Author Topic: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close  (Read 1877 times)

Offline Lee2

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2018, 07:54:49 AM »
Thank you very much for the in depth great report post, we look forward to more from you on the subject, these types of posts are fantastic for all of us to learn from, I hope you will elaborate on the scam part a bit in your next post so we can all learn how to hopefully prevent being scammed or at least learn to take it like you apparently did, getting riled up or causing a ruckus can end up causing problems in our health or even possible jail time rather than the few dollars are worth, happy to read you apparently avoided any issues when it happened to you.

1) Air BnB - game changer, £25 a night for a great apartment. Hotels are now very expensive. Legend Villas for example used to be £25 a night - it's now double that at least - if it's not booked out.
Great to know, this trip I had a couple of friends looking for  places to stay and my wife and I ran our butts off trying to find some reasonably priced hotels.

2) Pollution in Manila is bad. Really bad. Within days both partner and I developed sore throats, and later chest infections. We carried these through the 4 weeks we were there, and partner still had a cough. Even out on the islands pollution is an issue. The main culprit on Camiguin for example, which is an otherwise tranquil place are the trikes. On any trip you are likely to be breathing in a lot of diesel and petrol fumes.
That is one of the reasons my wife and I never go to Manila anymore, I get bronchitis fairly easy and my wife has caught colds here even here in Cebu, so far this trip my wife and I have either been lucky or our taking of a 2,000 units of Vitamin C twice a day upon arrival and taking it once a day after week one seems to have worked, I had gotten sick in the past a few times each stay and usually a few days right after arriving was the first time.

3) Dogs. A right pain wherever you go. I was frequently barked at or even lunged at by random dogs. In the end I stopped going for a walk because I got fed up dealing with the dogs.
Dogs are not only a pain and have kept me up at night in the past when out in the provinces but we had run into rabid dogs, one attached the V-Hire we were in years ago and tried to eat the motorbike riders in front of us, good thing the guy was in shape enough to put his legs over the handle bars and his head as he went buy it, I hate to think what would have happened had it been out of shape me on that bike. :(

4) Minor medical ops and especially dental work were superb and cheap. I had a dental cleaning session at Dentista in Shang Plaza and it was the only time, ever, that I've had a painless cleaning. The dentist was wonderful. Full check up too and a total bill of PHP1,200. I pay a lot more for a poor quality cleaning in the UK.
We use a dentist in Cebu and find that the cost is less or around my copay back in Florida, I had 4 caps put on for the price of one and the wife had a bridge made and we both saved a fortune doing it in Cebu.

5) Body Tune in Mega Mall - I had a Balinese massage for around PHP800 and it was one of the best things I've ever done. I literally felt ten years younger after it. I was buzzing. We also had a pedicure there which was really relaxing and well done. Very cheap too compared to what you'd pay for these services in UK. Philippines is great for providing these sorts of service at low prices.
That is one of the things I love too.

6) Traffic in Manila - what to say - it's horrible. There is one saving grace - Grab car is a really, really good service. If you've not come across it it is a ride hailing app similar to Uber. Traditional taxis are cheaper, but we found we tended towards the safety and convenience of Grab. We also used Uber and found it reasonable too. The Grab and Uber drivers were always pleasant and had very nice cars.
Traffic in Cebu has gotten unreasonable too, we too find that we have to use Uber since a taxi never seems to be around when we need one except at the malls, so far this year we have not had a problem getting a taxi at the mall but in past years we had to wait upwards of an hour to finally get one at SM City if we stayed too close to closing time, something those of you who visit Cebu should be aware of. :(

Food was very, very variable and often disappointing. One of the best places I found to eat was the Vietnamese noodle shop in Shang Mall. The buffet at Dad's in MegaMall is also incredible. There's a Japanese restaurant up near Viking's that also served really good food. Out of Manila the food was mostly horrible (and cold). Even Tatoy's in Ilo Ilo was, I thought, pretty shoddy stuff.
I find food very disappointing and about only on the acceptable level in most places in the Philippines we have been except Makati, the food there was decent, lack of quality meals is one reason that I do not wish to live full time in the Philippines, everyone's MMV.

9) Getting about in the provinces. I got absolutely sick of taking those damn trikes everywhere. If I go back to Philippines I am learning how to ride a motorbike because I'm convinced it's the best way to get around on the islands.
Please learn to drive one back home or get a lot of experience when in quieter places, learning here might get your hurt or killed, I am an experienced motorcycle driver and I find the driving here to be unacceptable to drive in, and many people I know have gotten hurt on a bike here over the years.

12) The Malls in Manila tend to be something of a refuge.
The Malls are excellent there and in Cebu, we go to them for exercise in a cool place, for some of our eating out, for shopping for food etc, IMO the malls are just one of the best things about the Philippines. The supermarket at Robinsons Galleria is one of the cleanest and neatest we have found in the Philippines, I was indeed very impressed with it.

