We have not owned a home since 2000
That might change soon!
We bought our last home in Washington State in 1993. In 2000 we sold it in preparation for our move to the Philippines. Feyma and I lived in the Philippines for nearly 20 years, and never owned a home there. On my previous blog about living in the Philippines, property ownership was always a hot topic of discussion with many people wanting to own property in the Philippines while others (like me) were negative on owning property in the Philippines.
Now that we have returned to the United States, am I still against owning my home? Let’s look into that.
Why I was anti-home ownership in the Philippines
As I explained many times over the years, there were several reasons why I was against owning a home in the Philippines.
The value of the money
The biggest reason why I was not in favor of owning property in the Philippines was that the rent is very cheap in the Philippines. Here in the United States, most property owners aim at getting 1% of the property value as monthly rent. So, if they own a $100,000 home and want to rent it, they aim at getting $1,000 a month in rent.
Over the years of living in the Philippines, we rented seven different houses. One of those houses was in General Santos City, and the other six were in Davao City. We paid monthly rents for these houses ranging from P11,000 to P45,000 (in US dollars that would be about $200 to $1,000 at the various exchange rates during our life in the Philippines. The values of these houses varied, but we always rented very nice, and usually very large places there. As one example, there was one place in Davao that they had tried to sell with an asking price of P11,000,000 (about US$220,000). We paid monthly rent of P35,000 (about US$700 per month). That is very cheap. The opportunity loss of investing $220,000 when you can rent it for $700 a month is enormous. So, the value of the money was way, way in the favor of renting instead of buying.
You can’t legally own the property
If you are not a natural-born Philippine citizen you cannot legally own property in the Philippines. There are ways around this, some legal, others skirting the law. For example, since Feyma is a dual-citizen, and was born in the Philippines she could have legally owned the property there in the Philippines, no problems. I could not be an owner, but could legally live in her house.
Frankly, I have no worries about Feyma’s name being on the papers as the owner and living in the house myself. I trust Feyma completely. We have been married for nearly 30 years, and I have no questions about whether she is “loyal” to me, or is only looking to take advantage of me. We have a great marriage, and that stuff is just not a concern. But, I don’t really like the idea that Philippine law would prohibit me from having ownership in our family home. So, with this ownership issue as only a minor issue to us, we just decided to rent.
Held hostage by your home
If you own real estate in the Philippines it is not easy to sell. Especially if you own nice and expensive property, it is difficult to find a buyer. If you build the type of house that an American would like, that is even more difficult to sell, because we have different tastes from the average Filipino person.
If we did decide to buy a house in the Philippines, we probably would still be living there, because we would be hostage to the fact that we owned property there and had our money tied up. It could take years and years to sell that.
But we almost did buy a house there!
Most people don’t know this because I never wrote about it on my website, but in 2017 Feyma decided that she really wanted to buy a house, fix it up, and own a nice home in the Philippines. I can’t blame her, and it was our plan to live in the Philippines for the rest of our lives.
We started looking for a fixer-upper in our area. We wanted to fully renovate it and make a beautiful and functional home that we could live in for the rest of our lives. Even though I was still generally negative on the idea of owning in the Philippines, I also wanted Feyma to achieve her dream of owning a house again.
Feyma went to the States in 2018, and when she came home to the Philippines she told me that she really felt more at home in the USA than she did in the Philippines. I had not been back to the USA in over 19 years, but when I could see her strong desire to move back, I started feeling the same. I told her that it was my choice to move to the Philippines and she followed me. It was now her turn to decide how and where we would live out the next chapter in life. Feyma, on the other hand, still wanted me to be happy wherever we decided to live. We talked about it a lot, and in the end, we decided to move back to the USA, and we chose Indiana to be our future home.
So, will we buy a house in the USA?
Yep! We have decided that we will be buying a home here in Logansport, Indiana. Overall, we like Logansport. Yeah, the weather is cold here, but we are feeling OK about that. Feyma has great employment here, as do two of our sons, Chris and Jared. We feel at home here. So, our next step will be to buy a home here in Logansport, Indiana.
We started shopping for the right home back in November 2019, but there was not much on the market at that time. Now that it is spring we are finding a lot more property on the market, giving us more choices. With spring, though, there are also a lot more buyers in the market too, so we have found that places get snatched up quickly.
