A:

Of those countries considered friendly to the United States, the Philippines has one of the lowest standards of living and an easy, inexpensive path to retirement residency. The Philippines is also one of the few countries where an expatriate retiree is allowed to work or start a business once granted residency. You can use health cards issued from foreign countries at Philippines hospitals. You are exempt from income taxes on annuities and pensions, and you have unrestricted travel to and from the country.

Cost of Living and Exchange Rate

Over the last five years, between 2012 and 2017, the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Philippine peso generally stayed in a range of 40 to 50 pesos to the dollar. In other words, a retiree in 2017 with $10,000 could exchange for roughly 495,000 pesos.

The average rent for a nice apartment in a major city center, such as Manila or Mindanao City, was approximately $250 to $350 per month as of 2017. An income of $1,200 per month would be enough to live comfortably (though not extravagantly) almost anywhere in the Philippines.

Some recommended retirement destinations in the Philippines include Baguio, Cebu City and Dumaguete. The latter was recognized as one of the top retirement destinations in the world by the 2014 Retire Overseas Index.

Health Care

All retirees need to have a plan in place to deal with the rising medical costs associated with old age. Many places in the Philippines lack modern health care services and facilities. However, the large cities and port cities tend to have hospitals like you'd see in other western countries. Allianz, an international medical insurer, stated in 2012 that "medical practitioners in the Philippines are graduates from the top universities in the country, and most have studied in U.S. medical schools."

Health-care costs are considerably lower in the Philippines than in the United States, even when adjusting for exchange-rate variance. If you have a health card issued by a company recognized in Philippine hospitals and clinics, you can use it as long as you have a Special Resident Retiree's Visa from the Philippine Retirement Authority.

Incentives from Philippine Government

Like many developing nations, the Philippines offers benefits to expatriates from wealthy nations, such as the United States. This is because the government wants foreign retirement income to be spent in its economy. The Philippine Retirement Authority was essentially created to attract such expats.

Those older than 60 receive special discounts for living and health-care costs. All expats with a Special Resident Retiree's Visa designation are exempted from duties on imports for up to $7,000 worth of household goods. Airport travel taxes are exempted.

Expats are still allowed to work and start a business. Many governments, such as Costa Rica, do not want expat retirees competing with domestic labor in the country. The Philippines does not have a problem with you earning a little extra income or finding a productive way to keep busy in retirement.

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