I write a reply to an e-mail about retiring in the Philippines
An extraordinary smart friend of my mine from the USA wrote me about his plans to retire in the Philippines. This person has traveled to many countries and has insider knowledge, he is extremely knowledgeable about retirement, money management and the Internet, and he is one of the people, who said to himself,
"I am going to retire early."
-- And he retired early with enough money to live in great comfort.
People who look as white as the Pillsbury Doughboy should avoid the Beach.
I am still in Angeles, PI, in my same apartment (about $250/month, furnished including utilities). MY sublease is up on March 30. I will be here in Angeles until at least mid-April, since a good friend is arriving in a few weeks. I just finished traveling to Bagiou and San Fernando, La Union with a friend of mine. Wow, the beach at San Fernando is really nice and great for swimming and surfing. It is 5 hours door to door from Angeles. But I get bored at the beach after a couple of days. Some expats talk about retiring to some beach place, but that would drive me crazy. I like city life and what it offers. The weather has been fantastic here.
Well, I am not on Facebook yet, sorry! So I guess I can't friend you or anything. I might do it one of these days!
I am thinking of settling in the PI. but still have not fully decided if I will do that, and exactly where. I will return to the USA for a few months this summer. I am thinking of just busing around Mexico a bit before returning to the PI. I have been meaning to travel there for some time but have been too busy going to far away places. . . .
Notes to understand:
PI = Philippines
Angeles = Angeles City in Philippines
Dakar / Yoff / Senegal, West-West Africa --- Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Please understand, I wrote him and told him what I was going to do prior to writing this reply to his e-mail in a publicly, this is not a sideswipe, if he want to say who he is, that is his right.
I truly enjoyed this e-mail; it has many of the essential goals and ideas of a USA person that is thinking about retiring overseas all wrapped up in one two-paragraph letter.
First, this sounds really great; a 250 Dollar apartment in Angeles with all utilities paid is a windfall, a great life. I could use some American style conveniences for a month or two, I am tired of Africa, and even a Five Star Hotel would be a slum here compared to living in Angeles. I often think about that I need to make a list of all the USA military bases on the planet, and then go stay in apartments close to them. I like to live overseas, but sometimes need a break from the local culture. I do not mind paying big money, I just do not like paying big money and living as the locals live. Angeles understand the American culture and serves up apartments at the correct level and standards to make an American happy.
Obviously, this 250 Apartment is in line with this idea of writing a book about how to live on 500 Dollars a month in paradise. I add another 5-10 Dollars for eating, and I am there.
That 250 apartment in Angeles would be probably be a 800 Dollar one in Fort Wayne, Indiana, so you have fully leverage the value of living overseas, the benefit I have been cashing in on now for 13 years and 89 countries. You know how to do the same, this is great.
Beach Life, again this is too clear and too insightful, I love the beach, and I am the right type of person to retire at a beach. I often think of retiring near Copa Cabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, but see the beaches of the Philippines as sucking. Yes, there are a few good ones, but to have a truly good one you have to have people and the Expats in the Philippines are not often beach people the wrong beach crowd defined.
I go to a beach; it is full of white people. I mean pasty white people who are not going to get tan. I am brown here in Africa, the sun shines, I walk around, it is difficult not to be tan and brown, it is just natural. Well, there are tons of folks here in Africa covered from head to toe with clothing, hats, and anything to stop the sun. I think to myself, you are in the wrong place, this is a good place for sun lovers, people like me who want to be brown.
Generally, I enjoy the silly nature of tourists, they want to go buy beach property and refuse to go in the sun, you can see it, and they are white as the Pillsbury Doughboy.
I am truly grateful as a friend you are in touch with what you like, so you do not retire on a beach, buy a home and do like the majority of Expats. It is annoying the vast majority of Expats who want to sell their beach home or retirement home overseas to the next stupid Expats coming down the river to retie overseas. They constantly lie, trying to make their bad idea, their bad investment into a great idea so the next idiot coming buys their house they want to unload.
Beach life is just people buying the idea of travel writers who romanticized a beach resort in return for a free week at the resort. The truth his living in a beach resort would be hell, visiting for a week can be heaven.
I would like to know the exact location of these beaches in La Union or San Fernando; I was there for a month and thought the beaches sucked. But for me, if there are not 100 girls lying on a beach in small bikinis the beach sucks. I know I cannot play in the water for eight hours, I must enjoy lying on the beach looking at girls to enjoy the beach, but that is me.
