Lima, Peru Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Lima, Peru

Lima, Peru 10/19/18

Background:

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

I've lived in Mexico City, Dakar, and Bogota before moving to Lima.

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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. The trip is eight to nine hours with usually two flights connecting through Miami or Atlanta on USG contracted carriers. Some non-contracted carriers have direct flights.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We have a nice, solid two story house with a small yard and small pool in the La Molina suburbs. We are in an older section of the city so our house is older and a bit dark, but it's well built and the neighborhood is safe with lots of green space and a park. There are newer homes with better natural light, although new house problems with plumbing, etc.



We're close to the large international schools, grocery stores, and a few good restaurants. The suburb is growing so there's always more going on. There is usually sun in the afternoons during winter and all day during the rest of the year. Although we occasionally envy our friends who live in Miraflores or San Isidro for the better walkability and restaurant/shopping variety there, we wouldn't trade our pool, yard, sunshine, great school, or short commute to school (and on the return home from the US Embassy) for the more urban life. Note the drive into the Embassy, although close-by, can still take a up to an hour some mornings because there's only one road for the most part out of La Molina into Surco, where the Embassy is located.

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

The luxury supermarkets are cheaper than the mainstream markets in the US if you're buying local produce and products. Imported goods are expensive but you can order most of them through the DPO. Local produce and flower markets are incredibly cheap. Most neighborhoods, including La Molina's, have weekend farmers and/or organic markets that are also priced very well. Some organic produce, dairy, and meat companies will delivery, but with greater reliability and frequency to Miraflores and San Isidro areas.

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

We brought our favorite liquid cleaning supplies, detergents and wish we would have brought more. Chemical-free cleaning products here are hard to find and expensive.

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

In La Molina, some pizza, roasted chicken, and sushi places deliver, but options are limited. We like Nanka (farm to table, upscale), Amore (upscale Italian with wood fired pizza and a surprising array of Thai and Indian dishes), and Punto Italiano, an old-school pizza and pasta place. They all open by 6 PM and with our kiddos, we frequently beat the crowds. There's also Sushi, a wine bar, and an organic vegan place that are very good in the neighborhood. In Miralfores, San Isidro areas, there a ton of restaurants and delivery options of all kinds. If anything in La Molina, we've been able to save money since we frequently cook at home.

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

Chilean brown recluse spiders are everywhere. We frequently find them in our house and have trained our children to yell for an adult if they find one. Our helper shakes out blankets and pillows every day, vacuums, and once a week cleans curtains and under all furniture and rugs. They are venomous and it's nerve-wracking to find them, but thankfully they hide. Occasional ants and roaches, but not frequently.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. Never used local postal facilities, although FedEx, DHL, and the other carriers are all available.

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

Cleaners and Nannies range from 900 - 1800 soles/month depending on hours, experience, and expectations. Usually payment includes health insurance and retirement (separate bureaucratic processes that the embassy commissary can help with), bonuses in July and December, and includes a transportation subsidy. Our gardener receives 100 soles/day and helps us one day per week. Some folks in La Molina have a chauffeur to escort their kids to after school activities as well. It's hard to find live-in help, but the prices are about the same, plus the costs of food. It took us a little while to find the right, reliable staff, but we've had the right folks in place for nearly three years and they are terrific.

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

The embassy has a small, very affordable gym. Lots of larger gyms, including Gold's, and yoga studios abound. For yoga, prices are about the same as in the US.

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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?

Yes to credit cards, ATMs, and as long as you use common sense (i.e., no large withdrawals at 2 AM outside a casino), you should be fine.

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

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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?

Your life will be much better if you learn/speak Spanish. Tons of classes, tutors, books, online resources, and good classes at the Embassy; free for some family members of certain agencies.

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

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Transportation:

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

Yes, although I usually drive, walk, or bike. Lots of bike paths; some hiking in Lima and within driving distance; good sidewalks for strollers, walking, kids biking, etc. Traffic can be maddening, time consuming, and seems rude, but well-functioning internal air conditioning and air recycling is worth driving to avoid toxic street pollution you will get in public transportation or a poorly maintained taxi.

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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?

We love our small SUV as we're able to see potholes and when we don't, for managing them without causing an accident. Lots of potholes, even in Lima's best neighborhoods. Lots of hills in the city and lots of mountains outside of it, so I'm glad we have a strong V6 engine, too.

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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?

Good quality internet, we stream all the time without problems. It took about a week to install and runs about the same price as in the US.

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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. Anyone with a Carnet Extranjeria (foreigner's card) can go to any provider's store and sign up for a pre-paid or subscription service. Most offer national and international calls at the same rates. Much easier and cheaper than in the US. Just bring an unlocked phone and it will be easy. US Embassy uses Movistar, so may be a good idea for the spouse to get Claro or a different company so you have greater network access when you travel outside of Lima.

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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?

Lots of vets and a variety of kennel services; other than that not I don't have much experience importing animals. It seems to be a pretty pet friendly place.

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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?

Embassy jobs, entrepreneurs, telecommuting, schools, etc. Service-based jobs don't seem to pay well unless they are tech or banking sector; some expats have thriving restaurants, merchandising, and skill based services (teaching instruments, coding, etc.). The US Embassy does a great job promoting USG spouse-owned small businesses.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Loads in every sector, but you should speak Spanish. The level of English spoken by even the most educated Peruvians is surprisingly low compared to other countries in the region.

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

Same as in Washington, DC: business at work; formal for evening receptions and galas or other formal events. It's casual on weekends and in most restaurants.

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Health & Safety:

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

It's a high crime country, but if you use the same strategies to avoid being a target as you do in Washington, DC or other cities, you'll be fine. We lock our doors and use our alarm system, have trained our household help to avoid scams by phone or at the door, and lock our car doors with windows up while driving. We feel very safe walking around day or night and haven't experienced any problems.

That being said, we have heard of some houses in the embassy community in La Molina and even in our own neighborhood (non-embassy homes) have been robbed/cleaned, out while folks go on vacation. The robberies aren't violent, but they are well-planned and thorough. One needs to be vigilant and follow the RSO advisory.

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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?

Pollution is terrible, even in the sunnier suburbs in La Molina area. Coupled with humidity year round and the huge dunes of sand in the neighborhood, allergies and respiratory problems are continuous. It takes forever for coughs to go away (because of the constant assault from pollution, especially in the winter months, July - October) and our kids and their friends frequently get bronchitis. Many adults see numerous allergists, but can't find solutions because there are none. The US Embassy has issued hepa filters for household use and we use them, but haven't seen major improvements.



La Molina has mosquitoes, including Aedes Egypti that carries Zika, but so far the Lima-based Zika cases have been confirmed in farther away neighborhoods. The suburbs around the lakes in La Molina like Las Lagunas, seem to have a lot more mosquitoes than the older parts of the area.

Medical care for most everything that's not a specialized condition, is pretty good. Natural medicine (acupuncture, pollen therapy, etc.) is well developed and high quality. There are several good hospitals, urgent care centers, and doctors' offices all over Lima.

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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?

Terrible, especially in winter. See above posts. I always say I would live forever in Lima if it weren't for the pollution.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Pollution, dust mites, dust from the huge sand dunes....



Lima has a great food scene and everything and more you could want in grocery stores and local markets. It's a fantastic place for folks with gluten allergies as there is everything under the sun made with quinoa and other gluten free grains. Peanut allergies aren't really a thing here, so you may have to be careful with that, but peanut sauce and peanut butter aren't really popular here either. Most restaurants and school cafeterias put MSG (Aji NoMoto) in everything, but if you ask restaurants to keep it out of your meal, the good ones will abide. For our school, we've sent packed lunches instead of using the cafeteria, as our daughter was getting a lot of headaches from all the MSG they were using. The US Embassy provider has stopped using it due to complaints.You would need to train your household staff not to use it if you have bad reactions to it.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Maybe winter blues. You could avoid this by getting out of Lima in the winter during school breaks and long weekends. It's the best time to head to the jungle, mountains, or other countries.

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

Lima: hot December - March, cold July - October, spring or fall weather the other times and it's always humid. It rarely rains.

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Schools & Children:

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

Great private schools everywhere; tons of excellent neighborhood preschools; and many of the large international schools have the IB program at nursery level, called PYP, starting at 2 years old.



Quick run down:

FDR is the American Assisted School in Camacho/Surco area close to the Embassy,

Newton College is 2 years through high school, is bilingual, smaller than FDR, and in La Molina area; this is our school and we loooove it. The kids start instruments (violin, guitar, etc.) in kindergarten and the teachers are so caring and amazing. They have very good leadership at each level and very community oriented.

Lots of British - Peruvian schools are very good and in different areas of the city.

Trener is close to the Embassy, very progressive (no uniforms!) and is bilingual but is almost 100% Peruvian

Waldorf - located across from FDR near Embassy; nice campus and curriculum; in the network of international schools; but unfortunately located alongside a major interstate with high pollution...not as green a campus as FDR or Newton;

Casa Maria - Montessori school in Miraflores area (or close by)...I think it's nursery through Grade 8...wish I had known about this school before we moved here. They get great reviews and are quite progressive although a bit difficult to get into given space restraints; nice, urban campus.

San Silvestre - fantastic, progressive all girls school in San Isidro. Again, wish I had known about it before moving here. Some children from the embassy go to it and looove it.

Altair - good, small Peruvian school near old La Molina. The nursery is in a different location, but this school has a good reputation and a nice, urban campus.

There are also very good Italian, French, Germany, and Christian schools, and in San Isidro a Jewish nursery school (not sure how high it goes). Contact the CLO at the embassy or do your homework. Whatever you want you can find here. There's also a fairly strong expat homeschooling group.

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

I think FDR has accommodations. Newton, like most of the "smaller" schools, does not.

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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?

Tons - see comments above. About US $500/month for stand alone pre-schools, although more expensive in the international schools like FDR or Newton. Many people are happy with them; we decided to keep our kids in the same school and loved Newton's pre-school. Most.caring. teachers. ever. and gorgeous facilities and outdoor space.

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

Anything you want. Soccer, horseback riding, dance of all kinds, gymnastics, music, art, pottery, surfing, skateboarding, languages, seriously, you can find anything and very affordable. Many schools offer extra curricular activities for free as well.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large and diverse; high morale. Folks love Peru.

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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?

Mother's clubs, book clubs, Dining for Women, Bunco, Women's clubs, sports clubs for biking, running, etc. Lots of marathons, 5Ks, etc. going on. For US Embassy community, the CLO also organizes a lot of events, they are very good and very active.

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

Yes, for everyone. There are 9 million people, it's kid-friendly, trendy, and tons of cultural events for everyone: plays, orchestras, theatre, movies, etc. for adults and kids of all ages. Fantastic travel abounds.

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

There's a strong LGBT community in Miraflores/San Isidro area.

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

There seems to be discrimination against class and color, especially against indigenous and African-American people. There appears to be a huge problem with violence against women. There are strong activist movements to ensure respect and rights for these populations, but as we know even in the US change can be slow.

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

Horseback riding and hiking in Huaraz, and visiting Monkey Island and Ceiba Tops in the jungle in Loreto region. We frequently drive to Paracas, a desert reserve with lovely hotels 3 hours south of Lima to relax. Really, there are tons of travel opportunities within the country.

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

Rafting in Lunahuana, climbing the ruins in Pachacamac, swimming with the kiddos in the heated kids pool at the Doubletree in Paracas, going to Parque del Ninos in La Molina on weekday afternoons (giant trampolines and on the weekends when its more crowded, there are giant inflatables and face painting). Good restaurants with local foods, roasted chicken and playgrounds 45 min outside of Lima in all directions that always have sun. Chakras is a favorite in Lurin.

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

Yes, Inka market has everything from all over the country and it spans blocks. Fair-mined gold jewelry, silver, wonderful paintings and sculptures...

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

Culture, culture, and culture.. There are great museums, live theatre, restaurants, etc. At every turn, there are ruins, in Lima and throughout the country. Fabulous place to unleash your inner historian and/or archaeologist.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

About the diversity of schools available, although I love our school, so no complaints.

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

Yes, but after four years, while I'll be sad to leave the culture and friends, I'll be relieved to get to cleaner air...

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

Winter clothing. Instead you can stock up on alpaca wool clothing of every kind beautifully designed and very affordable.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunblock (the sun is very strong as apparently the ozone hole is above this part of South America). We burn as fast as we did when living in Bogota at 8600 feet. Chemical-free cleaning products if you use them. English-language books for your kids. There's a good swap here from time to time, and a once a year used English book sale by a women's group, but we've found our school library to be much smaller than expected. Our local library doesn't allow books to be taken from the building. Stock up at your local used book store and fill up a box or two of youth chapter books if you have avid, young readers.

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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: The Dream of the Celt (for adult readers on the Amazon rubber boom),

Wade Davis: One River (on coca, rubber, Amazon communities),

Adrian Forsythe and Ken Miata: Tropical Nature (for anyone who plans to visit the Amazon),

Elizabeth Fagg Olds: Women of the Four Winds (One of four biographies is about Annie Smith Peck, a mountaineer who climbed Huascaran, Peru's highest peak in a "race" to discover the continent's highest peak).

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This is a terrific post for families, singles, and DINKs. The only morale depressors seem to be traffic and pollution. Most USG work-related meetings and events are in Miraflores, San Isidro, or Center City Lima, so if you live in La Molina, expect a lot of stressful time in transit if you will need to participate in these. Drivers, in my opinion, are dangerously rude, speed, and traffic police do not seem to help. Probably the biggest complaint folks have here is the amount of time spent in traffic, regardless of where you live. So far there's no protocol for telecommuting from work even one day per week. If you can handle these things, you will have a great experience in Peru.

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Lima, Peru 03/09/18

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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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?

Our home is Texas. Lima had a straight flight to Houston via United, which was 6.5 hrs long. Not too bad. From there we took a short hop to our home city.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We lived in Lima from 2013 to 2017.

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

Working at the U.S. 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?

We lived in a large home in a gated community in the La Molina area of Lima. The houses were spacious, and most included decent-sized yards, and pools.

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

Excellent. We mostly shopped at Wongs grocery store. They had a good selection of everything including American products (though these were expensive). Other grocery stores included Plaza Vea and Vivanda. Vivanda was the most expensive, followed by Wongs and then Plaza Vea. All three carried a large variety of items and had good produce. Tottus also moved into La Molina around the time we moved.

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

Probably paper goods. Napkins and paper towels are of poor quality. Some US cleaning supplies would be good as well, to include quality mops and dusting supplies.

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

Food in Lima was great! We rarely ate any fast food. Paiche (local fish), paella, lomo saltado, fruit/veggies, ceviche, chicha morada (local drink), tacu tacu....the list goes on. We really enjoyed the food choices. Of course they had the usual Burger King, McDonalds, Pappa Johns, Pizza Hut, Starbucks etc...honorable mention also goes out to the local chifa (Chinese) and pizza restaurants. We loved Pizza Bella's in La Molina.

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

The only bugs we had problems with were ants. We had a rat problem in our front yard until we got our dog. After he arrived...no more rats.

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Daily Life:

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

We used the embassy post office and diplomatic pouch. Anything shipped through the local mail system seemed to disappear for us. Going to the local post office or Cerra Post was a nightmare for us as we would experience long lines and lost packages.

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

Household help was easy to find. We had two great empleadas and a super yard guy while we were there. The empleada came three times a week and we paid her $40 per week including meals. The yard/pool guy came once a week was paid $30 for a full days work which included a cooked meal.

