Many expats retiring to the Philippines are still seeking the best housing option for their particular situation. Some expats have not learned yet that foreigners cannot own land in the Philippines, however, they can own a condo or a townhouse if the complex is 60% owned by Filipinos. A foreigner can own a building, yet not the land, but this involves an attorney drawing up the legal agreement.
If an expat has not spent much time in the Philippines or is still unsure of a location they want to permanently retire, renting is always the best option. In midsize cities, there are nice houses and apartments for rent in the $200-$300 per month price range. Some expats rent short term apartments, without a lease, in one location for a few months and then they move on to another location, in search of the best location they enjoy the most.
We already knew where we wanted to retire in the Philippines. We spent enough time in the area during several annual visits of 6 week duration that we knew 100% we loved the area. Six months before we made the actual move to the Philippines, we hired an architect to design the house we wanted built on my wife's property. Yes, she is a Philippine citizen, so she can own land without a problem. We had trustworthy, knowledgeable relatives to manage and actually do the construction of our new home. The architect, who is a nephew, supervised the construction every day for the foundation, walls and roof, with on site supervision 3 times per week on the other parts of the house. He did a fabulous job, as did the construction workers. The minimum architect fee in our area is 10% but our nephew only charged us 5%.
It is exciting building a brand new home in the Philippines! For those who are interested in buying a home already constructed, for moving in right away, this is also a very good option. There are a number of like new houses in the Bacolod Area that are being sold by the banks since they are foreclosures. One can save P1 million or more on these bargain houses if you shop around.
I have seen some very nice native style houses in the countryside of the Philippines, aka the province. For $10,000 USD, an expat can build the Cadillac of all native houses! I know a few who took this route and they are very happy. The cost of building a native house, as shown in the cover photo of this article, is only a couple thousand US Dollars.
For the expats with Philippine citizen wives who still do not want to invest in real property in the Philippines but are sure where they want to live long term, there are many large, newer homes for rent in excellent locations. In Bacolod City, these houses are usually P15,000-P20,000 per month, unfurnished. Of course, for the really large houses, the rental can be P40,000 or more per month and now we are talking $1,000 USD per month and more.
One of the least favorable options is living with the wife's parents or other relatives long term. However, I know a few expats who enjoy this arrangement. They give the relatives money every month for electricity, water and other expenses and they enjoy the closeness of family…24/7!
Concerning recovering your property investment, which is in your citizen wife's name or in your name if a condo/townhouse, it depends on the location in the Philippines, the size of the lot or land and the size and type of house. We have a house in the countryside and a house & lot in the city but we did not buy with the intentions of selling to make a profit. We are in the Philippines for the rest of our lives and we are enjoying every second of it!