Dumaguete: the best and cheapest

You’re probably wondering, is Dumaguete really the best and cheapest place to live or retire in the Philippines? The answer is a resounding YES!!!

I can just imagine all the foreigners living in other parts of the Philippines thinking “Who does Brenton think he is, where we live is pretty good and possibly better than Dumaguete, how can he back up such a claim?.” I can imagine Filipinos being proud of where they live and thinking “No way, where I live is much better, Brenton is surely mistaken”. I can even imagine Bob thinking “Brenton has been here for only two years and he really thinks he knows it all.”

Yahoo Finance claims that Dumaguete is the 4th best/most affordable place to retire globally, no other Philippine city receives a mention, and therefore it is only fair to conclude that Dumaguete is by far the best place to retire in the Philippines. That’s my unbiased claim backed by solid facts and I’m sticking to it…he he he.


This is what Yahoo Finance had to say about Dumaguete…

“One of the greatest advantages of retiring overseas can be a dramatically reduced cost of living. Indeed, if your retirement budget is modest, your best options for enjoying a rich, full, comfortable retirement are not, I would argue, to be found in the U.S. … but elsewhere.

If your nest egg is small, but you don’t want to give up on the retirement lifestyle you’ve spent your entire working life dreaming about (who does?), here are nine places worth a close look.

4. Dumaguete, Philippines

Monthly budget: $1,000

In addition to its welcoming, friendly, English-speaking people, Dumaguete boasts a warm, tropical climate and lots of opportunity for outdoor adventures, including world-class diving and snorkeling and whale and dolphin watching.

Dumaguete sits right along the ocean, with attractive beaches to the north and south of town. This is also a university city, meaning an abundance of inexpensive restaurants that cater to “starving” college students. Foreigners have the opportunity to make friends with educated professors and aspiring students, take classes and enjoy cultural opportunities not typically found elsewhere in the Philippines, including theater, ballet, art shows and libraries.

Medical and dental care is good, with a new hospital under construction and international-standard health care available in nearby Cebu.”

Read the full article here.

I will now elaborate on an extra point the review failed to cover, that is safety. There really are so many more reasons, but you can buy Bob’s book “Where To Live – Dumaguete City” for all the other reasons.

Dumaguete is part of one of the safest regions in the Philippines.

Safety really is the number one consideration for most people retiring or visiting the Philippines. Dumaguete is labeled -”The City of Gentle People” and they really live up to their name. I go walking or running many nights without feeling any danger, unfortunately this is just not the case in many large cities in the Philippines. Davao I believe is an exception, there might be many other exceptions as well and I just don’t know of them.

I was curious why many Filipinos in this region really could be so gentle, therefore I started asking people to explain this for me. An old Filipino friend from Dumaguete explained it like this. He said “Most people from the Visayas are often more gentle by nature, we have always been here and haven’t had to fight as hard for what we have. Many Filipinos from Luzon have had to struggle a lot more because of factors like insurgence. Many Filipinos from Mindanao are immigrants and have had to battle hard for survival. Consequently because of social and environmental factors, the Filipinos from the north and south really can be much more aggressive by nature than us Visayans”.

Dumaguete is also safe for natural disasters. Historically there is a low mortality rate from natural disasters. Earthquakes can hit, but they aren’t so brutal, because the known epicenters are in Bohol Island in the east and about 60km north in Ayungon a coastal town, therefore earthquakes don’t hit as hard and less carnage is caused in Dumaguete.

It would be almost impossible for a tsunami to hit, because all the other islands guard Dumaguete from this type of disaster.

Typhoons can and will hit the area of Dumaguete but more often than not they have weakened before they get here and the full force is felt more on the outer islands closer to the open sea.  The worst case scenario is that if a typhoon does hit Dumaguete, it causes flash flooding of the rivers. If you don’t live near the rivers or flood prone areas you are safe.  Sadly, three years ago approximately 35 people dwelling on the river banks died when a powerful typhoon hit this city. To my understanding, if you were away from the river there was no major risk of death.

I have heard locals make claims that the region is so safe that even many serious criminals from Luzon and Mindanao come here for some rest and relaxation and as a safe haven. Naturally they don’t cause trouble while they are here or I guess the government may ship them back to where they came from.

Last year a crime gang from Mindanao robbed a pawn shop in the city centre for 5 million pesos. They had grenades and hand guns with them.  After the robbery, there were police everywhere throughout town on what felt like every street corner and who knows how many undercover police were lurking around as well. The authorities were so set on getting them and consequently apprehended them in the next town. You can run but you can’t hide!

In summary, I would go so far to say that don’t waste your time looking at other places to live in the Philippines, just buy Bob’s book  and move to Dumaguete. If you are living elsewhere already, start packing now! When you get here, you can treat me to lunch for the good advice, you won’t regret it.

I have lived in Dumaguete for over two years already and plan to be here for many years to come, it really is that great.  Please appreciate that I’m in no way being biased, just presenting the facts… he he he.

I am happy to hear any feedback on how good the town/city is that you are living in.

I am also more than happy to hear any objections to my claims that Dumaguete is the best place to retire in the Philippines.

If you’re not yet living here, where are you considering moving to? Hopefully it’s Dumaguete after reading this!

Post Author: Brenton (24 Posts)

I am a serial entrepreneur. I have operated multiple businesses and have a unswerving passion to become the best entrepreneur possible. Businesses I have operated include wholesale and retail of toys and novelties, cabinet making, bathroom renovations, marketing and business consultancy. I also have a passion to impart knowledge and passion to enhance others that are on a similar journey.

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. papaduck says

    Being safe is very important, but also important to me is access to imported products and restaurants that cater to foreigners which we have close to where we live. Good job promoting Dumaguette.

    • Rhonah says

      There are a lot of those stores in Dumaguete that sells imported products. There is a store that sells all American products as well as there are stores that sells Korean, Japanese, Chinese products as well.

  2. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Papaduck – They have a good variety of Restaurants through Dumaguete and nearby. So many that I have actually only visited a very small portion. They have many places selling niche imported products, but maybe not as much variety as you could get from Cebu. Cebu is only 130 km away though. Cheers.

  3. scott h says

    You know Brenton, your 2nd paragraph was spot on. Unless your moving into an area that is going through a military coup, safety is more dependent upon situational awareness. I am 100% positive that if you move into the squatters area of Dumaguete you will be less safe than in a gated subdivision. I, myself live in San Dionisio, Paranaque, Metro Manila. I live in the Barangay that my wife is from. I walk 2-3 miles a day and have never had a problem. But then again I don’t walk in “bad” areas and we don’t leave our doors unlocked. I think that you will find that a majority of Expats (51%?) will live in or very near the city that their wives are from. As for me, I would rather be a bit less safe than have an unhappy spouse by moving her far away from her friends and family 😉 .

    • Howard d says

      Just a slight correction if you don’t mine. There is no such thing as squatters area in Dumaguete, most of them own the tiny piece of land where they built there homes. Otherwise they are paying rent. They just happen to be less fortunate, definitely not squatters. I came from one of those areas.

      • mondrian says

        Hi howard there are especially at LOOC area and some parts of misiano area. I have spent my life here in dumaguete so i know.

      • Brenton Butler says

        Hi Howard – I have a pastor friend that has a church a Canday-ong. My friend tells me that it is a squatters area. He himself doesn’t own the land or pay rent, but dwells there anyway, I believe he has permission, but there are many that don’t. Unless I’m mistaken, where he is there are many squatters.

  4. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Scott – In the article I wrote, it was more a joke that you should pack up and come here, just more being a bit cheeky. Being aware of your surroundings is important, in the Philippines it helps if the community is aware of you as well, because Filipinos will really help and watch out for those they know. Like one day my son run off down town, I was hunting for him, the police already picked him up and were transporting him home, before I got to where he was. About 10 locals were relaying the story of what happened. If you are known or familiar to the community you’re in, then I consider you are safer as well. You should naturally be more safe in a gated subdivision, but you still have to venture out. I don’t live in a gated subdivision and I do walk through squatters areas in Dumaguete at night time with no real threat. I even walk through squatters areas with my family at night time on occasion. We have many occasions walked about 3 km to Hayahay, a restaurant in Dumaguete on the other side of town, we have done this at night time, we walk right through what is regarded as a more dangerous area of town, I have never felt threatened. Even Canday-ong which is a very large squatters area in Dumaguete, I have no concern of being hurt or mugged if I walked through there at night time.

