The South American country of Peru may be best known as the home of the mountaintop Inca citadel, Machu Picchu. But it has so much more to offer, from colonial towns and undiscovered beaches, to modern metropolises and quiet farming regions. And as more people discover its charms—and advantages—it has become an increasingly viable option for those seeking a place to retire abroad.
One reason is the cost. A retired couple can live well in Peru, including expenses like rent, transportation, food, and medical care, for $1,500 a month or less—and that’s without scrimping and saving.
Of course, the low cost is just part of the equation. The Peruvian people are warm and friendly, with a tradition of welcoming hospitality towards foreign neighbors. The cuisine, including dishes like ceviche, is world-renowned. It is safe and secure, even in the big cities. The indigenous culture is vibrant, with unique traditions that mix Catholicism and ancient beliefs. Modern conveniences like high-speed internet and cellphone are available and reliable—so you don’t have to “rough it.” The infrastructure is good, with good highways and frequent—and cheap—in-country flights. The weather also suits all tastes, with diverse climates ranging from the warm weather coast, to the cool mountains, to the eternal spring of the high sierra.
About twice the size of Texas, Peru offers a variety of destinations to fit the lifestyle needs of a wide variety of people.
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-70s F for most of the year (June and July are colder months). The colonial centro is walkable and well-kept, with charming parks and plazas, and plenty of sidewalk 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 neighborhoods 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 favorite 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. Its colonial center is bustling. And just to the north you can find the town of Huanchaco, which is popular with city dwellers seeking a seaside escape. It’s a popular vacation spot for Peruvians for the same reason it’s nice to live there: freshly-caught and cheap seafood in the restaurants (many say ceviche was invented here) and the laidback beach lifestyle along an undeveloped coastline.
Wherever you choose to live in Peru, your quality of life will be exceptional. Low costs, friendly people, and modern conveniences all come alongside a thriving traditional culture. If you’re ready for an adventure outside the mainstream, beloved by those who’ve discovered it, this South American country is worth a closer look.