Although Peru is definitely under-the-radar when it comes to Latin American retirement destinations, there are many reasons to move to this country: the cost of living is low, the local people are friendly and welcoming of new neighbors, and there’s good value real estate available. Because Peru’s expat community is small, you also have the opportunity to have a real cultural experience and discover the rich indigenous traditions that make Peru unique.
If you decide to look further into Peru as a retirement destination, keep in mind that you have a variety of climates and landscapes available. There is the warm weather coast, the cool and crisp Andes regions, and the high sierra where it’s dry and sunny most of the year.
For example, in the capital, Lima, it is warm most of the year. Head north along the coast to Trujillo and you have a mild climate—warm during the day, cool at night. But go to the interior to the city of Arequipa, set at 7,638 feet and you’ll enjoy 300 days of sunshine a year, with temperatures in the 70s F. While in the Andean town of Cusco—at 11,000 feet—and the nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas, the weather is cooler on average and you definitely need a warm sweater at night.
Located at the northern end of South America, Peru is not a quick flight from North America. It’s about five hours from Miami. But it is relatively easy to get to, with many airlines featuring direct flights from U.S. cities. You also have the advantage of being in the Central Time Zone, which makes keeping in touch with friends and relatives back home easy.
The long-time practice of living in Peru on a three-month tourist visa, renewed by leaving the country and re-entering, is no longer a viable option, as the government is now encouraging expats to obtain official residence and restricting tourist visas to six months out of the year. Fortunately, Peru does have a variety of residence options available. Most retirees choose rentista, which requires $1,000 a month in income from Social Security, a pension, or investments. A dependent spouse can be added with another $500 a month in income. This visa allows you to live full-time in Peru, and you can use the government-run national healthcare service, which has clinics and hospitals throughout the country.
Peru is a land of ancient peoples and centuries-old traditions. The influence of the indigenous Incas and other peoples, as well as the history of the Spanish colonizers, is keenly felt here in everyday life and cultural celebrations. But this is still a modern country. High-speed internet is available just about everywhere, cell phone service is widespread, and cable and satellite TV is also widely available, often with shows in English.
This is definitely a Spanish-speaking country. But the influence of tourism means that in many spots, especially tourist havens like Cusco, you will not have any trouble communicating, as many people speak at least some English. In any case, learn a bit of Spanish and be willing to try and you’ll find you can accomplish most things with a bit of effort.
A big advantage to moving to Peru is that the cost of living is so low. In the popular city of Arequipa, you can rent a three-bedroom luxury apartment for under $500 a month. Food is affordable. Simple local-style restaurants will run you $2 a meal. And even “international” restaurants are under $8 a plate. You save on shopping in markets too—try $1 for two pounds of grapes or $2 for two pounds of pears…a whole chicken will cost you $5.
Ideal climate, a welcoming local population, and low costs…Peru has a lot to recommend it.