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This page focuses on one of the most common questions asked prior to someone moving to Cebu to retire, "What does it cost to live in Cebu?"


Note: The current exchange rate is about Php 43.30 to $1.00 USD. Here is a link that will give you the current USD / Php exchange rate: Yahoo Finance: USD to PHP conversion


Depending on who you ask (of those who have been on the ground here for some time), the responses will vary widely. I mean, you will probably get a range of replies anywhere from around Php 30,000 (~ $693 USD) to Php 120,000 (~ $2,771 USD), or more.


Personally, I think anyone who lives here on anything over about $1,500 to $2,000 USD per month

is wasting money. If they don't know how to get better deals than they do, or if they have high maintenance Filipinas living with them, perhaps they need to enroll in Living In Cebu 101. Then, they may learn that, "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto."


People do not realize that living among Filipinos is much different than living in the west. Furthermore, living with, or being married to a Filipina, is certainly quite a bit different from being with a western woman.


Anyway, my personal budget was about $1,200 USD, in January 2003. After losing my income from the states (July 2003), I ended on a budget of about $500 USD / month, primarily from helping others who needed help and information regarding the Philippines. The exchange rate of the day was around Php 55 to $1.00 USD, though, which was a benefit to me at the time.


In November / December of 2006, my monthly income (and budget) went up considerably. But, I have since averaged it out to about Php 50,000, or ~$1,154 USD, at current exchange rates. This has proven to be a good monthly average for me, but your requirements may vary. Personally, I could live on considerably less than this, and have done so before. I lived in a bed spacer room for more than a year, fourteen months, actually. I could easily do it again, if necessary, with little thought needed to make the decision. However, most foreigners (westerners, and most certainly other Americans, could not. Click here to read how cheaply I lived in Cebu back then.


Okay, back to getting the answers that you need regarding how much it will cost you to live in Cebu.


The answer to this question for you, depends on a few things that you will need to determine first:


1. What standard of living do I wish to appreciate after moving to the Philippines?


Often, foreigners do not realize how far (although a bit less these days) their currency will go after they retire to the Philippines. What I mean is, typically, you can rent a much nicer home than you can in the US, for example, for the same money. Provincial and city homes will fetch much different prices, so I will give you two examples of the differences.


The home I currently rent, and have for almost a year, cost Php 7,000 per month, or about $161 USD (at the current exchange rate), partially furnished. This is a provincial apartment located south of Cebu City about a one hour ride. It is a two floor apartment, roomy enough for two people, comfortably.


This apartment includes a single car garage, something that isn't common in the Philippines. It is located on a private compound, which also has a few other units. Most of the time, and luckly for me, they stay vacant. But, even when they are not vacant, the other tenants aren't noisy.


Okay, so now you have an idea as to what you can rent for $161 USD per month, in the province. In the city, this same home would be more, probably about 25-30%, depending on the area. Who knows? You may even find a deal better than I have. I do not claim to be the best shopper when it comes locating housing.


When I lived in Cebu City, I rented an unfurnished apartment for Php 10,000 per month, located in a private compound. This was a two bedroom, one bath unit, with small living, dining and kitchen areas. But, it did have a spacious rear outside washing area.



2. What amenities do I wish to have available to me, while living in the Philippines?


Are you a city or country person? Do you feel the need for active nightlife, movie theatres, malls, 24 hour restaurants, as well as other conveniences available to you on a regular basis? Or, do you not mind the streets rolling up at 8PM, with the main store being a single mega mall, a local hardware store, and a few local eateries?


Another very important part of this to consider is medical care. What sort of physical shape are you in? Do you need to be near a major medical facility? Or, would having one several hours away be okay with you? If you need any sort of immediate medical attention on short notice, you already know the answer to these questions. Of course, there are also other things to be considered, concerning your monthly budget.



3. What are my plans regarding my initial accommodations in Cebu? Will I stay in a hotel / pension house? Do I plan to furnish an entire home, or will I rent a furnished or unfurnished home for a while, say six months to one year?


I consider this question to be very, very important. You are new in the country, possibly having never even been here before in your life. So, you have yet to determine if the Philippines is "right" for you, or not. My primary concern for you is, hopefully you not have sold (liquidated) your entire life in your home country, in case it doesn't work out as you had planned here.


You see, I love the Philippines. I knew I loved it and wanted to live here when I first landed on the tarmac on Mactan Island, back in 1992. But, just because I love living here, doesn't mean everyone will. Hell, you may land here and find out in a couple months that you simply hate it, finding it quite difficult to adjust to the culture and ways here. So, you may wish to consider renting a furnished place for a while, until you know you have acclimated yourself to the culture and the country.


After you have established that you like it here and wish to stay, then I would suggest considering buying your own appliances, furnishings, etc. If you decide to go this (rent furnished, for starters) route, you will have much less invested in the country should you decide to leave. I would hate to see someone spend, quite literally, thousands of dollars (USD, most likely) to furnish a place, only to sell it all later at a great loss to them.



4. Where may I find further information on the province of Cebu, Philippines?


I personally own an online forum, a high ranking (in the search engines) site, I am proud to say, which offers tons and tons of information for you to review. Please feel free to click on Living In Cebu Forums to visit my site and browse around.


Here is another great resource: I have a Norwegian friend who has lived here in Cebu for a few years, now. His name is Lars, and he originally hails from Norway, and loves living here as much as I do. He has a site you may visit, which will offer you more information on where to go, what to see, where to stay, where to dine, and things to do in Cebu. Please feel free to check out Ycebu.com sometime. Let Lars know Paul sent ya!



Would you like to learn the language spoken in Cebu and elsewhere in the Visayas and Mindanao Regions of the Philippines? If so, this is an excellent introductory book for you to begin learning the basics of Cebuano.


The book is titled Conversational English-Cebuano Made Easy, by my long time friend, and author, Cristina Canonigo. She has authored more than 100 books, to date.


An earlier version of this book, the 2001 edition, is the version I used to begin learning Cebuano when I first moved to Cebu. It was a great first book for me. I assure you, if you spend a few minutes per day with it, you will begin to learn Cebuano as well.  read more...




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Revised: 07/28/13 12:36:06 +0700