The house rental market in Dumaguete City is pretty grim. After two years of searching for a nice, fairly priced 3-bedroom house rental, I think I am justified in saying that. And that I have done a good deal of this (endless) quest via my YouTube, I think a fair number of my subscribers would agree. In short, if you want a NICE 3 bedroom, 2 bath rental in or close to Dumaguete City, it’s going to cost you about 25-30,000 pesos a month.
Want a present example of what 10,000 pesos/$210 USD a month will get you nowadays in Dumaguete City? Here’s one that I pulled off of Facebook just the other day:
In case you can’t read the text, this is what the ad says:
Nice, right? And since we’re on the subject…
WHAT DEFINES “NICE?”
I did a video on this last week, so I will just lay out the basics. If I am going to spend $500 USD a month on a house rental, I expect the following: Window screens and security grates, covered/shaded parking, some type of yard (for the dogs), single unit/no compounds, road access, tolerable noise levels (no dog packs or karaoke) and internet access for our PLDT fiber optic.
As far as cleanliness and presentation, if I can find a place with all the qualifiers noted above, I have no issues cleaning the place and painting it. As I have endlessly noted before, I cleaned and painted the entirety of my present rental when I moved in here six years ago, so that isn’t a deal breaker.
BUT FIRST A DISCLAIMER
I am writing this just before I post two particular house rental tours from the past week on my YouTube channel. A sort of pre-qualifier if you will. Both are on the market for 25,000 pesos a month ($500 USD) One is is a three bedroom for that is pretty much is a cell block in a tiny ‘yard’ and the other underscores how some landlords are disinclined to clean up a property prior to viewing. And when I say ‘clean up,’ I mean just that – prospective renters are usually not too keen on dirt-caked floors, walls speckled with gecko poop, unflushed toilets, greasy cabinets and filthy windows. And that’s without even getting into peeling (or missing) paint, broken jalousie panels, ripped window screens, and the like.
Two or three years ago, you could rent a nice two-bedroom house in Dumaguete City for about 10,000 pesos/$200 USD a month. If you wanted a three bedroom, you would be looking at about 15,000 p/$300 USD. Not too shabby. Nowadays, however, those same houses are running at 15,000 pesos/$300 for the two bed and 25,000 pesos/$500 for a three bedroom. And that’s in just the last couple of years. How’s that for inflation, long nose? And again, these are for nice places – you can still find cheap 2 beds for 10,000/$200 USD, but they’re gonna be pretty grimy.
Foreigners generally blame the number of other foreigners in and around Dumaguete for the increased rental prices. Whether it be Forbes yearly declarations of the City of Gentle People as an ideal retirement destination or insipid YouTubers cranking out Duma-centric video content, Dumaguete has a massive population of foreigners. Indeed, it’s probably the highest per capita concentration of porenyers in the Philippines. As such, and with foreigners being perceived as wealthy (despite the fact that many are on limited pensions), the prices for both apartment and house rentals have increased.
It is what it is.
SPEND MONEY/MAKE MONEY
In my experience, landlords around Dumaguete seem loathe to maintain their properties. In real estate, one typically invests a bit of money in order to make money. A short term investment for long-term profit, if you will. Touching up paint, repairing screens, trimming foliage, replacing light bulbs, sweeping/mopping floors, wiping off gecko droppings and the like all go a long way in gaining the attention of a prospective, long-term renter. For some reason, these small, inexpensive improvements don’t seem to be done, which is odd as many of these landlords own multiple properties, so it’s not like they are poor and don’t have the money. This is also something that you see in many hotels and resorts around the Philippines – broken windows, cracked tiles, peeling paint and the like. Heck, I even noticed it a few weeks ago in Dumaguete ACE hospital (broken toilet) which is literally brand new.
But as with house sales prices, nothing seems to make much sense when it comes to real estate in the Philippines. In lieu of setting a more appropriate price, people here looking to rent out or sell homes prefer to let the property sit for months (or years) on the market. It’s a head-scratcher.
I am not a lone voice in the wilderness when it comes to these issues. Many other expatriates on Facebook and other social media sites are also voicing their frustration over rental prices in and around Dumaguete City. Some on limited budgets have even found themselves forced to live far outside the city (Siaton to the south, San Jose to the north) just to find rents they can afford. For me personally, spending 25,000 pesos/$500 USD on monthly rent isn’t a deal breaker just as long that it is actually a nice place. Unfortunately – and as the next few videos I post on YouTube will show, finding a nice $500 a month rental can be a Quixotic quest.
BUT NED, WHAT ABOUT…
There are exceptions to the rule, but I have yet to see one. Someone spammed my YT with links to a video done by another vlogger named Paul who rented a four bedroom in Camella Homes for 20,000 pesos/$400 USD. The only problem is that Camella is literally right next to the Dumageute dump (Filipinos call the housing project Can-smell-ya) and three of the bedrooms are on the second floor (which turn into saunas during the day and are unusable without aircon). Another vlogger got a great place on a beach up in Leyte or Samar for about the same price but his location is far from any city amenities. I like the convenience of shopping, restaurants and functional internet, so living waaaay out in the province really doesn’t work for me.
Your mileage might vary.
PURE LUCK AND WHO YA KNOW
In my opinion, simple luck plays a significant role in finding a good house rental. My search for Pink House in 2014 took only a week, and our humble abode has served us very well for nearly six years. Additionally, being in the right place at the right time (first to see an ad on Marketplace or just driving around and seeing a ‘for rent’ sign) also factors in. Finally, as with job searches, it’s oftentimes who you know – indeed, Pink House itself was recommended to me by another foreigner who was heading back to the United States. Right place – right time. And as luck would have it, we now have a lead of a big place up near Valencia that we will be checking out in the next couple of days. The referral came to us from a LONG time subscriber and it sounds like a good deal – keep your fingers crossed…
The information noted above is simply my own thoughts based on my experiences here. It’s my opinion. What have your house-hunting experiences been in the Dumageute area? Am I simply being to picky or have you noticed any of the same issues? Feel free to leave all your thoughts down in the comment sections.
And until next time, puppies, rainbows and unicorns for all.