Peru lies on the west coast of the South American continent and boasts not only a large portion of the Amazon rainforest, but also a staggeringly beautiful coastline, majestic mountainscapes and plenty of ancient ruins, including Machu Picchu, which attracts droves of visitors every year. Besides luring plenty of tourists, Peru, and its capital city of Lima in particular, has also become a popular expat destination of late.

Historically important as both the seat of the Inca Empire and the Spanish Empire in South America, Peru has a long and prestigious, if somewhat troubled, history. The population is a mixture of ethnicities and heritages, which makes for a diverse and colourful melting pot of languages, cuisines and cultures, including Chinese, Spanish and Amerindian, to name a few.

Expats moving to Lima can look forward to living in a grand old city with an eclectic skyline, characterised by impressive Spanish colonial architecture intermingled with functional concrete and sleek, contemporary glass skyscrapers. The fourth largest city in the Americas, this sprawling metropolis is home to almost 10 million people. In fact, a third of Peru’s population can be found here, including a sizeable multi-ethnic expat community who work in the many multinational companies based in Lima. The city is also a major financial centre in Latin America and generates over 50 percent of Peru’s GDP.

New arrivals to Lima and Peru will need to pick up some Peruvian Spanish to get by outside of international businesses. Although increasing numbers of young adults can speak English thanks to a globalised youth culture, the language is spoken very little for the most part. That said, jobs teaching English in Peru are available and attract plenty of young foreigners to the country.

Expats to Peru should remember that despite its strong economy and multinational influences, Peru is still a developing country. New arrivals should be prepared to deal with often insufficient utilities, a lack of decent public transport, a dysfunctional bureaucracy often mired in red tape, and corruption.

The cost of living in Peru is generally cheaper than in the US or Europe, especially for locally produced foodstuffs and services such as domestic help. However, new arrivals should be prepared to pay for decent accommodation and factor in the extra expenses of hiring taxis or buying a car, as public transport is usually avoided by expats.

Those moving with kids will be pleased to know that the public school system is of an excellent standard and expat parents will have a choice of top private and international schools.

Most expats who choose to relocate to Peru instantly fall in love with this corner of South America. And with warm and friendly locals, some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world, rich history and a good standard of living, it's no wonder why.


Fast facts

Population: About 32 million

Capital city: Lima 

Neighbouring countries: Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil

Geography: While a mostly mountainous country and with the Pacific Ocean to the west, Peru is extremely diverse in its geography. There are three natural zones: The Costa (coastal) region is a narrow coastal plain consisting of large tracts of desert broken by fertile valleys. The Andes are in the Sierra highlands, with peaks towering over 6,000m (20,000ft). The fertile Selva (jungle) area lies between the Andes and the borders with Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador. 

Political system: Presidential constitutional republic

Major religion: Roman Catholic 

Main languages: Spanish, Aymara, Quechua 

Money: The Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) is divided into 100 céntimos.

Tipping: Some restaurants add a service charge of between five percent and 10 percent, but waiters can be offered an additional 10 percent for exceptional service. Taxi drivers are not tipped, but tour guides are.

Time: GMT-5 

Electricity: 220 volts, 60Hz. Two-pronged plugs with flat blades and plugs with two round prongs are used.

Internet domain: .pe

International dialling code: +51

Emergency contacts: 105 (police), 116 (fire), 117 (ambulance)

Transport and driving: Drive on the right-hand side

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