Each has its own unique and attractive features.
The major advantage of retirement in a major rural Philippines city are (i) lowest cost of living, (ii) opportunity to take in the local culture and lifestyle, (iii) small town living, and (iv) a much slower, provincial lifestyle pace.
Upscale mall shopping, high rise western style condominiums, and lots of night life are not present in these major rural cities.
Yet, all of these cities have a busy airport and readily available daily travel to Manila and other cities within the Philippines.
In this category of major urban cities are Butuan City, Tacloban, Cagayan De Oro, Puerto Princessa, and Dumaquette.
Butuan City Butuan City has a population of approximately 300,000.
It is the earliest know place of settlement and sea trade in the Philippines.
It used to be a logging capital of Mindanao.
The city is sprawled along the banks of the Agusan River in Northern Mindanao and is a typical provincial city.
It has some great restaurants, a very low cost of living, cheap housing, and is a logical overnight stopover for tourists travelling between Camiguin and Siargao Island, which has just recently become famous as one of the top surfing spots in the Philippines.
North of Butuan City is the 4th largest fresh water lake in the Philippines.
Tacloban Tacloban has a population of just over 200,000 and it is the political capital of Leyte, and the geographic and commercial center of both Leyte and Samar.
Historically, Tacloban is best known as the place to which General MacArthur returned with his forces to liberate the Philippines back in 1944.
It is also where Imelda Marcoq was born and raised.
For its size and remoteness, it is fairly cosmopolitan.
It has great food, a busy wharf area, and efficient transportation links.
Cagayan De Oro With one of the larger rural city populations of approximately 550,000, Cagayan De Oro is a thriving provincial city.
What makes this city exciting is that it is a university town.
It is the energy and promise of youth that drives this town.
The city has a good per capita income and much of the wealth comes from the jobs created by the Del Monte, Nestle, and Pepsi corporate offices located here.
It has exciting river rafting and relatively cooler climate than other Mindanao cities.
Puerto Princessa Puerto Princessa has a population of just over 200,000.
This city is the capital of Palawan, an island paradise with seascapes the equal of any in Southeast Asia.
However, this city is just a jumping off place point for excursions elsewhere on the island.
It does have great restaurants, great day trips - from island hopping to remote beaches to drives through a beautiful countryside.
The city is known for its strictly enforced no-littering laws.
I have found it to be the cleanest city in the Philippines.
There are daily flights in and out of Puerto Princessa, but one must realize it is one of the most physically remote provinces in the Philippines.
Dumaguette With a population of just over 100,000 Dumaguette is small, but like Cagayan De Oro, it too is a university town.
Thus, it is far more urbane and hip than the average provincial city.
What draws foreigners here is its indifference to foreigners.
Expats can walk up and down the street relatively unnoticed.
It is therefore a very comfortable place in which to assimilate.
It is the city to live in should one want to reside in Negros Oriental province.