Dumaguete, in Negros Oriental, Philippines, has been touted as an ideal retirement city for expats. Just how good is it? Here are 5 good reasons to retire in Dumaguete City. We shall examine the pros and cons of each segment from the point of view of someone already retired and living in Dumaguete.
COST OF LIVING
The most important decision a retiree will make is to decide if he or she can afford the cost of living in their chosen destination. Decide what your budget is and then start looking for places you can afford to live on that budget. Dumaguete will be near the top of your list.
Some expat retirees in Dumaguete are on a budget of US$ 1,000 a month and less. There are also expatriate pensioners with incomes exceeding US$ 5,000 a month. The current median budget for a foreign man, retiring in Dumaguete, Philippines, is approximately US$ 2,500 a month.
With a budget of US$ 2,500 a month you would have great choices of accommodation, lots of lifestyle and food choices, and enough money left over for an annual vacation. Of course budgets are personal decisions and include factors like marital status and other dependents.
US$ 2,500 a month sounds great so what’s the downside? Inflation is a problem here. The retiree with a budget of 2,500 a month would have lived a similar lifestyle on 1,000 a month just 15 years ago. So if you are a young retiree and plan on living another 15 years, I suggest a higher budget.
When comparing Dumaguete to other cities in Philippines, you will find your money goes further here than in cities like Manila or Cebu. There are cheaper places to live, within the Philippine islands, but few have the same choices of rental housing, restaurants, and social activities.
BUYING OR RENTING
Since the US$ 2,500 a month cost of living has not scared you away, let’s look at what you will spend to rent or buy a home. The average foreign golden-ager rents a house, townhouse, or apartment for about US$ 250 to 300. These are comfortable units but not high end. If you consider renting a similar quality of home on the beach or in a high end subdivision, you may spend twice as much.
Buying a house and lot is an option that many senior expats choose. There are starter homes available from US$ 30,000 but the average married expat retiree will spend US$ 120,000 and up on a small house. Whether buying or renting, the average lot size is only about 100 to 300 square meters and the average small house ranges from 60 to 80 square meters. Remember these are only average sizes.
Being married to a Filipina is an important criteria when choosing to buy, rather than rent. Only Philippine citizens can own land here. Most retired expats who buy a house and lot just put the title in their wife’s
Food choices in Dumaguete are great! There are dozen of restaurants that cater to the tourist trade so a retiree will have many choices to dine out. These are not expensive restaurants. An average dinner for 2 will cost about US$ 10, ranging up to $20 with a couple of drinks. By comparison, similar restaurants in Cebu or Manila will charge 2 to 3 times as much for the same menus.
Imported and other higher quality foodstuffs are available in Robinsons Mall, Lee Plaza, and quite a few other grocery stores. A grocery budget of US$ 100 a week will feed two people quite well.
In addition to the major grocery stores, there are a couple of dairies in the city as well as the public market and another, organic vegetable market. With a reasonable amount of searching, there are only a few food items that you cannot find here.
LIFESTYLE CHOICES / SOCIAL LIFE
There are many choices for a social life in Dumaguete city. The simplest of lifestyles involves strolling the boulevard and meeting friends who are doing the same thing. If you prefer liquid refreshment there are a variety of coffee and tea shops along with bars, restaurants and convenience stores located across from Rizal boulevard.
Some expats gather at beaches, hot springs or swimming pools for their afternoon’s relaxation and social life. Others go diving, boating or riding their motorcycles around the local area.
Scattered around the city and surrounding municipalities are a number of bars that cater to those who like a beer. You will find expat retirees playing poker, billiards, singing, chatting or dancing. Just not all at the same place.
Bikini bars are in short supply. Those who are looking for a more exotic lifestyle choice may not be suited to Dumaguete’s laid back atmosphere.
TRANSPORTATION TO OTHER PLACES
Choosing to retire in Dumaguete does not mean cutting yourself off from that exotic lifestyle. There is easy access to the rest of the Philippines and the world from the local airport.
Once a day there is a scheduled flight to Cebu and back. 6 or more flights per day go to Manila. The flights are only about an hour long and so cheap that you can fly to either Manila or Cebu for less than US$ 50, much less than that when you book an advertised special.
From Manila and Cebu there are countless flights to International destinations in Asia and overseas.
COME FOR A VACATION
Now that you know what is waiting for you in Dumaguete, come for a vacation and check it out. You will find the cost of hotels quite reasonable. Pension houses and low cost hotels are still available for under US$ 25 a night. In addition to the convenient airplane service, Busses come to Dumaguete from Cebu and Bacolod every few hours and there is daily ferry service to Cebu.
Give it a week and you may stay for a lifetime.
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