Peru is best known for the spectacular Inca citadel, Machu Picchu that is set in the high Andes Mountains. This incredible attraction alone is enough to leave you intrigued about a potential move to the country. Peru is a South American country that shares a border with Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Chile to the South, Bolivia and Brazil to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. From modern cities and small towns to farmland and mountains, Peru is as diverse as it is interesting.
If you are considering living in Peru, there are a ton of enticing reasons that will convince you to make the move. History and culture have shaped Peru into a charming and exciting country that’s packed with things to see and experience. Peru’s history dates back more than 11,000 years when it was home to the Norte Chico civilization, one of the sixth oldest in the world.
The Inca Empire that existed between 1438-1532 was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. In 1524 after a bout of smallpox devastated the Incan population and caused political instability the Spanish swooped in and conquered Peru.
The country gained its independence in the very bloody Peruvian War of Independence between 1809 and 1824. You’ll see evidence of both Inca and Spanish history throughout the country. Cities like Cusco were both the capital of the Inca Empire and a key Spanish city during colonial times.
If you are thinking of retiring or moving as a digital nomad to Peru you’ll be glad to learn there are a ton of things to see and do. Whether you are focusing on relaxing or wanting to travel there’s something for everyone. It’s hard to live in South America without visiting the remarkably biodiverse Amazon. After Brazil, Peru has the second largest share of the Amazon rainforest. Peru is full of those places that allow you to tell an impressive travel story. Visit the Manu National Park and you’ll be able to boast that you’ve been to the meeting point of the Amazon Basin and the Tropical Andes! Or visit Huacachina so you can experience an oasis in the Ica desert.
If you want to fill your days with cultural activities, then Peru will tick this box. June 22 marks the date of the Inti Raymi Festival, a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire. This 500 year old festival is celebrated for nine days and is an explosion of colorful culture. Rituals dedicated to the Sun King Inti Raymi will leave you speechless. Or how about discovering the mummies of Arequipa? Arequipa is one of Peru’s charming colonial cities. It’s here you can see the mummified remains of victims who were offered as human sacrifices.
No matter where you choose to live in Peru, you will discover amazing cultural opportunities, an exceptional quality of life and a chance to discover remarkable nature spots.
Peru’s climate varies considerably depending on where you are situated. Along Peru’s 1,500 miles of coastline there’s a semi-arid, yet subtropical desert like climate. Rainfall on the coast can be around 150 mm annually. On the southern and central coastline temperatures are around 55.4°F – 78.8°F and in the north temperatures are around 75.2°F. As soon as you approach the Andes the climate varies with elevation. Rainy season is usually between September and March and the cold season is between May and August. Temperatures in these areas are only around 51.8°F – 64.4°F with rainfall being anywhere from 50 – 1000 mm annually.
Peruvians have an innate sense of hospitality and in a matter of no time, you will surely experience it for yourself. Embrace the friendly locals and their culture and you will find your life in Peru flourish as you become intertwined with the country’s customs and traditions.
Food will soon become another important part of your life in Peru. Eating in Peru is far more than just sustenance; it’s all about socializing! Peruvian cuisine is vastly diverse, with world-renowned ceviche, seafood, rice, potatoes, maize, and an array of spices being served in just an average households’ week of meals. It is also considered one of the best destinations in the world for foodies.
If music doesn’t become a part of your lifestyle whilst living in Peru, then it absolutely should. From the traditional bamboo flute with Inca origins to folk music, Peru’s music scene is eclectic.
Safety and Security
South America gets a bad reputation for safety and often understandably so. Of the Global Peace Index’s 163 nations Indonesia came out as the 101st most peaceful country in the world. Should you then be really concerned about your safety? Well…not exactly. It all depends on where you choose to relocate and this is why we are here to tell you the best and safest places in the country later in this guide. This being said it should still be understood that Peru still has a 22% poverty rate, therefore thefts and petty crime can still occur. For expats living in Peru, it is important to stay vigilant and limit risks. In cities like Lima, Arequipa and Cusco muggings and pickpocketing occur fairly often in the crowded tourist areas.
Some Peruvian cities also have a problem with unregistered taxi drivers. It is therefore always advisable to pre-book a taxi or use services like Uber.
Cost of Living
By South American standards Peru is one of the least expensive countries to live in. Apart from Lima which is considerably more expensive, you can live comfortably in most places in Peru for around $1,500 a month. On average the cost of living in Peru is 55% lower than in the United States. Rent is around 76% lower than in the States making this a really enticing place to live in terms of cost of living.
If you are planning your retirement in Peru, you will want to know what the tax situation is. U.S. citizens or those with a green card are legally required to file taxes in the U.S. each year irrespective of whether you pay taxes in Peru. Retirees in Peru are not required to pay annual taxes that other working expats have to pay. If you have chosen to retire in Peru, you also don’t have to pay Peruvian income tax on your pension money. Additionally, when moving to Peru some of your possessions are able to be imported tax and duty free.
Visas and Residency
If you are thinking of retiring to Peru, you’ll be pleased to know the visa process is relatively straightforward. Retirees will need to apply for the Peruvian Rentista Visa. In order to obtain this visa retirees must have access to a $1000 monthly income whilst they stay in Peru. If there are any dependents, then an additional $500 is required. You will need to provide the visa office with marriage certificates and proof of your government pension.
