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What It's Like To Retire In Paradise?

Don Herrington, 75, lives in a six-bedroom, four-bath house in Cebu City, Philippines, for which he pays $450 a month.

When I was 50, I had the opportunity to retire from the Peace Corps, but I didn't know how I could afford to live on $950 a month. My monthly condo payment in Northern Virginia was nearly twice that amount. Then I remembered a trip I had taken to the Philippines years before. I recalled how inexpensive and lovely the country was, and how wonderful the people were to foreigners. So I sold my condo and took off with my little savings and the $950 annuity.

At first I rented a nice but small one-bedroom furnished apartment for $60 a month on the main island of Luzon. Eventually I moved to Cebu Island in the central part of the archipelago. Fifteen years later, life is wonderful here. I am 75 but feel younger than 40 because I take better care of myself now. And being "rich" instead of just getting by sure helps.

I have a bit more money now-about $2,000 a month, thanks to social security and some earnings from investments. I am able to employ two maids, both educated and fluent in English, for $80 a month. Cebu is small, so I don't have, want or need a car. You can go across the island in a taxi for just $1.50. There are golf courses and bowling alleys and ballrooms, where private dance lessons cost $2. Medical care is excellent. Although I have insurance, health care costs a fraction of what it does in the U.S., so I rarely meet the deductible. The dollar has strengthened, making things much cheaper for anyone who has a dollar-based income.

The recent terrorist disturbance is far south of us, and I feel safer here than in the U.S. Being able to employ maids and other helpers makes me feel like a king. People here really appreciate their jobs. I get a lot more respect and gratitude than I deserve. -M.B.F.

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