I happened to be in Dumaguete for the weekend on a trip for the first time and it wasn’t long before I noticed the place seemed heavily geared towards tourism and a functioning city in comparison to Cebu city. Which made me think is this a good place to retire in the Philippines?
In reality I find Cebu is getting too expensive for the services it provides and for many retirees on a fixed budget these increases soon add up. For example when planning this trip I fixed a budget of around P2,500 per night just for accommodation as generally its around P1,600 in Cebu. Now I am not thrifty by the way but when you start looking at the real cost of things you start to wonder if some of these rentals are worth P1,600 a night as generally they aren’t the cleanest or greatest of rooms. We actually rented a family room for 3 for P770 (was supposed to be P1,330 but discounted because it was late) but also came across rooms for as little as P200.
But here I was in Dumaguete and the first night we went to a restaurant I was with Jovie and Aga from Cebu as well who commented on the meals that they were a lot cheaper than Cebu. In fact it cost less than P600 to feed the three of us including 3 main meals and 3 side orders as well as drinks. In Cebu I am normally around P900 for two people.
Wandering round the city itself I found the streets very clean, transportation is by tricycle and at the same time there seemed low pollution from the vehicles when we wondered around during the day as well. The rivers weren’t clogged with garbage the way they are in Cebu and it all got my head scratching as to why is it Dumaguete seems to do all these things but in Cebu city its the complete opposite, you can’t even get people to use the trash cans outside a sari-sari store they just bought ice water in a plastic bag from. First thing they do when they drink it is throw it in the street.
Entertainment wise along the promenade at night there was a lot of live music, bars and restaurants including several with stocked wines. Pretty much reminded me more of a seaside town in the UK more than a city in the Philippines. There were a lot of foreign nationals out and about on the night meeting up in restaurants and bars and generally the whole atmosphere of the area seemed relaxed as people went about their business.
I would say Dumaguete is a better option for those of you wanting a quieter life and not the bustle of a big city such as Cebu. The population on Negros oriental is a lot smaller than Cebu island which is partly the reason it functions a lot better and hopefully it will stay the way it currently is. Outside of the city Ceres buses run the length of the island and from the roads we travelled they were either in very good condition or being upgraded. There were no slow vehicles clogging up the route the way you find peddle cabs and tricycles along the roads in Cebu it was pretty much a straight fast run from town to town.