How Expensive Is Peru?

It was 9:30am when I finally arrived in Miraflores and got off the Quick Llama van to look for accommodation on foot. It was far different from Ecuador, or basically any country I have ever looked for a place to stay in before.

Guy Wearing Miraflores Jacket Seen at Kennedy Park
Guy Wearing Miraflores Jacket Seen at Kennedy Park

First of all, finding any kind of accommodation that’s not a higher class hotel is extremely difficult because none are very well marked. But what made it all worse was that every hostel in Miraflores charged so much for their rooms, you’d think you’re in Singapore, not Peru.

After 3 hours walking up and down Miraflores on foot with my backpack on on the sweaty back, I concluded that Lima has one of the most expensive accommodations in the world. Certainly so when looking at what you get for what you pay.

Had I not been tired as all hell after a 32 hours long journey across multiple time zones, I would have packed up and left. Eventually, sheer tiredness got the best of me and I caved in and booked a bed in a 6 bed dorm for 40 Soles (about $12 US) in Pool Paradise.

Pool Paradise Hostel in Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Pool Paradise Hostel in Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Whereas in neighboring Ecuador I got beautiful private rooms with private bathroom and smart TV for $10, a bed in a busy dorm, which was located right on the ground floor and right next to the reception, so there was talking, banging and other noise 24/7, and there was no internet in rooms so I had to sit in the lobby to get on line, this seemed like one truly shitty deal. And that was the cheapest dorm I could find, as well as the cheapest anyone in the tourist information center knows about.

The room was dark, gloomy and smelly, with the only window facing a wall right outside of it. But the scariest thing was the young Filipina who was in the room when I checked in, who told me that she was just moved from another dorm room after herself and everyone else who stayed there woke up with bed bug bites all over their bodies.

The whole check in process to Pool Paradise was over the top. They asked me to fill up their registration form which was on a tablet, and which asked way too many personal questions which went over and beyond whatever a hotel may need in order to provide guests with accommodation.

To get a private room in Miraflores, you’d be looking at a cost of 160 Soles or more (about $50 US) – the type of money for which you could get a room in a decent hotel in western Europe.

Overall, right on my first day I found Peru to be very expensive with little to justify to high cost of services. I knew right away that I’m only staying in Miraflores because I’m too tired to look for a bus terminal and take a trip to another town. I knew I was only gonna stay in Lima for this one night, and the following day I would move somewhere else, but if somewhere else it’s as expensive as in Lima, I would then just quickly visit the places I was interested in visiting and move to another country all together.

Miraflores - In Your Heart
Miraflores – In Your Heart

Ecuador’s new law permits foreigners to only enter the country once a year if stayed for the full 3 months, and whereas I was there since the late September of previous year, I would not be able to reenter until late September again. Bolivia remains a strong option. But like it or not, for the time being, I remain in Peru.

Longer Vacation is Cheaper – Explained

When I took a trip to Iceland, I was able to balance the total cost of it to a point that even though it’s one of the most expensive countries in the world, I only spent a little over $1,500 for 10 days, which included return plane tickets from Edmonton to Reykjavik and back, car rental for the duration of my stay, entrance fees to attractions which count as some of the most expensive in the world, food, drink, gasoline, lodging and all other associated costs. Yet despite my ability to get the most out of the trip for an unbeatable price, compared to my previous trips to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the trip ended up being almost twice as expensive. Sure, the distance was significantly longer and country is significantly more expensive. However, after I have returned, I realized that an entire trip would have cost me way less, had I spent 1 month in the country, instead of original 10 days. Yes, what I’m saying is that longer vacation is cheaper. How is that possible? Let me explain.

Looks at it this way – if you take your normal vacation by using the vacation time allocated to you by your employer, you will leave for your destination while keeping arrangements with your current residence in your home country. That means that if you are renting a house, you will have to pay your monthly rent regardless of whether you are at home or gone on vacation. If you are a home owner, your property taxes will apply regardless of whether you are in the house or not. And if you live in Canada, the ridiculously high delivery and administration charges added to your power bill will be applied regardless of whether you have used any electricity, or not. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but in Canada the amount of money you are charged for electricity used is often less than delivery and administration charges. In my particular case, the power bill for the apartment where I was staying when I took the trip to Iceland totalled up to about $50 a month. Out of which, only about $5 were actual electricity usage charges. Epcor likes to bump up your power bill with their own charges which are so inadequate, I don’t understand how it’s not illegal and how they get away with ripping people off like this.

On top of your rent and electricity, you also have the internet, cable TV, mobile phone, and whatever other month to month bills apply to you. These you will pay for normally even if you have not been in the country half of the month. So basically – if you cancelled all of it, you would end up with positive four digit figure which would easily be enough to extend your vacation to last a month.

If I made arrangements with my landlord that I would move out of the apartment on the day I was leaving for Iceland, I wouldn’t have to pay my $850 a month which would be more than enough to sustain my stay in the country for extra 2 or three weeks. If I also cancelled the electricity and the internet, and if I temporarily suspended my cell phone number, I’d be looking at a thousand dollars saved.

It really made no sense taking a 10 day vacation in Iceland. While I was there, in one of world’s most expensive countries, the money for amenities in Canada was being paid out of my pocket even though I wasn’t using any of it. Rent for an apartment where I was not staying was paid yet I had to cover for my lodging in Iceland. In other words, I was paying rent for two places at the same time, while I could physically only be in one.

The lesson I have learned, was that one of the keys to frugal travel is to book your vacation and make arrangements in your home country for a month. One week or two week vacation ends up being a costly endeavour which is why so many people either can’t afford it, or can only take one or two a year. It’s simply because you are wasting a lot of your money on things you are not using and end up covering for two simultaneous services while only using one at a time.