Getting Started & Taking the First Steps

A “look-see” visit to the Philippines is an investment in your future!

Before uprooting your entire existence and moving your life to an unknown country in a far-off place, ELRAP strongly urges you to take a pilot trip to the Philippines. Even before taking a pilot trip, make sure to read The Freedom Handbook for Living and Retiring in the Philippines ( to get a pretty good idea of what would be in store for you on this side of the marble…and because (to that end) buying the book would probably be best twenty bucks you would ever spend in your life!

Value for money advice…consider that a good way of making a useful, informative, and extremely comprehensive “look-see” visit to the Philippines would be to take an ELRAP tour. On an ELRAP tour you would be taken by the hand by knowledgeable guides—mostly expats themselves—and taken to several different places around the country, and shown different types of lifestyles. Our guides can—and do—answer your questions most informatively because we are showing you around our home. For more information on an ELRAP Tour, please go to the section on this site labeled “TOURS

The out-of-budget expenses for a “look-see” visit to the Philippines, whether an ELRAP tour or not, would not be cheap, but they probably would not be incredibly expensive either. With careful planning, there would be no reason why you would not be able to afford a “look-see” pilot trip to the Philippines. You would need to think of the cost of the trip as an investment in your happy future, rather than as a big expense you don’t think you can afford. By taking a “look-see” trip before actually moving here, you can decide for yourself, first-hand, if this is the place for you. A “look-see” trip is probably also the best way to figure out that this is not the place for you.

It would be a lot cheaper to take a trip here and discover that you don’t like it than it would be to move your whole existence here—and then find out that you don’t like it…

If you choose to take an ELRAP tour as a pilot trip, plan to stay an additional week or two after it ends (your travel/medical insurance from the ELRAP tour will keep you covered for several weeks after your tour ends) to afford you an opportunity to explore your lifestyle options.

While you are here, make it a point to take a more in-depth look at the community you think you might like to live in. Spend several days wandering around and talking to people who live there. Don’t be shy about asking questions!

Talk to the local banks (always try to speak with the bank manager) about opening an account, getting a credit card, how to transfer money. Stick to the “big boys”, and stay away from small rural banks for your major banking needs. NEVER let anyone talk you into transferring all of your assets into the Philippines!! Only arrange to have as much funding as you need to manage your daily life transferred here, and keep the majority of your assets in your own country. International banks are only found in the big cities, but there are many good local banks. It would be best to speak to people in your prospective community to see which ones might best suit your needs. Use the ELRAP Index to help guide you.

Meet with a local doctor—or several doctors—in the community you are thinking about living in and discuss with them your medical needs. You can look up doctors recommended by ELRAP members in your area on the ELRAP Index of Professionals.

Talk to insurance brokers about the types of medical insurance and/or HMOs that are available. You can look up insurance brokers recommended by ELRAP members on the ELRAP Index of Professionals, or go to the Health Information in this section of the website.

Shop around in appliance and furniture stores and see what is available and how much it would cost to set up a home with the items you would like. Remember that anything imported to the Philippines from the First World would be far more expensive than buying something manufactured regionally or locally. Look for the international brands that you know and like, and ask the attendant to let you know where the appliance has been manufactured. A lot of well-known international brands of appliances are manufactured locally or regionally, and therefore are cheaper and more suited to this country than the imported-from-the-First-World appliance of the same brand that is also available for sale locally.

Look at temporary housing, such as furnished apartments or serviced hotels, in the area you have chosen so that you have an idea of what is available, and how much it would cost to live there for the first one to six months immediately upon arriving in the country You can look up some member-recommended places on the ELRAP Index of Hotels & Places To Stay.

Talk to several car-hire services and see how much it would cost to hire a car and driver immediately upon arrival (yup, ELRAP has an index for that too) and consider if you would need a car and driver (cars are almost always rented with a driver…this is a good thing) every day, or only a few times a week. Alternatively, try to rely on taxis or the public transportation system and see if that suits your needs.

With all of the information that is pertinent to you that you would have gathered on your pilot trip, your decision-making, planning—and therefore your transition to a new life, should you choose to undertake it—would be ever so much more successful!

“ More and more folks are retiring at an earlier age, while they are still healthy enough to enjoy their lives. The problem is, in the First World, even a couple in their late fifties that have a $500,000 investment portfolio, which includes their home equity and other investments, won’t have enough retirement income to take advantage of their hard-won freedom. ”

By Bruce Silverman
“ELRAP is a friendly website! On our pages please--no vulgarity, and no politics or religion discussed!”