Considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Philippines, Cebu, the Queen City of the South, has a mix of coastal and mountainous terrain. With an average temperature of 32 °C, it is a sought-after destination for people who long for the sun and warm weather. Besides, Cebu’s clear skies and consistently beautiful weather makes it very desirable for people coming from industrial cities who don’t have that luxury. Below, we list 11 reasons why life in Cebu is better.
1. Views of the sun, sand, and sky
Cebu is a coastal city that has clear skies all year round. Over the years, Cebu’s skyline has changed to include buildings that range from 10- to 55-storey buildings The mix of Asian and western developments can be seen in Cebu’s commercial districts featuring different building designs. More so, the mountains of Cebu have a lot of fruit, vegetable, and flower farms that one can view while driving through Cebu’s mountains. On the residential side, a lot of locations in Cebu have the potential to be livable communities.
What makes living in Cebu a luxury is the convenience of having to travel only a few minutes to get to the beach, or the mountain, unlike in other cities where doing this takes several hours. Little islets like Mactan, Bantayan, Malapascua, Sumilon, and more surround Cebu. Tourists flock to these islands for its white-sand beaches and diving spots. More so, many foreigners have come to settle in these islets to enjoy the quiet and beautiful beach. Foreigners who have come to stay say the islands are as peaceful as it gets.
The cool breeze that blow in Cebu’s mountaintops brings in a lot of people from the metro on weekends. They go there to buy fruits, vegetables, most especially corn. People like going to the mountains to relax and spend time with family and loved ones. Whether you ride a mountain bike, motorcycle, or a car, the scenery going to Cebu’s mountaintop is literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air. While the Philippines is prone to the occurrence of tropical cyclones, different islands surrounding Cebu act as a shield to protect the city from the disastrous effects of these weather disturbances.
Living by the coast, we get to see the vast clear ocean. Living in the mountain, we get to see the vast lands of forestry and Cebu province. With both of these options available in Cebu, one can certainly experience the best of both worlds.
2. Variety of food choices
Cebu’s local food scene is diverse and vibrant. It has a rich history owing to its history of colonization by the Spanish, the Americans, and the Japanese. This has resulted to a fusion of different global flavors in the local food scene. Today, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and Korean cuisine can be enjoyed by avid foodies in Cebu.
Aside from international selections, local cuisine plays a huge part in the food industry. Some of the notable local restaurants in Cebu include Chikaan, Golden Cowrie, Larsian sa Fuente, Rico’s Lechon, and Doming’s Ngohiong. Here, food lovers can enjoy local dishes such as lechon (roasted suckling pig), sisig (appetizer of pig’s head and liver), pinakbet (mixed vegetables), ngohiong (five-spice rolls), and more. Food is usually paired with condiments like patis (fish sauce), suka (vinegar), or a mix of salt and vinegar.
The street food culture is very much alive in Cebu, too. One can snack on Indian mangoes, nuts, kwek kwek (deep-fried quail eggs), tempura (deep-fried shrimp batter), fish balls, and taho (sweetened flavored tofu with sago pearls). We can find local pungko pungko (sit-down eateries) on street sides where one can discover isol (chicken butt), lumpia (fried spring rolls), and hotdogs. Lastly, most famous fast-food chains available in Cebu include Jollibee, Mcdonald’s, Chowking, and KFC.
3. Shops for just about anything you need
Cebu has something for everyone, whether you like the laid-back or the fast-paced lifestyle.
With the proliferation of massage spas in the metro, getting a massage has become part of the lifestyle for locals. So if you want to kick back and relax, it’s easy to do so as massage parlors are in almost every street. These spas offer excellent massage services, including Swedish and shiatsu massage, for only $6 USD per hour on average. Some establishments have more offerings such as hot lava stone and sports massage. Knowing that massage sessions cost $20 USD to $40 USD per hour in other countries, the locals make the most out of these affordable prices and make getting a massage a weekly habit.
Both locals and foreigners living in Cebu run the salons. With many Koreans coming to Cebu to study English, there is a recent trend of Korean salons opening in various parts of the city.
