The Domicile

One guy has his reasons for renting a house; the other guy has his reasons for building or buying his. And they both are right but during this heated debate that I’ve heard over the long years I’ve lived here, there is the silent point of view, the one that really matters the most. What does your wife want?

I won’t even try to speak to that subject as that is an area that I have never excelled in, knowing what a woman really wants. Because when we were renting houses my wife seemed pleased wherever we were living. I was fat dumb and happy thinking I knew just what she wanted. I really didn’t have a clue, and she never told me what she wanted because they feel we should know through osmosis or something.

Then one day I was visiting a friend and he owned his house. It was a small house on 400 Square Meters of land, but it was the pride of ownership that shown in his wife’s eyes that answered my questions for me. I was thinking; my wife is a nester, who has not once in her life had ever lived in anything but rental property.

We were forced to move a few times through circumstances beyond our control, and once our landlord wanted us to move so his son could move in and live for free. Another time was when somehow our landlord found out that I was both retired US Navy and a Merchant Seaman and was just not paying my fair share. Albeit I was paying the amount he had requested. But he didn’t know I was involved as I was out to sea when my wife rented the house from him. He felt that was totally unfair.

The other thing I noticed was home improvements, or the lack of it. Simple small jobs that would have improved the quality of life in the spaces we were renting were never done. Yes they were allowed if I paid for them, but with no reduction off of my monthly rental bill/ My wife thought it just made no sense to fix up someone else’s property. But my main gripe was not being to find a house where the master bedroom had a master bathroom (Or even a comfort room for that matter). Was I asking too much?

So on a mountain in Bataan I found a piece of land, 997 square meters of dirt all for the low low, price of Php 130,000.00 in 1997. Mayang was aghast! “Honey Ko, it’s too far from Olongapo City!” she cried! “It’s too far from the girl’s school! She lamented! I smiled and said well you own it now; see if you can sell it later.

Our new land was a few minutes’ walk from where her mother and father owned a house, and some of her sisters and brothers lived there also. We signed the paperworks and it was now registered in our name. There it was in black and white, “Maria Adobo Thompson”, was now landed gentry, a property owner, a person of substance and a payer of property taxes!

While I was back at sea, Mayang decided that people could damage her new property that she really didn’t want, and a wall must be built, a well drilled, and of course a tower for the water tank and the largest septic tank in the area must be dug. I’ll assume all that was done to increase the land value for when she put it up for sale. But I would have been so very, very wrong.

I had bought an Owner Jeep, and she learned to drive, and made many trips up the mountain to visit her investment. Yes the car was part of my plan to get to live on the mountain. But it had seem to be her idea!

Then it happened, one Sunday on the mountain having lunch and visiting her family I suggested that it might be time to list the land for sale, and make a small profit. You would have thought I’d insulted a priest, by the fervor that conversation stirred up. “Honey Ko! I thought we were going to build a house and live here?” She shouted. But my love you said it was too far from “The PO” and shopping, school blah, blah, blah! She explained that it has been her plan for a long time to build a house here, I asked if the master bedroom would have a master bathroom, she nodded in the affirmative and I asked; “When are you going to start building?”

In January 2000 the house was completed and she had moved in. I returned from sea and deemed it a good sturdy house and was pleased with all her effort and hard work, and was further pleased to find two master bedrooms, with a joining master bathrooms one on the first floor and the other on the second floor.
Mayang has her nest, fortunes my rise and fortunes my fall, but the one thing that will remain constant in her life will be her house, no one can take it from her, after our girls grew and left the house out in the world on their own (Well somewhat), the nest is full again with our grandson and our daughter living here now once again. It has gone full circle. But the question remains unanswered; “Is it better to rent, buy, or build?” Here is my answer: You’re all smart folks, and will easily answer that question for yourself, with no help from me!

Post Author: Paul Thompson (309 Posts)

Paul Thompson; has resided in the Philippines since 1993, living close to Subic Bay. I’m married to a wonderful girl named Maria (AKA Mayang).Who is from Gordon Heights in Olongapo where she grew up with her Mom & Dad and seven siblings Our two daughters are both grown up and have left the nest, the eldest married to a wonderful guy named Chris, and they have blessed us with our granddaughter Heather Colleen Our youngest daughter and her husband Cecil have blessed us with a grandson named. Jayden Logan. I’m a retired U.S. NAVY Senior Chief after 22 years of active duty. After retirement from the Navy I lived for 7 years in Puerto Rico as a Night Club owner. Then Hurricane Hugo told me to find a new line of work, I was hired by Military Sealift Command and went back to sea in Asia as a Merchant Seaman for 10 years. After 30 plus years at sea I buried my anchor on a mountain in the Philippines and am now residing in Dinalupihan (or DinBat for short), Roosevelt, Bataan where we built our home. And last but not least, anything I writes will be pure "Tongue in Cheek "If anybody is offended, I'll lose no sleep over it, but here's a quick Mea Culpa in advance!

