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How Can You Retire in the Philippines Like a King on US$ 1,000 per month?
What is Living Like A King to me?
What a king is to one man is like a pauper to another. I feel like I am living like a king here in the Philippines and have been since I came here because of the kindness of the people. And my small income seem like a kingly fortune too. In the States at fifty years old I was treated like an old man and I guess I was. I felt like one. No one smiled at me, not many cared. Nor did I smile nor did I care about them. Compared to the Philippines, the States and most western countries and even some Asian countries, there is little empathy, concern for others.
I was not an unhappy lonely guy. I was just a regular guy. And I felt reasonably content, felt that my life was pretty good. I was faring a lot better than some of my fellows who felt put out to pasture and had illness most illnesses stress related or induced. I still had some future before me, not much to brag about, just a better job and more money to waste or tuck away for the future I knew would never come.
Here at 68, I am a young man, treated like a king because I am a person, perceived as wise and kind and helpful. I was not always that way. The beautiful people here and their culture change me from materialistic wage slave and struggling business owner into a tao, a person. It was a radical change. I never know exactly what a person was. The Filipinos have taught me the value of a person. And they have taught me the value of each and every one of them. I leaned in all in my religious and spiritual upbringing, but the materialistic culture of the States, where the dollar is king, did not reinforce it to the point it became a part of my being. I am not saying there is not a healthy respect for money and material things by Filipinos and in the Philippines. But there is more of an appreciation of others and interpersonal relationships, certainly kinships in the immediate and extended families of the Philippines and in the family of Filipinos a family that spreads all over the world.
And including the respect I now have for others and myself, I have many amenities only a king could afford in a western country, not that I must have them. They are a lot of very nice to have, but not "must haves.” I have all the things I need here, but I had those in the States too. As I initially said, the culture here is my greatest blessing. And it is true the Filipino culture is not impressive until you understand it. You can be here for years and not even be aware it. You can see it as just a flawed western culture. And many of you will not care to understand it, just plod on the same way with the same attitude. I assure you if you don't have some understanding and appreciation of the culture, you will miss out on something more valuable than Yamashita's gold.* But since that can come later and you want to hear about "traditional,” kingly living, here is how that works for me.
Now For Just Of A Few of the Material Goodies You Can Have:
First I will give you a short run down on the unhealthy stuff many of you feel you may need. Beer, San Miguel is US 60 cents per liter, a quality beer. There are others legions of other brands too. Rum is $1.20 per liter, gin and Vodka a little mere. There are all kind of inexpensive local liquor some made under license from the US. So you can get drunk as a lord on a dollar on two dollars as drunk as a king, if that is your intent. Some more sin stuff? Okay, cigarettes are 60 US cents a pack many brand available many made under license from US and other manufactures. There are no closing hours for bars, though most close by three in the morning.
There are no drunken driving tickets and running red lights is the norm. But if you are smart you look both ways. The streets are for defensive driving and accidents are few. Drivers are inexpensive, live in. That is a good way to go.
Since it is hard to get rid of you money at the bars and paying traffic fines, (liability insurance for you car is required and about $14 per year) since the prices are so there are Casinos ever where, for the more adventurous, cockfights, and other way so indulge your gambling fancies. The shopping malls have large bingo parlors seven days a week. There are lotteries legal and illegal, the legal one give the best odds.
Nightlife is fantastic and cheap and abundant. I guess the Philippines is known for that, more than anything else. The Filipinas are fantastic, there beauty, loyally and kindness world famous. Filipinas are an at least an article or a book in themselves. But there is so much more.
I don't do so much nightlife; I do some, because I married one of these Filipina beauties three years ago. She is certainly the best thing that has happened in my life, except maybe moving here. As you can see from her pictures on the front page of the website she is gorgeous. But you cannot see her inner beauty. She does not do night life at all never has and never will, a non smoking, non drinking true Filipina bride and wife. I you want a Filipina wife to bar hop with you, they will oblige, but a true Filipina will leave the drinking and "outside activities" to the man.
