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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Retirement: Thailand? Philippines?

    Retirement: Philippines vs. Thailand
    Retirement: Philippines vs. Thailand

    By JEAN FOLGER
    Updated Nov 28, 2020

    Retiring abroad has become a reality for an increasing number of older adults looking to trade in cold weather and rising costs for a lower cost of living and a tropical paradise. There are popular expatriate communities in virtually every corner of the world, from Canada and Latin America to Europe, the South Pacific, and Asia.

    The Southeast Asia region is one of the most popular. It offers an enticing blend of natural beauty, warm weather, rich culture, welcoming people, and in many cases, a lower cost of living. But how to decide where to go? Here, we take a look at some important factors to help you compare and contrast two of Southeast Asia’s most popular expat locales: the Philippines and Thailand.

    Cost of Living

    The cost of living for a comfortable lifestyle is a top concern for many older adults considering an overseas retirement. If you’re looking for a low cost of living with a high standard of living, you’ll find it in both the Philippines and Thailand, though one does tend to be cheaper than the other.

    Expats in the Philippines can live comfortably for about $800 to $1,200 a month (more if you live in Manila’s city center), and that may include dining out, some in-country travel, and hiring someone to help with the cooking and cleaning. If you’re at least 50 years old, you qualify for one of four Special Resident Retiree’s Visas (SRRV). The SSRV Classic is for “active/healthy retirees.” To get it you need a time deposit of $10,000 and must have a monthly pension of at least $800 for a single applicant or $1,000 for a couple. If you don’t have a pension, the required deposit is $20,000; it’s $50,000 if you’re between 35 and 49 years old.1

    A big part of any retirement budget is housing. In the Philippines, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is approximately $333, according to city and country database website Numbeo.com. If you need more space, you’ll pay about $719 a month for a three-bedroom unit. Outside the city, rent drops to an average of $187 a month for a one-bedroom apartment and $370.30 for a three-bedroom unit.2

    Thailand is more expensive, with $2,000 a month serving as a good starting point for most expats, though your budget will vary depending on your lifestyle and preferences (true anywhere). To qualify for a long-stay visa you’ll need a minimum monthly income of 65,000 baht​ ($2,064 as of July 15, 2020), an account balance of at least 800,000 baht ($25,400) in a Thai bank or a combined bank account and monthly income that equals 800,000 baht per year.3

    As far as rent goes, you’ll probably end up paying more for housing in Thailand. According to Numbeo.com, you’re looking at an average of $476 to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city center and $1,179.09 for a three-bedroom unit. You’ll save money if you rent outside the city center: Average rent there is $278 for one-bedroom and $625 for three bedrooms.4

    Daily Life

    Many aspects of daily life are similar in both countries. Each offers rich biodiversity, natural beauty, white-sand beaches, crystal-clear water, and ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with activities such as golf, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving, to name a few. In either country, it’s possible to find established expat communities in the middle of a large, bustling city or a quiet, scenic town—in the mountains or at the beach.

    Language

    Despite many similarities, there naturally are certain contrasts between the two countries, perhaps most notably in how easy it is to communicate with the locals. If you’re not already fluent in one of the languages, you’re likely to have a much easier time in the Philippines, where English is one of two official languages, the other being Filipino (or Tagalog). The Philippines markets itself as the third-largest English-speaking country in the world, behind only the U.S. and the U.K. You’ll also find that many Filipinos speak with a clear American accent, partly because the nation was a U.S. colony for five decades.

