I have spent many hours at different times on this philosophy. In America I have lived well at times and there have been times I have lived in a much cheaper life. At 39, while attending night classes for my drafting degree, I lost my job to downsizing. As my savings decreased and my only income was unemployment insurance, I had to share a small apartment with one of my classmates. I remember times, after paying rent and bills counting my money and trying to figure out how to eat that month.
Now, I know there are people in America and many other first world nations that lived better than me and many who need less to be comfortable in their needs.
For me, to retire and live comfortable in America would be having a decent home or condo, a car and enough money to have the basic needs with some advantages. These would include being able to go to a restaurant a few times a week, see a movie of one of the small theater plays. Of course this would also include cable TV, high speed internet and air conditioning for warm weather.
I do understand the cost of living in America has been increasing and if your retirement is in investments, the rate of return has gone down to the point you are not building your savings but hopefully you have a balance where you can live on the interest and not decrease the principle.
Now I will discuss retiring here in Davao or somewhere else in the Philippines. It is true; many things are much cheaper in the Philippines than in America or other countries. At the high end, I know someone who had built a large 3 story house with 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a powder room, in a high end sub-division with a great view of the ocean for about $400,000 USD. There are many other nice high end homes in good sub-divisions for much less.
There are foreigners here that enjoy all aspects of living here and some that have become acclimated to life here. I can only talk for myself and my thoughts.
To me, someone saying luxury I think of a larger house with as many of the amenities he is used to in America. Large bedrooms with closets, CR’s with hot and cold water, tubs and showers. Nice kitchens with large ranges, laundry facilities with modern washer and dryer and probably cable TV, internet and either central air conditioning or at least a unit in most rooms. It will be in a higher end gated sub-division with a nice clubhouse with pool and restaurant and maybe even an exercise facility. This person will probably have maids and cooks on staff. He will probably buy a large SUV vehicle and belong to one of the golf courses here too.
That is wonderful and I know his home life will be as comfortable as or more so than in the States. But, there are times he will have to or want to go out. He will need groceries, clothes, items from a hardware store and many other items. There will be times; some item he is used to buying at a certain store for months will be out of stock. When he asks when it will be back in stock get the usual answer, “I do not know” or “Maybe next month.” He also needs to realize he is in a country where many people he will come across will not understand English or only part of what he is asking.
He is probably used to nice smooth paved roads and here will find potholes, paved roads that end and becomes a bumpy dirt road that gets flooded. He is used to drivers that are courteous and considerate and see here drivers cutting you off and not letting you into their lanes. He will see drivers changing lanes without even looking to see if there is a car coming.
If money is no object, sure he can eat in the expensive restaurants that cater to foreigners but there are times your hungry and you are not near one of these places. If he is going to eat at home, is he going to spend the high cost to buy imported meats and the other products he is used to that is not regular available here from the US?
As I had in an article a while ago, there are many foreigners that come here to visit, stay in the better hotels, eat in their restaurants and use a taxi or a driver to take them around. After they go back to their home country tell others and feel that life here is so comfortable and cheaper then back home. Many things are cheaper, but things like imported items, gasoline and electricity are more expensive.
By now you must be thinking, Bruce must hate it there. No, I enjoy it here. Yes I get frustrated at times and there are things I miss from my life in the US but I look at the job market and the economy and realize my life would be so much worse if I did not move here. I enjoy going out and meeting people. I enjoy learning about the culture here and the differences. Even with the differences I love my family and how we relate to each other. I have learned to eat well and enjoy most of the foods here. I also enjoy being able to write my feelings, thoughts and views on this site. I get many comments from people that disagree with me and many that do agree. One thing I find interesting, most agreements are from Filipinos and most disagreements are from foreigners.
As always, I am giving this disclaimer; what I write is thoughts, observations and experiences. Not everyone will feel as I do, live as I do or think as I do. I am just relating how I think about things from my view.
If you agree or disagree, your comments are welcome. I just do not want a long heated debate or accusations.