Retire early $1036 USD Month Vigan City Philippines

My name is Dan and I have traveled all over the world for the last 15+ years looking for the best place to retire cheap in paradise.  I have over 200 reports on that share what I have learned living overseas in 67 different countries during that time.  

In this report, I detail how some of you may be able to Retire early $1036 USD Month in Vigan City in the Philippines.  But what it costs us to live here is very unlikely to be what it costs you to live here.  Here is a report where I explain why living costs vary widely between people.  You will never know your cost of living until you put your feet on the ground for an exploratory visit.  

When we were deciding where to visit in the Philippines for retirement research, we asked our subscribers and members what cities they were interested in.   Here is where they wanted us to investigate.  Vigan City was suggested by 5 of you.  Plus, you said that Vigan had the highest concentration of colonial-era charm in the Philippines.  

So we came to Vigan City because you requested it but also because we loved the colonial-era cities we explored all over Latin America. 

You were right.  We loved the colonial-era charms we found in Vigan City.  They reminded us of many of our favorite cities in Mexico, Central America, and South America.  So we can see why some of you also love the charm of Vigan City.  

Vigan City was the furthest north we went in exploring Luzon.  Many of you suggested visiting Batanes but we will have to do that on a future visit.  

If you are curious, here are some of our favorite colonial-era cities in Mexico, Central, and South America.  

Here is what we loved about Vigan City in the Philippines.  

Our Favorite Markets and Restaurants in Vigan City Philippines

Vigan Markets

Vigan City Public Market:  This is where we bought fruits, vegetables, rice, tofu, meats, fish, and other perishable foods.  They also have clothing, shoes, and home products in and around this market.  You can save money by buying here especially if you have negotiation skills.  

Robinson’s Supermarket Mall:  This is an air-conditioned multiple-story mall with clothes shopping, coffee shops, restaurants, electronics, gifts, hardware, and an expat-style grocery store.  It is more expensive than the above public market so we only went here to get things we were unable to find in the public market above.  

Two Brothers Grocery Inc: Cheaper local style groceries.  Not much produce.  

JTC Supermart:  Mostly snacks rather than a full grocery store. 

Vigan City Restaurants

Zushi Me: This sushi restaurant had a few vegetarian-friendly options in addition to typical sushi choices.  

Max’s Restaurant:  This restaurant had a nice vegetarian choice (tofu) and a pork dish that Qiang enjoyed. 

Hotel Luna:  We stayed at Hotel Luna for the first few nights in Vigan City.  It was Qiang’s gift to me for my 62nd birthday.  The room included breakfast which we enjoyed by the pool both mornings.  Once we moved to our Airbnb apartment we started cooking most meals at home.  

Coffee Break Vigan:  We enjoyed sandwiches and coffee here twice.  They had great Internet also.  

Vigan City NightLife

Calle Brewery: We enjoyed craft beer here along with some finger foods while we watched some live musicians cover hits from the 90s and 00s.   There were a few other bars in town that look like they would normally be good, but the rain was pretty heavy when we were here.  I am sure we could have found some Karaoke if it wasn’t running so hard.    

Cost of Living in Vigan City Philippines

Here is our estimated cost of living converted into US dollars for the two of us if we moved to Vigan City in the Philippines on a tight budget.  But we are all different, so you will have to put your feet on the ground to determine your cost of living based on how you would live, shop, eat, and entertain yourself.  

Rents: You will see furnished 1 bedroom apartments, in the range of about P15000 to P25000 Per Month $268 to $500 per month if we were willing to rent for a period of a year or more.  So, for this estimate, I will use $350 per month for rent for a long-term rental for our estimate which does not include utilities.  Make sure to also read my report, “How to find perfect apartments around the world.”  

Utilities:  Vigan City is at sea level.  So, we would need to run our air conditioner for most of the year.  Our electricity will run about $70 to $90 USD per month and gas and water would be another $20 per month so about $110 USD per month for our estimated utilities which would vary by the season of course.   

