Ouch this is getting ugly real fast. Only 4 days since I started my cost of living in Peru experiment and I’m already scared to look in my wallet to see what’s left of the $200 I started with on Tuesday.
Day 1 was easy enough. After paying some regular bills (see previous post) the only money we spent was S/.23.94 (~$8.86) at “Mega”, our local grocery store. Mamacita got a few things at “Mega” and we had our famous homemade salchipapas for dinner:
Salchipapas are a favorite Peruvian snack: a mix of french fries and deep fried slices of hot dog. Yumm!! Most Peruvians eat their salchipapas with lots of sauces (ketchup, mayo, aji, etc) but I prefer mine just with plenty of salt.
Day 2 of my “cost of living” experiment wasn’t bad either. The only things we bought were bread in the morning and some paltas (avocados) to make fajitas for dinner at night. In the US many people assume that all Latin American food is like Mexican food, but that’s not true at all. Peruvian food is nothing like Mexican food. Having said that, my homemade fajitas didn’t turn out bad at all 🙂
Day 3: now it gets bad
It’s my own fault, we had to spend some money. A few days ago I lost my cellphone, been looking for it ever since but it didn’t turn up. In Peru cellphones get robbed all the time, but in my case I’m certain I just misplaced it (or pitufiloquita may have taken it out of my coat pocket and disappeared it somehow). I can live without a cellphone, but the trouble is that I just sent out a few resumes to my potential dreamjob, and the resumes of course have my phone nr on them. Mamacita has threatened if I don’t get a real job by the time I’m 40, that we’re all moving back up North – so I can’t afford to miss any phone calls 🙂
Our plan to replace my phone was very Peruvian: mamacita has various cellphones and doesn’t use all of them. Since her phones are with a different company, we decided to take one of her unused cellphones to “Centro Commercial Paraiso” to have it unlocked. “Paraiso” is one of the less reputable markets in the Santiago district of Cuzco. A lot of stolen cellphones end up there to be unlocked and resold.
Mamacita thought we would be able to unlock her phone for S/.10 and buy a new chip at Movistar for another S/.10 but we had no such luck. Mamacita’s cellphone is a nicer new model, and nobody at “Paraiso” was able to unlock it for us. I gave up and we went back to Movistar to buy a new phone (S/.109 or about $40) and new chip so I could retain my phone number.
On the way back from the cellphone store we spent S/.39.40 (~14.59) at “Mega” again. Just some supplies, drinks, juices, etc. I drink a lot of juice in Cuzco, not sure if it’s the altitude or why?
KFC in Cuzco, Peru:
Later in the afternoon on day 3 mamacita spent some time with Maria, one of her best friends, to work on their univeristy thesis (presentation next Wednesday!!!). Exhausted and hungry from all their hard work, mamacita and Maria wanted to go eat at KFC at the Plaza de Armas late in the evening.
The KFC restaurant in Cuzco recently opened up in the spot where Cafe Ayllu used to be at the Plaza de Armas. I don’t care too much anymore for American style fast food, but since this is only the third American style fast food restaurant in Cuzco (the others are McDonalds and Bembos) I understand that mamacita and Maria wanted to try it out. In my opinion the food at KFC in Peru is better than KFC in the US. I haven’t eaten at KFC in the US in a long time, but I remember some years ago eating at KFC and thinking that the Colonel would have been ashamed if he was around to see what the food had become. Here in Peru the KFC chicken is pretty good, although in Cuzco I prefer “Brosso” for fried chicken and if you want really yummie fried chicken I think La Paz (Bolivia) has the best.
We spent something like S/.51 (~$18.75) for the big combo at KFC. Pitufiloquita was her wild usual self inside KFC. She managed to stay out of major trouble until she jumped and fell of one of the bench seats, but no harm done. At least no food ended up on the floor…
Yesterday was day 4 of my “cost of living in Peru” experiment. I didn’t really spend any money other than fresh bread in the morning (S/.2.00), S/.36 in groceries at Mega and S/.3.00 for more fresh bread, the Peruvian national bread pan ciabatta in the evening.
I started out with $200 (S/.544) in my wallet on Tuesday. Right now I’m scared to look in my wallet, I’m hoping to at least make it through the weekend without having to hit the bank again 🙂
We burn through about $1000 a month in Lima. $300 rent, $200 utilities, $300 food, $50 car, $100 insurances, $50 do-gooding.
I wish we had KFC in Paraguay. I would LOVE that! Good luck with the job applications.
Thanks Betty, keeping my fingers crossed. I haven’t visited Paraguay yet, but I’d love to get there one day soon.
Stuart: I’d like to think our cost of living here in Cuzco is around that as well, but the all the little expenses, going out to eat, things like that, are easy to lose track of.
Our rent is $230 / month, bills are $120, taxis and combis $30. Food is probably around $400 / month (we go out to eat a lot) and we have somewhere north of $200 / month babysitting expense. The hard part is to keep track of how much we spend going out to eat (too often), going on little day-trips, shopping for stuff we don’t really need (like lost cellphones), etc.
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Actually, our bills are around $200. I forgot to count some discretionary ones like cellphones and satelite TV.
Our COL in Lima is much higher, although i don’t think it’s bad for what we’ve got. $800 rent (5 bed, 3 bath house with an actual yard) is the biggest thing. Apart from that elec, water, phone/cable/internet runs us around $200, Cell costs $35 (post-pago Nextel, for the hubs job), 3x a week housekeeper for about $150, gardener 2x month for $25, groceries, about $400-500 (for a family of 4). We don’t have insurance right now, but will be soon. Next year, the kid will be in a better school, that’s going to be another $150. Add on $50-100 for incidentals like clothes and school supplies for the kid and the weird stuff my husband always manages to come home with…. We’re looking at what, $1700-1800 a month.
Thanks for your comment. Sounds like you have a nice place in Lima. That’s our biggest issue at this moment: we’d like to upgrade to a larger apartment (or a real house) but with the cost of real estate in Cuzco it’s not so easy. To get the house we want we’d probably come close to doubling our cost of living.
I am Alessandro, originally from Italy now living in Florida, St Augustine, me and my wife (she is from Peru’ but living in USA for over 20years, are thinking of moving to Peru’, probably Lima. what do you think? any word of encouragement or we should stay where we are?