During our trip to Peru, we had the opportunity to develop friendships with numerous people who have moved from Lima to Cusco. This isn’t a simple choice. Lima is the the only place in Peru where Peruvians can make a dependable, good living. Many of these people had visited and even lived in the US. And as they told us, the decision to move from Lima to Cusco is a harder one than moving from a city, e.g., Boulder or Denver, CO, to a smaller town, e.g., Crested Butte or Durango, CO, in the US.
The reason it’s a harder choice is because Peru is a third world country. And when you move from the big city to a smaller town, you lose access to many of the things that you can find in large OR small towns in the US including good grocery stores, roads and schools. And yet, the friends we made in Cusco had still made the difficult choice to leave Lima. For them, living in a chaotic, crowded, expensive and polluted city just isn’t worth it, despite the fact that life in Lima is in many ways easier than life in a smaller town like Cucso. For them, the slower pace of Cusco, and the closer proximity of Cusco to outdoor adventure opportunities, outweighed the creature comforts and financial stability associated with life in Lima.
One of the goals of our trip has been to explore alternative places to live later in life. It’s tempting to get enthralled by places like Arequipa or Cusco, Peru where you can have easy access to amazing indigenous culture and world class outdoor opportunities including mountain biking, rafting and trekking. Or Cuenca or Vilcabamba, Ecuador where a nice two bedroom apartment is $500 per month, and good healthcare insurance is less than $50 per person per month. Or Barichara or Villa de Leyva, Colombia where you can buy or build a beautiful house in a beautiful colonial town for a few hundred thousand dollars.
But for us, the decision to move from a city or smaller town in the US would be even more jarring than the decisions our friends in Cusco have made. Because even places like Crested Butte or Durango, CO are first world communities. So, although people like the friends that we made in Cusco have inspired us, the search and thought process will need to continue.