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

Golds and Bodytech. Prices were a little high, but they had quality equipment. There was a Bodytech nearby that was always busy. The embassy had a decent gym that would charge a monthly fee.

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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?

We had no problems using credit cards in Peru. Just make sure the card never leaves your sight. Most businesses would bring the credit card machine to your table to swipe it. We mostly used the bank in the embassy to withdraw cash. We never used an ATM to withdraw cash. Be aware of your surroundings when using ATM's, especially around the Miraflores area. Lots of shoulder surfing goes on in the tourist areas.

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

A local church in the Miraflores area had an English mass. There were numerous other churches to pick from, but English services were minimal.

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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 will need basic Spanish for taxis, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and the like. English is spoken more in Miraflores (tourist area) than the La Molina area. I spoke basic Spanish and it was a struggle for me to get by at times.

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

Yes, mostly due to uneven/broken sidewalks. Cobblestone parking lots were difficult to walk on without any physical disabilities. They do have designated handicap parking areas along with elevator/ramp access to most buildings. Outside of Lima would be more difficult.

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Transportation:

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

Tons of local transportation, you just have to be careful. Lima has a train system, but somewhat outside the area that expats would use. We used the registered taxis from apps like Easy Taxi, Uber and Satelital. Uber was the best followed by Easy Taxi. Satelital left us stranded on several occasions. I would avoid all the buses, as I found they were usually standing room only and seemed to be frequently involved in accidents.

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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?

We had a Toyota SUV and it worked out well. We drove all over Peru and never had a need for a 4X4. I wouldn't bring a vehicle with low ground clearance due to the horrid speed bumps. They will destroy the suspension on your vehicle. Car parts and oil are very expensive, but at least the labor is cheap.

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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?

We used Movistar and Claro while we lived in Peru. 10 mb was all we really needed. You could stream Netflix and pay per views with no issues. We had our internet installed shortly after we arrived. Easy process, the embassy provided contacts to make the installation as painless as possible.

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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?

Our office provided the employee a Movistar phone, which had some connectivity issues at times. We purchased Claro SIM cards for the family which seemed to work much better in the La Molina area. Pay as you go cards could easily be refilled at most grocery stores. Getting a monthly phone plan was a huge pain due to identification issues. No one seemed to have a clue what a diplomatic ID was. It was easier to buy a car in Lima than to obtain a monthly cell phone plan.

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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?

Yes, we had great vet in La Molina that was open 24 hours. There wasn't a quarantine, but your pet had to have all of the necessary shots and paperwork to enter the country. We used a private pet shipping company to ship our dog. Knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have shipped our dog. He was older and the trip was very stressful on him.

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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?

There are some positions available in the embassy for family members, but most will require that you have a good command of Spanish. Jobs on the local market would have low pay according to US standards and most of your check would go to pay for gas.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Numerous. Check with the CLO. I saw opportunities with special needs children, animal shelters, home building (techo build), etc.

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

Suit and tie to dress pants and a nice shirt, but depends on the section where you work. In public...anything you can think of. I didn't see many males wearing shorts though...except at the beach.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, Lima is a high crime post. It's all about situational awareness. We had friends and co-workers robbed at gunpoint. Smash and grabs on the way to the airport were a common occurrence. Cell phones were a hot ticket item. We were lucky and never had any security problems while we were there.

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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?

Cleanliness is a huge concern while eating out. The gastric issues we had in Lima were the worst, so beware of where you eat. Clean hands are not a real concern in Peru.

Medical care is good in Lima; we had friends who had babies and medical emergencies with no problems. Anglo Americana is a good clinic located near the embassy and the La Molina area.

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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?

Air quality is poor in Lima. The smell of exhaust fumes is heavy in the air. Lima might be a difficult post for those with respiratory illnesses.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

I did notice that some of the better restaurants in Lima would ask if any of your party had any food allergies before you ordered.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Winter blues are very common in the Miraflores area of Lima. Misty, foggy and overcast for several months out of the year. The La Molina area tended to have more sun. A quick Sunday afternoon trip over the mountains to Cienaguilla would also be a quick cure for SAD. The sun shines bright on the other side of the mountain.

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

Generally mild. Summers are hot and sunny. The winters are gray and damp, but I never needed more than a light jacket to stay comfortable. It never rains in Lima, but the winters are damp and foggy.

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Schools & Children:

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

Colegio Roosevelt (FDR) is used the most by embassy kids and we were happy with the school. The British school (Newton) was also popular and located in La Molina.

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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?

FDR offered soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming and track. Outside of school...anything you can think of including archery, MMA, boxing, tennis, karate, horseback riding, rock climbing, bowling, etc.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a large expat community. We had numerous friends and always had something to do together. I would say the morale was good. There was always something to do. If you were bored, it was because you weren't looking. The CLO was very good about putting events together and we attended many of them.

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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?

Family gatherings, cook-outs, movies, events at the embassy, trips to Cienaguilla or the beach during the summer. We went to concerts, food festivals, school carnivals, and sporting events.

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

Good for all. The singles seemed to have busy weekends as well as the couples. Families with kids of similar ages seemed to be the busiest. Weekend road trips were also very popular. You had to get out of Lima every now and then to keep your sanity.

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

I observed classism on numerous occasions, mostly in restaurants and grocery stores.

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

Trips to Cusco, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley,Huaraz, Puno, Tarma, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, Ayacucho and Iquitos. My favorite trips were to Cusco and Huaraz. Peru is a beautiful country with much to offer. Again, if you are bored in Peru it's because you aren't looking. Travel opportunities are endless and Lima is the gateway to them all.

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

Major concerts, Mistura Food Festival, Cienaguilla, beaches within an hour, Larcomar, Lunajuana, car and gold museums, catacombs, city tours, the water fountain park in central Lima, Cerro Azul...

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

Alpaca clothing, coffee, chocolate, Iquitos bloodwood, Wood Flair woodworkings, wood carvings made in Ayacucho, and Peruvian artwork.

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

Upscale malls, easy travel from Lima airport, tons of local history, museums, first run movies in English, fresh fruit and vegetables and again the numerous restaurant choices.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The traffic. You will need to schedule almost everything around the traffic. A 20 minute trip can easily stretch into 2 hours due to a broken truck axle or minor car wreck.

The thin layer of black dust that is on everything due to the lack of rain in Lima. It's in your house, on your car, in your shoes...it's EVERYWHERE!

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

Probably/Maybe. We had a ton of fun, but four years was enough. On to the next adventure.

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

Umbrella, rain/snow gear

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4. But don't forget your:

Beach blanket, hiking/climbing gear, floppy hat, sense of adventure, but mostly your patience!

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Lima, Peru 04/11/17

Background:

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

Second expat experience, first tour was in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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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?

Home is St. Louis. Delta has a flight connecting in Atlanta that will get me there in 10 hours. Going home isn't really too painful, and I've found good opportunities to run back to the US for short periods of time since the travel time is pretty tame compared to my last post.

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3. How long have you lived here?

8 months.

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

Working at the U.S. 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?

I live in an absolutely gorgeous apartment in Miraflores, right on the coast. I'm single but got a 3br, 2.5 bath with separate maid's quarters (which I use for storage, I could never make someone live in there!) Commute varies wildly, but is always pretty terrible. Despite only being 6 miles from the embassy, the commute has been taking 1hr-2hr on any given day, each way. This seems to have ramped up lately, for reasons that nobody quite understands. The commute from closer neighborhoods is honestly just as long (if not longer), so do NOT let that be a deciding factor in figuring out where to live. Traffic is terrible from pretty much everywhere.

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

I shop pretty much exclusively at Wong and have been very happy with quality and prices. Tons of US products, produce is plentiful, and there is a decent selection in Asian/Mexican supplies as well. Zero complaints.

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

Honestly, you can't get most things here, though if you're a stickler for certain cleaning supplies throw those in your HHE. The commissary carries them here but at a much higher price.

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

More restaurants than you could visit in your life, including two restaurants that are ranked in the top 10 in the world! There's a popular delivery app (Lima Delivery) that I use pretty regularly, and tons of restaurants run their own delivery services as well. I've been able to find pretty much anything I have a craving for, except for a really good bagel. Man I really miss bagels.

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

I hear a lot of houses have spider problems, but I've seen very few bugs in my apartment.

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Daily Life:

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

I use the diplomatic pouch and embassy post office, both are fantastic and really reliable. (Keep in mind things slow down during the holidays, so Nov-Dec things take a looooong time to get here, though that's not the embassy's fault.)

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

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

Plenty of gyms available, including one at the embassy with a paid membership. (Side note - I think it's bizarre we have to pay to work out at work.) Also there are a ton of outdoor boot camps and yoga classes outside on the Malecon that you can just drop in on.

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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?

I use my credit card pretty often, no issues so far. I try to only use the ATM at the embassy just in case, but on the rare occasion that I need to use one outside, it's been fine. Be careful though, I know plenty of people who've had their cards cloned and money stolen.

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

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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?

Coming from someone with zero Spanish who is not Latina by heritage - it's been really hard. I enrolled in classes and do my best with day to day interactions, but even within the Embassy, Spanish is essential. It really hit my morale pretty hard, I feel like the only person here who doesn't speak the language, and it makes venturing into the city pretty intimidating.

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

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Transportation:

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

Some public transit options but I'd never recommend them. Only use registered taxis from an app like Easy Taxi, Satelital, and Uber. I never hail taxis off the street, though I know some people who do.

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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?

Something you don't mind getting dinged up, it's inevitable. I have an 2009 Toyota RAV-4 and it's perfect.

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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?

I have Movistar 40mb internet which works pretty well, though at night I notice significant decreased performance when everyone is home and streaming.

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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?

I have an embassy-provided Movistar phone which gets zero signal in my building, so I got a separate Claro SIM for personal use that works well. Once you get the SIM, its simple to reload and add minutes/data.

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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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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 a decent number of jobs at the embassy though with the hiring freeze, plenty of those are in jeopardy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of opportunities, watch the CLO Facebook page for ideas.

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

For work I get away with dress pants and a nice shirt, but I'm in a section with no outside meetings. Today I'm wearing jeans and so far nobody seems to have noticed. In public places, anything goes.

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Health & Safety:

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

Plenty - always be on the look out for "smash and grabs." Phones are stolen constantly.

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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?

Air quality is extremely poor, and Zika stays in the back of many minds. It's not in Lima yet but seems like it might only be a matter of time.

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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?

BAD. I have friends who bike to work and they've shown me what their masks look like after a couple weeks. Terrible exhaust from crappy cars on the roads.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

I have mild seasonal allergies here that seems to be a little more severe given the pollution, but nothing too crazy.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

I hear things get pretty blue here in the winter when we don't see the sun, but being really pale myself I'm kind of looking forward to no sun for a while.

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

Depends on the time of year, though it's usually pretty mild. We had a hot, sunny summer, and winter will be grey and soggy. It never rains in Lima though (though areas outside the city had plenty of problems from crazy El Nino storms recently).

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty big expat community, though I would say morale tends to be fairly low just due to the stupid traffic. It touches every single aspect of social interactions. The CLO works so hard to put on events but people bail because they are worried about traffic. I find that the people here that are happiest have a member in their family (either the officer or EFM) from South America that can help them make sense of a city that so often does not make sense.

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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?

Plenty of bars, clubs, trips to the beach, weekend road trips to be had. InterNations was not a good experience for me.

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

Singles have no shortage of dating opportunities, just gotta put yourself out there. Couples seem happy. Families with kids seem a little stressed by the early start the traffic forces on their kids.

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

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

You'll notice some classism/racism within Peru, for sure.

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

The food is fantastic, and once you get out of Lima, the country is a gem. I've done Paracas, Arequipa, Puerto Maldonado, and a longer flight to Patagonia. Leaving Lima is the highlight of my tour.

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

Nothing is all that hidden, Peru is becoming a very popular destination so grab your nearest travel book and go to town.

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

Textiles for sure, especially alpaca.

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

The food really is worth the hype.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I knew how unpredictable and stressful the traffic really was, I never would have brought a car here, and would have hired a driver instead. I can't stress enough how badly the traffic affects the level of happiness here. The airport has pretty good direct flights out of here, but the traffic sucks getting there, and the flights all leave super early or super late. It makes flying anywhere kind of a pain.

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

Honestly? No. It's been fine and I'll make it through my tour in one piece, but this has not been a good fit for me.

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

Desire to be anywhere on time, umbrella, rain boots.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, DEET bug spray (for trips to the Amazon!), hiking boots, sunscreen, and appetite.

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Lima, Peru 07/19/16

Background:

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

Third expat experience - Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador previously.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Foreign Diplomatic Mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large apartment in San Isidro. Most expats have fairly large places with locations (and desirability) varying greatly. San Isidro provides incredible access to restaurants, groceries etc., and most activities can be done on foot or - for the brave - bicycle. Many people long to be located along the maleconin Miraflores. For a couple of months per year the view is incredible, after that you are living in a giant damp cloud of fog. There are benefits to being inland. For embassies that permit it, Barranco is a great neighborhood to be located in. Many new bars and restaurants are opening.



Other unfortunate souls are sent off to houses in Surco, San Borja and La Molina. It is fine for kids going to school out there, but best to make friends in those areas, because anyone in Miraflores or San Isidro won't be visiting.

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

Almost all groceries are available, some at a cost. Imported products are generally expensive, as is good quality meat. Local produce is excellent and incredibly affordable, particularly if you shop in the markets. If you are only shopping in Vivanda and Wong expect to pay close to North American prices for most of your order. Organic options are increasingly more available with specialty stores opening up. Relatively limited, but expanding selection of gluten-free products.

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

For a country that has a lot of Asian cuisine, fish sauce can be hard to find. Other than that, canned tomatoes and beans, tetrapak broths, and dill pickles.



Bring lots of wine. Choices are very limited for white and rose drinkers. Adequate selection of reds from Chile and Argentina, but good wine is costly.



Lima airport has a duty free upon arrivals. This is your best time to stock up on the hard stuff.

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

Lima is one of the best food destinations on the planet and many tourists are now coming for gastro-tourism. The options are endless. From Central (ranked in the Top 5 on the planet) to the fish guys at the market making fresh ceviche. The local food is incredible. For the irrational individuals who refuse to eat uncooked fish, there is a full range of fast food restaurants (McDonald's; KFC; Burger King; Popeye's; Papa John's etc.)

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

Ants and moths.

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Daily Life:

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

I have only sent mail through the Embassy and DHL. To be honest, I have no clue on how to send a letter locally.

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

It is usually fairly easy to inherit household help from the expat community. Prices range anywhere from about 40 - 70 soles per day. There are two bonus salaries that have to be paid - one in July and one in December.



Quality varies and you will likely go through a few. Hygiene is a major factor and no matter how many expats they have worked for it is likely they will need a thorough training on what gets cleaned with what. Don't be surprised to see that rag used for cleaning the bathrooms on your kitchen counter. It's not the ceviche that is making you ill...



Many of the helpers will originally try to say that they don't iron or that they charge more to iron.

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

The core neighborhoods with expats have a good amount of gyms available. Golds Gym and Bodytech would be the biggest chains locally. Many gyms do not have A/C. There are number of private clubs that also have gym facilities. This can be a good deal for families as they give access to beach clubs and other facilities outside of town. Prices vary, but are generally at prices similar to the US.

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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?

If you have a chip and PIN card go wild. Almost everywhere accepts cards and no one with chip and PIN has had issues that I'm aware of. I use ATMs at banks, on the street, wherever without issues.

