The coastal Peruvian capital of Lima, once known as the City of Kings, is steeped in both ancient and colonial history. Despite its significant past, the city became somewhat of an afterthought during the 20th century, even as its population boomed. The last decade, however, has been a different story entirely. With the dangerous ‘80s tucked away behind it, Lima is no longer just a stopover for those en route to Machu Picchu, but a must-see sojourn in South America—and it’s all thanks to its newborn, killer culinary scene. There’s never been a better (or tastier) time to work abroad in Lima, Peru!
What you need to know to work in Lima
We’ve got an Inca-ling you’ll love working in Lima. With fresh seafood, a wide array of museums and galleries, a growing fashion scene, pumping surf, and a low cost of living, expats are finally catching on to what Lima has to offer.
Popular jobs in Lima. The most popular jobs in Lima for expats will be in education as English teachers. As is the case in many developing countries, English skills are in high demand as Peruvians strive to be more competitive globally. All you’ll need for opportunities in this field is a TEFL certificate and (usually) a native English tongue! Other popular sectors for expats are tourism and hospitality. Jobs abroad in Lima as reception clerks, surf instructors, and tour guides will be plentiful, especially during peak tourist season. Bonus points if you have at least intermediate Spanish under your belt, or any other foreign languages, which often come highly prized in hospitality.
Short term jobs and summer jobs vs. long term jobs in Lima. Dip your toes into Peruvian life and culture with short term and summer jobs in Lima. These will prove easier to find during tourist season, especially if you’re interested in jobs in hospitality. On the other hand, long term jobs in Lima will provide a higher earning potential, as well as an excuse to try out every ceviche restaurant in city limits.
Unpaid vs. paid jobs in Lima. English teachers can expect to receive some sort of salary or stipend, even if it’s just enough to cover food and rent; depending on your education or experience you may be able to negotiate for a bit more pay, and there may also be other perks, such as airfare reimbursement. Compensation for jobs in hospitality often come in the form of free meals and accommodation, as is the case for other “unpaid” work in Lima. Still a pretty good deal!
Life in Lima for Expats
Lima has transformed over the past decade as word of its gastronomic feats has spread. It has become safer, cleaner, and a heck of a lot more fun, all while maintaining its affordability.
So, let’s talk cuisine, since everyone else is. Ceviche, the city’s most popular dish, sounds simple—raw fish cured in citrus juice, born from Hispanic, indigenous, and Japanese influence. It’s prepared and presented in dozens of different ways across the city’s many ceviche restaurants, so your after-work plans will always be easy to set.
If seafood just ain’t your thang, never fear; just as popular as ceviche is the sánguche, a hearty sandwich with stewed or fire-grilled meats at the center. No matter which delicacy you dabble in, be sure to follow it up with pisco, a brandy made from grapes that enjoys popularity country-wide.
Lima, Peru is in the southern hemisphere, so seasons are flip-flopped from those of North America, Asia, and Europe. However, the weather is quite mild year-round. If you’re looking for short term work in Lima, or if trekking the Andes in your off time is at the top of your must-do list, you’ll want to know that the dry season is generally from May to October.
Finally, a pro tip for those working in Lima, or new to South America: Don’t flush toilet paper. The pipes aren’t built to handle it, so use the bin next to the toilet, or risk an awkward phone call to the plumber.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for Expats in Lima
Sea-level natives will want to arrive in Lima prepared for altitude sickness, and even more so if planning a trip to Machu Picchu. It is recommended to practice vigorous hiking prior to arrival, but if not possible, don’t worry too much—not everyone is strongly affected by altitude.
In Lima, it will be important to have cash on hand; rumor has it that shops occasionally won’t accept major credit cards, and this is even more true for rural areas. Exchange money at the airport or take out lump sums from ATMs, and carry smaller bills when possible.
As an expat working in Lima, not only will you be able to catch waves, hike ruins, and pet alpacas, but you’ll also be able to see a city shed its old identity and grow into something new! (Metaphor strongly intended.)
Read our comprehensive guide on working abroad in Peru!