Tips for Expats - Cost of Living in Lima
Lima was listed as the 4th most expensive city in Latin America to live in by UBS Bank Switzerland in a recent report. However, most expats in Peru find the cost of living to be quite reasonable. If you’re interested in moving to Lima, what can you expect your cost of living here to be?
Housing is usually the largest expenditure for expats, and in most cases, that will be rent. If you want to live in the more upscale areas of Miraflores or San Isidro, a 2 bedroom apartment can easily cost $1500 per month or much more and houses in more residential areas of Miraflores, Surco and San Borja can have similar price tags. But it is possible to find bargains. There are houses and apartments in nicer areas that are priced closer to $400-600. And of course, the further you go from upscale areas, the lower the prices. If you are comfortable living in a location like Surquillo or Magdalena it’s possible to find homes for $250-400 a month. Be aware that these homes may or may not have hot water, cable or internet.
Food is a typically large expenditure where many expats are pleasantly surprised to find they can a save a lot of money. In a typical Lima ‘menu’ restaurant, a full lunch with appetizer, main dish and drink costs about $4. A whole chicken costs about $5 at the supermarket, and less at the city markets. Fresh vegetables and fruits can be found on nearly every street corner, and the price is very affordable. With $300-400 a month, a family of four can be well fed, and if you’re on a tight budget, it can be done for less.
Many expats are surprised at the quality health care they find in Lima’s private clinics – and the prices are very affordable. A trip to the Emergency Room for stitches cost less that $25. A minor cosmetic surgery, which included aftercare at home from the doctor, cost about $400. Dental care is reasonably priced also – a root canal can cost less than $100, and fillings cost from $10-30, depending on the location and the dentist. There is medical insurance available – plans generally run between $25 and $60 a month. Plans that cover only cancer treatment are also available. Our forums have quite a few threads of advice on doctors, dentists and insurance plans.
If you have school aged children, private school will most likely be the best option for you. Schools can be found to fit every budget, from parochial schools to international schools in Lima and elsewhere, but it is the experience of most that this is one place where you definitely get what you pay for. Schools can run anywhere from a couple of hundred soles to several hundred dollars in monthly tuition. The best advice is to do your research, and find the best school that you can afford to send your children to. Remember that most schools require that you buy all books and material, and many require that you buy supplies such as toilet paper for the school too.
Utilities are another place where most are happily surprised. A package of high speed internet, cable and telephone service costs less than $70 a month. Consumers can also save money by using external long distance telephone companies which provide cheap international callings services , so it's best to shop around. A family of four can expect about $100 a month for the rest of their utilities - electric, water and gas for cooking. Clothing is very reasonably priced, but remember that large sized are difficult to find, and may be more expensive. Cars are expensive - even used cars - and gas is around $3-5/ gallon. However, there is plenty of public transport and taxis are every where. Electronics can be very expensive, especially new products, but prices seem to have been coming down recently. A full time housekeeper will cost around $200-300 per month.
Despite being listed as the 4th most expensive city in Latin America, Lima – and Peru in general – is still a very reasonably priced city for most expats, especially if you have a foreign source of income. If you don’t, it’s still quite possible to live in Lima on a budget. While property rates are still considered high, most other costs of living are quite affordable.