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Living on a Budget

Living on a budget in Lima is something many of us have had to deal with.  While Lima, Peru is a comparatively inexpensive place to live, the truth is that local incomes are even lower than the cost of living.  If you do not have a foreign income and will be making your living in Peru, you may find it necessary to live on a budget.  Here are some ways you can make your money go farther while in Lima.

Living on a Budget: Rent

The first place many people look to save money on their budget is on the rent.  While many people want to live in Miraflores, there are many other lovely places to live where you’ll find much lower rent.  For example, you may find Aurora, Miraflores to be quite out of your budget. However, if you cross the road to Aurora Este, Surquillo, you can find rent for half the price in an area that is still safe and quiet. 

Living on a Budget:  Food

Your food budget is one of the places where you can really go overboard if you insist on buying foods you’re accustomed to from the supermarkets.  However, if you hit the city markets – there’s at least one in each district – you’ll find that you can save remarkable amounts of money on food.  Chicken can be as much as 7 soles per kilo cheaper in the markets.  Fruits and vegetables are also much cheaper, but make sure you wash them well before eating.

Living on a Budget:  Transportation

Traveling by taxi may seem cheap at first, but it’s quite extravagant compared to taking a bus.  You can travel from one side of Lima to the other for about 2 soles on a bus.  If you’re going a very short distance (about 10 blocks or less) you can get by with only paying fifty centimos (or for a ‘china’, as the Peruvian 50 cent piece is called). It’s best to always have exact change on the bus to avoid having to argue to get correct change back.  Note that the bus fare can be different depending on the route and the distance you’re going to travel.  If I’m not sure of the fare, I’ll ask another passenger before the cobrador (the fare taker) comes by.  

Living on a Budget:  Entertainment

There are a lot of cheap things to do for fun in Lima.  People watching in Parque Kennedy is a great way to spend a Saturday evening, or join in with the dancing.  There are many free art exhibits to be found around the city.  Cinemas often have discounted rates on Tuesdays. Beaches and parks are free.  The Parque de la Amistad in Surco is a lot of fun for kids and has inexpensive things to do as a train ride and peddle boats. The Bosque El Olivar in San Isidro is a great place to go for a picnic and a game of Frisbee or football. Parque del Reducto in Miraflores is also a great option especially if you go on Saturday morning you´ll find a lot of activities to do with your kids.

Although living on a budget can be difficult, living in Lima makes it much easier.  Even if your monthly income isn’t as much as you’d like it to be, it is possible to make the money go much further if you remember to bargain for the best prices.  For more related information, see the Cost of Living in Lima.

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