    • Marcus says

      “I have no concern of being hurt or mugged “ Brenton, this is because you are twice the size of any local person :)

      • Brenton Butler says

        Hi Marcus – You are correct about being twice the size, but I have way more caution of being mugged in places lIke Manila than Dumaguete. I am 110kg and am trained in hand to hand combat, but I am not trained to fight guns and only have little training in defending against other weapons, so if a couple of guys attack I have a chance, but it’s tough if you get attacked by a group or weapons. If confronted I am always prepared to freely give the money I have on me away without intention of fighting back. Additionally I have no intention to hurt anyone, unless I have been attacked, even then it would only be if I thought I was in danger, so I have a peaceful vibe when I get around. An Australian guy was held up in Manila about a year ago, he proceeded to fight with the 4 guys, maybe because he could fight, they shot him about four times, he was lucky and survived, all he had to do was hand over his money freely and he was not in danger, he lacked cultural understanding. Naturally they had to use the weapon, because he out muscled them.

        • Heinz Schirmaier says

          Kinda tells these thugs that they can rob foreigners without resistance. Maybe a few of these thugs need to be shot or stabbed to show them that we are NOT easy marks! One of my walking sticks has a sword inside, all I have to do is push a button and 24″ of double sided sword will pop out. Never had to use it, but——- better safe than sorry!

  5. James Speight says

    Yes Dumaguete is the best place to live but don’t tell everyone, or everyone will be there.

    I have been there one time for about a week, visited a friend I had down there. It was a pretty nice place to visit, I stayed there at a local place on the beach. But in about 5 days, I was ready to get back home.

    And yes I never felt like I was in danger at all. Then again I have been to a lot of places, gone out at night almost everywhere I have visited and never felt in danger.

    Feeling safe where you are I feel is more how you present yourself. Act like you are target you will become a target. And I also feel the exceptions are the few places you really don’t need to be in. I know they are out there, just haven’t found them yet.

    When someone tells me not to go at night. I ask “don’t go where at night?” if they say anywhere I have to wonder if they are just being too cautious. Tell me where and why and I will stay away from that place. I just don’t see myself just sitting in my house/apartment hoping nothing happens.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi James – Good thoughts. Not everyone will come to Dumaguete anyway, would be a bit crazy if that happened, but the increase in foreigners in the last two years is substantial. Going to the wrong kind of night spots, can attract different kinds of characters you don’t really want in your life. The way we carry ourselves matters, because someone who wants to take advantage of another person will look for the weaker target most often, if you don’t walk and talk like you can be taken advantage of, then you are naturally in a safer position.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Kajun – Thanks for your comment. It has changed since I have been here a bit, but not so much, but what I like about Dumaguete is the eclectic culture of people that live here, it really is a mixture of Filipino cultures and a mixture of foreigner cultures here. Filipinos come from all over the Philippines to study here, Asian foreigners and all other kinds of foreigners from around the world study here, all kinds of foreigners from around the world live here as well.

  6. Leo says

    There are so many places “just for you” in the Philippines! You just have to find yours…what you want! Not all filipinos and also expats want to live in the big city or even towns! One thing mentioned here is very important and that is; live close to your wife`s family and relatives. I mean, if…and I hope AS they are a really good family, all people around the area have respect on them…and that includes you too as if you don`t make any problems and respect the living style of the community as well. The golden rule “DO unto others what you want them to do for you”, brings you much more than you expect.”The home is where you hang your hat”, and you can make it look like a home by yourself also.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Leo – Dumaguete is the only place for everyone. He he. Living closer to family appears to be a big influencing factor in choosing where to live for many foreigners. It depends on the foreigner and his wife’s family though, and if they get along. In my mind if you were part of a good, well respected Filipino family, then it would be surely better to live close to them and have more connections and closer community. I have met many foreigners who really get as far away as possible from their family, they can sometimes really have a disliking for their wife’s family, so they strategically place themselves out of easy travel range, many foreigners I have spoken to in Dumaguete have executed this strategy.

  7. jose porfirio says

    When I was attending school in Quantico, Virginia (“umpteen” years ago) I met two gentlemen from the Philippines, one with the RPMC (Philippine Marine Corps), and one from the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI). They were both from Dumaguete. Both were saying I should visit their city, and also they were telling me how different their city is from other cities in the Philippines. “Try it you might like it”, they both said. I was thinking that they were just plugging for Dumaguete since both were from that city. Now a “gringo” (friendly term, not in a derogatory way) just wrote that Dumaguete is really alright. I have been all over Mindanao and Davao City is my favorite place but I guess it is time to visit the City of Dumaguete and see for myself how different it is from other places in the Philippines. Muchas Gracias, Mr. Brenton for a good write up.

  8. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Jose Porfirio – Dumaguete appears culturally different to many other towns and cities in the Philippines and I don’t fully comprehend why. The locals know they are different and will tell you, just like your friends told you. You just travel 200 km north to Bacolod and it’s like another world in regards to Filipino culture. The Bacolod people really are observably different, just a different culture, that’s all. I know the Philippines are all islands, but culturally Filipinos really are culturally different in different areas. Being from Australia, culturally there isn’t massive diversity, but in the Philippines the diversity is huge. In Dumaguete the locals lay claim to being city of gentle people of the Philippines, to being the motorbike capital of the Philippines, to be the shorts capital of the Philippines and like most Filipinos they are proud of their city.

    • says

      Hi Brenton, thanks for promoting Dumaguete City. Actually I am from Dumaguete, I will explain to you why Dumaguete was called the “City of Gentle People” is that, we back in 1969 before Martial Law and even during Martial Law, when somebody looking for his friends or relatives house, ask anybody out there and you find easily, because the person itself whom you ask will help you find the house. In our dialect “asa gani balay in Juan de la Cruz” Dumaguenteneous are very willing to help you find. Irregardless he is civilian or military they will help you find the place. But in any other place, you will get back a question, do you have his address? Meaning to say, we Dumagueteneous do not want our visitor get lost in finding the place or a person he is looking for. We don’t even mind if the person asking is a criminal or NPA, we don’t mind, our intention is to help. Those attitude of ours was observed during the time of our beloved Mayor Jose “Joe” Pro Teves.

    • kay says

      I agree with you 101% when you said that Dumaguete is the motorcycle capital and shorts capital of the Philippines. During our college days, we have this OBT usually after dinner. OBT stands for ONE BIG TUYOK riding in our friend’s motorcycle,We could go as far as Valencia,bacong ,sibulan San jose,San Antonio..oh that was sooo fun.. Dumaguete indeed is the place to be. I miss Dumaguete so much..of course, I have plans of retiring there .

      • Brenton Butler says

        Hi Kay – A old Filipino friend said to me “look around and see all people wearing shorts in Dumaguete, go to Cebu, Manila or any city and you don’t see that, Dumaguete is the shorts capital of the Philippines”. Also people say it’s the motorbike capital, I don’t know if that’s true, it’s just what hear people say.

  9. Brenton Butler says

    Jose – Also the men in Manila are in massive line ups really making themselves look the best in the rest room, when in Manila I’m always amazed. The guys here just don’t do that so much, if they do it’s like only 15 seconds.

      • Brenton Butler says

        Jose – In Australian culture, we wouldn’t stand in front of the mirror to long in public, you would end up getting ridiculed or get funny looks at least. It’s obviously the norm in many cultures, even in the Americas as you suggested. A Filipino pastor friend said to an audience of about 300 Filipinos one service that “Filipino men are the most narcissistic in all of Asia”. I don’t have any idea if that’s true, as I don’t know about other Asian cultures, but I did find his statement both interesting and funny. Machismo much!

        • says

          Brenton – I don’t know about being narcicisstic, but I would agree that many Filipinos are vain about the physical appearance they project to the public. Has nothing to do with “eroticism” or love of oneself. Filipinos just like to look good. It doesn’t matter if they live in the most exclusive subdivision, or in a dwelling made of cardboard box in the slums, when they step out to face the world, many of them are freshly bathe and wear clothes that are clean and pressed.

          Now, about men who spend an inordinate amount in front of the mirror (or at the urinal) in public restrooms especially in a large city (you probably won’t see this in a relatively small city like Dumaguete), that may be an entirely different story unto itself, and has nothing to do with being vain. LOL

          • says

            Hi John – I had never considered filipinos vain, that was a comment of a filipino pastor when he was preaching to a almost all filipino congregation. The big city people really are different in culture.

