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Where to Retire?

By: Gael HilotinWhere to Retire?

The Philippines is one of the best places for retirements. Aside from its jaw-dropping topography and some of the world's best tropical beaches, English is also widely-spoken here, food and goods are cheap, healthcare is also affordable, and internet is generally available (although can be quite slow).  But with over 7,700 islands to choose from, finding the right place for you can be daunting.  Here are some of the most popular retirement places in the Philippine to help you decide.


Dumaguete has always ranked high on the list of top places to live in the Philippines which is not surprising given that this bustling city has a large community of expats. You can see them mostly hanging out in some bars and restaurants late in the afternoon.

But why does Dumaguete beckons a good number of expats when there is not much to do in the city itself? Dumaguete is a perfect base for exploring its neighboring towns and even neighboring provinces like Siquijor, southern Cebu, Bacolod, and Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte).  You can easily go to the best beaches in the Visayas like Apo Island, Manjuyod Sandbar, the beaches of Siquijor, Oslob beaches, and the islands scattered in Sipalay. 

Despite its booming economy and being overrun with tricycles, Dumaguete still retains its laidback atmosphere.  Plus, you can find everything you need here such as healthcare, internet, restaurants, and bars.  If you choose to retire to its surrounding islands, one of the drawbacks is inaccessible healthcare (you need to ride a boat or motorcycle for an hour or two to get to the nearest hospital which is located in the city) and internet access is intermittent.  Having said that, Dumaguete is a convenient base.


Cebu is full of varied surprises, which is why it is one of my favorite provinces in the Philippines.  It offers a perfect mix of palm-fringed beaches, forest-fringed mountains, turquoise-colored waterfalls, interesting culture, and a world-class festival – Sinulog. 

Cebu City has everything you need: shopping malls, restaurants, bars, healthcare and internet access.  And it’s a just a stone’s throw away from postcard-worthy white sand beaches and impressive dive sites.  Little wonder that it’s one of the most popular choices for many tourists.  Not to mention that Bohol and Leyte is just a ferry ride away!

South Cebu offers great choices for adventure-seekers – it has a plethora of waterfalls running from its forest. Abysmal yet stunning caves formations exist here, too! Dive sites in South Cebu are pretty impressive too, with Moalboal as the most popular site for sardine run. Now if you want to swim alongside whale sharks, Oslob can give you that albeit this particular activity is being discouraged by marine advocates. At any rate, you can always head to the nearby sandbar, Sumilon, for a tropical island escape. Dalaguete, hailed as the “Summer Capital of the South Cebu”, is also worth checking as this cool highlands is peppered with vegetable farms and rugged peak that draw day-trippers and hikers.

Meanwhile, North Cebu attracts both local and foreign tourists for its diving, skydiving and Instagram-worthy powdery beaches. Whatever type of trip you want— luxe vacation, backpacking trip, or adventure-filled travels— Cebu has it all for you.


Mindanao is often misunderstood, but contrary to popular news, this massive island is generally safe most especially Davao. Crowned by the highest mountain in the Philippines - Mt. Apo, Davao is a massive city that takes pride in its wide array of shopping options, restaurants, and booming real estate scene.  Living here won’t cost you an arm and a leg.  More so, this place makes everything accessible including a weekend beach escape. Samal Island has some of the best beaches you can find in the country and it is pretty much accessible.

Davao’s proximity to its equally charming neighbors like Surigao del Sur, Agusan, and General Santos make it a good base for exploring the rest of Mindanao. Adding up to its allure is its multi-cultural residents.  In fact, Davao City’s biggest festival – Kadayawan Festival – highlights the 10 Tribes of Davao. 

So if you’re looking for a place to retire in the Philippines, consider Davao – it has culture, beaches, mountains and most importantly, low crime rate.


Iloilo has one of the most welcoming and hospitable residents in the country, making it one of the best retirement destinations.  Remnants of it glorious past loom over the entire province which makes it all the more appealing to tourists and holiday-makers.

But, did you know that it is also home to stunning, albeit far-flung beaches?  Yes, Estancia and Carles boast of island-studded sea, where you can laze around, swim, and momentarily forget the hustle and bustle of the city.  The seafood here is dirt cheap, too. Talk about ideal island living.

Iloilo is also a great option for retirees because Guimaras, which is peppered with beautiful islands, is just a boat ride away.  The charming Bacolod is likewise a ferry ride away.  And if you want to visit the world-renowned Boracay, you can just hop on a bus and be there in a few hours.  The rugged Antique is pretty accessible too and offers the kind of provincial lifestyle you are most probably dreaming of. 


There are six reasons why Clark is a desirable place for retirees. First, it has a massive international airport, second there are substantial developments here recently, third, it’s easy to get to other destinations near Clark because of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), fourth, there’s a rising number of real estate here, fifth, it’s a good base for exploring Central and North Luzon and sixth, it has a large expat community.


Laguna may often be overlooked by foreign tourists, but this province, which is an hour or two away from Manila, is a good place for retirement.  Aside from the fact that it is near Manila, it’s accessible and offers a laidback and bucolic atmosphere.

Laguna itself has a wealth of attractions to choose from – placid, emerald green lakes, pristine waterfalls, verdant mountains, and beautiful age-old churches as well as well-preserved Spanish-era houses.  It is also a good base for exploring the neighboring beach-filled Batangas, the highlands of Tagaytay, and islands of Quezon. 

Houses and land for sale here are reasonably-priced, too. Something to consider if you are planning to move here for good. 
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