13) Did I mention that Manila is really really polluted? To be fair there are nice areas.
Yes there are nice areas but unfortunately one has to go thru Manila to get to most. :(

14) Cebu was quite a place! I had not been expecting such a massive city. It also seemed to have a significant Chinese/Japanese/Korean presence. I was not there long though. It is a city that never sleeps. I cruised through the city at three and four in the morning (to/from the airport) and the McDs, Jollibees, and even Dunkin Donuts were full of people. Ayala Terraces is quite a nice place to walk around and eat at - watch out for the GROs on the prowl there for a foreign b/f though!
GRO (Guest Relations Officers), often used for ladies of the night but there are real GRO's who work in hotels etc that are not ladies of the night, also something to be aware of is the very large presence of ladyboy's working Ayala mall.

Did you get to see SM Seaside, IMO that is the best mall in Cebu and will be a fantastic mall  once it is totally filled up and Rogbinsons Galleria is also a very nice mall but IMO very quiet, too quiet for my liking except to shop, then quiet is good.

15) I found expats to be a funny lot. They often would not acknowledge my nod, smile, or greeting. To the African American US serviceman (I am guessing the last bit) I met at the supermarket in Odiongan on Tablas I'm sorry I did not chat for longer - I was so taken aback by an expat who actually said good morning!
I too find most unfriendly, I think many are hiding from the law or their x-wives and child support or are afraid one of us will steal their ladies or show their ladies what a nicer westerner is supposed to be like. I find the tourists and those who have not been in the Philippines for a long time to be the friendliest and occasionally I will find a long timer who is also nice, I try to be nice to everyone we meet along the way but after a while of being snubbed, I guess eventually we may too end up burned out on westerners.

25) Philippines, even out on the islands, can be very noisy. Even in what should have been a tranquil spot way out of town on Camiguin, we found the noise incessant. Motorbikes, scooters, trikes and so on create noise and pollution. Loud music was played at some houses from 6.00am to gone midnight - and I mean REALLY loud music. There was also the usual cacophony of cockerels crowing and dogs barking.
Noise is a major issue for me. I guess it might be due to my heath issues but after a time it pushes me towards the edge, thus we spend less and less time outside the city away from our condo where it is much quieter, picking a good location is very important when picking a place to live and at least for us, a condo in the city is our refuge from most of the local noise and when in our condo, I can wear a set of earplugs during the few noisy party weekends and still feel comfortable, I could never feel comfortable wearing earplugs while on the ground in a home anywhere but that is just crazy me, we feel quite safe in our condo since it has no windows in the hallways to break in from.

27) I was REALLY shocked and disappointed by Singapore Airlines and, frankly, I will never use them again.

So far my wife and I have been very happy with Korean Airlines, they cost us more than double the cheap flights available on China Easter and a little more than flights on SA but IMO it is well worth it, and once reaching Morning Calm status, flying with them got even better, I highly recommend everyone join the sky mileage program with whatever airlines you fly with, if you will be flying often, Delta and Korean Air are partners, so we get KAL mileage while using both of them and it seems that Delta has learned what Balikbayan means, and even have it in their computers now.

Also, when flying with any airline please get up and move around and move your legs and arms around even when in your seat, blood clots can be life threatening, please keep moving on those long flights to prevent getting one.

Thank you again for your great report.
:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

Offline jjcabgou

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2018, 11:41:57 AM »
No tabo for me either, just because we live in the Philippines (part time) does not mean we have to live like the locals do, that is one of my big beefs, since I worked my whole life and often two and three jobs, or a lot of overtime, I feel that I am entitled to enjoy living just as we live in the U.S. and if we lived in Makati, BGC, Angeles or other very modern area, then it could and would be even more like back home.
We live like the "locals" and we always have toilet paper etc..   Many times when I hear "locals" on here I feel it is just referring to the "poor".  Millions of filipinos, who would consider themselves locals, can afford toilet paper etc.   I am with you Lee, I would not move here to live the life of poverty, but to each his own.

Offline chimellie

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2018, 04:05:44 AM »
The Dental office we use is the finest spot I've ever seen, my wife and kids have been there several times and I've never seen dental chairs with TV's playing movies before.  The waiting room is marbeled floors, huge exported furniture, two desk top computers with internet access, massage chair like in the malls only free, free drinks, cookies, snacks and cable TV.

The Dental work is also amazing the cost is very low.

Where is that Dental office located ?

Offline M.C.A.

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« Last Edit: March 11, 2018, 11:09:23 AM by M.C.A. »
My views would be from someone who lives out in the province close to in-laws on a pension.  Norwegian and French heritage.

Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2018, 01:35:18 PM »
And for the sake of future reference here's the dentist I used:

http://www.dentista.com.ph/new/branches/shangri-la/

Great service! I only had a checkup+clean, but they are far better than any of the dentists I use in UK, including on occasion private. Would certainly use them again and for other work as required.

Offline iamjames

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2018, 04:42:32 PM »
Strange but I have had three very good dental experiences in the past 10 years: Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and Philippines. Quality and expertise are every bit as good (if not better) than our western service in these so-called third world countries.
You really packed a few years experience into a short time Codefreeze. Your observation skills and patience far exceed our norms. I have been nearly five years here and I still learn every day. I am even hesitating about moving on and continuing travels.
I have had a great life with few regrets but living here feels like I have a second opportunity to do something different. 

Offline BudM

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2018, 08:28:10 PM »
It should come as no surprise that there are good dentists in the Philippines.  My previous dentist for years back in the US was a Filipina.  Well, for that matter, my regular doctor was a Filipino.  My current dentist is also a Filipina.  I think the ones going to the US and other so called western nations are teaching a few of those doctors and dentists a thing or two about dentistry and the medical field.
Whatever floats your boat.

Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2018, 06:20:09 PM »
Lee: thanks for your feedback and I agree with everything you've said there!

Iamjames: thanks, appreciate your comment. For me the Philippines represents the possibility of a "new life" or at least, a new way of life.

Lee: On the matter of the scam...

First, you need to understand the nature of our travel, it was often what I call "seat of the pants" in that we deliberately had no plan other than "heading south from Manila" and so did not know where we would go or where, if anywhere, we'd be staying. We wanted things to be that way and in contrast to our previous Philippines trip which was planned with meticulous detail. We wanted to see places off the beaten track (which we did) and be surprised along the way (yeah, there were good and bad surprises).

Anway, to the scam. We pitched up in San Augustin on Tablas island planning to get the first ferry out to Romblon (which turned out to be early the following morning). We found what looked like decent guesthouse - possibly the only guest house in San Austin (this guest house is also on AirBnB). The guest house is owned by a woman who we briefly met, but she leaves the day to day running to a certain individual who turned out to be disturbing. This first problem was he asked very very personal questions. These went way beyond what you the typical friendly questions like where are you from. That was initially a bit strange, then annoying, then disturbing. He also crept around our accommodation under flimsy pretences. Once I found him looking at me through a window while I was getting changed. Another time he was snooping around while my partner was in the shower. I confronted him and he made up some lame excuses. This was all rather worrying.

San Augustin is a small place in itself, and mainly revolves around the small ferry terminal. I'm not sure that there are any other guest houses other than the one we stayed in - it has a shop below, and two floors of accommodation above it. The few places you can eat are pretty bad - to the point that even my partner went without dinner (look, if a filipina goes hungry you know there's some serious s*** going down). I would not have let a dog eat the food that was on offer there - it was literally crawling with flies and goodness knows when it had been prepared - they basically didn't even bother to reheat it. I passed.

Basically we were kind of stuck. We were not aware of any other accommodation available and when we asked in a small chemist we were told there was none. Back at the guest house the guy was still snooping around and was about to hit us with the scam.

When we got back he was waiting for us (at our outside table) and claimed there was a problem. He claimed we'd paid with "fake money". All my cash was crisp notes straight from the ATM and so was Ana's. I had counted the money myself that morning so I knew all our money was crisp 1000PHP notes. He held up a some ragged old 1000 peso note and claimed we'd paid with it. I knew 100% we had not. Of course there was no way I was falling for that. But then we realized our vulnerability. The room we had picked was not especially secure - and this guy, who I had already determined was probably not the full ticket, probably had a spare key. We did not want some guy standing over our bed in the middle of the night. San Augustin is the sort of place where you could just "disappear". If we refused and moved to some other accommodation (which as far as we knew did not exist) then we would still be 1000 out of pocket. Also, it was already dark.

I thought quickly. I agreed for him to move us to the somewhat more expensive room for no extra charge. I knew it would be far easier to secure. I changed his dodgy 1000 peso note. So I was now 1000 PHP out of pocket. We moved, secured the room and spent a restless night - partly we were worried about this crazy guy, plus the wind was howling that night and rattling the roofing and fence panels.

By the way, another slight annoyance with that guest house. We'd agreed a price of 1000 for an aircon room with the owner, only to be then told the price was 1,200 with aircon. No amount of arguing on our part seemed to change what we'd agreed, so we went without aircon! Luckily it was quite cool that night.

We couldn't wait to get out of San Augustin and there's no way I'd go back there. Creepy place, with some creepy people.

I strongly advise people to avoid it. I recommend going to Odiongon instead. If you are going on to Romblon the ferry trip is longer (three hours rather than one hour) but it's worth it. We visited Odiongon on the way back. Stayed at Wavefront hotel and I would recommend it - very nice room and lovely beach front aspect. Sea was way too rough for swimming though. In contrast to the creepy guy from San Augustin, the woman running Wavefront is one of the kindest and most helpful people we met on the trip.

