Cebu Cost of Living

Cost of Living In Cebu, Philippines

One Month’s Spend for Travelers, Retirees and Nomads

Planning an extended stay in Cebu? Wondering what the cost of living in Cebu might be? One of the Philippines most fascinating cities has a lot to offer in the way of outstanding cultural experiences, great food and affordable living. Also, it’s a common destination for travelers, digital nomads and retirees. .

When I decided to travel the world full-time, I set a monthly budget for myself of $2000 Canadian dollars (about $1,600 USD) per month. I know that it will vary depending on where I am in the world, but I plan to stick to it as best I can and hope it all evens out in the end. OK, I know we set these budgets up as a couple and not for one person, but I’m a grown up and I can do what I want.

All figures below will be in US dollars.

Let’s see how my cost of living compares to my imaginary budget:

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Cost of Living in Cebu

My first month without Angela! It was an uneventful month mostly filled with a giant pity party and a lot of alcohol. Even though both of us knew this was coming for some time, it was still hard to deal with the actual break up. In hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to both of us. For the record, Angela and I still talk regularly and are still friends. We have both moved on with our lives and wish each other nothing but happiness.

So here we go as a solo traveler. All expenses reflected below will be for one person.

Accommodations

I stayed right in the heart of Cebu City for this 4 week period. No, not near IT Park, but in the thick of local Cebuano living. I am 100% certain that I did not see another foreigner in my general vicinity for the entire month. The condo unit is located in the Labangon area of Cebu City.

The unit is a simple studio unit. Complete with a full kitchen and bathroom, TV, A/C etc. The only drawbacks when I stayed there were hot water and the table/work station area. It’s pretty common, even in Europe, to not have hot water at the kitchen and bath sinks. But in all my years of travel I had not experienced a shower that didn’t have hot water. This is totally my fault as I didn’t check the listing well enough. The cold showers were great after being out filming all day and glistening like a glazed donut in July. But waking up in the morning to an icy cold shower was not fun.

And then there was the table/dining/work station. Once again this is 100% on me. The table was fine and very sturdy, but there are two stools to sit at. I need a solid work station when editing videos and the stools just wreak havoc on my back. I learned here that a table with full back chairs at a minimum is a must for me. An actual desk with an office chair is even better. I knew what was on offer before I went and chose it anyway.

The AirBnb host is an absolute gem. Her and her husband went out of their way to make sure I had a comfortable stay and made great recommendations during my time there. And I want to reiterate that the issues I had were totally on me and had nothing to do with them. One final point is I looked at the listing before writing this blog post and the unit now lists hot water as an amenity. This unit is definitely worth looking into if you’re looking for an inexpensive stay in Cebu City.

If you’re interested in checking out the unit you can find it here. Ideal studio right between Ayala Mall & SM Seaside

Total cost for accommodation for the month: $460

Looking for short term accommodations? Check these great deals:

  • Luxury Accommodations: – Fili Hotel at Nustar Cebu – Fili Hotel at Nustar Cebu offers 5-star accommodation in Cebu City and features a bar. Featuring room service, this property also welcomes guests with a restaurant, a casino and a year-round outdoor pool
  • Mid-Range Accommodations: – Citadines Cebu City -Situated in Cebu City and with Fuente Osmena Circle reachable within 700 metres, Citadines Cebu City features express check-in and check-out, allergy-free rooms, an infinity pool, free WiFi and a fitness centre
  • Budget Accommodations: – Avida Towers Riala Tower 3 Avida Towers Riala Tower 3 is situated in Cebu City, within 2.7 km of Ayala Center Cebu and 3.5 km of SM City Cebu.

Or check here for the latest deals on Booking.com

Check out my Manila Cost of Living

Cost of Living in Cebu – Activities

Does cirrhosis inducing drinking count as an activity? Because if it does, this category is going to be costly. I’m going to assume it does not so I’ll only include the one thing I did that I could possibly consider an activity. Fair warning, the coming months activities will revolve around food

I hired a tour guide to take me on a street food tour around Cebu City on AirBnb. The tour operator, Prue, is an absolute pleasure to hang out with. So much so that we even met up after this Cebu stay in Bacolod during the Maskara festival. Her tours are awesome and she is a master storyteller. I highly recommend her tours if you find yourself in Cebu City. The price below includes tip as well

Total Cost for Activities for the month: $31

Check out my food tour with Prue and a very game English couple. I eat boiling pig brains in this one:

Dining and Restaurants

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Cebu was for Lechon. There are arguments even amongst Filipinos as to where the best lechon comes from. In my opinion, and I had it all over the country during my year there, nothing can touch the Cebu version. Lechon is quite possibly the most delicious thing you will ever eat. So I ate a ton of it during my 4 weeks there. Cebu is also where I was introduced to Dinuguan and Humba. I’ll be writing about these in the near future so keep your eyes open for new articles.

As usual, this category makes up Grab deliveries, dining out and expenses incurred for content I made. For comparison sake meals in Cebu can vary widely. You can get 250 grams of fresh lechon, rice and atchara for as little as $2.50 and if you want western food it will be much more expensive. Grab deliveries can vary anywhere from $4-5 to as high as you want to to go for food. As with every country, the local cuisine will always be much more affordable than International dishes

Total Cost for Dining out for One Month: $197

Ready to experience Lechon? Check out this video

Check out some other great food tours here:

Groceries

Not a whole lot of groceries for this cost of living in Cebu. There was a large grocery store about a 15 minute walk from my AirBnb but I don’t like cooking and I definitely don’t want to have to cook and clean up the mess from my awful cooking. This month’s grocery bill includes snacks like fresh fruits, granola and yogurt. Other than that this cost is mostly toiletries.

Total Cost for Groceries for the Month: $95

Cell Phones

This month only consists of topping up my sim card that I purchased when I arrived in country.

Total Cost for Phone and Data for one Month: $10

Transportation

Cheap month as far as transportation is concerned. A few random grabs to get around town and to and from the airport

Total cost for Transportation for One Month: $34

Looking for fun things to do in Cebu? Check out some of these tours from Viator

Visas

After enjoying your first 30 days visa free in the country you have to pay to extend your Visa. The good thing is you can keep extending visas in the Philippines for up to 36 months. I will break down visa fees going forwards in other cost of living articles but this month was just my first extension. Your fist extension can only be for 29 days. After that time you can extend for anywhere from 2 – 6 months. This cost only reflects my first 29 day extension

Total Cost for Visa for one month: $55

Miscellaneous Expenses

This category covers pretty much everything that’s not included above. I include alcohol in miscellaneous, because I do enjoy a beer or 20 from time to time while hanging around the Airbnb. You might not drink and if you are planning a budget you can easily omit this cost. For me, alcohol makes up about 60% of this category. This month it also included a haircut

One thing to note in the Philippines. Banks charge hefty fees for foreign card withdrawals regardless of amounts withdrawn. It works out to a little over $3 for every transaction so if you have to pull money out, pull out as much as possible in one transaction.

Total Miscellaneous Costs for one month: $141

One thing I can’t live without while on the road full time – Saves me lots of money too!

Cost of Living in Cebu – Totals

Cost of Living for One Month in Cebu, Philippines

Looking at the table above, you can see I was well under my imaginary budget. I will probably be broke and begging someone to take me in if I keep this up for too long. But $1,023 USD works out to a little over $1,396 CAD. Obviously if I split what our former budget was in half, I have easily exceeded what I should be spending. However, living abroad can still be much cheaper than in your home country.

Have you lived in Cebu for any length of time? Were your numbers similar to my cost of living in for one month in Cebu? Do you have any other tips for potential travelers? Leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you.

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