Dumaguete: The Budget Expat’s Haven (Doc’s Passport Score: 84)

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Dumaguete, a charming city hugging the southeastern coastline of the island of Negros in the Philippines, has earned a reputation as a favorite spot for expats on a budget. From its bustling yet relaxed lifestyle to its affordability and natural beauty, the city teems with appeal. However, not every corner is as charming as it seems. This isn’t a holiday rating, this is for those looking to call Dumaguete home.


Affordability: 13/15

Affordability is the top of Dumaguete’s accolades. Here, your dollar stretches in ways that would make a yoga instructor proud. Modest yet comfortable accommodations can be found for a fraction of the cost of Western cities. Meals at local markets and restaurants are inexpensive but satisfying, which helps make a limited budget go a long way.

Safety & Security: 12/15

Despite its relaxed atmosphere, Dumaguete’s safety and security measures are satisfactory. Crime rates are relatively low, but as with any location, it pays to be mindful of your surroundings. The local government puts considerable effort into maintaining peace and order.

English Language Accessibility: 9/10

Thanks to the country’s American-influenced education system, English is widely spoken and understood in Dumaguete, reducing the language barrier and making it easier for expats to fit in.

Availability of Internet: 8/10

While the internet might not be as lightning-fast as in some Western nations, Dumaguete offers reasonable connectivity, sufficient for digital nomads and remote workers. Internet cafés and coworking spaces are also increasing in number.

Public Transportation and Infrastructure: 8/10

Navigating Dumaguete is relatively straightforward. The public transportation primarily involves tricycles (a local auto-rickshaw), easy to hail and inexpensive. The city is investing in infrastructural improvements, but be prepared for occasional power outages.

Proximity to a Good Airport: 7/10

The local airport primarily serves domestic flights. However, the city’s proximity to Cebu, just a fast ferry ride away, provides access to an international airport, easing global connectivity.

Availability of Emergency Medical Care: 4/5

Dumaguete hosts several hospitals and medical centers, including the well-regarded Silliman University Medical Center. For highly specialized care, larger facilities are accessible in nearby Cebu.

Expat Community & Services: 4/5

The friendly and growing expat community in Dumaguete is another significant attraction, offering social connections and assistance. There are various expat clubs and community events to help newcomers feel at home.

Natural Beauty & Outdoor Recreation, Food, Dining & Social Scene, and Climate: 3/5 each

From diving spots to waterfalls, Dumaguete’s natural beauty is inviting. The local food scene is thriving, with an array of Filipino and international cuisines. However, the humid tropical climate might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Final Results

With the Doc’s Passport Score of 84 and a grade of B, Dumaguete stands as an excellent option for expats looking for a budget-friendly, engaging, and comfortable place to call home.

This evaluation is geared towards expats seeking affordable living arrangements and not those looking for vacation spots or other purposes.  If you are younger and looking for a “passport bro” view of things, check out Doc’s Passport Bro Score for this city.  

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