You’re not going to save while teaching in Peru, but you’ll be able to live comfortably. To give you a better idea, a room in a shared house will start from around £94/$150 a month, and a meal in a mid-range restaurant will cost about £17; but you can eat out from as little as £2/$3.20 and a monthly transport pass will only cost about £13/$21.
Imported goods are relatively expensive: branded clothes may cost a similar amount to what you’d pay at home, but if you buy locally you’ll be OK – not to mention you’ll be supporting the local economy.
Peru’s food has started to grow in popularity in recent years with ingredients such as Quinoa making it on to western supermarket shelves. But the national dish of Guinea Pig (which you can find all over Peru) has not really made it outside of the country. Typically though, dishes have a Spanish influence and consist of meat (or fish particularly if you’re near the coast) and potatoes, rice or quinoa.
If you fancy trying the local tipple, then you need to look out for Chica, which is a tangy fermented drink made from maize, the origins of which stretch back to the Incas.
There is also a large Chinese immigrant population in Peru, so you may also come across Chifas, which serve a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese food.
Within Peru’s borders there are mountain ranges, highlands, tropical jungle and arid coastline and the conditions vary wildly between each. The average temperature across most of Peru’s cities range between 18 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius. November to March is technically the rainy season and June to September the dry season, but again this will be true to a greater or lesser extent based on the area you find yourself teaching in.
You’ll obviously get time off from teaching when you’re out in Peru, so it’s worth taking with you clothing suitable to explore the tropical jungles and high altitude mountains that you’ll want to explore during your TEFL adventure.
There are a few options for you when you’re teaching English in Peru. Firstly, some schools can arrange homestays for TEFL teachers, where you’ll live with a local family, usually within 20 minutes travel time of the school itself. There is also the option for teachers to look at a shared apartment or house; a room in a shared house will start from around £94/$150 a month. If you manage to secure yourself one of the more well-paid teaching contracts in Peru, you’ll also have the option of renting your own apartment. While the standard of accommodation varies significantly, you’ll find that you can find accommodation of a basic western standard easily.
Many of the opportunities to teach English in Peru are in Lima and Cusquo. Being the capital, there is an appetite for English as the population realises the need to better communicate with businesses outside of Peru. Cusquo is Peru’s most popular tourist destination, so English teachers are required to teach those Peruvians who want to work in the tourist industry of the area. Be warned though, competition for teaching positions in Cusquo can be high! You should also consider some of the smaller cities though; with Arequipa and Trufillo both worth having a look at.
The larger cities in Peru have organised public transport systems that you can use to get around. In Lima, the El Metropolitano bus system is by far the best way to get around the city, and there is also an embryonic Metro system that at the moment consists of only 1 line, but more are to follow. In other cities across Peru, public transport consists of privately run buses and minibuses, which is a very economical way to get around with tickets starting from £0.32/$0.50.
When you have time off from teaching and want to explore Peru, the easiest and quickest way to get across the country is to fly from one of the 190 airports. There is a train network across much of the country, but the most popular mode of transport for travelling long distances is by bus. Try to avoid overnight buses though if you do choose to travel by bus, as they can be subject to frequent muggings.
The school year runs from March to November, so a good time to look for TEFL jobs in Peru is September. Saying that, contracts can be as short as 3 months, so some employers hire throughout the year.
The better language schools will help to get English teachers the correct Visa and work permits – be sure to ask any prospective employer if they’ll do this for you.
Speaking even a little Spanish will help you a lot, as English is not well understood outside some of the main tourist areas. If your Spanish is quite strong you might even secure extra work translating documents, to supplement your salary.