An African Perspective
I've been a lurker hear for many years since first visiting Thailand and enjoying everything it had to offer. I was smitten and returned a few times within a few months as the travel was easy from Dubai, where I worked at the time.
But then I met a Filipina in Dubai and was even more smitten. Fast forward a couple of years and I'd bought what her family called a house and was a heroic go-to-guy in times of trouble – which became increasingly frequent and the cause of discontent between myself and the lady.
A change of job-location a few years ago (to East Africa) made travel to the Philippines a two-day epic rather than 9 hours or so. The visits became less frequent, more expensive to achieve and much easier to put off until next month.
Fast forward to last year and I'd come to my senses: yes, there were strong mutual feelings, but could I ever see myself living in an environment so alien to my upbringing and with a likely increasing financial burden as her parents got older? The answer was obvious, the parting difficult but the future brighter – for me at least. The relatively small sum I'd spent on the house was easily passed off as money I would have wasted on something else anyway over the ensuing years.
So now I find myself enjoying the delights of East Africa where you'd be hard-pressed to see a difference in the way local "ladies" are attracted to whites for mostly financial reasons and the guys find the easy pussy difficult to resist.
I do a twice-yearly review of my circumstances – I call it the "shit pot / honey pot" routine and mentally put everything in one or other location – and last week's is shown below for those of you who might have the slightest passing interest.
Services: Lack of reliable or consistent power and water.
Food: Expensive if imported; dull if local.
Internet: $100 a month for the best, which would rank alongside the worst anywhere else.
Cheating and Corruption: Endemic across all levels of society.
Driving Standards: Appalling. Most people "live for today" so I guess it doesn't matter if they don't make it through tomorrow.
Car Maintenance: Fake parts and pretend mechanics.
Circle of friends: Few expats (where I am) that I look forward to socialising with.
Safety/Security: Life is cheap here and crime an increasing problem. 30% of youth are unemployed but with all the usual aspirations of that age group. Crime is an easy option.
Climate: Perfect (in my location, due to high elevation and cooler).
Taxes: None – just good fortune in my case.
Beer: $2 a bottle
Cost of living generally: Probably less than half the UK (my origin).
Hookers: Amazing choice if you're into darker ladies, and fair pricing if you can avoid seeing them regularly and becoming the "boyfriend" with all that usually entails in terms of supporting an extended family.
International Travel: Expensive and takes longer to get anywhere.
Safety/Security: (yes, it's listed above also). Improves once you befriend the local top-cop and pay $8 a month for a regular patrol.
Scams: apart from people attempting to sell land they don't own, I've not come across any.
Visa: 3-months on arrival and can be extended another three with a day spent loitering at the Immigration Ministry trying to find the correct person who can help – for a fee.
So what have I decided? A few years ago the Honey Pot won hands down every time. Now, though, the balance is shifting and I can foresee a year or so hence it will be time to move on. How easy will that be? A divorce in recent years has extensively lessened my options from a financial perspective and I'm currently doing the Excel spreadsheet calculations to help make the right choices.
Based on many of those "can you live in XXX on $1,000" a month postings and internet questions the answer, in my case, is most definitely YES.
But I'm planning on spending $1,500 a month to have an improved lifestyle and Excel has just revealed I can to that for…wait…I need to check that.
Bollocks…3 years and two months.