Gambling, nightlife, booze, wine, women and song all okay, but forget illegal drugs. One leaf of marijuana or one grain of crack will cost you 12 years in a Philippine prison not country clubs like some in the US but places to make you remember not to come back.
Less Than Sinful and Self destructive Ways to Play, But Ways You Can Play and Even Become More Healthy:
A round of golf can be played for as low a $2. First run English movies are a dollar. Cable TV with 40 channels is $6 US per month. Pool is king since Efren Reyes has become a national hero. Basketball is on every corner and there are two leagues that never cease. There is so much more, ballroom, martial arts, singing at the drop of the hat, lessons in everything most things $2 US. Some one is always unemployed and ready to play with you. Play Station games, DVD's CD's and game disk like PlayStation can be found at Philippine prices, and are great if they work. Need a partner? Filipinos generally may not be rich in money but they have time. If you have no time you have nothing, even if you own Fort Knox.
Cheap Quality Labor:
A welder is lucky to make $3 per day and begs for your work does not require an appointment, same for a mechanic, bricklayer, electrician, plumber, and locksmith. You no longer have to say sir to a mechanic and beg for service. People want your business here. Craftsmen want to work for foreigners who may pay them more appreciate them more and be kinder to them than they ever imagined. A Handyman does not get $30 for a job, but closer to 30 cents. Some of the greedy kings just than them and give them some rice.
My two live in web helpers and a maid each cost about $45 per month and of course their food. Of course having helpers really makes me feel like a king and take all the chores out of my life. They are helpers, but more like daughters to me and friends. My Filipina wife enjoys the freedom from housework and errands as much as I do. And she is free to study in her pharmacy course at college here and do other thing more productive than mop the floor. She grew up doing her share of that and will never forget who she is or where she came from. Her tuition is $230 per semester. It does not wreck the household kingly coffers.
Places to Live:
I really pay only $266.50 at today's peso rate. But my low cost may be because I have been here for three years. $380 is a more accurate market price today I guess. That is what others tell me. four bath houses with a nice yard, two telephones in a great neighborhood. The maids keep it up with the help of the handyman who stays next door to us in the day time. The house is in the university area of Cebu City, the Paris of the Philippines, I like to say the heart of the Philippines, where the mountains meet the sea. It is the land of scuba diving and beaches, rain forest wandering, night clubbing and bar, hopping. And for a continuing education for you retirees there are colleges and schools everywhere, and tutors or the Internet for self study. And the Philippines are in the heart of Asia. So travel to neighboring exotic countries from the international airports is a breeze.
The Philippines major telephone company has DSL at $50 per month, maybe more expensive than the States. But with the low cost of other things you should be able to afford it. Dial up, 33K is about 18 cents per hour, not as convenient as DSL but a lot cheaper.
There are excellent hospitals nearby. So if I do have a problem I just get a helper to call one of them and a taxi to take me to the hospital. Office visits to a specialist are USD 6.00. I paid for chemotherapy treatment for a Filipino friend once. She had throat cancer and went to a government hospital. The six month successful treatment including the blood cost $800. If you get cancer, you may be able to afford effective treatment and not meet the deductible on your health insurance policy! My dentist has put caps on my teeth for $60 per cap and sings to me when she works. A face lift, the works, eyes up and down included, is about $3,000 including three or four day stay in a quality hospital. And the many tests required are included in that cost. They are test you must have prior to qualifying for this elective though no dangerous procedure, if done right.
Getting around in a Philippine City or town:
Public transportation is great in Cebu City, a city of about 500,000 hospitable souls. It is not the only great one to live in. Baguio, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Baguio, Manila for those who prefer the metropolis is exciting
The Philippines is the truly the only English speaking Christian country in Asia, so communicating with the driver or almost anyone is not a problem. Taxis are air-conditioned, new, and readily available. You can go to anywhere in town for $2.50 and a long trip to the airport is about $6.00. Make that even less with the recent continued devaluation of the peso.
Yesterday I went to visit a friend and my taxi fair was 25 pesos. I gave him 30 pesos, .75 US cents then. He actually chased me when I got out of the car to give me the change, about .10 cents. He could not understand why such a big tip, or a tip at all. I guess I am just a spendthrift.
