Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 04/29/15
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?
I've lived in Guadalajara, Vienna, Guatemala City, among others.
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?
Flights are about 7 hours to Dallas.
3. How long have you lived here?
I'm about to finish my third year.
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
My dad works for the U.S. government. I'm a high school student.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
There are a few housing areas: La Molina, which is where most of the families live; Camacho, which is closest to the international school; and Miraflores and San Isidro, which are near the ocean and usually where singles and couples live. The housing options in La Molina and Camacho are mostly houses (there's one or two newer apartment buildings), and mostly apartments in Miraflores and San Isidro.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
There are a couple of major grocery stores- Wong and Plaza Vea. My mom usually shops at Wong. You can find most groceries here that you would in the States. The cost is probably a little cheaper than the U.S., unless you buy imported brands.
3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
There's KFC, McDonald's, Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc. Pretty much the only American fast food chain that's missing is Taco Bell. But all of that's irrelevant because Peruvian restaurants are AMAZING. Seriously, the food is so good. I would have never considered eating raw fish cooked in lime juice before coming here, but I've been transformed.
4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
None really, other than some ants in the kitchen.
1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Availability is large and cost is good. Most people I know have a maid who comes on weekdays; ours comes twice a week.
2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
There are nice but pricey gyms. The American Embassy has a small gym.
3. What English-language religious services are available locally?
I'm not sure about religions other than Catholicism, but there is a Catholic mass on Sunday mornings at a small church in Miraflores.
4. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You need to know a pretty good amount of Spanish. If you live in Miraflores, it's not as necessary, since that's the most touristy area.
5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes. Sidewalks are rare.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Buses and "combis"- which are speedy, rickety vans that hold twice the amount of people they should- are not safe. Taxi's, however, are fine. They say to call ahead for a taxi instead of catching one off the street, but not too many people abide by that.
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?
Don't bring a white car. It will be brown (due to the ever-present dust) within days. Anything else would be fine.
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?
I don't personally have any pet experience, but almost all of my friends have them. Judging by this, I would assume that pet care is fine.
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 jobs for spouses of U.S. government employees at the Embassy. There's also a really big summer hire program for teens, and I know of a few American parents who work at the schools as part-time or full-time teachers.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Lima does have some unsafe areas, but it really isn't something I think about. I feel completely comfortable walking around the city (and I'm very American looking).
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
There are altitude issues when traveling to the mountain regions.
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?
I'm honestly not really sure what makes air quality good or bad, but according to adults who seem to notice these things, it's not great.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Temperature-wise, Lima is great. It never gets unbearably cold (the coldest point in winter is around the 50s F), and the long summer season isn't too hot. But other than that, weather in Lima is not pleasant. The months of January, February, and March are full on sunshine, but for the rest of the year you might never see the sun. There is this constant grey layer of clouds that blankets the sky. If you see shadows outside your window, it's kind of a miracle. Another thing about these clouds is that they NEVER RAIN. It might mist at 5 am twice a year, but aside from that water will never fall from the sky. I personally find this to be a negative thing, but some people appreciate the opportunities that this presents for outside parties etc.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are a couple international schools in Lima; Newton College and Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt (The American Intl. School of Lima). I'm a highschooler at FDR, the school that most expat families choose. My experience with this school was not good. I have been extremely comfortable and happy in every other school I've ever attended in my life, but unfortunately Roosevelt broke that streak. The biggest issue with this school is the racial divide. The locals and the "gringos" at FDR are completely separated. The school is nowhere near as international as it may seem, and the atmosphere among the students is not welcoming. New Americans rarely have a choice in who their friends will be, as it's pre-decided once their nationality is revealed. This remains the case even if they're fluent Spanish speakers.
Academically, however, FDR is pretty good. Those who are fans of the IB program will definitely appreciate that aspect of the school. It's highly encouraged and quite rigorous. Most teachers are pretty good. Athletic-wise, it's also good. There are many opportunity to travel across South America through sports like Volleyball, Soccer, Basketball, and Swimming. There's also a Fine Arts workshop that travels as well.
So really, the only big issue with FDR is the social aspect. Those who don't focus on this as much will have a fine time at Roosevelt. Those who do care, however, would probably be happier at a different school.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I'm not sure that FDR, at least, has any 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?
Yes, all throughout the different neighborhoods. From what I've heard they are pretty good.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
At FDR, definitely. I would assume that the other schools are the same.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Large and good morale. My expat friends have become my family.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
The nightlife in Lima is big. Even teenagers will find that this is the case. FDR's prom doesn't even start until midnight.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
This is a good city for singles and couples. Like I said earlier, the food is amazing. Singles who live in the Miraflores area take advantage of Lima's nightlife, which is big.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
It probably is- Lima's a big city.
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Yes. Most of the Peruvians in Lima are dark-skinned, yet on most billboards or advertisements you will see lighter-skinned, European-looking models.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
The best part about living in Lima has definitely been the food. Peru is known for its incredible ceviches, lomo saltado, seafood, and so much more.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Dinner, lunch, dinner, lunch...dinner on the water, lunch on the water. Travel around Peru! The lakes and mountains of Huaraz definitely deserve more attention. The jungle region is an adventure. Machu Picchu is great too, but there's a lot more than just that.
8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Machu Picchu, saving money, and restaurants.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
I wish I had known more about FDR, so I could have looked into other options.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your:
Patience. Traffic is crazy.
5. Do you have any other comments?
Although the overall report may seem negative, Lima is not a terrible city. Although the school is not great and the weather can get depressing, there are some parts of Peru that are pretty incredible. In my time here, I've gotten the chance to go midnight cayman hunting in the Amazon river, seen the bluest, most beautiful lake you could ever imagine, and tried some of the best food in the world.