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I have been reading the forum for a couple of months as my wife and I prepare for a prospective move to Cebu City this fall/winter (roughly in November). I am grateful for a place to find some less filtered information regarding all sorts of things. Thank you all for taking the time to be active on this forum!

While I do search for what I am wondering about prior to posting, I ask for forgiveness if the subject or subjects got covered an infinite number of times already. Today I have a variety of rookie questions, all of which are highly significant issues to my decisions as to whether we end up in Cebu or where there we live.

Our concerns are mostly about basics. By that, I mean staples of modern living like electricity, internet, and naturally a staple of life at any time, water.

We intend to work from home, keeping our jobs back in the motherland so we can enjoy Philippines. To do this, we need reliable electricity and especially internet to stay in business contact. I am aware that both of those can and will at times be in short supply some of the time. Since we will work western (American) hours, I'm figuring that electricity and internet will be in greater supply at night, and so that will benefit us. Am I right? What I am hoping to discover is which neighborhoods have the most reliable and strong supplies of electricity, internet, and water. I have researched enough to sense that the flat parts of Cebu City are not those places, generally, that the flats tend to run short of all three, unless we are talking about just after the rain, in which case the flats seem to have lots of unwanted water. The hills or more elevated areas seem to have the more upscale neighborhoods, and because of that they seem to get higher quality services. Am I understanding correctly? We've looked at a variety of locations/subdivisions, and we intend to start by renting, not buying. Likely a condominium or townhouse.

My questions are as follows:

Do I have a correct sense of the relation of services to the subdivisions in the hills?

Generally better/more reliable?

Is there a area with better reliablility for water supply?

Any particular neighborhoods or subdivisions which you might recommend?

Cost of electricity depends of course on how much you use, but were we to work from home, we'd be there a lot, running AC. Any ideas as to an average monthly electric bill? Average cost for quality internet? By quality, I mean fast enough to use for voip or perhaps video conferencing.

We've looked at parts of Guadalupe, Banilad, Lahug, Maria Luisa. We aren't operating on a limitless budget, but truly we need the highest degree of confidence available that we can stay connected via internet to our home country.

Apologies for the length of this post.
 

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With the Philippine being 3rd world, it can safely be said that the Philippines has the worst infrastructure in the world, in regards to electric and internet. Being in a posh subdivision doesn't protect you from rolling brown outs or sporadic internet. Bottom line, no electric no internet. You can protect yourself by investing in a power generator but that is only a temporary fix and its expensive to fuel. High speed internet can be had but at a price. From my experience as long as the kids are in school the internet is good but it really drags on holidays and weekends, but that being said, I think you can successfully run an internet business there. Bear in mind electricity is more expensive in the Philippines than anywhere in Asia. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

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Typhoons and destructive storms are reality here and when they hit hard the power could be out from a week to month, internet could be down from a week to 3 months+, so if your only income is by the internet it's gonna be a huge gamble.

Electricity expense seems high to me, with a fridge, hot and cold dispenser and AC running the AC 12 hrs a day it could run you as much as 7,000 - 10,000 pesos. Buy a hot and cold water dispenser and purchase your water bottles from the many aqua businesses they deliver and the price is around 25 pesos per large bottle the hot and cold dispenser cost is 5,000 pesos, I'm not familiar with the water issues in Cebu.

Prices for fridge and AC units are much more than what I noticed stateside, markup seems to be 1/3 more and if you rent to own it's double the original price so 100-150% interest.

Then what about your Visa costs? or Immigration costs, they too can add up depending upon your status or what sort of Visa you'd qualify for, if you haven't had a chance check with your local Philippine Consulate in California.
 

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Cebu

I have been reading the forum for a couple of months as my wife and I prepare for a prospective move to Cebu City this fall/winter (roughly in November). I am grateful for a place to find some less filtered information regarding all sorts of things. Thank you all for taking the time to be active on this forum!

While I do search for what I am wondering about prior to posting, I ask for forgiveness if the subject or subjects got covered an infinite number of times already. Today I have a variety of rookie questions, all of which are highly significant issues to my decisions as to whether we end up in Cebu or where there we live.

Our concerns are mostly about basics. By that, I mean staples of modern living like electricity, internet, and naturally a staple of life at any time, water.