You have travel a long enough time to know what you like, what has it been, about 3-5 years. After about three years, a person stops going to the romanticized places and is capable becomes capable of making long-term overseas opinions There is no way a person understands after one year of living overseas what is good. They need at least two years of living offshore before they have a clue what they like, and need to interview a few countries.
You said it,
"but have been too busy going to far away places. . . ."
The reason you have been busy is simple, it takes roughly 2-5 years before a person stops being a tourist and starts accepting they live overseas. This is fun for me, to watch the transition of a person from a tourist to a traveler. A person starts to make good decision after the rose-colored views of the planet disappears and they stop being a tourist. Then and only then can them make these settle down and retirement type decisions. The only reason I know of to stay in one place is when my body says I must stop moving so much.
Hmm, have you been to Lago Atitlan, or Panajachel in Guatemala, a no-girl place, but truly a great place to retire. Same altitude as Baguio, but without all the rain, I wish I could put the girls of the Philippines and the quality of fresh air of Lago Atitlan in one location. I thought it was Baguio, but the city is not what I want in life.
The trip from Angeles to the Beach is easy trips for a traveler, I about laugh myself silly when I measured it on a map. It can only get faster, this 100 miles is an extremely slow trip for the distance, but seems short. There is often some confusion about the Philippines; it is so easy to feel like the country is modern, when often it is primitive. West Africa is extremely safe from robbery, it is difficult to be robbed here, but people think of it as dangerous, funny. The people of the USA transfer the American Ghetto idea to Africa, just the wrong sale idea.
The Philippines is extremely populated, but a person can live in the middle of dense population, often extreme poverty cheaply, because the people truly do not make much money. It is the down to street level cost of living that makes a country a good deal.
I truly enjoy West Africa because it has nice girls and not the population density. Nevertheless, to find a Pizza here is a huge problem, I truly would love to eat one of them Pizza from the Philippines now, the food in West Africa is about as bad as the local food in the Philippines, with no escape.
I am told I can escape West Africa in The Gambia, which is the reverse type of tourism as the Philippines for women here, all the European women come down to find boys.
The city life of the Philippines is great; I truly want to be closer to buying things sometimes. My Canon Camera is making funny noises here in Senegal, if it breaks or stops, I am going to have an extremely difficult time replacing it, this is the reason why Thailand and Asia is great, you can buy all the USA things cheap.
I do not understand why you wrote,
"I am thinking of settling in the PI."
I cannot wrap my mind around this phrase, what does it mean to settle?
3. Stop going and looking at exotic place?
4. Renting a room for a year?
I am free because I do not rent long-term, and I do not buy, if that is settling, than I am all for about saying no.
What do I want, I want a safe and cheap storage unit, I want to store stuff for about 100 dollars per year in about five locations. Then when I return, I have my stuff.
How is that mail forwarding thing working? Can you move and will it follow along?
What does it mean to settle? I used to think of retiring in one location, I was going to start a Hostel and live in the Hostel, have all these hippie chicks stay in the Hostel and have a good time. I have given up on that idea, it just seems like I was going to sign up for no-freedom, I tried a couple of times, but owning overseas means I need to squat. I cannot buy or own, they will steal everything when I go travel. This is good about PI, you can trust the Expats to protect your stuff, and the size of the Expat communities is big enough to keep us safe.
I think this settle thing is just a long-term idea of the USA culture, it is the idea that we need to have a home to be ok, the American Dream, which to me is an American Nightmare. I used to own 60 homes as rentals; there is nothing more confining than owning.
I refuse to own anything now; I dump more things in rooms. I now just rent the stuff, and leave it in the room, I buy it, and then leave it, I do not want stuff, I want friends.
Are you still running daily, I would like a list of all the cities on the planet where you are able to safely jog? I would never jog in West Africa, they would run over me with a car, I instead do jumping in the room, it is the only mobile aerobic exercise that I can do in any Hotel room.
Well, I hope you have met some nice girls, I have been thinking a lot about Medellin, Colombia. I am not that fond of the Asian girls, they are too greedy. Well, enjoy life, I am going to head to India, then maybe to PI soon, I need an American Vacation, which is not in America.
Thanks, Andy Graham in truly boring country Senegal, I think as I move toward Liberia it will become again the West Africa I love, a little less Arabic.
