Retirement Anxiety

There’s a wise old saying in the financial world that the best possible retirement plan results in the client spending the last of his money on the day he dies. While that’s said partly in a jocular manner, there’s also truth in the statement. One of the justified fears for retirees is to outlive their capital, to wake one morning with no money for food, medicine, or a place to live. That prospect is horrifying.

Sadly, its been a reality for many retirees, and, because we are all living longer nowadays, especially in the west, the likelihood of ending up broke financially and emotionally is greater than ever. So what, if anything, can be done to deal with the situation? Are there any options available, or is a person who has limited financial resources doomed to end life being destitute? Fortunately, the answer is no.

A solution exists that many others in challenging financial situations have benefited from. And, unlike almost other solutions to problems, instead of having to make sacrifices, the individual receives innumerable benefits in every aspect of life.

Many people dream about living in the tropics, palm trees swaying in the breeze, endless choices of sandy beaches, a warm climate, a cost of living that’s within the person’s reach. Imagine the following: Instead of experiencing regularly increasing rent, social and political unrest, and trying to deal with the high costs of living that amount to more than your monthly check, what if you could replace all that discomfort with a new life which is the complete opposite to what you are presently experiencing?

Dumaguete is an island in the Philippines. Forbes magazine called it one of the best places in the world to retire. The Philippine Retirement Authority regularly confirms Dumaguete as the best place in the Philippines to retire. Because of those accolades, isn’t it reasonable to assume the cost of living there is astronomical and beyond your reach? Of course it is, but interestingly, there are many retirees, primarily, but not exclusively from America, living comfortably in Dumagute, for US $1,500. That’s an interesting figure because on January 1st 2020, the national average monthly social security check in America was US 1,503.

Any retiree considering living abroad, especially to another continent, has many concerns. How could they not? The following, in no priority, is a list of understandable concerns: Financial Matters, food costs, safety, medical and dental Services, adjusting to the island style of life, and relationships with locals.

It’s sensible to research methodically and estimate expenses especially if on a tight budget.

The first of many pleasant surprises ex-pats get when they come to live in Dumaguete is the low cost of rentals. Depending on ones needs, monthly rent for good accommodation is available monthly for US 200.

The cost of food is also low. Farm fresh vegetables, same day caught fish, meat, and chicken are inexpensive and in abundant supply.

Regarding security and overall safety, it’s possible to measure the internal situation of a country by the presence, or absence, of military forces or police on the streets. There’s almost no military or police presence evident in Dumaguete, and good luck trying to find a police officer during lunch time or after 5 pm. Ex-pats report that after years living here, they’ve never seen violence of any sort. If they witness an occasional argument, it’s between foreigners.

Medical and dental care were a concern for many ex-pats before they came to live here. In America, despite Medicare and other private insurance programs, retirees are often financially destroyed because of expenses incurred due to illness. That is not the case here where costs for medical and dental services are small when compared to America.

Also, because of the steady increase in ex-pats coming to live here, there have been new medical facilities built. They, in turn, have attracted high quality professionals, so the quality of medical and dental care is very good.

Adjusting to life here can be challenging, but needs to be done. Basic services here do not operate as efficiently as they do in the Western world. It can take time to come to the conclusion ex-pats are guests in the country, their systems work for the Filipinos, they are not going to change, so ex-pats need to adjust and accept things are they are. It’s a small price to pay for all the other benefits.

Relationships with locals here is another bonus. Many newcomers thought the quote about Dumaguete being “the city of gentle people” was simply a department of tourism gimmick. But it’s not. The reality is that people here are the most happy, generous , warm, and welcoming people you’s meet anywhere.

Apart from the welcoming locals and the inexpensive way to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, there are also many outdoor activities for newcomers to enjoy. Choices include scuba diving, hiking, island hopping, visiting one of the many nature reserves, playing golf, and more , so much more.

It’s comforting for ex-pats to wake each morning knowing their new reality is they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, go wherever they wish, and do all that within an affordable budget. As Jackie Gleason used to say, “How sweet it is!”