Lima is both the capital and the largest city of Peru. As such, it has a history of attracting plenty of expats. However, this does not change the fact that the city takes some getting used to, and you may have to deal with some significant culture shock before you can acclimatize to your new life. The information below should assist you in doing just that.
One of the first things you will notice about living in Lima is the thick blanket of fog covering the city for the vast majority of the year. This is because of Lima’s location near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, in a valley created by three different rivers. Don’t let the fog put you off: accept it as part of your Peruvian experience, and something that makes Lima quite unique!
In terms of temperature, life in Lima is quite pleasant. You will rarely experience anything below 12°C, or above 29°C. At least choosing the wardrobe to bring with you will therefore be relatively straightforward! Expect the warmest season between December and April, and the coolest from June through October.
While you are living in Lima, you have to use the Peruvian nuevos soles, or sol (PEN). The current exchange rate as of August 2015 is 1 sol = 0.28 EUR. Changing money might be a bit tricky while you are in Lima. It is easiest to exchange euros and US dollars — other currencies might pose a problem.
The airport offers terrible exchange rates and is best avoided. Instead, look for a cambista (a money changer), wearing the vest uniform to indicate that they are licensed. You can usually trust those on the streets of the wealthy district of Miraflores.
Follow a few simple tips to successfully exchange money while you are living in Lima. Compare various exchange rates (tipo de cambio) before you settle. Most importantly, always ensure that the cambista stamps their seal (sello) on the bills. This allows you to complain if one of them is counterfeit.
Violent crime is not common in the city. The greatest threat you are likely to experience while living in Lima is petty theft. Beware of pickpockets at all times, especially in crowded places like buses and bars. Pickpockets are often well dressed, and many of them attempt to make friends with unsuspecting foreigners before robbing them.
So, it is advisable that you do not wear expensive accessories such as designer watches, and that you carry bags on your front. While tourists will be the most obvious target, as an expat you may not look or sound Peruvian, and could also stand out.
The other main threat is found in night clubs and bars, and comes from the Peruvian pepera. A pepera is usually a young female Peruvian who will ingratiate herself with male foreign tourists, before spiking their drinks with sleeping pills, and then robbing them. Although female peperas are most common, there are also males, especially in the dense tourist areas of Plaza de Armas (city center) and Park Kennedy (Miraflores). Life in Lima, for the most part, is safe, but it is important to always be cautious.
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