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Cebu Living Guides - Cost of Living in Cebu

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| Food | Electricity | Gas LPG | Water | Telephone | Television | Domestic staff | Electrical Appliances (UK) | Sample Budget Sheet

Costs of living in Cebu, Philippines:

Update: Due to the major World economic crisis and the seemingly ever decreasing value of the British Pound, I have decided to now quote prices in this section in Philippine Pesos, leaving the conversion in to local currencies up to the reader. Alan Jay

 

The day to day living expenses are an extremely important aspect when trying to determine if your budget will allow living in Cebu. I will say from the outset that this is an area where huge savings can be made. The figures I have detailed in this section are based on my own expenditures, and you may in fact spend a lot more or a lot less than me. The general cost of living is still below that of the UK but the drop in the value of the pound has certainly hit hard and and forced me to cut back in some areas.

From my experience the cost of food in most instances is lower than in the UK, however a number of items are a similar price if not a little higher (typically the imported ones). The prices shown below are examples of my own weekly and monthly expenditure on food and utilities.

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Food Expenditure:

Monthly food expenditure is very hard to quantify and will differ greatly from person to person. I would say that a single person would be able to manage on around 2,500Php weekly but you can obviously spend much more. The main supermarkets carry a wide range of fresh and canned products and should satisfy the dietary needs of most foreign nationals. Some of the larger stores have international sections with a range of imported goods.

Money can be saved shopping in one of the many Public (Wet Markets) but these are not to everyone’s liking and are unlikely to have everything you want. I personally prefer the local supermarket where I can buy all my shopping under one air-conditioned roof, that said I often buy fruit outside as it can be cheaper and seems to be a little fresher.

You can choose to just eat out and in some cases this can actually be less expensive than cooking for yourself. This is obviously dependant on what and where you eat but I can buy a good meal for one consisting of two dishes e.g. Sweet & Sour Pork, vegetables and rice for under 100Php.

Alcoholic beverages are very cheap with a 330ml bottle of San Miguel Pilsner costing under 20Php, a 750ml bottle of 12 year old Tanduay rum will cost the princely sum of around 130+ Pesos. There are various imported beers, wines & spirits that cost more than the local brands but on the whole you can get very merry for very little cash outlay. Please note the prices quoted are for buying your alcohol from the Supermarket or Sari Sari Shop, the costs in local bars will be much higher but still less than European prices.

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Electricity:

I understand that the Philippines has the second or third highest KW/H charge in the world. I would have to concur with this as my bills always seem high. I pay between 3,500 & 4,000Php a month for my electricity usage. This might seem high at first glance, however you must remember this is a very warm country with the average temperature being around 30c all year.

I find that air conditioning is a must when I go to bed and usually run it for at least 10 hours a day, add to that my daughters aircon and that I occasionally take an afternoon siesta and this will obviously add to the total bill.

It is impossible to determine what your electricity consumption would be as there are many factors that will effect the final bill. I have a three bedroom house and would use more power than say a small studio or town house. I think it fair to say that you should budget for 2,000Php per month for starters, it's better to over budget a little than to under budget. (Based on one person living in a small studio apartment / room)

There are a number of electricity suppliers and one would assume they all have there own rate albeit competitive with each other. On Mactan Island the supplier is MECO and whilst fairly reliable it is not unusual to have the odd power outage or two. The supply in Cebu City proper is on the whole more reliable.

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LPG Gas:

Please note: the price of LPG here right now is very variable with there appearing to be a shortage of cylinders as opposed to the gas itself. The main suppliers blame pirate refiling companies, but as is usual all parties seem to share some of the blame. Please use only authorised Refillers as it will be the safer option. Alan Jay

The majority of households cook using LPG gas (there is no piped gas supply here) so you will have to use the cylinders. For safety I would advise that whether you are renting or have bought a property, you ensure that the gas tank be placed outside the house. LPG gas is heavier than air and should the tank leak it might pose a slight risk of an explosion when you light up your cigarette or candle (back to the power cuts again). You will just need a small hole in the wall to pass the gas hose through.

You will easily find a local supplier of refill bottles and most will happily deliver to your home free of charge. Work top free standing twin burners are readily available and prices start at around 500Php, the tank I believe is around 1,500 for your first purchase and then around 850+Php each time you need refil it.

I believe a worktop twin burner gas cooker should last a good couple of months but obviously that will depend on the usage.

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Water - Tap & Drinking:

Water is readily available here, however some places have more pressure than others but on the whole Cebu & Mactan Island have a reliable water supply. It is not advisable to drink the normal tap water, so large bottles of purified water are required. These are always available as a delivered to your door item. I use a water chiller that the bottle fits straight on top of. This way you have fresh chilled water available 24/7.

