All you need to know before moving to Peru

Expats moving to Peru will find that the cost of living in this country is affordable, compared to other South American nations. Peru’s grandiose and colourful festivals make a great cultural experience that expats should not miss.

Peru’s rich culture and tradition can be seen in their everyday lives. You can spot fine arts and crafts everywhere. Local women are often seen in conventional outfits like embroidered long skirts, colourful shawls, hats tipped to the side of their head, and long hair braids.

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The country itself is just as intriguing as its people, and looking at what it has to offer, it can be quite an attractive relocation destination to consider. Find out why below!

Country facts that may surprise you

1. It is less obscure than you think

Though Peru is highly understated and you may not have heard of it, it is actually neighbours with countries like Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile!

Its population stands around 31 million, with over half of them settled in the coastal areas, and the rest in the mountainous areas. Lima, the capital of Peru, is located in the heart of the country’s coastal desert on the Rimac River. Dubbed as the “City of Kings”, Lima is a quiet city of Spanish colonial charm transformed into a modern-day metropolis. Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, and Piura are some of the other populous cities.

"Bureaucracy is not Peru’s strong point. Government buildings are usually quite old and take a drive to get to. Expect multiple and confusing lines, long wait times, and limited to no English. In government buildings, you may need to be more assertive about asking for help; don’t expect to be gently shepherded through the offices."- Jessica Federle, Expat in Lima, Peru

2. It is part of the Amazon Rainforest and Andes

Peru prides itself with the great biodiversity, covering 13% of the Amazon Rainforest and one of the homes of the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range.

Situated on the Pacific coast, Peru’s diverse regions are divided into three:

  • The Highlands (Sierra), which is mostly a mountainous area dominated by the Andes;
  • The Coast (Costa) features arid deserts, beautiful beaches and fertile valleys;
  • The Jungle (Selva), which covers over half of the country including the Amazon River Basin and the Madre de Dios River Basin.

3. Earthquakes are normal

Peru lies below the equator and is located in the seismic zone, so light earthquakes or “temblores” are common. It is estimated to have 200 minor earthquakes in a year, and a major one every six years. 

However, unlike equatorial countries, the climate is not exclusively tropical. The mountainous regions experience a colder weather than other places. The wet season is from December to April while the dry season starts from May and ends in November.

4. Economy is looking promising

Peru has stepped out of its economic instability in the late 20th century and is now an “emerging market that promises a strong business potential”, according to The MSCI Emerging Markets (EM) Latin America Index. Today, the Peruvian economy is the 7th largest in Latin America.

Peru’s strong economic growth is clearly manifested by its outstanding performance in 2013 as it gained a GDP of US$202.3b. Growth is largely attributed to Peru’s major exports such as copper, gold, petroleum, animal food, cars, and electronics.

 

Check these off your bucket list

1. Immerse in several millennia worth of history

It is home to one of the six oldest civilisation in the world, Norte Chico, around 3500 BC, and the Inca Empire, the largest worldwide in the 16th century. Say what?!

Mark my words - the archaeological, historical and natural wonders are truly mind-blowing. Here are some of its magnificent landmarks on the World Heritage List to get started with:

  • Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, built in the middle of a mountain forest, is known to be the most fascinating architectural creation of the Inca civilisation
  • Chan Chan Archaeological Zone, consisting of ancient royal palaces built in even before the 15th century
  • Chavin Archaeological Site, a place of worship, largely made of stone, that is incremental to the culture that developed between the 15th and the 5th century BC
  • City of Cuzco, a preserved city that was remodelled after a pre-Inca occupation process of over 3,000 years, became the capital of the Tawantinsuyu Inca Empire, and was subsequently conquered by the Spaniards in the 16th century
  • Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa, which Pre-Hispanic inhabitants drew on the ground with outstanding precision, despite the non-existence of writing tools, for some 2,000 years

2. Join some of its 3,000 festivals per year

Believe it. Most Peruvians are devoted Roman Catholics. Every town has their own patron saint and patron festivals. There are numerous Christian festivities during Easter, Christmas, Corpus Christi and the Holy Week. Other religious events include Inca traditions and rituals.

Meanwhile, there are also carnivals held throughout the year in the love of dancing, singing, food and wine! Parades, contests, street parties and processions are common sights. Check out the best festivals to participate here.

3. Enjoy the outdoors with the kids

Zoo

There are two zoos in Lima, Peru’s capital - Parque de las Leyendas (Legends Park) and Parque Zoologico Huachipa (Huachipa Zoological Park). Both zoos feature a wide variety of wildlife, botanic gardens, rides and eateries. You will, however, find that each has its own unique merits.

Notably, Legends Park is built inside Lima’s largest preserved ancient Archaeological Complex of Peru.

Maranga

Complementing its historic appeal, it houses a museum with mummies and other artefacts, which definitely offers great educational value. The newer zoo, Huachipa Zoological Park, on the other hand, is most known for its sea life exhibit, which includes sea lions, otters and penguins.