If you are applying for this visa from the States, you will need to go to the consulate and apply for the Carnet de Extranjeria (a Peruvian I.D. card for foreigners). As soon as this process is completed then you can begin setting up your life in Peru, including opening a bank account, buying phone SIM’s and traveling in Peru without a passport.
If you are thinking of retiring to Peru, you will want to know what the country’s healthcare system is not great. Peru is ranked 129th out of 190 countries globally by the World Health Organization. Healthcare in Lima is generally considered to be good with other major cities having adequate infrastructure and services. Places such as Cusco are unable to handle serious medical emergencies and it isn’t advisable to live in rural Peru if you have any healthcare concerns. Expatriates living in Peru usually pay for private healthcare in the major cities. These private facilities are better equipped and have more medical and administrative staff to deal with your needs.
Before leaving you should also remember to take the appropriate shots you may require if you intend to travel throughout the country. If you want to visit the Amazon rainforest or any jungle areas, you’ll have to be aware of cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, and dengue fever and take the appropriate precautions. Getting the yellow fever vaccination before you travel is a good idea, and it should also provide you with lifelong protection.
The process of buying property in Peru is pretty straightforward for retirees and expats. Firstly, you are not required to be a resident to purchase property in Peru, you can even be visiting on a tourist visa. Talk about an impulsive holiday property purchase! The only real restriction is that you cannot purchase any property from within 30 miles of one of Peru’s five borders. It should also be noted that you will need to get a permiso para firmar contratos, which is a stamp in your passport that is used for signing legal documents. One of the cons of purchasing property in Peru is that as a foreigner it is almost impossible to get a mortgage. Even a middle-class American citizen has little to no chance of accessing lending for real estate.
Peru is one of the most profitable real estate investments that you can make in South America right now. Peru is even considered to be the fastest economy generating country in the region. Real estate taxes in Peru for foreigners are insignificant, therefore creating a lucrative real estate market. Property in Peru isn’t cheap compared to other countries on the continent but there are still affordable places to purchase property; these include Callao, Ate, Carabayllo, Lurigancho, and Comas.
Best Places to Live in Peru
Arequipa is the country’s third most visited city after Cusco and Lima. Its 19th century Spanish architecture and cultural heritage attract many retirees. A move to Arequipa will even have you boasting that you live in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Food lovers will love living in Arequipa. There are a ton of traditional restaurants called picanterias that serve authentic Peruvian cuisine in a friendly communal environment. Try rocoto relleno which originated in the city and quickly extended across Peru. It’s a simple dish but a delicious one. Spicy bell peppers are stuffed with beef, onions and veggies and grilled cheese. With the additional benefit of being close to the surrounding hills, mountains and rivers, this is an excellent place to spend your retirement in Peru.
If you are searching for the best places to live in Peru then you have to consider the nation’s capital, Lima. Lima has more than 10 million residents and most of Peru’s expatriates live in the city, especially those who are working. If you are actively searching for expat communities in Peru, then this is a great city to live in. Most expats in Lima choose to live in neighborhoods like Barranco, Miraflores and San Isidro. These neighborhoods have plenty of things to keep you entertained, including nightclubs, art galleries and brilliant restaurants. Though Lima is a great place to live it should be acknowledged that it is one of the most expensive places to live in Peru. If you are living in one of the lower budget areas like San Miguel, expats suggest you’ll need around $2,500 a month to live comfortably. It is usually the cost of renting properties in Lima that dramatically increases living costs.
Many people will never venture north, but if you are considering retiring in Peru then you may want to consider living in the coastal town of Mancora. Mancora offers some of the country’s best weather and stunningly white sandy beaches. It may be a small town, with only 10,000 full time residents but there are a plethora of shops, restaurants and sports opportunities. Some who know Peru will think of Mancora as a lively party town, however the younger partygoers really do only visit seasonally.
Trujillo and Huanchaco
If you are looking for some ocean spray then head to Trujillo that is one a stunning colonial town. Huanchaco to the north is also a popular destination amongst expats looking for the comforts of the city combined with a seaside escape.
Proximity to the United States
Look on a map and you may not think it’s too far to get to Peru from the States but it’s still a fair distance. From New York flight times to Lima are around 11 hours and just a couple hours extra from California. Peru is in the same time zone as New York and just three hours ahead of California.
Activities and Recreation
From popular tourist attractions to local recreational activities enjoyed with the local community, you will spend your retirement in Peru having tremendous fun.
Whether you choose to surf on the north coast, trek through the Andes or cycle through deserts, Peru has an outdoor activity you will love. It’s also a popular location for ecotourism with a number of top ranked ecolodges.
In cities like Lima, you will soon find an expatriate community to explore with. Or pick up some Spanish and you will make instant friends with the friendly locals. In Lima there are opportunities to join language exchange programs that will help with day-to-day navigation and making friends.
There’s no doubt that retiring to Peru will bring you a better quality of life and plenty of chances to experience cultural, historical and natural attractions. The lower cost of living in Peru will allow you to enjoy the vast array of opportunities on offer. The easily obtained retirement visas and attractive real estate market make a move to the retirement oasis of Peru easy and enticing.
Here is a list of the Pros and Cons of traveling, living, moving and retiring in Peru
Incentive tax laws when emigrating
Easy retirement visa process
Incredible and diverse natural landscape
Attractive real estate opportunities
Petty crimes such as theft
Crime in general in certain parts of the country
Healthcare service are not highly regarded especially outside of big metropolitan areas
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