Standing in the middle of Arequipa’s central Plaza de Armas, it’s hard not to be impressed. The magnificent, centuries-old Basilica Cathedral stretches the entire length of one side of the plaza. Behind it in the distance rise the snow-covered volcanic cones of Misti, Pichu Pichu, and Chachani.
The city’s claims to fame are its decoratively carved colonial buildings, made from white volcanic rock called sillar. The bright sunshine reflecting off the white rock walls that line the historic streets has given Arequipa its nickname, “The White City.” And Arequipa has pedestrian-friendly city center with several walking streets that provide safe access to the many shops, galleries, restaurants, and cafes in the old part of town.
Although it is still possible to purchase homes in the historic center of the city, it’s more common to live within a short walking distance of the plaza. Any colonial-era properties that remain are pricey and usually require extensive renovation if they have not been recently occupied. But with a little legwork, it’s still possible to find older, affordable residences for sale or rent.
The popular neighborhoods of Cayma and Yanahuara are within an easy walk or short taxi ride of the historic center. Here, you’ll have a choice of older or modern homes for less than you would pay closer to the center of town. There’s also a good selection of newer condos available.
Walk a short distance south of the central Plaza de Armas and you can find a four-bedroom apartment for sale for $230,000. This 1,500-square-foot home comes with a large social space and balcony for hosting great parties. Just across the street is a nice park where you can relax in the year-round sunshine.
The neighborhood of Cayma is just 15 minutes from Plaza de Armas and the historic center and there you’ll find a spacious three-bedroom apartment for $120,000. This 1,200-square-foot unit has a modern kitchen complete with granite counters. The master bedroom has a large walk-in closet so there is lots of room for storage. Malls, restaurants, and grocery stores are within easy walking distance. A similar-sized unfurnished rental would set you back about $400 per month.
A three-story, five-bedroom home with a view is available in one of the best parts of Cayma for $270,000. Over 2,000 square feet of space gives you lots of rooms for visitors. It’s located only three blocks from central Cayma Avenue and a short walk to two modern shopping malls where you will find a good selection of national and international brands.
A 20-minute walk from the Plaza takes you to Yanahuara. With its own small town square, restaurants, and shops, it’s a great place to stroll during the warm evenings. Here you can find a fully furnished three-bedroom condo renting for $600 per month.
If you are willing to live a short distance outside the city, $190,000 will get you a four-bedroom house with a patio in a gated community in the Sachaca district. Living in this traditional rural location would probably require a vehicle but you get to enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding countryside from your spacious balcony.
If you are looking for an inexpensive place to live and sunny skies, these neighborhoods in Arequipa are certainly worth a look.
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