The Pros and Cons of Living in Peru

Visas and Immigration

Pro: It’s Very Easy to Obtain a Resident Visa

If you want to move to Peru, there are a number of ways to do it. Even with a humble Tourist Visa, you can stay up to 183 days per year. This is as long as many part-time expats stay anywhere while still maintaining their resident rights in their home country. If you only want to live in Peru for six months of the year then look no further; a Tourist Visa will suit you just fine. But for those who want to stick around all year, there are lots of options.

Retired? Receiving a pension of at least US$1,000 ($1,326 at time of writing) per month? You are good to go with a Rentista Visa. This is Peru’s answer to the retirement visa offered by other countries. You need to be in the country at least six months each year and you cannot work but, other than that, there are no restrictions. And after three years, you can obtain a permanent visa or even citizenship.

If you want to work or start your own business? No problem. You can set up a small business for less than $7,000 by going through an attorney and creating the correct paperwork. You are hired by your own company on a work visa and, voila, legally residing in Peru. Once again, after three years you can go for permanent residency or citizenship. And there are other routes to follow…

Other available visas include the Independent Investor Visa, Student Visa, Religious Visaand Family Visa.

Con: You Will Need to Speak Spanish to Navigate the Immigration Bureaucracy

Don’t expect any English when you enter the hallowed halls of Peru immigration. You will either need to speak Spanish yourself or have a Spanish-speaking friend help you out. If neither is a viable option, you may choose to hire an English-speaking Peruvian lawyer to help you through the process. Find a Lima lawyerwho knows their way around the immigration system and it is well worth the money. It will cost less than $1,050for a couple from start to finish and take about two months to complete.

Purchasing Real Estate in Peru

Pro: Foreigners Can Buy Property in Peru

You don’t even have to be a resident to buy property in Peru. If you have cash on hand and see a property you like, you can purchase it while visiting the country on a tourist visa. One of the few restrictions is that you won’t be able to purchase anything within 50 kilometres of the border.

You will also need to get a ”Permiso para firmar contratos“ stamp in your passport. The stamp is necessary for signing any legal documents. This takes one day to get at the Migraciones office in Lima and is only good for 30 days. But we don’t recommend rushing out and buying anything until you have given the area a trial run for at least several months.

Con: You Will Need to Pay With Cash

Getting a mortgage in Peru as a foreigner will be difficult, if not impossible. A middle-class Western citizen has little, if any, access to Peruvian real estate lending. Furthermore, the interest will be quite high. Be prepared to pay the total price in cash.

You also need to be aware that squatters have rights in Peru not afforded under Australian law.

High Quality of Life for Low Cost of Living

Pro: It’s Cheap!

A couple can live very inexpensively in most regions of Peru. With a little research, you can find houses and apartments as low as $330 per month. Even a two or three-bedroom furnished condo will only set you back $700 or $800 per month in the centre of Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city.

Fresh fruits and vegies are available at countless markets in every town and city for budget prices. Generic brands of everything from toothpaste to pharmaceuticals will be much cheaper than those you find at home. And organic produce is not generally difficult to find.

A visit to the doctor can cost you as little as $16 and you will never feel rushed. Basic outpatient services such as X-rays and blood tests are also very inexpensive. Most prescription drugs are available over-the-counter at a low cost.

Con: Imports Will Cost You Dearly 

Head to the nearest supermarket to pick up that favourite imported product from back home and you will pay top dollar. Many are available but are much more expensive here. Shop at the markets, learn to cook like a local, dine out at the non-tourist restaurants and your monthly budget will decrease substantially.

Health Insurance is Readily Available

Pro: Many Companies Offer Private Health Insurance

Peru’s public healthcare system is one of the least funded in Latin America. Public hospitals can be poorly staffed and poorly equipped with long waits for almost anything. Fortunately, there is a good network of excellent private clinics and hospitals around the country that provide quality healthcare at reasonable prices.

Anybody can receive care at a public hospital for very low cost but it is recommended that expats invest in one of the healthcare plans available from the dozens of private insurance companies. These plans can cost less than $135 per month but generally will be two or three times that for an older couple. Some hospital networks have their own private insurance plans with similar prices.

Con: Insurance Becomes More Expensive and More Difficult to Obtain as You Age.

After the age of 65, it is sometimes difficult to begin a new healthcare plan. That is easily remedied by moving here early. Once you are registered with a carrier, insurance plans can easily be renewed beyond that age. Of course, costs increase quite a bit after you reach 70.

The Food is Amazing!

Pro: It’s Hard to Beat the Food Here

With fresh ingredients from the sea, mountains and jungle fused together by a variety of cultures over centuries of time, Peruvian cuisine is reaching its apex. It seems that Peruvian restaurants are becoming more popular in other parts of the world as well.

Add in the bakeries on every city block, the wide assortment of traditional cakes available and the Peruvian habit of coffee and cake for the evening meal and you soon find out you can’t lose weight here. Remember most families still have their large meal in the middle of the day. Dinner often consists of coffee and a snack.

Whether you are enjoying a $5 lunch at a local picanteria or going all out at a high-end restaurant in Lima, you won’t be disappointed with the potpourri of flavours. And it’s difficult for a couple to spend more than $70 at a restaurant, even for a great meal with drinks.

Con: You Won’t Find a Lot of International Restaurants

Apart from a few big chains such as Chiles, the big Mand Pizza Hut, you still don’t find a lot of international food in most parts of Peru. It is a very traditional country when it comes to food. Although a few expat-owned cafes and restaurants serving “Western” food are beginning to randomly appear, there is certainly room for many more.

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