Theme park

One of the biggest and most popular amusement parks in the country is Daytona Park. Located in the Hipodromo of the Monterrico race track, teenagers and adults will get a kick out of racing activities and bumper cars. The younger ones, meanwhile, will take delight in carousels, bouncy castles, and video games.

Beaches

The beaches in the southern part of Peru are mostly not attractive and shrouded by the fog. Whether you are thinking of picnics, sunbathing, water sports, or just taking a walk with your pet, you are better off heading to the north. Here are some of the top beaches there to choose from.

Take note of…

About the locals

Most of them are traditional and easy-going folks. However, communication may be an issue if you do not speak their language. About 84% of them speak Spanish and a fraction of them speak native tongues such as Quechua and Aymara.

The Peruvians hold kinship close to their hearts and form a close-knit community. Starting a family is often encouraged. Healthcare for pregnant women is affordable, as it is with Peru’s general cost of living.

Always be mindful of the "La Hora Peruana" or "Peruvian time" principle, that they religiously apply to their lifestyle. It refers to the respect for time and promptness. For more information on avoiding possible culture shocks, click here.

Working here

Unless you are interested in starting your own business, working in the mining industry, or teaching English, it may be difficult to find employment locally. The government limits local companies on the number of foreign hire and amount of total salary paid to foreigners. However, if you are in Peru on an assignment, your salary will likely afford you a very comfortable lifestyle.

A tourist visa permits a maximum of 183-day stay, of which expats can take to find a job and convert to a work visa thereafter. Some exempted countries do not have to apply for a tourist or transit visa. A business visa allows lesser, at 90 days, but gives you the freedom to sign contracts.

Economy

The Republic of Peru is one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world. It possesses an upper middle-income economy and the 37th highest Gross Domestic Product in the world in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) with a GDP of USD 468 billion.

Peru experienced an average growth rate of 5.9% over the past decade. Thanks to the government’s structural reforms and sensible macroeconomic policies, the economy underwent significant growth in employment and the income dramatically reduced the poverty rates. The Peruvian economic performance has always been tied to exports of the country’s primary products such as zinc, gold, copper, textiles and pharmaceuticals. This nation’s leading brothers in trade are state members of the European Union, Brazil, United Sates and China. Though the unemployment rate is at 7.70%, expats will still find plenty of employment opportunities in this South American country that continues to stride towards success.

The Local Job Market

In Lima, job opportunities are available in its fishing and mining sectors. Ample jobs can also be found in the service sector such as wholesale business, processed food, and textiles. Peru also offers opportunities in the tourism sector that ranges from ecotourism, cultural tourism, and gastronomic tourism to beach tourism. Most of the tourism jobs are cantered in Cusco, but job candidates must possess be proficient in English.

Along with Peru’s fast-growing economy is the demand for English competency. Most of the expatriates in Peru teach English in numerous language schools and institutes. Expatriates who know how to speak Spanish can also work as an interpreter or as a translator with a language school. Although Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificates or Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE’s) is a requirement to teach in Peru, but so long as one is a native speaker of English, one can easily snatch a teaching job.

Average Salary and Work Conditions

The current minimum wage in Peru is PEN 850 or USD 262 per month while the average monthly salary stands at PEN 9,550 or USD 2,950. As with many countries abroad, the average monthly wage of an expat will depend on his skills, industry, qualifications and job whereas degree holder teachers can get around at USD 600 monthly.

By law, a workweek is a total of 48 hours and eight hours per day. Any work done for more than eight hours per day is considered overtime. Children are allowed to work when they reach the age of 14. Kids between the ages of 12 and 14, however, may work in certain jobs for 4 hours a day. Working 6 hours a day is allowed for adolescents (ages 15 to 17) if a special permit is obtained from the Ministerio de Trabajo y Promoción del Empleo (Ministry of Labour and Employment Promotion).

Social Security and Income Tax

As part of the workforce, employees are required to register with the Ministry of Work, State Social Security System or EsSalud, System of Pensions and with SUNAT. Expats who will work in Peru need to choose what type of social security coverage they want to have. First is the SNP or public social insurance and second is the SPP which is an individual account. Those who will not make a choice will be automatically put under SPP. Both of these two types of social insurance are available for public and private sector workers. The huge difference between them is the amount of monthly contributions. SNP members need to pay 13% of their monthly gross income while members of the SPP contribute 10% of their gross earnings.

Peru’s taxation scheme on personal income is progressive and ranges from 15-30%. Income taxes are collected by the Superintendencia Nacional de Administración Tributaria or SUNAT. A flat rate is used for corporate taxes at 30%. There is an additional tax rate of 4.1% on dividends and profit distribution of companies.

The Peruvian Work Culture

In Latin American countries such as Peru, building trust is a vital foundation for any relationship. It is important for expats to establish a strong professional relationship with their local colleagues or superiors because they usually only do business with trusted associates. Generally speaking, the work culture in Peru is formal, and the structure is hierarchical. The final decision-making comes from the top with a very minimal consultation to those who hold lower ranks.

