The Retirement Move is Nearly Here!

Here’s an update on our upcoming move. Just random thoughts really but hopefully there is some insight into what we’re doing and our thought process (or lack thereof).

I retired May 1st. The date wasn’t random and was based on trying to milk as much as possible out of my job. Since I had accrued 4 weeks vacation time, the month prior to retirement I was on vacation. And since our building was closed for the two months prior to that for remodeling, the reality is I was “working from home” starting in February. ┬áIt actually helped in the adjustment since basically I was retired for the 3 months prior to my actual retirement.

I had the standard retirement party except at my company there is no such thing as a standard retirement party since almost no one makes it to retirement. My manager kindly arranged the party and his manager even more kindly paid for it.

Since I am fundamentally a cheap bastard, I arranged to retire May 1st, which meant that my medical insurance was paid for the month of May. I had scheduled my Social Security to start in May. The process of applying for Social Security was much less Draconian than I thought it would be. The only gotcha was they told me that while I can collect for May the 1st check didn’t come until the last week of June, so there was an annoying gap between my last paycheck and my 1st Social Security check. Nonetheless on June 28th it was auto-deposited into my bank account and all was right with the world.

Then in May, Janet passed her final interview and was sworn in as a citizen of the United States. This was a goal of ours to have her become a US citizen before we would move. Two weeks later a shiny new blue passport arrived for her. Lots of people have asked me why we did this. I don’t think that most Americans understand just how amazing that Blue passport is and the fact that it allows you to basically go anywhere in the world! This is certainly not true of a Philippines passport. And to be frank, Janet is very proud to be a US citizen and I am very proud of her. She got to celebrate her first 4th of July as an American and did it the way most Filipinas do – swimming at the river and taking a ton of selfies wearing her American flag bathing suit!

Two days after I retired we listed our house for sale. I had told Janet many times that in the United States the process of buying or selling a house is, outside of having a baby, one of the most stressful things in life. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell myself. The house remained on the market for 6 weeks and each week we were under more and more pressure trying to figure out what to do to get rid of the old dog (not me, the house). For those 6 weeks the house and yard were the cleanest and neatest they have ever been (mostly due to Janet’s efforts). We are currently in the closing process, which is almost as stressful, and in two weeks we sign the papers, get the check and are officially homeless.

Our strategy of where to live in the Philippines is sort of complicated. While there are many houses in Dumaguete for rent online, I was uncomfortable renting a place I had never seen, particularly since all house rentals there require a lease. I didn’t want to get stuck with a year’s lease on a rental house we hated or one where the next door neighbor sang karaoke till 3:00 AM. So the general consensus among friends was to rent a month to month apartment, and with “boots on the ground” go about the process of finding a house to lease. So I officially sent a deposit and we have a 2 bedroom townhouse. By Philippines standards it isn’t cheap at 20k pesos/month ($400) but is modestly furnished and includes cable and wifi.

In the next couple of days we will ship 9 balikbayan boxes to our apartment. It’s amazing how much you can fit in these boxes. Basically everything we decided to keep is in these boxes, including my tools and enough materials to make the first few guitars in my retirement. We’ve had good luck with balikbayan boxes before so hopefully these will arrive perhaps a month after we arrive in Dumaguete and the contents will survive.

An interesting tidbit on the financial front. We decided to visit our banks and the company that manages my retirement funds to ask what issues we might encounter. They all told us the same thing; don’t tell us you are actually residing abroad, since that will put restrictions on the accounts. Just pretend you’re traveling a lot. This is consistent with the experiences of a few friends in the Philippines who told their banks they had moved to the Philippines, only to find their accounts restricted afterwards. So honestly is not always the best policy.



12 thoughts on “The Retirement Move is Nearly Here!”

  1. Congratulations on your dreams coming true Dave; and Janet too!

    RE: Banks and not informing them you are moving. You might want to consider getting a Personal Mail Box (PMB – like P.O. Box but from Mailboxes Etc or so) to have all your US mail sent to. The PMB store can then once a month or so forward your mail to your PI address. Of course they’ll charge you for it, but it will help keep up the appearance of stateside residence. You might have a family member willing, they could do the same for you. Just a thought to possibly help out.

    1. Yes, I have have the mail shipped to a family member. In most cases that will just be for disposal but once in a while (like a new debit card) it will be forwarded to me.

  2. I’m enjoying your articles as I constantly consider semi-retirement and moving my family to the PI. (Figuring out a realistic budget and if I really have the money to do so is the big concern – official retirement age still 15 years off! Can I live for 15 years off of my house sale? Can I figure out some way to earn income over there via the Internet? I’m trying to figure out if it’s financially possible for me to support myself, wife, and 3 young boys as a foreigner.)

    REQUEST: Once you’ve moved and settled in to a permanent place, I’d love to see a report on your ACTUAL living expenses: rent, water, electricity, phones, cable/satellite, Internet connection (with speed results!), supermarket purchases, eating out expenses, transportation, and any other misc things not normally thought of.

    Keep up the fun articles.

    1. Glad you’re enjoying my scribbling. I am sure that I will be tracking living expenses when we arrive and reporting on them. One mistake that most people make is that they only track the basic repeated expenses (rent, utilities, food, etc.). That’s not all we pay in life. Medical, dental, insurance, gifts, the list goes on. So I’ll do my best to keep abreast of all that.

  3. Hello Dave, my 1st time to read your blog,,, I would really like to talk tom you as I am alsothinking of a move.. But honestly I need to know about getting my fiance’ to become a citizen. I’m ashamed to admit but I’m green as a gord on this process. Any help would be so much appreciated.

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