Retire Early on $868 USD Month Moalboal Philippines

Could I retire early on $868 USD Month in Moalboal Philippines

My name is Dan and I am on a quest to find and share the best places to retire in paradise for pennies. I have lived in or visited 67 countries so far and I have over 200 reports on that share my research.

I just completed my research for Cebu City in the Philippines and some of you asked what it would cost to live in a smaller town further south on the Island of Cebu. So we jumped on a bus and headed south to a town called Moalboal.

So we took the Grab Taxi for 305 Pesos ($5.54 USD) to the South Bus Station in Cebu City and bought bus tickets to Moalboal for 209 Pesos ($3.80 USD) per person. Upon arrival in Moalboal, we took a trike taxi for 220 pesos ($4 USD) to our accommodation.

Bus Stops on Google Maps


In this report, I share our favorite markets, restaurants, and things to do in and around Moalboal. Then I will give you a line item estimate of the basic costs of living here on a tight budget. Okay, here we go.

Our Favorite Markets and Restaurants in Moalboal


Moalboal Public Market: This is where we buy fruits, vegetables, and rice. They also have meat and fish if you need them.

Gaisano Town Center: This is the largest indoor supermarket in Moalboal. This market is not like the largest grocery stores found in large malls in bigger cities in the Philippines. The prices seem a little lower and the selection seems to favor local tastes more than imported foods. This is the other Gaisano on the north side of town.

Anytime Laundry: 3-6kg for 245php – one day services

Moalboal Restaurants

Smooth Cafe Moalboal: Vegan Burger 260, Hummus Salad 250, Beer 95

Hungry Monkeys Moalboal: The King Kong (spinach) 180, Tofu sisig 250

The Three Bears Restaurant: Vegan Burger 250, chicken burgers 295

Lantaw Restaurant: Red Veg Curry 240, Garlic Calamari 275, Big beer 160

BAKI Restobar: Beer 160 Grande, Grilled Pork 235, Pasta 310

The Pleasure Principle Restobar: Filipino Breakfast 210, Tomato Omettle 240

Achile Resto Bar: Veg curry 200, Shrimp curry 280. normal okay food only.

Andi’s Talisay: nightlife – big beer is 180php

Chili Bar: nightlife – small beer is 95php

Moalboal Nightlife Walking Areas

Google Map


Here is the area of Moalboal which seemed to have the most lively nightlife including dance clubs and live music.  There was even some acoustic music. 

White Beach Moalboal

There is a beach right in front of Moalboal. But it was rocky in some places. So we did some investigation and would recommend the “White Beach” if you are looking to relax on a beautiful beach.

You can get there by Tricycle or motorcycle. There are small family-owned restaurants and places to buy beer there. There are also tricycles to get home so we didn’t have to pay a tricycle driver to sit there all day while we relaxed. Here is where it is located:

Google Map

Oslob Whale Shark Watching

This map shows you where to catch the bus in Moalboal and where to get off the bus in Oslab to go whale shark watching. The bus will pick you up in front of this Jollibee on the main roadside. Tell the driver you want to get off when the map shows you have in front of Sharky Hostel.

Google Map to Whale Shark Watching


When you get on the bus at Jollibee, tell the driver you are going to Oslob Whale Watching and he will tell you to get off the bus when it is time to change buses here: Bato Talisay-Samboan Bus Terminal. This is also the spot you will change buses on your return trip to Moalboal.

The sum of the two buses will be around $4 USD per person and it takes about 3 hours. I suggest that you go to Oslob the afternoon before you intend on seeing the Whale Sharks the next morning.

Book your stay at Skarkys before you go to Oslob. They are experts at making sure you are on the first boat going out in the morning to see the Whale Sharks. Check, but we booked Sharkys on because it was the cheapest.

We were done with Whale Watching by 8AM in the morning. After breakfast, we walked about 1 KM south to the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort Port where we caught the 10AM boat over to the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort.

