I've met a lot of people saying "Mas mahal man dinha kay dako ang tax." ("It's more expensive there as tax is more expensive.") Is it really???
If I tell them, well maternity here is free. Still they'd say, but you pay more on taxes than in the Philippines. I also tell them that water here is also free and amongst the purest in the world. They'd tell me, "nah, it's all been paid for in your taxes; still it's expensive."
Also others will just convert the dollars to pesos straight off, which is even worse. They would say, for example, "1.5L bottle of Coke in NZ is 1.40 NZD = 44.8 pesos, oh that's just expensive." (1 NZD = about 32 PHP)
I think a better way of computing it, if we really want to look at the numbers, is to compare how much we earn and how much we can afford to buy with it. I'm talking about normal circumstances only; average decent living. From my own experience, here's what I can see:
My work here is exactly the same as my work when I was in the Philippines; although I'm working on a different product-set. In the Philippines, I'd be lucky if I can save about 10,000 pesos in one month. Over here, I can easily save up to 30,000 pesos in one month. You might say, "well, things there are more expensive so you need more money." Not quite...
What I think is a better measure goes like this: with how much you earn in the Philippines, per month, how many times can you eat your favorite meal? How many times can you watch a movie? How much grocery can you buy? How much percentage of what you earn you save?
I'd like to show you my numbers but I can't. Nobody wants anybody to know how much he's making, just ask anyone especially those who work in the government. ;-) You're gonna have to trust me on this one.
When I was in the Philippines, with what I was earning, I can eat my favorite meal at McDonalds for almost 420 times in one month. Over here, I can eat that same meal at McDonalds for about 520 times in one month. Take note, computation is based on take-home pay, meaning all deductions has already been taken. Also take note, this computation assumes that the money is used 100% for just eating this meal at McDonalds. In other words, if my take-home pay was to be 10,000 pesos and my favorite meal costs 100 pesos, then 10,000 / 100 = 100.
I can go to a movie theater for almost 210 times in a month there in the Philippines, over here, I can do about 260. And trust me, I'm being very generous in my computations here.
I strongly believe that part of our problems in RP is the wide gap between income and expenses. It's not because people are spending more than they're earning, it's because the prices of the goods are just way high and the salary of the workers are so low. If only this gap can be narrowed, I think life there will be a bit better than it is today. And maybe, not many people will have to sacrifice and go abroad to work and/or live.