The subdivision I live in has a water company supplying the tap water and uses a high pressure system. The water has been purified and is ok to drink. I am not that trusting and always use the bottled water for drinking.

The cost of our water is probably higher than the normal water supplied to most of the homes in the area. My water bill is roughly 700+PHP per month for the tap water and 500Php for our bottled drinking water. Once again there are three of us drinking the water plus our helper, so your bills could be well below mine. Additionally we have a lot of plants in the garden that require copious amounts of water in the dry summer months to stay healthy.

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Telephone Services:

There are a number of telephone providers in Cebu with the main ones being PLDT, GLOBE and ISLACOM. I use globe and find the service to be fairly reliable. You can be limited to what providers you can chose depending on your location. I do not have IDD activated on my line, so my bill is based purely on National Direct Dialed calls, calls to mobiles and internet access. The local calls here are free of charge.

The monthly line rental is just over 500Php and my total bill is usually around 1,500Php monthly.

I use SmartBro for my intenet. it offers 350k connection with unlimited access for the grand sum 999Php / month. The service is OK and in my case proven to be reilable if not lightning fast.

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Television Options:

You have the option of cable, satellite and the 5 domestic free broadcast channels. I chose satellite TV as cable was not available to me when my house was built and the local channels are very limited in their content. The satellite service here is called DREAM TV and is similar to SKY in the UK, albeit a very cut down version.

Dream offers around 40 channels for 690Php monthly. Look at their web site to see what they offer Dream TV. I do not think they offer great value for money and would seriously only use their service if cable is not available (personal opinion).

Satellite & Cable TV give you access to a wealth of mainly american tv shows but there is a small amount of English programming with shows like "The Kumars", "The Office", "Little Britain". You also gain access to a number of news channels including BBC World, so keeping up with developments around the world is not a problem.

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Domestic Staff:

One of the luxuries of living in the Philippines is that you can easily afford to employ a domestic helper / maid. We paid our helper around 3,000Php a month, she worked Monday to Saturday 5am-12noon. We chose not to have a live in helper but many do stay in their employers house (in many cases not in the best living conditions). You will normally employ your maid through an agency. See our Domestic Help Guide.

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Appliances from the UK:

The supply voltage here is 220v so your UK appliances should work fine if you decide to bring any over with you. I would point out that the whilst the voltage is comparable with the UK the supply frequency is 60hz as opposed to the 50hz in the UK. This has no real affect on most appliances however appliances with an electric motor (refrigerator compressor) will run slightly faster.

I brought over a large Bosh fridge freezer and this has now been operating for two years without a hitch. My Sharpe Microwave oven went bang but I cannot put this down to the difference between 50hz & 60hz.

You can buy voltage regulators in the hardware stores and these can be used to protect various appliances against some of the wild supply voltage swings we can get here. From my own finding I would say your domestic appliances should work fine over here but don't take my word for it. If you are unsure then searching the internet should give you a greater insight into this area.

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Sample Budget Sheet, 24th January 2006:

I have put together an example budget sheet showing how much I should typically allow for my monthly bills. I have already said that this can only be used as a guide and your personal lifestyle will ultimately determine your final bills.

The pricing below is old but still fairly current as of today AUG 2012

Essential costs Approx Monthly Budget (Php) Typical
Expenditure (Php)
Food 16,000 15,000
Electricity 4,000 4,000
Water Tap/Drinking 700 650
Gas (LPG) 300 300
Telephone 2,000 1,500
School Fees 2,000 2,000
 Totals 25,000 Php 23,450 Php

The above budget breakdown details purely the essential items I pay on a monthly basis. Below I show other expenses that I incur but cannot describe as as essential;

Non Essential costs Approx Monthly Budget (Php) Typical
Expenditure (Php)
Satellite / Cable TV 890

890

Dining Out 2,500 2,000
Maid/Helper 3,000 3,000
Gardener/window cleaner 1,500 1,000
Totals 7,890 Php 6,890 Php

It is hard to detail exactly what I spend each month, but I have given a basic idea of the major items. I will be honest and say that I am working on a tight budget and as such really have to limit the number of times I take the family out for a meal. Obviously your disposable income could be higher and as such allow for a greater expenditure in all of the areas listed in the above tables.

I hope this section of the Living Guides has given you an insight into some of the areas of expense associated with living here in Cebu. The costs I have indicated will be similar all over the Philippines with the Manila area probably being a little higher in general.

Last Updated: August 20, 2012 9:56

 

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