22 November 2018

Lyle Walker - Expat in Peru

Lyle Walker - Expat in Peru

We’ve had the chance to talk to Lyle Walker, 52, an American expat who has moved to Peru with his wife. Mr Walker, who has been living there for over six years works as an industrial engineer and B&B owner. Read more about his experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I grew up in Southern California and moved to Las Vegas when I was 23


Q: What made you move out of your home country?

A: My Wife in Peruvian and we decided that we wanted a change of pace from the normal 9-5, we decided that running a B&B would be doable and decided to give it a shot


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: We have just recently returned to Las Vegas, but we were living just outside of Cusco Peru, as we had decided to run a B&B we wanted to be in a location that has tourism, and Cusco being the gateway city for those wanting to Visit Machu Picchu, gets over 1 million tourists each year.


Q: How long have you been living in your host country?

A: We lived there for just over six years


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: It was just my wife and I, and although we had no problem with the cultural changes, my wife never really adjusted to the altitude, which in Cusco is about 11,300 feet. The altitude is the main reason that we are now back in the States


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: There were a few things that I missed about the US, like red vines for some reason. Family wise I kept in touch and we made several trips back to the states to visit, my sister was also able to come to Peru with her boyfriend. My wife is from Peru so this actually put us closer to them.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: We found the locals to be nice and very accepting of having a gringo living amongst them


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in your host country? How did you manage to find a social circle there?

A: We lived in a small farming town of about 3,000 people and the majority of the local population mainly spoke Quechua, which is the language of the Andes, so communication with others around our age was often times difficult as some of them did not speak much Spanish. We did though have friends in the town and in Cusco itself, many of them just started as business contacts for our B&B. The majority of expats in the Cusco region actually live in the Sacred Valley due to its lower altitude, so we did not have many expat friends there.


Q: How does the cost of living in your host country compare to your home?

A: Much lower, for example, our property taxes were under $30/year, our water was $3/month flat (not metered), Power ran about $50/month for a 5,000 sq foot home.


Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Depends on where you get it, in the tourist areas it could run $2 to $5, but in the local areas a coffee would run about $0.60


Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: Eating at a local "menu" restaurant would run about $2


Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: At a tourist class restaurant you could easily spend $10 - $20 for a meal, if not more (we did not eat at them often)


Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: Bottle of wine could run as low as $2, do not smoke so no idea as to the cost for cigarettes


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in your host country?

A: No, the banking seemed fairly straight forward, the banks do tend to charge for everything, even using a teller more than a few times a month.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Dealing with the government is tedious and really requires patience. you have to make any copies yourself, and payments must be made at a national bank branch or agent, so you are constantly running back and forth between the office, a copy place, the bank and normally a notary. Add to this the fact that each time you see someone, they are likely to tell you that you need additional paperwork that the previous person failed to tell you about


Q: Would you say that healthcare in your host country is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Government healthcare is really cheap and even free in certain circumstances, but it is also basic and it can take a while to get seen by a doctor. My recommendation would be to get local insurance and use the private clinics that, while more expensive than the government system, they will provide a much higher level of care and are faster. The private clinics are still much cheaper than US healthcare, my wife broke her leg while we were out hiking one day, the break was severe and needed surgery to install a metal plate, 4 days in the clinic, the doctor time, all prescriptions and supplies, and the surgery totalled less than $2,000 without any insurance. You do have to be prepared for a little change in procedures as everything must be paid in advance, even the things like my wife's daily IV, pads, gauze, bandages and supplies for the surgery. Each morning I would be given prescriptions for what she would need for the day, then I would go to the local pharmacy to get them and bring them back to the clinic


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or host country? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: We did not get health insurance, but we are planning to get it when we return after about 5 years. Personally, I would look into local insurance, while there are good insurance options for expats & travellers, in Peru you are likely to have to pay upfront and wait for reimbursement. With a locally purchased policy, you would not have to wait for reimbursement if using a participating clinic.


Are you covered? Free Health Insurance Quotes

Get FREE quotes from leading global Insurers to compare and find a plan suits you.

Get free quotes


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to your host country? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: We actually made the move with just suitcases as we did not plan to return to the States, and the most memorable part of the move was American Airlines causing us to have to leave 1/2 of our bags in Miami. When we booked the flight from LA to Lima, with a 10 day layover in Miami, my wife confirmed that we could take an extra 4 pieces of luggage (8 pieces total between the 2 of us). When we checked in for the flight in LA we again verified that we would be able to take all 8 pieced to Lima, and the worker at the counter said yes. When we arrive in Miami my wife went to the counter to check one more time, and that time we were informed that there were luggage restrictions for flights going into Lima, and we could only take 4 pieces, not the 8 that we had. Fortunately my wife has a friend living in Miami that was able to help us ship the pieces to Lima via a friend, but that really had us worried for a short time.


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Getting used to the inefficiencies when dealing with any government agencies.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in your host country?

A: Positive - being able to experience a different culture, and a low cost of living. Negative - Inefficient government, and traffic can be really bad in large cities.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Living in Cusco afforded us to visit Machu Picchu more than 5 times, and we were surrounded by archaeological sites that we visited sometimes on a daily basis. For anyone that is considering a move to Peru, they should definitely take advantage of the wide variety of archaeological sites in the country.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Once we actually retire, we plan to return to Peru and live there permanently


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Enjoy the culture and do not try and change Peru to be like your home country.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about your host country?

A: https://www.livinginperu.com/ And I have a blog that I was doing while living in Cusco https://agringoslifeincusco.wordpress.com/