Striking a Balance in Cebu

Cebu. The island and the name brings up images of blue skies, roasted pork, friendly smiles and sweet mangoes. It’s not hard to see why expats would choose to retire here, with the enticing mix of island life and big city comfort, at prices that don’t break the bank.

The easy access to the countryside and islands is one of the biggest advantages of life in Cebu. It’s, “45 minutes to the mountains, 45 minutes to the beach”, explained one expat I spoke to. If she’d said it’s also 45 minutes to the golf course, 45 minutes to the wildlife sanctuary and 45 minutes to horseback riding, those would all be true too.

Cebu has a long history of attracting foreigners. In 1565 it became the first city to be discovered and colonised by the Spanish and today its international port and airport are bustling. Cebuanos are proud of their heritage and there’s a not-so-underlying sentiment among the locals that Cebu should have been capital, instead of Manila. As is, the city continually labours to prove it’s the best in the country and Cebu has grown into a regional hub for tourism, trade and commerce, with more development on the way.

The old and new stand side by side in Cebu. Fascinating, colonial-era museums, churches and forts are sprinkled around the island but you’ll also find plenty of landmarks of ‘New Cebu’…a sparkling, high-tech IT Park, exclusive five-star resorts and the futuristic Ayala Center, jam-packed with restaurants, cafes and boutiques. In between, much of the city is overdue for a makeover but there’s no denying Cebu is very much on-the-up.

When it comes to finding a place to live you’ll find gated communities with high-end homes and inviting plunge pools. You also won’t want for upmarket restaurants where you can go for cocktails or dinner and take in breathtaking valley views.

If you’d prefer to opt for a more ‘local’ lifestyle, you’ll find plenty of small towns where you can rent from around $270 a month, enjoy a slower pace of life yet still be close enough to the city to enjoy all it has to offer.

If you need something in between, there’s are some very inviting apartments springing up across the city, with rents starting from around $470 a month. Live in the city and for $10 you can tuck into a big local meal, take a taxi to the ferry port or airport or enjoy a relaxing massage. You can also buy a big bag of vegetables, get a mani-pedi, dine in one of the shopping centres many restaurants or grab a movie and popcorn for the same price.

Cebu is one of the best cities in the Philippines for dining, with a strong suite of international restaurants, eclectic cafes and seafood palaces to keep you sated. For those who just can’t do without their wines, cheeses and home-baked bread, Cebu’s delis and bistros are on hand with everything you could need.

Spend any time in an expat home in Cebu you’ll understand the appeal right away…everything you’d expect from a modern city, but if the mood strikes you, a bamboo bungalow escape on a white-sand beach is just a short drive away…

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