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Expat Exchange - 10 Things to Know Before Moving to Peru
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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Peru

By Betsy Burlingame

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: If you're planning a move to Peru, here are 10 things expats living there wish they had known before moving to Peru.

Peru is a country that offers a rich cultural experience, breathtaking landscapes, and a vibrant lifestyle. If you're considering moving to this South American gem, there are a few things you should know to make your transition smoother. Here are the top 10 things to know before moving to Peru.

1. Understanding the Peruvian Culture

Peru is a melting pot of cultures, with influences from the indigenous Inca, Spanish colonizers, and immigrants from Africa, China, and Japan. This diversity is reflected in everything from the food to the music. It's important to respect and appreciate this cultural richness. For example, don't be surprised if you're invited to a 'Pachamanca' - a traditional Andean cooking method where food is cooked underground with hot stones. It's not just a meal, but a social event!

2. Learning Spanish is Essential

While you'll find English speakers in tourist areas and among younger Peruvians, the primary language is Spanish. Learning Spanish will not only make daily life easier but also help you connect with locals. There are plenty of language schools in cities like Lima and Cusco where you can take classes.

3. The Peruvian Sol is the Currency

The official currency of Peru is the Sol. While US dollars are accepted in some places, it's best to have Sols for everyday transactions. ATMs are widely available, but be aware of potential fraud. It's a good idea to use ATMs inside banks or shopping centers for safety.

4. Peru's Diverse Climate

Peru's climate varies greatly depending on the region. The coastal areas are desert-like with a warm climate, the Andean highlands have a cooler, mountain climate, and the Amazon rainforest is hot and humid. So, pack accordingly!

5. The Gastronomic Capital of South America

Peruvian cuisine is world-renowned, with Lima often referred to as the gastronomic capital of South America. From ceviche to lomo saltado to pisco sours, there's a wealth of culinary delights to explore. Don't miss out on trying 'cuy' (guinea pig), a traditional Andean delicacy.

6. Public Transportation is an Adventure

Public transportation in Peru is an adventure in itself. From crowded 'combi' vans to taxis without meters, getting around can be a challenge. However, it's also an authentic experience. Just be sure to negotiate taxi fares before getting in.

7. Safety in Peru

Like any country, safety can vary in Peru. While most areas are safe, some neighborhoods in larger cities like Lima can be dangerous. It's always a good idea to ask locals or expats about the safety of an area. Also, be aware of pickpockets in crowded places.

8. The Rich History of Peru

Peru is steeped in history, from the ancient Inca civilization to Spanish colonial times. Visiting historical sites like Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and colonial cities like Arequipa is a must. Also, many festivals and holidays in Peru have historical significance, like Inti Raymi, which celebrates the Inca sun god.

9. Healthcare in Peru

Peru's healthcare system has both public and private sectors. While public healthcare is available to all, many expats opt for private healthcare due to better facilities and shorter wait times. It's advisable to have health insurance that covers medical treatment in Peru.

10. The Warmth of the Peruvian People

Perhaps the most important thing to know before moving to Peru is the warmth and hospitality of the Peruvian people. They are known for their friendliness and are generally welcoming to foreigners. Don't be surprised if you're invited to a local's home for a meal or a celebration - it's all part of the Peruvian way of life!

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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William Russell

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