Qiang had found a day pass to the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort for 1000 Pesos ($18 USD) per person which included 800 pesos towards consumable food and the boat ride to and from the pier to the island. Make sure to book in advance on their webpage to get the best price.

Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls

We booked the canyoneering to see Kawasan Falls in Moalboal at Crazy Bear Hostel where we stayed. It included the zip line, the river falls, the touring and equipment, and professional guides. It costs $30 per person and included pick up and drop off from our accommodations, lunch, and all equipment. We loved it.

Cost of Living in Moalboal Philippines

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

Rents: You will see furnished studio apartments on Airbnb ranging from about $450 to $700 USD per month including utilities and wifi for properties offering the monthly rates.

But if you move there and were willing to sign a long-term lease, you should be able to beat that price since the landlord would have no vacancy. I estimate around $200 to $350 per month for a more local-style apartment but you would have to pay your own utilities.

So, for this estimate, I will use $300 per month for rent for a long-term rental which does not include utilities but does include a furnished 1 bedroom apartment rather than just a studio. Make sure to read how I find perfect apartments around the world.

Utilities: Moalboal is at sea level, so, we would need to run our air conditioner to sleep for most of the year. Our electricity will run about $60 USD per month and gas and water would be another $20 per month so about $80 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 $220 USD per month on groceries for the two of us. We would shop mostly in the public market where vegetables, fruits, rice, and meats are cheaper. We would cook and eat mostly at home. We didn’t really see any expensive ex-pat-style grocery stores like you see in larger cities in the Philippines.

Restaurants: If we went out to eat twice per week, once for date night and once for lunch somewhere, plus some street food, we would spend around $35 per week or $140 per month in restaurants for the two of us. We would eat in mom-and-pop-style restaurants when possible but also in expensive tourist restaurants once a week or so. There are some delicious Western-style restaurants in Moalboal to keep the tourists happy.

Cell Phone Data: The cost to recharge our prepaid service is about $10 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: We paid about $4 per week for drop off and pick up wash, dry, and fold laundry, so $16 per month for laundry.

Water: R/O water in twenty-liter bottle jugs delivered would be about 60 pesos per month per jug or about $22 USD per month.

Internet: Our Internet would be about $50 per month.

Transportation: The central part of Moalboal is mostly walkable. We would probably ride a tricycle taxi to and from the public market once a week or so for about 30 pesos each one way. We could also buy a used scooter and two helmets for about $1000 USD. We estimate around $30 per month on transportation.

Alcohol (Optional): San Miguel Pilsen Grande beers are about 160 PHP or $2.90 USD each in restaurants and bars. The Grande is about 2 beers so beers are about $1.45 each in restaurants and bars. But you will see regular-sized San Miguel Pilsen beers in stores for about 60 PHP or $1.10 USD each. We would drink mainly at home so we estimate about $130 per month in alcohol for the two of us.

Entertainment (Optional): We would budget about $130 per month for entertainment for the two of us.

Retire Early $868 USD Month Moalboal Philippines


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Alcohol (Optional)


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This is our estimated cost of living if the two of us moved to Moalboal 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.

Moalboal has no listing in Numbeo, so visit the Numbeo Dumaguete webpage 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 the Philippines range from about $1400 to $2200 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.

But many of you will likely be unable to retire on so little here. I give example reasons why in this report.

You will never know your cost of living here until you do an exploratory visit with your feet-on-the-ground here. This next report explains how to avoid coming home early with your tail between your legs.

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 unexpectedly large expenses.

Where We Stayed

Moalboal is a relatively small town and the Internet can be spotty. So we decided to stay in a private room in a hostel rather than getting our normal Airbnb accommodations with Kitchen. We picked the hostel based on the great reviews it had for Wifi Speeds.

Here is where we stayed in Moalboal. But we found the cheapest rate for it on Airbnb of all places.