  10. RJ says

    Brenton, Dumaguete sounds like a great place. I’ve been to a number of places in the phils, but somehow have missed visiting there. There’s nothing like getting information and feedback from someone that has actually lived there for an extended period of time. I’ll have to visit there in the near future. Just curious, do your kids go to the public schools there and have they been able to learn much of the language? Thanks for the article.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi RJ – I don’t recommend public schools for children here if you can afford private. Public schools in the Philippines lack serious resource. The kids go to Foundation University that is private, my daughter that is 4 in kinder is 10.000 php a year tuition with extras all inclusive, and my son 6 in grade 1 is 30.000 php a year with extras inclusive. That is about $950 US dollars for both. The kids have learnt the language from me and my wife, they know 100 plus words of Bisaya so far and a little Tagalog. It’s only now they are learning Bisaya and Tagalog at school. There is a school with about 500 students that teaches Chinese as well. There is a real mix of education options in Dumaguete. Cheers.

  11. Rae_E says

    Thanks for writing about Dumaguete as I’ve heard a lot of good things about the town and I’m always interested about it because of Siliman University – the 1st Protestant and highly reputable university in the country. I was born & raised in Davao but I’m finding it becoming too big & crowded for me. So next time I’m visiting the Phils., I plan to check out Dumaguete. Good to know that flooding was limited to few areas but I hope they’ve expanded their infrastructures & drainage facilities too to avert future massive flooding.

  12. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Rae – There is heaps of people in Dumaguete from Mindanao. They come for Silliman often. Even at the church where I attend, that has a predominant student population, a large percentage of attendees come from Mindanao. I don’t know what percentage, but there is a lot of people from Mindanao in Dumaguete. It can still flood in many areas, but at the river it’s just more dangerous, because the water rushes from Valencia an adjoining mountain town, so flooding shouldn’t put your life in serious danger, unless you are close to rising waters near the river. Also if a tsunami could hit, the land is not flat in Dumaguete, it slopes up immediately from the Boulevard, you really wouldn’t have to get so far inland to be safe. Thanks for your comments.

  13. says

    Hi Brenton – I, of course, have never been to Dumaguete, but based on your description of the town, it sounds to me like it’s a liberal, hip kind of place populated by gentle people reminiscent of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 60s and 70s at the height of the Vietnam War.

    Here is a song that paid tribute to the gentle people of San Francisco back in those days that could be Dumaguete-appropriate today as well –

  14. Jade says

    Hi Brenton,
    My wife Daisy and I have a home in Calamba, Laguna on her father’s family’s land it is rather too close.
    Daisy speaks regular tagalog and her mother’s family from bicol speaks bicolan.
    Would moving to Dumaguete be difficult for her?

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Jade – Most people here speak Tagalog as well, not as good as more exclusive Tagalog speaking areas though. It does appear to prove challenging for some Filipino’s moving here to adjust, as people here are culturally different. So it would possibly take 6 months to a year to get good adjustment, sometimes longer, it depends on Daisy though and how flexible she is in adjusting.

  15. Aklan Heat says

    Hi Brenton,

    Last month in June I was in Manila, went there by myself, went solo, I did not tell a single soul about my trip until my flight day I had to tell a coworker, just in case, my work needs to know. I went on a whim, and I had a blast in Manila mini-vacation. Before this, I didn’t know much about Manila, because I grew up in the province of Aklan.

    But I told myself, I speak Tagalog, I’m Filipino, why not, why don’t I go by myself. Now, when I came back to California almost three weeks later, I told my Filipino and American friends and coworkers where I went and at the same time I was handing them out little souvenir magnets I bought them at D’Mall in Boracay, and as I was giving them out, they uttered and thought I was a little bit crazy.

    The second night in Manila, I met people in a beer garden I discovered just walking around the outskirts of Robinsons Mall in Ermita, I offered them some of the beer I ordered, a bucketful of San Mig Light, and before the night ends, actually a new day was dawning, these folks became friends with e and couple of them later offered and even became sort of my tour guide around Manila, riding around in traffic in jeepneys, taxis, and pedicabs. (Didn’t get to ride the karetela, lol).

    I saw the National Museum, Ayala Museum, Fort Santiago, Intramuros, St. Agustin Church, Quiapo Church, and a couple more churches in Manila. Went to Tagaytay (what a view!) an awesome day trip. I didn’t go to Bataan where one of the guys came from because he really wanted me to see his “historical” place, and Subic Bay, and then the other guy even wants to go to Baguio. All these places are within a day trip from Manila. I chose and stayed in Manila except for the lone Tagaytay trip.

    And what has Dumaguete had to do with my trip in Manila? Well, when I went to Boracay for a couple of days just to get out of Manila, I was thinking that after Boracay, I wanted to go to Palawan. But there was no direct flight from Kalibo to Palawan, and the lady travel agent suggested Dumaguete or Cebu. (I also have a good friend and used to be my coworker who came from Negros Oriental, born there in a town close to Dumaguete, and like you he told me a lot about Dumaguete, and once in a while he would speak to me in Cebuano, sometimes I don’t understand, but close enough, because I speak the dialect Aklanon, all considered Visayan). To make long story short, I didn’t go to Dumaguete or Cebu, maybe next time! :-)

    But Manila won the day for me that day, I wanted to go back to Manila after Boracay, and once there in Manila, I again got together with those friends in the beer garden and just hang out with them most of the time, there was a good live band on the weekends in the place. And then we met this British guy who became a friend of my friends and was also in the beer garden every night who was teary-eyed when he was saying his goodbyes and hugs, because he is leaving the next day, he said he doesn’t want to go home because he wants to stay in the Philippines, and said he fell in love with the Philippines and fell in love with the people, and he wanted a tattoo of his name in his chest in Baybayin.(ancient writings of the Philippines). He said he would definitely be coming back in 8 months. :-)

    In my case, I need to plan to go to Dumaguete definitely, in the near future! :-)

    But then there are these places: Vigan, Bohol, Davao, Mindoro, Masbate, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Baguio, Baler, Siargao, Laoag, Samar, Leyte, etc…etc… all in the Philippines and awaiting to be explored, shared, enjoyed!

    I didn’t even had a chance to party in Quezon City when I was in Manila. :-)

    Ciao! Good job, writing the article about Dumaguete, Brenton!

    Thank you! Salamat!

    From, Aklan Heat.

  16. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Aklan Heat – Great story, Manila wins hands down for shopping and party/social life. Bohol is great, I have visited, but siquihor is a blast as well. Siquihor has the best highway around the island, that I’ve ever been on in the Philippines thus far, it has churches older than Australia’s modern history, spectacular beaches with cliff jumping into the crystal clear ocean, great resorts, spectacular waterfalls, cliff restaurants that over look Dumaguete, Negros Island, Cebu island and Apo island. I went there for fiesta with friends, it really is a great place to visit. We even saw heaps of dolphins on the trip home. Put siquihor on your list for sure!!!

  17. John says

    Hi Brent,

    Thanks for writing this.

    I was born in Leyte and transferred here in Dumaguete when I was merely 6 months old -so basically I have been in Dumaguete my entire life. Below are my experience and observations of my 25 years living in this awesome city. Hope it helps your readers.

    Dumaguete is behind Cebu or Manila when it comes to buildings, business establishments, night-life(bars), transportation and so on. However, Dumaguete being ‘behind’ is actually a great thing! It’s more peaceful, less people, less pollution, streets are very clean, there are trees everywhere, and lot’s of diving spots. It is a small place where you know almost everyone you pass by. This city may not have what you want, but it has what you need -electricity, abundance of clean water, internet connection, and food. Cost of living is also cheaper.

    Weather here is a typical tropical Philippine weather. It’s hot when the sun is up but there are so many trees to shade you. The streets does not flood since the irrigation here is decent. However during heavy non-stop rains, it may flood a bit. You also don’t have to worry about typhoons. Dumaguete is geographically located where mountains and other islands shields it from typhoons(it may rain on the other side on the island, but Dumaguete is still sunny).

    As stated by Brent, Dumaguete is really safe, unlike Manila or Cebu where you always have to be aware if your surroundings fearing if someone picks your pocket or snatches your cellphone. You really can have a peace of mind here -you can brag about your cellphone all you want and people here don’t care. People here are also honest, if you leave your cellphone and someone sees it, there’s a bigger chance it would be returned to you.

