Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there - 01/11/12

Personal Experiences from Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru 01/11/12

Background:

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

This is our second overseas posting. First post was Kinshasa, DRCongo

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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?

Arizona. Total travel time is about 10 hours. Travel thru Miami, Atlanta, Houston or LA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been year just over a year and will be moving to our next post in a year.

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

Trailing spouse of a U.S. Embassy employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice, large apartments-many of them are located on or near parks. Several apts. are located on the bluff above the Pacific and in nice weather, have great views. Large houses with small yards are in the housing pool and some with some pools. Depending on where the housing is, it can be quite loud. Lima is going thru a construction boom right now. Lots of older single family homes are being torn down and re-placed by multi-unit apartment buildings. This has and will add a lot of people and cars to an area already crowded. I would have liked to seen Lima 20-30 yrs ago before the boom. A lot of great older homes are gone and replaced with run of the mill apt buildings. The construction noise starts at 7:45am and goes until 6:00pm Monday thru Friday, with a half day on Saturday. Because the construction all concrete and block, the noise travels! Also, depending where you are located, the noise from the streets can be quite loud. Everyone uses the vehicle horn for everything! Taxi, bus, and combis will be non-stop with the horn. To drum up business, to let someone know they are passing (often on the wrong side), plowing thru an intersection (as if the horn is clearing the way). Commute time depends are where you live and where you are going. Traffic can be horrible!

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

It is all here and cost is very good. Cheaper than most places in the states.

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

Personally, there is nothing. If need something I can't get here on the local market, I will order on on-line. But, it you have something that you just can't live without - ship it ahead. If you are a Mexican food fan, it is very limited here.

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

This is Peru! They like to eat and are great cooks. there are some good local fast food places and some of the standard American ones. KFC, McDonald's, Papa John's,Domino's, Starbucks. But the local food is so much better.

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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?

Wongs, Plaza Vea, are all major stores and will most likely have it.

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

Not many. Some bugs in the warmer months, some ants in the houses.

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Daily Life:

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

We use DPO. But, there are the major shipping firms here - FedEX, DHS.

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

Very available - get references and interview. We paid $/800 a month (soles, 2.70 to the USD) for someone who comes in three days a week(8-9 hours) and they do it all. Cook, clean, wash, shop, take care of the plants, order items needed.

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

Lots. Several large chain brands and a lot of local gyms.

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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?

Have not have any problems. I use credit cards everywhere, everywhere I feel that it will not be a problem. Use the common sense when using - watch the credit card, have the credit card reader brought to the table, use secure ATM locations, be aware of your surrounding-have someone stand with you and help cover the transaction.

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

Yes, Union Church in Miraflores is the only one I am aware of.

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

TV - yes. Basic cable package haves Fox, CCN, BBC. There is a dish service from Puerto Rico that has more of the American stations.

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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?

The more the better. There are classes everywhere for all levels of Spanish students.

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

Depends on where you live in Lima and what you can afford. There are many school opportunities here. The embassy is in a new building and meets a lot of the ADA requirements. Most of Miraflores and San Isidro is ok for someone with needs. The rest of the area is hit or miss.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis, buses, combi’s, an electric train is being built in the center of the city. After 20+years the electric train is close to being open. It was designed to bring in people from the outlaying areas into central Lima for jobs. There is also a Metro bus line that has it’s own dedicated lanes in the central of the main road. As with anywhere else, you take your chances on public transportation-accidents, pickpockets, and robbery. There are several measures to take to ensure your safety and you are will advised to follow them. A lot of our decisions to do something will always take traffic into mind. “Do we really want to drive an hour or more in this crazy bad traffic to go to function and then drive back in it?” There seems to be a ‘me first’ mindset here about everything – driving really brings it out.

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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?

This is depends on your needs and what your plans are. You can do most everything with a small SUV or sedan. Something you wouldn’t mind getting a bump or two. There are all the major car dealerships here and a lot of vehicles for sale by owner. 4WD is not necessary unless you are planning to travel the back roads in the country. Taxis are everywhere and more than fairly priced. All of them expect you to haggle the price. They will stop traffic while figuring out the price between the taxi and the rider. Always decide on the amount before getting in the taxi. It is highly recommended to use a car service or one of the better-known taxi companies. People will buy a stick on ‘taxi’ and try to pick up fares. It is estimated that half of the taxis in Lima are ‘illegal’s’. You could easily get by without a car and use a taxi service or hire a driver. Everything you have ever heard about bad traffic and drivers anywhere in the world – doesn’t compare to here. We know people who been here a year and have had a half dozens accidents. Insurance is available here and you have to have the local insurance if you have a car. But most people just settle on the spot with the other driver in case of an accident. The local insurance is more of hassle than it is worth, but you have to have to get your car on the road.http://archive.livinginperu.com/features-2320-expat-life-peru-video-week-reverse-off-ramp

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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, cost depends on what it is you want or need. I pay $/.270 (soles, 2.70 to the USD) for cable TV, hardline phone and internet)

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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?

