It seems that one of the big motivators for Westerners who want to move here can be summed up in one word: CHEAP. Living in the Philippines is cheap, that’s the common belief. Well, it is cheaper to live here than in the West, however, as I’ve written several times recently, that gap is closing to some extent, and living here is not as cheap as it once was.
However, the cost of living being lower can actually lead to two different ways of thinking. The most common, as I mentioned, is that people think that they can come here and live for a very low amount of money. That’s not the way I thought about it when I moved here, though. The way I thought was that for the same amount that I was spending in the USA, I could come here and live the Good Life.
So that sets up the battle: The Good Life vs. The Cheap Life.
Which one is for you?
I know of some westerners who come here and live on $500 or so per month. They live a rather spartan lifestyle, though. These guys do whatever they can to save a few pesos, and if they saved P5 on something, they are very proud of the fact. Corners are cut on virtually every aspect of life. Heck, if you save P3 here and P5 there, pretty soon you’ve saved a dollar! It’s not an easy life, though, and if you see these people after only a few months of living the cheap life here, you can see on their faces just how hard their life has been.
Other people (myself included in this group) don’t care so much about keeping their budget so tight. If they can save P3 on a bottle of coke by going to the store across the street, well, it just isn’t that big of a deal. So, if they lived on $4,000 or $5,000 per month when they lived the States, that was OK, but they also feel OK if they spend that much (or at least considerably more than the $500 per month guy) here in the Philippines. The difference for this guy is that in the USA he was paying that amount of money and still leading a rather conservative lifestyle. Just paying the bills and maybe doing a few things for pleasure or enjoyment per month, but not much. When he moves here, and still has that kind of money available, he can do so many things, and truly enjoy the Good Life. Want to go out and eat at the best restaurants in town? No problem, it is well within your budget. Want to go for a massage daily? Hey, for that kind of budget you can go to the best spas in town daily. Whatever you like to do to pamper yourself, you can do it here, and remain well within a reasonable budget.
Now, the low-budget guy is probably enjoying his life too (hey, these guys get a lot of pride and enjoyment out of their ability to live on the cheap), but it’s a different kind of pleasure than the guy who is really living life to the max.
I have to say, in the 8 years that I’ve been living here, I have really learned how to take better care of myself, how to pamper myself, and live a life of comfort. When I lived in the States, I was a working class fellow. I had a job where I was on my feet 12 hours per day, and at the end of that day, I was tired, and needed to rest so that I could go do it all again the next day. It wasn’t an enriching, fulfilling life. Here, though, I have turned that all around. I get up in the morning, and I work for about 2 hours, taking care of my websites, responding to e-mails and comments on my blogs and such. By the end of 2 hours I have all my work pretty well caught up for the day. At that time, I go for a walk to the Health Spa and I swim for an hour, then I have coffee for 30 minutes to an hour at the Health Club Coffee shop. Next, I go home, and if I want to work on developing some new project (a new website, some new business, etc) I will spend a few hours working on that. If I don’t feel like working anymore that day, I don’t. It’s that simple. I can spend the rest of the afternoon doing any of a number of things. A massage. Go to a movie. Catch some TV. Take my camera out and do some photography. The list of possible activities is almost endless.
For me, the contest between Cheap Living and Good Living is no contest at all. I choose the Good Life every time. How about you? Which way do you want to live in the Philippines? Do you disagree with my assessment? If so, how about writing a post for the Guest Blog and sharing your dream life here.