Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 07/10/13
Personal Experiences from Lima, Peru
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, I've lived in France, Morocco, South Korea, Mexico, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Pakistan.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Washington, DC about a 10 hour flight including a layover in Miami.
3. How long have you lived here?
I am one year into a three-year tour.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Housing near the ocean in Miraflores and San Isidro is mostly in apartments that range in quality. Many are very nice, but some are tiny and in need of renovation. Large homes near the U.S. Embassy are beautiful, but they keep you far away from the heart of town--1 hour away. Traffic is bad, so you will likely spend most of your time in the neighborhood where you live.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are slightly more expensive than in the U.S. Paper products and cleaning products are more expensive.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Nothing. You can buy or order whatever you need.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are many U.S. and Peruvian fast-food restaurants. Cost is equivalent to U.S. prices.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Widely available. Cost is approximately $20 per day.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, there are many gyms, and they are at or above U.S. prices.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
You can use credit cards at major stores or restaurants. ATMs are safe to use. it is still largely a cash economy and I usually use cash to play it safe.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Most Peruvians do not speak English. Learning some basic Spanish will definitely make your life easier.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
There is some accommodation made from persons with disabilities, but it is not up to developed-country standards. Once you have left LIma there is very little accommodation for the disabled.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Buses are relatively safe. Overnight buses are targets for violent crime and robberies. Taxis can be safe, but call for a secure taxi to be sure.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
A small SUV is nice to have because traffic is very bad, roads are not always well maintained, and bigger does mean better on the road.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, available for about $50/month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Vets are available.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
There are some with aid agencies or in teaching.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
More formal than in the U.S. Think euro-light.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
There is a high crime rate in Lima. Home break-ins, smash-and-grabs in vehicles, and petty crimes are common. Be aware of your surroundings and you should be fine.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Pollution and food poisoning are the biggies. Medical care is decent. Dentists are generally quite good.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Lima suffers from a moderate amount of pollution. Despite that, many people do run outside. But I find the fumes too much and prefer to run indoors.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
There are really two seasons. In winter you have 5-6 months of grey, humid, and overcast weather. Summers are warm--and sometimes even hot-- with sunny, blue skies.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
The Christian school is supposed to have excellent services for special-needs kids.
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Both are available and with mixed reviews.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Many other embassies, Internations, international schools, etc.
2. Morale among expats:
Mid-range. Some love it, some don't. Depends on their exact circumstances.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Lots to do.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It's good for all family types. As a married couple without children, we love the cultural activities and walkability of the coastal neighborhoods. I almost never drive my car. There is a lot to do in Lima--movies, restaurants, some music (but it starts very late), museums, bars, architecture, Incan ruins, etc. There is a big expat community if you are looking for that.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Peru is much more conservative than other South American countries. There is an LGBT scene in Lima, but it is not common to see openly LGBT couples, but the LGBT community does face discrimination and hate crimes.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
There is a lot of racism in Peru, much more than I realized before arrival. The Catholic Church is also very strong and influences both social and political circles.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Hiking in the Cordillera Blanca, visiting Machu Picchu, taking regular walks along the Pacific coast in Lima, eating delicious ceviche and roast pork!
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Restaurants, bullfights, walking along the malecon in Lima, traveling to see Incan ruins and hiking in the Andes.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Alpaca blankets, sweaters, coats, handicrafts, nice silver jewelry.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Lima has a few very modern neighborhoods where you can enjoy a range of fine food, South American wines, bullfighting, and even see Inca ruins. Hiking in the Andes is amazing, but not close to Lima.
11. Can you save money?
Yes, if you want to.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, definitely. It's a beautiful country and Lima is a great city.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
umbrellas--it never rains in Lima!
3. But don't forget your:
sweaters, coats and scarves--winters are chilly and humid.