Dumaguete in the Philippines is not only an increasingly popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy the charming small city’s access to scuba diving, mountains, waterfalls, and island hopping, but home for a huge number of expatriates. In fact, “Duma,” as I lazily call it, has the second-largest foreign retiree population in the Philippines I’ve been told. So if you decide to unpack your bag and make Dumaguete your home for a week, a month, or even long-term, you’ll inevitably start looking around for apartments.
That’s when some frustration might kick in, as it’s not easy to find a good place here. There isn’t one credible source online for apartment listings, like a Craigslist. Airbnb might be your best bet but finding a place, but many of them also charge an exorbitant nightly rate compared to what a monthly rental costs. There are only a few apartments or condos that offer a western-standard of comfort (as opposed to places like Thailand where there is a beautiful and affordable condo tower every 10 feet), and even fewer have swimming pools.
Renting the Villa Prescilla Apartments in Dumaguete
In fact, there are only a few places I’ve found in Dumaguete City with swimming pools, including Ayang Place (far out near the airport and without individual kitchens) and Villa Prescilla.
Built and run by a Swiss owner, Villa Prescilla is usually on every new expat’s To-See checklist, and they also advertise for about $27 a night on Hotels.com for a single room.
Having lived here for my first four months living in Dumaguete, there are some things good about VP, and some things that I find lacking.
The apartments are fair size by Filipino standards (I rented a one-bedroom) but definitely outdated in 1980s décor. That’s not a problem except for unimportant aesthetics, except that the infrastructure is dated, too. One of my biggest gripes is that the water doesn’t work well, and their solution was to run external PVC lines through the walls and along the floor in the bathroom!
Still, that’s not a major problem, except something is really wrong with the water here – it stinks! Despite being kept immaculately clean, my apartment smells really musty and gross too, and I think it may be a mold problem. However, I don’t know if it’s just my unit or all of them.
The bed is great, though – firm and big enough. They also have a fantastic mini walk-in closet that is hugely convenient to store all of my stuff. The air cons are older window units framed into the walls, which work OK despite being a little inefficient on energy (expensive).
The neighbors are all pretty mellow, and it doesn’t get loud at night, save for the roosters (you get used to that). The neighborhood, too, is chill. The road VP is on gets busy during the day (fun for people watching) but dead quiet at night. That presents a problem if you need to get a trike (the easiest and cheapest form of transportation) because they are damn hard to catch past 6 pm. So if you stay here, you’ll want to rent your own moto, which can also be dangerous on these chaotic, rule-less roads.
But if you also enjoy walking or cycling among authentic and charming small town roads, VP is the perfect starting point, and there is even a huge field for baseball and sports a block away, and Gabby’s Bed and Breakfast for coffee and eats a nice walk away.
The main attraction about Villa Prescilla is the swimming pool, of course, which is nice and good sized but not spectacular. They skim it every morning and heavily chlorinate it about once a week, but the pump and filter system doesn’t seem to be on or work effectively.
But still, its great on a hot day, and there are tables in the shade where you can drink beers or have friends over for a barbecue, which is encouraged. Perhaps the best part about VP is the staff, as Ate (sort of like ‘auntie’) Vivian and her sidekick works her tail off morning to night keeping everyone happy, as well as cleaning units and doing laundry for a small charge.
If you stay here, I’d try stick to second-floor apartments on the Eastern side (the other side gets too much afternoon sun and the wi-fi is bad) and take note that the third-floor one-room units are cheaper but have plywood walls, so you’ll hear everything.
Good luck, enjoy the pool, and say hi to Ate Vivian for me!