I do not recommend buying or driving a car here. Today's peso rate is 56.20 to 1 US dollar. Today is December 14 here. 8 hours ahead of the States. Jeepneys (elongated locally made jeeps) are the way most people travel. They are ornate, gaudy or loud, depending on your taste. They are jeep style vehicles that carry from 14 to 20, seats on each side. Two ride with the driver "shotgun." Those seats are reserved for the disabled but often taken by young women. They have decorations, colors, family and nicknames, logos from everything imaginable, mud flaps, and other ornaments covering them. And they even altars on the dashboards. You can travel across the whole city for about .10 US cents. The oil prices have made the prices go up. Jeepneys are harder to get at rush hour, though there is not too much rush here. Have you heard of Filipino time? Only kings can set their own time. Her everyone has that prerogative it seems.
Jeepney travel is a good way to meet a lot of nice local folks. You sit with them face to face. They do love Americans and all foreigners here, perhaps to a fault. You can do no wrong, if you are a guest in their country. Jeepneys and taxis are safe. In fact Cebu City is a lot safer generally than most places I have lived in the States. You can walk the city streets at 3:00 in the morning and have no problems, male or female or in-between, in almost all parts of the city.
Personal, Medical and other Services:
I got a haircut and short massage yesterday from my best barber in his air-conditioned shop for .80 cents. A one our massage at a good parlor is between 200 to 300 pesos, more in Manila but not if you bargain. At a first class hotel is much more. But you will probably find someone in your neighborhood to makes house calls and may get a good one for a dollar.
Airfares are low to get here, especially off season, so if one is considering dental work or cosmetic surgery, they could save a lot of money by visiting here. The saving would more than pay for the airfare and other expenses you will have. Now if you are only going to have one gold heart implanted in a tooth, it may not be a good idea. But I don't know recent US dental prices. It may pay do come here to do wild stuff like that if you are or that bent. Tattoo artist and piercing is very cheap too and there are quality tattoo artists. I have passed that up but you never can tell. I have always wanted an ornate tattoo that said, "Tattoo."
There are many mammoth shopping malls here with everything you can get in the USA. If you don't like to shop, send a helper. Some of the imported good are higher priced but some are lower.
New books, reprints for sale only in the Philippines, can be very cheap. I see books on computer and other subjects US price $40 selling here for $30. But I know there are discount bookstores in the States where you can do better.
There are local markets that are more "old Filipino" in nature where a lot of bargaining goes on. Best send a helper for that or sharpen your negotiation skills. At the malls the prices are fixed price. The local markets are much more colorful. But you do have to be a skilled in bargaining local style to get the local price. Southeast Asians are known for their bargaining abilities. And they know the "nibble," and can take a big bite out of you budget. Send your helper.
If you want American food it is all here, from Shakey's, McDonald's to the Marriott Hotel's best restaurant I have ever eaten in. The Hyatt is upscale and good too. Radio Shack, I heard, just came here and other discount US retailers have just gotten permission to move in, including some banks though, Citibank, Bank of American and HSBC have been here for a long time.
I trained one of my maids who was formerly a cook for a group of Japanese students how to cook American. She is pretty good. And I get my hot whole wheat bread fresh from the oven every day made to my specs. There are international cooking schools you can send your cook to if you are a gourmet and want special food. There are schools for baking and deserts. In the States only a king can afford a trained international chef.
How can you do this?
Does this sound like kingly living to you? To me it is. I live it. I feel it. You might too. There is so much more than I mention here. If you would like to know more, read the website, and hear from other by joining the free Yahoo mailing List. Then get a plane ticket and come on over!
I don't own a hotel or resort. I don't charge for the List or the website. Here, retired in the Philippines, I have enough, little though it may be, to live in the Philippines like a king.
*Legend, some say fact, has it that General Yamashita buried a lot of gold in the hills here when the Japanese occupied the Philippines during World War II. There are always people looking for it. No one has ever found it as far as I know. But Yamashita's gold is an exciting story, gold laying around always makes for interesting conversation.