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

There is an Anglican church right on the edge of San Isidro and Miraflores. Many of the others likely exist too.

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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?

The more Spanish you have the better. Many get by with very minimal Spanish, but you will discover more of the city by knowing Spanish.

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

Lima is a relatively flat city and areas such as Miraflores and San Isidro usually have side walks with ramps at most intersections. Challenges would be constantly encountered, but the city is better equipped than many others in Latin America.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are relatively safe, but almost everyone now uses Uber, Cabify or other applications. Prices are very affordable.



Buses are often subject to robberies, but the main issue is the way that they drive.

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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?

Any car works well in Lima and on the coast. There are many speed bumps though. Parking spots are of normal size unless you are trying to park an Escalade or something of similar size. Gasoline is currently at about $4USD/gallon so a real gas guzzler will hit the pocket book.



Traffic is bad and the drivers are suicidal. The best thing is to park the car and use Uber. Sit back in the back seat, bring a cocktail and play some Candy Crush.

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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?

Internet is available and service quality varies. Approximately $50USD/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?

At present, Entel seems to be the least bad of the bunch. Getting a SIM card while using the exceptionally useless diplomatic ID is more trouble than it is worth. Trying to do anything with the dip ID is next to impossible.

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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?

There are many veterinarians available, but I would operate based on recommendation from a pet owner you trust. Quality varies.



Most animals are able to entering with relatively few problems if all paperwork and vaccinations are in order.

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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?

Local salaries vary from incredibly poor to sky high for many professionals. Many local staff at the embassy can make more money than the diplomatic staff.



Many spouses have found telework opportunities, short term contracts with their countries' embassies, or have identified different entrepreneurial activities.



Trying to get a local work permit sounds like an ordeal so many individuals have decided to work as consultants.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are many different associations that work with underprivileged children, single mothers, dogs and cats and you name it. Not many who volunteer to clean up the garbage at the beach though...

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

Most places seem to operate on a business casual dress code. Cotton pants and a dress shirt for men. Suits are needed for many events. The best is to dress fairly formally until you learn to dress for your schedule.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty crime is present, but not a major issue. There is a lot of fear mongering and most expats have a vested interest in making it sound more dangerous than it actually is ($$$). The area of Callao, close to the airport, presents some real security challenges and there are frequent reports of robberies of people going to and from the airport. In San Isidro/Miraflores the risks are minimal.

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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?

Amazing medical care is available and almost all procedures can be done locally by US trained physicians.



Expect to be frequently ill in Lima. I <3 Cipro. It is helpful to take a probiotic as well.



For travel to the highlands, altitude sickness is a real concern and you will not know if you are affected by it until you get there. Obese chain smokers can be fine while young cross country runners can suffer - you never know. Best to be on the safe side and take the medication and make sure to stay hydrated. It is best to avoid alcohol for the first few days.

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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?

According to the WHO, Lima has the worst air quality of major cities in South America which I find hard to believe. The majority of the pollution is most likely centered in areas of the city that the majority of expats never see. Within close range to the ocean, air quality is fair. Houses require almost constant dusting and your car will get covered in a film rather quickly, but it doesn't seem too bad.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

If you suffer from a fish and/or seafood allergy it would be a tough place to be. For celiacs, there is little understanding of what gluten is. Peruvians use soya sauce in a lot of products so one must explicitly ask if it is in a dish.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Many people get depressed with the lack of natural sunlight.

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

Lima is a humid desert with no sun. Moisture is constantly in the air, but it doesn't rain. Winters can feel quite cool because of the damp air.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most foreign students attend Roosevelt school. Generally people seem happy.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is huge. A large diplomatic, private sector, international organization and NGO community. The morale is a mixed bag. From absolutely in love with everything in Peru to absolutely loathing it. Families with kids seem to have the best time.

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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?

Internations and the Lima Young Diplomats club are very popular options. People are also able to get into some sporting groups.



With the expat community being so large, almost everyone knows someone in Lima. I have found that the expats are generally open to making new friends and people inherit each others' friends. Peruvians can be a tough nut to crack. Sunday family days are pretty sacred.

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

Single males are probably the best placed to have a good time. Families seem to have an instant network via the schools and are generally the happiest. Peru is still a relatively traditional society so single women are often the ones who have the hardest time.

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

Peru is very Catholic. Peru has made less progress on acceptance and respect for the LGBT community. The next President, PPK, has promised to introduce legislation that will allow for civil unions. One major bank has come out with an "innovative" new credit product where two non-married individuals can apply for a joint mortgage - the advertisements target "roommates."



More and more places can be considered LGBT friendly and areas like Miraflores and Barranco are generally the most welcoming. There are a handful of gay bars.

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

Businesses are legally required to place a sign on the wall indicating that they are not allowed to discriminate. If they are required to put up a sign...

Indigenous Peruvians are usually the subjects to the discrimination.

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

Machu Picchu! It is impossible to accurately describe how beautiful it is.



Paracas is a nice place to escape the city for the weekend, but the price of hotel quickly adds up.



For those interested in mountain based activities it is an incredible destination with options not far from Lima. Lima is also a great place to learn to surf!

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

Eat, eat, drink, eat, drink, eat.



Barranco is an area filled with gems. The annual CasaCor design fair. The old tavernas in Pueblo Libre. Surfing. The prime cinema at Salaverry mal.

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

The alpaca and vicuna products are of excellent quality. There is an annual alpaca outlet sale with excellent prices. I would skip most of the artesanias.

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

The food.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How much the lack of sunshine was going to affect me. The noise levels at my apartment. How bad the driving actual is.

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

No. I don't necessarily regret coming here, but I am very happy to leave.

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

Common sense, umbrella

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4. But don't forget your:

Stretch pants (don't underestimate how good the food is!); Immodium.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

It's really hard to know if Lima is the city for you until you actually live here.

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Lima, Peru 09/13/15

Background:

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

No, several prior posts

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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 D.C. Maybe 8 hours with connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years

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

U.S. 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?

Great housing, though much of it is poorly constructed. The Embassy is split between two worlds - those in Miraflores and San Isidro apartments (sometimes with a nice ocean view), and those closer to the schools and Embassy, in houses. Commutes depend wholly on the time of day from Miraflores. The seven mile drive can be up to 90 minutes if you leave after 7:30 a.m. If you leave before 6:30 a.m., it's 30 minutes. The traffic is terrible and the civil engineering here just makes it worse. Roads and intersections are terribly designed.

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

There is an 18% tax on everything, which we do not get refunded. Paper products and imported items are more expensive, but the Embassy has a very excellent commissary which helps. Veggies and fruit are not cheap in the big stores, but are fun to buy and cheap in the markets.

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

Maple syrup, more sunscreen. Even in the grey of winter, the UV will scorch you.

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

All the American chains. But why the heck would you eat that in Lima? This is the capital of creative, healthy and delicious cuisine. Maybe if you get the occasional craving, but otherwise you are committing a serious crime if you go to McDonald's or Chilis. You should slap yourself in the face with those frozen baby back ribs.

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

None

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Daily Life:

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

Cheap and reliable, plenty of empleadas experienced with Embassy families. US$200-300 a month. You have to give semiannual bonuses and vacation times and pay health insurance.

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

You can use it, but make sure it has a chip. I've had my credit card swiped a couple times with random charges later. The chip technology helps prevent that.

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

A lot. English education is poor here.

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

They are trying to improve access, but there are parts of town without great sidewalks and you have to walk in the road sometimes.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Don't take taxis from dangerous areas late at night, as there are rings of drivers who arrange attacks on people with people waiting for them in dark side streets. Also, taxis like to run scams with counterfeit bills for change.

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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?

Every kind of dealership is available here. No issues finding parts. Mechanics are cheap because of cheap labor. Your car will average two fender benders a year, though.

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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, US$70 a month and not bad, but not by DSL, get the fiberoptic package.

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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?

Cheap and easy to just buy a sim card and load up with credit every month, the data plans are cheap and fast.

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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 that I've heard.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty, but you have to find them. They won't find you.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes - several Embassy employees have been victims of theft or home invasions, sometimes at gunpoint. There are security restrictions on travel in some areas.

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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?

Yes. I was sick so often, I've never been sick like I have at this post. Medical care is generally good if you choose the right hospital, and not expensive. You will get food poisoning several times, or at least a few stomach bugs. Hygiene is not great and people don't wash their hands here very often, so even in a nice restaurant you can get sick.

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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?

In the winter the air quality can be poor, especially away from the coast where there is more traffic and more cars. It irritated my lungs sometimes and I developed a cough at first.

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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?

Gross and depressing 9 months out of the year, especially in Miraflores. If you need sun, do not live in Lima. It is grey and does not rain.

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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 and generally good. Some people love it and some people hate it. Some people just do not like the people in Lima, can't stand the traffic and the weather. Some people think it's a gastronomic paradise with lots of fun travel. Depends on what irks you and how adventurous you are.

There is not much of a sense of community because traffic makes it impossible for people in different parts of town to get together with regularity. It's just not worth the effort.

Also, the Peruvian government is not very cooperative on issues of diplomatic priveleges and immunities. They do not honor reciprocal agreements on taxes, etc. The diplomatic ID issued to you can hardly be used because no one knows what it is. This isn't a big deal but can make some logistical stuff harder than it needs to be.

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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?

Movies, live music, dancing, restaurants, walking on the malecon and enjoying the beautiful pacific view (only sunny three months out of the year though), art galleries, museums, festivals.

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

OK for all, best for couples - singles do OK, though people in Lima are not especially outgoing or interested in making friends with strangers so you really have to make the effort. Not a good place for introverts.

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

Yes - some racial prejudice still exists.

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

Eating. Seeing amazing geographic and biologic diversity in my travels.

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

Go where no gringos go. Go out to La Punta, go to eat fish in Chorrillos, go into the centro de Lima and just walk around. Go to undiscovered restaurants. Go to the big Mistura food festival. Enjoy theatre and nightlife in Barranco

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

Art items, furniture, food

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

Food capital of South America, in country travel opportunities, relatively affordable, nice standard of living in Lima (most of the time).

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, if you are single. Families here don't save much.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but I would get a bigger car that has an iron grate to plow through traffic and shoots water balloons filled with paint and ketchup. Otherwise, it's been a good post. I do look forward to going to a new city that is has more of an interesting cultural feel on the street though. Lima can be quite sterile, especially where we live in the bubble. Get out of Lima, and you'll see the real, authentic Peru. Otherwise, I would definitely serve here again as long as the economy doesn't crash, which will greatly increase crime and corruption, and as long as the restaurants stay at this level of deliciousness.

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

Umbrella, lack of patience for traffic

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, antibiotics, parasail, surfboard

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

The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The Latin America Readers) and anything Vargas Llosa.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Peru is fascinating and fun in many ways because of the food, activities, and travel, and frustrating in many ways due to corruption, traffic, weather, etc. The quality of life in the bubble is pretty great. I really live for the weekends.

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Lima, Peru 09/06/15

Background:

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

No. We have lived in other places in WHA, EAP, and NEA.

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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?

5.5 hours to Miami or FLL direct, easy, daily flights (but most are red-eye).

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

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?

There are several housing locations and types for the US Embassy community:
- La Molina is 20 to 45 minutes from the embassy depending on traffic, east of the embassy, in the hills, so you get sunshine and warmer days in the winter, all houses, more suburban.
- Camacho/Surco, within walking-distance of the embassy/American School (Colegio Roosevelt or FDR) is under 2 miles from the embassy in a busy area that's quite congested with apartments, houses, and townhouses.
- Miraflores/San Isidro is 25 to 60 minutes west of the embassy, depending on traffic, and is on the ocean with very urban living, lots of nightlife, restaurants, shops, and malls, You don't need a car on weekends. It is mostly apartments, with some houses.

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

Fresh produce and crude items are extremely cheap here. I can walk away from a local supermarket (Plaza Vea) with two shopping bags filled with fruits and vegetables and spend $4. You can also buy tons of imported food items, mostly from the US, which are much more expensive but often worth it.

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

There are thousands of restaurants in Lima. Peru is a fresh-eating culture. Peruvians are into fresh, local, homemade, organic, low-chemical, natural foods. There are tons of organic markets sprinkled all over the city, many within walking distance of where most expats live in La Molina, San Borja, Miraflores, and San Isidro. Peruvians understand food allergies---all you need to do is explain to the waiter the allergy, and they will make sure your food is free of that product (whether it's gluten, dairy, shellfish, or other items)---but being able to explain your food restrictions in Spanish is a must here.

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

Despite what other folks have said, there are mosquitoes in Lima, and windows don't have netting on them. But the problem is not that bad. Ants are a problem in kitchens. Bring non-toxic ant killer.

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Daily Life:

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

None that I am aware of.

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

You need to be fairly comfortable in Spanish here.

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

Despite what someone previously wrote, there are Peruvian laws protecting the rights of the disabled. Most noticeable is the law that elderly, small children (under 3 years of age), pregnant women, and disabled folks are all allowed priority queuing anywhere in the country---although they must self-identify as such. For example, there are special check-out queues for these categories in supermarkets here. Disabled parking spots are usually readily available and are rarely abused. Sidewalks in San Isidro are wide, clean, and have ramps. The same cannot be said for sidewalks in Camacho & La Molina (where they are non-existent) or in Miraflores (the sidewalks are narrower and dirtier in Miraflores than in San Isidro). If there was a wheelchair-bound person or someone with a mobility issue coming to Lima, I would recommend living in San Isidro, but in a one-storey house due to frequent-enough electricity and elevator outages that would make someone housebound in a multi-storey apartment building. Most buildings in Lima have wheelchair/pram ramps.

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Health & Safety:

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

Lima is a critical crime threat post. You need to be security-conscious all of the time. Recently, there was an armed robbery on my street. There have been a many armed robberies on the Malecon, the oceanfront boardwalk in Miraflores. You need to be aware of your surroundings. That said, many Peruvians have said joggers wearing nothing but workout clothes (and probably no Iphone) will never be mugged. Here it's about opportunity crime, not idealism or terrorism or kidnapping.

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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?

E coli is rampant in Peru, and several people have suffered long-term from this illness. There really is no treatment for this--just rest (for months). The US Navy maintains a tropical-disease research laboratory and will test US Embassy personnel for free, so the test results are rock-solid reliable. Medical care is not great here, so the 15% differential is well-justified. Doctors have been known not to show up for medical appointments. Altitude sickness is a major issue in visiting tourist locations outside of Peru. Only some are within driving distance, others are flights away. Take precautions prior to visiting high-altitude places, and when feeling weak, light-headed, or ill, do not be embarrassed to request oxygen. Stay only in hotels that have oxygen by request.

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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?

Air quality in the city is moderate. Because Lima is overpopulated, there are too many vehicles on the roads. And because it does not rain here, the air quality is not great. Lima grew too quickly in the 1980s and 90s when campesinos fled from the provinces to escape terrorism, and the city's infrastructure was unable to keep up. Moreover, due to being on a seismic zone, there is no subway system and there are very few tunnels, meaning very few freeways in the city. So traffic is really awful here in Lima---which adds to the moderate (to poor) air quality. The good news is that the days of the two terrorist organizations crippling the population are totally over. Although Sendero Luminoso still operates in the jungle areas beyond Cusco, it has been wiped out of the major cities and tourist locations in Peru, and its numbers are now probably under 200 total.

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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?