Groceries:  Based on our time here and the money we spent on groceries, we estimate about $300 USD per month on groceries for the two of us.  We would shop mostly in the public market where the vegetables, fruits, rice, and meats are cheaper, and only go to the more expensive expat-style grocery stores for things we could not find in the public market.  

Restaurants:  If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for a lunch somewhere, plus some street food, we would spend around $40 per week or $160 per month in restaurants for the two of us.  We would eat mostly in mom-and-pop-style restaurants and food carts rather than the expensive expat-style restaurants.  

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge our prepaid service is about $16 per month.  My android phone will act as a hotspot so we can both be on the internet at the same time when we are out of the house together.  

Laundry:  Our laundry cost about $3.50 to wash, dry, and fold at the local drop-off and pick-up laundry, so we would spend around $14 per month for laundry.      

Water:  We would spend about $6 per month on drinking water.  They have reverse osmosis refills for 30 Pesos for 20 liters (5 Gallons).  We would drink about 10 per month or 300 pesos or around $6 per month delivered.  

Internet: Our Internet would be about $50 per month.   But we are not certain.  Our Airbnb didn’t have reliable wifi so we were using my phone as a hotspot.  

Transportation:  The central part of Vigan would be our first choice to live.  If we could find a place where we would be able to walk everywhere.  If not, we would probably just buy a used scooter for about $600 USD and spend about $30 per month on fuel.  

Alcohol (Optional): Local beers are about $1.00 USD in the colonial-era city of grocery stores here.  If you watch and buy in bulk on sale you may save a little.  Bars charge in the range of about $1.60 to $2.00 per beer.  So for the two of us, we estimate about $120 USD per month since we would drink more at home.  

Entertainment (Optional):  We would budget about $160 per month for entertainment for the two of us. 

Retire Early $1036 USD Month Vigan City Philippines

Vigan City Expense (USD)
Rent 350
Groceries 300
Utilities 110
Restaurants 160 
Cell 16
Laundry 14
Water 6
Internet 50
Transportation 30
Recurring Total $1036
Alcohol (Optional) 120
Optional Total $1156
Entertainment (Optional) 160
Optional Total $1316

This is our estimated cost of living if the two of us moved to Vigan City in the Philippines on a tight budget.  To fully understand what it would cost you to live here, you must do an exploratory visit and put your feet on the ground.  Also, visit  Numbeo Vigan City and add anything you spend money on in your home country that is not mentioned in the table. Our costs of living are generally much lower than a new traveler’s because we are great bargain hunters but there are a few people that live cheaper than we do.  

Never move anywhere until you have visited first personally to verify the living costs for your lifestyle and needs. I am not guaranteeing these prices. These are just my notes and estimates from the time of my visit and this post. Your costs will likely be drastically different depending on your lifestyle and the time since this post.  

More typical ex-pat living costs in Vigan City range from about $1500 to $2500 per month.  But people spending that much also have higher incomes or pensions.  They often report spending more on entertainment, eating out, and alcohol.   Many also have more expensive cars, houses, or apartments.  

If you are going to try to retire cheap offshore, make sure to read my report, the Two Biggest Risks of Retiring Early for Cheap Offshore, which explains why you should have emergency funds available for unexpected large expenses.  

Must-See Walking Tour of Vigan City

Here is the map of our walking tour of Vigan City on the Philippines. 

Here is the Google Map of my Vigan City Walking Tour:   

The locations you decide to visit are editable by clicking the below scooter itinerary that takes you to Google.  

The above walking tour will take you through the most interesting parts of the colonial era along with the local open-air public market.  

Where We Stayed

We spent two days at the Luna Hotel for my birthday and then 5 days in this   For a rental reference point, the place we stayed is a studio that rents for as little as $402 per month including utilities (as shown below)(rates subject to change).   Here is our process for finding places: How to find great apartments around the world.   

Bus to Vigan from La Union

We traveled to Vigan City from La Union for about $6 USD per person.  Luckily, we asked our neighbors how to get to Vigan.  They told us to just sit on a bench along the main road just down the street from our Airbnb apartment in La Union. 

Here is where the bench is.  So we did it.  We just sat there and looked for a bus going by with Vigan written on the windshield.  It was that easy.  We waived and the bus pulled over and took us to Vigan.  The bus comes every hour or so.  We caught the 9 am bus.  

