I could live here. Now I have to decide if I want to.
My original plan was to evaluate the countries I’d selected until I found one I liked. Beyond that there was no set plan as I’ve never done this before and didn’t know enough to plan.
I started in the Phils because it was an easy place to start. I’d researched it the most. They like Americans, have adopted some aspects of American and western cultures, most speak at least a few words of English and there are quite a few Filipinas here.
The most common criticism of living in the Philippines by those who have chosen not to is that there are only three reasons for a foreigner to do so: It’s easy (language, culture and visas), inexpensive and Filipinas. Some critics are more blunt and say the only reason to live here is if you can’t afford somewhere else.
It has proven to be inexpensive. English is very useful with the locals who have jobs where they are expected to frequently deal with foreigners. Beyond that the knowledge of English and understanding of it spoken in a foreigner accent is limited. Severely limited. I do better in Mexico with my limited Spanish than I do here with their limited English.
And there are Filipinas, some of whom do want to go with a Foreigner. They range on a scale from Pure & Sweet to Impure & Bitter. I focused on the Sweet and Semi-Sweet portion of the scale. Dealing with the Semi-Sweets means being on guard for the ever present different ways by which she is attempting to take financial advantage. I know I can’t trust them. It’s emotionally draining.
Dealing with the Sweets is a frustrating mission in finding one who will talk. They will text their fingers off but in person they give short answers when spoken to. For example, if she went home to see her family for a week and I asked how was your trip, the answer is “Fine.” What did you do, I ask. “Saw my family.” is the response. Kinda hard to keep a conversation going. I did find two who talked, one who was conversational from the get go and one who needed months to open up. They had two things in common. They never asked me for a single thing and I wanted to protect them from men like me. I’m on that list, so I kept them as friends.
One of my acquaintances recently said ‘Everything here is stupid or shoddy’. Holding that viewpoint doesn’t do one any good, unless your aim is to increase your stress and blood pressure. Accepting the country for what it is allows one to peacefully coexist. And live in a country where much is stupid or shoddy. Or stupid and shoddy. I’m not sure which is the better choice. Living somewhere else may be the best choice. Is the Phils a game where the only way to win is to not play?
There is one aspect of living here that I’ve not had to deal with yet. The following story illustrates it.
One man I know fairly well told a story that I’d heard others tell about him. He’s been burglarized four times since he’s been in country. The first three times were in the same house in another town. He did all the right things – imported locks from his home country and beefed up other aspects of the physical security. He made sure that at least one person was in the house 24/7/365. The first three times someone was not in the house, it was burglarized. Being a foreigner here means means that a group of locals have accepted as their job to surveil your residence 24/7/365. After each of the first two break ins he strengthened the security. After the third time he left town.
Most living situations here for foreigners means having someone in the place all the time. I haven’t had to do that yet, as hotels, pension houses and apartelles have security and my apartment building always has someone there.
I’m an introvert who hasn’t lived with someone since 1979. The idea of having one of one’s employees ( helper, cook, driver/handyman) always in the house does not appeal to me.
There are many facets of being here that one can dislike or adapt to. Just because I can adapt doesn’t mean I want to or that it’s a good idea.
Despite my attempts to be realistic when researching this country, the positives are not as positive as I expected and the negatives are worse. I could live here but I think I can better make that decision by leaving. Evaluating another country will help put the Phils and my adaptations in perspective.
So what’s next? My original plan included specific towns in specific countries. It only took a few minutes to find out that the two most interesting in Latin America are known for their bad air. I have to start over researching towns.
Thailand is the only country on the list in this part of the world. It’s the obvious next place to go, but not soon. It’s peak tourist season for the next few months, something I’d rather avoid. Besides, I have to figure out the Thai retirement visa. One has to start the process before entering Thailand, which means most people do it in their home country. I don’t know if I can start it here.
In the meantime it’s the not so hot part of the year here, my arm has improved enough that I want to travel and there are places to see. I’ll keep the apartment as a home base.