It never rains here in Lima. If you will miss the rain, don't come here. Weather is mild all year long, between high 50's in the dead of winter to low 80's in the hottest part of summer. It is generally overcast almost all year long in the coastal part of Lima (San Isidro & Miraflores). You can go a week without seeing a ray of sunshine 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?

There are several international (English-based) schools in Lima where most expats send their children. Colegio Roosevelt is where the bulk of the embassy children go. It is a massive school with 1500 children in EC through 12th grade, and there is an IB program. There are a number of other options in both San Isidro and La Molina. There are also several Christian schools taught in English, and a Jewish day-school in San Isidro, where the language of instruction is Spanish/Hebrew. If you are attached to the US Embassy, the CLO is very helpful at providing school information.

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

Colegio Roosevelt has a solid special-needs program, mostly for children with mild learning disabilities and ADHD. Roosevelt also has an ESL program.

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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?

Preschools appear to be readily available throughout Lima and are not too expensive. Many are bilingual or Spanish-only, providing an excellent opportunity for your child to gain Spanish fluency quickly.

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Expat Life:

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

This is a good city for families, singles, and couples, since there is a lot going on all of the time.

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

Officially, the Peruvian government does not recognize same-sex marriages or relationships. Additionally, the Peruvian Government is not moving towards recognizing same-sex diplomats---either Peruvian or foreign. There is one out gay Peruvian legislator, and though thousands have signed a petition to legalize same-sex unions, there is no political will to do so. I do not know one single out LGBT person in all of Peru (local, expat, or diplomat)--quite a different story from other places I have lived. There is an LGBT NGO operating in Lima (MHOL); I am not sure how active they are. There is very little in the media about the LGBT community in Peru. Local police in Lince (close to San Isidro) recently shut down a gay bar for alleged health code violations. And in 2013 a Peruvian gay teen was tortured and murdered. I would recommend (if you are LGBT and are considering a posting to Lima) that you do some independent research before coming here. Try posting on the Facebook page "Living in Lima - Expat Support," and reaching out to your employing agency's HR office to ask questions.

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

For gender, yes. There is real machismo here. Women are often disregarded, ignored, and expected to be the sole caretaker of the children. Frequently, when asking directions in taxis, women are ignored). And even in dealing with the American School (as an example) in the school registration information, all mothers of students have their employment automatically defaulted to "housewife. There's no "stay-at-home father" optio). If a man and a woman of similar ages walk into a meeting, the assumption will be that the man is in charge. We have seen no religious discrimination. We know Jews & Muslims (visibly religious and secular), Mormons, Catholics, Lutherans, and other denominations. Although the Muslim community is extremely tiny, we have heard no complaints about prejudice, discrimination, or other problems. It's a relief and a pleasure living here and being a religious minority. You can walk down the street here wearing a hijab or kippah or sikh turban (all rare sightings, but it does happen) and no one says anything or glances sideways.
Outside of the United States, Lima is the most multicultural place I have ever lived. There are huge populations of second- and third-generation Japanese and Chinese Peruvians who are extremely well-integrated into Peruvian society. Peruvian skin colors come in all shades, from Afro-Peruvians to Polish-Peruvians, and really everything in between. Peruvians tend not to hyphenate themselves. They identify with just being Peruvian.

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

The weather is mild and nice. It is fairly inexpensive to live here. Lots of restaurants.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

umbrella.

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Lima, Peru 05/05/15

Background:

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

Second experience; we have also lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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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?

Seattle, Washington. About an eleven hour trip total, with a two-hour layover in Houston.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We are just concluding a two year tour.

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

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?

Two primary types for embassy personnel. For those with families and small children, most live in houses with walled yards in La Molina or Camacho. For singles or couples, most live in apartments located in Miraflores or San Isidro. All housing is quite roomy and comfortable.
The downside is the commute. Lima traffic can be TERRIBLE! You have to time your commute; if you leave Miraflores at 6:30am, the commute will take 20 minutes. If you leave at 7:00am, expect to triple or quadruple that time. Same thing for the evening commute, worst between 5:00 and 7:00pm. Saturday traffic isn't much better as most people are using it as a shopping day. Sundays are a relief and a nice time to get about.

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

There are huge grocery stores here with a broad selection of goods. Prices are decent, though imported goods can be expensive. In addition, there are many markets that sell fruits and vegetables, as well as small "bodegas" shops and even kiosks on the streets with fresh produce. An added benefit are bio-markets on weekends (think "farmers markets") with fresh, organic produce, eggs, yogurt, cheeses, and even meats! Expect to pay a bit of a premium for that.

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

None that I can think of. If you get here and think of something you miss, you can either (a) find it or something very similar to it here, or (b) order it through Amazon.

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

Tons of American fast food - McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, TGIF, Dominos, Pizza Hut, the list goes on and on. Costs are usually less than in the states. And the town is awash with "Chifas" - cheap Chinese food joints that serve lots of variations of fried rice and noodles. Nothing exceptional, but incredible cheap and available.

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

Insects seem almost non-existent in Lima. There are the occasional spiders and one sees cockroaches on sidewalks, but very few flying insects.
The jungle region is a different story. Mosquitoes are present nearly everywhere, particularly bad in mornings and evenings, and they can carry malaria, dengue fever, and chikungunya. Use insect repellants and long clothing and you should be okay.

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Daily Life:

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

We have a DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) at the embassy as well as pouch mail. Most mail and packages can go through the DPO (with certain size and weight limitations), and order-to-delivery can take as little as a week. Some shippers won't accept a post office box number and those would go through the pouch, but that can take three weeks or more for delivery.

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

Lots of help available, though of varying quality. Cost is very reasonable, about US$20 for an eight hour day. Full time (5 or 6 days a week) could probably negotiate a slightly lower rate.

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

Yes, many gyms like Golds and others. I believe the costs are similar to those in the States. Personally, the weather is so mild and there are a string of ocean-front parks in Miraflores with workout stations, that I do my workouts in the parks.

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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?

ATMs are okay, just be aware so that no one is "shoulder surfing" or waiting to relieve you of your cash once you get it. Lots of ATMs in brightly lit commercial areas lower that risk.
Lots of folks use credit cards here (the waiter will generally bring a card reader to the table so fraud from "side swiping" is diminished), but I usually just used cash.

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

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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?

Not too many Peruvians know English, so some Spanish speaking is very helpful. I have found that while I'm by no means fluent, my "combat Spanish" gets the job done. Talking on the telephone without a good command of the language can be daunting, however.

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

Yes and no. There is no such thing as ADA here, but many of the newer buildings have made accommodations with ramps and elevators to assist the less-abled. Still, may places can be difficult as this is a country of much antiquity and limited access.

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Transportation:

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

Lima has a commuter train, but it is limited and didn't work for our travels. The city is rife with buses, small commuter vans, and especially taxis.
Buses are incredibly cheap - 1.5 soles (about 35 cents) to go from Miraflores to the embassy, a distance of six kilometers - but slow as they are constantly picking up and dropping off folks. Some express caution about pickpocket problems on the bus, but again, be self-aware and you'll be fine.
Avoid the commuter vans. They're also cheap, but drive crazily and look like they could fall apart at any moment.
Taxis vary greatly, from the guy that rents a beater from someone else to use as a job, to the relatively sophisticated satellite-based sedans. Costs for taxis are greater, but reasonable. The taxis have no meters, so negotiate the fare BEFORE you accept the ride. The high-end taxis (you can use apps to summon them much like UBER) have set fees for most routes.

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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?

If you're just planning to drive in Lima and some of the other major cities, most any kind of sedan or van will work fine. We're a little more adventurous and brought an AWD Subaru with a little higher clearance to the country - nice for gravel roads as well as the ubiquitous speed bumps of Lima.

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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, there are providers that give decent access, which can be US$50-100 a month, depending on speed you require. A frustration is that these are basically DSL lines, which can slow down dramatically during the high use times in the evenings.

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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?

There are three primary carriers in Lima; Claro, Movistar, and Entel. The three are comparable, though we have found that Movistar seems to have better coverage in the more remote areas of the country. You can either have a "post-pay" plan (a fixed monthly rate), or a "pre-pay" plan where you purchase minutes to re-charge as necessary. I've always opted for pre-pay and find it to be very cheap, only 30-40 soles (US$10-13)a month.

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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?

Pets need to have their vaccinations, particularly rabies, but no quarantine requirements.
Quite a few good veterinarians in town, with most having been trained in the States.

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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?

Yes, but limited.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

We found several through the embassy; no doubt there are many others through church groups and NGOs.

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

Within the Embassy, usually a shirt and tie with slacks. Meeting with Peruvians would also call for a sport coat or suit.
In public Peruvians are generally casual - open collared shirt with slacks. But shorts and sandals are often seen as well.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are still some regions of Peru where there are remnants of the Shining Path, who nowadays are more about narcotrafficking than any political ideology. For tourists, the bigger threat are pickpockets and petty theft. "Smash and grab" is popular in the seedier parts of Lima, but being "self aware" and avoiding nastier neighborhoods (as you would in any large city) will limit the risk. We have never felt our security threatened the entire time we've been here, whether in Lima or in outlying areas as we traveled the country.

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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?

I mentioned the mosquito-borne illnesses in the jungle - malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya are all possible. Use precautions as necessary.
Most tourists will run into gastrointestinal issues, either from the water or perhaps from fresh, unwashed produce. Solution: drink bottled water and be a little careful what you eat. I found that eating a lot of yogurt when I first arrived in Peru helped to gently introduce local bacteria into my system.
There are some excellent medical facilities in Lima, particularly in Miraflores and San Isidro. I broke my arm here and felt that the surgery and care I received from American-educated doctors was every bit as good as that 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?

Greater Lima is a city of nearly 10 million people (nearly a third of the entire population of the country), so naturally the air quality suffers some. But we lived right on the coast in Miraflores with near constant on shore ocean breezes, so we didn't find it to be too bad.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Not a sufferer personally, but I think some pollens might affect some folks during various seasons. MSG is used in the Chifa restaurants... Peanut exposure might be a problem in many places - ask about it when ordering. Am seeing more and more gluten-free products in the markets.

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

On the coast (Lima) the climate is mild all year. Summers (Dec-Mar) are sunny with highs in the mid- to upper- seventies (F); winters (Jun-Aug) have many cloudy and foggy days with temps about ten degrees cooler. Much of the coastal climate is driven by the offshore Humboldt Current, which keeps it cool and often foggy. Very little "weather" here; the Andes wring out all moisture so it almost never rains, but cool ocean breezes can bring drizzle at times.
Inland has two distinct seasons - wet in the summer and dry winters. Thunderstorms are not uncommon, particularly in the Amazon region.

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Schools & Children:

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

We don't have school-aged children, but from what I've heard from others that do, there are wonderful schools. Most all of the embassy kids to to Roosevelt School, located in Camacho, not far from the U.S. Embassy. In addition, there are several British schools as well as a German one.

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

There's a sizable expat community here, both Americans and Europeans. In addition, all international tourists have to go through Lima when visiting Peru, so there are always a lot of visitors in restaurants, on the Malecon, etc. speaking English and any number of other languages.
Also, it's easy to make friends with Peruvians, a very friendly people!

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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?

Number one are the restaurants. Peru has a tremendous gastronomic culture. They LOVE their food and have great ingredients to create many wonderful dishes. They take great pride in their food and have many internationally known restaurants here. You can eat out every night and never run out of good places to eat!
There are also lots of bars/clubs around, though we don't frequent them so I can't comment there.
Peru also has a somewhat unique social event, called a Pena. It's a kind of a nightclub/dance hall/comedy club/amateur hour all rolled together and lots of fun! The downside is that they generally don't get started before 11pm and last until 3 or 4am, so if you're not a night owl, this may not be for you.

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

Yes, I think so. But since most families live in La Molina and singles/couple live in Miraflores (an hour or two apart, depending on traffic), there isn't a lot of "mixing" between the two groups.

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

I think so, there are several gay bars and I think the public is generally accepting of gays and lesbians.

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

Not terribly so, but there does exist a situation between locals where more fair skinned Peruvians (with Spanish blood) look down on the darker, indigenous people from the country. This also translates from an economic perspective, where the wealthier folks have domestic help that could be seen as "second class."

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

My wife and I are outdoors people and the opportunities to explore the variety of the countryside are almost endless! Peru has three distinct regions - the arid coastal zone, the altiplano (Andes), and the jungle of the Amazon.
On the coast, one can explore ancient ruins of Nazca, Pachacamac, and one of the oldest civilizations in South America at Caral. The surfing on the coast is world-renowned, and there are wide varieties of mountain biking trails, dune buggy and sandboarding near Paracas, and even paragliding on the cliffs of Miraflores!
The pearl of Peru is Machu Picchu and nearby Cusco, but the Andean region of Peru also includes the Sacred Valley, Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca mountains, Cajamarca (where the Spanish conquistadors first encountered the royalty of the Inca), Puno and Lake Titicaca, and Arequipa and the Colca canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world.
Lest one forget, geographically speaking, Amazonia is the largest of the three regions of Peru. Iquitos lies right on the Amazon in the northeastern part of the country and is accessible only by air or boat. There are numerous eco-lodges nearby to satisfy one's craving to experience the deep jungle. Similar experiences can be found further south, near Puerto Maldonado.
The opportunities are endless - we had two years here but could not get to all of the places we wanted to see.

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

Too numerous to mention all of them, but lots of cool museums, archaeological ruins right in Lima, and of course, fabulous restaurants!

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

Tons of weaving items, mostly made from alpaca. Make sure it's authentic; some try to pass off wool as alpaca. There are also nice pottery items available, and lots of items made from silver, if you're into that kind of thing. Lima is also building an art community with some very good artwork. There are also some stores that sell very nice, unique furniture.

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

Peru is a special place. From the vastly differentiated geography, to a very friendly and inclusive culture and an incredible food scene, it was an incredible place to live. The weather in Lima is quite mild year round, with a sunny yet pleasant summer and a somewhat cooler, grayer winter season, all moderated by the proximity to the equator and the marine influences of the Humboldt current.
Peru has enjoyed an extended period of good economic growth, promoting a strong middle class and new opportunities for dining and entertainment about. Even so, prices are modest by international standards and one can "live well" and still save money.

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10. Can you save money?

Sure, it's relatively inexpensive here. One exception is gasoline (about US$5 a gallon), but even that's not too outrageous. We found that we got spoiled with the low costs so we ate at restaurants much more than we would normally do. Gonna be rough going elsewhere!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The huge variety of things to do and places to go. The list becomes so long that you can't find time to do it all.

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

In a heartbeat. We're really sad that we only had two years here, just a great place to live!

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

Notions of Peru, particularly Lima, as a third world country. While there still is some pretty rough living in the Andes and the jungle areas, many places have thriving economies and lots to offer both the traveler and the resident expat!

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4. But don't forget your:

Surfboard, sunscreen, insect repellent, sense of adventure!

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Not sure, but check out You Tube videos, I'm sure there's a bunch.

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

The typical tour books - Lonely Planet, Fodor's, etc.
Novels by Mario Vargas Llosa - Nobel Literature Prize winner.

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Lima, Peru 04/29/15

Background:

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.

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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?

Flights are about 7 hours to Dallas.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I'm about to finish my third year.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

None really, other than some ants in the kitchen.

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Daily Life:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Yes. Sidewalks are rare.

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Transportation:

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.

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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?

Don't bring a white car. It will be brown (due to the ever-present dust) within days. Anything else would be fine.

