Peru is best known for the ruined Inca city of Machu Picchu but that’s just one of the mountain citadels left behind by the great pre-Colombian civilisation. Throw in the best cuisine in South America, colonial era cities and towns packed with culture and history and astonishingly low costs.
This country is gaining ground as a retirement destination as a couple can live well here for $1,900 a month, and that’s without scrimping and saving. The people are warm, friendly and have a rich tradition of hospitality. You’ll have fun learning about the rich indigenous culture with unique mixes of ancient beliefs and Catholicism. Modern conveniences like high-speed internet are reliable, the roads are good and in-country flights are cheap.
One city that’s on the radar of in-the-know expats is Arequipa. The climate couldn’t get much better here. It boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, with temperatures in the mid-20s C for most of the year (June and July are colder months). The colonial centre is walkable and well-kept, with charming parks and plazas and plenty of outdoor cafés to enjoy the weather.
Cusco is also a popular spot with expats. The capital of the old Inca Empire, it became an important city for the Spanish in colonial times. The core of the city is full of restored historic structures. Think neighbourhoods of white-washed homes with red barrel-tile roofs, grand civic buildings, and ornate cathedrals and churches, crisscrossed narrow cobble-stoned streets and walkways.
Colonial structures have been turned into hip restaurants, shops and even homes. And, like Arequipa, the centro is surrounded by a modern city with any convenience you might need.
Near Cusco, about two hours away by car, is the awe-inspiring and largely undeveloped Sacred Valley of the Incas. Traditionally an agricultural region—with a heritage going back to the Inca and even earlier indigenous people (Machu Picchu can be found at one end of the valley)—it has become a favourite of expats who want to farm the land. You can also experience quaint village life in places like Urubamba and Pisac.
The majestic views of the surrounding mountains and the meandering Urubamba River are something that never gets old. And even though you’re off-the-beaten path, you can still find modern conveniences like reliable electricity and high-speed internet.
If you like the beach life, the colonial gem of Trujillo in the northwest of the country could be your place.
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