My friends and family back in the Philippines ask me this question all the time and I would say that no amount of money can actually quantify the lifestyle changes that I experienced.
Let’s begin with how my daily work day starts. Back in Manila, I used to wake up really early to get a headstart with the traffic. My daily commute would around 1.5-2 hours going to, and getting back from work. At the end of the day, I am dead tired not really from the work itself but sitting in public transport, heat and pollution.
In Wellington, New Zealand where I work now, my daily commute is around 10 minutes, 15 minutes if there is “traffic”. I can take my own car to work or ride the bus and it will not make any difference. Sometimes, when the sun is out I take my bike to work and in the office, there are bathroom facilities where I can take a shower before beginning my day.
Here in New Zealand, the water coming from any tap is clean enough to drink. It is the same whether it flows from the shower or the garden hose you use to wash your car. Imagine how much it will cost you in Manila to shower using mineral water everyday?
In Manila, I work on an average of 10-12 hours a day. Here, it is almost unthinkable for anyone to go beyond 40 hours per week and if you do, the employer has to pay overtime or give you a day off in exchange for the extra hours worked. Labour laws are strictly implemented here and you can raise a grievance with an employer if this is breached.
Since I spent less time at work and commuting compared to the Philippines, I actually have more time to spend with family, friends or pursuing a hobby or a passion. Add to that, there is a mandatory four weeks paid annual leave for everyone that you can use to travel outside the country or simply do what you want.
Biking on the weekend at Rimutaka Hills! Fresh air is priceless
Another thing that saves up time is that most government services are efficient and can be done online -whether getting a driver’s license or passport renewed.You just pay up using your credit or debit card and you will get it after a few days. No need to spend an entire day lining up and dealing with red tape. Same goes with utilities or every other service imaginable.
If I go to the USA, Middle East or Singapore, I could probably make more money. But the freedom that New Zealand gives me is so much more. At this point in my life, I value the currency of time more than anything, having good health and being stress free. For that, I am eternally grateful.