We intend to work from home, keeping our jobs back in the motherland so we can enjoy Philippines. To do this, we need reliable electricity and especially internet to stay in business contact. I am aware that both of those can and will at times be in short supply some of the time. Since we will work western (American) hours, I'm figuring that electricity and internet will be in greater supply at night, and so that will benefit us. Am I right? What I am hoping to discover is which neighborhoods have the most reliable and strong supplies of electricity, internet, and water. I have researched enough to sense that the flat parts of Cebu City are not those places, generally, that the flats tend to run short of all three, unless we are talking about just after the rain, in which case the flats seem to have lots of unwanted water. The hills or more elevated areas seem to have the more upscale neighborhoods, and because of that they seem to get higher quality services. Am I understanding correctly? We've looked at a variety of locations/subdivisions, and we intend to start by renting, not buying. Likely a condominium or townhouse.

My questions are as follows:

Do I have a correct sense of the relation of services to the subdivisions in the hills?

Generally better/more reliable?

Is there a area with better reliablility for water supply?

Any particular neighborhoods or subdivisions which you might recommend?

Cost of electricity depends of course on how much you use, but were we to work from home, we'd be there a lot, running AC. Any ideas as to an average monthly electric bill? Average cost for quality internet? By quality, I mean fast enough to use for voip or perhaps video conferencing.

We've looked at parts of Guadalupe, Banilad, Lahug, Maria Luisa. We aren't operating on a limitless budget, but truly we need the highest degree of confidence available that we can stay connected via internet to our home country.

Apologies for the length of this post.
I do not live in Cebu City, but I go there frequently for a variety of reasons. I will speak in general about the Philippines. Cebu is the second largest city in the Philippines. On the positive, there is an international airport, beautiful malls, water transportation and wonderful restaurants. On the negative, heavy traffic and all that comes with that. In general, wired internet is almost always better than over the air (the stick or dsl). I use my majicjack here with excellent results. If you are big city people, Cebu is better than Manila. If you have never been here, schedule a check it out trip.:D
 

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Cebu City is a much better location than Manila, far less pollution, and everything you need is there. Living in, on, or near a beachfront location is more expensive in cost than other areas that are not as close. Many places with beaches are there and is far cheaper than Boracay. You just have to check around and see what you can find and what you like. Let your wife do all negotiations as far as costs and prices, especially when dealing with real estate. $2,000USD or 90,000 pesos a month of income would be a very comfortable amount to live on every month. What has been posted in this thread, by other fellow expats is very true and accurate. You have to realize and understand that the Philippines averages 23 typhoons and tropical storms every year. Make sure that where you stay is not in or on a flood plain. Drainage is very important. Until you and your wife have finally established permanent residency, you must both keep the ability to travel, i.e., round trip ticket status. The time when both of you return to set up permanent residency, she will return as a Balikbayan Filipina and you will accompany her as her husband, She can also work to regain her Philippine citizenship status and have dual citizenship.
 

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What I am hoping to discover is which neighborhoods have the most reliable and strong supplies of electricity, internet, and water.

Generally better/more reliable?



Have you considered Subic instead on the actual SBMA former Naval Station? They have their own Potable water and Electric power plant I believe. Internet?.. unsure. Not sure about current weather climate patterns, but when I lived there for 3 yrs in 90s. We only had one typhoon, which by itself was minimal, but occurred during Pinatubo eruption, which was the true destructive force. A few members of this site live there (Jon1 and DonandAbby) among others...Hopefully they will chime in. Lefties too. Good luck!
 

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SBMA appears to be pretty stable but like anywhere in the Philippines things can and do change from one day to the next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks to all of you for responding to the post.

Details I didn't add to my post:

Cebu strikes us as a place large enough and developed enough to be urban but without the significant levels of decay that Manila has. Perhaps we are wrong. We read that a larger International airport will be built by 2018. Politicians making absurd election year promises or more likely to actually happen?

We have traveled to the philippines for family visits in the past. Respectably understood that infrastructure isn't top-notch (yes, I am understating :) ). We live in the South SF Bay Area now (silicon valley), and are recognizing that we're going from one of the ultimate tech zones to.... not that at all. Life is short. We want to experience something new and different.

My wife was born in Cavite (JimnNila143) but grew up in the States. Upside is that she has upper-middle class family in different parts of Philippines we can tap into for advice but don't believe will tap into us for finances (highly unlikely). Naturally, they want us to move there, so I take their assurances of "no problem" to everything I ask about with a large grain of salt. Internet? "no problem". Water? "no problem" and so on. We're thankful for folks like you guys who can give us a perspective of both Western and local.

Lanhawk - we will have access to a generator to keep the computers up and running if needed. Of course that only matters if we can get fuel. Work for us would take place in the evening and late at night, when I suspect the lines have less traffic. Am I right? Seems logical. Anybody ever online at 2,3,4 a.m.? Things run faster?

mcalleyboy - Thank you for the estimates about expenses. I truly appreciate that, and was hoping for ideas like that when I posted. To your point about typhoons, other half of wife's family is from Leyte, and we all know what went on there recently. Curiously, during the couple hours just before the eye Haiyan struck, we actually made a video conference call to her uncle in Cebu City. Clear enough! I was impressed.

