Parque Kennedy (Kennedy Park) in Lima, Perú
I get e-mails from my blog readers with compliments, rebuttals, and requests for advice. Today, I received an e-mail from a gentleman who wants to live in Perú for one year and wanted to know how he will be treated as a black person. He also asked about job opportunities and cost of living. Here was my response, and it's based solely on my personal experience and observations:
I assume you speak Spanish. I met very few people who speak any English at all, but then again, I've always made it a point to stay away from tourist traps, English speakers, and other gringos for the purpose of being totally immersed in the language and the culture.
Overall, the people are pleasant. You will most likely be treated better because you are a gringo, i.e., perceived as having a pocket full of money. I remember walking into an expensive clothing store in Southern Perú. The store clerks, assuming that I'm Afro-Peruvian, did not pay much attention to me. The owner was intelligent enough to notice my foreign accent, my Muhammad Ali sweatshirt, and realized that I'm American. His attitude changed as his wife looked at me seemly astonished that a black American was in the house.
In terms of getting a job, please realize that it is hard enough for native Peruvians to find work, and if you are black, your work opportunities are even more restricted. The fact that you speak both English and Spanish can open some doors, especially if you are applying for a position that is hard to fill locally. You might want to consider teaching English—many lucrative opportunities there; even more lucrative if you have a degree or, at least, a certification to teach English as a foreign language.
Perú has a very low cost of living. The minimum wage in Perú, as of June 2014, is equal to roughly $571 per month. A retired US citizen can live very comfortably on social security alone. Their produce is organic and cheaper than the non-organic foods here in the US. I have a friend who moved to Perú with his Afro-Peruvian wife. He not only lost weight, but felt much more healthy, alive, and vibrant. Medical and dental expenses are dirt cheap. I was in Peru's best hospital for six days and the bill came out too $4000, which my insurance paid.If you are serious about moving to Peru, I would suggest that you buy Moon's, Rough's, and Lonely Planet guides to Peru. Those books are around $18 each. They are filled with wisdom and will save you thousands of dollars during the course of a year, and equally important, keep you out of trouble. It's also a good idea to log on to Expat Perú where you can network with others who are already living or plan to live in Perú. Let me know if you have any more questions.