How to retire early is something that many folks think about at some point in their life. When most people think of retirees in the Philippines, they think of someone over 62 years of age, however, I have personally met a number of retired expats here who are not even age 60 yet. Or age 50 for that matter! They still consider themselves retired because they no longer work for someone else in their home country. They are enjoying the retirement life style in the Philippines and they do what they want when they want for the most part, within reason of course. They abide by the laws of their new home country because they do not want to upset their own applecart and return back home to a job after they have discovered how to retire early in the Philippines.
My dear dad always told me that the best experience is first hand experience! I discovered how to retire early in the Philippines at age 54 in 2009. By far, it has been the best decision I ever made. I am not only extremely happy here but without a doubt, I added years to my life due to alleviating stress. As in the title of one of my previous articles, it was Adios Daily Grind, Hello Paradise! I can eat fresh tropical fruit and vegetables everyday, some of which we grow on our own farm, I can eat all types of fresh seafood daily at affordable prices and the public markets have fresh chicken, pork and beef every morning! How does this sound? My family and I eat very well everyday for much less than if we were living and eating daily in Florida!
How to Retire Early Younger
Some people that learn how to retire early are retired military, who joined the service before they were 20 years old and they retired after doing 20-25 years, so they retired between the ages of 39 and 44. For most of the retired military, their military pension is more than enough to afford them a fabulous lifestyle in the Philippines. Other younger retirees served in the military and were injured in one of the Middle Eastern wars and they are receiving a disability pension from the military.
Yet others, receive a disability pension from the Social Security Administration and once again, they are financially able to enjoy a much better and affordable lifestyle in the Philippines.
Some expats who have wondered how to retire early in the Philippines receive a steady monthly income from rental properties in their home countries. Others have the same type income, only they owner financed their properties in their home country to a buyer.
How to Retire Early With No Business
How to retire early anywhere with no business and no money seems next to impossible. We often hear of those expats who failed in business in the Philippines and because of many variables, they decided to spread the word to every expat and to every person on the planet that it is impossible to engage in successful business in the Philippines. I am being kind, my friends, when I say that this is a myth. Actually, it is a lie! The expats who failed are bitter and they blame everyone in the Philippines other than themselves. I have knowledge as to why they failed in business after hearing their stories, which are all too familiar among those who indeed failed. It has nothing to do with the Philippines! This is a topic for a future article, however, being successful in business in the Philippines, to allow an expat to retire early in the Philippines, is very possible. It is not only very possible but it costs much less here to start up small businesses than anywhere else in the world that I know of!
I have personally met those who have succeeded in doing business in the Philippines and they continue to succeed. Most of them are married to a Philippine citizen but not all. Some of the successful businesses that expats are engaging in the Philippines, which produce good income while actually living here, include unique restaurants, suppliers of specialty expat type food items, shoe factory and wholesale shoe distributorship, small call centers, agribusiness and taxi franchises. There are many others! So many. The successful business expat in the Philippines is always creative when it comes to how to retire early, and they always have good, honest help on the ground to make the business go.
There is one other myth about doing business in the Philippines that I would like to shoot down in this article. Not only shoot it down but step on it and grind it in the dirt! Nothing annoys me more than to hear one expat tell another expat, who is gung-ho on doing business in the Philippines, that unless they have experience in business or their spouse has experience in business, they will fail! Not true. There are many first time business owners who are so innovative that they blow the flip flops off the other expats who think they know business in the Philippines! How to retire early and do business in the Philippines is NOT a myth.
There is the Anti Dummy Law in the Philippines and it is illegal for a foreigner to financially back his wife or Filipino friends in a corporation while he is the mastermind of the business. However, none of the businesses I have referred to in this article require a corporation. There is no Philippines law against a husband helping his citizen wife set up a business in the Philippines. None whatsoever!
If you're looking for how to retire early then retiring in the Philippines is not only possible but it is a very good idea if you can do it today! There is no better time than today to begin those plans and no need to wait until you are 62 or older, if it is possible for you. What are you waiting for?