    Traffic here is minimal. There are no traffic lights since there’s no use for them. The roads are only 2 lanes but most people use motorcycles. There are no speeding vehicles in the city since after 2 blocks, it’s another crossing. So you don’t have to pace yourself while crossing the road. It’s funny since there was this one time when I went to Cebu and I brought my Dumaguete-mentality when crossing the road there(i crossed like I was walking in the park), and then a cab driver shouted “Hey, are you from Dumaguete!?”

    Dumaguete is also called “City of Universities”. It is where Silliman University, a well renowned school all over the world(one of the top 5 schools in Philippines) is located. I studied in Silliman since kindergarten and I can recommend it. Majority of the City’s center is occupied by Universities so can see a lot of students here -most students are not from Dumaguete so it may become a ghost city during long holidays.

    Dumaguete is the perfect city if you are planning to retire and/or looking for a peaceful place for your family.

      • Brenton Butler says

        Lonewolf – I read Silliman was number 68 in the Philippines the other week, to think about 15 years ago they were like number 1 in Asia, now closer to 200 to 300. We changed our children to foundation several weeks back, it’s clear Silliman is not as sharp as they once were.

        • Brenton Butler says

          Hi Lonewolf – How can a school be a little to progressive?. It isn’t a bad thing to adapt to the modern age. Foundation may have IPad based the whole school and be non sectarian, but they are very much like schools in Australia. The foundation education style is a better fit for our kids at this point in time,

  18. LynSelad says

    Hi Brenton!
    If you don’t know it yet, your post about Dgte is circulating on FB. I gotta say,being a local, I never realized how speciAl my hometown is until I moved to Mindanao for a year. When people learn im a Dumagueteña, they gush about it.
    Now that I’m based abroad, oh how I miss it- my family, my home.
    Can’t wait to visit again! And it will happen soon yey!
    Thanks for this post. Such an awesome read!
    We Love Dumaguete.

    • Brenton says

      Hi Lynselad – I have a couple of hundred plus friends on facebook from Dumaguete. I do publish articles I write on my personal facebook, for people to read. Many read and verbally comment, but not many comment in writing.

  19. says

    Hi Brent,

    Thank you for making this article. By way of promoting Dumaguete as a city to live and to retire is a good start of promoting my beloved country as well. Thank you for giving your heart to Filipinos.

    I didn’t originated from Dumaguete but I started living here during my college years until now where I found a very good job in the city. I was born near Bacolod City where schools and universities are also abundant and quite advance but one thing encouraged me to study in Dumaguete is the environment.
    Very Conducive! Spaces and the feeling of being free (of all hassles) makes a good vibe. No wonder, many foreign students are investing their education here. NOt only because of the high standards of learning but the place itself is a big factor to help.

    People in Dumaguete are gentle but not as good as before. Honestly! Modern Dumaguete is more vigilant and cautious, brave. Maybe because of their experience among other people who inhabited the island as well as the rampant travelers who abused the kindness of the locales. (I confirmed this by consulting ancestors of the place).

    Apart from these things, Dumaguete is culturally rich and has an abundance of all necessities in life.
    The government is trying to address all major concerns the city needs which won’t live behind with all major cities in the Philippines but at the same time preserving the city’s natural beauty which is its main product. From good beaches to spectacular waterfalls and amazing flora and fauna. Basic facilities and hospitable people will help you live a good, simple but sassy life. We have nightbars and restaurants of many cuisines. Activities like zipline, diving, trekking, cruising, caving, water rafting, kayak, speed boating, mountaineering, mall shopping etc., are all available here. Plus our neighboring island Siquijor, Apo Island and Sumilon. They’re all waiting for your visit.

    I also work as a tour guide and during my trips I usually ask tourists about their views of the City and the Entire Negros Oriental, and most of them say they wanted to retire here. Or build a rest house here! There are a lot of places they consider but Dumaguete is just different. It may not be that perfect but how it is as of the moment draws everyone’s attention of living here. The bottom line is that they appreciate what the city could offer.

    I even convinced myself that no matter what happens, who knows I might be relocated soon, Dumaguete and its people will always be my Second Home and still in Philippines.

    May you enjoy and explore more of your stay here Brent.

    God Bless You.


  20. Brenton says

    Hi ALRY – Bacolod is really a spectacular place, much abundance in that region. People if they get abused here in Dumaguete, can still get aggressive, they might be gentle, but if you abuse their culture regardless if your filipino or foreigner, it doesn’t go down well. Thanks for sharing!

  21. says

    Such glowing compliments of Dumaguete! I keep waiting for someone to make a comment on what may be Dumaguete’s most important feature, but thus far, there appears to be none forthcoming. This article is nearing the expiration of its shelf life, and soon will be relegated to the dustbin of LiP archives, but not one soul has made the slightest mention of perhaps the most significant of all of Dumaguete’s attributes – the dalagang bukid. LOL

    Specifically, how does she stack up against an Ilocana from Zambales? Anyone? :)

      • Brenton Butler says

        John Reyes – Your not talking about the fish! Lol. There is an abundance of dalagang bukid in and around Dumaguete. They surely won’t go extinct any time soon!. They are much more dense in population than Zambales!

        • says

          Brenton – I will not pass judgment on the dalagang bukid of Dumaguete as I have never met one. However, I feel qualified to describe the qualities of the typical Ilocana from Zambales because I am from there. Point for point, how do you rate your dalagang bukid against the qualities of the Zambales dalagang bukid as follows:

          1. Kuripot
          2. Mahinhin
          3. Mapagmahal
          4. Maka Dios
          5. Matapat
          6. Masipag
          7. Nars
          8. Masarap magluto
          9. Masikap
          10. Maganda


          • Brenton Butler says

            Hi John – If #1 is the best and #10 the worst, then I could take that could mean that the women are very tight with money and not so good looking. Joke lang. The women I know here aren’t so tight, but women here are generally quite good looking, My kuya come here single and will soon be married to a local girl born and breed here, they will have a son in 2 months as well, his wife to be has the attributes you listed, not in the same order, and she is a fine woman. I only knew three of the Tagalog words, so referred to my trusty online translator. The quality of women isn’t always area specific, it can depend on the individual and the family as well.

            • says

              This is all in jest to lighten up the mood, Brenton. But, I hear you about the quality of women being not area-specific. Heck, you can find a beautiful woman in Ethiopia with big brown eyes and long eye lashes just as you would find an exotic-looking woman in Tibet or Mongolia with high cheekbones and almond-shaped eyes. It all depends on one’s perception of beauty.

              The Ilocana is all of the above, if I may add. LOL

              Anyway, I’m glad to hear about the other side of the coin, re: Dumaguete, from commenters who actually live there, most specially from Lonewolf whose insightful comments were the product of his living there for 7 years.

              I didn’t see Lonewolf’s comments as invalidating the premise of the article at all, nor was the tone of his comments negative in any way. On the contrary, I thought his was an addendum to, not a subtraction from, the widely held-view about Dumaguete, an objective presentation of the realities on the ground as he experienced them. Best of all, Lonewolf supported his claims with factual evidence, and, in so doing, he may have presented one of the most sobering, balanced perspective about Dumaguete I have ever seen.

              • Brenton Butler says

                Hi John – I know your comments are in jest, you can really get good quality women everywhere and also not so good. Lol.

  22. Perlie says

    The city has a huge problem on electricity. They often have brown outs all over the city. As what te other guys comment had said: it’s no peaches and cream living in Dumaguete city. Try staying fora few weeks before you commit!

    • Alry says

      Brownouts only happened on selected areas where theres a need for realignment of lines. You may experience that in your area so to build more efficient and reliable electricity. Please be aware also that as the population grows so as the need to upgrade the circuits. As much as i believe NORECO at their best attends to problem quickly. Besides they inform the public ahead before doing the operation.

  23. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Perlie – I have been here two years and three months. At best now there is a scheduled brown out on a Sunday every two or three months, everyone is warned in advance. Just go out for the day to Robinson’s or a beach resort. Other than that only if a storm hits, last time a major storm hit we had power back in 2 days. Just budget for a generator if it concerns you that much. A week won’t teach you much about any city or town in the Philippines anyway, it is the honeymoon period. it’s often like marriage make the commitment first based on facts and evidence, then make it work!!!

