In my ten years in the Philippines, I have lived in five different houses. I’ve mostly lived in rather large houses, since I have a large family. We did live in one house that was quite small, but it was only for about 6 months or less, because we could not find a larger house that we liked. As soon as we found a more suitable place we moved.
In addition to various house sizes, I have also lived in different types of neighborhoods. I have lived mostly in very “Filipino Neighborhoods.” I mean places where you know who your neighbors are, places where anybody is welcome. Places that are, frankly, mixed use, as the article I wrote last week about the new call center that has moved in next door to me. We also lived for one year in a gated subdivision called Woodridge.
Woodridge is a beautiful place. The houses are very nice, and more of the American style too. Most of the houses in Woodridge are quite large too, with many bedrooms. There are a lot of facilities at Woodridge to take advantage of too. But, in the end, we found that Woodridge was simply not for us. Too exclusive. Not as friendly as what we like. Not Filipino. Basically, what it came down to, though, was that if we wanted to live in a neighborhood that “felt like America” – why live in the Philippines?
Now, that said, this was a very beautiful house that we lived in. It was located just next door to the Woodridge Clubhouse too, where there was s swimming pool, tennis courts and other such things. Lots of stuff for the kids to do. The kids would go swimming almost every day during the summer. The picture at the right is the entrance to the Woodridge Clubhouse. In addition to the swimming pool and tennis courts, they also had a restaurant and a convenience store. The club management was also located at the clubhouse as well. Whenever there was a homeowner’s association meeting, it was generally also held at the clubhouse. Being next door to the clubhouse had pluses and minuses, though. The biggest minus was that there were times that it could get a bit noisy with people enjoying activities at the clubhouse.
The house where we lived was one of the larger houses in Woodridge. I suppose there are maybe 200 to 300 houses in Woodridge, and our house was probably in the top 15% for size. From the front view, seen above, the house looked a bit small, but it was very long, though, which you can see from the side view at the left. The house was only a few years old too, so it was modern. One of the things I liked about the house was that it had solar hot water heating, with a storage tank for the hot water up on the rooftop, and all heated by the sun. That was really nice, so that even if there was a brownout, you still could enjoy a hot shower! That always started off a nice day! Also, even if we had cloudy days, it was rare that the solar panels did not make enough hot water, which was nice.
One nice advantage, especially with young kids was that the house had a large yard along the side, where we put our trampoline, great for the kids to keep active! Well, the side yard was not really part of the house, though, the fact was that it was a vacant, unsold lot that was right next door. Now, the lot has been sold and there is another house built there, which is only like one foot away from our old house! So, while it was all open, sunny and nice next door back then, now the newly built house is just inches away, and frankly, I would feel claustrophobic living there now. Oh my, how things can change in the space of just a few years! Having that extra lot along the side sure did make for a nice yard, though!
My home office in this house was quite small, though. I would estimate that it was only about half the size of the office where I am now. There were some nice things about the Woodridge office, though. For example, it had built in bookshelves all around the walls of the office, which I liked, and cabinets along one of the walls. I was a bit cramped, though. In my current office, we have room for both Feyma and I to share an office, which I like. In Woodridge, that simply was not possible, because it was too small. Another problem, office-wise, in Woodridge was that it was very hard to get a DSL Internet connection when we were there. We finally got on, but I did have to survive on poor dial-up connections for several months there.
The kids had a nice play area inside the house too. We had several computers set up where the kids had Internet Access (albeit poor internet access like I mentioned above) and also computer games. We also had an X-Box set up here where the kids could play Video Games. This indoor play area was great for days when it was way too hot outside, or when it was rainy. It seemed we became a hit in the neighborhood too, because the kids always had a lot of friends over playing on the computers or the video games. Actually, this lead to one of the things that turned us off on living in Woodridge. The kids began picking up really bad attitudes from the other kids in the neighborhood. The other kids would tell them things like – “you don’t have to listen to shat she says… she’s just a maid anyway!” We did not like this, and really told our kids that they must respect the maids and helpers at the house!
One of the real jewels of the house, though, was the kitchen and dining area. The dining area, shown in the picture, also included a family room type of setting. Plenty of room for a seating area, a place to hang out, whatever, in addition to putting a dining room table where the entire family could enjoy a meal together. The kitchen was a half floor lower than the dining area and separated by a wall to keep the dining area more private. This was kind of nice for entertaining, because you could have a staff of helpers working in the kitchen, and still enjoy privacy with your guests while eating a meal in the dining room. Another nice thing in this part of the house was that the dining area opened up out onto a patio that was along the side yard. Very nice for entertaining!
Of course, there was a Sala, or formal living room too. We had a TV in this room, and a sitting area where we could entertain guests. Just like the dining area, this Sala also opened up to another patio that was on the other side of the house. In fact, when you went outside to the patio, it wrapped all the way around the house, to the front and to the other side of the house! There was even an enclosed bathroom outside on the patio as well, so it had everything you needed! What a great area for a barbecue party or that kind of thing.
OK, so I am sure that nobody would argue that this is a great house. In many ways, it is a Western Style house, but with the Filipino things that I wrote about the other day. We did enjoy living here, although there were a few problems. As I already said, the neighborhood “feels like the USA” and is not such a friendly place. Also, we found that our kids were picking up bad attitudes from the “rich” kids in the neighborhood. Another problem is that the house had a lot of problems – leaky pipes, rotting wood from termites, this sort of thing. The owner of the house never had the money to fix the problems either. So, because of these factors, we decided to move out, and that is when we ended up where we are now.
The house where we are now living is probably 50% bigger than this house in Woodridge. Yet, it is also much less expensive! It’s in a more “Filipino style” neighborhood. We like it a lot where we are now.
So, now I want to ask you… how much do you think the rent was on this house that I have featured in this article? I won’t say how much now, but after you guys have had a chance to think about it, and post some guesses, I will tell you how much we paid for rent. That was 4+ years ago that we lived there, and the rent would be higher now, but I will tell you how much we paid 4 to 5 years ago.