Artena Douglas says
I am a Canadian widow thinking of moving to the Philippines. I notice all the information seems to be aimed at Americans and men.
Any advice for me?
Gary McMurrain says
That is great that you are considering moving to the Philippines. I have met a few women who took on this adventure alone and it worked out very well for them.
Have you ever visited the Philippines? Do you have any contacts with anyone who actually lives here now?
~ Gary ~
People retire to the Philippines for the simple life.
Investing in business or property is very stressful here though. I’d never discourage anyone from doing it, but it’s important to arrive with realistic expectations.
Anyway, this websites a healthy resource for anyone considering the transition.
Gary McMurrain says
Thank you much for your compliments about Retiring to the Philippines.
Investing in business and property can be stressful in the Philippines and I am thankful that my wife knew what she was doing when we did both.
Have a great day!
~ Gary ~
Carrie Basille says
A commenter here, Nate, summed up what course my retirement should trod: “People retire to the Philippines for the simple life.” He must be referring to the Filipinos’ remarkably simple lifestyle and the contentment they derive from such almost natural simplicity.
Fellow expats may also interpret that “simple life” as their deft and adaptive ways to cope with the obvious lack of conveniences and amenities normally found in developed countries. Or, better yet, they can joyfully adopt and embed the “simple life” into their own daily routines, into their choices, and into their own evolving attitude toward material things and excess.
I’m glad that your forum has a thread on MINIMALISM which is gradually gaining a good number of adherents around the world. I just watched a youtube video posted by Reekay in his Life Beyond The Seas channel. He’s an American expat living in Bohol. His leased house is almost bare, except for some needed furniture. There’s nothing inside that he doesn’t essentially need, no clutter, no extraneous objects that would only distract him needlessly.
Our small, one-bedroom house in the Philippines is, thankfully, free of clutter and excess. Objects and goods and luxuries can never ensnare or enslave me and my husband now, unlike before in America when our house was chockful of senseless gadgets, decorations, and extraneous, needless objects, including those self-centered attitudes and perspectives that were sadly embedded in them. We now feel so much happier, more free, and more attuned with our neighbors’ empowering simplicity.
Gary McMurrain says
I have learned that MINIMALISM can really be spartan to some expats in the Philippines and yet, they are still very happy! Expats living in a nipa and bamboo house deep in the province is not commonly seen in the Philippines, however, I personally know two Americans who do just that! They turned on to the Philippines, tuned in about what happiness in life can really be about and they dropped out of the rat race at an earlier age than is the so called NORM!
These guys don’t own vehicles, cable TV or satellite, land lines, one does not own an air con, neither one of them care one thing about going to the city and shopping at Robinsons and they can truly enjoy a meal in a turo turo or a carinderia with their Filipino family.
When my wife, our son and I moved to the Philippines in 2009, I had not lived in the USA for 9 years at that point, so now, it has been 14 years since I set my schedule with Monday Night Football and Late Night with David Letterman! I don’t need those things in my life to be happy.
Nomad Capitalist says
Yeah, to think that there are opportunities for 35 year olds to “retire” to the Philippines shows how the country wants people to come there. Now, if only they streamlined some of the programs… I was in a meeting with immigration officials who didn’t even understand all of the options!
Definitely a great place to start a business and your book offers a good start in that direction.
Gary McMurrain says
Thank you much! I am happy you enjoyed reading my book, Nomad Capitalist.
Another thing to keep in mind is that every Philippine Bureau of Immigration office seems to be different! All do not provide the same services, across the board.
Have a great day!
~ Gary ~
George Jones says
I will retire with $300,000 US dollars and $1800.00 a month in ss pay could I get along there ok on that there ?
Steve Fleming says
Thanks for your comment.
Your ‘nest egg’ and ss would be more than enough to live a comfortable life over here but you should definitely come over for a visit or two to decide whether you actually want to live here. Gary and I both love living in the Philippines but it can be frustrating at times too. You have to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself and decide whether it works for you.
