Retire To Cebu, Philippines

One Woman’s Adventures On Cebu

“Most of the expats who live on Cebu, in the Philippines, are men, and many of them are retired military receiving military pensions and Social Security,” writes Philippines Correspondent Victoria Clair.

“I am not in this category. I am a retired American woman who simply finds it advantageous to live in this part of the world.

“Life in Manila would be very different–and much more expensive–than life on one of the other Philippine islands, including on the little island where I’m living.

Cebu is a popular choice among expats. It doesn’t have all the amenities and services of Manila, but it is a reasonably comfortable place to be, with much of what an expat might hope to find in a new home away from home. It is also an inexpensive one-hour flight and (if you’re not in a hurry) a delightful 24-hour ferry ride from Manila. Cost for either is less than US$100 round-trip.

“Cebu offers the city life in and close to town, as well as small-town living in the many villages north and south of the main city. You also have good options for living in the mountains or by the sea.

“The Philippines is an Asian country. However, I see more Spanish influence in this country than Asian. Local food choices have heavy Spanish influences and use spices not typical of Asian fare. Also, because of the many years of Spanish occupation, the Philippines is more than 90% Roman Catholic…though it’s a Roman Catholicism influenced by old Filipino folk beliefs and practices, particularly in the provinces.

“You could live comfortably on Cebu for about US$1,000 a month, in fact for less than that if you are willing to live away from the city. Fresh tropical fruits and vegetables are very inexpensive, as is fish and meat. It is very easy to eat healthfully here without spending a lot of money. If you insist on feeding your Western appetites, your grocery bill is going to increase, considerably.

“I live on a small island near Cebu. I can get to Cebu either by crossing a bridge or by taking a 20-minute ferry. When I lived on Cebu, in Cebu City, I paid about US$450 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom local Filipino-style apartment. That’s typical. Newer condos are becoming available in buildings with more amenities; these rent for upward of US$600 a month.

“On the island where I’m now living, typical rent is about US$300 a month. One more 15-minute ferry ride over from where I live, you can rent for as little as US$100 a month.

“Because I enjoy a quiet life in a remote area, I will be moving to Olango Island in October. My rent will be just under US$100 a month. The house where I will be living is right on a lovely beach. I’m looking forward to being able to swim every day if I like. Yes, it will be a chore to go into Cebu to shop. But I plan to do that once a month and to make a two-day affair of it, running all of my errands and meeting with friends for meals. The rest of the month, I will content myself with unpretentious small island life, swimming, walking my puppy, visiting the bird sanctuary, and touring around on my motorcycle.

“The Philippines is an excellent choice for a retiree on a very modest income. Part of the reason I live here is that I could never afford to live on the beach or to enjoy this standard of living in the States. I have a helper who does my laundry by hand, cleans for me, and runs errands. The cost is about US$40 a month! She is not live-in because I value my privacy too much. But many expats and Filipinos do have live-in helpers.

“Another plus, for me, as I prefer to work with alternative health care practitioners, is that my primary care physician here is a medical doctor who chooses to use more natural ways of working with patients. I go to him once a month for acupuncture. It works better than the Western meds I had been taking for years.

“Local transportation is quite inexpensive. I take jeepneys to get around the city and from one town to another. The most I’ve ever paid for a jeepney ride was about 26 cents. Most are less than 20 cents.

“Within the smaller towns you can engage a ride in a side-car on a motorcycle or a bicycle. These usually cost less than 15 cents. Taxis are more expensive but, by Western standards, still cheap. You can get from one place in Cebu to another for less than US$5. Most trips cost about US$3.

“Life in the Philippines, as in any foreign country, will require you to make choices. As I’ve come to think of it, every country has 10 windows, and each resident there is provided with 8 shades.

“It’s up to you to decide which eight windows you think are most important to cover.”

Kathleen Peddicord

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