Where a doctor’s visit costs less than a stamp!

How Moving to a Third-World Country Improved Our Financial Situation


People spend a lot more money when their neighbors spend a lot more money. If the neighbor’s kid has an iPod, laptop, backpack, new running shoes, and a shiny bike, then we want our children to have enough stuff to “fit in”. Maybe you don’t feel a temptation to keep up with the Joneses, but you probably don’t want to be so far behind that everyone notices.

Living in a third world country has dramatically diminished my desire to own Stuff. It’s diminished because our neighbors don’t have Stuff. There isn’t a pressure to keep up with the Joneses, but instead the pressure is towards lifestyle de-flation. To live with less. To live more simply. To be more generous.

It’s not unusual to see kids with worn-down sandals, wearing only one sandal, or no footwear at all. The first thing we feel tempted to do when we get a new pair of shoes is get them dirty so they don’t look so new.

In our hometown, Alotau, you couldn’t even find much worth buying if you tried. T-shirts at the stores are about as thick as a piece of Kleenex, and second-hand clothing stores tend to buy bulk used clothing at the cheapest price possible. This often means all the clothes are between XL and XXXL. Which, by the way, is very unfortunate because most of the local residents are very short and thin.


While our family still pays an exorbitant amount for international health insurance, you can’t beat the prices when you need to make a trip to the local hospital. A visit to the hospital costs about seventy cents. Interestingly, it cost me $2 to buy a stamp to mail my claim to our insurance company. Isn’t that crazy? A doctor’s visit costs less than a stamp! There are no local private doctors, but if you want to get to see a doctor immediately, you can pay around $7 USD and get to see a doctor right away instead of waiting in line for a couple of hours.

Several years ago, some co-workers had a baby here in town. The total hospital bill came to $7 USD. If you’ve had a baby in the U.S., you know you’re talking a four-digit bill — not a single-digit bill.

Comment: About the author. Tobin .. thought this would interest you.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds very familiar, although the area of Indonesia where we were had many wealthy Chinese-Indonesians - virtually all with a very materialistic mindset.

    While my wife was pregnant last year, they wanted to do ultrasounds every month. The doctor visit (at the most expensive hospital in town) plus ultrasound came to $9 each visit. That included an extra dollar they tacked on for getting a print of the baby's picture.


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