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What You Need to Know When You’re Moving to Lima

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Relocating to Lima

Did you know that Lima is one of the five largest cities in all of the Americas? So after moving to Lima, you will find yourself with almost ten million new neighbors. Of these, a lot are expats, and it won’t be long until you feel right at home amongst the city’s diverse residents.

From All Parts of the World: Lima’s Mixed Ethnic Heritage

What you will probably first notice after moving to Lima is the eclectic mix of ethnicities in all parts of the city. People of various backgrounds have been a feature of the Peruvian capital for hundreds of years. The majority of limeños (the name for the people living in Lima) are Mestizos, so a mix between indigenous and European descent (predominantly Spanish and Italian). European Peruvians compose the city’s second largest ethnicity. Once again, Spanish and Italian heritage are the most common, but Peruvian Germans are also fairly popular, as well as limeños of French, Austrian, and Croatian descent.

Other noticeable ethnicities in Lima are Chinese and Japanese. In fact, the city has the largest Chinese community in all of Latin America by a significant margin. And second to Brazil, Peru has the largest Japanese community in Latin America. Chinese Peruvians are known as Tusan. Lima is home to a bustling Chinatown (Barrio chino). The city also has substantial Amerindian and Afro-Peruvian minorities.

Hablas Español?

Given that Lima was founded in 1535 by the Spanish, it is unsurprising that the national language is Spanish. Despite this, you might find it hard to recognize any European version of the language. Peruvian Coastal Spanish, as Lima’s dialect is known, is modeled on the historical version of the language which originated from Castile.

As an expat, the best you can do before moving to Lima is ensure you have a good grasp of Spanish. Once you have established yourself in the city, you can then begin to modulate your speech with the regional inflections. It is crucial, though, that you do know some Spanish, as the citizens of Lima do not often speak English, especially outside of the country’s upper classes. Also, many administrative and governmental websites and services are only available in Spanish.

Historic and Mouth-Watering: Peru’s (Food) Culture

Stemming from the melting pot of ethnicities in the city, Lima’s culture is also mixed. After moving to Lima, you will be able to recognize the colonial Spanish architecture of the Monastery of San Francisco, the Cathedral of Lima, and the Torre Tagle Palace. Indeed, the historic center of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, away from such major monuments the Spanish influence is hard to detect.

This is especially true of the city’s cuisine, which is something you must sample after moving to Lima. Known as the “Gastronomical Capital of the Americas”, you will experience a fusion of tastes originating in Andean, Asian, and Spanish culinary traditions. Limeños take food very seriously. It is a way of expressing the city’s mixed heritage and vibrant multiculturalism. Case in point: the government of Lima has turned a traditional farmers’ market into a Boulevard of Gastronomy. It is a place to stroll, to smell, and to taste, all while appreciating the ingredients that compose Peruvian cuisine.

Moving to Lima will inevitably be a feast of new flavors. No matter where in Lima you find yourself, there is no avoiding ceviche, the official protagonist of Peru’s food scene. At its most basic, ceviche is raw fish that is “cooked” in lime juice and seasoned with onions and hot chili peppers. Lima’s top cevicherias are crowded along Avenida La Mar in Miraflores.

Sun-Bathing, Hiking, or Clubbing — All Is Possible

Whether you prefer peaceful relaxation or exciting night life, moving to Lima will not disappoint you. The beaches in the north and south of the city are always packed when the weather allows it, and they are lined with a myriad of restaurants and clubs. Be warned though — the water is ice cold, even if the temperature outside is not!

If this isn’t for you, try taking walks in the surrounding hill chains. These are the extremes of the Andean mountain chain, the very end of which is actually the San Cristobal hill in the downtown Rimac district. You will be greeted by beautiful views which might be hard to see within the confines of foggy Lima. Moving to Lima certainly comes with some pretty enviable landscapes.

