Expat Peru

Like most, if not all, South American countries, Peru has had a checkered history of triumphs and tribulations. During the 80s and 90s, most articles written about the country focused more on the Shining Path terrorist group, or the coca fields in the highlands. It’s true that during these years there were plenty of troubles in the land of the Incas, but the turn of the century has brought about significant change to the country, and much of it for the better. Today, Peru boasts one of the most dynamic and fast-growing economies in Latin America, and many of the new businesses are being started by women. Crime is still a problem, as well as grinding poverty; the two of which usually going hand-in-hand. Tough new laws have been enacted to combat crimes against foreigners and tourists, and the tourism industry is booming.

With its miles and miles of beaches and warm, equatorial climate, Peru is a world-class destination for surfers. Likewise, Macchu Picchu and the Andes are top draws for seekers of the historical and spiritual. Lima is a cosmopolitan city boasting music, great restaurants, a lively nightlife, and loads of museums and ancient ruins (in the city itself). Change is definitely in the air in Peru, and even in big, sprawing Lima, the laid-back Peruvian lifestyle can be felt, when you see a surfer carrying a surfboard in the middle of a street surrounded by skyscrapers.


Peru has a varied climate depending on which part of the country you visit and the time of the year. Lima and the southern coast are deserts and are mild most of the year, with warm to hot summers. Winter brings a heavy fog that envelops the area, but rain is non-existent, and the weather rarely drops below 55 degrees F. The northern coast is warmer, more tropical, and rains are prevalent in the summer months. The Andes are generally colder, with the rainy season lasting throughout the summer. The Amazon is tropical jungle, and presents hot and humid weather year-round, with torrential rains in the summer. The sun is extremely strong in Peru, and it’s possible to get burned even on days that are quite hazy. People that are sensitive to the sun should take precautions and buy strong sunscreen, wear hats, and be aware of these conditions.


Peru is a representative democratic republic, with the president as head of state and government. It is made up of legislative, executive, and judicial branches that work independently of each other. There are many political parties that are active with the main ones being: Union for Peru, Peruvian Aprista Party, National Unity, Alliance for the Future, and Center Front. Some of the more minor parties have quite interesting names (and politics), such as: Independent Moralizing Front, And It’s Called Peru, Let’s Make Progress Peru, Democratic Force, and With Force Peru. Alan Garcia is the current president, and served an earlier term from 1985-1990 which was marked by hyperinflation, social unrest, violence, and charges of corruption. In the months after the 2006 election, President Garcia has signed many trade agreements with the United States, Chile, and Brazil, among others. Peru is actively seeking to sign more accords with India, China, and the EU in the future. Garcia has also stated his support for the death penalty for rapists of minors, as well as terrorists. His plan for this has been rejected by congress, but he still vows to push it through.

Tax System

Peru has a reasonable tax rate for both income tax and corporate taxes, which is 30% for the highest bracket. There is also a value added tax, real estate tax, and a vehicle tax. You can read more about the tax and economic situation in Peru at the Index of Economic Freedom: Peru.

Medical Care

Health services in Peru run the gamut. In Lima, there are fairly good hospitals and clinics, sometimes with doctors who have studied in North America, or Europe. Some European clinics exist with better care. Insurance is very affordable, with a full policy from the major insurance provider running around $50 a month. Policies can be purchased from the clinics for less than this, but only cover care at that particular clinic. With some searching, quality dental work can be found, with a cleaning running around $15-20, and cavities repaired for $15. Outside of Lima, the quality and availability of health care drops off dramatically. In larger cities like Cuzco and Arequipa, adequate services for minor injuries or illnesses exist, but for severe health concerns, evacuation to the U.S., Chile, or Argentina is advised.

Real Estate

Peruvian Real Estate runs a wide range of quality, price, and value, but in relation to North American or European prices, is very affordable. Some neighborhoods in Lima, and some of the nearby beaches to the south, represent some of the highest priced real estate in the country. The neighborhoods of San Isidro and Miraflores in Lima, are the most upscale in the city. Be that as it may, apartments can found to rent or buy in these neighborhoods for a fraction of the price of a major city in the United States. If you are looking to buy, brand-new, three bedroom apartments can be found for as little as $70,000 in these neighborhoods. For those looking to rent, a fully furnished three bedroom up to western standards can be acquired from $600 and up. For those seeking luxury accommodations, a 3-bedroom penthouse in a huge apartment building with beachfront view in San Isidro or Miraflores, will cost from $1000 a month, and up. Peru is undergoing a construction boom, and it is actually easier to find a newly-built, modern apartment, than an older colonial-style one. In many of the beaches, apartments and houses are quite expensive. In Playa Asia, one of the beaches frequented by the upper class Limenos, finding accommodation for less than $3000 a month is difficult. In Cuzco and other cities, the prices are much lower. The accommodations in these places will likely be older, more colonial-style apartments and houses, but quality exists as well.

Renting an apartment in Peru is a fairly easy business, although finding shorter-term (less than 6 months) places can be difficult. New agencies catering to tourists are opening all the time, and as more and more Internet penetration occurs, so should the availability and ease of securing good housing in Peru.


Shopping in Peru is a great experience, and those looking for clothes will especially be in for a treat. There are many department stores that offer high quality clothes at bargain basement prices. For those seeking arts, crafts, and native-produced goods, there are many fairs, markets, and stores that sell ethnic goods, clothes, and artifacts. People interested in something different should check out two markets: Polvos Azules, and Polvos Rosados. These two places offer everything from wholesale name-brand items sold at incredible discounts, to pirated DVDs (new releases before the movies are even in the cinemas), and software.

Another interesting shopping experience for those interested in food and seeing another side of Peru is to visit one of the many fish markets that line the beaches. Visitors here can find the freshest catches of the day for incredible prices. At these markets, two pounds of fresh shrimp can be bought for $10, and fresh grouper, flounder, crabs, and many other seafoods are widely available, and can be bought still living.

Peruvian food is slowly gaining worldwide interest, and Lima, in particular, boasts some fine dining. Seafood is a staple, with many cebicherias (raw fish and vegetables cooked in lime juice) open in the mornings and afternoons. Sushi, likewise, is a popular meal – Peru having the largest Asian population, per capita, in South America – and a good sushi meal can be had for $15.

The water is a concern in Peru, and it is advised to filter, boil, or treat it before cooking or drinking it. Even Peruvians use bottled water.

Nightlife in Peru is on par with most of South America, with lots of discos and bars drawing the night owls almost every night. As in most Latin countries, the parties don’t get started until quite late, and may go on until the sun rises. There are also many plays, live music events, and folklore events.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Peru is very affordable, and inflation is under control. Prices are fairly stable, with gasoline ($5/gallon), and the Internet ($50/month, 512 speed) being the only necessities that seem to be more expensive than U.S. prices. Utilities are expensive, by Latin American standards, and $100 a month for an electricity bill is not out of the question for a 3 bedroom apartment. Groceries are very cheap, and taxis can take you most anywhere in Lima for around $5. Two people should be able to live very well for $1500 a month. Keep in mind, Lima is more like Los Angeles than New York, and public transportation is poor to non-existent. There are buses that service all areas of the cities, but they are poorly-kept old jalopies, and pickpockets on the buses are quite prevalent. Likewise, Lima is not a good city for walking. It is very spread out, there are few stop signs and lights, and the ones that do exist are generally ignored. Drivers won’t slow down for pedestrians, and will typically just zoom around them.

Extradition from Peru

The Extradition treaty between Peru and the US was signed on July 26, 2001

This treaty was entered into force on August 25, 2003

Map of Peru