With the rise of pet lovers and pet-friendly malls in Cebu, there are pet shops and animal clinics which cater to the needs of furry little ones. These pet shops usually offer grooming and vaccine services. Costing around $10 USD for a session, grooming and vaccine services in Cebu is more affordable compared to other countries.
Aside from local pet shops, there’s Pretty Bubble Dog, a Korean pet shop which brings puppies from Korea to help them find their way home in Cebu. This premium pet shop specializes in teacup and toy breed dogs, and has amassed quite a strong following of 27,900 followers on Instagram. Their best-selling breed, the teacup Maltese is as cute as a dog can get.
Banks in Cebu are abundant. Although digital banking is yet to be fully developed in the country, it is fairly easy to wire money here. Banks usually ask for a fixed fee of $30 USD for every wire transaction.
Filipinos love to buy imported products, which is why you will find international products in most supermarket aisles. There is a lack of local production, which shows a lot of opportunity for aspiring businesspeople. A lot of these imported products come from Asian countries, especially China. This is due to the competitive prices and trade agreements the Philippines has with China and other ASEAN countries, resulting in 0% tax rates for incoming ASEAN products except commodities. These trade agreements is the reason why imported rice from Vietnam is cheaper, costing on average $0.35 USD compared to the local price of $0.45 USD.
Malls and Commercial Centers
In Cebu, people preferred to hang out in malls over small commercial centers not only because of the air-conditioning which provides respite from the heat, but also the diverse choices available.
People like to spend time here, whiling away the hours with free Wi-FI, or hanging out in coffee shops, watching the latest movie, and other fun activities.
4. Sports for athletes and recreational players
Sports is a significant factor in the life of Cebuanos. From basketball, cycling (mountain and road), swimming, diving, badminton, volleyball, yoga, and triathlon, Cebu has produced top athletes in both the local and international arena.
Basketball is the number one sport in the Philippines. Owing to its popularity, it has been dubbed the national pastime of the Philippines. It’s no wonder that basketball courts are in every barangay (village) throughout the country. The basketball courts in Cebu are usually made of cement, Taraflex, or wood. But if you go around the Philippines, we can see how creative the Filipinos can be with their basketball boards and rings.
In metro Cebu usually, basketball players book courts year-round to play after work. Cebu is known to have great basketball players in playing in the professional league. More so, with the recent support of schools in the youth basketball programs, we see more young Cebuanos in the national spotlight playing in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), as well as in professional leagues like the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
In Cebu, you can choose to cycle in the mountains, roads, or off-road routes. The coastal path is usually for road cyclists who long for long-distance rides. During these trips, one gets to see different municipalities and cities on the coastlines of Cebu province. The usual route for road cycling is from Liloan to Catmon. On the way to Catmon, bikers see the coast on their right and the mountains on their left. In Catmon, bikers eat manok Bisaya (native chicken) at the famous Duko-Duko Eatery before heading back to the city.
Some also opt for the west coastal side of the province which starts at Balamban then continues on to Asturias. Here, one can find a lot of trees and rice fields which offer pleasant views when cycling. Also, the west side of Cebu’s province has fewer cars going around, which is safer and enjoyable for the road cyclist. JY Square to Busay is the usual mountain route for people in metro Cebu. Along the Cebu Transcentral Highway, we can find Willy’s and Buak. These are the most popular interval points for mountain bikers. They usually stop in these two areas to drink, eat, and replenish while enjoying the view of the city. Getting to Willy’s is 5.7 km of an uphill climb so for cyclists who like a challenge, they take this route. There are also a lot of beautiful roads that you can find in Cebu such as these mountain bike routes.
Diving in Cebu is convenient and worthwhile. Cebu has islets with diving spots that are famous worldwide. Mactan, which is part of metro Cebu, is renowned for its reef edge is rich with corals and marine life. Malapascua, found north of Cebu, is where divers can experience seeing thresher sharks every day. The regular thresher sharks come here every morning because of the cleaning stations located in Monad shoal.