    This isn’t the case in Thailand, and you may find it difficult to have any type of conversation with the locals unless you speak Thai (or the other person happens to speak English—the exception, not the norm). According to the EF English Proficiency Index conducted by Education First Language Institute, the English abilities of Thai people are ranked 17 out of 25 Asian countries (surpassing only Sri Lanka and Myanmar) and 74 out of 100 countries worldwide. The index notes that Thailand is a non-English speaking country with “very low” English proficiency.5

    Visas

    Visas are another difference. The Philippines is very welcoming to expats and even has a government agency dedicated to attracting foreign retirees. Once you have permanent residency you can stay in the country as long you like (your retiree visa does not expire), and you can leave and return without reapplying for residency.6 Expats can take advantage of a number of financial benefits too, including discounts for the 60-and-up crowd, the duty-free import of $7,000 worth of household goods and immunity from airport travel taxes. Expat residents are also allowed to work or start businesses.6

    You can get a retirement visa in Thailand, but you’ll have to jump through a few hoops to do so. You’ll also have to notify the immigration office every 90 days regarding your address—either by checking in with your local immigration office (or with the local police station in areas without one), by mail or by hiring an agent who can act on your behalf through a power of attorney. If you don’t get a retirement visa for one reason or another, you can get a one-year multiple-entry visa, extendable for three months on or before its one-year expiration date. Unlike with a retirement visa, you’ll need to exit and re-enter Thailand every 90 days.7

    Other Considerations

    While the big differences likely to affect expat retirees are the language situation and immigration procedures, it’s worth noting a couple of other considerations. One is the food. Thailand is home to one of the world’s most popular cuisines, which is based on pairing opposite tastes: chili paste with coconut milk, palm sugar with lime juice, and sweet noodles with a salty crunch. While considered good, Filipino cuisine is generally less noteworthy.

    Another consideration is healthcare. You can expect reasonably good, affordable healthcare in the Philippines if you are in Manila, but it may be a different story outside the city. The U.S. embassy in Manila notes that “hospitals in and around Manila often offer high-quality medical care. Many hospitals outside major urban areas may offer only basic medical care in rudimentary conditions. It is wise to evaluate the standards of medical care at a hospital before contemplating a medical procedure.”8

    The healthcare system in Thailand, on the other hand, is considered excellent, and you can find at least one private hospital in most major provinces (popular tourist areas have more). Thailand is one of Asia’s leading medical tourism destinations, and English-speaking practitioners and quality health care can be found both inside and outside of Bangkok.

    The Bottom Line

    The Philippines and Thailand each offer a good quality of life, a low cost of living, beautiful scenery and many activities to keep you busy during retirement. Ultimately, the choice between the two is a very personal one, depending on your lifestyle, preference, and comfort. As with retiring abroad anywhere, it can be a good idea to give a country a “trial run” first—such as spending six to 12 months there—to make sure you’ll be happy over the long term in retirement.
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  2. #2
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Stuck with those two?

  3. #3
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    What they don't tell you is that 1 bedroom condo in Bangkok city center is 26 square meters. That 476 buckssudenly doesn't buy you a lot.

    But hey the condo has infinity edge pool overlooking Klong Toey.

  4. #4
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Stuck with those two?

    It's clear that many don't unveil themselves to explore alternative options.
    Instead, relying on convention and stereotype.

    All a bit moot, as most of this class don't have the connected ability to adjust or acclimate to these foreign locales.
    Existing through miserable and narrow dispositions and worldview. Which is more often the case among these types.


    Why bother.



  5. #5
    Thailand Expat Pragmatic's Avatar
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    I believe living in the Philippines allows the UK government to give you inflation increases every year, pension wise, but not if living in Thailand. I'm probably wrong.

  6. #6
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    you are correct.



    Countries where we pay an annual increase in the State Pension.

    Published 9 June 2014


    We pay the UK State Pension worldwide. However, you will only get an increase every year if you live in:

    the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
    a country that has a social security agreement with the UK that allows for cost of living increases to the State Pension
    Moving to an EEA country or Switzerland from
    1 January 2021

    Read guidance on how State Pension uprating may be affected if you move to an EEA country or Switzerland from 1 January 2021.

    EEA countries and Switzerland
    If you currently live in the EEA or Switzerland and receive a UK State Pension, you will usually get an increase in your pension every year.