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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 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.

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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?

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.

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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).

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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?

There are altitude issues when traveling to the mountain regions.

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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?

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.

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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?

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.

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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 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.

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

I'm not sure that FDR, at least, has any 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?

Yes, all throughout the different neighborhoods. From what I've heard they are pretty good.

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

At FDR, definitely. I would assume that the other schools are the same.

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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 and good morale. My expat friends have become my family.

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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?

The nightlife in Lima is big. Even teenagers will find that this is the case. FDR's prom doesn't even start until midnight.

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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.

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

It probably is- Lima's a big city.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Machu Picchu, saving money, and restaurants.

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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.

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

No.

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

Umbrella.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience. Traffic is crazy.

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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.

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Lima, Peru 09/27/14

Background:

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

First expat experience with the Foreign Service.

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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?

About 10 hours to CA (connect in Houston), shorter to DC (connect in Miami).

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

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?

In Miraflores and San Isidro mostly apartments (in Miraflores with ocean view, in San Isidro generally on or near a park). Houses with pools in La Molina.

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

Comparable to the U.S. Produce is cheap.

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

Organic peanut butter (anything organic). Coffee (expensive and not great). But you can get pretty much anything.

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

Almost every kind of food is available for all budgets. Haven't found Vietnamese.

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

No bugs in Lima.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Cheap. Between US$400-600/month.

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

Yes, lots of gyms. Not sure about costs.

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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?

No problem.

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

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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?

A lot.

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

No, I think it's generally pretty accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Yes and yes.

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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?

Any automobile.

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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. Price similar to the U.S.

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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?

Unlocked.

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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?

No, pets don't need to be quarantined and there seems to be plenty of vets.

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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?

Everyone I know who has wanted a job has found something.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, plenty of volunteer opportunities.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, but where we live we don't feel it too much.

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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?

Health problems are terrible during the winter, when it is cold and humid. Medical care seems good.

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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?

Lima air quality is awful.

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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?

Climate stinks in Lima--grey, overcast, drizzly for at least 6 months of the year. Summer is lovely but very short.

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Schools & Children:

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

Great schools--the American school Roosevelt has a good reputation.

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

I imagine most international schools have programs for special-needs kids, but I have no experience.

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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?

Fabulous preschools, lots to choose from. Cost is around US$250-$450/month. People generally have nannies, so not much in the way of daycare.

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

Soccer, swimming, circus, ballet, etc.

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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 expat community. Morale is pretty good I think.

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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?

Explore Lima's amazing culinary tradition.

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

Yes.

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

OK.

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

Racial issues are a problem. Not sure about religious or gender.

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

Macchu Pichu, Cusco, amazing restaurants in Lima, great group of friends.

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

Everything is a good two-hour drive at least (Ica, Paracas). Huaraz for hiking is about 5 hours.

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

Alpaca blankets, pottery, some decent art.

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

GREAT food, child-friendly, ocean views, fabulous travel.

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10. Can you save money?

We have not been able to.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had known about the humidity/mold problems in ocean-front apartments. I would have opted to live in San Isidro on a park instead of Miraflores on the ocean.

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

Yes.

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

Umbrella.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, patience and positive outlook.

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Lima, Peru 04/06/14

Background:

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

No. We've lived in several others places.

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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?

U.S. Midwest. 6 hours or so to Houston and then it's a short connection.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government. U.S. 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?

Nice apartments with fantastic views overlooking the Pacific for singles, couples and those with small children. The area is chock full of restaurants and is a lovely place to live (save for the months of clouds and fog when you can't see the ocean that you hear). The commute is 45 - 90 minutes, depending on nothing in particular except the whims of other drivers. Most families live further inland, near the Embassy and official school. Houses range from large and modern to smaller and "unique." Some have pools, some don't. Some have a nice yard, some don't. No two are the same. Commute times range from 10 - 40 minutes. On the whole, housing is good.

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

Groceries are more expensive than the U.S. Local fruits and vegetables are reasonable. Milk, meat, cheese, etc are more expensive. We spend more here than any of our other postings. But the COLA makes up for it.

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

Nothing really. With the excellent commissary at the Embassy (which receives shipments throughout the year) plus amazon, we can get anything we want.

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

Just about every fast food place is here at reasonable prices. Peruvian chicken is great - most restaurants will deliver.

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

Ants, ant, and ants. Spiders invade every house and all crevices. Check under your furniture and in window sills periodically to clean out the webs. Mosquitos are manageable but other biting insects that hang out in the yards will make you long for a simply mosquito bite.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. Don't bother with the local mail system.

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

Available and cheap. Not always good, not always honest. Don't be afraid to try someone out before committing to hiring them. The daily rate is about US$25.

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

The U.S. Embassy has a small gym. There is also a soccer field, running track, tennis courts and volleyball/basketball court. Pick-up soccer and volleyball games happen throughout the week. Roosevelt allows the Embassy community (even if you don't have kids who attend) to use the pool for lap swimming (every weekday morning and Tues/Thurs evening) as well as the tennis courts, soccer field and running track. Gold's Gym and other private gyms are 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?

Our credit card has been compromised several times here so use caution. We only use the ATM at the Embassy. Our preference is to use cash and avoid the headache.

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

All kinds.

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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?

Lots. Little English is spoken, even in touristy areas. Your life will be better with Spanish.

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

Yes. Sidewalks exist in some places but are rarely well-maintained. However, you can hire a driver for a reasonable cost to get around public transportation.

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Transportation:

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

Avoid the buses and trains. Taxis are relatively safe. It's preferable to call a taxi than hail off the street but we do both. During rush hour, you may not be able to get a taxi at all.

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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?

Any car will do but a higher clearance is preferable given the terrible state of the roads. If you import a car more than 5 years old, you must agree to export it. You cannot sell it at the end of your tour.

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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 the adjective "high-speed" is a bit ambitious. To get something approaching high-speed, you must purchase a package that includes local cable. Without the cable package, you'll be lucky to get 1MB, even though you're paying for 6 or 10 MB. With the cable, it's US$100/month, minimum.

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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?

Just buy one locally or bring an unlocked phone and buy a SIM card here. Prices are reasonable.

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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?

No quarantine. Vet care is good. Peruvians love their dogs, and excellent trainers are abundant. The good vet clinics and groomers will pick up your pet for a small fee.

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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. There are high paying jobs with international companies, but most of those people are hired from abroad. Despite the unbelievable amount of wealth here, local wages are low.

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

About what you would expect in the U.S. I see women run into the store on the way home from the gym.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. Terrorism is mostly confined to some lawless areas in and east of the Andes. Crime in Lima itself is rampant. All housing has grills over every window and door. Electrified fences surround the houses. Embassy employees have been robbed at gunpoint. Break-ins still happen despite the security measures. On the other hand, carjacking is unlikely to happen as the traffic is so bad that carjackers wouldn't be able to drive away. Smash and grab through car windows is very common.

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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?

The pollution isn't Beijing but the constant soot and filth will take its toll. I never had allergies until moving here, not an uncommon complaint. The best hospitals are good, but stay away from anything that isn't top tier. Doctors are good and charge the same price as the U.S.

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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?

Unhealthy. It never rains in Lima, ever. The dust and soot from pollution blacken everything. This is probably the dirtiest place we've ever lived because there is nothing to wash the dirt away.

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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?

A humid desert, as strange as that sounds. While Lima has lush green parks, the natural climate is arid hills without a spec of vegetation. It is cloudy 8 months out of the year, especially in the areas by the Pacific where you won't see the sun for months on end. The areas further inland, near the U.S. Embassy see more sun during the winter (June - August) but it's still dreary and miserable. But then it never rains, just gets misty because as the humidity approaches 100%. Combine that with the dirt and soot and there's a layer of filth on everything during the cloudy months. The short summers (December - February) are warm and glorious but pass much too quickly.

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Schools & Children:

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

The official school is Roosevelt. The quality is adequate but most parents have at least one serious complaint. Right now the frustration over math instruction (or the lack thereof) is driving everyone nuts. It's really a Peruvian school and does little to accommodate or make expat kids feel at home. There has been a reputation for bullying, but we've found that expat kids never fit in and thus cling to each other. After school activities are great and one of the few highlights. Space is guaranteed for U.S. Embassy kids.

Theft at Roosevelt is rampant. Rich, entitled children take whatever they want regardless of whether it belongs to them. Uniforms, electronics, books, whatever will disappear from your child's backpack. Our children have been totally bewildered wondering why their classmates would steal from them. It's one of the aspects of Peruvian culture that we truly hate.

Other options include Newton, Markham and other local bilingualish schools. They all operate on the southern hemisphere calendar, which can be difficult for an older kid to drop in to. Your child will have to either repeat or skip a semester. The International Christian School (which I've been told was started by expat parents frustrated by Roosevelt) works on a version of the northern hemisphere calendar.

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

Roosevelt makes some accommodations but I don't know the details.

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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?

All over the place. I'm not familiar with price.

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

Great after-school activities at Roosevelt. Surfing lessons in Miraflores. Horseback riding, tennis, soccer, whatever your child wants to do.

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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 and varied. Many people love life here and extend. Others are so frustrated that they count the days until they leave. Happiness seems to be tied to how far and often one needs to drive. We are content here but would not choose to stay longer than our assigned tour.

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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?

Hit the beach in summer. Try the variety of restaurants all over the city. Learn to surf. Stroll down my the water. Invite everyone over for a BBQ. There is always something to do.

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

Good for all. Single and couples living near the ocean are in the heart of a fantastic area with tons of things to do. Families enjoy the range of activities and household help.

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

Mixed. Peruvian society is very conservative but this is a city of some 10 million. The Peruvian Congress is debating legalizing civil unions for same sex couples.

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

Machismo is alive and well as it is in much of the world. Rich Peruvians look down on everyone regardless of background.

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

In-country travel. Alpaca wool clothing.

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

Travel. You can see the coastal desert, Andes, and Amazon basin all during your tour.

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8. Can you save money?

Yes, lots if you want to. Ration how often you go to the hottest restaurants (which can cost upwards of US$200/person).

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That even though it never rains, the winters are long and dreary. I'd rather be in Chicago where at least the sun shines through the cold.

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

I'm torn. There are better places in the Andes (Bogota comes to mind) that are better. The school is the bitter pill for us that undermines all the great that the city has to offer. I'd think long and hard before agreeing to come here with school age kids.

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

Impatience in traffic and expectation that road rules mean anything - adapt or go insane. Umbrella.

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4. But don't forget your:

Wool sweaters for the cloudy, dreary winters. Sunscreen for the very intense sun (when it does appear).

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Lima, Peru 03/12/14

Background:

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

No. I've lived or worked in France, Morocco, South Korea, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Mexico, and Pakistan prior to this tour in Lima.

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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?

Denver, Colorado. It's an overnight flight with one connection. Total travel time is about 12 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

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?

Apartments on the coast and larger homes available as you move inland. From the coastal neighborhood of Miraflores it takes 30-60minutes to drive to the Embassy, depending on traffic. I drive my own car to work but beyond that I almost never drive. Taxis are very reasonable and there are many secure taxi services. Buses are available, but are less convenient and less safe.

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

Lima is more expensive than you would think. Groceries are more expensive, although produce is about the same as U.S. prices. Wine is very expensive--even Argentine wine. You can find most goods in Peruvian stores. Canned whole or crushed tomatoes are difficult to find and expensive.

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

Organic dish soap and canned crushed tomatos.

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

Lima has numerous fast food restaurants at U.S. prices.

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

No insect problems.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Housekeepers and nannys are easily available. I have a housekeeper/cook who comes three days per week and we pay approximately US$220 per month.

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

There are many gyms in the city. The Embassy has a small gym but it does the trick.

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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?

In Lima you can use ATMs with relative safety and you can use credit cards at major stores and restaurants. Peru is still predominately a cash economy and I avoid using my credit card.

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

You need to speak some Spanish to get around.

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

Peru is getting better at providing appropriate access for disabled persons but services and basic access can still be limited in Lima. Outside of Lima, options are even more limited or non-existent.

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Transportation:

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

Local taxis are safe, but you should stick to secure call services, not street taxis. That said, I sometimes take street taxis and have never had a problem. Local buses are less safe and extremely affordable.

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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?

Traffic is crazy and drivers are aggressive. In the city, I prefer a small SUV. You don't need 4WD, but having a larger vehicle can be helpful on the roads. You would be fine with a sedan, however, if you prefer.

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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, the service is fairly reliable and costs less than US$100/month.

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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?

There are some teaching opportunities and a lot of work in mining and oil/gas.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Volunteerism is still a new idea in Peru so opportunities are limited. Most organizations do not have the capacity to absorb volunteers.

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

Lima is more formal than the U.S. I wear suits to the office. I wear jeans but never shorts in public in my free time.

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Health & Safety:

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

Lima is a high crime city with home break-ins and robberies. Violent crime is less common, but it does occur. It depends on the neighborhood. I feel very safe in the upper class neighborhoods, but the situation is different in poorer communities.

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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?

Health care is okay. Dental care is decent. If it's something minor, I would feel comfortable receiving treatment in Lima. Anything more complicated, I would not trust the medical system here.

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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?

Lima is quite congested and polluted. I would say the air quality is moderate or unhealthy.

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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?

About 8 months of the year, Lima is overcast, foggy, damp, and cool, but never cold. Summer can reach the mid 80s F with always sunny days and most Limenos leaving the city on weekends for the beach.

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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?

There is a Christian School that offers a lot of services to 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?

There are many preschools and daycare options in Lima.

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Expat Life:

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

The expat community is good sized but because there is so much to do in Lima, it's not as tight as other places I've lived.

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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?

Dining, live music, plays, symphony, cafes, etc.

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

Yes, families enjoy nice housing and Peruvians are very family-oriented. Lima has plenty for singles to do--bars, clubs, beaches galore. I'm married without children and we have been very happy here. We frequently go to restaurants and take walks on the coast. There are a few decent yoga studios and a decent selection of cultural activities to take advantage of.

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

There is a big LGBT community, but there is also a lot of LGBT-based discrimination. Peru is much more conservative on LGBT rights compared to other countries in the region.

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

There is a lot of racism, classism, and religious conservatism in Peru.

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

Restaurants in Lima are fantastic. Traveling to the mountains of Huaraz and the Sacred Valley top my list. Machu Picchu is a must do and despite the fact that it's difficult to get to, it's definitely worth it.

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

So many great restaurants to try, surfing off the coast of Lima, a pretty good symphony.

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

Lots of handicrafts, beautiful alpaca blankets and sweaters, nice wood furniture, silver items.

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

Lima has a few lovely neighborhoods filled with restaurants, parks, music, art, cafes. Walking along the Pacific Coast is a treat. Peruvian food is becoming world renowned and for good reason. Peruvian food is delicious--shellfish, fish, meats, and some surprisingly decent homemade pasta restaurants. Outside LIma, the Andes are truly majestic. If you love hiking, you have to fly and acclimate to the high altitude, but once you have that covered, the hiking is outstanding. There are innumerable Incan ruins and a big surf culture on the coast. If the Jungle is your thing, then you can fly to the Amazon and stay at relaxing eco-lodges.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, if you are conscious. We've saved a lot of money here but if you go out all the time and aren't paying attention, you can spend a lot of money here.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How much racism and classism there is. It was a big surprise and affects all of your interactions.

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

Yes, definitely. It's a great post.

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

Raincoat--it never rains in Lima!

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4. But don't forget your:

Sweaters for winter and bathing suit and surfboard for summer.

