“A smile abroad is often a scowl at home.”
– Alfred Lord Tennyson
What living in Miraflores is like
Last week I moved to Miraflores, which is a neighborhood in Peru. Although I was pretty excited for my trip I was also a bit worried. Reading countless news stories about travelers who were killed or kidnapped while on vacation had me on edge. A lot of preparation time was spend studying where the embassy was and reviewing self-defense videos on YouTube. I was half expecting the plane to land in a giant garbage dump filled with gangsters. Fortunately I was proven wrong. In fact the area where I live is actually quite nice.
Rent is pretty cheap
In Iowa apartments are really expensive for what you get. A quick Craigslist search revealed that an unfurnished two bedroom apartment on Governor Street, it’s in downtown Iowa City, runs about $1,000 a month. While this might not sound bad, there really isn’t a whole lot to do in the area. Aside from University of Iowa there isn’t a whole lot to do. You could go through all the museums, hiking trails, and other local features in a long weekend. There’s a pretty common joke about how the University of Iowa is America’s biggest party school because there’s nothing for students to do.
In comparison Lima is the size of New York City. There are over 8 million people who live in the various neighborhoods. You can find something to do at any time of the day. Visiting catacombs, touring old churches, hiking along the coast, surfing, basically there’s an endless amount of stuff. My apartment costs less than anything I could get in Iowa and it’s in a place that’s significantly more populated and busy.
There are actually things to do
Every year I stop going out between the middle of May and the beginning of August. Summer in Iowa gets boring. All the girls evaporate and there isn’t a lot to do unless you like getting drunk with your old high school classmates. In 2012, 2013, and 2014 I spent the entire summer at my place reading books, helping my dad, or working on various businesses. There really isn’t anything else to do. Here I’m outside all the time. Over the weekend I took a 20 minute trip to the grocery store that turned into a full afternoon excursion around town.
Even “boring” stuff, like walking around and looking at some of the cool architecture, can become engrossing. Additionally there are some neat parks to meander through and all kinds of unique landmarks to see. Just walking through the streets can be a lot of fun.
Everything is really cheap
For breakfast I had a liter of yogurt that cost me a little over a dollar. For dinner the other night I had a full meal, pie, and two glasses of juice for six bucks. On Friday I took a cab downtown, which was about a 15 minute ride, and paid less than three bucks. The last time I took a taxi in America I went about the same distance and paid $17.
A few months ago I watched a video where a guy had a 70 square foot apartment in Manhattan. He paid almost $5,000 a month for it. As a freelance writer I’d have to work all day long just to survive on bread and water. Here you can live in a major city without paying exorbitant prices.
The weather is awesome
Hot weather sucks. There’s nothing worse than getting all sweaty and gross. In Lima the weather is cool at all times and you don’t see the sun. Instead its pleasantly grey and 65 degrees. Everyone wears winter jackets and pet dogs are dressed in sweaters. I love it. It’s like the whole city is permanently air-conditioned.
There is a bunch of American stuff
This might sound like a weird thing, but I actually like it when there are some Western options to choose from. There’s a Gold’s Gym near my apartment and the Larcomar, a giant mall overlooking the Pacific Ocean, had some accessories for my laptop that I forgot to pack. When I went to Central America there weren’t many options like that.
There are a few annoying things here, the sidewalks are too narrow and I couldn’t figure out how my shower’s hot water worked, but those are minor issues. For the most part Miraflores is really nice and I generally enjoy living here. There’s actually stuff to do here and it’s nice to be able to live in a major city without having to spend a small fortune.