    The EEA countries are:

    Austria
    Belgium
    Bulgaria
    Croatia
    Cyprus
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Estonia
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Greece
    Hungary
    Iceland
    Ireland
    Italy
    Latvia
    Liechtenstein
    Lithuania
    Luxembourg
    Malta
    Netherlands
    Norway
    Poland
    Portugal
    Romania
    Slovakia
    Slovenia
    Spain
    Sweden
    Countries the UK has a social security agreement with
    The UK has agreements with some other countries to protect the social security rights of workers moving between the 2 countries.

    These are sometimes known as ‘bilateral agreements’ or ‘reciprocal agreements’.

    If you live in one of the following countries and receive a UK State Pension, you will usually get an increase in your pension every year:

    Barbados
    Bermuda
    Bosnia-Herzegovina
    Gibraltar
    Guernsey
    the Isle of Man
    Israel
    Jamaica
    Jersey
    Kosovo
    Mauritius
    Montenegro
    North Macedonia
    the Philippines
    Serbia
    Turkey
    USA
    The UK has social security agreements with Canada and New Zealand, but you cannot get a yearly increase in your UK State Pension if you live in either of those countries.

    Countries where we pay an annual increase in the State Pension - GOV.UK



  7. #7
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by YourDaddy View Post
    What they don't tell you is that 1 bedroom condo in Bangkok city center is 26 square meters. That 476 buckssudenly doesn't buy you a lot.
    No the one you bought is. Or most people look at the size of the unit as their first consideration.

  8. #8
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    From my understanding with a certain visa in the Philippines you are also able to act the state healthcare,right? This might be an incentive for some.

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat
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    The retirement visa (SRRV, special retiree resident visa) in PI has been suspended recently. It's currently under review.

    Government suspends issuance of foreign retirement visa

    Reason for the SRRV suspension is that too many Chinese ppl were availing of it and might pose a national security issue, according to some politicians. The SRRV has 2 age brackets: 35 to 49 years old (higher $$ reqt) and 50+ years old (lower $$ reqt).

    Many low income expats stay as tourists in PI bcos at present, the law allows them to stay for up to 3 years on a tourist visa (after initial free 30 days, just keep extending every 2 months). Then they have to do a visa run then the clock resets to 0. However, I think the gov't is reviewing this as well - too many tourists staying for 3 years and not doing the SRRV route (more paperwork & $$ involved).

    Also, due to covid, many expats are nearing the end of their 3-year stay and have to leave. Then they don't know when they can return since PI is not accepting foreign tourists yet. My best guess is 2nd half of next year before foreign tourism reipens. At the moment, only Filipino citizens (and former PI citizens) plus their spouses & children are allowed in. But they must have a prebooked quarantine hotel (2 days) + covid test upon entry. Then 12 days quarantine at home, so total of 14 days. That's the latest advisory that I know - things may change.

    Foreign spouses, children of Filipinos may enter Philippines starting December 7 ? IATF - Philstar.com

    The MM2H (Malaysia my 2nd home) residency program has also been recently suspended (either due to Covid, influx of Chinese or both).

    Migrating Hongkongers lose an exit as Malaysia My Second Home scheme suspended | South China Morning Post
    Last edited by katie23; 29-11-2020 at 09:07 PM. Reason: Added link

  10. #10
    Thailand Expat
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    @mandaloopy - I think with the 13A visa (resident visa for foreign spouses of PI citizens) as well as SRRV, you can pay into Philhealth. I think it's 18,000 pesos (360 usd) per year or 1,500 pesos/ 30 usd per month. It's not free - you have to pay into the system. It doesn't cover all expenses - only inpatient ssrvices. If you're hospitalized, only 20-25% is covered by Philhealth, the rest you pay out of pocket.

    In PI, no money = no treatment. If you had an accuident and you don't have $$ for a private hospital, you die. If you have cancer & no $$ for treatment, you die slowly. If you had a stroke & became paralyzed with no $$ for physical therapy, you remain paralyzed.

