Living in Cebu, Philippines

I can’t write this article as the whole of the Philippines as region to region differs. But most of the points you will see below will be relevant to most areas. I have visited Manila previously but like most countries everyone does the landmarks and never covers the bits in between. Which is why I have stuck with just Cebu. I have been to the tips North,South,East and West and city provincial is a huge contrast but we will cover “Cebu island” itself on another topic. Today we are talking about transition from there in the UK or U.S. to coming to the Philippines to live.


Living in the Philippines will never a decision you should take lightly although I have seen many “just arrive” then plan things out later. Which is something I strongly advise against. The Philippines is worlds apart from the life you are used to and have spent more of the last few decades doing. If you travel from the UK for example into Europe or to the U.S. you can see differences of culture but generally the infrastructure and way of life is similar. But this is where your structured life goes out the window on arriving in the Philippines or as for now “Cebu” the Queen of the South second only to Manila.

Generally a lot of the stuff you want to do like walking along the road where you are used to safe clean footpaths are replaced with broken open sewers and a waft of what travels in them every so often. Vendors opening shop on the path leaving you to go round them on the road. A lot more traffic and dust than your used to. The constant honking of horns (which isn’t agressive here its people asking if you want to ride the bus or honking to let people know your overtaking so you don’t run into them). Maybe you like your reading and head off for your stint at your local library back in the UK at the weekend. Well there is no library here and a lot of the books even if buying aren’t great infact I would say most seem to be book shop surplus that couldn’t be sold elsewhere. Doesn’t mean its all bad as Amazon is only a click away. But at the same time its annoying if you were looking for something particular and don’t want to buy it but just borrow for a few days. But I think the future of reading will be resolved with things like Kindle as it drops things literally straight into your lap regardless of where you are.

Truth of the matter is you will end up with a long list of things you don’t like. But then again you need to remember your not in the UK/US and need to drop the comparisons and look how to adapt your life to your new surroundings. Kindle above is a prime example for readers, the long walks are probably better associated with the provinces or wandering round some of the huge malls here. The other thing is remembering there are plenty of good things in life here.

Eating out at McDonalds is around 1/3rd of the cost of the UK. Going to a nice restaurant for two dining and a bottle of wine is likely to cost you less than £10.00 and maybe even squeeze the taxi fare in the tenner aswell. Also there is a huge variety of restaurants currently there are over 1000 restaurants in Cebu city alone. Which also offers opportunity to try new things as many of the restaurants aren’t found in the UK. A good bottle of 12 year old Tanduay costs less than £1.50 a “Grande” San Miguel beer which is a litre is less than £1.00 a bottle. Maybe you want a haircut? They vary from P25 to P70 in most salons. Fuel is cheap in comparison to the UK. Public transportation is reliable and constant as well as only being less than 10 pence (around P7) for a distance of several Km’s then afterwards P1 per Km for the last distance. Which for us means going to our local Mall which is two towns away costs us 10 pence each way. When was the UK transport system that cheap?

The other thing is rentals. You can get a small 2/3 bedroom house from around P7,000 upwards and apartments are generally cheaper (the one we rent is P3,000). Although finding these gems does take a bit of legwork to get the right price as most people don’t advertise too openly (e.g they stick a sign on the gate).

Maybe you want to visit the dentist? Last time I was in the UK it cost me £40 for a check up and £38 for medication total = £78.00 here I had my teeth in filled, cleaned and a filling for less than £20 and was in the dentists chair for nearly 2hrs. Comparison wise if you needed some work for your teeth done you could no doubt get it done here to a high standard and the cost of your flight for less than it would cost to get your teeth repaired in the UK. There are plenty of Malls to visit so there is enough to keep occupied and if your like me (not great on shopping) you could hire a helper to get your groceries every week for less than £2.00 (the helper not the groceries!). Truth of the matter is most things are cheaper here compared to the UK. Only real concerns would be making sure you have good medical insurance and don’t waste money buying a house when you can invest the money and rent cheaper. The investment would no doubt cover most of your bills as well as the rent cost. You also have to remember you have the sunshine even on most rainy days here. Generally it never seems to drop below 20 degrees if you want to swim your normally within a short distance to a resort or a beach.

If you would want any advice or help relocating please just drop an email to me at I can also organise Airport pickups, sourcing rentals etc. etc. or just general advise please feel free to email.

2 comments for “Living in Cebu, Philippines

  1. Kilian
    August 11, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Very informative. Thank you!