In conversation, I often hear people discussing that they would like to live in another country. Whether it be for work or for retirement, there has been a large number of the population from many countries; US and UK topping the charts moving to the Southeast Asia – a sub-region – of the Asian continent.
It should be noted in the chart below, that most of the people that want to move from the Sub-Saharan/Africa regions are only interested in moving to the US or UK.
Many of the expats that do move to the Southeast Asian Region, are moved by the company that they work for or for an opportunity to teach English. One of the most highly sought after expat is someone with enough credentials to teach.
Teaching positions in Southeast Asia generally do not pay that much, – like most other parts of the world – but what you will hear from those that have taken teaching positions is that they enjoyed it immensely, often leading them to retire in that same country, whether they return to their home country and then come back for retirement is somewhat debatable.
For those that have worked their chosen careers for 30+ years and now find themselves on a fixed income, it only makes sense to sell their empty nested home that is often more than what they will be able to afford in the upkeep of taxes, maintenance, utilities, etc to seek a cheaper cost of living, while still being able to maintain an active lifestyle.
Fortunately, Asia offers this and much more. Often times, expat retirees can be heard stating that they had no idea of the amazing culture and scenery that Asia provides as well as being able to maintain a decent home to live in.
Two of most popular destinations in Asia are Thailand and The Philippines. Both offer an abundant selection of scenery and culture, but there are differences in cost, obtaining visas and other barriers that one must think about before jumping on the boat to move abroad.
With that, lets take a look at some of the differences between the two. I’ve broken this down into the following categories as it seems to be the ones that most people take into consideration when planning a move overseas.
Language barriers, Cost of living, Medical care, Safety, Visas, TV & Internet and of course, The beaches.
A non-English speaking country, except in the tourist areas around Airports, hotels, resorts, some big malls in Bangkok and hospitals. Of course, knowing Thai is a big bonus, but it’s not a significant factor for not living in Thailand.
English speaking country. Most people speak and understand English very well.
In this category; in our opinion, Philippines wins.
|Cost of living:|
In Thailand, you won’t have much of a problem looking for affordable places to rent. About $200 US (฿5,974) for rent. Add in electricity, internet, and water and the total comes out to be around $320 US (฿9,559) per month.
This category is a tough call as The Philippines comes in cheaper, but often times lacking in amenities that one might not be able to do without.
For us, we pick Thailand for the win.
|Cost of living:
In The Philippines, you will also encounter very affordable housing. About $150 US ( ₱7,199) for rent. Add in electricity, internet, and water and the total comes out to be around $370 US (₱17,760) per month.
The hospitals in Thailand are known for not only being very up to date, but the quality of the doctors seems to be of higher standard. It’s not uncommon to find patients from other countries visiting Thailand hospitals. Getting appointments are also very prompt and accommodating.
In this category; in our opinion, Thailand wins by a huge margin.
Some of the hospitals in the Philippines are very dated and in dire need of rejuvenating and maintenance. Visiting a hospital in the Philippines can be interesting to say the least. If you are sick for minor issues, you shouldn’t have any problems. For more severe illness, I wouldn’t want to take my chances in the Philippines. It should be noted that there has been many reported cases of someone visiting a hospital in the Philippines for a routine exam, leading the person to have to fly to Thailand to get the situation fixed.
Thailand is considered to be a very safe country. Walking around Bangkok at one in the morning with a load of cash in your pocket is not uncommon and without issue. It should be noted that Thailand takes a stern view about any kind of defamation against a business or the government, easily leading to jail time.
In this category, Thailand wins again.
The Philippines is also considered to be a very safe country. Walking around Manila at one in the morning with a load of cash in your pocket is not only not recommended, it’s a good way to find yourself waking up in a ditch, if you wake up. It should be noted that keeping you head above water in the Philippines is also advisable.
In Thailand, visa’s tend to be less expensive. It cost about $30-$40 US per entry for a tourist visa, and that allows you to stay for 3 months. At the end of every 3 months you will have to go to another country and reenter. Usually people go to any country on the border to get out and then return. You can go out for 5 minutes or 1 day.
In this category, we not only considered the cost of renewing a visa, we also considered the headache of traveling to another country. For this, we give the win to Thailand.
In the Philippines, you can enter visa free for up to 28 days. A renewal stamp will cost you about $50 for another month and it also allows you to apply for a ACR I card that will set you back another $50. It’s hard to tell, on your 3rd visit, sometimes the BI will give you a stamp good for 6 months and sometimes only another month. Either way, after being in the country for one year, you will need to take trip to another country for 24 hours before returning to start the process all over again. Yearly visa cost in the Philippines tends to be expensive.
|TV & Internet:|
Providers and Max have reliable internet, but the average speed is about 5mb. You can get higher speeds, but it will cost you. The TV service is good with plenty of English speaking channels.
|TV & Internet:
Providers Globe, PLDT and SmartBro also have reliable internet with an average speed of 25-30mb. They do tend to have outages, meaning it’s time to go outside for a while. The TV service is good with not only plenty of English speaking channels, but also comes with History, National Geographic and NBA, but who comes to the Philippines to watch basketball on TV.
In this category, we give the win to the Philippines, despite the occasional outages.
What can we say? Both countries are lined with amazing beaches, crystal clear water and plenty of water sports to keep you busy. Thailand has many great beaches such as Phi Phi Island, Phuket Beaches, Hua Hin Beach, Jomtien Beach and many more.
What can we say? Both countries are lined with amazing beaches, crystal clear water and plenty of water sports to keep you busy. The Philippines has over 7,000 islands and even more beaches. Some of these beaches are world famous and rightfully so with Palawan being one that should be on everybody’s list of places to visit.
For this category, we give a huge win for the Philippines.
As you can see, both countries offer lots of amenities, strengths and weaknesses. With the score card coming in at four wins for Thailand and three wins for the Philippines, it’s not going to be an easy choice to make when it comes time to visit or move.
Our suggestion is to visit both and the one that grabs your undivided attention should probably be the one to pick.