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

Anything by Mario Vargas Llosa.

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Lima, Peru 08/01/13

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 experience.

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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. It takes about 8-10 hours to get home.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A little over a year.

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

Spouse of Government 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?

There are two places to live: 1.) On the oceanfront in Miraflores in a condo or 2.) Near the Embassy in a house in Surco, La Molina or Camacho.

Perks of Miraflores: Close to all the restaurants, nightlife, oceanview housing, the magnificent Malecon outdoor space, most everything you want within walking distance or a short taxi ride.

Downside of Miraflores: In winter you don't see the sun for 5 months. Humidity is also high, so leather belts and shoes grow mold and need to be cleaned regularly. Only condos available here. Few housing options for families with 3+ kids. Far from Roosevelt School (the most popular one), although I've heard great things about San Silvestre in Miraflores as well. Commute times vary from 30-60 minutes each way.

Perks of La Molina, Surco & Camacho: Some sun during winter. Close to Roosevelt school. Short commute to the Embassy (10-30 min). Housing is primarily houses, most with backyards and pools.

Downsides of La Molina, Surco & Camacho: Landscape is more desert-like and less beautiful than Miraflores. 30-60 minutes from the ocean and all the food/nightlife in Miraflores. Far fewer restaurant choices in this area, although some well-known restaurants are building second locations over in the area. Worse pollution.

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

Food has been surprisingly more expensive here than I though. The Embassy has a great commissary, so it's very easy to walk in there and drop US$100 on a basket of items. Peru also has U.S.-quality grocery stores like Wong and Vivanda and while you have the selection, you'll pay high prices for imported items. Clothes and toys especially are ridiculously priced, so we try to order all that (and household supplies) from Amazon.

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

Nothing, between the Commissary and DPO we can get most anything.

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

Lots of fast food options (U.S. chains like: McDonald's, Starbucks, Burger King, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, KFC, Chili's, TGIFriday's). Priced similar to the U.S.

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

Only ants, which are annoying but manageable.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

US$20-25 a day. Widely available, quality varies. The embassy pool is used to a pampered existence, so it can be better to find one outside via an agency. Expect to go through a few. Swiping of household items is also common (toilet paper, detergent, etc). Domestic help is great to have, but it will most likely be more problematic here than at other posts you've had.

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

Yes, the Embassy has one but there are other's like Gold's Gym available. They can be quite expensive, but they are available. Lima Yoga is another great option that has 5 locations and monthly packages that are affordable.

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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?

ATM's are widely available and credit cards accepted most places. Many people use cash though to avoid credit card fraud.

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

Yes, in a wide variety of denominations.

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

Yes to both, not sure of the costs.

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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?

Basic Spanish is needed to get around. Lima is not a major tourist destination, so residents haven't had to learn English for tourism. I would encourage all spouses/partners to take a basic Spanish class or get a tutor (Universidad Catolica or the Embassy have great programs).

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

Roads and sidewalks are poorly maintained. I think it would be quite challenging to get around. Cars also go very fast and pay little attention to pedestrians, so I think there could be a safety factor as well in crossing streets.

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Transportation:

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

RSO only lets us take cabs. Small buses (combis) and the metro are off limits. Thankfully, cabs are quite cheap. A 10-20 minute ride usually costs between US$2-4. Most cab drivers are quite friendly too. For safety reasons, always take marked taxis.

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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?

Most types seem to be available here.

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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, around US$60 a 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?

Bring an unlocked phone and just purchase a cheap Claro or Movistar Sim card and a pay-as-you-go plan. Service is spotty, especially with all the concrete buildings.

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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)?

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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?

More than most places - schools, NGO's, etc. I know several people with non-Embassy jobs.

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

Formal at work, casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

I do not personally know anyone who's been a victim of crime, but Smash n' grabs, kidnapping and pickpockets are common according to RSO. I take some basic precautions, including: not wearing my wedding ring in public, using a purse with an over-the-shoulder-strap, keeping my purse on my lap when eating, only using marked taxis and never putting my cell phone on the table.

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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?

Great medical care available, although many leave post to give birth.

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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?

Better by the water, but poor as you head toward the Embassy. Lots of cars emitting lots of pollution.

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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?

The climate is very similar to Seattle. Weather highs are between 60-80F year round. Summer is idyllic, with comfortable temps and sun. Winter, on the other hand, is almost unbearable. For those of us living on the ocean, we'll be lucky to see the sun a handful of times during the 5 months of winter. I didn't think this would bother me, but it really has taken a toll on my mood. Those who live closer to the Embassy in Surco, La Molina and Camacho do experience sun more frequently in the afternoon during winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

Roosevelt School in Surco is the most popular. Has a great reputation and is excellent academically. I've also heard good things about San Silvestre in Miraflores, although I don't know any embassy members that send their kids there.

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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?

Lots of preschool options (called Nidos here). There is a big amount of pressure to put your child in a Nido as soon as they learn to walk (between 1 and 1.5 years old). Most average costs are about US$400-500 a month for a morning class.

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

Yes, although I can't speak to that.

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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. Morale among expats:

Average - the sunless winter, horrible traffic and pollution can wear on people.

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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?

One of the difficult parts for me has been the social scene. I have found the embassy community to be very fragmented, both by geographic location and by agency. Tour lengths vary greatly (2 years for State, 5+ for AID and DEA) so there tend to be agency cliques that form over time for those who are here longer. It's not uncommon that everyone invited to a social outing is from a specific agency.

There is also a division based on where you reside. For example, we live on the Malecon with our young child (the malecon is more common for singles and couples) whereas most families live over near the Embassy. We never get invited to activities on that side nor do many people want to drive an hour to come see us. It's been incredibly frustrating and has made it very tough to make friends here.

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

There is something for everyone here. There is a huge restaurant scene, loads of nightlife and great playgrounds and parks for the kids.

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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?

Spanish-Peruvians are treated as higher-class citizens than Indigenous Peruvians. You can see it in the wealth distribution and the workforce.

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

Eating my way through the city. Specifically, meals at world-renowned (and reasonably priced) restaurants like Central, Rafael and Astrid & Gaston. Visiting Machu Picchu and other Inkan historical sites. Attending Mistura, a well-known food festival.

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

Visit Incan sites, eat out, stroll the beautiful parks, listen to live music.

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

Art, gold, silver, craft items, alpaca clothing.

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

Incredible oceanfront living, beautifully landscaped parks, lots of interesting travel within the country and most importantly, the delicious cuisine!

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11. Can you save money?

It's unlikely - Food, household help and travel within South America all cost more here. Flights within Peru are cheap (US$100-150), but try to get to Brazil or another neighboring country and you'll spend US$500-1000 per ticket. Oh, and let's not forget that you'll want to be eating out at least one night a week to sample the great food (did you know Peru is one of the hottest gastronomic capitals in the world right now with 2 of the top 50 restaurants in the world?).

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, the fragmentation in the embassy community has soured this tour for me. The dreary winters have also affected me more than I expected.

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

Umbrella - it never gets beyond a mist. Leather goods - oceanfront residents will get lots of mold. Manners - Peruvian driving is ATROCIOUS. Blaring horns, cutting people off, turning from an outside lane, running lights, near accidents - all are part of a typical day's drive. It definitely takes a toll over time. Pedestrians are also largely ignored, with a hundred cars passing and no one stopping to let you cross. Line cutting is also common (both in queues and on the road).

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3. But don't forget your:

Money - We have gone through a lot more money than expected. Every month we're like, "where did it go?" Camera - lots of beautiful sights to photograph. Work-out Equiptment - expect to put on a few pounds from the mouth-watering cuisine.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

Here's a link to some great recommendations: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/peru/0814020273.html

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Some of the great groups to get involved with in town include:
-The Canadian International Club of Peru
-Women with Wine
-Miramoms
-Contact Group Lima
-American Women's Literary Club
-The American & Canadian Association of Peru

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Lima, Peru 07/17/13

Background:

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

No - I have also lived in several African and Latin American countries.

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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?

Our home base is in the U.S. There are numerous direct flights that vary from 6-8 hours, depending on the airline and destination airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Almost 2 years.

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

U.S. 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?

Families with school-age children tend to live in the eastern suburbs close to the international schools and the U.S. Embassy, about 15-25 mins away. Singles and couples with young or no children tend to live in Miraflores, a more hip, urban area about 30-50 mins from the embassy, depending on traffic.

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

Chocolate chips, baking chocolate, certain comfort foods and personal toiletries. You can get pretty much everything else here.

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

There are numerous U.S. and local fast food chains, but why bother with them when Peruvian cuisine is so amazing and not expensive? You can get great meals at restaurants for anywhere from $15 to $150 apiece - everyone can afford to eat out and does so regularly.

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

Nothing out of the ordinary. There are no tropical diseases or large/unusual insects to worry about in Lima.

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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 the embassy's mail (DPO).

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

Reasonably priced and readily available - part time from $25/day.

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

Yes, they are plentiful. Many private gyms are around town, and the embassy has a well-stocked gym on campus, too. There are also embassy employees doing pickup games in ultimate frisbee, basketball, volleyball, and soccer on weekdays after work.

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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?

Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere, and using them and ATMs is safe.

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

Yes, in several Christian denominations -- and Jewish services, too.

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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?

Many Peruvians in Lima and the tourist areas speak fluent or passable English, but knowing some Spanish is always helpful.

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

Sidewalks can be difficult to manage outside of Miraflores. Many buildings do not have good access for those with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

There are some taxi-related crimes, so it's best to call one rather than hail one on the street.

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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?

There are restrictions on imported cars more than 3 years old, but otherwise you can bring any car here and be fine.

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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. It's expensive (about $75/mo) and not that fast, but it is pretty reliable.

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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?

No.

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

Yes, numerous vets, trainers, and 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?

Yes, there seem to be, although you might have to be creative at first.

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

Appearance is important, as it is throughout Latin America. At the embassy, men wear ties every day and women are in fairly traditional business wear.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crimes of opportunity (e.g. petty theft on the street) throughout the city and house break-ins in the suburbs are fairly common, but most of it is in line with other major cities, and is perfectly normal for South America.

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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?

There's good health care easily available in Lima, less so in other parts of the country.

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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?

In the winter months (roughly May-September), air quality is poor - it's very humid and chilly, and the pollution and dust just never seem to clear up. People seem to develop allergies and/or asthma easily here.

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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?

Summer (Dec-Mar) is warm and sunny, while winter (May-Sep) is damp and chilly, with daytime highs in the upper 50s. It doesn't really rain in Lima, although there is often a winter drizzle, and the gray skies of winter can be very depressing.

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Schools & Children:

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

Yes, especially soccer, swimming, horseback riding, and volleyball.

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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 and growing.

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2. Morale among expats:

Great - this is a wonderful, easy place to live.

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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?

People go out a lot and also entertain at home, especially in the expat community.

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

This is a good city for any type of employee. There are activities and events to suit all tastes, and the large expat population covers all demographics. Peruvians at all levels are open and friendly, too.

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

Yes, it seems to be - I've known several gay couples here that do not seem to have had any problems.

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

Aside from some prejudices against those of African descent that are common in Latin American, I don't know of any major problems.

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

Getting to explore Peru's Andean highlands and the jungle, particularly the bird-watching.

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

They are too many to name! History/archaeology buffs will be in heaven, as you practically trip over ruins everywhere you turn in Peru. There is a good local ballet and orchestra, numerous art and theater events, big-name pop and rock concerts, surfing, lots of sporting and outdoor opportunities, opera, horseback riding, bird watching, traditional dancing, etc. Aside from the must-do trip to Machu Picchu, travel to the beautiful beaches is easy, and there are great sites to see in Arequipa, Huaraz, Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Iquitos, Puerto Maldonaldo, Lake Titicaca, etc.

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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 wool clothing, embroidery, ceramic and pottery items, leather products, custom furniture.

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

Summers are lovely! Blue skies, no humidity, it's hot, but not too hot, and traffic is light. The restaurants are amazing. Truly. And the in-country travel opportunities are incredible, with great destinations in the mountains or the jungle, on the beach, in 5-star comfort or backpacking, etc.

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11. Can you save money?

If you're careful, yes. But this is not a particularly cheap place to live.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, absolutely!

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

cookbooks - just eat out!

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3. But don't forget your:

sun block, wool socks, and sense of adventure.

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Lima, Peru 07/10/13

Background:

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

No, I've lived in France, Morocco, South Korea, Mexico, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Pakistan.

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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 about a 10 hour flight including a layover in Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I am one year into a three-year tour.

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

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?

Housing near the ocean in Miraflores and San Isidro is mostly in apartments that range in quality. Many are very nice, but some are tiny and in need of renovation. Large homes near the U.S. Embassy are beautiful, but they keep you far away from the heart of town--1 hour away. Traffic is bad, so you will likely spend most of your time in the neighborhood where you live.

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

Groceries are slightly more expensive than in the U.S. Paper products and cleaning products are more expensive.

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

Nothing. You can buy or order whatever you need.

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

There are many U.S. and Peruvian fast-food restaurants. Cost is equivalent to U.S. prices.

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

None.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO

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

Widely available. Cost is approximately $20 per day.

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

Yes, there are many gyms, and they are at or above U.S. prices.

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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?

You can use credit cards at major stores or restaurants. ATMs are safe to use. it is still largely a cash economy and I usually use cash to play it safe.

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

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

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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?

Most Peruvians do not speak English. Learning some basic Spanish will definitely make your life easier.

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

There is some accommodation made from persons with disabilities, but it is not up to developed-country standards. Once you have left LIma there is very little accommodation for the disabled.

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Transportation:

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

Buses are relatively safe. Overnight buses are targets for violent crime and robberies. Taxis can be safe, but call for a secure taxi to be sure.

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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?

A small SUV is nice to have because traffic is very bad, roads are not always well maintained, and bigger does mean better on the road.

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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, available for about $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?

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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?

No.

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

Vets are available.

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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?

There are some with aid agencies or in teaching.

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

More formal than in the U.S. Think euro-light.

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Health & Safety:

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

There is a high crime rate in Lima. Home break-ins, smash-and-grabs in vehicles, and petty crimes are common. Be aware of your surroundings and you should be fine.

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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?

Pollution and food poisoning are the biggies. Medical care is decent. Dentists are generally quite good.

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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?

Lima suffers from a moderate amount of pollution. Despite that, many people do run outside. But I find the fumes too much and prefer to run indoors.

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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?

There are really two seasons. In winter you have 5-6 months of grey, humid, and overcast weather. Summers are warm--and sometimes even hot-- with sunny, blue skies.

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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?

The Christian school is supposed to have excellent services 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?

Both are available and with mixed reviews.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Many other embassies, Internations, international schools, etc.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mid-range. Some love it, some don't. Depends on their exact circumstances.

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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 to do.

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

It's good for all family types. As a married couple without children, we love the cultural activities and walkability of the coastal neighborhoods. I almost never drive my car. There is a lot to do in Lima--movies, restaurants, some music (but it starts very late), museums, bars, architecture, Incan ruins, etc. There is a big expat community if you are looking for that.

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

Peru is much more conservative than other South American countries. There is an LGBT scene in Lima, but it is not common to see openly LGBT couples, but the LGBT community does face discrimination and hate crimes.

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

There is a lot of racism in Peru, much more than I realized before arrival. The Catholic Church is also very strong and influences both social and political circles.

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

Hiking in the Cordillera Blanca, visiting Machu Picchu, taking regular walks along the Pacific coast in Lima, eating delicious ceviche and roast pork!