  24. Brenton Butler says

    Lonewolf – good points. actually 24 people to my understanding were killed in the last year. Actually about one a fortnight!. Amazingly no one was caught for any killings, but when bandits from Mindinao attacked a pawn shop down town with hand guns and grenades, they were apprehended by the next town. The reason is because they really wanted to catch the bandits, but almost all other 24 killings were drug related, even drug people killing drug people. It’s my opinion you are more likely to be killed in crossfire in America, killings in the Philippines are more precise. Please provide information to back up the claim that 4 people were killed in 2 days up the street from your house. Cheers.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Lonewolf – You said “One thing that is cheap in Dunaguete is LIFE, A hit can be arranged for a bag of dope”. All the killings in the last year are predominantly drug related, therefore leaving little rooms for actual hits, I guess there are possibly quite a few drug related hits. Most foreigners say all sorts of stuff like getting hits for a bag of dope, but it appears more just stories. In fact humans all around the world now and throughout history will kill for much less than a bag of dope. The key is don’t steal gamecocks or deal drugs in Dumaguete and you shouldn’t have a problem!!!

      • Brenton Butler says

        Hi Lonewolf – You have missed the purpose of the article. It is light heartedly promoting Dumaguete as the best, if you read previous comments you will understand the article has a non serious side to it and should treated accordingly. Any brain dead person knows there is good and bad anywhere you live, such is life. Bob has done nothing to promote his own Ebook, I just took that upon myself to weave it into the article, if anything your suggestions, should compel someone to buy the book as to learn more about Dumaguete. Bob has launched his new site today http://expatisland.net/ that will surely net him much more than the book I have plugged for him ever could. Bob never asked me to plug it, I just felt thus inspired!

        • Brenton Butler says

          Hi lonewolf – Bob actually has hundreds of sites, that provide all kinds of information at no charge, but he also sells his books, a good strategy is to give stuff for free then sell something. Heck I even buy Bobs books. I have just presented a specific brief article, really for the full picture, just go buy Bobs book. Lonewolf you said that you had been here 7 years and will be moving to Valencia soon, Valencia in and of itself is nothing without Dumaguete, so it can’t be so bad in Dunaguete right?. You have been here 7 years and show no indication of wanting to go to far anytime soon. If it were so bad you would move somewhere else completely different in the Philippines, so in a way you staying here validates the article on how good Dumaguete really is!!!

        • Brenton Butler says

          Hi Lonewolf – If there is escalation in drug related crime then keeping it under control plays a part. How many people will become drug dealers if they know they could end up on someones list? a lot less right?. A common trend of countries where social justice systems aren’t as strong, is people can take matters into there own hands to achieve justice, if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to be concerned about. Dumaguete is like any city or country, it’s drug and crime is with in a specific section of community. If you don’t exist in that part of community, then you are very unlucky if you ever got hurt. Even in Australia your life is in danger if you get involved in wrong community, it’s no different to here. It surprises me you are scared to get about in Dumaguete, it logically makes no sense if you have lived here 7 years. Is there something you haven’t shared on why you would be paranoid to get about in the city of gentle people?

        • Brenton Butler says

          Hi Lonewolf – Drugs in Dumaguete is quite specific when associated with crimes that arise from the taking of drugs. Anyone can use drugs though rich or poor and location is irrelevant. It is clear from your writings you have a more jaded unbalanced perspective on the matter. Drugs is a global problem and you are naive if you believe otherwise.

        • Brenton Butler says

          Hi Lonewolf – I wrote a response to your last comments, it said it published but it didn’t. I took the time to rewrite another response and it said it published but it didn’t. So this is my third attempt, but with no detailed response, because I prefer not to waste so much time a third time if there is an issue with the publishing. Cheers.

    • says

      Hi Lonewolf – Being from Brisbane Australia, which is considered a safe city, but if you go to the wrong area it is not safe and if you are connected to the wrong elements of community it is definitely not safe. Like anywhere you live positioning is important. Even in Australia innocents get killed by stray bullets or mistaken identity, it is much less probable though. Example outside Hypermarket there was a drug dealer assassinated a few months back, just near my house, was I in any potential danger?, much less than being killed in a car accident. It was possible I could have been near and copped a stray bullet, but I would be in way more danger of being killed by a vehicle accident. The real danger is created by how a person acts, especially if it’s involves abusing the community, an innocent person can still get hurt, but it is not so common. A key element if you get robbed in the Philippines is to hand over your possessions and don’t fight, the predominant mindset of filipinos is to rob and run, not rob and kill. They will kill if you attack them, otherwise they just want to rob and run. It’s not like South Africa where they will rob and kill so you can’t testify.

  25. Jhuannaly Catipay says

    Thanks Brenton for sharing how lovely and inspiring our city is.. Dumaguete is INDEED “the City of Gentle People and the University Town.” This is the city were you can ENJOY LIFE FREELY in a easy going yet outgoing way.. Most, if not all of the cities have squatters area, but yet those people who are living in the squatter are not threats at all. Brown-outs/black-outs are normal, but at least not the same compared to other cities in our country.. Good thing WATER is so abundant here.. Unlike the other cities, they have water shortage.. Actually Brenton, I have 2 options.. whether stay here in my hometown Dumaguete or migrate to my hubby’s place “the Asia’s Latin City” Zamboanga.. I fell in love with their city too, but NOTHING BEATS MY HOMETOWN.. Indeed the safest and the BEST place to raise children..

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Jhuannaly – Zamboanga is meant to be really nice, people tell us to never travel there as it is dangerous. A Filipino I met from there that was married to a more prominent family, said they all had to carry guns in day to day life for protection, just there way if life I guess. Actually the squatters areas in Dumaguete are quite nice compared to squatters areas say in Cebu or Manila. Thanks for your comments.

  26. Dennes says

    I am from Dumaguete City , the modern Dumaguete , I don’t like it and I’m not happy ,with all these Retirees and more are may be moving in . Foreigners , they made City expensive for locals.
    They Abuse the kindness and gentleness. lala ,
    Thanks for posting.

    • akis51 says

      Reply to Dennes : Ahh, that’s why locals are so rude and hostile to foreigners ! “..they made city expensive for locals..” How they did it ? Over three billion peso per year to the local economy and thousands of jobs instead of your beloved Tanduay drinking and Shabu consumption.

      How they did it ? They went to Uy Matiao and told him to increase the price of nails ? You are naive
      and totally ignorant of economy and social matters. Your inability to THINK and SEARCH explains
      your hostility. Keep going.

      By the way, there are over 5000 (five thousand) foreigners living here. YES, very few of them are “sexpats”, YES, very few of them are rude to locals. What about the 4500 ? Now, you know why I call you “naive” and “ignorant”.

      • akis51 says

        I agree 100% with you Lonewolf for the contribution of foreigners to increased prices and that’s why I was offensive to Dennes since he is local.

        He put aside the 2000 (at least..) Korean students (rentals going up, food prices the same, etc.) and he blamed “the retirees”.

        Not mention a word for a big number of locals working overseas, not mention how many Filipinos moved here the last five years from Mindanao due to the conflicts. This is ignorance…

        • Brenton Butler says

          Hi akis51 – You are right, only a portion of foreigners here are retirees. The various
          Korean, Asian, Iranian and other mixed cultures is extensive, then not all foreigners are retirees. Also the Filipinos that migrate around here from other regions is extensive, so retirees are really just a portion, albeit a good size portion. Prices increasing isn’t a bad thing always, if prices stay the same or decrease then there is possibly a greater problem.

    • says

      Hi Dennes – You can look at it that they make the city expensive for locals, but they are driving massive cash to also fuel the economy, that is asian foreigners as well. 9% of the gross domestic product in the Philippines is offshore workers sending money back, so it works both ways, take that 9% away and there would be a literal collapse. You are right on the point of abuse, many foreigners are abusive to the culture, but so are filipinos to their own, a human condition. I was talking to an older American this morning and he said in Bohol, that he was offered a 14 year old girl and the family pleaded with him, because they were poor and wanted him to take their daughter and support them. The tragedy of poverty, he gave them 1000 php as a gift and wished them well. The root problem isn’t specifically bad foreigners, though that is one part, it really is poverty. Wherever poverty exists, so do higher levels of abuse. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Eric says

    Sorry will try again,the gentle people need to take the advice of a foreigner over a couple of matters that are making the city look like a Wild West town,the first being rubbish strewn on the side of the road for weeks on end,nobody seems to want to take responsibility for it,even if it is at the end of their driveway,the rubbish men pick up rubbish it is not their job to clean up the mess strewn over a wide area,secondly sometimes the rubbish strewn everywhere is because of my next bone of contention,dogs roaming everywhere at all hours that don’t appear to belong to anyone just make a nuisance of themselves and believe one has fears of them ,remembering a bite to hand or leg is a trip to the hospital for rabies injection. Thirdly but by no means least,if you have a police force doing random license and registration checks give the motorcycle owner the decency by speaking louder so that he can hear above the bikes going by with no mufflers,no lights,innumerable passengers on board,please forget revenue for once and concentrate on vehicles that just shouldn’t be on the road,if at times you can call the roads an actual road some of them are pitiful.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Eric – Points noted, there are towns like Bayawan and Sibulan that are tidier than Dumaguete. But don’t forget the Philippines is still a developing country, it’s not Australia or America. Even a friend that visited from Bali, said the Philippines is much cleaner than Bali. I have not heard of a dog attacking anyone yet, but they surely roam around. Where I live there are heaps roaming, I even throw them the left over food. If you want less traffic and a clean town move to Bayawan, it’s a winner for sure!

