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Moving to Peru
A comprehensive guide to moving to Peru
Are you considering relocating to Peru but don’t quite know what to expect? In this article, InterNations GO! provides you with useful information on this spectacular Andean country. Moving to Peru will be a far simpler task with our tips on visa requirements, accommodation, healthcare, and transportation!
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Relocating to Peru
Peru is a delightful destination for expats seeking an altogether different lifestyle. While moving there may seem a bit frightening at first, possibly due to a lack of background knowledge, rest assured that you are not making a mistake. Peruvians are usually friendly and open people interested in sharing their culture with foreigners. You will be taken in not only by the beautiful scenery of the country, but also by the warmth of its inhabitants!
A Large Gap between the Rich and the Poor
Upon moving to Peru you may experience some culture shock, especially concerning the Peruvian lifestyle. As there is a lot of poverty in this country, you may find that the extremely poor and the extremely rich coexist very closely and side by side, especially in large cities such as Arequipa and Lima. However, the cost of living is generally very affordable.
Should you be moving to one of the country’s larger cities, you will be happy to know that most amenities are common, contrary to what some negative stereotypes may insinuate. Telephone, internet, television, electricity, and plumbing are available virtually everywhere. Internet, telephone, and gasoline prices can be slightly higher compared to what you may be used to paying. However, the cost of these utilities is balanced out by the comparatively low price of food.
Generally speaking, most expats who made the move to Peru are happy to have done so, as the Peruvian lifestyle is very laidback and relaxed. In Peru, you’ll have the chance to get a taste of the South American flair!
Accommodate Your Needs
You should be aware that the way of life in Peru is quite different from what you may be used to. Most people moving to the larger cities, such as Arequipa or Lima (find more information in our article on living in Peru) tend to reside in apartment houses. There is, however, a wide variety of housing options: high-rise apartment buildings, single-family homes, and smaller suburban housing. However, Peru has a severe housing shortage, which forces many less fortunate families to live in squatter settlements on the periphery of cities.
Most expats moving to Peru tend to avoid staying in rural areas, as there are fewer job opportunities and cultural offerings available. Peru’s urban districts are often very packed, and slums are not uncommon on the outskirts of larger metropolitan areas. It is best to use a realtor when looking for accommodation, as they will most likely be more adept at helping you solidify your move to Peru.
Keep in mind that most housing is unfurnished and without kitchen appliances. Furnished apartments are rare and relatively expensive.
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Peru: Visas and Healthcare
Residents of most Western European, North & South American, as well as Oceanic countries do not require a visa to enter Peru for 183 days. Peru requires citizens of almost all African and Asian nations to apply for a visa prior to moving to Peru, regardless of the length of their stay. Please visit the nearest Peruvian embassy or consulate to ensure that your country of residence falls into this category. If you can read Spanish, you can also check out this list supplied by the government of Peru.
Permanent residency is not possible in Peru, aside from two options: either you have a job, or a Peruvian spouse. Otherwise you will either be obliged to take out a tourist visa for 90 or 183 days, or a work permit, or have lived and worked in Peru long enough to qualify for naturalization.
Which Type of Visa Do You Need?
There are three main types of visas in Peru:
- The tourist visa (90 days): This visa consists of a stamp given to you at the immigration office upon arrival in a Peruvian airport. Make sure that the stamp is given for 90 days and not for only 30 days, as is sometimes the case. You need to show a return or continuing journey ticket valid within the 90-day period in order to receive this stamp.
- The extended tourist visa (183 days): Similar to the short-term tourist visa, this is the extended version. It is also given in the form of a stamp in your passport upon arrival in the country. Be aware that if you extend your stay in Peru beyond the allotted time period, you will be fined!
- The business visa (visa de negocios): This visa is required for anyone planning on doing business in Peru. Along with your valid passport, you need to have your company write to the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce (in Spanish) indicating the nature of your business and the length of your stay.
For other visa categories and information on exactly which forms you will need to fill out, please visit the Peruvian embassy or consulate nearest to you well in advance of your impending move to Peru.
Not the Best System: Peruvian Healthcare
If you are planning on moving to Peru, it is imperative that you take out a good private international healthcare policy. Unfortunately, the World Health Organization considers Peru’s healthcare system to be one of the least fairly financed in the world. This is due to the fact that many Peruvians earn too little to be able to pay the high benefit costs.
Aside from the expensive health insurance system, Peruvian hospitals have good standards, and there are numerous private health clinics in Peru’s larger cities, such as Lima and Arequipa. One of the largest Peruvian healthcare providers is EsSalud, which is one of the first attempts in Peru to universalize healthcare.
The emergency number throughout Peru is 105, and will connect you directly with ambulance, fire, and police departments. Pharmacies (farmacias or boticas) are located throughout the cities. Most medication is accessible over the counter, and physicians will prescribe medications as well. As usual when moving abroad, if you have any irregular medical issues, please be sure to take a copy of your prescription with you in order to ensure you get the equivalent in Peru.
Make an appointment with your general practitioner for a general check-up before moving to Peru in order to ensure that you have the proper vaccinations. Currently the WHO requires foreign nationals entering Peru to get vaccinated for hepatitis A & B, typhoid, yellow fever, and rabies. If you are planning on traveling to the Amazon rainforest area, be sure to take precautions against mosquito bites as malaria is still a health risk there — better safe than sorry!
Transportation in Peru
Getting to and around Peru should not be a problem: Peru has over 234 airports, five of which are international, nearly 2,000 kilometers of railways, and over 137,000 kilometers of roads, as well as 9,000 kilometers of navigable waterways.
Exploring the Country — How to Do It Best
By far the biggest airport is the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima. It is located circa eleven kilometers outside of Lima’s city center. Public transportation and taxis are readily available to take you to and from the airport.
If you are already in Peru and want to explore one of the many beautiful towns and coastal cities, getting around by car is also an option. The Pan American Highway cuts straight through Peru from the Ecuadorian border to the Chilean one. Roads are in good condition and the route also allows you to take in the scenery. Please be aware, however, due to the mountainous terrain, falling rocks may block roads on occasion. You should only drive cross-country if you are an experienced and secure driver. Otherwise feel free to rent a car with a driver, available for reasonable pricing at any number of car hire companies.
You also have the option of taking a train or long-distance bus to most cities across the country. The intercity bus system is quite efficient and not very expensive. Well-known bus lines are Cruz del Surand Ormeño, both of which also service neighboring countries, and are a comfortable alternative to the car. Rail transport in Peru is not so widely distributed, due to its mountainous geography which complicates construction and service. However, the 20th century saw some major improvements in Peru’s railway system and there are several passenger trains transporting travelers (mostly tourists) across the country.
Finding Your Way through the Cities
Larger cities in Peru have a public transportation system. El Metropolitano, the rapid transit bus system in Lima, is the easiest and most reliable form of public transportation. Their website (in Spanish only) gives information on ticket prices, routes, and timetables. Additionally, Lima is trying to finalize the construction of its above-ground mass transit system, the Lima metro. Currently there is only one line in use, which connects the southern part of Lima with the city center.
Arequipa’s public transportation system consists of a bus and mini bus system. You can easily and cheaply get around by taxi as well. Regardless of where you travel with a taxi in Peru, make sure that you negotiate the price beforehand and that the taximeter is on.
It is probably most convenient to have a car in larger cities. Most Peruvians who can afford it, own a car with a driver. Peruvian drivers can be quite hot-tempered and sometimes drive erratically.