On a more positive note, the vast majority of people we met were lovely and soooo helpful, but, do yourself a favour and stay away from San Augustin!





 



Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2018, 12:18:34 AM »
As mentioned earlier in this thread...

Part 2 - Thoughts on retirement

Our recent four week trip to Philippines was primarily a chance for me to see a bit more of the Philippines, warts and all. But the trip also had a secondary purpose - help answer a question that I'd been wrestling with for quite a while - could I retire there?

The Dream

1) Cost

Philippines is cheaper than the UK, therefore any pension would go further, and I could perhaps retire a lot sooner than if I wanted to retire in the UK.

2) Change

A chance to do something different and have a different way of life.

3) Climate

Phils is a lot warmer than UK.

4) Outdoor activities/natural beauty

The islands can be very beautiful with clear seas, coral reefs, and white beaches. Phils is a paradise for divers and snorkelers.

5) Travel

The Philippines is a fantastic base from which to explore South East Asia.

The Reality

1) Pollution

I didn't seem to be able to get away from breathing in diesel and petrol fumes. Pollution in Manila is a nightmare. The smog hangs over the city. Very unhealthy. There is a lot of pollution out on the islands, mainly from scooters, trucks, cars and trikes.

2) Noise

You also can't seem to get away from noise. There always seems to be something: loud music, dogs, karaoke, motorbikes, trikes.

3) Climate

While the climate is Philippines can be great (think clear blue skies) there can be a dark side to it - specifically typhoons. I have been in a typhoon (Basyang) and it was not a pleasant experience.

4) Food

It's weird, but for a country where food is high on everyone's agenda, I found the food generally to be not very good. I think I would most likely end up buying ingredients in the supermarket and then preparing and cooking my own food. This is in stark contrast to Thailand where eating out is one of the notable pleasures of the place. While in the city you can find decent food by a process of trial and error, it is harder to find decent places to eat in the provinces. There were many times when I simply went hungry because the food just wasn't edible (think reheated, crawling with flies, prepared in extremely unhygienic conditions). I lost nearly a stone in 4 weeks (probably a good thing!). A side note on hygiene - even in the posher malls of Manila I saw a lot of filipinos using the loo (1 and 2) and not washing their hands! Let's hope they don't work in restaurants.

5) What to do with yourself?

In the cities there are many things to do beyond the ivory tower of the apartment block. But you will have to contend with hellish traffic and pollution to get anywhere. When I couldn't bring myself to face the traffic/pollution I would gravitate towards the apartment pool swim and then read. This is wonderful initially but gets boring after the first week.

Out on the islands it is perhaps less challenging to get around, but the flip side of this is on the islands there's far less to do than in the city. Once you've done the notable sights the urge to take a dip in yet another hot spring or snorkel yet another pristine coral reef just doesn't inspire!

It's no secret that some expats who move to Phils end up couch potatoes and/or alcoholics. Believe me I totally understand that. When you run out of things to do, or the hassle of dealing with city traffic doesn't feel worth it any more, it can be very tempting to purchase a big TV, a cable package, a six pack, and then just veg out in front of the telly.

6) Family and friends

It's funny how many expats in Philippines will avoid their wife's family due to the constant requests for financial support. They will then park themselves off in an area far away. While this reduces financial requests it can result in isolation.

Expats can be quite stand-offish in my experience and they sometimes have good reason for this. Often expats will isolate themselves deliberately due to the aforementioned financial requests, but also because they fear scams perpetrated by locals or even expats.

I must admit our forays "into town" resulted in reactions ranging from the harmless (staring) to in-your-face begging for money - sometimes in an aggressive manner. All part of the "warts and all" experience - we had wanted to see the reality of life in Philippines.

I think it is possible to get too isolated in the Philippines - even in Manila. The thought of living in one of those apartment complexes into my 70s and 80s scares the hell out of me. While we do have friends in Manila I would miss the connection of the family and friends we have back in the UK. The option of a more remote location, such as Romblon or Camiguin, leads to the possibility of a quieter life, but with more isolation and less to do. I would probably end up in a house off the beaten track spending my days reading, watching TV and surfing the web - all things I can do back in the UK, or in fact from anywhere in the world.

Being away from family and friends can result in loneliness and isolation. The saving grace is that many filipinos are friendly and welcoming. No doubt new friends would be made, but in the back of your mind you are probably going to be wondering when the request for a "loan" is going to hit you. The motivations of filipinos, while often genuine and heart-felt can sometimes have a dark side, as we found on several occasions. For example, we got on really well with one individual, who we met while traveling. Then one evening the conversation started with a reference to Japanese gold and I realized straight away the clear intention was to get me to pay for this gold to be excavated! An obvious scam that I wasn't falling for. While one doesn't want to be overly paranoid, it always pays to err on the side of caution.

