Dave Christopherson was feeling fed up with the everyday drudgery of work. He dreamed of spending his days golfing amid beautiful surroundings and diving in crystal-clear waters teeming with tropical fish. And he found a place where the low cost of living meant he could enjoy an early retirement with his family on only $1,900 a month—Dumaguete in the Philippines.
“Typical holidays in the past, with some sun, beach and happy hours, were fun but always lacked something. My life was in a rut, something was missing.” A machinist and a lifelong investor, Dave felt that his life lacked spice after years of doing the same thing.
“Home was great, but it was so predictable. It’s much more adventurous here! I wanted to try an early retirement, and the lower cost of living here allows me to enjoy the laidback lifestyle you dream about when you are so busy back home with a career.”
Dave’s new slower-paced life in the Philippines revolves around golfing, snorkelling, spending time with his family and socialising with both locals and expats from around the world. There is no shortage of crystal-clear water and beautiful beaches nearby—and Dave and his family take full advantage of that.
Twenty minutes away from his new home is a free marine sanctuary where he can snorkel amidst the vibrant tropical fish. He’s also been swimming with whale sharks. And whenever the family want a change of scene, they simply go island hopping to explore the country’s other sights.
Dave, his wife April, and their son, Davey, live in a one-bedroom apartment right in the middle of town for $460 a month. Dave says, “There are plenty of good housing options in the $230- to $530-a-month range. I liked this place because it is easy to walk from our apartment to the boardwalk and to the downtown area. Tricycles (scooters with a sidecar) are abundant and cheap if we decide to hitch a ride, so we don’t need a car.”
The expat community in Dumaguete is welcoming and happy to show you the ropes. You’ll meet them in any of the numerous bars and restaurants along the oceanfront, tree-lined promenade that looks as though it belongs in a small Spanish town. “The people here are so friendly!” says Dave. “It’s a simpler life, we’re free from all of the silly status symbols that so many people want.”
Dave no longer feels that his life is missing something. He has found his dream retirement and he and his family live a very comfortable life on their $1,900-a-month budget.
“Some expats do it on less, but I like to golf, travel some and eat out a lot,” says Dave. “Services are cheap; a haircut is around $1, a tricycle ride about 30 cents and a live-in nanny only about $115 a month. Most meals out are in the $3 to $9 range, and if you like local food, you can eat for less than $3 per meal.”
Even luxuries like massages ($8) or pedicures ($1.65) are priced so low that they’re just part of the lifestyle. It’s an easy place to indulge yourself, yet not overspend. Dave doesn’t regret his decision to move to the Philippines for one second. “It’s a simpler life, in a small-town kind of way, yet a full one, with everything I want.”
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