A lot of Americans who plan to move to the Philippines and live here for good tell me the same thing – “I want to live in an American style house.” I think it is kind of natural to feel that way, given the fact that mostly have lived in the USA for their entire life, and they want something that is somewhat familiar to them. But, do you really mean you want to live in a nice house, or that you really want an American Style house?
I mean there are some things that are American style that probably would not be feasible or even desirable here. Let’s look at a few such things.
Central Air Conditioning. These days, most American houses, except perhaps in much cooler parts of the USA, have Central Air Conditioning. Almost every time mo Mother comes to visit us, she complains about the fact that we do not have Central Air Conditioning. Instead, in the more Asian style, or at least Philippine style, we have a room air conditioner in each bedroom. Other rooms of the house are not air conditioned at all. Electricity is very expensive here. It is actually, in a per kilowatt hour basis, about twice the price here that I paid in the USA. If I had central air in the house where I am living, I would probably have an electricity bill of $700 to $1,000 per month. As it is now, my power bill is about $250 per month, which is already quite high. Why would I want to cool the entire house 24/7 when I can just cool the rooms where we are, and save 2/3 of the cost?
Fences/Walls. Most houses, at least in the City here in the Philippines are surrounded by a perimeter wall, usually a solid wall that cannot be seen through. This took some adjustment for me at the beginning. Most foreigners that I talk to while they are visiting tell me that they don’t like the walls, feeling isolated, or even getting a feeling of being in jail. I can perfectly understand that. But, I have come to accept that such a wall is needed. It is not that it is dangerous here and you are keeping armed people out, or that sort of thing. It is something with a several pronged reason. Firstly, it keeps the riff-raff out. Do you want beggars and such coming right up to your door, or to the windows and asking for food or money? I feel sorry for people who are genuinely poor, but many of these beggars are nothing but professional beggars, and frankly, I don’t want to deal with them any more than necessary, and I certainly don’t want them at my place of residence. Secondly, a wall does offer an element of safety from thieves or others who mean you harm for one reason or another. I don’t feel that it is unsafe here, but no matter where you are in the world, there are people who want to steal your things and such. A wall minimizes that.
Carpeting. A lot of foreigners tell me that they want wall to wall carpeting on the floors, just like back home. Honestly, this is a bit crazy in my opinion. The biggest reason is that there is a lot of dust here, and the carpets are going to be a constant source of work to keep it clean. Secondly, I am not even sure if you can buy wall to wall carpet here or not. I’ve never seen it before. Another thing about carpeting is that it is going to be hot. In the West, where Winters are cold, carpet helps keep your feet warm. You don’t need that here, and generally, carpet, in my opinion, is going to make it warmer in the house than you want. The most common types of flooring in the Philippines are hardwood floors, tiles or even cement floors covered with linoleum or something of the sort. Now, you can find space rugs to accent the floor, but I’ve never seen wall to wall carpet.
Central Hot Water. We Americans are used to having a hot water tank in the garage, up in the attic, in some closet in the house, or some “out of the way” place, and this tank heats the water and stores it for use anywhere in the house. Frankly, this is wasteful. In these days of expensive electricity, and a desire to go more green, hot water on demand makes a lot more sense. Here in Asia, centrally heating hot water and distributing it throughout the house is unheard of. We have small heating units right in the shower where cold water comes in and is instantly heated to give us a hot shower. With this, you heat the exact amount of water that you need, you don’t have to keep the water warm for later use, etc. It is efficient, and it works great.
So these are a few of the differences between an American style house and a nice house in the Philippines. Do you want or need “American style” or do you just mean that you want a nice house to live in? For me, those are two different things. Philippine houses can be nice too!