Comparing US and Philippine Cost Of Living.
Some of you folks know I’m back in the USA right now. Others perhaps not. I’m in Pueblo, Colorado, spending some time with my son and his fiancée. They will be married in a couple weeks and then Mita and I will VERY quickly be back in the Philippines with big smiles on our faces.
I’ve always been an advocate of living in the Philippines but for years now I have tried not to highlight the cost of living advantages. Basically I feel you shouldn’t make a decision as complex as moving to another country based on costs alone. But it’s been three years since I’ve been back to the US (also in Pueblo) and ……
My God The Costs Here!
One thing which surprised me as soon as we started passing gas stations on the way home from the airport. Price of gas and diesel. In the 12 years or so I have been intimately connected with the moving to the Philippines niche, Philippine fuel prices have never been cheaper than the US. Well they are now! Discount diesel at a convenience store near my son’s house is almost $0.50 a gallon more expensive than the stations I use in metro Manila (oh, and don’t forget in the Philippines someone comes out and pumps your gas, cleans your windshield, checks your oil and tire pressure for you). Wow!
Food stores are a great pleasure to visit here. So large and clean and well stocked. But one thing which really surprised me was the HUGE amount of crap, junk foods you have to wade through to get to any healthy choices. Don’t get me me wrong the Philippines is replete with snack foods to, but nowhere like the scale seen here. I mean when you go to the salad cooler to find a healthy pre-made salad selection, how many different flavors and brands of Macaroni salad do you wave to wade through before you find a single product with green leafy vegetables in in? In King Soopers I counted more than 12 varieties of macaroni salad alone .. and friends, if you aren’t clear on the concept, macaroni salad slathered in mayo is about as healthy for you as a pack of Marlboros,
And fish? There is nothing in any of the meat or deli departments that didn’t come from a can or a frozen pack. I used to complain about the variety of fresh and fresh chilled on ice fish, Not to mention the 5 or 6 varieties of shrimp and various sizes of fresh that day squid on ice. No more, I’m going to be happy to smell the aroma of the always live Hito (catfish) at the end of the counter, slithering around in their pen.
But This Really Opened My Eyes
The screen/storm door on my son’s house has been busted for some time now. Since his income from his (supposedly secure, regular “dirt based” job has been a bit sporadic,) he hasn’t felt like fixing it. So I figured I’d be a good dad (plus I was kinda bored sitting around the house) and buy him a new one. After all winter (Yuk) is just around the corner here on the Front Range of Colorado.
Having just had 4 screen doors custom made for our new house in the Philippines by our local screen, door and window blinds guy, Val, I figured I had a pretty good handle on what something like this would cost … Val charged us earlier this year P2800 per door, custom made (all larger than the door of my son’s house), installed, P2800 each. That’s about $60 USD at today’s rate.
So off I went to our local Lowes store. Want to guess at the best price I could find for a ready made door roughly equivalent to what Val could have made for us?
Did you guess $197 USD? Yep, and “Oh, sir, I recommend our professional installation service. They’ll come out and measure, bring the door with them to the site and install it for you for a special price of $147.00 additional. You can make an appointment right now, their next opening is in about 2 weeks.”
As the surprised Japanese chef was heard to say,”Holy Shitake, man”!
I bought the door, carried it home myself and my wife and daughter-in-law-to-be installed it in a couple hours. So I guess we can say with our labor we reduced the total out of pocket cost to $50 bucks. But frankly I would have much rather paid Val $50 or $60 and taken a nap. It costs a LOT to live in the USA.
But For A Little More Proof — As I Left Lowe’s
Near the exit door was a little shelf and display counter area for a filtered bottled water service. Very simple concept. You buy or rent a water dispenser from the company, buy as many 5 gallon plastic water jugs as you wish, then bring them to the water filling station whenever you want to for refilling with delicious, many stage, reverse osmosis filtered water.
We have a lot of water station operations like this in the Philippines. The economics work out something like this:
I bought my own dispenser/chiller/heater (for hot cocoa or instant coffee or tea), so let’s figure the cost of rental in the US (or buying here) will be the same.
I bought 3 new 5 gallon water jugs for P660. About $14 USD, so The same three at Lowes would be about $42 USD, so abut 1/3 the cost in the Philippines.
When a jug is empty, I text my water guy, he comes picks it up, washes, refills and brings back and places it where I want in my kitchen, for P25 .. about $0.54 USD.
If I bought into this service here in the US, I have to carry the empties back to Lowes with my own car, fuel and back muscles. I would then pay $6.99 per jug for a refill. Wow that makes the US cost about 12 times the Philippine cost, without even trying to figure my own costs coming and going to the water station.
And You Still Wonder WHY I Live in the Philippines?
And you still can’t figure out if you can afford to live in the Philippines? What else can I help you with in comparing Philippine Cost Of Living with what you are currently struggling with in the USA.