Home > About Peru > Society > Customs
Standard of living
Do not be surprised, contrary to what we could imagine, the cost of living is high in Peru. Food for example, some products are two to three times cheaper than in Europe or USA (fruits, vegetables, meat and fish), however other basic foods are very expensive or even more expensive than in rich countries, such as oil, dairy products, butter, sugar, etc.
The "basic family basket" has been calculated in 2021 in S/.360 (80 euros or US$90) per person per month, nearly 4 times the minimum salary and the "limit" to not be classified in the "poor" category is of S/.1,292 (340 euros or $430) two more times the minimum salary.
Then we can easily understand the difficulties that are still five million Peruvians who must live in the "pueblos jóvenes" (slums) and also those living outside the cities, furthermore without any social support.
However, poverty decreases rapidly in Peru. In 2000, the rate was 54% of the population, 10 years later in 2010, decreased to 31.3%.
Obviously there is a big difference between cities and provinces. In Lima, rentals vary from US$ 100 to US$2,000 for an apartment of 100 m2 (1,100 sq ft) and province These prices may be half or less.
Access to property
The price of land and construction have ingreased at a faster than consumer prices. Between 2003 and 2010, these prices have ingreased 126%, nearly 15% annually, compared to 6% of economic growth.
In Lima, a house of 100 m2 (1,100 sq ft) with a land of 300 m2 (3,000 sq ft) is negotiated between US$20,000 and US$60,000 in a popular district, between US$200,000 and US$500,000 in a residential area. Outside lima, worth 3 times less, apart in the city of Cusco where prices are almost similar to Lima.
An apartment sells from US$1,000 and US$3,500 per m2 in a residential area and 10 times less in popular neighborhoods.
In 2002, the government has created a program to facilitate access to housing called "Techo Propio", aimed at middle-income families, meaning less than S/.1.620 (US$400 or 350€), offering a familiar bond (between $3,500 and $ 6,000) and very low interest rates (for Peru) from 11% to 14%.
It is estimated five million Peruvians living in slums or "Pueblos jovenes" (young towns), half in Lima. Families are established illegally on the outskirts of large cities and quickly grouped in associations.
When installed in private land or archaeological sites, the authorities evict residents, causing sometimes impressive fights between the police and the invaders.
Families self-constructed their houses with recycled materials and during the first decades lack basic services such as water, electricity, sewage, garbage collection and infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, public lighting, public transport, etc.
75% of households have access to potable water in Peru. In Lima, 90% of homes have this basic service, 88% on the coast, 65% in the Andes and only 55% in the jungle. In coastal cities, often supplying water for a few hours during the day. In neighborhoods and towns that do not have access to clean water, water trucks sell the precious liquid, not always potable water, at an exorbitant price.
In 2010, the government created the "Light for All" program to increase national coverage from 78% to 92%, the highest level in South America. Electricity production in Peru comes from hydroelectric plants by 63% and thermal gas by 37%.
Gas / fuel
The vast majority of Peruvians use gas cylinders for cooking. The price of these bottles is very high in Peru (12 € or $15 per 10 kg), which favors an important smuggling from neighboring Bolivia where one can find half the price.
In many homes in poor neighborhoods of large cities and the Andes, were used stoves running on kerosene. But since May 2011, national authorities have prohibited the sale of this fuel because it is one of the chemicals used in the process of cocaine, and so must be replaced by the GPL household. In the Andes, some people still use animal dung as fuel.
Even at 5,000 meters (16,000 ft) above sea level, with temperatures that can reach -10º or -20ºC (15º - 0ºF), people do not have any heating system. The houses have low roof, with small windows and doors and cover with several thick wool blankets to sleep.
It is now common to find electric heaters in the hotel rooms.
the primary and secondary school year lasts from late end February / early march to mid-December.
According to the Constitution, education is compulsory and free in public schools for 6-17 years.
There are many private schools, religious, laity or foreign (American, German, French, Italian, etc.) in large cities reserved for families of high and medium status, very expensive for Peru (average US$5,000 per year).
