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!
Renato made a really great post about his experience living over here but it was a bit long for a comment so I’ve moved it to the forum.
Feel free to read it and add your own comments/stories.
My gf (Soon to be Asawa) and I agreed to build a Bamboo house as it is environmentally more desirable.. Besides which as a retired carpenter I love wood 🙂
Gary McMurrain says
That sounds, good, Edward, as long as you don’t build in an area where people will be easily breaking into your home. Be safe.
~ Gary ~
Gordon Jameson says
Has any one any idea how much it may cost to build an average size three bed bungalow in the Province. the land we have bought is really out in the wilds, Bicol region.
We want a brick bungalow, well built to stand up to the weather, Something around 60 x 60 feet square, Two of my in laws have agreed to help with the construction and procurement of items needed.
Never built a house here. In Costa Rica yes. From experience, and what I’ve read on forums, having family or friends building your house is not a great idea. The caveate being unless your the general contractor and they are the skilled labor.
If your out in the sticks it might be difficult to find a contractor but you can find a architect to do you a plan to get your building permit and if your building a perimeter wall you will need a wall permit to start and get an engineer to lay out the lines on site and sort out your drainage the permits come from your local town hall. You only save 25% or so by self build. For a really nice 120sqm bungalow with a nice finish a contractor in Negros would charge 2,300,000 pesos that’s a nice house for around 27 thousand dollars or around 34,000 UK pounds depends on the conversion rates. Hollow blocks vary in quality from been sandcrete ie to soft to decent solid blocks good luck with that one. Pre-painted white steel roof panels will last years and reflect the sun and keep the house cool. Make sure your helpers really do have some experience as they will make do very often. If you do spray any herbicide for weeds keep the kids and dogs off the land a week or they will be sick. You can probably put up a small bungalow for around 1,5 million pesos quite liveable in. Air cons vary in price from in the wall units to inverters but Kolin have a new in the wall a/c unit that has inverter technology. Make sure you are really comfortable with the area before spending a dime.
Steve Fleming says
Thanks for the helpful tips Chris. – Steve
I’m thinking about buying a lot in Iloilo. Right now I’m looking at either Green Meadows or Westwoods subdivisions. Any intel anyone can give me on either of these two developments would be greatly appreciated.
Also, if you know of any good architects and contractors who have done work you know about, please let me know.