Condos from $72,000 in Peru’s Charming Second City

You couldn’t ask for much better when it comes to a place to live.

Ideal weather—highs in the mid-70s F most days, cooling off at night, with 300 days of sunshine a year.

Ideal weather—A colonial center—charming, well-kept, and walkable—full of sidewalk cafés, restaurants (local meals for $2, international cuisine for $5 to $10 a plate), boutiques, and antique shops in grand restored colonial homes and other structures. That area is surrounded by modern suburbs with shopping malls and large stores filled with imported items for a taste of home. The best of both worlds.

It’s a safe place, where walking anywhere day or night is no issue. And the latest in healthcare is available, too, at modern hospitals and clinics, and it’s cheap.

All that and there is a very low cost of living—a retired couple can live well on $1,500 a month for all their expenses. Low costs extend to real estate too.

The place is Arequipa, a city of about 1 million (making it the second largest) in the south of Peru. And thanks to all the benefits above, and the fact that three-bedroom homes and condos in the most desirable neighborhoods are available for around $150,000, it’s been attracting an increasing number of expats in recent years.

One of the most favored zones by expats—and middle class and upper-middle class locals—is Cayma, which is a brisk 20-minute walk or five-minute taxi ride ($2) from the historic colonial centro.

There’s so much on offer here. A three-bedroom condo in this district with views of the city is listed at $72,000. Facing the river and the long riverfront park, that separates Cayma from the colonial quarter, is a three-bedroom condo for $110,000. A larger 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom townhouse, with views of the distant mountains from the second floor balcony and bedroom, is available for $188,000.

Yanahuara, which is adjacent to Cayma and just about as close to the colonial centro, is also a popular neighborhood and has plenty of historic buildings of its own, including a stunning parochial church. For $156,000, you can get a three-bedroom condo in the heart of the neighborhood. Another three-bedroom unit nearby will run you $140,000.

One thing to consider as you property hunt here, is the real estate scene is much different than you might find in other Latin American countries popular with expats. Real estate agencies with websites filled with comprehensive lists of available properties are few and far between.

Instead, you have independent real estate agents who have small portfolios of properties they’re handling. So, you often have to work with several agents to see a wide range of properties, walk neighborhoods yourself taking note of “for sale” signs, and get contacts through locals and expats you meet. And you usually browse listings on online classified sites—the local equivalents of Craigslist.

This somewhat undeveloped approach to real estate can make finding a property more time-consuming. But it is recommended you bring along a Spanish speaker. Most property owners won’t speak English. But, on the upside, it’s easier to find good-value properties and negotiate better deals.

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