I write a reply to an e-mail about retiring in the Philippines
Interesting post. I've been receiving daily digests from a couple of large Yahoo Groups about living in the Philippines for over 10 years now. About everything is discussed, can get pretty heated. I think if you're going to look for girls in bikinis in the Phils then Boracay is your best bet. Panglao Island is supposed to be nice as well as Puerto Galera. But for me the real draw is to find a wife. I'm waiting until I'm about 60 then going there to look for one. I may be fluent enough in Spanish by then to find someone in South America but I'd prefer an English speaking lady who doesn't mind marrying an older man. Haven't decided whether I'll stay in the Phils or take her to South America.
Speaking of beaches, there's a beach town popular with surfers and backpackers just outside of Trujillo, Peru called Huanchaco. Alot of cheap rentals, alot of cheap restaurants, totally walkable with good transport to Trujillo. There's a large, new mall between Trujillo and Huanchaco with a Cinemark multiplex. Trujillo has a high crime rep but Huanchaco is pretty safe and the malls are very secure. What really appeals to me is that due to the cold Humboldt Current daily highs are in the 60's and 70's year-round. Living in hot and humid areas for many years makes that sound like paradise to me.
Peru will give you up to 183 days on a tourist visa, renewable at the border. Most likely I'll spend time in Huanchaco and Arequipa, then a few months in Bolivia, then home to the States for the holidays. If I can make it to 55 before retiring, I'll be able to get cheap standby tickets as a retiree of a scheduled airline. If not then Spirit Airlines should meet my needs between the States and Peru, as well as Guatemala.
There's a terrific small city in southern Bolivia, Tarija, where getting by on $500 is certainly possible. Tarija girls are reputed to be Bolivia's prettiest. And there's a transport company there that'll drive you to Salta, Argentina, another place I'm interested in. Bolivia makes you jump through alot of hoops to stay more than 90 days a year but definitely worth a few months every year. Tarija has good wine, Argentinian style steaks, and low costs with spring-like weather. Cochabamba and Sucre are also great, especially Sucre. And Arequipa, Peru is probably the best overall city in the region. A nice apartment there in the best areas of the city will set you back $300 a month. Plenty to do there.
Thank you for sharing that email with us, it was very informative. I find it very interesting when people share their actual budget expenses. Not too many bloggers are willing to do it so it always makes me weary of some of their claims.
Andy, I loved the post. Having spent many happy days in the Philippines starting in about Oct of 1969 I am very comfortable there. And I just love a certain woman whom you have met. She is so kind and considerate and know how to make me feel comfortable. And she only asks to be loved.
I do love to travel and I plan on checking out a few of the places you mentioned as well as some of the places mentioned by people who responded to your post. I like going to the beach at Subic Bay. They have it all. And only 45 minutes from Angeles on the new freeway.
I often look at the photos of you and I and the girls at the Fifties Diner. I have been in the Philippines for so many years that I am totally aclimatized and comfortable there. I love to walk up and down Session Road for exercise. And at Angeles City and in Subic Bay I can walk also.
I will be heading back soon. Almost finished with medical stuff and can start to travel again. My doctors have ran all the tests they need and updated my meds and say go. Get out of here and spread your wings. I see a west bound KC 135 tanker with me sitting in the navigator seat, in my near future. Mchord AFB to Honolulu or Okinawa and then on to Clark. LOL. Andy be careful. We do not want you to get into trouble in Africa. You are one of the few friends I have.
I contacted yesterday a young woman on a social network renting rooms by the month in Cali, Colombia, about equiv. of $160 USD with internet, I will also bus around up to Bogata and Medellin to look around, just bored where I am living now, not enough 'culture breaks'
In Latin America I do not require any ex pat nor bi lingual 'native' intermediaries, I go on to local, Spanish, classified sites on the Net or use the classified section of the local daily newspaper to find lodging, in 2004 in Nicaragua in the newspaper found a hotel in Managua for equiv. $12 a single with a/c and cable tv, breakfast, fridge and communal kitchen, not far from a supermarket, not far from Tica Bus station area where rooms go as high as $25-30 a night single or double for travellers
I have not used a Guidebook since the late 1980s, when I did yearly updates for one published in UK, for Antigua and Western El Salvador, etc.