In the villages of Sierra and Jungle, schools are generally ubicated several kilometers from homes and the children must go on extremely rough roads and under extreme climates.
Children can go to preschool from age of one year in private establishments called "nidos" (nests) or "kindergarten".
In popular areas and the Andes, these kindergarten are called "Wawawasi" (in Quechua, wawa=baby, wasi=house) and are supported by the government.
Almost all people living in the Andes and Amazon rainforest are bilingual or trilingual, talking spanish and native language as Quechua, Aymara or jungle dialects.
Average number of years spent in school: 14
There are 35 public universities in Peru (7 in Lima), the most important are San Marcos and Agraria La Molina and 56 private, representing nearly 300,000 students in public and 300,000 in private.
In addition, there are numerous technical colleges, institutes and private academies in all categories.
Students also tend to complement their studies in private language institutes usually English, French or German.
Unfortunately, after doing years of studies, many can not find work and inevitably have to find a solution. For example, talking to a taxi driver, sometimes we realize that is an engineer, an architect, a doctor, etc.
Peruvians use their personal vehicles only for short trips and in the city. The large majority of the cars come from Japan and Korea.
Almost all urban buses are private in Peru, which creates a lot of confusion in traffic for the tenacious competition between different companies: hazardous overtaking, untimely stops through the streets to avoid being overtaken by competitors, blocking the traffic.
There are different types of vehicles: the "combi", 15-seats mini van 15 that easily filled with 30 persons, the "micro", medium vehicule and the great typical American school bus.
The crew consists with the driver and a collector who is also in charge to announcing the route to passersby screaming for the door. It is necessary to know the city to use this mode of transport because there are no plans routes.
Since 2010, the municipality of Lima has installed an articulated bus line and an electric train (skytrain), both crossing the capital from north to south.
Also, get a taxi it is a little complicated. Apart some companies, most are independent taxi drivers using their own vehicles or rent one daily. Vehicles lacking meter, so the rate is negotiated before boarding. In this case it is also necessary to know the city to get an idea of the price to pay.
Two-wheeler and three-wheeler
Bicycles and motorcycles are little used in Peru, with the exception of the cities in the Amazon region.
In poor neighborhoods of large cities and small towns, 3 wheel motorcycle taxis are quite cheap and typical. In Juliaca and Puno, there are tricycles, with or without motor.
Long distance trips are usually made by bus, the mode of transport more used in Peru. There is a wide range of companies at any price. The most popular are uncomfortable and noisy, without toilets (complicated for a trip of 10 or 20 hours) and vehicles operated by drivers sometimes nervous. On the contrary, the double-decker buses of the best companies are very comfortable, often with leather seats worthy of the first class on airplanes, first-class service with hostess, food on board, television and internet. These vehicles are equipped with GPS to control the speed and possible unscheduled stops. Long distances are usually made non-stop.
Price examples in 2014: Lima / Arequipa - 1,000 km (620 mi) in 15 hours, from S/.90 to S/.150 (US$30 to US$50 or 25€ to 45€). One can found at less than half the price with less prestigious companies.
Now in Peru can be found attractive rates for air travel. Currently there are 4 companies headed by Lan Peru (subsidiary of Lan Chile), with the best coverage in Peru and quality of service with next-generation Airbus aircraft, followed by Taca (from El Salvador). Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines are two companies generally cheaper and despite their English names are Peruvian.
The flippancy and cheerfulness are generally traits of the Peruvians. Employees easily willing to work long hours, however sometimes they lack rigor and dedication are raraly part of their preoccupations.
Punctuality is not the strong point of Peruvian and most of the time will come late for an appointment, generally one hour or more.
However, some people are punctual, working in bigs companies and in tourism for example.
The Latin temperament is omnipresent in Peru and women still often play the role of housewife.
But new generations are changing and Peruvian women are now more independent within the family and play an increasingly important role in the world of work and politic.
The total fertility rate (2.6) has declined considerably in recent years. Today contraception is common in the country, but unlike the abortion continues to receive strong disapproval and is prohibited.