Live in the Philippines Consulting


      • Paul Thompson says

        I asked Mayang about why she picked pink, did she think about what my friends would say to me? Now the funny part, my buddy Rich made a comment about the color, I said nothing but his wife and 3 other ladies came down on him like a ton of bricks. Me and the other guys had another beer and smiled!

    • Paul Thompson says

      No doubt we’ll read similar examples as to why one built or bought a house or why they still rent. There is no right or wrong answer, we’re all just different.

      • David L Smith says

        Hi Paul
        We have a simple house in Davao, but i never cease to be amazed at the pride and joy my wife takes in keeping it spick and span. I am sure she would not have the same desire or want to work so hard if we only rented. I love to hear her singing with contentment while doing her work and the bonus is i am allowed to watch the football and drink my St mig with the occasional” lift your feet hubby’ when she is doing her sweep. perfect, lol

        • Paul Thompson says

          I know you are right about a wife and ownership, if it belongs to them it’s not even work keeping it up, it’s joy and you can see it in their eyes. I’m like you and will gladly lift my feet while watching a ball game, it’s the least I can do. It was me not my wife that wanted a bigger house, my large family in New England of Irish decent, lived in the kitchen and we could seat 10 with no problem. I wanted the same here.

    • Paul Thompson says

      Or what makes the wife happy. I have a bathroom connected to my master bedroom. So with that and the man cave, I’m as happy as a clam at a New England Clam Boil. (lol)

  1. Miss August says

    If you can afford to own a house, I don’t see why you shouldn’t! Every single woman would love a home of her own, free and clear, don’t have to worry about moving and paying rent. I would rather own a simple house, free and clear instead of renting a fancy house.

    I don’t have any problem renting for awhile to get to know the area. But for me personally, it doesn’t take me long to find out if I like the area or not and that I want to live there. So why wait 5 years or 10 years? If you have the money to buy or build, just do it!

  2. Miss August says

    Paul, you got a great deal and very smart when you bought at Php130 per square meter. I have been looking online for properties in Zambales/ Bataan area and lots average over Php2500 per square meter.

    My goal is to buy a minimum 1000 square meter lot, should give me enough space for a vegetable garden, but I would love to buy more if the price and location is right.

    • Paul Thompson says

      Miss August;
      I paid Php 130,000.00 for 997 square meters (or Php 1310 per square meter) but that was 16 years ago, I’d never be able to do that again. (lol)

  3. Gary Wigle says

    Meriam is happy with our apartment we rent. If the folks next door put in a pig farm we can move. If we owned a house then we would be stuck with the smell. :-(

    • Paul Thompson says

      A valid point; but a house just two lots over started raising 15 pigs on their land, two months ago. They were in violation of Barangay Rules and two weeks later they (the pigs) were gone. The pigs had to move, not me. BTW I never complained about it as I never smelled it. Sometimes things do work here! As I said above there is no right or wrong way to live here.

  4. Paul Thompson says

    Miss August;
    You and my wife would agree; me I just went along with her plan. Her and our daughters wanted their own place, to make it their own. I understand it is a large investment, and I understand why some people still rent. The free and clear part might be the reason some people still don’t own. It is a large outlay of money, and not everybody is ready to do that. But my point of this article was exactly how you put it. “Every single woman (and married) would love a home of her own, free and clear.” Maybe someday they will. My wife Mayang has been happy in her home for over 14 years now, and still spending money every year to keep it up to date and in good repair.

    • Miss August says

      I know the security that Mayang feels about owning her house outright is tremendous. If God forbid something happen to you, she will still have a home of her very own, your children and grandchildren will always have a place to come home to. To me that is priceless.

  5. Andy says

    One other thign that needs to be considered is that as a whit guy the land and hosue will never be yours. This may seen no big deal but it could become one if your loved up wife deciceds to walk away and find a local guy and then kick you out the hosue you paid for and ou have no rights what so ever. It has happend many may times most of us who have bene here a while i heard the horror stories. So i think it should be thought of as is this money i am spending on the house im buioding money im hapy to just walk away from and never see anything back!

    • Paul Thompson says

      Could that happen? Yes I think it can, and like you I’ve heard all those horror stories about the wife getting the house, albeit 90% of those stories happened in the west and not the Philippines, Places like The United States, Canada, Great Briton and Australia. So I think I’ll not worry about it here! Oh in the states she got my car also. And guess what? I had no rights!

