The House Rental Market in Dumaguete City – 2020

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:

“HOUSE for rent 10k per month 2 bedrooms 1 CR 2 months deposit and 1 month advance..
₱10,000 · Dumaguete City
HOUSE for rent 10k per month
2 bedrooms
1 CR
2 months deposit and 1 month advance.”
And here is a larger picture from the ad:

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.

That’s it.

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.

PRICE INCREASES
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.

Just saying.

THE BLAME
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…

YOUR THOUGHTS?
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.

Peace.

24 comments

  1. Hi Ned, I’ve had the same experience looking for another rental here. When we first moved here we found a 3 Br 2Cr in Katrina 2 gated community for 11,200p..That was April 2015. We moved to an apartment closer to town for my wife’s school and have been paying 9k/mo for 4 years now. Nice 2br near the ocean. Not finding anything even close to that now. We are moving from Duma for other reasons, to a place on Leyte (bigger city) which has fewer expats and surprise…rentals are cheaper 😂
    Good luck on your quest and congrats on your upcoming happy occasion and welcome to fatherhood 😊
    Rod and Maribel

  2. It took me several months to find my 3 bdrm 2 bath house in Dumaguete, for 22k. My criteria was similar to Ned’s. Looked at lots of crap in the process, and a couple good houses with bad landlords. I consider myself lucky. I’m only about a hundred meters off the National Highway. After a year and a half here, I spent less than half a months rent fixing the road. No big rain since the fix, so we’ll see how well it keeps the road free of big muddy puddles.

    I’ve been very lucky with landlords too, but know plenty of others who have not. I’m less than 10 minutes from Robinson’s and Hypermart, and 15 minutes to, downtown, Dumaguete, Valencia, or Bacong. Also very close to my favorite restaurants, all on the South side.

      1. The baby isn’t even here yet, and you’re driving yourself crazy over houses and yayas. Chill. A lot of things are going to change AFTER the birth. Things you can’t even see yet. Make the decisions when they need to be made. You’ll wind up with fewer regrets that way.

  3. After renting for my first 2 years here [ throw away money ] my wife and i decided to build. Finding suitable lots were an ever ending search. Eventually we found a lot, but cash money was a problem, so we paid it off over 1 year. Then we started to build, BUT slowly. Now 15 years since arriving in the Philippines we have our own house. OK, we are in the mountains, but the view is fantastic, air is clean, and the silence is golden. We are 35 minutes out of town, but it is a small price to pay for Happiness.

  4. I spent 7 months looking for a decent house with a yard in Valencia. Chased down every lead, recontacting real estate agents to remind them of my search. We spent endless hours on Facebook in marketplace rentals section. Hours after a new listing poped up we quickly arranged a viewing and immediately confirmed we would take it. There was,already, a list of interested prospective viewers waiting.Not easy but being very determined got us results finally. Cheers, don’t give up

  5. Your assessment is spot on.

    I have an older, but decent house. We’ve had the landlord fix/maintain such things as electrical and plumbing problems, usually ‘just well enough’, which is the Filipino way. It’s a four bedroom / 2 CR inside and 1 outside, with lots of inside storage. The rent falls at the high end of your notation. It’s close to down town and the port – convenient for that access; also, close to Silliman College and Hospital.

    What’s lacking is: any internet connection faster than 10 Mb, water pressure, jalousie windows, a lawn more than an arm’s reach from neighbors ,and the next door sari sari store (a weekend late-night gathering place). Additionally, I have to put up with the essence of three-dog-piss wafting through the kitchen window on occasion (the neighbor’s outside dogs urinate on the cement floor and wall that’s only a meter from my house – delightful when blended with all the other outside aromas of burning whatever (mystery smoke).

    Like you, I did quite a bit of cleaning – deep, elbow grease, break a major sweat, scrape/scour and chisel cleaning. I’ve regularly made relatively minor repairs on my peso, for my own convenience. This what I inherited even after being assured it had been cleaned the day before I moved in. It would be naïve to think you’re going to get a westernized level of cleaning. Sorry, it’s just the way it is. Most of the energy expelled cleaning is directed at sweeping the dirt shoulder of the road each morning.

    What to do? Enjoy the positives – and they are there – and continue to look, but maybe with a little less sense of urgency. I like Dumaguete and think it’s a good size, but I’m open to reconsidering another location, perhaps on a different island. Increasing prices, population growth, the apparent escalation of serious local violence, spotty infrastructure, and poor, unhealthy beaches, all add up to a balancing act in my mind and heart when it comes to providing the best for my family here. I’ll add one more thing, sure to be controversial …

    Too many nasty expats. Their disrespect for their host country, intolerance of the culture, sense of entitlement and superiority, and their foul-mothed, crude, and paranoiac nature are an embarrassment (not to mention that many look and act like absolute slobs).

    1. Salamat, AK, for the write up on your experience. And I like the ‘mystery smoke’ part! Lolz! We actaully found a sweet spot up in Sibulan but it doens’t have PLDT fiber access (the nearest node is 2 KM away…). And I hear ya on the “less sense of urgency” piece. With all the stuff coming up in the next few weeks, I think the priority needs to be on Chichay and Zoey. Thanks, man.

      1. Every once in a while, it helps to take a deep breath and a step back, and just appreciate all the truly important blessings in life. You’re about to add another to yours, and I suspect your perspective will be affected, as it is for so many of us dads. Cherish these fleeting moments that are upon you.

  6. I think that the market here trends slowly and will be going down expats leaving and very few coming in the near future. However that last house seemed pretty nice. easy to use a plastic board screwed down with silicon sealant and a shower curtain. upstairs an office AND quest room. Its far from the other houses and could have a wall so you have your area sectioned off with your own gate….

    1. A lot of people are saying that, Richard, but I have yet to see it. Just look at the condo market – Filipinos would rather hold an overpriced condo instead of renting it out or selling it for a competitive price. Many, many condos are sitting empty in Manila, Cebu and even Dumaguete.

      1. Yea thats why mentioned trending slowly. I have a one bedroom apt. that I have rented out, guy been renting for 11 years next Jan. so I kept it. I give him below market rent. Anyways, I have had as many as 4 condos at a time with 1 to live in and whatever else rented out. Im just a retired security guard so these were low priced condos, but anyway I looked for motivated sellers.

        A lot of people have debt on their properties and will eventually have to rent cheaper when they cant pay their debt. Breaking even or even losing a little is better than foreclosure….
        You mentioned you like pink house except the noise and needing yaya space. Maybe your landlord would consider adding a room on for the yaya inreturn for an increase in rent. Yaya rooms don’t have to be huge and construct is cheap here….

        Anyways almost baby time! Best wishes!

  7. My ‘experience’ is different. I married a Filipina in 1981, in California. Lived in various places, rentals and purchased homes. When I decided to retire in the PH? I looked for some land, and built a home. I found 415 sq meters of flat land for my home. And built a one story 117 Sq Meter Home, in 2007. No payments, all cash. This was when the USD began the year at 50 PHP / USD, and by the time I ended my construction project, was 44 PHP / USD. Ouch.

    I never considered renting. FIlipinos don’t have the experience of other nations on that topic.

  8. correct Duma is one of the more expensive cities in the RP now . What about south Becong area ? A little our of the way , but cheaper ….. Or even moving islands . I sure liek how Bohol is developing …
    Best of luck Ned .

    James

  9. The Filipina Pea just did a video on a house in Valencia Ned, I think it was 27K, has 2 bath 5 bedroom each with Aircon, and even the Sala has aircon, seemed pretty dogone nice inside and out!

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