Posted on | August 14, 2012 | 14 Comments
This question comes up over and over and over – and it’s got a million and one answers – what’s the cost of living in Lima, Peru? Why do so many people have so many different answers to the same question? If you asked a construction worker from the Bronx and a high powered doctor or broker from Manhattan about their cost of living, don’t you think you’d get different responses? It’s the same thing here in Lima.
I have been in the position of living in a lower class neighborhood and am now living in a upscale neighborhood, so I think I’m in a pretty good position to give you a good idea on the cost of living. My family is far from rich, but we live pretty comfortably – certainly in the “1%” by Peruvian standards. By US standards, I’d say that we were firmly entrenched in the middle class. I’m going to list out some of the most common costs of living items, give you an idea what we paid for them in Surquillo, what we pay in Miraflores, and when possible, what some other people pay.
At the time of writing this post, the exchange rate was about 2.64 soles to 1 dollar.
Rent: This is usually one of the biggest expenditures.
- Our first rental in Surquillo cost us $350/month, and that price included water and electricity services. It was a 3-bedroom, one bath home, with a nice sized kitchen and a small back patio. We had to pay about 20 soles/month in arbitrios (municipal taxes) and also chip in for the neighborhood watchman.
- In Miraflores, we’re paying $800/monthly, and it doesn’t include anything else. It’s a 3 bedroom/2bath house with an attached mini apartment that includes two rooms with a private bath. The house has a very large kitchen, lots of space and a back yard garden that’s big enough for dogs and kids to play. The arbitrios are about 50 soles/month, but include the neighborhood watchman, nice roads and lots of area landscaping.
- You can find rentals in price ranges from around $300 month to over $2000, depending upon location and furnishings. Rentals in districts like Lince, Jesus Maria, San Miguel, Surquillo, and Magdalena can be much less expensive, but those districts have some nice areas and some not so nice areas, so due diligence is necessary when apartment/home shopping.
- Groceries cost us about 300 soles per person per month. I shop at a combination of grocery stores and local markets; the local markets are generally cheaper, but I don’t care what anyone says, I don’t think the quality is as good. The market is great if you’re shopping for things you will use quickly, but if you’re like me and like to buy a week at a time, you’ll probably prefer the grocery store. I find that fruits and vegetables from the market tend to go bad more quickly, probably because they aren’t refrigerated. (I fully expect someone to eventually post here and tell me I’m full of crap and don’t know what I’m talking about – whatevs, I’m talking about my experience, not theirs)
I do save some money by shopping at Plaza Vea; I have a “Visa Vea” credit card through Interbank, which not only allows me to get special instore discounts, but also offers me bonus coupons depending on how much I spend. I’ve carefully compared prices, and find that I can shop at Plaza Vea for as cheaply as I can at the market for most items.
If you like to eat a lot of comfort foods from home, expect to see that reflected in higher costs on your grocery bill.
- In Surquillo, our water and electric were covered with the rent; I know people in Surquillo, however, who pay as little as $15/month for water and about $25-30 for power.
- In Miraflores, the costs are higher. With a washing machine and a backyard that has to be watered, (plus 5-6 people showering regularly!) our water bill costs as much as $45/month. Electric is much higher – around $100/month – that includes 2 computers that are on most of the time, refrigerator, washer, hot water heater + one electric “on demand” water heater in the separate bath. In the winter, the electric goes up by about $20 because we run heaters occasionally; we’ve just purchased a new clothes dryer, I’ll let you know how the power bill reacts!
- There’s no need to compare for location, the prices are the same where ever you are. I recommend Claro for communications – their customer service is head and shoulders above that of the competition, Telefonica. We have a “Triple Play” that includes 172 channels of TV, 6000kbps internet (with wifi), and 1000 minutes of telephone calls from a landline. The nice thing about the landline phone – I can call to the US (and quite a few other countries) with no extra long distance charge, it just uses my regular minutes. The price for all this is at about $100/month at the current exchange rate.
- We spend 350 soles a month to send the kid to a private school. It’s an awesome school with a very strong emphasis on maths and science, and my kid loves it and is doing way better than he has ever done in school before. And we’re talking classes like trigonometry, geometry, physics, chemistry etc, for a 13 year old kid. You can spend a whole hell of a lot more on school, or you can spend zero. It all depends on what works for your family and your kids. I wrote a whole post on schools costs and finding a good one here >>>Schools in Lima.
- I can’t really give you a monthly transportation cost – it depends on how much you move around! But cars are expensive (a new Toyota Camry is running $36000, 5 years used is at about $15000). Gas costs about $4.50/gallon. Fortunately, buses and taxis are cheap and plentiful. Buses can get you anywhere in the city for generally under a dollar. Taxi prices are negotiated before you get in the taxi; expect to pay 5-10 soles for travel within one district or to the next district; trips from the center parts of town to the airport or outer parts can run from 15 to 40 soles in a generic street cab, prices go up when you call for a nice car with professional, uniformed drivers. You can also get a car and driver for the day for anywhere from 25 soles/hour to $20/hour, depending again on the level of service and type of car.
- We have a maid that comes twice a week – we pay her 40 soles per day, she works from 9-4pm. You can get a live-in maid or nanny for as little as 200 soles/week. Remember that if you plan on doing things correctly (i.e. legally), you’ll also pay double monthly salary for the months of July and December.
Keep in mind – this is what my family pays. If you like to go out a lot, if you eat take out food or go to restaurants or need a short term fully furnished apartment, you may end up paying a lot more than me! If you’re a single dude just looking for a cheap place to retire, you can pay a lot less than me. It all depends on what it takes to make you happy.
If you have questions on any other type of cost of living question, put it in the comments – I’ll try to find out answers and keep this updated. If this post was helpful to you, don’t forget to share! Give it a tweet, a like or a Google +1!
PS – If you’re looking for a way to earn money from blogging, check out this post > The Joy of Blogging
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