      • Eric says

        Not forgetting Valencia which is a picture of tidiness and pride,the comment of a developing country is really irrelevant,if they have no idea of keeping their environment a matter of necessity and pride by now they never will,tidiness starts in the home,teach your children how necessary it is early in their life and they will take it to adulthood. I couldn’t get over the irony one day when a policeman was chastising two foreign girls for smoking in the street,one motorcycle would make more pollution in Dumaguete than those girls could ever achieve.
        I’d love to see Dumaguete and the Philippines prosper but after the pork barrel affair there’s no hope,politicians don’t realise they have made their country the laughing stock of Asia.

        • Brenton Butler says

          Hi Eric – The comment of developing country is 100% relevant!. Valencia is a great little town, but a much smaller population, but in and of itself Valencia is quite boring with much less to offer, a great place to reside though. Smoking in the streets is against the law, so it’s just the way it is. In Australia smoking laws are stricter than here and there’s still massive car pollution. The country is already trending up in prosperity, actually the Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies of Asia. Corruption is a matter for the Philippine people and is certainly not my matter as a guest in the country. Thanks for the comments.

  28. JA says

    Hi Brenton! I’ve been living in Dumaguete for 12 years now, but I have to go back to Canada next month but only because my wife is due September and due too several requests by family & friends we decided for our daughter to be born back home, even though our son was born at the Silliman Unversity Medical Center, Which I thought was very equipped and Clean and the medical staff were very friendly as expected. That is why in my opinion Filipinos are the best nurses. We will be back in time for the Silliman Founders day as I have friends that are alumni. Dumaguete has been great for me and my family, Crime rate here is much lesser then where I’m from and I live in “Canada!”. I here about Killings here in the City but most if not all are drug related vigilante killings to clean up the city of its “Shabu” problem. And this happens throughout the whole Philippines, although its a very unorthodox method for foreigners. Anyways, Dumaguete is perfectly situated in the Philippines because its in the middle of everything and easily accessible to other islands, and there are many and cheap ways to travel to other islands. I love the local food here!(except balut) so many too choose from(mostly customers service is poor because of the low pay so please be understanding), and the night life here is coming up. Hayahay during weekends for many proffesionals I’ve met and Travelers , Tiki bar for the younger generations,and the whole BLVD strip, plenty of bars and entertainment. There are Street party’s at the escano areas every 2months, I’ve only been to one because my get sloshed frat boy partying like no tomorrow days are way over. The biggest dilemma I’ve had here is where to build my house, Do I want it by the beach or up in the mountains(overlooking the city view is amazing! ex. Tierra Alta). And everything in Dumaguete is 5 mins away, because there is no traffic but there is always the nice traffic officers waiting in the shade just in case. I’ve learned the culture,got used to it, and loved it!

    • Heinz Schirmaier says

      I have a pinay kaibigan in Valencia who has mountain property for sale. She is on FB, her name is Marylin Ariola, just tell her that her Count has put you in contact with her. I’ve seen pics of the mountain property, very panoramic. Also you will get reduced electric rates like everyone gets in Valencia because of the geothermal power plant. Contact her, you never know what might happen! If you’re single! she is drop dead beautiful, 56 and looks 40! hahaha, a Fil Dolly Parton, hehehe! Yes! she is single, might have expensive tastes, but then again who knows! We’ve been friends for 5 years and she is truly a great woman!

  29. Brenton Butler says

    Hi JA – Tierra Alta is spectacular, my kuya even proposed to his soon to be wife there at night time. Balut to my surprise was quite nice, just a random concept more than anything. Safe travels to the land of the cold weather!!!

    • Heinz Schirmaier says

      You liked Balut Brendon? those sad dead eyes did not instill remorse in eating it? Did it not say ” why did you not let me grow up”? Just kidding, but actually you will NOT catch me eating it, on par with fried or bbq’d chicken guts!
      Of course Letchon is a different story, hahahaha!

  30. Brenton Butler says

    Dumaguete immigration says they handle about 10,000 people at any one time through their office for this region. There are other foreigners on certain visas that bypass immigration or even other people go direct to Cebu, so the numbers of foreigners here are huge. It is visibly evident, they are everywhere in this region, per head of capita Dumaguete and immediate surrounds is loaded with foreigners. In 2 years and 3 months of being here, I don’t hear of foreigners getting killed, I don’t hear of foreigners getting beaten up, I don’t hear of foreigners getting mugged. As a foreigner if you come here and get involved in drugs, serious abuse to the local women or some other kind of serious abuse, then you could be in danger, but if you’re like the tens of thousands of general foreigners that dwell and visit here, you stay will be well, just like theirs, just like mine!

    • akis51 says

      Dear Brenton,

      I agree in general but keep in mind that there is increased HOSTILITY against us. They blame us for the higher prices of land and rentals ! They ignore the fact of thousands students from Korea mostly and other islands – places. They ignore the fact that migrants from Mindanao come here to survive..
      They ignore basic facts about living cost, inflation, etc. All they can think is the “sexpats” and very few arrogant and rude foreigners. They ignore the philanthropic work by many of us…

      I keep record from Facebook and blogs for their complains – accusations. I really worry for the near future as this hostile attitude is expressed by young persons not poor old one !

      • Brenton Butler says

        Hi Akis51 – Most Filipinos aren’t stupid, they aren’t naive, all be it they do things differently, they are quite perceptive and can weigh good or bad people when they meet them. There are a portion that are stupid and naive, but they aren’t the majority, and people that are stupid and naive exist in all cultures anyway. Attitudes against foreigners is even quite prevalent in Australia, and they are considered multicultural already. You will always have some hostility against foreigners in most countries, but the Filipinos in Dumaguete and surrounds will never be inclined to hurt you, unless you did something really bad to them or their countrymen, then maybe. That’s why I stated above if you seriously abuse the Filipino culture, you could be in danger. Some people could have a bad attitude toward you because you are foreigner, but they won’t go out of their way to hurt you on the grounds of being a foreigner. The near future I don’t believe will change so much.

        • akis51 says

          I think we must meet for a coffee..! Today, morning time, Daro area, someone with a machete cut pieces of two small cactus just outside our fence. Some days ago, offenses in the central market… (I keep a very low profile, I am a smiling person running around with a 22 years old minivan and a lousy Chinese motorbike.) Obviously you haven’t read the article “ALIEN” to a local newspaper two weeks ago…

  31. Sander says

    Hi. What are the solid facts that show Dumaguete is the cheapest place in the Philippines to live in?

  32. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Sander – Dumaguete isn’t the cheapest place in the Philippines, I don’t believe the article says that directly, though people draw that inference. The article best and cheapest is based on a global retirement perspective referencing and article written by Yahoo finance. It’s more a light hearted article. Maybe best and cheapest could be redefined overall best value!

  33. James Speight says

    Well I don’t think that anyone thinking about moving to the Philippines should make thier decision based solely on cost of living. though it is something to consider.

    And these focus on what is more important changes in time. While I was posting my last post on this article I received a phone call from my grandmother telling me that my younger cousin had a massive heart attack.He was lucky he was at his job at the police station right next to the rescue department. If he was at his home or somewhere else wouldn’t have turned out as well.

    Two weeks in the hospital now he is at home. But these types of things make you think. Yes there are good and cheap places to live. Cheaper then Dumaguete but when minutes count getting medical treatment no one would be happy saving a couple hundred dollars a month staying hours from help.

    Something to consider.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi James – You are right. Example – Bayawan is nice and rentals are half price but you need Dumaguete for reasonable hospitals. For a person having a heart attack, it could be the difference between life and death.

