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Cebu, Philippines

Cebu, Philippines

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Mar 10, 2023

Summary: People describe Cebu, Philippines as a vibrant and diverse city with a rich culture and history. Expats love the friendly locals, the beautiful beaches, the delicious food, and the affordable cost of living. The weather in Cebu is generally warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from an average low of 73°F (23°C) to an average high of 91°F (33°C). The average cost of living for an expat is around $1,000 USD per month. A one bedroom apartment typically costs around $400 USD per month, while a two bedroom apartment typically costs around $600 USD per month. The approximate population of Cebu is 1.9 million people.

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What do I need to know about living in Cebu?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Cebu, they said:

"Before retiring in Cebu, expats should research the cost of living in the area, as well as the availability of healthcare and other services. It is also important to familiarize oneself with the local culture and customs, as well as the language. Additionally, expats should consider the climate and the type of housing available, as well as the safety and security of the area. Finally, expats should research the visa requirements for living in the Philippines, as well as any other legal requirements," wrote one member in Cebu.

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What do I need to know before moving to Cebu?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Cebu, they said:

"Before moving to Cebu, expats should be aware of the tropical climate and the rainy season. It is important to research the cost of living in Cebu, as well as the availability of housing and transportation. Expats should also be aware of the local culture and customs, and be prepared to learn the local language, Cebuano. Additionally, expats should research the healthcare system and the availability of medical services in Cebu. Finally, expats should be aware of the safety and security situation in Cebu, and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety," remarked one expat living in Cebu, Philippines.

"I lived in Cebu, Quoit Pardo for a few years off and on. Great people but just too much traffic, I have moved up north to Danao. Everything you need here, or a cheap air conditioned bus ride to Cebu City if you need any of the Government Departments. A good immigration office and plenty of banking facilities available, if you get a private car. Make sure you have somewhere to park, because that can be a problem. For accommodation DO NOT BUY, just rent. There are plenty of condos, houses or rooms at a good price," wrote one member in Cebu.

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How do I find a place to live in Cebu?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"One of the best ways to find a place to live in Cebu is to search online for rental listings. There are many websites that offer listings for apartments, houses, and other types of rental properties in Cebu. Additionally, you can search for rental listings in local newspapers and classifieds. You can also ask friends and family who live in Cebu for recommendations. Finally, you can visit the area in person and look for rental signs posted in the neighborhood," commented one expat who made the move to Cebu.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Cebu?

"Expat homes and apartments in Cebu are typically modern and comfortable. They often feature air conditioning, high-speed internet, and other amenities. Many expats choose to live in gated communities, which offer additional security and access to amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, and playgrounds. Expat homes and apartments in Cebu are typically located in the city center or in the suburbs, providing easy access to shopping, dining, and entertainment," wrote a member in Cebu.

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What is the average cost of housing in Cebu?

If you are thinking about moving to Cebu, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Cebu varies depending on the location and type of property. Generally, the cost of renting an apartment or house in Cebu is relatively affordable compared to other cities in the Philippines. Prices for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can range from around 8,000 to 15,000 Philippine Pesos per month, while outside the city center prices can be as low as 5,000 Philippine Pesos per month," wrote one member in Cebu.

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How do I meet people in Cebu?

When we asked people living in Cebu about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Expats in Cebu can join a variety of clubs and activities, such as sports teams, language classes, and social clubs. Expats can also meet people by attending local events, such as festivals, concerts, and art shows. Additionally, many expats find it helpful to join online forums and social media groups related to their interests, as these can be great ways to connect with other expats and locals. Finally, expats can also meet people by simply exploring the city and talking to people they meet in cafes, parks, and other public spaces," said one expat in Cebu.

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What should I bring when moving to Cebu?

People living in Cebu were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"When moving to Cebu, it is important to pack items that will help you adjust to the climate and culture. Bring lightweight, breathable clothing that is appropriate for the hot and humid weather. Pack a few items of clothing that are suitable for more formal occasions, such as a dinner or a job interview. Bring a few items of swimwear for the many beaches in the area. Make sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes, as well as a hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun. Don't forget to bring any necessary medications, as well as a first aid kit. Finally, make sure to bring a few items that will help you feel at home, such as photos, books, and other personal items," wrote one member in Cebu.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Cebu?

