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Living Costs For An Average Expat In Cebu Philippines

Updated on July 19, 2012

This is the third instalment of my basic guide to Cebu Philippines for an Expatriate, the previous other two articles

Making A Sustainable Income Source As An Expat In Cebu Philippines

Finding Suitable Expat Accommodation In Cebu Philippines

Are also great reads, Make sure you check them out!

The living cost for an expat in Cebu Philippines varies from person to person and it all depends on your budget and what kind of lifestyle you lead. Most expats easily survive on $1000 a month, this includes their rental, bills and food and entertainment. And some like myself are quite happy living on $500 a month.

As previously covered in my article Finding Suitable Expat Accommodation In Cebu Philippines where you decide to live plays a big factor in your overall monthly budget. Of course if you want to hit the town every night spending money in the ‘girlie’ bars you’re going to easily spend over $1000 a month.

Great Tip!

Living further away from the city provides great cheap and affordable accommodation and many expats choose this option. The city is there if you want it just not on your doorstep, it’s only a Jeepney ride away!


Electric... Not So Cheap!

Electric in Cebu is expensive and the rate is around $0.20 per unit and varies on the area you are living in Cebu. So if you’re on a tight budget turning your AC on is an expensive luxury so be prepared to sweat! Stay away from electric hobs and cookers and try to utilize the gas alternatives as this will work out a lot cheaper and save you a lot of money.

Getting Around

Getting around Cebu again depends on your lifestyle and what you are able to afford and are comfortable with, using taxis regularly will eat at your budget and you will soon see your money disappear. I would recommend using the local public transport.

Jeepenys for example are a great way to get around the city and are extremely cheap and affordable. The downside, no AC and you are obviously sharing (often crammed into) the jeepney with others. But for the price of around 8 peso (around $0.20) to get around the city you really can’t complain and you will see your money going extremely far if you use this method of transport regularly.


Buying Your Food..

Groceries are pretty reasonable and you can find a great selection at most of the major malls in and around Cebu city. Of course you’re probably not going to find all of the brands and foods you are accustomed to back home, but the basics are there and if like me you will adapt and find new foods which will become your favourites. One of the foods that seem to be quite hard to get your hands on is good quality Beef, pork on the other hand seems to be falling off the shelves where ever you go. Fish is in abundance and at affordable prices that will keep you within your budget.

Sari Sari stores are all over the place, on nearly every road and provide the basics, they are a bit like the ‘corner store’ and save you going to the major malls to get small items.


As I stated at the beginning of this article, it all depends on what your funds are and your allotted budget. Yes you can get by quite well on $500 a month; you’re not missing out on anything or living like a ‘hermit’! And yes you can live happily on $1000 a month. Only you can decide your budget and what you feel is right for you and your circumstances.



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