  34. Heinz Schirmaier says

    Hi Brenton. Asawa ko wants to move to a town just north of Duma, can’t remember the name, she is from there. The town also has good schools for the kids which is very important. Any input?

    • Allester Teves says

      Hi, our clan is from Tanjay, it is around 32kms away from Dumaguete. Another place to live peacefully though they lack medical facilities but the city is peaceful, We often go there to visit our relatives and it will only take 30-40 minutes to travel to Tanjay from Dumaguete back and forth. They may not have big malls like Dumaguete have but they have great people, tasty delicacy called Bud-bud or pronounced as bood-bood.

      • Brenton Butler says

        Hi Allester – Just celebrated fiesta last Thursday night with good friends from Tanjay. Mga lechon baboy sa Tanjay. Busog napud!

        • Allester Teves says

          I was there Brent, visited my cousins, got drank, party and food!!! A place where I belong next to Dumaguete haha!!

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Heinz – Great place Tanjay, it’s a city of about 70,000 have friends from there. Hired a scooter to go to fiesta last Thursday and it’s like a 45 minute drive. A Ceres Bus is about 35 php and a Jeepney is 25 php. It’s good and safe, not so many foreigners there though, there are some.

  35. Allester Teves says

    This blog made me proud as a Dumagueteno, I live in a place that drugs are rampant but, I am happy how are city is progressing while peace is still there. I can walk home safely everynight without worrying that someone might stole my valuables or someone might hurt me. We often play soccer/football the park. We welcome everybody who wants to play. Dumaguete may be a small city but we have something that other cities have, it’s the TRUST.

    • Allester Teves says

      No probs Brent, still Dumaguete is an unknown city to most of us Filipinos. I always tell my friends who are not from Negros Oriental to visit Dumaguete, A City by the Bay, good food, close to nature City, and most of all accommodating people.

      • Brenton Butler says

        Hi Allester – You are correct, It’s not well known by many Filipinos. A great place though. Thanks for your comments.

      • Martha says

        Hi Allester –

        We’re Pinoys and are looking to go southward from the crazy metro that is Manila. Am hoping I’ll have enough leads for good neighborhoods – or at least, good neighbors, even as we look for a place near your famous beaches.


  36. Heinz Schirmaier says

    Thanks for the info Allester and Brenton, I will tell asawa ko to go ahead and find a place to live there. Where she and the kids live now at Ibabao, Cordova Mactan has become a Child Porn heaven run by Koreans and Australians, she wants OUT and I totally agree. My kid’s safety is my main concern!

  37. says

    Hello everyone, I have been reading many questions and comments on Dumaguete and the Philippines in general. I have some questions regarding life in the Philippines and Dumaguete. What about housing and costs? I have read that there are limited rentals available in many places. Is that also true for this area as well? I would like to meet anyone that has commented on this forum when I visit Cebu, Dumaguete and Bacolod next may 2015 when I will be there and get more information about the area. I will be coming to the Philippines to lead a church medical mission outside of Tacloban city for 2 weeks. My way of giving back to society for my blessings in life. I have done this in educador and the Dominican republic. I am very excited about visiting the Philippines and possibly as a place to retire at least part of the year. I will be in the are from may 23, 2015 to june 1,2015. Any help on hotel accomendations that are decent and not too costly would also be appreciated. thanks rainrider9

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Dan – There are plenty of rentals in Dumaguete, but value for money is what you want. A fair price here for a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit is 12,000 a month or about $60.00 US a week. This gets you 1.5 km from the city in a nice non gated subdivision. You can get similar cheaper, but there is possibly a compromise of location and or quality of neighbours. This is what my family pays, water is $8.00 US per month, Electricity with out air conditioner is $20.00 US a month. Air conditioner ads circa $40.00 US per month. Food for a family of four, 2 adults, 2 children is circa $80.00 US per week. Also hotel Palwa in Dumaguete is nice, new and close to everything and is circa $20 US a night. We are a family of four and live on $350.00 a week. A single guy maybe $250.00 is good enough, but it really does depend on what standard of living you want and are antiquated with. When my older brother visits, he can spend $1000.00 a week and a foreigner I met the other day lives on $60.00 a week. Now $60.00 he gets free rent/water/electricity and supplies work services in exchange and really lives Filipino in many ways. Per person it costs $12.00 to $15.00 alone in immigration fees per week on tourist visa, therefore our mate on $60.00 has no budget in his budget for immigration. You can really spend a little or a lot.

  38. Jay says

    Hi Brenton,

    I have only visited the Philippines but I agree with you that cost of living is really up to how much a person wants to live like a Filipino and how much a person wants to live like a Westerner or Australian in your case. I met an expat who moved to the Philippines a couple of years ago while on vacation this summer and he said it required $3,000/month.

    We also visited one of my wife’s classmates from high school. She works as a teacher and her husband worked at a hardware store and they had a 10 year old son. She had just finished having their house built on her Mom’s land which cost 350,000 pesos. She said her family lived well on 14,000 pesos a month. She seemed happy and the house looked fine to me. It really just depends on what you need to be happy.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Jay – You really can spend a little or a lot!. We live as well on $350 a week as if we were in Australia on about $1200 a week. When in Australia I had lived a lifestyle where I spent say $500 a week and up to $3500 a week, but survived alright either way. It’s a matter of what you are happy with.

  39. says

    Thanks Brenton for the information. I have been researching some costs of housing as well. but the ones on line seem somewhat limited. the utilities cost seem very reasonable to me as well. I do understand that costs are relative to what one wants to have for a standard of living, and that varies from person to person. that issue seems to be universal as well, and commented on in the international living magazine I utilize as well. Please keep up the good work and the articles. dan

  40. Martha says

    Hi Brenton

    Am looking for more advice however on where to live in Dumaguete.

    Dumaguete comes to mind as it seems the best answer to our love of the water (we dive, snorkel, SUP, kayak, bodyboard) and as it provides access to a stimulating city environment not unlike the university towns where we grew up in.

    Anyway, we’re inclined to look at either Dauin or Bacong … as in any place, however, the would be neighbors and the general vibe of a place are key considerations for us: we very much appreciate diversity and hence, proximity to expat enclaves or local artist towns would be a great way to explore a new living environment.

    We’re not too excited to stay in the city – but would nonetheless want to be near enough should we miss the hubbub.

    Comments and suggestions welcome.


    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Martha

      Dauin is a spectacular town, heaps of expats live there. Bacong adjoins Dumaguete and is nice as well. For the lifestyle you want Bacong or Dauin would be perfect and they are close driving to Shops and restaurants etc in Dumaguete.

      The best thing you could do when coming to Dumaguete is book a monthly stay at somewhere like Edelweiss for circa 24,000 php then in the month hunt around for a more permanent location in Bacong or Dauin.

      Dauin has spectacular natural wonders in diving and snorkeling!. We go to ALAR beach resort often and snorkelling is 50php only on the reef, entry is free, food and drinks are cheap and the fish are spectacular.

      Dumaguete suits us better, but if I had no children then Bacong and Dauin are so close to Dumaguete they would be ideal.

      In and of themselves Bacong and Dauin are nothing with out all the hospitals, shops, restaurants, boulevard etc that Dumaguete offers. But because of how close these towns are you get the best of both worlds.

      • Maricel Fernandez says

        Hi Brenton! I’ve come away very interested to consider living in Dumaguete because of your blog. I’ll be there next week for a couple of weeks to check on some properties but would very much wish to meet and find out more about what is like to live there on an everyday basis. Would it be possible to visit you and buy you coffee or lunch? It would be great to start making some new friends :)


        Warm regards,

        Maricel Fernandez

          • Maricel Fernandez says

            Hi Brenton – just arrived today.

            Would you be free for morning coffee tomorrow or Wednesday? I can meet you as my hotel’s right smack in the city.

            maricelgfernandez@gmail. com

            • Brenton Butler says

              I can meet you at 9.00am tomorrow at Scooby’s next to the new McDonald’s downtown in the main street of Dumaguete. I will have my children with me, they stand out as they are very white, so I will be easy to locate. I have a bit on tomorrow, so only have a spare 45 minutes.

  41. ceasar says

    Let’s not sugar coat Dumaguete and the people to much. Yes it is affordable and there are many expats that live here, but you must remember your a outsider “Westerner”. Some of The locals will stare, laugh, and take advantage of you. Many naive foreigners will be hustled here if they are not made aware of the this. I’ve been here many years (Philippines) there needs to be a certain level of “street smarts” before you deciede to reside here or else you will be taken advantage of by “the city of gentle people”. Depending on your background you may think everyone is wonderful and trustworthy and many are. My word of advice is find a good expat community were everybody looks out for each other and this can be a wonderful place.