Children are the kings of the family in many cases. Adored, pampered, however are not particularly rude or capricious, contrary are still quite respectful to their parents. In fact, the family remains a value of primary importance in Latin America. 18 is the age of majority, but children do not seek independence quickly and is very common to stay until age 30 or older in the family home. Even married, the new couple will be installed with parents and not only for financial reasons.
The Peruvians are generally very affectionate people. Two men who do not know shake hands, are very common welcoming hugs with big slaps on the back between persons with good relationships. Between men or between a man and a woman, even with a first meeting is usually a kiss, but only one.
Free time activities
Television plays generally a major role in Peruvians life, with 13 local channels and 65 regional stations. The most popular programs are the "novelas" (soap operas), political programs, sports and lively talk shows. Cinemas are mostly ubicated within a mall. The theater is still marginal.
It is known that Latinos like to party. A birthday or a simple gathering of friends, frequently turns into a hubbub, often starting at 10:00 or 11:00 pm until dawn and the whole neighborhood can enjoy high level of music like a concert in live with lively discussions, laughter and screams.
In the clubs, youth dance salsa, merengue, rock and reggaeton, they drink a lot mainly beer. Despite being the first cocaine producer, in Peru one takes less drug than in rich countries.
The upper and middle class travel a lot and usually far, privileging the tourist circuits as in Europe or shopping trips to the United States. Much of Peruvians rarely or never go on vacation for lack of money. People living near the coast spend the summer on the beaches every year, some camping directly on the beach.
In Peru we found the snow from 5,000 meters (16,000 ft) above sea level and consequently there are no ski resorts. However, during some treks, skiing is possible at this point in the Alpamayo and La Copa snowcapped in the Cordillera Blanca (center of the country). The Pastoruri glacier was the most famous, but just closed in 2010, significantly melt in recent years.
Football (soccer) is the king of sports in Peru. The main national clubs are the U. (Universitario), Alianza Lima and Cristal in Lima, Cienciano in Cusco, the only Peruvian club with an international title, the Copa Sudamericana in 2003.
Large current best footballers are: Claudio Pizarro the "Bomber of the Andes" top foreign scorer in Bundesliga history with 177 goals in 2012 (Bayern Munich), Jefferson Farfan (Schalke 04), Paolo Guerrero (Corinthias - Brazil) and Juan Vargas (Genoa - Italy).
The most famous player is Teofilo "Nene" Cubillas - enters the FIFA list of the 50 best players of the twentieth century, the 8th scorer in World Cup history (10 goals), and the World cup's highest scoring midfielder. It have been voted South America's best player in 1972, in second place was Pele. Cubillas played in Switzerland (FC Basel), FC Porto and Miami.
The 70s were the heyday of Peruvian football with Nene Cubillas, also Héctor Chumpitaz one of the best defenses in South America and Hugo "Cholo" Sotil, Barcelona's striker between 1973 and 1976 with Johan Cruyff.
It has been reported surfing for over 500 years in the Polynesia islands. However, ceramics of gthe Chimu culture (north of Peru - 100-700 AD) represent men on timbers sliding on waves.
Today, fishermen of the northern Peruvian coast "ride" small boats called "caballitos de totora" (little reed horses), riding the waves, similar to the modern sport of surfing.
In Mancora in northern Peru, international surfing competitions are held regularly and Peru has two world champions, Felipe Pomar in 1965 and Sofia Mulanovich in 2004. This sport is practiced throughout the year on the beaches of Lima, in the easide resorts south of the capital and in the north.
The Peru women's national volleyball team is one of the best in the world with multiple titles, a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, second in the world championship in 1982 and 12 times champion of South America.
Kina Malpartida is World champion of the Super Featherweight since 2009. Previously, Mauro Mina, known as the "Bombardier of Chincha" was the best light heavyweights in the world in the 60s.
In 2008, the Peruvian Luis Horna won French Open men's doubles crown in Roland Garros, partnering Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas and Alex Olmedo was number 2 worldwide in 1959.