ROUNDHEAD1952 - Thanks for the perspective. Good suggestion. I will actually be in Cebu City in August to do an exploratory stay. From all of you I am trying to get an education prior to arrival, to hopefully facilitate my activity when I am there, cutting down on following pipe dreams or silly ideas about how it might be and instead pursuing what is more likely. I am really glad for and grateful all of you advise as you do.

JImnNila143 - We can see how the beach might appeal. However, the hills may offer a breeze the flats will not, will also allow the large amounts of water that can fall to pass by rather than pool up in our streets and yard. My wife is essentially american except in looks, so I imagine I might ask her uncle to negotiate. From the research i have done, her regaining citizenship isn't terribly complicated, but we are old enough to realize that appearances often are deceiving - especially in the Philippines.

nickleback99 - thanks for the input. By generally more reliable, I guess what I mean is the part of the city where gaps in service are the shortest. Being blunt about certain socioeconomic realities, I'm guessing that as a rule the areas with more expensive residences come with more services, better options, and faster response time. Maybe not always, but.... While I would love to say Life isn't that way, it is in general here in the States. Same there in Philippines? I'm guessing yes. We did consider that area near Subic. Family is nearby enough (Meycauayan City), and still we seem hopeful to be outside of Luzon and Manila's sprawling effect. Cebu seems to offer the best option which might have the infrastructure we just have to have to make our move work, and the central aspect makes u think that we can get to many other islands, too (which we want to do).
 

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Honestly, I have lived in rural Mindanao, MetroManila and now in the Subic Freeport. The Freeport is really where you need to be looking. Stable power, stable internet, good water, very safe and quiet. It is a great place to launch off from for a road trip via the SCTEX (now just past Urdaneta City = 100Km+ in an hour), the NLEX in about 45m.

You can get internet in the Freeport from 3MB DSL @ 1600p /mo to FIBER packages PLDT Subictel starting at 4000p/mo (10MB). The web site has not been updated with that yet. I have had only a couple of internet outages due to physical issues (tree taking a line down) in four years. I also would recommend you getting a second internet connection with Globe as a backup should there be an issue with your PLDT as you never know how long an outage can last. You are doing business to generate income and cannot afford any downtime. Also look at VPN clients. I use Private Internet Access and it is very good. I was using Hide My Ass but dumped them as their connections were poor and always dropping out.

I have only had 3 power outages in 4 years. The longest one was a year ago due to trees falling on major supply lines to my neighborhood from a typhoon. That one was 36 hours. You could go check into a hotel for that time and still do your internet there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks jon1!

that's great information. I get a clear picture based on data like that. Encouraged to look at Subic area again.
 

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Just don't forget, rent is not cheap. Expect to pay 20,000p/mo + rent (short term) for a place. In the Kalayaan neighborhood (closest to Olongapo) is the cheapest, next is Binictican and the highest is Cubi.

Leasehold rights have to be paid up in full up front. This gives you a long term rent at a much discounted rate. You can also "sell" your rights should you decide to move on (similar to a title).
 

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Thanks jon1! that's great information. I get a clear picture based on data like that. Encouraged to look at Subic area again.
Might have to rethink that. Just saw a news blurb that the US was going to base a couple ships there again and some planes too because of the situation developing with China. Possibility of the Subic returning to Military use. Kind of a big question mark.

Fred
 

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Here a few stories to read

Philippines to re-open former US base amid China sea row

Yahoo!

Philippines repairs crumbling South China Sea ship outpost

Philippines to station warplanes, frigates at former U.S. base facing disputed sea

It is all still a huge chess match and nothing is set in stone as the Chinese do not have full control of the South China Sea. They do however have an advantage over weak nations unable to enforce their own soveigrnty Hence, the EDCA that is still awaiting approval by the Philippine Supreme Court. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_Defense_Cooperation_Agreement

It is more of a Cold War type of event that an actual Act of War at this point. If you are looking short term I would not be worried about it. It is all about how the politics and global power perception for the long term... The area in question in regards to military use is the largely unused Airport which used to be NAS Cubi.
 

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Might have to rethink that. Just saw a news blurb that the US was going to base a couple ships there again and some planes too because of the situation developing with China. Possibility of the Subic returning to Military use. Kind of a big question mark.

