Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 08/12/11

Personal Experiences from Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru 08/12/11

Background:

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

No. This is my 5th overseas posting.

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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

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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

US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Lovely apartments in areas by the water (Miraflores) and in San Isidro. More often houses in neighborhoods by the Embassy (Camacho, Chacarilla) and in La Molina. Plenty of the houses have large yards and pools, but there is no guarantee. Commuting can be really bad. Lima traffic is terrible. Expect long commutesto the US Embassy if you live in Miraflores or San Isidro. If you are an expat in the private sector, or affiliated with another Embassy, you will be centrally located in those areas. If you're w/ the US Embassy, commuting time from La Molina is anywhere from 15/20 min to a max of 40 min, depending on the time of day.

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

Availability is good. Cost is a bit higher.

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

Not much. Large sized shoes or clothing, books, toys.

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

All except Wendy's. Chain restaurants include; Friday's, Chili's, Tony Roma's, and Lone Star Steakhouse. Prices are reasonable.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There are more and more health conscious items available at the commissary. I'm also noticing more in the local grocery stores. There are several large health food stores, and a grocery chain called "Vivanda" which is high end and considered to be Peru's answer to Whole Foods (not quite, but very nice).

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Insects aren't bad. Some ants, spiders and mosquitos in the summer.

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Daily Life:

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

The US Embassy has a DPO/APO.

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

Help is plentiful and cheap. Most people have a maid, gardener, and sometimes a driver.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

All over the place.

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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?

At banks and major restaurants & stores, no problem. I would use cash anywhere else.

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

Yes, Christian, Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, Mormon, and Jewish.

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

You can get satellite tv for around $75 a month.

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

You need to have Survival Spanish for sure. Classes are available.

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

They would have some difficulties. The newer structures would have elevators and some ramps, but Lima is an old city and there are stairs and uneven sidewalks everywhere.

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Transportation:

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

No. There are safe taxis you can call, and safe taxi stands at the mall, etc, but in general, you shouldn't take the bus or hail a cab.

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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?

SUV's are good. The traffic is mayhem here and the philosophy "bigger is better" does apply.

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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. It is a package w/ the land line & runs around $100, more or less.

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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?

If you are employeed with the US Embassy, you will be issued a phone. All others, I'd recommend starting out with minutes. It is hard to get a plan at first, you need to establish your identification, etc. which can take some time.

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Pets:

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'm not sure. I adopted my pets here.

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

excellent

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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 too many. The Embassy and FDR do quite a bit of hiring, but otherwise, no. On the local economy, don't expect US wages or a job in your chosen field.

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

Professional and urban - DC/NY.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty crime, like purse snatching is pervasive. Break-ins and car theft have been problems, but violent crime is relatively rare.

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

Medical care is good, dentists/orthos also good and reasonable.

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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?

Moderate

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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?

Cloudy for most of the year, but hardly ever any rain - seriously, no rain. If the overcast skies bother you, look to live in La Molina (a neighborhood in Lima), they get significantly more sun than any other area in the city.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several good school to choose from: FDR, the American school is affiliated with the US Embassy. My kids attend FDR and are very happy. It is pre-k thru Grade 12.The school has a strong IB program and offers several afterschool activities. They have a strong theater program and very successful traveling soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams. They are equipped with a large indoor pool as well as soccer fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds. Newton is the British School. It has an excellent reputation and the kids that I know who attend are very happy. There are also kids at the International Christian School, San Silvestre, and Markham. ICS is newer and small, but definitely growing. The families I know there are very happy. San Silvestre & Markham are older, established schools in Lima with stellar reputations. Of significant note is The Anne Sullivan School, which is a school for special needs students. I know a few students who attend Anne Sullivan and their parents have been delighted with the school's program.

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

All of the schools make some effort, but see above for my comments on 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?

There are several, but I do not have any personal experience.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes. Particularly if you have a working knowledge of Spanish.

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Expat Life:

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

Large

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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?

People do everything here. Dinner and parties at each other's homes are certainly popular, but people go out to restaurants, clubs, movies, or the theater all the time.

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3. Morale among expats:

Good to Excellent. This can be a difficult transition, but once people acclimate, they tend to love it here. I know many families who have extended their tours.

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

This is a great city for anybody. There is no way to get bored here.

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

I hear that life can be hard for gay expats. I do know several couples who seem very happy in Lima, but I would guess it could be very difficult for them outside of the city.

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

Not that I have come across.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The restaurants here are fabulous. Peru is all about food & Lima is definitely a culinary city!You can go to a new restaurant every night and still not hit them all before your tour is complete. Travel throughout South America is awesome, but you can also stay in Peru and see Macchu Pichu, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon.

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

Inca Markets, restaurants, beaches, museums, ballet, theater, rock concerts (in the next few months we have numerous acts coming to town, ranging anywhere from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Rod Stewart, as well as Justin Beiber), Incan ruins, haciendas, the list goes on...

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

Alpaca, silver, furniture, art

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Touring, Food, Culture, History

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11. Can you save money?

yes, but it is very tempting to go blow it all on travel and food.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a heartbeat.

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

umbrellas

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3. But don't forget your:

patience

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Lima can be chaotic and gray, but if you give it a little time, this city will get into your heart. Housing, schools, entertainment, history, beaches, and culture - Lima is a real gem!

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