Many retirees look to become an expat in Peru. The country can extend savings through a low cost of living. With a large number of tourist attractions, such as the Incas ruins, mountainside views, tropical climate, there’s something for everyone here. However, senior expats may want to take a second look. Becoming an expat in your senior years comes with challenges and there are some definite drawbacks to moving to Peru in your golden years.
Peru currently has a total of 9 different types of temporary visas and 6 resident visas available. A residency visa appointment must be made with the National Superintendency of Migration or Migraciones Superintendencia Nacional. To be approved for permanent residency, you must have a temporary visa for three years prior to your application. The temporary visa application costs about $32 US dollars. You will need to provide a legible copy of your current passport and income to the Banco de la Nación (National Bank).
You can also apply for residency as an investor. If you have $150,000 US dollars at your disposal, you can make a one-time transfer from your bank account to a new bank account in Peru.
Of course, there are more simple ways to apply for residency, such as applying through family relationship. This method requires you to be a parent of a Peruvian citizen or a parent of a foreigner going through any of the processes listed above. This process can be done in reverse. A child can apply for residency if the parents are already residents. There’s also the option to have a Peruvian spouse, which will make applying for residency less complicated.
Cost of Living
In general, prices in Peru are around 50% cheaper than average compared to the United States. Utilities, including water, electricity, AC, garbage, and internet services, cost less than $100 US dollars.
Rent is also relatively cheap. For a single bedroom in a city center, the cost comes out at around $415 dollars per month. Monthly rent prices drop to around half that when outside of any city center ($200).
Peru has a decentralized health care system with a high amount of overlapping functions due to little organization between the administering entities. Hospitals are crowded at almost every hour of the day. A simple check-up is often extremely time-consuming, frustrating, and exhausting. Even after a doctor can see you, the medicine and treatment may not even be available for them to give you. Keep all of this in mind as Medicare for expats is not an option.
Peru has bus services available throughout the country. However, the road conditions and maintenance on public transportation is often lacking, making traveling a dangerous endeavor. The bus services open to the public are generally reasonably priced with regular travel routes.
If you’re going for a more scenic view of Peru, travel by train is available in certain areas. Going by boat is another viable travel option. In some regions, boat travel is the easiest way to get around, especially on the country’s north side. It is one of the only ways to access the famous jungle city of Iquitos.
There are around 50 different spoken languages in Peru, most of which are indigenous languages. However, the most common language is Spanish. As long as you stick to urban areas, Spanish should be the language you invest some time into learning before moving.
Long-Term and Elder Care
Peru has an average lifespan of 74 years for males and 77 years for females. However, older people receive little or no healthcare treatment as Peruvian hospitals don’t offer any specialized treatment for them. Unfortunately 1 out of every four elderly adults is not covered by insurance. Extreme poverty prevents many from seeking necessary medical treatment.
Life Satisfaction and Personal Relationships
In an interview by Universitas Psychologica, one hundred and twenty-two adults over 60 were asked about their life satisfaction. Most had a high life satisfaction, while a minority said they felt lonely and abandoned by their family members.
The high rate of poverty impacts the overall happiness and wellbeing of many in Peru. One study found that committed friendships are sometimes able to counteract the negativity of poverty. The support of family and religious beliefs are other factors that have been shown to increase happiness.
In the last decade, crime has increased by 88 percent in Peru. Foreign residents are often targeted. In the capital city of Lima, the common types of crime are petty theft, burglary, assault, and armed robbery. If victims resist, the chances of the altercation becoming violent escalate substantially.
Peru also has a counterfeit problem. Peru has more circulating U.S. currency than any other country in the world. Additionally, credit card fraud through skimming or cloning is rampant. Use local currency whenever possible for purchases.
Climate and Pollution
Due to the prevalence of gas and mining industries and car emissions, Peru’s air is considered moderately unsafe. Peru also has a high amount of water pollution. Even if you don’t have any health issues before arriving in Peru, the air and water conditions might cause you to develop some.
Peru has three main climate zones. The coastal area is cloudy most of the year with a mild temperature. The region that contains the Andes mountain range is generally cold. The eastern part of Peru is part of the Amazon rainforest. Naturally, temperatures are hot and humid. Don’t forget to bring your bug spray!
Further Reading on Becoming an Expat in Peru
Peru has had a rough time of it in recent years. Extreme poverty has been a pretty taxing factor on the Peruvian lifestyle. The country can’t boast the most outstanding healthcare system, either. Getting sick might be a severe problem, especially if you have a chronic disease. Medicine is not easy to come by. Peru’s air pollution is high enough to pose a risk to people with respiratory problems.
Here are some recommended books to learn more about Peru:
- DK Eyewitness Peru (Travel Guide) by DK Eyewitness
- Lonely Planet Peru (Country Guide) by Lonely Planet
- The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics by Orin Starn, Ivan Degregori, and Robin Kirk
- Traveling with Grandma to Peru by Jody Brady
For other articles on expat life in South America, consider these:
On the plus side, communicating with the locals shouldn’t be hard as long as you have a basic Spanish vocabulary. Overall, living in Peru is generally a lot cheaper than in the United States, averaging in almost all factors a 50%-70% decrease in costs.