Well actually semi-retirement, my wife and I moved to the Cusco region here in Peru in August of 2012 to run a bed and breakfast, and prior to making this move we were living in Las Vegas. I was working for a large gaming company as the Chief Engineer for one of their properties, and my wife Lily was working for a bank as an account specialist. While we both enjoyed our careers, we had started to grow weary of the daily grind, and Lily was starting to have back problems, this led to her having to quit her job, as she was unable to sit all day. Considering the state of the job market, the possibility of her being able to start a new career did not look all that promising, so this combined with the fact that it was difficult to make ends meet with just my income alone, is what prompted the big change, as Lily is Peruvian it made sense to look into moving to Peru.
While most ex-pats settle in Lima, we were not interested in leaving Las Vegas just to live in another big city, so we looked around for smaller towns that would have a more relaxed pace and discovered Huarocondo. This small town is nestled in a valley about 30 minutes west from the city of Cusco, it is largely an agricultural area with farms throughout the valley, and these farms grow a variety of crops including corn, potatoes and quinoa. I think Huarocondo is about as opposite as you could get from Las Vegas, it is small, quiet, the hills are green and it has no traffic, well unless you come across a farmer taking their livestock out to the fields. Personally I don’t mind having to wait for some Cows or sheep to cross the street, it is much better than sitting on a freeway in 110 degree heat for a ½ hour, because some idiot was in a big hurry and caused an accident.
While we have found the Cusco area to be quit enjoyable, it would definitely not be for everyone, and while we found many pros, there are also a few cons that would have to be considered as well. First and most important is the altitude which is 11,300 feet. According to a recent study most visitors (82.9%) will experience nothing more than mild AMS (acute mountain sickness), with only 17.1% of visitors experiencing severe AMS. While AMS is definitely something to be considered, the good news is that it is only a risk for the first few days, after that your body will acclimate and any risk of AMS goes away. The fact that the air is thin will always be there, even after living here for over a year, we still get out of breath easily when exerting ourselves.
Another thing to consider in the Cusco area is the lack of North American amenities. Due to the large ex-pat communities in Lima, many North American amenities are available. There are chain restaurants that everyone knows like Chili’s, McDonald’s, and Pizza Hut to name a few, as well as large shopping malls and movie theaters. But here in Cusco you will find almost none of these things. While there is a McDonald’s and Starbucks in Cusco, we don’t have any malls or movie theaters yet. As a matter of fact if you want to watch a movie the only thing you will find here are pirated copies. Legal copies of movies just don’t exist.
While some may find other downsides to our area, those are the only two that I can think of. We have not had a need yet for medical care but it is readily available. We have a small clinic here in town and there are several large Hospitals in Cusco, that provide good to excellent care depending on which one you go to. One of the positives of Cusco and maybe Peru in general is the medical care. Medical care is inexpensive as is insurance. Our son, who is a professional skateboarder in Lima, has medical insurance that covers just about everything and it only costs about $130 USD a year.