    Edit: I'm a member of Philhealth and so was my dad. When he was hospitalized due to stroke, I had to work on his papers re: Philhealth & social security, so I have experience with the system.
    Last edited by katie23; 29-11-2020 at 09:04 PM. Reason: Added info

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    Stuck with those two?
    ...no, a comparison of those two...

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat
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    Having lived in both countries I'll say this, if any aspects of living in Thailand gets you hot under the collar you'll end up shooting someone in the face during your first week in the PI, starting with the fiftieth person who tells you it's more fun in the Philippines

  13. #13
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    ^lol.

    Ask topper about his experiences re: spotty internet, brownouts, lack of stock (common in the provinces) and now, the current lockdowns & travel restrictions.

    Ooh, and formerly the liquor ban.

  14. #14
    Custom Title Changer
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    If you've got the income and the money to afford it, any city in Thailand has the entire PI beat.

    In the PI...

    The food, while having a few high points, generally speaking blows chunks (sorry Katie), if I eat any more chicken inasal I'll fooking turn into a chicken. The power outages and lack of internet availabilty still blows my mind on occasion.

    However, the people here are genuine, friendly and helpful. Costs are generally about half of what Bangkok is in almost every category. There's tons of hospitals around here that look modern and new. To be honest, I'm still uninsured, but the wife has PhilHealth going at I think 1300P/month.

    I'm not too worried about my visa, we've got tons of options and for the first time in many years, there's no worry that my wife will be kicked out of the country due to visa isssues. Not having that worry for us is a huge weight off our backs.

    I only lived in BKK, so I only experienced "city weather" while in Thailand. Here, we do get cool tropical breezes in the evenings that cool everything down, last month we used the A/C once. Here's I don't deal with traffic, hours long commutes or any of that horseshit, I can be at my "office" in about 5 minutes.
    Last edited by Topper; 29-11-2020 at 10:13 PM.
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  15. #15
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Topper View Post
    If you've got the income and the money to afford it, any city in Thailand has the entire PI beat.
    ...this is what I suspected...as bad as things might be in Thailand, there are enough Thai-Chinese pushing development to make the swamp a bit more livable...

  16. #16
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    TH has better infrastructure than PI (roads, transportation, internet, etc).

    PI has lower cost of living (in general), but you have to give up some creature comforts, or pay top price for them - you get what you pay for.

    In PI, if you live in the provinces and live like a local, you can survive on 500-600 usd. If you live in big cities (parts of Metro Manila like Makati or BGC - Bonifacio Global City) or Cebu city, then you'll have to pay more. There are more varied & international food options in big cities, but be prepared for $$ for the city life (and more traffic).

    If one wants a simple, laid back beach life, there are lots of islands to choose from - some of which have no water, electricity or internet. There's also the threat of typhoons - so choose the area wisely. Earthquakes & volcanic eruptions too - ring of fire.

    Same with other SEA countries, foreigners can't own land in PI. They can own condo units though (up to 40% of units in a condo building).

    Edit:

    @topper - there are many modern private hospitals, but they'll demand $$ (or your insurance) up front before they treat you. Sad but true.

    No offense taken re: PI food. I know about the complaints. Lol.
    Last edited by katie23; 30-11-2020 at 06:40 AM. Reason: Added info

  17. #17
    CCBW JPPR2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Topper View Post
    I only lived in BKK, so I only experienced "city weather" while in Thailand
    Man thats to bad Topper. Living outside BKK is outstanding and extremely affordable. I had places in both and while BKK had all the creature comforts those perks were always offset by the noise, sewer smell, traffic, pollution and cost. Its like all big cities for the most part however.

    But to your other point comparing PI to Thailand, PI food is really bad. While I am not a "foody" guy, I do like descent food and on my many trips there I almost preferred to fast...( sorry Katie).

    From my POV. Thailand has PI beat hands down as quality retirement location.

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