The difference between Lake Atitlan and Antigua and basically the rest of Central America is they are not woman places, ex pats, like their puritanical English ancestors, import their own women from States or fo to Guatemala City. Colombia is looking good from all angles for me, make your own choices, wherever I plan to 'retire' , I plan on making friends, keeping busy, maybe helping to a small hotel or hostal, making up a site in English for them, soucing travelers. We did it well in Antigua in the early 1990s till a corrupt 'bi lingual native' night manager skimmed off most of the profits over 3 years..life in the tropics.
I am paying $210 for a furnished 1 bedroom apartment in Santiago, Dominican Republic. As I single guy, I am able to leave here for under $500 per month and still have a comfortable lifestyle.
Thanks for helping.
I see you are already a member of "My Hobo." Therefore, I granted you permission to, write, edit, and upload photos so you can explain you story. You do not need to, but if you could write your story on this page I am sure the readers would really be grateful.
Anyone living in a similar room can be granted permission, you need to sign up for My Hobo, then I grant you permission, it is easy. This is my dream, to allow travelers to explain how we live in paradise locations. The does not trust us, they believe we bad, but often life is too good to believe.
Thanks, Andy Graham in Yoff / Senegal living today on a 1000 dollar per month budget, I am being lazy after Ivory Coast.. hehehe
Hi Andy, This is your friend quoted above (I will call myself T-man) and thanks for posting my letter. I cannot answer all of your questions quickly.
* The beaches at the beach resorts just south of San Juan, about 6 kilometers north of San Fernando, are great. There are various resorts there called SeBay, San Juan Surfing resort, etc. The hotels are not cheap, I paid about $38 per night for a modern room steps from the beach, steps from a few decent beach-side restaurants. The beach there is great for swimming and surfing much of the year although parts of the year (like April, May I think) have no waves. Some locals just watch a website that forecasts waves and go there during good wave periods. I talked to one man who was renting a room nearby for about $240/month (not sure what he exactly meant by a "room" but I don't think it was that great).
* By settling in the Philippines, I don't mean buying property, something I would never do. I mean staying in one place for longer periods of time. Usually, to get the best places to live, you need to commit for at least 6 months. It also means taking some time to learn the language, making long term friends who know you will be around, etc. Maybe even a year-around apartment. I am living in the place of an expat who travels a lot. He sub-lets his apartment when he travels. He buys super-cheap airfares. He keeps a list of dates in his pocket at all times, he knows where he will be for the next year. He is ready to jump on super-cheap airfares that are offered for travel, say, 6 months in the future. He just flew to two distant parts of the Philippines, each place for a month, for about $6 round trip. He flew to Thailand twice for about $80 round trip. He is flying home later this year to Australia from KL, Malaysia, round trip on Air Asia, for an amazingly small amount.
Andy, many of the places you mention are just too cold for me. My ideal climate is a daily high of perhaps 30/86 and a low, in the middle of the night, of 21/70. With not too much rain. I found Bagiou, Philippines, with its daily lows during the warmer season of 14 (57), much too cold for me (and at the high elevation, it gets cold early in the evening).
Yes, I still keep in good physical shape. I run a hard 5 kilometers every other day and go to the gym every other day. I am in the best physical shape of my life. My fasting blood sugar went down to normal thanks to exercise, diabetes runs strongly in my family. Outside of the USA, I can get more frequent blood tests which are much cheaper (same goes for dentist -- I go more frequently in retirement).
I live on a lot more than $500 per month. I pay $200 per month just for high-deductible medical insurance in the USA. And I live well abroad although I don't throw money around. I don't see a way to go without USA health insurance if you still want to visit your homeland with any frequency.
My Angeles apartment is a decent standard, probably 500 square feet (around 47 square meters). It is fully furnished, although I had to spend about $100 fixing it up (new sheets, some extra dishes and towels for when I had a group of friends visiting, etc). There is no cable TV, but the owner has about 300 DVDs provided. And additional movies (pirated) can be purchased for under $1.
There are wants...
There are needs...
There are luxuries...
Security and Safety needs...
Each person defines their needs differently, what you need is different than me. However, for sure there are people in the audience who like the idea of a 250 a month apartment.
Am I going to live in Angeles for a month? I doubt it, I tried to stay around long enough to interview a man, decided I hated the place. But, this is unfair, I may go back and meet a couple of friends and stay for a year.
1 or 0 - yes or no - off or on - the world needs to accept that most of life is a maybe this is needed, and allow others to say yes or no.