Most Filipinos dream to have their very own home, all the more if they're living overseas. Overseas Filipino worker Rhia Cruz turned that to reality. The 36-year-old was able to buy her very own house while working in Japan.
A product of blood, sweat, and tears
Of course, it was not an easy process. It was major investment as many commonly rent apartments or houses. In fact, Rhia has had to work two to three jobs to be able to afford her home. “My life in Japan, it’s hard,” she tells the OG team. “Sa ibang bansa naman talaga mahirap yung buhay, akala lang nila madali. Ang work ko dito dalawa, umaga tsaka gabi. Minsan nga tatlo, nagtu-tutor pa ‘ko ng English ‘pag weekend.”
Before becoming an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), Rhia worked evenings part-time at a Philippine club, and then she would work mornings at a factory, sewing car seats. She also worked peeling vegetables and crops such as potatoes and handling garbage.
The realities of buying a home in Japan
Today, Rhia’s home stands as proof of her sipag at tiyaga. Outside, the parking area can fit five vehicles, while a lawn with artificial grass serves as a play area for her daughter.
Stepping inside—after removing one’s slippers or shoes, Japanese style—one is greeted by neutral-colored interiors and an accent wall decorated with brick-design wallpaper. The house made use of colors gray, beige, with pops of orange and blue. “My idea of a home is a place where you can relax, yung bahay na very inviting, welcoming, kaya ang gusto ko sa bahay ko, neutral colors lang,” Rhia says.
Rhia describes her home as an open-concept house, with an adjoining living and kitchen area. To make her small kitchen feel extra spacious, Rhia did away with kitchen cabinets and instead installed counter cabinets. Veering away from the typical Japanese home setup, she chose to use a tatami room as the dining area.
A few steps away is the toilet and bath and laundry area. Although small, Rhia can rely on a high-tech Japanese washlet with convenient features such as heated seats.
The second floor, meanwhile, houses the bedrooms and Rhia’s study area, where she prepares lesson plans and does her research.
A well-deserved investment
All in all, Rhia’s house cost ¥20 million—a hefty price by Philippine standards, but just average in Japan. The lot size measures 200 square meters while the floor area is around 113 square meters.“Actually, mura pa nga ‘to. Mas mahal pa kung talagang mas bobonggahan mo, yung mas malaki yung space.”
Just like any foreigner living in Japan, it’s extra difficult to purchase a home if you’re not married to a Japanese citizen. “Kunwari contract signing, do’n pa lang challenge na kasi ‘di ba wala kang alam dahil nga medyo mabibigat na Japanese na yung gamit at ‘di naman ako nakakabasa ng Japanese din,” Rhia notes. She also stresses that maintaining the house is hard especially as there’s no man in the house to look after errands such as replacing the gas and changing lightbulbs.
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