As of this writing, I am officially 4 days away from being 35 years old. Turning anything in the 31-39 range is pretty mundane, but I actually have something to look forward to at age 35. I can officially apply for a retirement visa in the Philippines!
Why Retire at 35?
Why am I trying to retire in the Philippines? No, I am not really going to stop working, but rather dedicate myself to working on my own ideas and businesses. It’s also a relatively inexpensive place to extend my cash runway as I work on my own projects. It’s in a great location to visit some great travel destinations I am interested in. But mainly it’s because my girlfriend got a job out here and she’s set with a work visa, but I need a visa for myself.
Financially speaking I could continue on a tourist visa here indefinitely by leaving the country for a night and returning which resets my 30 day tourist visa(also called a visa run) or I can make constant trips to the Bureau of Immigration every 1-2 months to extent my tourist visa paying $40-60 a month.
But that also comes with a lot of annoyances. If I do the visa runs, I have to constantly purchase throw away plane tickets (onward tickets) because you need to prove you are leaving the country within 30 days of arrival every time you enter the country.
How Much Would Staying on a Tourist Visa Cost?
Depending on how many visa runs I do, which also costs money to leave the country for at least a night, the cost can vary. I could turn some visa runs into full on trips which is also nice, but that comes with a lot of planning and timing.
Let’s say I am paying constantly for extensions at $50 a month and i go on 10 trips this year NOT trying to maximize the timing of visa runs and extensions.
$50 * 12 months + $30 throwaway ticket * 10 trips a year = $900/yr.
It would cost me approximately $900 a year and a lot of extra trips to the BI office and purchasing of unused tickets. I could hack the system by timing my trips and leaving the country and re-entering with a new 30 day tourist visa, but that’s a lot of planning.
If you’re not planning on leaving the Philippines at all, then just running on the tourist visa is an option as you can eventually apply for 6 month extensions, but if you intent to travel then it’s best to have an alternative visa.
Retirement Visa Costs
So starting at age 35, you can apply for a Philippines Retirement Visa (SRRV) with the following conditions. You must hold $20,000 USD in a Filipino bank account and get all the paperwork in order. The cost is $1400 application fee and an annual fee of $360. So the first year, it will cost $1760, but the 2nd year only costs $360. If you annualize that over 2 years it will be $1060/yr. Since we’re planning on staying a minimum 2 years, I’m willing to pay $1060 vs $900 to save all the headache. By the 3rd year it would actually save me money at $827/yr.
Wait, hold $20k in a Filipino bank? Yes, it’s basically a deposit and i’m unable to touch that money until I terminate my visa. Technically if I invested that $20k and earn 7% on it, i’m “paying” in opportunity lost of an extra $1400/yr. But the way I see it is, that 20k is coming from my emergency fund which is just sitting in my savings account.
To Tourist Or To Retire?
If you want to save the most money, stay a tourist and time your extensions and visa runs. If you want some peace of mind and save trips to the Bureau of Immigration and their long wait times, then go for the Retirement Visa like i’m doing.
There are other options as well. At 50 years old, the terms for the retirement can be different depending if you have a pension or social security coming in. Also there are investor visas as well if you want to put in $50k+ and invest in the Philippines which i’m not quite ready to do.