Peru is one of the least expensive countries to live in South America. You can cover your basic expenses for $2,000 per month or less in most areas other than in Lima. Living in the capital costs you a bit more for the same quality of life as you would experience in outlying areas. If you own your own property, $1,500 per month would be more than enough to live on.

Although many services and amenities are similar in price throughout the country, real estate costs vary substantially from one city to the next. It will be more expensive to rent or purchase a seaview condo in an upscale part of Lima than an apartment in Arequipa. But with a little networking and groundwork, you can find accommodation that will satisfy your budget almost anywhere in Peru.

Apartments and houses tend to be spacious, with at least two or three bedrooms. In most locations it is more difficult to find studio apartments and unfurnished rental units are the norm. Although furnished places do exist, they can be twice the price of an identical unfurnished unit.

Bargains are still possible but real estate prices in the more popular areas of Lima can approach those of major U.S. cities. You’ll have a hard time finding a modern, three-bedroom home for less than $500,000 in Miraflores. Large apartments in upscale districts are upwards of $175,000. However, in the smaller urban centers and the countryside, prices are much more affordable. In Arequipa or Trujillo, houses are more likely to start around $200,000 or less.

Modern supermarkets stocked with local and international items can be found in every city. There are few familiar foods that you will not be able to get here, but shopping at the colorful local markets will make a much smaller dent in your bank account.

Here’s a sample budget for a couple living in Arequipa.

ExpensesU.S. $
Rent (furnished, three-bed condo or house)$600
Internet/Cable TV/Phone$70
Electricity (no AC): $30 / Electricity (constant AC)$30
Phone (basic cell phone data plan)$20
Water$5
Natural Gas$10
Groceries/wine/beer$400
Entertainment (dining out and other activities)$200
House cleaner (one day per week)$60-$80
Health Insurance (outpatient coverage not included, $3,000 deductible)$300-$500
Transportation (taxis)$20
Incidentals$150

And it is hard to beat the food in Peru. Whether you dine out at an upscale restaurant for $30 or spend less than $3 for a three-course meal at a local picanteria, you will be surprised at the quality and variety of options that are available. It is often cheaper and easier to eat out than to cook at home.

Most expats find it unnecessary to own a car, especially in urban centers. Most Peruvian cities are pedestrian friendly and taxis are rarely more than $2 to $3. Small buses called combis are another popular way to travel short distances and are even less expensive.

There is a good network of private clinics and hospitals throughout the country. Expats can purchase insurance from one of many national healthcare companies starting at $150 to $200 per month. However, many have a cut-off registration age of about 60. Insurance brokers are available at no cost to help you choose the best plan available for your circumstances. Most prescriptions are available over-the-counter for much less than you would pay in your home country.

If you are looking for a country with a good quality of life and all the modern amenities at a very affordable cost, then Peru might be for you.

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