Saturday afternoon spent on a long transpacific phone call with my oldest childhood friend. We've seen each other through elementary school to post-graduate school and beyond. Travelled the continent together and seen our families go through all sorts of ups and downs.
Last Saturday, she told me about her new crossroads: buying a house. After ten years living in Sacramento, she's finally going to do it. But there's a catch: the house she put a bid on has an asbestos problem. Removing it will cost her; so will not having it removed only to have to sell it later on. She's also stressed out over the whole idea of buying a house and is hating every minute she's having to worry over this matter. "This is the reason why I never wanted to buy a house in the first place!" she rants "Why go through this? For the tax refund? Is it worth it?"
I can't really answer her, since I don't own property. And I fully agree with her. If you're a single gal, making enough to live on and put aside enough for miscellaneous stuff and some travel or whatever rocks your boat, do you invest close to 40% of your annual income on house payments each year for a tax refund that only comes close to paying off the bathroom remodeling expenses? I didn't want to ask her if that meant our previous plan to travel to Italy and France for our 40th birthdays is kaput. She might be funnelling all her savings for the next ten years into the house and extraneous travels are on hold for now. She's stressed enough as it is.
We also talked about our aging parents. Mine are infirm and having to deal with life on a day to day scale. Each day is a blessing. Hers are just about to enter their late 60's, a difficult period for workaholics like her dad. With all their kids on the West Coast, does it make sense for her parents to maintain a household in the Philippines? It's less costly, but eventually, they will probably end up moving over there. As they age, the kids are going to have to prepare for some form of assisted-living facility, or at least pay for elderly-care nurses. She told me about one of her aunts, who recently had a massive stroke at 52. Her uncle is now faced with possibly caring for his invalid wife for up to 30, or 40 years. One option the family is considering is sending her to live here where the cost of care is much less. But what of her family? They are all born and raised in California, the idea of one of them moving here with her is probably not going to work out.
This article raises some issues about aging and cost of caring for an aging population. While the aspects and fees are US based, it is not impossible to assume these same concerns will affect the Philippines in the next few decades.