I guess we will officially become Hoosiers when we own property here and let our roots start to settle in. We are looking forward to that.
I’ll keep you updated as we move through the process and become homeowners again after being renters for the past 2 decades!
Awsome bob.i learn so much from you.its good to have different styles to look at.
Thank you, Dave. I appreciate your kind words very much!
I tend to agree with you about buying in the Philippines. I advise people not to buy in the Philippines unless they are 100% sure they want to spend the rest of their lives in that place. We will likely buy here in the USA one of these days.
Hi Kevin – sounds like we are of similar thinking. Good luck to you!
This will make you feel good. When I bought my first Indiana home the mortgage was at roughly 12 1/2%. I bet you’ll beat that by a bit! Nicest thing about Indiana is good gardening soil and growing season. My gardens in the East were never as good as the ones in the Midwest. Enjoy, Bob. Best of luck. My next visit I am looking forward to seeing your new home!
Hi Craig, we are really excited to move! Can’t wait. You are always welcome to visit!
Bob New York
I always appreciated your articles about renting or owning in The Philippines. I think there is a way to lease property there for 25 years with renewal options even for foreigners. One thing I noted from your articles is the lack of zoning or enforcement thereof. Build a house and just about anything could build on the next door property. As much as I enjoy visiting and vacationing in Iligan City, Philippines I never had that much of a desire to sell my house here in the USA to make a permanent move there.
I only rented here in the USA once and that was back in the early 1970’s. A 2 room apartment for $144 per month. I had that for about 3 years and during that time I was working a lot of overtime. I opened up a special savings account at my bank and put all the overtime earnings into that account. When the landlord of my apartment raised the rent from $144 to $210 a month I went to a local real estate office and said I have $10,000 what can I buy for that as the down payment ? They showed me 3 houses. One of those 3 is the house I bought and still live in today.
Best of luck to you and Feyma on house hunting and buying a house and may it serve as a good investment for you and your family.
Hi Bob – Wow, you bought in the 70s and still live in the same house? You must like it there, and take good care of the place. Not many people have accomplished that!
You are right, there is a way to lease property in the Philippines for 25 years with auto-renewal, but I think only one auto-renewal is allowed. It just never was something that was of interest to me. I was very happy renting in the Philippines.
We are really looking forward to living in our own place, can’t wait! Thanks!
I would totally agree with you regarding not wanting to buy a home in the Philippines under the current property law. I too have lived in the Philippines for many years renting, having piece of mind if I wanted to move on I could pack up and move at anytime.
Good luck with your proposed purchase, if I was in your position I might be leaving any major purchases for a while yet . I am sure one could pick up a bargain if the current nationwide unemployment figures increase, as many over-committed home owners may renege on their mortgages and then sadly, be forced to walk away from their homes. To make matters worse if property values decline many home owners could lose their entire equity, it has happen in the past and this time around it could be much worse. I hope I am wrong but only time will tell.
Hi Jack, thanks for your comment. Just hold tight…. when I write about the deal we found you might understand why we pulled the trigger now instead of down the road. Everything you are describing about the good deals down the road dropped into our laps. 😉
We built a house there last year. You’re absolutely correct that renting makes more financial sense, however it doesn’t give you the security that owning does. Using family labor we built for a fraction of what an equivalent house would cost in the USA. We both know the area well and are happy with the location. The foreigner can’t hold the land title but they can own the structure. It works for us.
Hi Dan – I agree with most of what you say with a couple of exceptions.
I feel the opposite about security… I get peace of mind from knowing that I am not tied down to a place. For example, in November 2018 when we decided to move back to the States, it was easy, I had no commitments to a house that I no longer needed.
As for the wife owning the land… you actually cannot (legally) own the domicile and lease the land from your wife. It is prohibited by the Philippine Family law.
But there are certainly pluses and minuses to both sides.
Thanks for your comment.
That good. It has it advantages.
Emily and I plan to sell in the next couple of years and have ruled out a move to the Philippines.
Emily and I want Rural property and I want to get back into hunting.
Not sure where we are going to live yet. Getting close to being able to retire.
Have a great day.
Hi Nathan. I’m looking forward to getting back to fishing! I used to be an avid fisherman, but have not gone fishing since 1999.
I wish you the best on your move, whenever it happens.