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The Cost of Living in Cebu and Tips on Saving Money

The cost of living in Cebu has inspired many foreigners to retire on the island.
(Screenshot from Storyblocks)

Cebu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. Several tourist spots are full of lively and energetic people, and once you visit any of the island’s beaches, business centers, or historical landmarks, you will never want to leave.

Luckily, the Philippines is one of the cheapest places to live for foreigners, and the cost of living in Cebu is much lower than that of the capital of Manila. Many foreigners have decided to live on the island to settle down and live a simpler lifestyle.

Your daily expenses will vary based on your consumption or purchasing habits, but there are many ways for you to save up and make the most of your money here in Cebu.


Several blogs and community-powered statistical websites summarize the expenses needed for living in Cebu. The following are some statistics based on two websites that focus on the cost of living in general – Numbeo and Cost of Live.

These sites provide a first-hand account of an international travel blogger, with a website that goes by Nomad, Not Mad.

Numbeo and Cost of Live are crowdsourced, and they may have some inaccurate figures. However, they should give you a rough idea of what to expect before settling down in Cebu.


According to Numbeo, a family of four spends around 96,915.81 ($1,778.42) without rent every month. Meanwhile, living alone in Cebu costs 27,526.69 ($505.12) without rent.

They also stated that Cebu is 3.97% less expensive than Manila, with its rent being 34.42% lower.

Cost of Live

Meanwhile, Cost of Live says that living in Cebu costs around 49,981.54 ($917) a month. A one-bedroom apartment in Cebu City usually sells at around 30,959.12 ($568), but an apartment outside of the city center will be cheaper at 16,951.21 ($311).

They did mention that the average salary of an average Filipino worker is around 16,024.62 ($294), which is not enough for the cost of living. They recommend that you find ways to earn more than $294 to live comfortably in Cebu. 

Nomad, Not Mad

Nomad, Not Mad – a blog dedicated to solo travelers – considers the Philippines a country you can live in for 27,252.75 ($500) per month. The blog also mentions that a couple might be able to spend around 53,415.39 ($980) for rentals, utilities, transportation, phone and connectivity, and food.

In their blog about the cost of living in Cebu, they mention some of the best neighborhoods on the island and the prices of condominiums and apartments as well. 

The cheapest apartment on the list is worth 14,171.43 ($260) in Mabolo, while the most expensive would be in Uptown Cebu (Fuente, Mango) at around 39,516.49 ($725).


Now that you know how much you have to save up, you also have to think about how you can save money while living in Cebu.


The Philippine government has instituted price ceilings on essential goods, so you’re going to have to plan a budget based on your spending habits and needs.

It’s a good thing that there are plenty of places for you to purchase cheaper products.

Rather than purchasing your living essentials at expensive shopping malls, you can look for much smaller stores. Most communities have sari-sari stores, which are cheap family-owned bodegas found along sidewalks.

They sell essential items, from toiletries, cooking ingredients, snacks, drinks, cigarettes, and beer.

If you are looking for cheaper ingredients for your meals, visit the local market to buy food items like fruits, vegetables, and meat at a much lower price. Buyers crowd over these places looking for the cheapest and freshest products around.


The price of gasoline has increased dramatically through the years. The constant price hikes have become a deal-breaker for those using private cars to travel around the city.

Luckily, there are many budget-friendly options for traveling around town. Jeepneys in the Philippines are essential, as they are the country’s go-to form of public transportation. They are cheap, costing less than 20 when traveling within the city and less than 50 when going to neighboring ones.

You could also decide to live in places within walking distance of shopping malls and convenience stores to save up on the fare.


Aside from purchasing cheaper ingredients at the local market, there are also a couple of budget-friendly restaurants and eateries within the city you can dine in.

Street food in the Philippines is dirt cheap and can supplement a full meal. If you find a place to live in downtown Cebu, you can go to places like Carbon and Colon, which have small homemade diners that serve local Filipino favorites.

Numbeo mentions that meals at inexpensive restaurants or fast-food chains cost around 149.89 ($2.75), while a meal for two people at an expensive restaurant could cost up to 1,274.88 ($23.39). These prices may be reasonable, but not ideal if you don’t want to end up breaking the bank.

Some food delivery services like Foodpanda also offer free delivery, discounts, and vouchers for you to save up on your purchases.

There’s a lot about Cebu that will make you want to stay for the rest of your life. The city has an excellent nightlife scene, lots of cafes and restaurants to choose from, and all kinds of exciting events and activities that you can take part in.

The provinces, on the other hand, are more peaceful and perfect for long road trips and taking a break from city life.

If these things interest you, you will surely be satisfied with what Cebu has to offer.

Learning about the cost of living in Cebu will give you some much-needed assurance and insight about your decision to move. It could be a daunting task if the city is unfamiliar territory to you, so do yourself a favor by taking the time to research beforehand.

The island of Cebu is a perfect place to live in, whether you are a young professional looking for something new to try or a retiree who wants to settle down and enjoy life. There are a lot of places to see, and you will be paying much less for it compared to other cities within the country.

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