Vigan City Livability Factors and Retirement Desirability Score

Here are the factors I think about when I consider a place for early retirement potential. After I discuss each factor, I will assign an overall retirement desirability score.  

Walkability: High Desirability.  I love living in walkable areas of the world where you can walk to restaurants, grocery stores, nightlife, and other interesting things to do.  If I decided to retire in Vigan, I would be able to walk everywhere because things are close-in in the colonial-era part of the city. I would do my best to find a place in that area. 

Internet:  High.  The internet in our Airbnb was not the best.  Luckily our cell phone acted as a reliable hotspot.  

Food: Medium.  The food choices are about average for this size city in the Philippines so I will say medium.  

Transportation: Medium.  If we decided to retire in Vigan City we would be able to walk everywhere so long as we found an apartment within budget in the colonial-era part of town.   If not, I would buy a used motorcycle for about $600 USD.  So I will call this medium. 

Weather:  Medium.  The weather in Vigan is probably too warm on average for most people and it rains quite a bit also.  The average daily temperatures range very little from average highs of 91F, 33C, in April to the average highs of 88F, 31C, in July.  The nightly lows also range very little from an average low of 70F, 21C, in January to an average low of 79F, 26C, in May.  March through November is the rainy season averaging from 17 to 28 days of rain per month while the dry season is December through February with 12 or fewer days of rain per month.  The wettest months are June through September with 26 or more days of rain per month.   

Things to Do:  High.  Cooking, yoga, bike riding, martial arts, gyms, restaurants, live music, running, coffee shops, street foods, night markets, malls, picnics, basketball, and public parks.  You are also only about 15 minutes from the ocean.  

Healthcare:  Medium.  We saw a few small medical clinics and hospitals in the area.  They should be able to take care of many of your more common medical needs.  But for some problems they may refer you to one of the top specialists or hospitals in the Metro Manila area which is about 9 hours away depending on traffic.  The larger better-equipped hospitals with more specialists are in Metro Manila Makati.  Some people also fly to Thailand or the USA for more difficult procedures.  

Expats: Low.  We did not see many ex-pats living in and around Vigan.  We did not find any well-attended (Vigan) Expat groups either on Facebook or other social media sites.  That may not be a problem for you if you are comfortable around locals like me.  So it just depends on what you need.  Make sure to make friends with both locals and ex-pats for a richer experience living here.  I explain why in my report, The Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make.  

Real Estate:  Low.  Foreigners can not buy land in their name in the Philippines.  Condos are available to foreigners under some conditions in the Philippines but we did not see any for sale as such while we were here.  I never recommend buying real estate until you have lived somewhere for at least 2 to 3 years.   I have a report explaining Why Retired Expats Should not Buy Real Estate Overseas for the first 2 to 3 years of living somewhere new overseas.  Make sure to read that before deciding to buy real estate overseas.  Almost everyone else is going to try to get you to buy (for the commission) so read why I think you should wait until you are certain.  

Visa: High. For your exploratory visit to the Philippines, citizens of many countries can obtain a 30-day free visa stamp upon arrival at the international airports. Plus, you can extend your tourist visa for a total of 36 months in the Philippines without bothering with a retirement visa.  The monthly visa extensions cost about USD 30 per month.  After the 36 months, you just leave the Philippines and go to another country and then fly back to start the whole 36-month process over again.  There is a retirement visa in the Philippines, but very few people bother with it because it is so easy to stay in the Philippines on tourist extensions.  

Vigan City Overall Retirement Desirability Score:  I enjoyed visiting Vigan for a long weekend.   But I would not entertain retiring there.  It just seemed a little too small for me meaning I would get bored eventually.   So I would rate Vigan as low.  But if you like small towns and like to antique or restore old colonial-era buildings, then Vigan could be high for you.  

Thanks for reviewing my report, Retire early $1036 USD Month Vigan City Philippines.  

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This is Dan of Vagabond Awake, the Youtube channel for Thank you for stopping by. The world is your home. What time will you be home for dinner?