Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 07/20/08

Personal Experiences from Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru 07/20/08

Background:

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

No, several others.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Nearly two years.

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

My spouse was posted here.

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

6 hrs. from Miami.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most embassy housing is very nice, some homes with pools, apartments are generally well appointed but smaller.

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

Several supermarkets simillar to what you would find in the U.S. or other fully developed nations, some of them are pricier (Wong's), but you can go to Metro or Plaza Vea for the same things and better pricing.

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

It is quite unlikely that I would return to Lima, Peru. Embassy Lima is not very inviting. The Embassy has the afflication many other USG overseas posts have...local employed staff with little or no motivation. If things change, and I must return...I would bring Sunshine in a bottle for those 8 months when you have no sun due to the winter that never ends.

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

The usual fast food is avaliable, plus some Peruvian franchises -- lots of good restaurants, both local fare and intl cuisine...in genearal the Peruvian fusion food is excellent and seafood a must. They also eat cuy, a guinea pig raised for eating.

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Daily Life:

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

We had access to APO and pouch.

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

Generally good, but some friends had issues with domestics not taking direction well, and stealing. Most fall in the range -- US$220 to $275 a month for a maid/cook and nanny.

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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?

Ok. Never a problem.

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

Some, not as prolific as you would think.

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

Cable TV, Direct TV (Puerto Rico and Peru) are available -- English lang papers in speciality shops.

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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?

You should have your basic and take classes when you get there.

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

A lot, it is not a city with sidewalks or ramps for wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

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

Well that depends since they do not follow any type of road rules, but generally the right side. Driving in Lima is very frustrating, scary, and in general dangerous. Peruvians turn into aggresive, unforgiving individuals behind the wheel. They will make a right turn from the far right lane and vice versa. They will stop on a dime in a middle of a busy avenue and the public transportation system is horrible.

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

Radio taxis are ok, others are not...you must negotiate before entering, no meters, buses are terrible, but may be safe if you like cramped and smelly.

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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?

Bring a 4x4 (so you can intimidate the horrible drivers) and spare parts such as oil and air filters.

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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?

Yes, but expensive.

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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?

Several providers, Claro seems to be the most reasonably priced, the old monopoly, Movistar (part of Telefonica generally has atrocious customer service and is more expensive) Pre-paid cards are a rip off -- the airport deals are even worse -- bring an unlocked GSM phone and get a Claro plan.

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

Vonage or Skype.

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Pets:

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

Pretty good pet care at very reasonable prices, can be pricey for kennels.

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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?

Not really, most spouses work as freelance this or that...some work virtually for whatever employer they did in the past, others created their own small businesses catering to expats.

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

Business attire at the Embassy, some sections more relaxed than others, Peruvians generally dress formally.

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Health & Safety:

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

Unhealthy, some parts of city are filthy.

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

Lots of petty crime, muggings and kidnappings are not uncommon, driving in certain sectors is dangerous.

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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?

Very good medical care, many experience stomach problems that seem to never go away. I would take a huge supply of PeptoBismal and lots of Nyquil for those winter sniffles.

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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?

In Lima- December through March are very pleasant, warm, good beach weather (have to drive 30 miles from Lima, beaches there are contaminated); April through November is cold, misty and miserable with no sunshine.

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Schools & Children:

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

Several, in different parts of town, but most in suburbs.

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

Ann Sulivan School in Lima for several years, excellent choice for families with children that have special needs.

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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?

They are called NIDOS in Lima. I heard they can be pricey and generally employ activities not considered healthy in U.S., ex..candy and soda

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Expat Life:

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

Mid-size...

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed bag...some really enjoy PERU and that overshadows the shortcomings of Lima...some singles have a lot a fun and nightlife and cuisine provide a good experience.

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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?

Lots of night life, ranging from nice dinner and drinks to nightclubs-- some areas are rumored to be hangouts for working girls (Pizza Alley, Tequila Rock).

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

Yes.

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

Yes I believe so...but at in most Latin American societies, homosexuality is generally frowned upon.

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

Yes. Wealthy, white Peruvians in Lima tend to act superior.

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

Peru has wonderful landscapes, history, architecture to offer, some of it even in Lima, but mostly in Huaraz, Cusco, Ayacucho, Trujillo, Arequipa etc...

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

Baby Alpaca- furniture is a mixed bag, although lots of very pretty and handsome pieces are made in Peru-- beware of what they say is antique.

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9. Can you save money?

Possible, but unlikely because air travel is quite expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

NO!!!!! Other areas in Peru but not LIMA.

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

Road rules, your belief that Peruvians have common sense and your sports car.

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3. But don't forget your:

PATIENCE, and tons of good rags to keep your car clean. In Lima you need to clean you car every day due to the dusty air, pampers for the baby and beauty products for the ladies.

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

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Embassy Lima is one of the largest in the Wesern Hemisphere and can be cold and univiting...especially at first. Formal embassy support can leave much to be desired and the General Services shop is mismanaged and not much emphasis is put on follow up and friendly customer service. Locally employed staff run that show, they generally get away with uninspired work and may in fact treat you with disrepect. On a final note, just as in many developing countries with women that are attractive to foreigners, and that need or want a way out of their country, infidelity can be a problem. Some Peruvian women have very negative reputations and break marriages. Iquitos (jungle city to the northeast) is rumored to be the place where Expat men go to get a little action on the side-- so keep that in mind. Those with middle school kids should be wary of house parties among their peers, sometimes alchol and smoking is permitted.

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