Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 07/17/13
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 have also lived in several African and Latin American countries.
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?
Our home base is in the U.S. There are numerous direct flights that vary from 6-8 hours, depending on the airline and destination airport.
3. How long have you lived here?
Almost 2 years.
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?
Families with school-age children tend to live in the eastern suburbs close to the international schools and the U.S. Embassy, about 15-25 mins away. Singles and couples with young or no children tend to live in Miraflores, a more hip, urban area about 30-50 mins from the embassy, depending on traffic.
2. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Chocolate chips, baking chocolate, certain comfort foods and personal toiletries. You can get pretty much everything else here.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There are numerous U.S. and local fast food chains, but why bother with them when Peruvian cuisine is so amazing and not expensive? You can get great meals at restaurants for anywhere from $15 to $150 apiece - everyone can afford to eat out and does so regularly.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Nothing out of the ordinary. There are no tropical diseases or large/unusual insects to worry about in Lima.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We use the embassy's mail (DPO).
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Reasonably priced and readily available - part time from $25/day.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, they are plentiful. Many private gyms are around town, and the embassy has a well-stocked gym on campus, too. There are also embassy employees doing pickup games in ultimate frisbee, basketball, volleyball, and soccer on weekdays after work.
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?
Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere, and using them and ATMs is safe.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes, in several Christian denominations -- and Jewish services, too.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Many Peruvians in Lima and the tourist areas speak fluent or passable English, but knowing some Spanish is always helpful.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Sidewalks can be difficult to manage outside of Miraflores. Many buildings do not have good access for those with disabilities.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
There are some taxi-related crimes, so it's best to call one rather than hail one on the street.
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?
There are restrictions on imported cars more than 3 years old, but otherwise you can bring any car here and be fine.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, it is. It's expensive (about $75/mo) and not that fast, but it is pretty reliable.
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)?
Yes, numerous vets, trainers, and kennels.
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?
Yes, there seem to be, although you might have to be creative at first.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Appearance is important, as it is throughout Latin America. At the embassy, men wear ties every day and women are in fairly traditional business wear.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Crimes of opportunity (e.g. petty theft on the street) throughout the city and house break-ins in the suburbs are fairly common, but most of it is in line with other major cities, and is perfectly normal for South America.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
There's good health care easily available in Lima, less so in other parts of the country.
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?
In the winter months (roughly May-September), air quality is poor - it's very humid and chilly, and the pollution and dust just never seem to clear up. People seem to develop allergies and/or asthma easily here.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Summer (Dec-Mar) is warm and sunny, while winter (May-Sep) is damp and chilly, with daytime highs in the upper 50s. It doesn't really rain in Lima, although there is often a winter drizzle, and the gray skies of winter can be very depressing.
Schools & Children:
1. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes, especially soccer, swimming, horseback riding, and volleyball.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large and growing.
2. Morale among expats:
Great - this is a wonderful, easy place to live.
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?
People go out a lot and also entertain at home, especially in the expat community.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
This is a good city for any type of employee. There are activities and events to suit all tastes, and the large expat population covers all demographics. Peruvians at all levels are open and friendly, too.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes, it seems to be - I've known several gay couples here that do not seem to have had any problems.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Aside from some prejudices against those of African descent that are common in Latin American, I don't know of any major problems.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Getting to explore Peru's Andean highlands and the jungle, particularly the bird-watching.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
They are too many to name! History/archaeology buffs will be in heaven, as you practically trip over ruins everywhere you turn in Peru. There is a good local ballet and orchestra, numerous art and theater events, big-name pop and rock concerts, surfing, lots of sporting and outdoor opportunities, opera, horseback riding, bird watching, traditional dancing, etc. Aside from the must-do trip to Machu Picchu, travel to the beautiful beaches is easy, and there are great sites to see in Arequipa, Huaraz, Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Iquitos, Puerto Maldonaldo, Lake Titicaca, etc.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Alpaca wool clothing, embroidery, ceramic and pottery items, leather products, custom furniture.
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Summers are lovely! Blue skies, no humidity, it's hot, but not too hot, and traffic is light. The restaurants are amazing. Truly. And the in-country travel opportunities are incredible, with great destinations in the mountains or the jungle, on the beach, in 5-star comfort or backpacking, etc.
11. Can you save money?
If you're careful, yes. But this is not a particularly cheap place to live.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
cookbooks - just eat out!
3. But don't forget your:
sun block, wool socks, and sense of adventure.