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U.S. News and World Report states that Dumaguete, located in Negros Oriental province, is one of the most affordable places to retire in the world. After Nha Trang, Vietnam, where an expat can live on $650 a month, and Chiang Rai, Thailand, $750 a month,  and Ipoh, Malaysia, $897, Dumaguete, with a monthly projected budget of $1,000 a month, comes in at number four. 

U.S. News describes the locals in the self-proclaimed “City of Gentle People” as welcoming, friendly and English-speaking. If you plan to retire to any affordable place in the world and English is in your wheelhouse, then it makes sense to move to a location where the residents have a fair command of the English language.

Sure, you might plan to learn the local language, and if you’re anything like the skinny-black-tie-wearing Mormons that roam our island province of Guimaras, you study the local language ahead of time and don’t depend solely on your English.

But if you’re a crusty old expat like me that doesn’t want to extend himself too much, you can usually find someone who speaks enough English to get by. And there’s always my trusty asawa nearby to act as my interpreter. Really, I’m too old to learn a new language and honestly, aside from a few phrases I’ve picked up, along with carabao crap on my shoes, I don’t have the desire to learn Filipino or the local dialect, Ilonggo.

Dumaguete has a warm, tropical climate that offers world-class diving and snorkeling along with dolphin and whale watching.  The dolphin and whale watching seasons are during the months of March to October.

But is U.S. News and World Report’s basing it’s claim that Dumaguete is the fourth most affordable place in the world to live by it’s statement that Dumaguete  in Negros Oriental is a  university city where “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.”Dumaguete City - Official Website

(Photo Source: Official Website Dumaguete City)

Affordable retirement in the Philippines means different things to different people. Dumaguete is also described as a university town that Lonely Planet describes as “hip and urbane.” Personally, I don’t need to hobnob with educated college students or professors and discuss quantitative physics and French Impressionism.

I certainly will never be “hip” or “urbane” since I even had to look up the word  “urbane” on  Google: (of a person, especially a man) suave, courteous, and refined in manner. Suave, sophisticated and debonair.

Excuse me, but I have no desire to become suave, sophisticated or debonair.

At 62 years of age, my Central Illinois redneck roots are too ingrained and not even living the “cultured” live in Dumaguete would change that at this point.

I’ve never been to “The City of Gentle People” but would love to visit there and check it out. It would make for a pleasant road trip and Negros Oriental is really not that far from us. But there’s lots of places in the Philippines where a guy could live on a thousand bucks a month. I know of single guys on our island province of Guimaras and nearby Iloilo City who were doing it.

Of course, while Guimaras, doesn’t have the refined culture of a university town like Dumaguete, it, too, is comprised of “gentle people” as long as you stay away from fiestas where someone always ends up drinking way too much Red Horse.

But who needs culture? I can swig a cold San Mig Light with my friends over at Camp Alfredo, which serves the coldest beer around. What else does an American expat living in the Philippines need? As my former AT&T coworkers freeze their asses back off in Illinois I can go to the beach. Paradise. It’s tough living here, but somebody’s got to do it.

8 thoughts on “Most Affordable Places to Retire in the World: Dumaguete, Philippines

  1. Dave I follow another site called My Philippine Dreams. An American expat(Ned) and his Filipino wife (Michell). They live in Dumaguete. Even though I have traveled in Negros I haven’t been there yet. Maybe my next trip.
    Tom Cat

  2. Dave, there is an expat, Henry Velez, currently living in Dumaguete. He has a YouTube Channel called “LifeBeyondTheSea – Philippines” where he covers life from a single guy’s perspective. He has lots of great videos. Henry also has a website but he stopped updating it before he moved to Dumaguete.

  3. i also follow ned and henry’s you tubes etc. however i must say (not sucking up) their writing styles are not near as quirky and musing as the author of this blog. 🙂

  4. Dave, nice article about Dumaguete, I had been to Dumaguete 15 years ago, it’s a peaceful place. A city of gentle people as they are known. They are well known because of Silliman University. The $1,000 monthly budget for expats to survive and live comfortable is not solely applicable to Dumaguete City, a city comparable in size to Roxas City, but to highly urbanized city of Iloilo.

    1. Dave, I think U.S. News and World Report singled out Dumaguete because it is supposed to have the largest number of expats per capita of all the cities in the Philippines. Here is an article that estimates there are over 5,000 expats in Dumaguete, and since the population is around 120,000, that means 4% of the population is expats. (However, I have heard that Dumaguete’s population swells much higher during the day due to all the workers and students coming in from outside the city.)

  5. Hey crusty guy ;). Here is a couple of things. I have learned about retiring in the Philippines. If you are long married (like you and I) it is where the Asawa wants to retire. If you are retiring here to be with your sweetheart, its where ever you settle. Bottom Line is IT’S ALL GOOD no matter where you retire :).

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