Buy a local cell phone and SIM card, very easy and cheap.

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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?

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

Yes and lots of it. People like their dogs - what they don't like is picking up after them. Some do - some don't. Usually it is the household help walking the dog. As you get out of the more affluent areas, there are a lot of strays.

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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?

Very limited, as is the case in most posts. I would be curious if there was a posting where there was EFM employment opportunities. Language requirement can a very limiting factor. Also, Post has a policy about having least than a year remaining on tour. If you have least than a year, it is highly un-likely that you will get employed. They have put in the ‘case by case’ wording to lessen the blow. A lot of the jobs are taken up and ‘sat on’ by spouses of other than State Department employees. DEA, for an example can be posted here for several years, not the two or three years of a State employee. That gives the spouse a leg up on the opportunity for a job with the Mission. There are no to very few jobs on the local market. Unless you want to be an under paid English teacher or aid. You might have a chance at local employment if you are fluent in Spanish and have a skill that is in demand and want to deal with the work permit process. The Mission has a service to assist in locating work in the local market or helping set up a business. They have not been that successful, considering the length of time they have been available. If you have something you can do from home, over the Internet, etc., there might be a chance at employment. This is no different than any other post. Is there any post where there is employment on the local market?If you have the time and desire, there are several NGO and volunteer groups that will welcome you, your money and your time.

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

Business professional/casual in workplace. Outside the workplace, dress accordingly to the situation. Weather will decide a lot of the clothing.

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Health & Safety:

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

This is considered a high crime post. Most of the crime is directed on the locals, not the Mission. But, there have been cases of drugged and robbed, pick-pockets, one person was drugged and robbed in a taxi, another was drugged by a person they meet on-line and then robbed. There are smash and grabs around the airport and in a few of the areas in town where traffic is stalled. Kept your valuables, purse, computer bag ouf to sight, lock your doors, windows up – all the basic safety things. There have been two armed robberies just outside the entrance to our apartment. One night, there was a car-jacking at the entrance to our apartment. A lady was picking up her child and two armed men pulled her out of the car, fired a few shots and left with the car. The armed men had been following the car with the intent of stealing it and did so when the opportunity was there. That happened to be when she stopped at the apt. There was one armed robbery, where the bandits got the wallets and cash from some people pulling into the front of the apartment. We have the neighborhood ‘crack head’ that comes into park a few times during the week to smoke it. The local security is trying to run him off, but have not been successful. All of the Mission supplied housing is in the better sections of town, have walls, alarm systems, doormen in the apartments. Also, there are ‘watchee men’ everywhere. They are paid by the residents and are a 24/7 extra set of eyes in the neighborhood. There is a big display of police and security people everywhere.

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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?

None really. Dry climate with bring on a cough and some sinus troubles. Some people with get a cold or flu during their stay. Medical care is excellent and very available. Most of the servers were trained in America. prices are much better than in the States.

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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?

Not so good. Lima is a very dry climate and there is a lot of dust in the air, that and a lot of construction dust, smoke from vehicles and industry. Near the coast where you get a breeze, it is better.

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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?

Think San Diego, CA. Cool and humid in winter by the coast; hot, dry and sunny away from the coast. Winters can be glummy, a lot of days of no sun and constant overcast. It does not rain in Lima! Lima is a desert city on the coast.

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Schools & Children:

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

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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?

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

Yes, everywhere.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge. From most of the world. Lots of mining and resource extraction companies, tourism, industry companies.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. But, will temper this with the statement: "It all depends on you and what it is you are doing." Some people are not enjoying their tour because of the workload, Mission Management, personal differences.

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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?

Everything is here. Movies, concepts, night clubs, dinners, shows, etc.

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

Yes. There is so much to do for everyone.

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

Do not know. Lima is a party town and there are a lot of nightclubs, concerts, plays, sports, etc.

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

Somewhat. There are different classes and money is used to keep them apart. There is some prejudice against the more native people.

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

Travel, sightseeing, being a tourist, Machu Pichu, the food, the ocean.

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

Museums, shopping, travel, tours, etc. It is all here.

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

Silver, local arts, hand made wooden items, pisco, travel.

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

Travel, sightseeing, being a tourist, Machu Pichu, the food, the ocean.

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11. Can you save money?

This depends on where you are the pay scale and your needs. Some people have and some have dipped into the savings account.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience, sun screen, beach stuff, desire to see the sights.

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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?

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