7) Costs

Finding good accommodation for low cost in key to affordable living in the Philippines. Especially in Manila costs for accommodation can quickly spiral. It takes some decent insider knowledge to find locations that are both affordable and decent. We had mixed results. AirBnB is unrivalled for finding great quality, affordable *short term* accommodation, but people on the ground with local knowledge are best placed for finding long term accommodation.

Generally Philippines is cheaper for most things. Services such as massage, dental treatment, medical care, pharmacies and so on are generally excellent and very affordable. For example, I paid £16 for a thorough dental clean. This would cost around £45 in UK. I paid £11 for a one hour Balinese massage and it's the best £11 I've ever spent. I'm not sure how much this would cost in UK, but possibly around £65.

Clothes, taxis, flights, food, drink and eating out are generally cheaper in Philippines, compared to UK.

8) Misc

Some aspects that I thought would be problematic, such as visas, turn out to be almost a non-entity. I think one of the reasons I thought this is because both Thailand and Malaysia put all kinds of visa obstacles in the way. The situation in the Philippines is a breath of fresh air in this respect - none of this having to leave the country every 90 days as in Thailand, or the huge financial hurdles of Malaysia's MM2H. In this respect Philippines has an attractive range of visa options such as the SRRV or simply  in-country extensions - long may they continue!

On the flip side things that I hadn't anticipated as a problem turned out to be somewhat problematic. For example, the pollution is a lot worse than I remember from 2011.

Another problem that I have mentioned elsewhere - those darn dogs. As someone who loves a long walk, I found the dogs roaming around made this quite problematic. Those dogs with puppies hidden somewhere nearby can be especially aggressive due to their protective instinct. I strongly advise everyone to have the rabies vaccination before traveling to Philippines.

Learning the lingo. As most people speak English this would appear to be a solved problem compared to somewhere like Thailand where it's much more necessary to be able to speak Thai - at least beyond the tourist traps. However, I've changed my mind on this one. I would be compelled to learn Tagalog at the very least (and possibly a dialect depending on where I located). I got tired of people talking about me and I could not understand what they were saying. As my partner is filipina locals would often (but not always) default to tagalog, and so I would not have a clue what was going on! I ran into this problem in Thailand back in 2003, and learned to at least understand the gist of what was being said, even though I could not speak the language. This proved incredibly useful such as the time (about a year before I met my current partner in 2006) I had a Thai g/f in UK, who used to quite happily chat on the phone in Thai to her boyfriend in Thailand while out with me! Of course I had never let on that I'd been to Thailand and could pick up the gist of what was being said!

Conclusions

The decision, for me, on whether to retire to Philippines or not has proved to be less clear cut than I had imagined it would be.

While Philippines checks a number of boxes (my pension would go further in Philippines than in UK) there are some deep questions to be answered. Would we end up isolated and lonely? Would we run out of things to do? Would the terrible traffic situation and pollution prove too much to bear and lead to living a "siege mentality" in an ivory tower? Would we always feel like a walking target for scams or other unwanted attention leading to paranoia?

I would like to say I came to a definite conclusion on the retirement question but I'm afraid I did not.

I have not written off retirement to the Philippines, but there are certain things I think would be necessary:

1) A base in a city. Pollution rules out Manila, but perhaps Ilo Ilo would be a better option. You have all the activities and liveliness of a city, without the dreadful pollution and traffic of Manila. I dare say Ilo Ilo will one day resemble Manila or Cebu in that respect, but it will take some years yet.

2) Escape to the islands. From your city base escape to the islands via a cheap flight, but do it in small doses. I think two or three days once every month or two would allow for a scuba/snorkel fix, a bit of chill time, a few beers and a short escape from the bustling city. I personally would not be tempted to try and live somewhere like Romblon or Camiguin full-time, although there are some expats happily doing it.

3) A clear source of income. This goes without saying. While I was thinking £500 a month would be enough, I am reassessing that and feel £1000 a month would be the minimum to allow a decent apartment in the city, dining out, travel and so on. Some are going to say that looks like a lot, and some will already spend twice that.

4) Transport. Getting around in a small city like Ilo Ilo is relatively easy with taxis and Grab. Out in the sticks renting a scooter is probably the way to go. Having used trikes extensively I have no wish to do so in the future! Obviously riding around on a scooter exposes you to some of the world's worst driving! Wear a helmet!

5) Part-time. I would probably only try to live in Philippines 3 months of the year, at least initially. This is partly because I believe living in the Philippines, and staying sane, really does require you to fully acclimatise and that takes time.

