What retirement is really like in the Philippines

Cio restaurant in Cebu City Philippines
Cio restaurant

Early retirement often seems like an elusive concept to many of us who are still on the way to it. ERN, a family man who actually took the plunge to early retirement this year, is only among* those who shows that this is totally possible. He discusses how it becomes more complicated to make sure your retirement funds suffice for retirement once you are actually retired (i.e. safe withdrawal rates). ERN is married to a Filipina and has a kid.

Unfortunately, in the Philippines, I have yet to see/hear/read of any similar experience from a fellow Pinoy! Consequently, I have no one to mirror or emulate. The very best example that I can think of are my parents.


The profile


My parents are SINK (single income with kids) and retired at 59 years old. My dad was the primary income earner and made his living abroad. He was paid well but working abroad meant a lot of homesickness and time away from family and well, home will always be home. Retirement meant finally getting to live full-time in the Philippines and spending time with family.

My mother, who handles their finances, makes sure their retirement funds stay intact while they enjoy the passive income therefrom.  Both of my parents are now senior citizens (or those aged  60 or older).

Retiring in the Philippines allows my parents several government-mandated perks for senior citizens, which keep their living expenses lower. These perks include a 20% discount on the purchase of groceries, medicine, dinners out, plane fare, etc. They are allowed free parking (for three hours) everywhere. In Cebu City, they are entitled to free movies at movie houses for certain days and times of the week.  My parents also enjoy a little monthly pension from social security and some yearly monetary benefit from city local government.

Other than the financial perks, being a senior citizen here in the Philippines is like having a privilege card to everything—no queues everywhere. Priority in everything. Filipinos respect senior citizens and their contribution to this country. It’s great and something that I look forward to.


That first month


My dad was totally ecstatic that first month.  Retirement meant freedom from his employer who used to dictate when he works and the duration of his stays abroad.  He now held the reins to his life.  He no longer had kids to send to school (well, he’s been free of this responsibility since 2012, the year that I graduated from law school and he celebrated that time).


My dad enjoyed just doing nothing and visiting his kids at their homes. He filled his time by tinkering with my mom’s garden or going out to dinners or outings with grandkids. He read news or articles on the internet or just stayed home taking naps.


Eventually, my dad got bored with doing essentially nothing. My mom also had to adjust having to see my dad home all of the time.


Working while in retirement


Mr. Money Mustache gets a lot of hate for working while in retirement. Questions arise like, are you really retired if you’re still working?

Yes. The difference is that, working for retired people is merely OPTIONAL. Work or no work, your retirement funds allow you to continue living your current lifestyle. My parents have zero debt, own their home and car outright, and have kids who are no longer financially dependent on them. Once he decided to retire, my dad was facing the prospect of going home to the Philippines for good.

What’s funny about retirement is that just when you resigned yourself to the prospect of doing nothing for the rest of your life, great job opportunities come up. Professor positions came up and my dad seized the opportunities. He now happily has a reason to get up and wear a barong** to work. My dad had always loved teaching and used to teach part-time prior to retiring. With his advanced academic degrees, a college teaching position is appropriate and may lead to actually leading a college department! Talk about reinventing yourself.

A great perk to this job is that on top of my parents’ personal health insurance, which they pay out-of-pocket, they enjoy a substantial health insurance coverage from my dad’s new employer. That, by itself, was reason enough for my dad to accept the job.


What retired parents do with their time

Health is a priority so my parents incorporate a lot of vegetables in their diet. Vegetables come fresh from their garden, of course. I have also been a beneficiary of such garden, receiving free organically produced vegetables from them.

My parents are also into pets. They have a few dogs and may be getting into acquiring some koi fish. I often come home to pet our dogs to relieve some stress. They’re a great stress-reliever.

On the weekends, my parents fill their time by tinkering with their garden. Currently, they’re on the hunt for a gazebo to place on their garden. They have been doing some local travel and are also planning their next vacation somewhere in Europe.

What is it like to retire in your country or city?



*There is Mr. Money Mustache and Jacob of earlyretirementextreme who retired at the ripe age of 30!
**Barong is a Filipino traditional formal wear made of pineapple fabric or linen that is usually worn in corporate settings.

3 thoughts on “What retirement is really like in the Philippines

  1. My dad is the extreme opposite. He still works as a patent/ trademark attorney at age 90! No kidding. I’ll visit him in February. Hopefully, I’d be able to convince him to stop.

    Liked by 1 person

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