Read some of the other articles on our site, especially the ones about culture shock and ‘white guy mentality’.
They should help you in your decision.
Hope that helps but if you need any more advice please feel free to post on our forum.
I am an expat wanting to retire early. Being only 53 has its limitations though. I can not access my 401k and I can not access my retirement from the company I work for until 58.. Not sure what to do?
I want what I saw and lived when I was there a simple life to love the some one I met there. Need advice.
Look up a 401k to Roth conversion 5 year roll. This technique gets you around the ten percent penalty.
Calvin Sparrow says
I plan on moving to the Philippines in a few years and marrying my girlfriend in the process. I want to buy a home there for us and invest in a business. I have already known that I had to put them in her name (which is no problem). Does this mean that we have to run the business ourselves? Or can we get family members to partner with us and run the business (which will not be incorporated)
Gary McMurrain says
There isn’t a legal problem in having family members running a business that is not a corporation. There could be a major problem with the success of the businesses if the family members are not honest and trustworthy and if they do not know now to run the businesses properly. I have seen that happen so many times over the years!
My wife’s youngest brother manages the agribusiness for us and he has done an excellent job the past 6 years. He knows what he is doing. Concerning our taxi business, not one relative is involved in it because they don’t know one thing about operating a taxi business. It is not good to even hire a relative to drive a taxi. Our two taxi drivers have been with us from Day One when we put the taxis on the road in 2010 and neither one of them is related by blood or through marriage.
I wish you all the best with your businesses.
Never have a family business, if it goes south you will be blamed and if it does very well everyone will ask for money.
Ron Bartow says
I am seriously mulling the idea of retiring there in Gary’s beloved city when I hit 62 – that’s 2 years from now. Right now, I’m setting the stage for that eventual move by greedily reading all the blogs and inquiries in your website, reading tons of books and web info about the country, and selling/donating my personal belongings that I don’t plan to bring there. Fortunately I have two colleagues, both Filipino doctors, who are feeding me lots of tips about their culture, national “eccentricities” if you can call those special traits that make the Filipinos unique, and advice on how to keep myself safe out there when I embark on that exciting journey. These doctors have been feeding me typical Filipino dishes and delicacies so by now my system is so much at home with their gastronomic delights. My wife, Elaine, plan to volunteer there in a nonprofit school, perhaps teaching English and computer skills. I hope we can find an affordable apartment in Bacolod when we get there. We plan to move around the country until we find where we can best thrive as a couple seeking quite a meaningful retirement, one that won’t be self-seeking, but a life spent with likeminded friends and acquaintances who would be lifelong friends, and one in which we can immerse ourselves in the culture, not unlike what Steve and Gary have been doing. We are glad to note that Silliman University in Dumaguete is not too far from Bacolod. I hope it offers courses for retired people who crave for constant intellectual stimulation. Please allow me to pose questions in your forum when I need some pressing answers that this site’s readers might help us out. Of course Gary and Steve will be our go-to resources, if they don’t mind me stealing them from their busy schedules.
Gary McMurrain says
Thank you for your nice comments, Ron, and for sharing your plans. Please feel free to pose as many questions as you like and I am more than happy to provide the answers to you.
Have a great day!
I am going to address this mainly to Ron Bartow and George Jones.
I am an American now 68 years old (Well, almost 68, will be in August) that retired 5 years ago when the company I had spent nearly 15 years with closed the doors and filed for bankruptcy. I was already 62 and had just started taking my Social Security. I had spent more than 1 year reading about everything I could about ideal places to retire and the Philippines came out on top because it was and is the only country on my list of several where nearly everyone speaks at least a little English (I say only Brits speak English–We speak American). And that brings me to the most important part, because of that, it is so much easier to find someplace you would really enjoy living.