Saving face is important to the Peruvians which is the reason why the avoid confrontations or offending someone. They communicate in an indirect manner and expats must master the art of ‘reading between the lines’ while working in Peru. However, the Peruvians are also open in a way that they have the tendency to stand close together when communicating. When it comes to dress code, expats must be conservative and opt to wear smart casual attires or business suits.

 

Peruvian schools

An expat who choose to live in Peru with his children will find one of the better educational system in Latin America. The public school is free for Peruvian and Peruvian curriculum are taught in Spanish.

There is also plenty of good international schools in Peru, mainly in Lima, with courses in English, in addition to Spanish.

Daily life

Those travelling from more advanced cities may find infrastructure in areas such as utilities and public transport. Corruption and poverty are also prevalent.

It is not safe to drink tap water before boiling as bacteria strains are present. Also, caution against other tropical diseases and get the necessary health coverage with an international health insurance.

New expats should have these numbers saved, so they know who to call in the first instance, in the event of any trouble.

Cost of Living Peru

Living in Peru is very affordable to any expatriates. Anyone living on a budget of USD$1,500 monthly can live very well in Peru. The national currency is the Nuevo Sol or S/.

Real Estate

Foreigners and non-residents may acquire properties in Peru without the need to obtain permission from the government except properties near the borders, or near government-owned installation and military bases.

Foreigners are advised to use a real estate agent for property transactions. Expats purchasing a property should first obtain a Property Registry Certificate to ensure the title is clean. Once the notary public has filed the “minuta” or Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA), transfer of real property is made through public deed; it is advisable to block the property register for 60 days while waiting for the conversion of the SPA to a public deed to avoid any third party filings.

Buying a Property

Due to Peru’s economic growth, profits in the rental (or buy to rent) market have increased and became an attractive investment for property investors. Real estate experts say smaller apartment in Lima has higher yields for investors.

A 75 square meters apartment can be bought at USD$71,175 while a 370 square meter apartment can be purchased at USD$493,950.

Renting a Property

Although real estate is reasonably priced, living in Lima and some nearby beaches to the south is costly.

One can find a fully furnished three bedroom apartment in western standards costs 12,376 - 1,856.4 PEN monthly or higher. Expats wanting to live in an upscale neighborhood can seek luxury accommodations in San Isidro or Miraflores.

Utilities

For basic utilities like electricity, cable, and water, one can have a monthly budget of USD$150.00. Internet monthly costs S/. 100 - 150 PEN or higher depending on the speed/connection.

Domestic Help

Services of a maid are costly in Peru. One can charge as high as USD$15 per day in big cities or USD$200 per month.

Food Consumption

Peruvian cuisine is a blend of Amerindian and Spanish roots. Its distinct cuisine consists of rice, potatoes, chicken, pork, lamb, and fish.

A kilogram of fresh large chicken cost USD$2.07. Expats can buy the freshest catch of the day and can buy two pounds of fresh shrimp from USD$8 to USD$10.

A liter of milk cost USD$1.05, a dozen of eggs cost $1.20-$3.97USD.

Shopping

Peru is a haven for shoppers boasting of crafts and artworks like handmade alpaca clothes, woven items, and pottery. Expats can do street shopping in Peru where they can bargain for prices.

Transportation

Riding a cab in Peru can cost USD$3.00 for 5 kilometers within the city center. Gasoline prices per liter cost  3.70 - 5.12 PEN.

  

International Shipping and Removal to Peru

So you have landed a job in Peru and start looking at the long checklist for your relocation, well you have come to the right place! Explore our Relocation guide and access the trusted network of service providers.

Moving your belongings with a professional mover

Relocating overseas is easier nowadays with the existence of removal companies that offer services for convenient overseas shipping of expats' personal belongings from home. Hiring one of these companies can also prove to be very beneficial because they don't only offer assistance with the shipping process. They can also offer tips on what thing to pack or not pack depending on one's destination.

Paperwork and restrictions

To be able to ship to Peru, the expat's original passport and work contract with a Peru-based employer must be presented to the Ministry of Labor, along with an inventory of everything that will be included in the shipment. Removals to Peru can be hassle-free when one observes regulations for shipping to this country, especially those that involve restrictions on certain items. For example, firearms, narcotics and prohibited drugs, explosives, and obscene materials will not be allowed for shipment. Odd as it may seem, ham from Italy and Portugal will also not be allowed in Peru.

Duty free

Some items in certain quantities may also be allowed duty free, including 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco, alcoholic drinks not more than 2.5 liters, US$300 worth of gifts and personal effects and below 2 kilograms of processed foods. All these must be brought into the country by an individual who is at least 18 years old. Otherwise, items will be sent back to the country where they were shipped from.

Relocating to Peru often requires an expat to make personal shipments from his country of origin. The task may seem daunting but for professional movers in Peru, this can be professionally done with ease. Those who want to avoid delays and other inconveniences will always find these experts' help indispensable.

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