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

Restaurants, bullfights, walking along the malecon in Lima, traveling to see Incan ruins and hiking in the Andes.

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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 blankets, sweaters, coats, handicrafts, nice silver jewelry.

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

Lima has a few very modern neighborhoods where you can enjoy a range of fine food, South American wines, bullfighting, and even see Inca ruins. Hiking in the Andes is amazing, but not close to Lima.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you want to.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, definitely. It's a beautiful country and Lima is a great city.

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

umbrellas--it never rains in Lima!

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3. But don't forget your:

sweaters, coats and scarves--winters are chilly and humid.

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Lima, Peru 06/29/13

Background:

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

Moscow and Monterrey.

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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?

Houston, about a 6 1/2 hour straight flight with United.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Another diplomatic assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Large houses with big backyards in La Molina, La Planicie, Camacho, and Surco, some of them are in really good condition, and some are very old. Commute time ranges from 15 minutes when there is no traffic to an hour when there is.

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

You can find everything you need at the grocery stores, and you can even order online for delivery at ewong.com from the store WONG. There also is Vivanda, Vea and others. I had a car, and most of the time I was there I paid the delivery fee (15 soles) to get my groceries delivered at home.

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

Any kind of electronic items are very expensive.

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

Many, many!

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

I lived in La Molina, and we had a huge problem with spiders -- all colors and sizes. I hired an exterminator every year but still had some spiders roaming around.

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Daily Life:

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

Dip mail.

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

Cheap and easy to find. The hard part is finding someone honest.

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

Yes, the embassy has one, and there are Gold's Gyms located throughout the city.

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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?

I had a bad experience with ATMs. You should be careful to go only to an ATM indoors.

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

Yes.

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

Movistar has a package. For 300 soles we got TV, cable, and phone.

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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?

Not much, they are used to dealing with tourists.

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

There are absolutely no accommodations made for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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?

We had a 4x4 CRV. Prepare yourself for big bumps and broken streets with huge holes.

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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.

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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?

They all work fine, but they are expensive. Dealing with any company to give you a cellphone is a huge pain. Nobody wants to take your diplomatic card. They all want to see the extranjeria card, and it will be hard to get a contact that can give your EFM a hand with a cellphone.

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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?

No.

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

We went to an upscale veterinary clinic, and it was okay as long as there was nothing serious. When things got complicated, they were useless.

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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, the pay is terrible.

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

Casual. People here dress up to go to the grocery store.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, taxis will kidnap you and take you to the ATM. There are assaults and robberies. If you stay alert you can be safe.

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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?

Yes, allergies are a huge problem. And medical care is mediocre, even if you go to the best clinics in town. Our daughter had allergy problems for months, and the fourth doctor she saw was finally able to deal with it. Doctors will often give you a wrong diagnosis.

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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?

According to the World Meteorological Organization, Lima has the most polluted air in all of South America - I never got carsick before I went to Lima.

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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?

Foggy all year 'round with some sunny days. I felt that due to the lack of rain my skin was always dirty and my shoes and clothes would get dirty so fast.

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Schools & Children:

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

I didn't have to deal with this, but I did have two friends whose kids were having a terrible time being bullied.

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2. 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?

We had a great time with the day care.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Big- don't know the numbers.

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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?

Clubs, restaurants, beach parties, etc.

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

Yes.

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

Yes.

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

Yes! But not with gender. I was discriminated against several times. The whiter you are, the better you get treated.

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

You can go to the beach at the Miraflores area and take a long walk with a view. Other things, like clubs and restaurants, are a big thing here.

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

Traveling around the country for tourism.

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8. Can you save money?

Maybe, if you try hard.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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2. Do you have any other comments?

About the society in general: Any question you ask will be answered. People make up answers and then try to blame you or others for their mistakes. Verbal agreements are useless. If you pay for something and you lose the receipt, you have to pay for it again. Customer service is very poor.

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Lima, Peru 01/24/12

Background:

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

I lived in Spain, Ecuador, and Bolivia before coming to Peru.

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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?

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is my home base. The flight from LIM to MIA is direct shot of about 5.5 hours. It routinely costs around $600 IDA y VUELTA, unless you try to go over Christmas when the prices can be over $1,000.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years. I arrived in Lima in March 2010 and will leave in March 2012.

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

Families are typically afforded homes in Chacarilla, La Molina and/or La Planicie. These homes are beautiful and come well furnished. For those who have to pay their own way, rents for these houses can be around US$3-5k per month. Apartments in Miraflores near Larcomar overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean and those in San Isidro overlooking the golf course are very spacious and run around $2k per month. Just two or three blocks from these TOP PRICED apartments, one can find ones significantly smaller and cheaper around $500-$700 per month. Of course if you are concerned about cost you can find places that cost much less, but the quality of life is severely compromised and you will be in an area that is not frequented by expatriates.

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

Prices in grocery stores are a bit more expensive than the USA. A family of four can easily spend $150 per week on groceries in Vivanda, Metro, Wong or Plaza Vea. The way to avoid this is to buy food and veggies at local open air markets. It is also a good way to rub elbows with 'real' Peruvians and try to fit in with every Fulano, Mengano, y Zutano. It is a bit of an experience for the unaccustomed, as many of the animals are live and there are no styrofoam dishes and saran wrap to hide the undesirable sights from the patrons, but the cultural perspective that one gains from these markets far outweighs the downside.

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

Very good cookery for the kitchen, lots of clothes and shoes, another tennis racquet, an extra laptop or iPad, a king-sized bed, some spare car parts for easy fixes, and ...

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

All of 'em. McDonald's and Burger King, Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, KFC and Tony Roma's, Pizza Hut and Domino's are all here. American junk food is in full presence. There are also some Peruvian varieties like Pardos Chicken and Bembos. But why eat this crap when gourmet Peruvian cuisine is readily available?

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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?

Vivanda stocks all kind of boutique/exotic foods. There is even a kosher store for the Jewish folk who abide by the dietary customs of their religion.

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

Although there are no insects to report, there is a mold problem that manifests itself at certain points throughout the year. Dehumidifiers are an absolute must in closets and can be procured locally.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic Post Office.

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

I pay S/.50 a day for a young lady to clean the home, do the laundry and iron my shirts, occasionally cook, and run easy errands. She comes two times per week. I hear that full-time live-in maids can run around S/. 1000, although Peruvians pay considerably less (and presumably treat their household staff considerably worse).

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

Several chains have branches here. Gyms are very expensive, and most cost around $100 USD per month.

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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?

I took out a credit card at Banco Contiental and after two years of rather regular use, I obtained S/.700 in a cash-back scheme. I tend not to use my cards from the USA because I am too cheap to pay a 3% international usage fee to the bank :)

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

There are a few of them.

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

Cable Mágico has several channels in English, but the quality of their service is poor. There is a satellite system from Puerto Rico that I heard actually runs English channels direct from the USA. I would not get Cable Mágico if I were moving to Peru.

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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?

A fair bit. Spanish is the language in Peru and those who cannot speak it will struggle with day-to-day life. In a very small enclave in Miraflores and in a small social circle with wealthy, well-educated and professional people, one can get away with only speaking English.

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

Many. There are minimal accommodations for handicapped people.

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Transportation:

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

No, they are not safe at all. Combis are like a cancer on the road and the atrocious manners and lack of etiquette on behalf of the drivers have contaminated the rest of the driving public. The problem of having too many vehicles on the road stems from a relatively lax automobile importation policy in which older cars can constantly enter the country. As cars are not routinely taken out of circulation, the old, tiny, colonial streets of the city are literally choked by an overwhelming number of cars. It should be noted that the new bus system, the Metropolitano, is a step in the right direction and the new light rail system purports to improve an otherwise terrible system of transit. In terms of prices, a trip on a combi is less than a sol and cabs can run S/.10 - S/.15 for a ride of 30 minutes. When you go to the airport prepare to fork over S/.45. Street cabs are a bit more dodgy, so it is advisable to call a company until you get used to the system..

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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?

I brought a 4x4 Subaru Impreza with 250 cc for off-roading, but unfortunately, I only went off-road twice since coming here. Roads in Lima are generally paved and in decent, although not prefect, condition. Driving is a full contact sport in Lima and I would not recommend bringing a valuable or super-modern car. Drivers are notoriously aggressive and nicks and scratches are monthly events. Smash and grab robberies are common, especially when going to and fro the airport along Avenida Faucett.

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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?

Around S/.150 ($50 USD) per month. The quality and service is good.

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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?

No personal experience - mine was provided by work - but some are pre-paid and require the regular purchase of cards.

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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)?

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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?

Most spouses get jobs at the embassy, although some teach at local schools, and some stay at home to rear their kids. Peru's economy has been growing steadily for the past 20+ months, so if somebody isn't working, it is due to some other factor than the lack of availability of employment options.

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

Peru tends to be formal in terms of dress. Americans tend to wear suits and ties at work, although some Peruvians get away with short sleeved shirts and no ties. It is better to err on the side of formality at first and then re-adjust your dress style after being here for some time.

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Health & Safety:

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

There are some security concerns. Local Peruvian news-channels tend to fan the flames by broadcasting regular stories about high-profile crimes. What local people refer to as 'citizen insecurity' is in reality a class-based conflict, in which people who live on the margins of society are sick-and-tired of not taking part in the strengthened and constantly-growing Peruvian economy. As a result, taxi drivers should immediately cause you to raise your guard and they should generally not be trusted. Going out alone at night in certain parts of the city could be an invitation for a robbery. One should be especially careful when stopped at a traffic light when driving, as bands of thieves are skillful at quick smash-and-grab robberies that catch unsuspecting motorists off guard. The ability to detect counterfeit cash is particularly useful for those who live here, as Peru is one of the countries that produce the highest amount of bogus cash. If you stay within the confines of your general neighborhood and exhibit sensible and practical common sense, your likelihood of falling prey to these con-artists is significantly, although not entirely, reduced.

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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?

Aside from sneezing, and the prevalence of people with allergies to the humidity, I know of no other health concerns. In contrast to other countries where I have been, gastrointestinal infections and their unpleasant symptoms are not quite as common.

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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?

I am unsure whether or not it stems directly from the pollution. What I can say is that every morning right after waking up, I get a fit of about 5-7 hearty sneezes that serves as an "alarm-clock" of sorts for my wife. They say it comes from the humidity off of the ocean, but I think the poor quality of the air has something to do with it. Asthma sufferers will not enjoy this post.

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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?

It never rains in Lima, although "garúa," or a constant and annoying mist does fall during the winter months. The weather is generally is humid and dry during the summer and humid and cool in the winter. Temperatures range from 50 to 80 degrees F. In the winter, one doesn't need more than a sweater on top of a shirt, and in summer shorts and flip-flops suffice.

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Schools & Children:

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

Roosevelt, Newton, San Silvestre are reputed to be of good quality, but I have no experience with them.

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

"Mana yachanichu" means I don't know in Quechua.

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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?

Soccer, tennis, volleyball, swimming, surf.... There are several golf courses, but the game is so extraordinarily expensive that it is not feasible to play.

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Expat Life:

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

Relatively large.

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2. Morale among expats:

High to very high. This is a great post.

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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?

Tons. Eating out in trendy restaurants is all the rage. Miraflores is a very cool spot to see and be seen. There are great bars and restaurants along the beach and some up by Parque Kennedy and others near Larcomar. There are some cool peñas where you can stay out to 4 am listening to traditional music and enjoying life the way the locals do. There are some cool clubs/bars where you can get your groove on at all times throughout the night. Youths will certainly enjoy "Pizza Street" where you can eat, drink, and be merry in the company of young folks and listen to loud music.

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

Great for all. Families can get lovely homes with nice yards and send their kids to top-quality international schools. Singles can live in Miraflores and enjoy good restaurants, nightclubs, and more of an urban environment. Couples without children would also likely prefer to live in the Miraflores/San Isidro vicinity. Single men will enjoy dating here, as women are attractive and particularly keen on dating foreign men.

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

I know a few homosexual couples and they seem to enjoy themselves when out on the town. I know of no problems that they have encountered. There is even a gay bar near the Parque Kennedy across from the Ripley in Miraflores that seems to be busy every time I go near.

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

Those who migrated to the city from the highlands with strong ties to indigenous communities are commonly, but disrespectfully, called 'cholos.' These are the people who live at the fringes of modernity and many times struggle to get an education and fully benefit from the economic gains that Peru has experienced over the past few years. Machismo, or the ideology that males are superior to women, is also prevalent. Machismo is present in the cities, but it is much stronger outside of the major urban centers and particularly in indigenous societies. Women at times suffer from this unfortunate masculine attitude.

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

Travelling, meeting other expats from other countries, enjoying the beauty of Miraflores, jungle tours in Puerto Maldonado and in Iquitos.

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

In Lima there is tons of stuff to do: take a city tour on the double-decker buses; go on the para-sailng over the cliffs of Miraflores; bargain for trinkets and other brick-a-brac in the Inca Market; take a surfing or tennis lesson in Miraflores; take a cooking class at Cordon Bleu; take a day trip to Asia; rent a 4x4 motorbike and go on a wine and pisco tour in Lunahuana; explore the center of the city and the wonderful museum of literature; explore the colonial churches of old Lima; go to a bullfight in Rimac; head to Lima Cricket Club to see the old cricket grounds and modern hangout for English expats; take a boat tour of the Palomino Islands; head to Huacachina for sand-boarding; the list literally goes on forever...

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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, hand-woven articles, tailor-made suits and shirts.

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

The benefits of living in Peru are many. From tourism, to culinary arts, to surfing, to exploring historical cultures, this is one heck of a post. Tourism in Peru has gone viral a few years ago, not only because of Macchu Picchu (one of the wonders of the world), but also because of the Nazca lines, Paracas, Lake Titicaca, jungle tours, beach excursions, mountain hikes, etc. The multiculturalism in Lima, which stemmed from strong waves of Oriental immigration, has given way to a dynamic culinary scene, which features magnificent, mouth-watering dishes such as ceviche, lomo saltado, aji de gallina, and other yummy delights. Celebrity chefs are all the rage at the moment, and hardly a day goes by without an trendy, novo-Andean, overpriced restaurant opening in the city. Surfers enjoy the swells off the coast of Lima, and they also head up north towards Trujillo and points north of there. Ancient cultures, many from thousands of years ago, commingle with pre- and post-Incan society to form the identity of modern Peruvians. The full exploration of their culture is fascinating and one of the best reasons to consider Peru for your overseas assignment.

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11. Can you save money?

If you shop at the open air markets, avoid eating out at restaurants, take combis, don't hire a maid, and don't travel too far outside of Lima by plane, you should be able to save some money.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Sin duda!

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

Knowledge of French.

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3. But don't forget your:

Knowledge of Spanish.

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

Anything by Mario Vargas LLosa (magical realism), Ciro Alegria (indigenous topics), Garcilaso de la Vega (colonial accounts)

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

La Ciudad y Los Perros was a book by MVLL that has now been made into a movie. La Teta Asustada, translated I think as Milk of Sorrow, just won a few prizes in the international realm. Al Fondo Hay Sitio is a popular telenovela that offers unique insight into the country.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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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, 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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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, 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. 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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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?

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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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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Lima, Peru 07/18/10

Background:

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

No. London, Tel Aviv, Freiburg, Osaka

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

No. London, Tel Aviv, Freiburg, Osaka

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3. 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. 11 hours connecting in Miami.