But if you decide to live or retire in the Philippines for a year or more, and you will be attempting to live within the budget we are estimating in this report. you are going to have to put your feet on the ground and look for more local less expensive long-term accommodations. Here is our process for finding places as we slowly travel: How to find great apartments around the world.

Getting from Cebu City to Moalboal

We took the Grab Taxi for 305 Pesos ($5.54 USD) to the South Bus Station in Cebu City and bought bus tickets to Moalboal for 209 Pesos ($3.80 USD) per person. Upon arrival in Moalboal, we took a trike taxi for 220 pesos ($4 USD) to our accommodation.

Bus Stops on Google Maps

Moalboal 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 to Moalboal. I am writing the following based on my personal experience.

Walkability: Medium Desirability. The central part of Moalboal is mostly walkable. We would probably ride a tricycle taxi to and from the public market once a week or so for about 30 pesos each one way. We could also buy a used scooter and two helmets for about $1000 USD.

Internet: Medium Desirability. Moalboal is not the best place in the world if you intend on working online. You will have to get your own router if you plan on having workable internet speeds. That would be around $50 per month.

Food: High. Moalboal has an amazing assortment of restaurants for both meat eaters and vegetarians, mostly because it is a small tourist town that attracts young people from the west that are often vegetarians. The food is remarkably good here.

Transportation: High. We saw Jeepneys running up and down the national highway every 20 minutes or so, but not many running from the national highway to the beach. But there are tricycle taxis that will take you to and from the beach and you can easily rent scooters by the day, month, or week. There are buses running north and south from Moalboal all over Cebu Island and they will drop you at the various ferries so you can travel all over the Philippines. Cebu is about 4 hours north where you can catch international flights all over the world.

Weather: Medium. The average daily temperatures range very little from average highs of 85F, 29C in January to the higher average highs of 91F, 33C in May. The average nightly lows also range very little from 75F, 24C in January to 78F, 26C in May. The most rain falls from June through January when it rains 9 to 11 days per month. Read this report on where to stay in the Philippines to avoid the 4 kinds of natural disasters.

Things to Do: Medium. If you love nature this might even be high. This is a small beach town with snorkeling, fishing, scuba, swimming, boating, yoga, partying, live music, waterfalls, white sand beaches, etc. But if you get bored, there are buses that run all over Cebu Island frequently and cheaply ($3 to $6 USD). Most buses eventually end up at ferry ports where you can explore other islands in the Philippines.

Healthcare: Medium. The best health care in the Philippines is in Cebu City and Metro Manila. The top hospital on Cebu Island is about 4 hours north called Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City. There are a few small clinics in and around Moalboal but for life-threatening emergencies, they will probably try to stabilize you and then send you north to Cebu City.

Expats: Low. We only saw two expats while we were in Moalboal and we didn’t find any substantial expat Facebook pages for Moalboal. But make sure to make friends with both locals and ex-pats for a richer experience. I explain why in my report, The Top 10 Mistakes International Retirees Make.

Real Estate: 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. In the Philippines, you can’t own land directly in your name. Some foreigners get a long-term lease on land before they build, while others get married and put the property in their Filipino wife or husband’s name. But do hire a local lawyer if you decide to invest in real estate. Do not use a lawyer referred to you by someone with a conflict of interest with you, such as a new local spouse, a real estate broker, or your spouse’s family.

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 $30 USD 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. For this reason, almost nobody I have met in the Philippines bothers to get a retirement visa.

Moalboal Overall Retirement Desirability Score: Medium. If you are a small town person that likes rural areas surrounded by nature and beaches, then Moalboal might be right for you. If you like larger cities with more going on, then you might get bored living here. The good news is that Cebu Island is right in the middle of the Philippines and has ferries running to other islands and Cebu City has an International Airport if you are looking for a good hub for Travel.

Thanks for reviewing my report, Retire Early on $868 USD Month in Moalboal Philippines.

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