Cost of Living In Cebu City

Cost of Living in Cebu City, mid to upscale neighborhood, August 2009

My cost, about P90K per month, or a little over $2,000 with many helpers, large house, car, etc.

Breakdown below:

There are six people residing in this house. It is never left along maybe not by necessity, but because so many are here.

Rent is P18, 000 per month, true market value. 24,000 per month, rent lower because long-term resident.

This is a six bedrooms, four bath house, one bath you enter from the sala, very small.

There is a sala upstairs too, two downstairs. The House is wooden, but solid, louvered boards cover the windows, and it has its own small white picket gate, was built 1950. It is in a small gated, guarded compound, I believe it is only to keep people away who ask for donations, etc, lots of "solicitors" in this area. There are 20 similar units, all occupied by professional Filipinos, one city mayor part-time occupant. There is large concrete short road to navigate the small compound. Parking is hard, only in your driveway, enough for two cars. It is close to downtown, the shopping centers and the Provincial Capital of Cebu City, has small yard, and lots of foliage, flowers, but small enough to keep up easily.

Electric: Monthly P5, 000

Electric costs: Iron, one 1hp air conditioner, not used much, but April and May, eight fans used most of the time, blender, 3tv's five monitors/computers, two laptops, three game machines, two hot water heaters for two bathrooms showers, not often used.

Gas: Liquid Propane gas for cooking: P800 a month mas or minus, "more or less."

Water: P2, 000 not realistic. We have had a water leaking problem for a long time, being repaired now. We don't have bath tubs, only showers. Water should be about P800 I think. I will month use P800 in the bottom line of my water expense per month.

Communications: PLDT "BUSINESS" DSL 2mps in bursts Internet, P3, 000, phone P600, magicjack, P150 a month I guess. Skycable, P675. There are enough channels to keep me busy considering I have a DVD player with each TV. I spend P1, 500 for cell phone, maybe too much. If I used promos, talked less, texted more could be cheaper. I have friends in business here who use P30, 000 in cell charges a month. Communications Total P5, 925.

One live in cook/helper P3, 000 per month

Other Helpers not included: I have other helper's part and full-time ranging from P2K to P6K per month including food, board. Most have private or double occupancy rooms. I buy some soap, shampoo, other ladies needs, Sometime I will medical costs, but nothing serious P2k most will not choose to have so many helper or none. So I do not include this in the bottom line of my expenses. I have helpers because I am lazy and had a recent illness, but much better now. I also enjoy their company, my only family in the Philippines. I pay for occasional help from tradesmen and the compound helper, minor expenses not necessary if you are not seriously lazy as I am about such chores. I do not include the additional helpers in my expenses below.

Groceries, P15, 000 per month, cook shops and gets bargain prices at Carbon Market. Most eaten by all are foods, rice, fish, chicken and vegetables. Some shopping is at the larger supermarkets and specialty stores, like Caro and Marie's bakery supply shop. I buy walnuts and black sugarless chocolate there. The cook steams, not boils vegetables. And she bakes all breads, whole wheat, corn bread, banana, raisin bread. I am 90 percent vegetarian. I try to eat most meals in as do my helpers. I do not eat with them, not sure what they eat, maybe ice-cream, cokes and popsicles. :)

Eating out for me, P8K per month

When I was drinking, my bar bill is about 20K per month more or less, don't remember, but it was much too much. I do go to bars and clubs now, but rarely, maybe Present bar, club, bill P4k per month or less. I drink mostly mineral water or coffee, but not a teetotaler. Gas for Car and insurance, repairs, etc. P4, 000 per month.

If I had mechanical problems could be more. Labor and used parts inexpensive. But used parts for my old, but comfortable 1997 Camry are not available here. My "shade tree" just patch what is broken? But some times I use the Toyota Dealerships reasonable labor. Parts come from Japan with duty, expensive and take forever. Best buy a VIOS or something common.

When I took taxi's and I still do, but not as much, rarely since I drive my 1997 Camry, Disabled parking is available at malls, where parking is about 10 pesos. Parking can be higher. I spent about P3, 000 a month on taxis, not included below because now I take taxis so rarely. I have used my car and most of my friends have cars too. I recommend jeep, much more fun, meet more people. But because of a back problem and being 6'2" though shrinking, I don't use them anymore. Since I use my car for much of the little local travel I do, I do not put taxi expense.

I go to Manila every six months now at least. The airfare is as low is P1, 000 round trip and high as P10, 000. So best to book well in advance so as not to waste money. I pay from P1, 500 to P3, 000 for hotel. Booking far in advance if you can will save money too. I do not include this in my cost of living because I don't have to go. Maybe I should because some trips are almost mandatory. But this is not a US Tax document, just an advisory for you, so I don't.

Allowance, education expenses for wife, P15K per month.

My wife has graduated in Pharmacy after six years, still has to do here review, take a very hard Pharmacy Board Exam, use tutors, other expenses. We agreed on an allowance for her. It seems to cover sufficiently for her major expenses including clothing and transportation.

Medical Expenses: Medical Insurance from US Blue Cross Blue Shield about 7,000K pesos a month, paid in dollars to my US Insurer, insurance I qualified for because a staff member of the US Peace Corps in DC and abroad. I do spend about P1, 000 a month in selenium, fish oil supplements, multivitamins, not really medical expenses, but could be preventive health problems.

Before my VA disability was approved 12 years ago, my medical expenses where very minor, some dental work and vaccinations, but not more than P1, 000 a month. I was luck with my health until a household freak accident a couple of years ago. I had an operation recently at one of the most expensive hospitals in the Philippines, Asian Memorial Hospital, Manila, that cost about $30,000 US. I had to rather costly follow up operations too. My Blue Cross covered it all, private room too. I could have had it in Cebu City for a third the price, but Blue Cross would not cover it here in Cebu City.

Since I have Insurance and I am a disable US Veteran the only medical cost I have is reimbursed I pay to get to Manila for checked up every six months, but the VA reimburses most expensed if I remember to turn in my voucher. Air fare and lodging is so cheap with the promos, I sometimes forget. If you are forgetful like me include some money here in your budget.

My cost of living per month, not considering the gadgets I buy and have repaired, medicine I get mostly from the VA free since I am disabled veteran, gifts, gratuities, donations, I make, help for others etc., is about:

P87, 525, At today's peso rate, P44.40 that is USD 1,971 a month for expenses as above. Actually I spend closer to $2,300, lots of slippage. I lose things, misplace things, things wear out and break.

I have everything I want, more than I need, and I share with others. There are gifts, birthday parties, even a traffic ticket or too. But all of these are minor. If you want to budget for them, maybe add 10 percent to be super safe. But I assure you, you can live on a lot less and live well.