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4. 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. 11 hours connecting in Miami.

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5. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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6. How long have you lived here?

20 months.

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

US Embassy.

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8. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, 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?

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

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

Everything is available here. Fruits and vegetables are fresh and flavorful and are cheaper than in the USA. Electronics, car parts and brand-name clothing is more expensive - thank goodness for the DPO.

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

Everything is available here. Fruits and vegetables are fresh and flavorful and are cheaper than in the USA. Electronics, car parts and brand-name clothing is more expensive - thank goodness for the DPO.

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

I would bring a car.

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

I would bring a car.

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

Almost all the American fast food chains are here, and there are many local chains as well. But why would someone want to eat at these places is beyond me... Peruvian cuisine is one of the best in the world! There so many good local restaurants here, cheap and expensive alike. Delicious fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the local markets for you to cook your own delicious meals. Food is one of the strongest selling points for this post.

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

Almost all the American fast food chains are here, and there are many local chains as well. But why would someone want to eat at these places is beyond me... Peruvian cuisine is one of the best in the world! There so many good local restaurants here, cheap and expensive alike. Delicious fresh fruits and vegetables are available in the local markets for you to cook your own delicious meals. Food is one of the strongest selling points for this post.

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

No insect problem at all in Lima.

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

No insect problem at all in Lima.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO - Works great.

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

DPO - Works great.

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

Cheap domestic help is available. We had good luck with our maid, but I do hear from others that they have problems with theirs.

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

Cheap domestic help is available. We had good luck with our maid, but I do hear from others that they have problems with theirs.

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

There is a small gym in the embassy, and many Gold's Gyms all over town - Prices are just like in the USA: about $75 a month.

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

There is a small gym in the embassy, and many Gold's Gyms all over town - Prices are just like in the USA: about $75 a month.

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

You can use your ATM card in many ATMs around town, but be careful. There is an ATM and a Bank on the embassy grounds.

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

You can use your ATM card in many ATMs around town, but be careful. There is an ATM and a Bank on the embassy grounds.

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

All denominations are available.

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

All denominations are available.

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

Direct TV is available.

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

Direct TV is available.

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

Quite a bit would be very helpful. The embassy provides free Spanish classes.

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

Quite a bit would be very helpful. The embassy provides free Spanish classes.

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

Public transportation is horrible, so you will need to have your own car or hire a special van that can be costly. Most sidewalks are fine for using wheelchairs, and all apartment bulding have elevators.

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

Public transportation is horrible, so you will need to have your own car or hire a special van that can be costly. Most sidewalks are fine for using wheelchairs, and all apartment bulding have elevators.

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Transportation:

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

Public transportation is terrible here. It is cheap, but if you don't know your way around you won't know which bus or combi (small taxi-vans that are never too crowded to pick up more passengers) to take where. Anyone who can afford a car can drive one here. There are many bus companies that run routes to other major cities, and this can be a cheap way to travel. But be sure to travel with a reliable company -- otherwise you may find that your things were stolen in the middle of the night - if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, your bus will fall into a ravine (a weekly occurrence in Peru).

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

Public transportation is terrible here. It is cheap, but if you don't know your way around you won't know which bus or combi (small taxi-vans that are never too crowded to pick up more passengers) to take where. Anyone who can afford a car can drive one here. There are many bus companies that run routes to other major cities, and this can be a cheap way to travel. But be sure to travel with a reliable company -- otherwise you may find that your things were stolen in the middle of the night - if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, your bus will fall into a ravine (a weekly occurrence in Peru).

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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?

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4. 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?

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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 up to 4MB $50-$100 a month

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

Yes up to 4MB $50-$100 a month

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

The embassy give you one. If not, get a Claro prepaid phone.

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

The embassy give you one. If not, get a Claro prepaid phone.

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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?

No.

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2. 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?

No.

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

Very good vets are available. Peruvians love pure-bred dogs, and there are many grooming services available. Beagles and Schnauzers are the fashionable dogs at the moment.

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

Very good vets are available. Peruvians love pure-bred dogs, and there are many grooming services available. Beagles and Schnauzers are the fashionable dogs at the moment.

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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. The local economy pays low wages. Most find jobs as ESL teachers. At the embassy there is a lot of competition for each available position, and many times Spanish is required.

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2. 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. The local economy pays low wages. Most find jobs as ESL teachers. At the embassy there is a lot of competition for each available position, and many times Spanish is required.

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

Business at work and casual in public.

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

Business at work and casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

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

Every apartment building has doormen and guards. Many the neighborhood have private guards, and the city security and police are patrolling all the time. Houses all have walls around them with electric wires. There is not a lot of violent crime in Lima, but theft, bag-snatching and pickpocketing is rampant. Express kidnapping is also something one hears about every now and again. But all in all it is a safe city for the most part, especially in the parts of the city where most tourists go and the rich live.

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

Every apartment building has doormen and guards. Many the neighborhood have private guards, and the city security and police are patrolling all the time. Houses all have walls around them with electric wires. There is not a lot of violent crime in Lima, but theft, bag-snatching and pickpocketing is rampant. Express kidnapping is also something one hears about every now and again. But all in all it is a safe city for the most part, especially in the parts of the city where most tourists go and the rich live.

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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?

There are quite a few very good private health clinics. Good dentists. And not as expensive as in the USA. Many people get plastic and Lasik surgery whike here.

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

There are quite a few very good private health clinics. Good dentists. And not as expensive as in the USA. Many people get plastic and Lasik surgery whike here.

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5. 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?

Unhealthy. Lima is cloudy and foggy for at least 8-9 months of the year. The city is growing at an amazing pace, and there are many cars on the roads. Many of the cars, vans and buses are old and belch horrible fumes. Since it never rains here, nothing clears the air and all the pollution just hovers over the city. Many people have breathing problems and develop allergies.

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6. 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?

Unhealthy. Lima is cloudy and foggy for at least 8-9 months of the year. The city is growing at an amazing pace, and there are many cars on the roads. Many of the cars, vans and buses are old and belch horrible fumes. Since it never rains here, nothing clears the air and all the pollution just hovers over the city. Many people have breathing problems and develop allergies.

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

It never rains in Lima - Never. It is cloudy and foggy, though. Especially during the winter months (Dec-Mar). The coldest it gets is about 10c (50F). In the summer it can get really hot during the day 30c-34c (Upper 80s-90s). But most of the year the temperatures are very comfortable 20c (70f).

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

It never rains in Lima - Never. It is cloudy and foggy, though. Especially during the winter months (Dec-Mar). The coldest it gets is about 10c (50F). In the summer it can get really hot during the day 30c-34c (Upper 80s-90s). But most of the year the temperatures are very comfortable 20c (70f).

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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 a few international schools. Americans, British, German. A very good special-needs school.

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

There are a few international schools. Americans, British, German. A very good special-needs school.

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

There are a couple of very good-special needs schools.

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

There are a couple of very good-special needs schools.

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5. 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 many.

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6. 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 many.

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

Yes. Many swimming academies, Martial Arts, Dance, Horse riding etc.

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

Yes. Many swimming academies, Martial Arts, Dance, Horse riding etc.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large. The embassy it self is big. There are many British, Canadians and Europeans here, too.

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

Quite large. The embassy it self is big. There are many British, Canadians and Europeans here, too.

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3. Morale among expats:

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4. Morale among expats:

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5. 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 go out to restaurants, bars, English-speaking theater, shows. Many big-name musicians come to Lima. A lot of parties at home, too.

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6. 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 go out to restaurants, bars, English-speaking theater, shows. Many big-name musicians come to Lima. A lot of parties at home, too.

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

It is good for all. Families with kids benefit from the cheap domestic help, and often have a nanny and a maid.

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

It is good for all. Families with kids benefit from the cheap domestic help, and often have a nanny and a maid.

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

It is not the best, but it is not bad either.

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

It is not the best, but it is not bad either.

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

The Peruvian upper class (mostly white European decent) treats the lower class (mostly natives and mixed-race) very, very badly.

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

The Peruvian upper class (mostly white European decent) treats the lower class (mostly natives and mixed-race) very, very badly.

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

Traveling around the country. Hiking the Inca Trail & Machu-Picchu. Cusco is just beautiful. Arequipa is a wonderful place to visit. The Amazon Jungle. The mountains of Huaraz. The food is terrific and definitely a highlight!

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

Traveling around the country. Hiking the Inca Trail & Machu-Picchu. Cusco is just beautiful. Arequipa is a wonderful place to visit. The Amazon Jungle. The mountains of Huaraz. The food is terrific and definitely a highlight!

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

Again, lots of travel all over the country and neighboring countries, too. Surfing is a very popular sport, and boards and wetsuits can be rented on many beaches.

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

Again, lots of travel all over the country and neighboring countries, too. Surfing is a very popular sport, and boards and wetsuits can be rented on many beaches.

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

Lots of Alpaca stuff (sweaters, scarves, blankets). Local embroideries, local woodworking.

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

Lots of Alpaca stuff (sweaters, scarves, blankets). Local embroideries, local woodworking.

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

Lima was the old capital of the Spanish conquest in South America. The old city center has many old and beautiful structures, which include the Cathedral, the Presidential palace, the city hall, congress, etc. There are many church and many interesting museums. Peru is a country with a very rich and diversified culture. Many ancient cultures populated many parts of the country, and there many archeological sites all over the country. There are many places to travel to, so bring your hiking shoes and overnight bag - you will be doing many long-weekend trips.

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

Lima was the old capital of the Spanish conquest in South America. The old city center has many old and beautiful structures, which include the Cathedral, the Presidential palace, the city hall, congress, etc. There are many church and many interesting museums. Peru is a country with a very rich and diversified culture. Many ancient cultures populated many parts of the country, and there many archeological sites all over the country. There are many places to travel to, so bring your hiking shoes and overnight bag - you will be doing many long-weekend trips.

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21. Can you save money?

You can save money here as long as you don't spend it all on traveling.

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22. Can you save money?

You can save money here as long as you don't spend it all on traveling.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Absolutely.

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

umbrella and good driving techniques - you won't be using them.

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

umbrella and good driving techniques - you won't be using them.

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5. But don't forget your:

travel gear and road patience.

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6. But don't forget your:

travel gear and road patience.

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

Mario Vargas Llosa, and a passage in Moby Dick about Lima.

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8. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The movie "The Milk of Sorrow".

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

Mario Vargas Llosa, and a passage in Moby Dick about Lima.

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10. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The movie "The Milk of Sorrow".

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11. Do you have any other comments?

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12. Do you have any other comments?

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Lima, Peru 06/05/10

Background:

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

No. Six other countries as an expat, one in Central America, several in Africa, eastern Europe and Asia.

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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?

6 hours to Washington, DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

US 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?

Housing is generally nice. Lima is a big city that is getting bigger and the availability of houses versus apartments is diminishing. Don't count on always finding or getting a house with a big yard.

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

All the items you need are here and many of the US brands although all items are generally higher priced than the US.

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

Sports equipment, beach equipment, patio furniture.

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

Lots of fast food available and the usual US chains, Mickie D's, BG, KFC, Chili's, etc. Most folks prefer to eat at the many finer restaurants throughout the city. Just plan to muddle through traffic to get there.

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

Nothing really dangerous in Lima except there is a fear by many of spiders here. Kids should be watched for creepy-crawlies anywhere though. Termites are a big problem in older homes.

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Daily Life:

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

Local mail sucks...The embassy has DPO, and that works well.

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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 good and reasonably priced. You'll need basic Spanish to communicate. Figure a maid living outside the house (Cama afuera) is from $350 - 500 per month if you do your duty and pay for their social security benefits and bonus program.

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

Yes, lots are available but pricey.

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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?

The ATM system is popular here but frankly there have been a few horror stories so I do not use them. Credit cards at the gas station or grocery store work fine although expect to pay a slight charge.

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

Yes. Catholic mass for sure and some protestant groups.

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

Direct TV has an English feature which is nice. The cost is comparable to the US.I read the local paper and Wash Post, NYT online.

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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...no Spanish at all and you will be stuck at most stores and not enjoy the culture and beauty of the wonderful country.

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

There is a half-hearted attempt at catering to the disabled but nothing one can rely on. Yesterday on a walk near the Embassy I noticed someone had broken a hole in the concrete sidewalk wheelchair ramp and planted a tree. I wasn't surprised.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are abundant and cheap. They can be dangerous, even in front of the embassy.

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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?

Bigger is better when dealing witht the macho mind of a Peruvian driver. It's not necessary though and gas is very expensive. Any sedan will work OK around Lima and most adventure trips oputside of Lima are by air, not car.

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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's available but really sucks. Expect lousy reception in most areas and no one to answer your complaints. This is my second most frustrating thing about living here, traffic being the first.

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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?

Telefonica is a lousy service provider...you will never get a bill but are expected to pay every month at the bank and assume the charges are accurate. Not many choices but you need a cell phone.

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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?

No.

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

Not many kennels available but vet care is adequate and cheap compareed to the US.

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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 unless you are a native Spanish speaker and know someone.

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

Business attire is suit and tie. Nothing fancy. Folks get away with jeans at even the nicer restaurants.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is typical of a large city...smash and grab, car parts are taken regularly, taxi scams giving bogus money for change.

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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?

Basic health care is adequate, relative to the specififc area of need. Liposuction is cheap and for good reason, it's dangerous here.

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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?

Air qulaity in Lima is poor. High humidity may give problems to folks with mold allergies.

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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?

Temperatures are pleasant most of the year, even during the winter months. The grey skies however do take their toll on one's attitude.

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Schools & Children:

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

Schools are generally good. Colegio Roosevelt is the English speaking "American School" and has a strong IB program. Other contenders are Newton, an Anglo-Peruvian School and the less preferred International Christian School. Families have options. The school year is based on a long South American "summer" break from December to March with only June off between academic years. The nice thing is your kids will develop their Spanish skills, if encouraged.

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

Not much at any of the main stream schools. However the Ann Sullivan School caters to children with severe learning disabilities.

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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?

Nidos as they are called are abundant and many families seem happy with the choices avaiable.

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

The schools have some sports activities but nothing like the good old USA.Horse riding is popular and inexpensive.

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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...mining industry, financial sector, US teachers, embassies.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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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 social activities, family parties.

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

It's city life and traffic is a pain so it can be frustrating if you are used to shuttling your kids from one activity to another. Most singles live in Miraflores near the ocean and enjoy nice apartments, good night life and many fine restaurants.

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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 is overt or that I have noticed.

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

Visiting the many beautiful regions of Peru. Cusco is the gateway to Machu Pucchu and is beautiful. A trip to the Amazon is a must. The beaches are great.

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

Beaches, hang-gliding, horses, restaurants, ancient archeological sites, movies, concerts, lots really. Peru has an incredibly high density of intersting bidlife. Bring your binos.

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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 products, alpaca goods, artwork.

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

Amazing culture, good restaurants, artwork, friendly people, lots of opportunities for sports activities.

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11. Can you save money?

It's hard...food, clothing, restaurants, in-country travel are all expensive.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes. It's been a great three years. Embassy life here is actually very good. Agencies get along for the most part and there is engaging work to be done.

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

expectations of small town living. Lima is a big city with all the benefits and all the troubles.

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3. But don't forget your:

patience when driving or dealing with Peruvain bureaucrats.

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

Check out the web site "Living in Peru" for news of general interest. It's in English.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Lima has been one of my more enjoyable tours.

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

6 hrs. from Miami.

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

My spouse was posted here.

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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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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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