  42. john taylor says

    I am thinking about moving to The Philippines and specifically Dumaguete.

    I wonder if those who live there could give me some idea on how long it took them to adjust to the climate; or to say if they have not. Also, living by the sea obviously has a greater storm-surge risk but would it be much cooler there? Is life there one of constantly trying to keep out of the sun and taking frequent cold drinks and showers or are there times when it is reasonably comfortable to move around if dressed appropriately? I am assuming that I could reduce the effects of the heat and humidity by (i) using air-con within my house (it has been suggested that about an additional $40 would be required for air-con per month …. but is that for a whole 3 bed house or just one room?) (ii) spending time in malls and the cinema (assuming they have air-con) (iii) being more active in the evenings and enjoying a long daytime siesta (with my air-con of course) (iv) living near the sea. Any comments on those ideas please?

    There are other upside and downside factors listed in the above comments but most seem very positive about life in Phil; it does occur to me, however, that those who were very unhappy have probably already left! My interpretation of the comments here and other sources are that to be safe and enjoy life there (i) Don’t dress like a millionaire (even if that is in pesos!) (ii) Be polite to Filipinos; after all we are guests in their country (iii) Accept cultural differences (iv) Don’t get involved in ‘dodgy’ dealings in business or personal life. Any other suggestions please?

    Thanks in anticipation,


    • Lonewolf says

      Well John, I am not sure where you are from, but if you can survive a summer in the deep south or the Ohio River Valley, you will be fine. It is much more pleasant here.

      The cost for the aircon is probably a bit low if you want to run it quite a bit. I would venture that that would be for one room, probably a 1 horse at most. Anything larger and you can watch the meter spin. You are better off getting up the hill a bit where it is noticeably cooler in Valencia

      • John Taylor says

        Unfortunately I live in cold UK ….. so anything above 25oC is a massive heat wave for us and our country grinds to a halt (also happens if the temp goes below -10oC) ….. so I am used to running heating from about October to May (7 to 8 months) but I assume air-con would be required all year long in Phil. Another issue for me coming from the UK is that here all our health care is free. So I have quite a few issues to weigh up. But thanks for your advice.

          • Lonewolf says

            There are good doctors here, depending on your medical needs and they are quite reasonable in price. The Que system at Silliman University Medical Center is great. Medication can be expensive, but generics are available. Other than opiates and other restricted drugs, you do not even need a proper prescription filled out to buy.

            • says

              Oh, I am aware of all of that, and I agree with you. My comment was about the health care in the UK not being free, nothing about health care in the Philippines. I have written on that extensively on this site.

          • John Taylor says

            I think that is very pedantic Mindanaobob; The concept of “free” can be used to distinguish those services not charged at point of obtaining that service; e.g. in the UK we refer to NHS dentists as free and private dentists as not free and the same with many other services, such as state schools and private schools. Obviously most people in the UK pay taxes but in many countries (including The Philippines) people pay taxes and still have to pay for healthcare. If you are being very pedantic then perhaps every time the word “free” is used it will have to be further qualified; e.g. “buy one and get one free means buy each at half price”, “a free society is only free after we have ignored the parts that are controlled, “my free surgical operation was paid for by 20 million taxpayers … at about 0.01p each”. I never realised the word “free” had such complexities attached.

        • James Speight says

          I think the biggest thing is getting used to a higher than normal temperature at first. Here in the USA where I live I am always having to get used to a different season. It is getting colder and then when I get used to it, then it was getting hotter. Then about the time I get used to it being hotter, then it is getting colder again.

          The last time I was in the Philippines, I stayed for three months and I didn’t use the A/C at all, just had a fan on my bed at night. And though there was a few hours a day, where It was hot. Then I found a shady place in front of the house to sit and talk to my older men in the family. I felt pretty good.

    • Brenton says

      Hi John

      It took me about 6 to 12 months to adjust to climate.

      Storm surges aren’t highly probable here due to the location of Dumaguete in relation to other islands. Also the land from the boulevard slopes up quite rapidly towards to hill town Valencia. If a storm of enough power could get through then the water can’t surge far inland anyway due to the landscape. The danger would be living near the river if there was a storm.

      Cold showers are your friend!

      Air conditioning and electricity is $75 to $100 a month using one air conditioner moderately. I have no air conditioner and our electricity is about $22 each month. Electricity is one thing that is expensive in the Philippines.

      Have fun when you arrive.

  43. Dan Lee says

    I don’t want to rain on the parade here nor do I wish to insult anyone, but here is the truth as I know it having lived in Dumaguete this year. 1) the roads – crowded during rush hour, but not severely; road conditions generally ok, but often full of potholes in outlying areas 2) air quality, varies from polluted from all the motorcycles to good after a rain or overnight cleansing ocean winds 3) friendliness of people, quite friendly but not that much more than elsewhere 4) education, sorry the university everyone is so proud of is way over rated, still nice to have I agree 5) world class diving, not really Apo Island is usually crowded and local reefs are very mediocre. There are only a few true world class diving locations in the Philippines and they are far away from towns, eg. remote atolls 6) other romanticism about Dumaguete being “liberal, hip kind of place populated by gentle people reminiscent of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 60s and 70s at the height of the Vietnam War.” — what have you been smoking? It’s a fairly normal Filipino town with the grace of a Uni and for being partly on the ocean. It’s so-so by hard standards, nice by more liberal standards, but hardly a paradise that these retirement articles try to portray. IMO, the main reason to retire in Dumaguete would be to do so with your Filipina wife and to do so on a smaller monthly than in the States, Australia, etc. I think it would be pretty tough for nonfilipina wifes, but of course there are exceptions.

    As far as Dauin and Valencia…second rate locations, IMO but then I’m hard to please contrary to all the exuberance shown in the comments here.

    Bottom line, I give Dumaguete a “B” overall rating, but then again I’m not easily impressed. There are heaps of nicer places in New Zealand, Oregon, Canada, etc. but at least Dumaguete is not sterile, there’s a fairly strong energy here but there is in many other places in Asia as well; partly a function of youth population presence.

    • Brenton Butler says

      Hi Dan Lee – You said “There are heaps of nicer places in New Zealand, Oregon, Canada, etc”. This is not a first world country like places you mention. It’s hard to get the best of both worlds, meaning cheap living with all the first world perks and therein is the commercial reality of living in any third world country. I live a good lifestyle in the Philippines on low income, you can’t do that in New Zealand, Oregon, Canada etc.

      • Eric says

        Put it this way if Dumaguete got to be good as NZ and the USA I would probably leave,it has it’s problems that drive you nuts at times, but go out for a feed and a couple of beers with the wife at Flip Flops for $14.00 (Australia) and you realise just how great life really is,I’ve been away three weeks in Perth,Australia,couldn’t wait to get back to Dumaguete just love it.

  44. Dan Lee says

    Oh, and as far as the doctors and hospitals, I’m not so sure they are that good but that’s another topic. In general, if I needed a really good hospital, doctor or even a dentist, I’d prefer to go to Singapore. But yes, there are hospitals and medical specialists of all sorts in Dumaguete.

  45. Brenton Butler says

    Hi Dan Lee – The doctors and hospitals are ok in Dumaguete, both myself and my wife have had operations here. Naturally Singapore is going to be of very high standards because it’s a super rich nation.

  46. Sandy says

    Hello, my family and I are currently living in the U.S but planning to move to Dumaguete to pursue my degree in Nursing. I am a filipina and married to an American and we have 2 boys together. My husband and I decided that it is best to finish my degree in PI because we think it’ll be easir for me to focus on my study in PI than here in the U.S, I know I will get lots of helps from my family taking care of my kids. Safety in the area of Dumaguete is our main concern, I came from Bohol myself but never been to Dumaguete before but I’ve heard that Dumaguete is an ideal place to live for foreigners. I was wondering if someone can recommend to me a best place to stay during my studies there? Preferably a family friendly neighborhood since we have two young kids. Also, what is the best private school there is in Dumaguete for my boys?

    We are thibking of moving next year that gives tons of times to prepare for our trip to PI and get everything situated here in the US prior to our trip. Overall, As per my research, Dumaguete seems to be the best place for my family.

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