Lima: Visas and Healthcare

You can enter Lima for a maximum of 183 days with a tourist visa. You do not need to apply for a visa in advance if you are a resident of the European Union, the Americas, or an Oceanic country. This makes reconnaissance visits to the capital city fairly straightforward to conduct. However, if you are a citizen of an African or Asian nation, you will need to visit your nearest Peruvian embassy to learn about the visa guidelines for entering Lima. You can also have a look at this document provided by the Peruvian Consulate.

The Purpose of Your Stay Matters: Visa Categories

If you don’t need to apply for a visa before arriving in Peru, you receive a tourist visa stamp in your passport once you arrive in the country (most commonly at an airport). For this you need to show your return ticket. Peru issues tourist visas for 2 days (a transit visa), 90 days and 183 days. Simply ask for the extended tourist visa when you arrive. If you don’t, you might find yourself with only a 90-day visa even though you intend to stay longer. Once you’ve been issued a tourist visa you are not able to renew it. Furthermore, you have to pay a small fine upon departing Peru if you overstay your visa allowance.

A work visa, or a visa de negocios, is necessary if you want to do business in Lima. Your company needs to send a letter, in Spanish, to the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce, explaining what you will be doing in Lima. You also need to send a copy of your passport.

Your work visa will be valid for the duration of time that your contract is valid for. You must apply for the work visa at the Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones, which is the Peruvian general directorate of migration in Lima. So you might want to enter Peru on a tourist visa while your work visa application is being processed.

The only way to get permanent residency in Lima is to marry a Peruvian, or to have worked there for so long that you eventually qualify for naturalization.

In Case You’re Sick: Where to Go for Medical Treatment

The most important thing for you to do before moving to Lima is to take out a decent international health insurance policy. As healthcare in Peru is not of the highest standard, this will pay dividends if you end up spending some time in the country.

Although many cannot afford the high cost of health insurance, the hospital facilities themselves are fairly good, and you will be able to find plenty of private health clinics around Lima.

It is also important to get the necessary vaccines before moving to Lima. The World Health Organization advises vaccines for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, and rabies. Once you are in Lima, you will be able to obtain any medicines you may need at over the counter pharmacies.

Should you need it, the emergency number across Peru is 105. The Clínica Anglo-Americana (01 616 8900) has a walk-in center with English-speaking staff near the US embassy. One of the most popular private clinics is the Clinica Internacional, located at Jr Washington 1471, Lima. Give them a call in advance at (01 619 6161).The Clínica Internacional accepts all major credit cards — useful in an emergency.

Connect with like-minded expatriates

Discover our welcoming community of expats! You’ll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global minds together.

May 23, 2024, 1:30 AM
9 attendees
We are here again to explore new ways of drinking beer and paring with delicious snacks. This time our friends of the best Peruvian beer in the last Beer World Cup 2024 will delight us with Beer and C
May 26, 2024, 3:00 AM
23 attendees
Join us for a night of laughter and excitement, friendly competition of games with good drinks. Get ready to play some games such as Beer pong, Jenga, Uno, etc. in a relax and welcoming atmosphere. D
May 26, 2024, 6:00 PM
11 attendees
"If you're a cheese lover, this event is for you! 😍 The " Salón del queso Peruano 2024" features over 200 exhibition stands offering a wide variety of cheeses, along with supplies and equipment for
Jun 2, 2024, 4:00 AM
38 attendees
Come and enjoy a live concert with the best sucess of rock and pop from 80's and 90's (guitar, keyboard and drums) with a great singer by La Tarima Cafe Concert (restaurant and bar too), located at M

See all upcoming events for expats in Lima

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  • Brandon Le Clerk

    During all my life as an expat (Lima is my fourth home abroad), I have been searching exactly for a networking platform like InterNations.

  • Maria Borges

    InterNations and the Lima Community helped me to learn a lot about Peru and the Peruvian culture -- not to mention Lima's nightlife. ;)

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