6) I would keep a base in UK. I'm not sure I would want to be in the Philippines in my 70s and 80s. Not because there's anything wrong with it, just I'm not sure it's what I would want. I do have a huge amount of respect for the wonderful way Philippines treats its senior citizens - the 20% off everything for over 65s is an incredible perk and shows how much respect for the elderly Philippines has. I would rather be out in the Philippines than a nursing home in the UK to be sure.

Final words

Philippines does have a lot going for it, but it's necessary to bear in mind it's still a developing country and plagued by a number of critical problems - massive inequality, pollution, and congestion just to highlight a few items. Visiting for a holiday is a far different proposition to living there. For many the attraction of a young filipina wife overrides all considerations, and I can understand that! My own situation is slightly different in that I met my filipina in UK and we've been living here together for 11 years now. So, will I retire to Philippines? - bottom line - not yet!

p.s. these are my own thoughts - standard disclaimer - your mileage may vary!
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Offline Art, just a re(tired) Fil-Am

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2018, 10:16:15 AM »
As mentioned earlier in this thread...

Part 2 - Thoughts on retirement

The Dream

Conclusions

Final words


I don't post on here much anymore, because I've read the same old topics that most retirees are concerned about making the Philippines one's permanent home away from one's home country they grew up in and I too had all the same concerns, but 20 yrs later I have settled into my own little world "niche" I'm content and satisfied with without all of the "Worry Wart's" worries codefreeze has mentioned in his thread of his "thoughts on retirement", "The Dream", "The Reality", "Conclusions" and his "Final Words" which says it all: The Philippines does have a lot going for it, but it's necessary to bear in mind it's still a developing country and plagued by a number of critical problems - massive inequality, pollution, and congestion just to highlight a few items. Visiting for a holiday is a far different proposition to living there.
So, it's all about each to their own lifestyle in the Philippines whether one likes it or not.
As my mottoes says:
"Life is what we all make it to be"!
"It's always a matter of money"!
"Do on to others as they would do on to You, but do it first"!
"Different strokes for different folks"!
"Que Sera Sera"!

Only you can make it how you want it to be without any regrets.
"Life is what we all make it to be"!
"It's always a matter of money"!
"Do on to others as they would do on to You, but do it first"!
"Different strokes for different folks"!
"Que Sera Sera"!

Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2018, 02:29:54 PM »
I don't post on here much anymore, because I've read the same old topics that most retirees are concerned about making the Philippines one's permanent home away from one's home country they grew up in and I too had all the same concerns, but 20 yrs later I have settled into my own little world "niche" I'm content and satisfied with without all of the "Worry Wart's" worries codefreeze has mentioned in his thread of his "thoughts on retirement", "The Dream", "The Reality", "Conclusions" and his "Final Words" which says it all: The Philippines does have a lot going for it, but it's necessary to bear in mind it's still a developing country and plagued by a number of critical problems - massive inequality, pollution, and congestion just to highlight a few items. Visiting for a holiday is a far different proposition to living there.
So, it's all about each to their own lifestyle in the Philippines whether one likes it or not.
As my mottoes says:
"Life is what we all make it to be"!
"It's always a matter of money"!
"Do on to others as they would do on to You, but do it first"!
"Different strokes for different folks"!
"Que Sera Sera"!

Only you can make it how you want it to be without any regrets.

Very nicely summed up Art!

Offline chimellie

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2018, 07:34:10 PM »
As mentioned earlier in this thread...

Part 2 - Thoughts on retirement

Our recent four week trip to Philippines was primarily a chance for me to see a bit more of the Philippines, warts and all. But the trip also had a secondary purpose - help answer a question that I'd been wrestling with for quite a while - could I retire there?

The Dream

1) Cost

Philippines is cheaper than the UK, therefore any pension would go further, and I could perhaps retire a lot sooner than if I wanted to retire in the UK.

2) Change

A chance to do something different and have a different way of life.

3) Climate

Phils is a lot warmer than UK.

4) Outdoor activities/natural beauty

The islands can be very beautiful with clear seas, coral reefs, and white beaches. Phils is a paradise for divers and snorkelers.

5) Travel

The Philippines is a fantastic base from which to explore South East Asia.

The Reality

1) Pollution

I didn't seem to be able to get away from breathing in diesel and petrol fumes. Pollution in Manila is a nightmare. The smog hangs over the city. Very unhealthy. There is a lot of pollution out on the islands, mainly from scooters, trucks, cars and trikes.

2) Noise

You also can't seem to get away from noise. There always seems to be something: loud music, dogs, karaoke, motorbikes, trikes.

3) Climate

While the climate is Philippines can be great (think clear blue skies) there can be a dark side to it - specifically typhoons. I have been in a typhoon (Basyang) and it was not a pleasant experience.