    • Paul Thompson says

      Being me is not something I’d recommend. It’s a lot of work. But the one who gets the credit is my wife, as she has to put up with me. She made sure that the yard is a good place for me and friends to have a cocktail, and it keeps us out of her house. (lol)

  6. Bob New York says

    I have heard of one exception for a foreigner to actually own a house and get a 25 year lease on property with the option of the lease being renewed for an additional 25 years. You could then own the house but not the property ?

  7. Paul Thompson says

    I’ve heard that also, but I would wonder why a single person would bother to buy a house in the first place. The other thing I thought that was funny is some retiree thinking he might need that second 25 years If he did than he’s not living the way I would, if I were living here single.

  8. says

    Hi Paul – An excellent slant on why one should buy and not rent albeit the Asawas prerogative. Like you I bought the land our house is now built on in the very early 80’s for the handsome price of £1,500.00 or then $3,000.00 or 30,000.00 pesos for the 600m2. At that time it was solely an investment and over the years the land due to its location went up and up in value. In 2005 after numerous visits to the place where the land is located my wife enquired from me, if I would agree to build a house. We discussed the various reasons for building and came to the conclusion that after retiring we had the option of staying either permanently in the Philippines or semi permanently whatever suited us best. The house build actually brought our retirement plan forward a couple of years as once it was built and we spent a few holidays in our ‘own’ little house the die was cast for the permanent move.
    Yes people have their own reasons for renting and or owning and as someone suggested it’s what makes the Asawa happiest provided the other half agrees. I hear about the horror stories of being kicked out and the wife or partner taking ownership of the house but the same can happen anywhere in the world not only in the Philippines that’s just the risk you take.
    For me I’m happy when the Asawas happy and I’m sitting on my own (sorry) her patio having a cup of tea or a cold SM and she is the one fetching it. A house then is a small price to pay for tranquillity in the Bukid.

    • Paul Thompson says

      Hi Jim;
      You made my point for me so very well, I think I’ll sneak out back and have a cool SMB. But I can see that owning a house has worked out well for you, and I fully understand the benefits of a happy Asawa. If they are happy, we are happy, and it’s a small price to pay. As Paul Keating (LiP Writer) always said, his wife owns the house and he just rents a room. That is so true for me also.

      • PapaDuck says

        My G/F is in the process of buying a new house in Cavite. She is waiting for me to visit for my input into additions to the house that she chooses to purchase. Theres a few additions she made that do not need my input. Wall around he property with a gate, a terrace with a nice BBQ grill and a bigger kano sized CR. She was very smart when she was a teenager. She had the foresight and started saving for a house when she was fifteen and opened up a Pag-Ibig House Fund. She has enough money in the fund to pay for 3/4 of the house. She also just sold there ancesteral house in Batangas that had been sitting empty for 10 years for a good price, which will pay for the rest of the house. Her parents instilled in her the value of saving when she was young and to be independent and not rely on anybody. It’s sad they are not around to see her home, they both passed away about 10 years ago. She has no brothers and sisters and only a couple of cousins and an uncle in Australia. She is so proud to be owning a house and i’m so happy for her because she did it all herself. Thanks for another great read and take care.

        • Paul Thompson says

          And proud of her you must be, as the only Kano (That I know of) that his lady built the house, and an only child to boot? Marry that girl the day you get here (lol) she’s a keeper! But aside from my joking, she does sound like a lady with a plan, and that is always a great thing. I’m looking forward to meeting both of you next month, plus Bruce and his lady. A safe trip to you all.

  9. peterjoy says

    Hi paul
    yes u are very right is this mater ok and like u we are buying a lovely little home there too a dearoff my own for years was to ahve a home and with things going up here more and more there was no way i can very own a home here in tassie with most now over 200.000$ and with me not working how in the hell was i too pay it off so my wife did start to look about and we are now buying a place about 2 hours out off manila about 30 mins from sm and the banks up in the hills and it is so just right for us and we love it not more paying rent as we did for a lot off years……peter martin

  10. Paul Thompson says

    We all find a little happiness, and I know your wife is happy with a new house of her own. On a hill? Very wise, no flood problems. The best to you both in the new home.

  11. Neal in RI says

    Very good article. After 21 yrs were lucky enough to have our house paid off free and clear here in RI. There is a lot of pride/satisfaction from that and general satisfaction of home ownership its self and the feeling of leaving the Wife with the security of a house when I kick the bucket. But after realizing we were spending 4000 a year just on property tax, 1500 on fire tax, 800 on homeowners insurance we realized it was costing us almost 550.00 a month just to have the “privledge” of living here.
    We were lucky enough to sell our house and as you know we will be there soon. We are planning to rent there and if the day comes that we feel happy in a area we may even buy.
    I do like the feeling of leaving my Wife with a nest egg and monthly income, but I equally like the feeling of ensuring she will have a place to live forever and younger relatives to live with her and take care of her. Maybe another house will be in the cards BUT the horror stories I hear make us a bit gun shy, and will not rush into anything. So like you say there is no real right answer buying/renting but it is up to the individual and they may even change as circumstances around us change. Wow that was a convoluted story/rant!!