Fred
Do you really think that if things escalated and Subic was taken out by Chinese attack, that you would be any safer on the island of Panay??? It would be no different than WWII..
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Fair points fmartin_gila. In my mind, Cebu is much removed from that kind of political environment.

Again jon1, really appreciate the numbers for an idea. A way to begin basing ideas without so much subjectivity - like when people say "pretty good", it's all relative. Numbers are less so. Frankly, we are leaving Silicon Valley, California, an epicenter of massive overpricing on a global scale because we aren't looking to keep up with that. I'm suspecting everything in Philippines will seem more affordable in comparison.

If we can make moving work, we're likely to stay a few years, at least. Is that short term?
 

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Thanks to all of you for responding to the post.

mcalleyboy - Thank you for the estimates about expenses. I truly appreciate that, and was hoping for ideas like that when I posted. To your point about typhoons, other half of wife's family is from Leyte, and we all know what went on there recently. Curiously, during the couple hours just before the eye Haiyan struck, we actually made a video conference call to her uncle in Cebu City. Clear enough! I was impressed.

Last year Typhoon Glenda took off our roof 3/4 of it and we have PLDT DSL, I had to cut the DSL cable (now wish I'd left it alone) because our roof was on top of the cable, anyway it took about a week to get power restored to our area and then another two weeks before we had all of our wiring fixed, actually it wasn't much work we found out later but do to the dangers we didn't dare turn it on, once it was turned on we connected the DSL power cable, twisted back together again and sure enough I still had Internet.

Aftermath of the storm: We needed groceries but the major grocery stores couldn't take the debit or credit card, no internet, I needed all my cash to get the roof back on, we were getting rained on every single day...even though I might have had internet in my area they didn't have it at the major chained grocery stores, so I went to our bank and withdrew from our dollar account, most smaller better priced spots don't use the debit or credit card and the ones that can process a credit card (powerful storm after effects) may not have a connection, this is gonna be one of your first experiences, having to carry cash again, pre internet method of payment and don't forget if your not standing directly behind the person (inches) you'll lose your spot, that's phase two of living here, patience above and beyond what's considered normal.
 

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Do you really think that if things escalated and Subic was taken out by Chinese attack, that you would be any safer on the island of Panay??? It would be no different than WWII..
Hadn't even given that any thought. What I was thinking was that the rentals and such would not be available to Civilians.

Fred
 

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I have not been to Cebu yet, but i hear its is very busy. I have been to Subic however and i liked it a lot the drivers actually follow the rules. Nice beaches good restaurants. Texas Joe's is a must. Internet here is the worst in SE Asia 3 mbs is the norm pldt is the biggest supplier i think, but very poor customer service. Don't know if you have been here before or not. But be prepared for a culture shock. It took me a year to settle down here. Its not for the feint hearted, some love it here. Many cant wait to get back to civilization. Don't expect, good customer service ,proper guarantees on products. The infrastructure is not good at all. If you have a serious health problem make sure you can get proper insurance cover. No real ambulance service, no real police presents its just a million mules away from the west. The more remote you live the less likely you are to have reliable. Power and internet.
 

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Fair points fmartin_gila. In my mind, Cebu is much removed from that kind of political environment.

Again jon1, really appreciate the numbers for an idea. A way to begin basing ideas without so much subjectivity - like when people say "pretty good", it's all relative. Numbers are less so. Frankly, we are leaving Silicon Valley, California, an epicenter of massive overpricing on a global scale because we aren't looking to keep up with that. I'm suspecting everything in Philippines will seem more affordable in comparison.

If we can make moving work, we're likely to stay a few years, at least. Is that short term?
Short term leases are one year at a time renewable. Long term leases are when you buy the leasehold rights.. Buying a long term lease "locks" in your average monthly rent as you buy all of the years in advance. Short term is typically 3X the long term lease rate. Short term also slowly creeps up over the years. I rented my house for 20,000p/m 4 years ago on a short term (before I bought the long term lease). Now the the rental market as it is, it could fetch 30-40,000p/mo for short term lease. That depends on your negotiation skills and how furnished the place is.

Here is a good site that give you some numbers for comparison on costs Cost Of Living Comparison

You will be surprised at what costs more over here than in the US and what does not. Appliances, Electric, Vehicles, Dairy products are much higher than the US. Local vegetables and meat products not as much.
 

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Hadn't even given that any thought. What I was thinking was that the rentals and such would not be available to Civilians.

Fred
The US or Phil military is not going to take over this whole Freeport. It will be centrally located around the airport. They will most likely build some type of barracks for the troops there. There is a hotel going up at the end of the runway just outside of the airport. I am sure that if they ever finish it before the military moves in that they will get a lot of business from the transient troops.
 
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