Peru is a country of contradictions. Making a life here as an expat depends on how you handle what is thrown at you.
This is not an easy country to move to, but it is exciting, vibrant and if adventurous, Peru can provide all the challenges, the excitement and the life that one could want, and at a cost of living, most of us from elsewhere can easily afford.
A friend of mine told me that moving to any new country would be difficult, and if I thought of things in terms of where I have come from, the chance of failure would be daunting. In my view, sorting out in my mind that Peru, or any other country for that matter, is not the United States, or Canada, is the first challenge.
What would you do when you pay for Internet service and have to wait two weeks to get hooked up? And then find instead of the 8 Mbps paid for, you are only getting 0.55 Mbps? Do you go ballistic? If you do, then moving to Peru, or probably any other country, is not for you.
Yes, I got my Internet fixed, and it only took 7 days. I now have 7.5 Mbps and believe I am seventh heaven. No yelling, no screaming, no fits. Some frustrations, but the 4 technicians that came to our apartment were very nice and the company stuck to the problem until it got fixed. It was just fixed at a different speed than what I was used to in North America.
In our daily lives, living in Lima, there is always something different. Looking out from our balcony, we can see the ocean in the distance, and this city never sleeps. There is always something interesting to see and what a great way to start the day than with a cup of Peruvian coffee, watching the sun come up.
After getting organized, we always have a choice to make. Do we walk down the street to the new Mall Salaverry, which is absolutely beautiful, or do we had to the local market? A tough choice, but someone has to make it. And it is all available in a city that offers a cosmopolitan setting, as well as all the the local culture we could want.
Most days for us, we head to the local market to see what there is to see and buy our vegetables and beef. We have not quite got to the point of being able to buy a chicken hanging by the neck in the heat, and thankfully there are excellent grocery stores to buy all the other things that we eat.
Our grocery bill for the two of us is about $400 per month. We do not buy much imported food as there is a great selection here, and we can even find lactose free milk for my wife. Now, that is a real plus.
Electricity is just over $30 per month, and telephone and Internet costs another $30 per month. We bought our apartment, and today at the exchange rate, it would cost about $160.00 per square foot. Hardwood floors, 3 bathrooms and bedrooms, a large balcony, and a beautiful view, all for about 15% of the cost of an apartment where we came from. Add maintenance fees of $190 per month, including the pool, and I cannot forget the annual taxes that we just paid costing us $307 for the year.
For transportation, we take the taxis and sometimes the “omnibus.” The drivers drive like crazy but they are fun. Travelling to other parts of the country we usually go by bus. Recently, we took an overnight trip to Mancora, near the Ecuadorian border, with VIP service costing us $82.00. We left at 3 PM and arrived the next morning at 9 a.m.
Air travel is also inexpensive, and for less than $300, one can fly to the north or the south, to experience life that is as different as their 4,000 different types of potatoes.
Head to Mancora in the north for the beaches and the sun, or go south “young man” to see the Nazca Lines, Puno, or the historic cities of Arequipa, Cusco, and of course Machu Picchu.
Home for us is now Lima, Peru. We love the city and all it has to offer. But with more than eight million people, it may not be for you. Each one has to decide on their own, but if not Lima, there are so many options in this country that there certainly could be the perfect place for you.
Best wishes from Lima, Peru.