.
  5. What is the climate like? Mountainous areas will be cooler.
  6. And last but certainly not least: cost of living by location. This can vary greatly. Metro Manila, for example, is very expensive to live in. The remoter the location, the cheaper your cost of living will be.

Let’s explore a few options.

Retirement Destinations in the Philippines

1. Manila. Advantages: the capital of the Philippines with a population of over 10 million. Manila has excellent medical facilities, a rich nightlife, excellent shopping facilities, it has an international airport and a fairly large expat community. Life as an expat should be comfortable here; if you want to be in a large metropolis which has all the facilities Manila may be an option to keep in mind. Disadvantages: similar to other world cities of this size, Manila has a relatively high crime rate (You’d need to look carefully into the area where you’d want to live. Central Makati, Dasmarinas, Forbes, Urdaneta, and Bel Air villages are pretty safe. You could consider living in a gated community or in a condo. Good apartment complexes are, for example, One Roxas Triangle (ORT), Four Seasons, One Salcedo, Pacific Plaza, Essensa, Greenbelt, Serendra, and Hidalgo). Another big disadvantage of Manila, certainly if you are living on a budget, is that Manila is very expensive!
2. Cebu City. Advantages: Cebu is a very popular retirement haven. It has lots of beaches, has a population of over a million, has all the facilities of a big city (medical facilities, shopping, entertainment), is situated in the middle of the country and has an international airport. The cost of living is less than in Manila.

3. Davao City. Advantages: Whilst Davao City is located in Mindanao, it is considered to be a very safe city. With a population of 1.5 million, Davao has all the facilities of a big city. It has an international airport. The cost of living is lower than that in Manila and Cebu.

4. Baguio. Advantages: known as the summer capital of the Philippines and, with its mountainous location, Baguio is a popular retirement haven for retirees. Cool weather, an elevation of 14,000 feet, and a population of over 200,000.

5. Tagaytay. Advantages: within easy reach of Manila (depending on traffic), and at 6,000 ft elevation it is relatively cool. It has a population of around 50,000.

6. Iloilo City. Advantages: The capital city of Iloilo province in the Western Visayas. It has a population of around 400,000 and has good medical, shopping and entertainment facilities. There is also an international airport. The cost of living is lower than in the cities and towns listed above.

7. Bacolod. Advantages: With a population of over half a million, Bacalod is the largest city in the Western Visayas. It is known as the “City of Smiles”. Not so long ago, Money Sense magazine ranked Bacolod the best city to live in in the Philippines. It has good medical, shopping and entertainment facilities and the cost of living is lower than that in the places listedf under 1 to 5. Bacolod is home to an international airport.

8. Dumaguete. Advantages: Dumaguete is the capital of Negros Oriental. It’s a university town with lots of young people and a good nightlife. Nick-named The City of Gentle People, it is a relatively small town with a population of around 120,000. It is easy to get to Cebu by ferry. The Silliman Medical Center which is currently associated with St.Luke’s Medical Center in Metro Manila is considered to be one of the best hospitals outside Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. Dumaguete has a domestic airport.

9. Boracay Island. Advantages: Boracay has an excellent nightlife. There is a large expat community and there are many expat owned businesses. Boraacay boasts world famous beaches, which are, however, perhaps a bit overdeveloped. Disadvantages: As a major tourist destination, the cost of living can be high. There are several clinics offering good emergency services. For serious injuries/conditions, however, you’d need to go elsewhere.

10. Cagayan de Oro. Advantages: A pleasant university town in northern Mindanao, with a population of around half a million. Good shopping facilities and several hospitals. There is an international airport. The cost of living is lower than in Manila and Cebu.

11. Puerto Princesa. Advantages: Capital of Palawan province, also known as the Philippines’ “Last Frontier”. Puerto is a provincial town with a population of around 210,000, which is spread out over the town’s vast land area. Quiet because of its relative remoteness. Known as the cleanest town in the Philippines. Puerto has an international airport (but no international flights just as yet). Disadvantages: rapidly growing tourism area, fairly remote location, medical facilities need to be further developed. No nightlife.

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