We asked expats in Cebu what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"Before retiring in Cebu, expats should research the cost of living in the area, as well as the availability of healthcare and other services. It is also important to familiarize oneself with the local culture and customs, as well as the language. Additionally, expats should consider the climate and the type of housing available, as well as the safety and security of the area. Finally, expats should research the visa requirements for long-term stays in the Philippines," wrote one member in Cebu.

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Will I be able to find a job in Cebu?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Cebu, they reponded:

"Foreigners often find work in Cebu in a variety of industries, such as hospitality, tourism, IT, and teaching English. Many foreigners also work as freelance writers, web designers, and software developers. Additionally, there are opportunities for foreigners to work in the medical field, such as nurses, doctors, and medical technicians. Other popular jobs for foreigners in Cebu include working in retail, construction, and agriculture," said one expat who made the move to Cebu.

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What is life like in Cebu?

When we asked people living in Cebu what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Life for expats and digital nomads in Cebu is generally quite pleasant. The cost of living is low, and the city is full of friendly locals who are eager to help newcomers settle in. The city is also home to a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of bars, restaurants, and clubs to explore. The climate is tropical, with warm temperatures year-round, and the beaches are some of the best in the world. The city also offers a wide range of activities, from scuba diving and snorkeling to hiking and exploring the nearby islands. With its low cost of living, friendly locals, and abundance of activities, Cebu is an ideal destination for expats and digital nomads," said one expat who made the move to Cebu.

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What do expats in Cebu appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expats in Cebu appreciate the friendly and welcoming nature of the locals. They also enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and the relaxed pace of life. The local cuisine is also a highlight, with its unique blend of Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino flavors. The city is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants to explore. Additionally, the city is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the sun," remarked one expat living in Cebu, Philippines.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats in Cebu often find the local culture to be quite different from what they are used to. The language barrier can be a challenge, as English is not widely spoken in the area. Additionally, the local customs and traditions can be difficult to understand and navigate. Expats may also find the pace of life to be slower than what they are accustomed to, and the hot and humid climate can be difficult to adjust to," wrote one member in Cebu.

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Is there a lot of crime in Cebu?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Cebu is generally considered a safe city, however, like any other city, there is some crime. Petty theft, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is the most common type of crime in Cebu. Other crimes, such as robbery, assault, and drug-related offenses, are also reported, but are less common. The city has a visible police presence, and the government has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce crime," remarked one expat who made the move to Cebu.

"Petty crime, but I am alert to avoid it. Cebu is safer than most American cities," explained one expat living in Cebu City, Philippines.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Cebu accepting of differences?

"Cebu is a diverse city with a variety of ethnicities, religions, and cultures. People in Cebu are generally accepting of differences and are known for their hospitality and friendliness. The city is home to a variety of languages, including Cebuano, English, and Tagalog, and is a melting pot of different cultures. Cebu is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants catering to different tastes. Overall, Cebu is a welcoming and diverse city that celebrates its differences," remarked one expat who made the move to Cebu.

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What are the schools in Cebu like?

"Cebu is home to a number of excellent international and bilingual schools. One of the best international schools in Cebu is the Cebu International School (CIS). CIS is an independent, non-sectarian, co-educational day school offering a comprehensive curriculum from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). CIS offers a rigorous academic program that prepares students for college and university studies. Another excellent international school in Cebu is the Cebu International Academy (CIA). CIA is a private, non-sectarian, co-educational day school offering a comprehensive curriculum from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. The school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). CIA offers a rigorous academic program that prepares students for college and university studies. The Cebu Japanese School (CJS) is one of the best bilingual schools in Cebu. CJS is a private, non-sectarian, co-educational day school offering a comprehensive curriculum from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. The school is accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Education and the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU). CJS offers a rigorous academic program that prepares students for college and university studies in both Japanese and English," commented one expat when asked about in Cebu.