4) Food

It's weird, but for a country where food is high on everyone's agenda, I found the food generally to be not very good. I think I would most likely end up buying ingredients in the supermarket and then preparing and cooking my own food. This is in stark contrast to Thailand where eating out is one of the notable pleasures of the place. While in the city you can find decent food by a process of trial and error, it is harder to find decent places to eat in the provinces. There were many times when I simply went hungry because the food just wasn't edible (think reheated, crawling with flies, prepared in extremely unhygienic conditions). I lost nearly a stone in 4 weeks (probably a good thing!). A side note on hygiene - even in the posher malls of Manila I saw a lot of filipinos using the loo (1 and 2) and not washing their hands! Let's hope they don't work in restaurants.

5) What to do with yourself?

In the cities there are many things to do beyond the ivory tower of the apartment block. But you will have to contend with hellish traffic and pollution to get anywhere. When I couldn't bring myself to face the traffic/pollution I would gravitate towards the apartment pool swim and then read. This is wonderful initially but gets boring after the first week.

Out on the islands it is perhaps less challenging to get around, but the flip side of this is on the islands there's far less to do than in the city. Once you've done the notable sights the urge to take a dip in yet another hot spring or snorkel yet another pristine coral reef just doesn't inspire!

It's no secret that some expats who move to Phils end up couch potatoes and/or alcoholics. Believe me I totally understand that. When you run out of things to do, or the hassle of dealing with city traffic doesn't feel worth it any more, it can be very tempting to purchase a big TV, a cable package, a six pack, and then just veg out in front of the telly.

6) Family and friends

It's funny how many expats in Philippines will avoid their wife's family due to the constant requests for financial support. They will then park themselves off in an area far away. While this reduces financial requests it can result in isolation.

Expats can be quite stand-offish in my experience and they sometimes have good reason for this. Often expats will isolate themselves deliberately due to the aforementioned financial requests, but also because they fear scams perpetrated by locals or even expats.

I must admit our forays "into town" resulted in reactions ranging from the harmless (staring) to in-your-face begging for money - sometimes in an aggressive manner. All part of the "warts and all" experience - we had wanted to see the reality of life in Philippines.

I think it is possible to get too isolated in the Philippines - even in Manila. The thought of living in one of those apartment complexes into my 70s and 80s scares the hell out of me. While we do have friends in Manila I would miss the connection of the family and friends we have back in the UK. The option of a more remote location, such as Romblon or Camiguin, leads to the possibility of a quieter life, but with more isolation and less to do. I would probably end up in a house off the beaten track spending my days reading, watching TV and surfing the web - all things I can do back in the UK, or in fact from anywhere in the world.

Being away from family and friends can result in loneliness and isolation. The saving grace is that many filipinos are friendly and welcoming. No doubt new friends would be made, but in the back of your mind you are probably going to be wondering when the request for a "loan" is going to hit you. The motivations of filipinos, while often genuine and heart-felt can sometimes have a dark side, as we found on several occasions. For example, we got on really well with one individual, who we met while traveling. Then one evening the conversation started with a reference to Japanese gold and I realized straight away the clear intention was to get me to pay for this gold to be excavated! An obvious scam that I wasn't falling for. While one doesn't want to be overly paranoid, it always pays to err on the side of caution.

7) Costs

Finding good accommodation for low cost in key to affordable living in the Philippines. Especially in Manila costs for accommodation can quickly spiral. It takes some decent insider knowledge to find locations that are both affordable and decent. We had mixed results. AirBnB is unrivalled for finding great quality, affordable *short term* accommodation, but people on the ground with local knowledge are best placed for finding long term accommodation.

Generally Philippines is cheaper for most things. Services such as massage, dental treatment, medical care, pharmacies and so on are generally excellent and very affordable. For example, I paid £16 for a thorough dental clean. This would cost around £45 in UK. I paid £11 for a one hour Balinese massage and it's the best £11 I've ever spent. I'm not sure how much this would cost in UK, but possibly around £65.

Clothes, taxis, flights, food, drink and eating out are generally cheaper in Philippines, compared to UK.

8) Misc

Some aspects that I thought would be problematic, such as visas, turn out to be almost a non-entity. I think one of the reasons I thought this is because both Thailand and Malaysia put all kinds of visa obstacles in the way. The situation in the Philippines is a breath of fresh air in this respect - none of this having to leave the country every 90 days as in Thailand, or the huge financial hurdles of Malaysia's MM2H. In this respect Philippines has an attractive range of visa options such as the SRRV or simply  in-country extensions - long may they continue!

On the flip side things that I hadn't anticipated as a problem turned out to be somewhat problematic. For example, the pollution is a lot worse than I remember from 2011.

Another problem that I have mentioned elsewhere - those darn dogs. As someone who loves a long walk, I found the dogs roaming around made this quite problematic. Those dogs with puppies hidden somewhere nearby can be especially aggressive due to their protective instinct. I strongly advise everyone to have the rabies vaccination before traveling to Philippines.