On the western side of Cebu province is Moalboal, which is famous for its sardine run. Getting diving supplies is easy as there are many dive shops around. Also, master divers and instructors can be found around Malapascua, Mactan, and Moalboal for aspiring divers who want to get a license. Here’s a quick guide to diving in Cebu.
Badminton is one of the most popular sports in Cebu. Although there aren’t many badminton competitions on national television, the local scene of badminton in Cebu is competitive. People play badminton as a hobby after school and work. Like basketball and volleyball, setting up badminton courts is simple, which is why many people enjoy playing the sport.
Cebu has been on top of the list of locations for holding triathlons. For eight years now, Ironman Philippines has been consistently held in Cebu. In 2018, Ironman 70.3 PH saw 2,700 triathletes from around the world compete in Lapu-Lapu City. The city is gearing up again to host the event this August 11.
5. Quality education
Cebu is famous for having many English as a Second Language (ESL) centers. Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese people flock to Cebu to learn English while enjoying the island experience. For most of these foreigners, Cebu is the better choice to learn English as it offers affordable, convenient and fun English learning services. Learning English in other countries cost millions per semester. In Cebu, however, an average ESL student pays only PhP200,000 for three months of tuition, accommodations, and food. The most prominent schools in Cebu for ESL as of today are SMEAG Global Education and Cebu International Academy. SMEAG has an estimated 15,000 thousand students while CIA has an estimated 10,000 students.
Cebu has a few schools teaching computer technology courses as well. The most famous courses for tech are computer science, information technology, and robotics. SF Tech, the University of San Carlos, and the University of San Jose have courses which prepare students for industry practice. This means that not much training is required when they enter the industry as they would already learn the needed skills at school. The starting salary for most Filipino graduates ranges from an estimated PhP8,000 monthly minimum to PhP15,000. On the other hand, the estimated starting salary for most tech graduates range from PhP15,000 to PhP30,000. This higher salary offered to tech employees is due to the demand of foreign countries in such services.
The top board passers for law, architecture, and physician licensure exams for the past years have come from Cebu. These consistent high achievements go to show the quality of education and competitiveness of the educational institutions in Cebu.
Based on data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippines ranks 123rd in life expectancy, averaging at 69.3 years old per person. According to the Department of Health, the leading causes of death are diseases of the heart and of the vascular system, pneumonia, malignant neoplasms/cancers, all forms of tuberculosis, accidents, COPD and allied conditions, diabetes mellitus, nephritis/nephritic syndrome, and other diseases of the respiratory system. Among these diseases, six are non-communicable, and four are the major NCDs such as CVD, cancers, COPD and diabetes mellitus.
Although public hospitals in the Philippines are still behind in equipment and human resources, there are private hospitals that meet international standards. President Rodrigo Duterte is also pushing for more healthcare support. Currently, 86% of Filipinos have health insurance through PhilHealth.
The top hospitals in Cebu include Chong Hua Hospital, Perpetual Succor Hospital, UC Medical Center, Maayo Hospital, and Cebu Doctor’s Hospital.
For patients looking for cardiologists, a good choice is Hearthub in Mandaue City. Dr. Chio and Dr. Fernin, both known cardiologists in Cebu, have clinics there.
There are also a number of dialysis centers around metro Cebu. One of them is Nephro Specialist of Cebu, Inc. a clinic which specializes in treating renal failure.
7. Various transportation options
The modes of land transportation available in Cebu are jeepneys, taxis, habal-habal (motorcycle for hire), V-hires (vans for hire), buses. There are app-based options like Angkas and Grab. As of 2019, there is a planned light rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT) to be developed in metro Cebu, which is set to be operational by 2020.
For foreigners coming to Cebu, it is recommended to take precautions and know the rates for public transportation to avoid getting scammed. Jeepney rides cost PhP8 pesos per trip, and taxis cost PhP150 for five miles on average. On the other hand, Angkas and Grab are cheaper compared to their public counterparts. Technology by application developers has made it more cost-efficient for both the service driver and the end user.
For out of town trips, people usually take Ceres buses. They go around the whole province, as well as other islands on board roro (roll on roll off) boats. For passenger ships, getting to other island usually take one day.