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What are the pros and cons of living in Cebu?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Cebu responded:

"The people are not only friendly, but loving and care about you. They make excellent friends and relatives. The poverty is heart breaking," commented one expat living in Cebu, Philippines.

"NO regrets: been there except when I travel for 21 years. Hope to end it there but not in hurry: too much to look forward to each day: sea is warm, fresh food, cold beer. Life is great!," remarked one expat living in Cebu.

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What type of social life can someone expect in Cebu?

When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in Cebu, they replied:

"Expats, retirees and digital nomads living in Cebu typically have an active social life. There are many opportunities to meet people from all walks of life, from locals to other expats, retirees and digital nomads. There are plenty of activities to do, from attending local festivals and events to exploring the city's many attractions. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to socialize in, as well as a vibrant nightlife. Additionally, there are many expat-run groups and organizations that offer social activities and events, providing a great way to meet new people and make friends," remarked one expat in Cebu.

"Filipinos are very welcoming to foreigners. Friendliest people I have ever known," wrote one expat living in Cebu.

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"We have 900 square meters of the most beautiful property in our town. People think we are rich we help when we can. Love it here," remarked one expat in Cebu.

"It is helpful to have a trusted Native friend to help you when you need to go to any government agencies to navigate the bureaucracy and language issues," wrote one expat living in Cebu.

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What advice to expats in Cebu have about housing?

"Expats in Cebu recommend researching the area you are interested in living in before committing to a rental. It is important to visit the area and meet the neighbors to get a better understanding of the local culture and lifestyle. Additionally, it is important to check the condition of the property and make sure that all necessary repairs and maintenance are taken care of before signing a lease. Expats also suggest negotiating the rent and other terms of the lease to get the best deal possible. Finally, it is important to make sure that the rental agreement is in writing and that all parties involved understand the terms of the agreement," mentioned an expat living in Cebu.

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What are medical services in Cebu like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Cebu, they replied:

"Competent doctors. Took an appointment a week in advance for an MRI that was needed immediately," said one expat.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Cebu?

"Healthcare and health insurance in Cebu can be expensive, depending on the type of care and coverage needed. Private healthcare facilities tend to be more expensive than public ones, and health insurance plans can vary in cost depending on the type of coverage and the provider. Generally, health insurance plans in Cebu are more expensive than in other parts of the Philippines, due to the higher cost of living in the area," said one expat.

"Cebu city health care is very affordable. Good, top doctors compared to the U.S. When you are hospitalized and you ring for a nurse for help, you immediately get help - not one nurse but sometimes 3. We have a good experience in Cebu," commented one expat living in Cebu, Philippines.

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Is the cost of living in Cebu high?

We asked people about the cost of living in Cebu, they wrote:

"The cost of living in Cebu is generally considered to be quite affordable. A nice 1 bedroom apartment in Cebu can be rented for around $400 USD per month, while a nice 2 bedroom apartment can be rented for around $600 USD per month. Eating dinner at a moderately priced restaurant in Cebu will typically cost around $10 USD per person," mentioned an expat living in Cebu.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Cebu?

"To apply for a visa to Cebu, one must first determine which type of visa is required. Depending on the purpose of the visit, a tourist visa, business visa, or student visa may be necessary. The application process typically involves submitting a completed application form, passport-sized photographs, a valid passport, and other supporting documents. To apply for residency in Cebu, Philippines, one must first obtain a valid visa. Depending on the purpose of the residency, a temporary resident visa, permanent resident visa, or special resident retiree visa may be necessary. The application process typically involves submitting a completed application form, passport-sized photographs, a valid passport, proof of financial stability, and other supporting documents," wrote one expat living in Cebu.

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Why do people move to Cebu?

When we asked people why foreigners move to Cebu, they responded:

"Cebu is an attractive destination for expats due to its low cost of living, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture. The city is known for its friendly locals, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural scenery. Additionally, Cebu offers a wide range of activities and attractions, from shopping and nightlife to outdoor adventures and historical sites. With its tropical climate, diverse population, and excellent infrastructure, Cebu is an ideal place for expats to settle down and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle," mentioned an expat living in Cebu.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Cebu, Philippines

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