Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 04/04/08

Personal Experiences from Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru 04/04/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From US: via Atlanta (Delta), Houston (Continental), Miami (American) - nearly all flights go through one of these hubs depending upon the airline used. There are generally only 2 flights per day per carrier so the layovers can be protracted. Travel time from these cities is about 6 hours. If you use an American carrier to Europe you will have to fly through the US again about 6 hours from Lima and then 8 to 12 from there to your particular European destination.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am affiliated with the U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The housing is generally excellent and more than adequate. Commutes can be long from San Isidro and Miraflores, but the neighborhoods are safe, close to shopping and restaurants and parks. They are also far from the schools and would not work for families with children in school. Also, the houses tend to be apartments. The neighborhoods closer to the schools have much larger, single family homes with yards and usually pools.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Many US products are available with some mark-up. But, there are generally cheaper alternatives of similar or slightly lesser quality. Wong, Vivanda and Plaza Vea are grocery stores that also sell household goods for prices similar to that in the States. You cannot find canned or frozen vegetables, but the fresh veggies available are cheap and delicious.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

A supply of your favorite personal care products (deodorants, hair products etc.). Some of these things are available, but not all, and some cannot be shipped because of their high liquid/cream/get content.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast Food/American Restaurants: McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes Pizza, Chili's, TGIFridays, Tony Romas. Having said that though, Lima has some of the best restaurants we have ever eaten in. There is amazing Italian, Spanish, Peruvian and Continental food to be had here. The Sushi and Seafood are also incredible. The restaurants are inexpensive, clean and safe.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

You don't.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is widely available and very inexpensive. You might have to go through several to find what you want because most are untrained, but if you are patient and communicative you can find help you are very happy with.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problems with either in Lima. Outside of Lima, it is a good idea to carry cash. You will find ATMs periodically, but not always.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

For some religions yes including Evangelical Christian, Catholic, LDS.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

You can use Cable Magico, the local cable for about US$40 a month and you will have some English access. For more (including a fairly steep installation fee) you can get Direct TV, either the Peruvian feed or the Puerto Rico feed.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Enough to get around the grocery store and to communicate with your domestic help.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are surprisingly good accommodations for disabled persons in many places in Lima. Outside of Lima, it would be much more difficult, though not impossible, to get around.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right side.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Don't take the buses. Taxis are generally safe, but it is best to call a secure taxi. Everything is inexpensive.

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3. 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?

Only slightly worse than driving in DC - any car will be fine so long as it has plenty of life left in it. 4wd isn't necessary.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed internet is available and fairly reliable, you will pay around US$50/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You'll need them but the plans aren't great, nor is the hardware.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype or Vonage.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes. Some services will pick-up and drop-off your pets as well.

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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?

No. There are some options through the Embassy, but not much within the local economy.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Most people wear business casual or suits.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There is a lot of petty crime in Lima, but very little violent crime. We have not personally been the victims of any crime though we know of incidents of muggings and burglary. As with any major capital, it is a good idea to take normal safety precautions (travel in a group at night, use house and car alarms, leave flashy clothing and jewelry at home, keep wallets and purses secure, etc.).

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is hit or miss depending upon the facilities and doctors you use. There are excellent resources available and recommendations from current residents is the best route to take when seeking medical care.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Sunny from October/November to March/April - the rest of the year is generally overcast. It NEVER rains in Lima.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our children are not old enough for school, but we have heard mostly positive reports about Roosevelt and Newton.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

Excellent preschool/daycare available, although you will want to seek a recommendation before placing your child/children because the services are prolific and not all of the same quality.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

300 associated with the U.S. Embassy and a smattering of others in private industry.

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2. Morale among expats:

Generally good. This is a good post which has an undeserved negative reputation. Things are inexpensive and there is a lot to do in Peru. As long as you come not expecting it to be the US or Europe, you'll be a lot happier.

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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?

There are always events going on with lots of accompanying food and fun. Catering is plentiful and inexpensive.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for all sorts of family arrangements. There are activities for all ages in Lima and of course Peru boasts some of the most amazing sites in all the world. A trip to Machu Picchu is a must as is a visit to the Amazon jungle.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that we ever experienced. There are some class issues among the Peruvians, but we did not have any problems with that as expats.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Beach, zoo, historical Lima, bullfights, museums, great restaurants, trips to: Cuzco/Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Amazon, Chan Chan, Arequipa, Paracas (just south of Lima), Ica/Nazca.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pisco, chocolate, tejas, handicrafts, alpaca, pima.

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9. Can you save money?

If you want to. The shopping (other than handicrafts) isn't good, but the restaurants are and plentiful. Travel outside of Lima can be very expensive if you want to go the luxury route, but you can also have great adventures on the cheap.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely. We have enjoyed our time here even with the frustrations that come from being in the developing world.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations of first world infrastructure and common sense. You won't need heavy winter clothing either.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and sense of adventure. Lima is dirty, noisy, crowded and the traffic can be abysmal. But, the people are friendly and there is plenty to do for fun.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Mario Vargas Llosa is a prominent author who was raised in Peru. Any of his fiction that takes place in Peru is worth reading.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Mario Vargas Llosa is a prominent author who was raised in Peru. Any of his fiction that takes place in Peru is worth reading.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Living in Lima can be frustrating at times, but there are many amenities available that mitigate the frustration. Most people are happy living here and many extend their tours as a result.

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