The main port in metro Cebu can be found in the Reclamation Area. On the other hand, the newly made Mactan–Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City has brought in more and more tourists. From January to April 2019, the Department of Tourism has noted that tourist arrivals grew from 2.6 million to 2.87 million for the same period, or by 8.5%.
The concept by famous architects Royal and Budji for the airport captures the true epitome of a modern Filipino. The architects stayed away from the ideology that Filipino designs are limited to bahay kubo (nipa hut) and bamboos. There are already direct flights coming from significant cities to the Mactan–Cebu International Airport making it convenient for tourists to connect and travel to other islands around the Philippines through Cebu.
8. Safety from hazards
The most common hazards affecting the majority of the livelihood of the Filipinos are earthquakes, floods, and typhoons. Typhoons have been a significant problem in the Philippines especially islets with inadequate drainage systems near the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Floods have caused a considerable challenge for Filipinos in the past years. The government has started to rehabilitate drainage systems while educating the public to avoid throwing trash anywhere. Earthquakes come and are hard to prevent. As such, local government units have a standard code on construction requirements when building.
By far, Cebu is rarely hit by typhoons because it is situated in the middle of islands protected from storms. Cebu by far is a very safe city from these hazards and it is mostly why retirees choose to go here. Even if typhoons are the most common problem or risk in the Philippines, it is flooding that is the most problematic for Cebu. The recent government focus on flooding has helped Cebu avoid and fix this issue. As of now, only a few places experience flooding in metro Cebu as compared to a few years ago. This is because of the budget and projects placed on drainage systems.
9. Devotion to the Sto. Niño
Most Cebuanos are Roman Catholics. As such, there are a lot of churches in Cebu where people go and worship on Sundays. It is a habit for most Cebuano families to go to Sunday to pray and listen to the priest speak about the Word of God.
Cebuanos are known for being religious and God-fearing. Before going about their daily activities, most pray for divine intervention or thanking the Lord for blessings. It is a common sight to see elderly women bringing rosaries, or offering to pray for you in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu.
The famous patron saint in Cebu is Sto. Niño, known in history to be gifted by explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon. Sto. Niño is the infant Jesus or baby Jesus. His statue is found almost everywhere in Cebu as the way of the faithful to seek His divine intervention and protection.
10. Attractive business climate
Cebu has a lot of potential for business. Cebu is still behind in mostly all industries compared to first world countries, so the city still has a lot to achieve. This presents lucrative opportunities for businessmen. Cebu’s top industries range from tourism to the BPO sector.
While Cebu’s BPO sector growing, there needs to be a shift from call center agents to skills that are more in demand, such as systems design and development. A lot of processes in the Philippines also need to be automated and innovated. For the aspiring businessman in the tech industry, this might be a place to develop. Besides, Cebu has a lot of talented and literate people who need educational support to put them in a position to do software jobs.
When it comes to tourism, the Philippines being an archipelagic country makes it a unique travel destination. This makes the country attractive for people who long for the island life. But even with the tourism sector topping Cebu’s industry, there’s still a lot of room for growth, especially since a lot of islands and places haven’t been explored. The long-standing tradition of offering English as part of the standard curriculum in schools makes Filipinos proficient in speaking English, making it easier for tourists to communicate with them.
As for the trading industry, the Cebu market largely serves demand from abroad. Cebu imports products more often than it exports them. With this, most products being traded or used as services in the metro come from abroad. Most products imported into the Philippines come from ASEAN countries because of the tax treaties we have with them. These tax treaties are a form of progressive trading between countries with us lowering taxes and duties on imports coming from ASEAN countries. These importations range from commodities such as rice, steel, sugar to cold meat, automobiles, cellular apparatus and more. This goes to show that opportunities for local businesses need only little support from the government and the private industry to be able to compete with prices abroad.
11. Cebu itself
All in all, Cebu is Cebu. The mix of scenery, food, establishments, and all other reasons above make Cebu’s community worth living. The timing is right to come and live in Cebu, knowing that it is touted to grow the most in the next ten years. With all these reasons, Cebu is a place worth considering for people looking to relocate and live a better life.