  12. Paul Thompson says

    For anyone to try and tell you that renting is the only way to go here in the Philippines is giving you nothing but bad advice. And exactly the same goes for the person trying to tell you that owning is the only way to go. I rented for years until I was ready to build, since I’ve done both the renting and the owning I think I know a tad more on the subject. Renting gives you the freedom to move and check out other areas to live like renting. You won’t be locked in and will have time to look around and find what is right for you. Owning after renting for a long time will give you a sense of security for you and your family, plus no monthly nut you must come up with, and the cost going up every year. So anyone who tells you what is good for you and the best way for “YOU” to go, you should run not walk away from that know it all.

  13. am Paul also =] says

    So true! Happiness is subjective. My mother used to say “different strokes for different folks”. The good thing is you could easily do either renting or buying and or both if you have extra cash about. We manage to buy a small plot with a house near a small town in 1983 for under $500 in Pangasinan. We came up with the money by returning a microwave we have put on a layaway at the base exchange; an E5 did not make much those days and things were pretty tight. The next few paydays we got that same microwave and to this day it still works like new. We manage to put a new house in 2004 and the town have grown up a bit. My wife’s family was poor and were renting from one place to another. I remember clearly how happy there were to finally have a place of their own. Have my last fourteen year old son to decide what to do in life and by God’s grace when he is off on his own we will return in our beloved archipelago , just like General MacAuthur did. But as far as buying a new place or renting, that can wait until then and we hopefully get to meet all you nice people there with LiP.

  14. Paul Thompson says

    Paul Also;
    1983 I was a Senior Chief in Puerto Rico soon to retire. But I agree with you Shipmate times were tough when you’re an e-5. I agree with your Mother, people must do things the way that is best for them. Owning land for a wife is a life milestone here in the Philippines and I know how happy she was when you both did it. Even a small house is what they really want something that belongs to them and they can share with the family. Renting is good if that’s what fill the bill for a person at that time. Me I’ll own, everytime.

    • Lola Let says

      Hi Paul, I have enjoyed living the world with my Navy civilian father, then Navy husband, and as an ex-DoD civilian without owning a home. The world was my oyster/home!! I enjoyed immersing the whole family in the different parts of the world into its cultures, food and tradition and called it home wherever we sleep that night. Always chose living off-base versus on-base. My kids loved it and found their experiences valuable as they live their lives as responsible adults.

      Now that we are retired and have come home to our birthland, building a home to our standard of living is our first priority and enjoyment. (Emphasis on enjoyment.) Worked hard for 35 years as a Federal servant and now in PI settling/retiring in the Visayas. There was no doubt when we purchased our land a couple years back. We are currently renting here, almost a year now, while building our home. We certainly would like to rush our move-in date but enjoying the work needed to build our home and, my God, what a place I’ve been blessed with. No rush, just pure unadulterated enjoyment of a couple who now has the time in the world to finally make a “home” (based on the majority’s definition, that is.)

      I’ve enjoyed reading this website as it has a good mix of subjects for everyone (Thanks Bob), and the many articles from you and other contributors. I’ve actually toyed with the idea of writing an article for this website (you know, just to show-off :), but I get too excited about the different things that’s happening in the making of our home. Oh, well…. (I say this alot in the Philippines.)

  15. Bob Griffin says

    I am an American who is married to a Fhilipina from Quezon City. We are currently living in the States, but when i retire in 2013, we want to live in a safe place in North Luzon, perhaps in or around the Pangasinan area. I am concerned about the cost of buying a lot and building our own home. My question is,when i visited [3 times] i never found a building material store that sold all the framing materiel’s that i need for a strong roof. I am a carpenter by trade and i need your input as to where do i find quality roof framing stock? I also do electric wiring and found out that all power is 220 volt systems. Nobody there seems to know why it is needed when 110/120 volt systems work just as well and cost 1/2 the amount. I know everything is wired for 220volts, but it is not necessary to get the job done, it just cost alot more for everything a person buys. Can anyone tell me why they wire everything at 220v?

    • Paul Thompson says

      Most good roof’s are either a cement slab (as I have) or steel girder to prevent termite damage and high wind protection. The reason they wire at 220 is because 80% of the world does it that way, and appliances here are sold with 220 voltages. You can split wire your house to accommodate both but watch where the youngsters plug stuff in. I am at 220 and found it the easiest way to go.
      As for building supplies, in your neck of the woods all I can tell you is that anything you want is available. You’ll have to ask around or find it, but it is there.
      Good luck with your project, and I wish you the best!

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