I live “”in Province” as they say here, which actually means I don’t live in Manila, Angeles City, or any of the Tourist Trap cities with large American ex-pat “colonies”. I live in a small city (approx. 85,000) where I can occasionally see someone taller and more “fair complected” than the locals. I am, by nature shy and maybe a little introverted, but when I do see someone like that I just have to ask them where they are from, so I have met other Americans, Swiss, German, Australian Brits, and many other European countries. I have been able to put together a small group of American/Filipina couples that I and “My Little One” often get together with, but i/we do not need the everyday association with other Americans that many retirees living in Cebu, Boracay, and yes even Bacolod seem to need.
So I would emphatically suggest when you come to the Philippines (PI), try to arrange at least a 3 or 6 month visit. Get out of the large metro areas and come to any of the smaller cities (100,000 or less), stay for a few days at least (a month or more would be better) and really get to know the area before committing yourself to living somewhere without even visiting it.
Hello, I’m a hillbilly bred backwoods boy from Michigan. My wife is a filipina, and I love the islands. I would really like to move there and retire early, I’m 38. My thought are that if I bought the land and built the house before we moved, that we could live very inexpensively until my retirement funds kick in. But when I read all about how expats are not allowed to work there, it scares me. I have no problem working the land, or working my field Electrical engineering/ automation, or even teaching to live on. It’s just a big step into the unknown.
Can you offer some advise or insights?
We’re OK with simple meals cooked at home, no cable etc… Just like to live in the house we built, with A/C, and maybe have a vehicle to get around with once in awhile.
Can a well educated country boy make his way in the islands?
Gary McMurrain says
Foreigners not being allowed to work in the Philippines is a myth! There is the AEP, Alien Employment Permit, which an employer can apply for in your behalf through DOLE, Dept of Labor and Employment. If your wife files for your 13a Visa, which can be done at a Philippine Consulate or Embassy abroad before you arrive, you are allowed to work and you don’t need an AEP, according to our attorney. However, unless you work for an international company, you will be earning common Philippine wages, which are very low. About the best actual job for a foreigner, other than with an international company, is working for one of the call centers, preferably as a supervisor since being a native English speaker. Even then, you will be earning, in most cases,less than $1,000 per month and maybe as low as $500 per month, depending on the location.
If you and your wife own agriculture land, as my wife and I do, there is no law preventing you from financing the agribusiness and you don’t need an AEP for that, either!
My wife and I grow rice, have cattle, goats and free range ducks and chickens. Agriculture is the best way to make money in the Philippines if you have the means to acquire the land and can afford the expenses for fertilizer, insecticide, livestock and the planting of crops.
I wish you all the best!
Thank you Gary, that is most encouraging! I’m not afraid of hard labor, just afraid of starving to death while doing it. Can you recommend which crops/livestock tend to be the money makers, and do you have tips on how much land I should be buying to not only support us, but to make a profit in order to expand if needed? The Ag scene there is different to what I’m used to here, growing seasons, crops, markets, grazing areas, and markets.
Thank you in advance.
Gary McMurrain says
You are welcome, Jay. One hectare can supply a family of 4 with all their dairy products, meat, fruit and vegetables for the entire year. We grow 3.1 hectares of rice and unlike sugarcane’s price at the mill, rice has steadily increased over the past 5 years from P490 per un-milled sack to P560 per u-milled sack in 2014. One rice trader buys all the rice we are wiling to sell him. Rice is a great cash crop. Galaxy Ampalaya (bitter gourd), Diamante Tomatoes, Morena Eggplant, Dijango Peppers and Smooth Green Okra are also good cash crops.These seeds can be purchased through East-West Seed Company in the Philippines. Check out their website.
I would suggest 5 hectares but you can do well with only 4 hectares, if you utilize the space with proper management.
Carabao, beef cattle, goats and chickens are good livestock. If you have an alternative hog feed instead of using all commercial feed, you can also profit with pigs.
This should get you started.
Good day we are planning to go into the agriculture business , we already foumd a farm we looking into buying ,once my dad retires here ,just wanted to ask do we need a permit in order to have a chicken farm etc and how do we become know suppliers to local wet markets etc if you could assist me in any way inwould surly be happy ,im 27 year old south african and married thanks in advance nico