Learning the lingo. As most people speak English this would appear to be a solved problem compared to somewhere like Thailand where it's much more necessary to be able to speak Thai - at least beyond the tourist traps. However, I've changed my mind on this one. I would be compelled to learn Tagalog at the very least (and possibly a dialect depending on where I located). I got tired of people talking about me and I could not understand what they were saying. As my partner is filipina locals would often (but not always) default to tagalog, and so I would not have a clue what was going on! I ran into this problem in Thailand back in 2003, and learned to at least understand the gist of what was being said, even though I could not speak the language. This proved incredibly useful such as the time (about a year before I met my current partner in 2006) I had a Thai g/f in UK, who used to quite happily chat on the phone in Thai to her boyfriend in Thailand while out with me! Of course I had never let on that I'd been to Thailand and could pick up the gist of what was being said!

Conclusions

The decision, for me, on whether to retire to Philippines or not has proved to be less clear cut than I had imagined it would be.

While Philippines checks a number of boxes (my pension would go further in Philippines than in UK) there are some deep questions to be answered. Would we end up isolated and lonely? Would we run out of things to do? Would the terrible traffic situation and pollution prove too much to bear and lead to living a "siege mentality" in an ivory tower? Would we always feel like a walking target for scams or other unwanted attention leading to paranoia?

I would like to say I came to a definite conclusion on the retirement question but I'm afraid I did not.

I have not written off retirement to the Philippines, but there are certain things I think would be necessary:

1) A base in a city. Pollution rules out Manila, but perhaps Ilo Ilo would be a better option. You have all the activities and liveliness of a city, without the dreadful pollution and traffic of Manila. I dare say Ilo Ilo will one day resemble Manila or Cebu in that respect, but it will take some years yet.

2) Escape to the islands. From your city base escape to the islands via a cheap flight, but do it in small doses. I think two or three days once every month or two would allow for a scuba/snorkel fix, a bit of chill time, a few beers and a short escape from the bustling city. I personally would not be tempted to try and live somewhere like Romblon or Camiguin full-time, although there are some expats happily doing it.

3) A clear source of income. This goes without saying. While I was thinking £500 a month would be enough, I am reassessing that and feel £1000 a month would be the minimum to allow a decent apartment in the city, dining out, travel and so on. Some are going to say that looks like a lot, and some will already spend twice that.

4) Transport. Getting around in a small city like Ilo Ilo is relatively easy with taxis and Grab. Out in the sticks renting a scooter is probably the way to go. Having used trikes extensively I have no wish to do so in the future! Obviously riding around on a scooter exposes you to some of the world's worst driving! Wear a helmet!

5) Part-time. I would probably only try to live in Philippines 3 months of the year, at least initially. This is partly because I believe living in the Philippines, and staying sane, really does require you to fully acclimatise and that takes time.

6) I would keep a base in UK. I'm not sure I would want to be in the Philippines in my 70s and 80s. Not because there's anything wrong with it, just I'm not sure it's what I would want. I do have a huge amount of respect for the wonderful way Philippines treats its senior citizens - the 20% off everything for over 65s is an incredible perk and shows how much respect for the elderly Philippines has. I would rather be out in the Philippines than a nursing home in the UK to be sure.

Final words

Philippines does have a lot going for it, but it's necessary to bear in mind it's still a developing country and plagued by a number of critical problems - massive inequality, pollution, and congestion just to highlight a few items. Visiting for a holiday is a far different proposition to living there. For many the attraction of a young filipina wife overrides all considerations, and I can understand that! My own situation is slightly different in that I met my filipina in UK and we've been living here together for 11 years now. So, will I retire to Philippines? - bottom line - not yet!

p.s. these are my own thoughts - standard disclaimer - your mileage may vary!
----

Wow you know so much for just being there only 4 weeks. Thanks for sharing.

Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2018, 08:32:39 PM »
Wow you know so much for just being there only 4 weeks. Thanks for sharing.

I don't know that I know a lot! Just sharing my thoughts. Also, not my first trip.

Cheers.

Offline FastWalk

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #28 on: March 18, 2018, 02:43:54 AM »
So, it's all about each to their own lifestyle in the Philippines whether one likes it or not.
As my mottoes says:
"Life is what we all make it to be"!
"It's always a matter of money"!
"Do on to others as they would do on to You, but do it first"!
"Different strokes for different folks"!
"Que Sera Sera"!

Only you can make it how you want it to be without any regrets.

Those are wise words. 
“Old men do not grow wise. They grow careful.”
“Keep on rocking in the free world”

Offline FastWalk

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2018, 02:47:07 AM »
I don't know that I know a lot! Just sharing my thoughts. Also, not my first trip.

Cheers.

Nice presentation of the info and ideas.  Thanks for sharing.
“Old men do not grow wise. They grow careful.”
“Keep on rocking in the free world”

 


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