Money Matters: The Value of a Sol

Peruvian money Cost of living in Peace Corps Peru

We’re talking Peruvian Nuevo Soles, the official currency of Peru. The current exchange rate is 3.46 soles to 1 U.S. dollar! Imagine that, if you come visit Peru you will have more than 3x as much money here.

When I arrived in Peru I quickly learned that some of my favorite cheap treats in the US would have to become luxuries.

Here are 10 surprisingly expensive items in Peru:

$3- 4 pack of chocolate pudding
$4- Can of Lays Stax or Pringles
$6- Liter of ice cream
$7- Small jar of Nutella
$7- Brownie or cake mix
$8- Small jar of Peter Pan Peanut Butter
$30- Yoga mat
$30- iPhone charger
$80- MacBook charger
Forget about it- Jar of cream cheese frosting

You’re probably looking at that list and thinking, “Well that’s not thaaaat bad…” but when you think about the fact that a can of Pringles is the same price as a three-course lunch for two, it changes things.

Here are 10 surprisingly cheap things in Peru:

$.80- 2 Liter soda
$1- Movie ticket on a weekday ($2 on weekends)
$1- Taxi within a city
$1- Replace the soles of your shoes (labor included)
$1.50- Pay someone else to wash and dry 12 items of clothing by hand
$1.50- Three-course lunch including soup, main dish, drink and dessert
$2- One kilo of chia seeds
$5- Burger and fries at a nice restaurant
$5.20- Bus ride to capitol city (about 5 hours)
$10- One night in a 3 star hotel

As a Peace Corps Volunteer I receive a little less than $340 a month. Pick your jaw up off of the floor, yes that number is correct. I live at the same economic level as the people in my town and actually that is a pretty generous monthly stipend. Sometimes that amount will be about what a family of 3 lives off of each month.

Now for the fun part, spending! Below is a list of where my money goes each month so ya’ll can get an idea of the costs of daily life in small town Peru.

Peace Corps cribs Peru bedroom DIY
This mini apartment only costs $50 a month in Peru!

$50/ month- Rent, water and electricity in a one bedroom mini apartment
$3/ day ($90/ month)- Breakfast, lunch and dinner
$10/ month- Internet
$10/ month- Cell phone
$70/ month- Random costs… everything from toilet paper to kitchen rags
$20/ month- Copies, school supplies and other materials
$60- Monthly trip to the capitol to check mail, go to bank etc. including transportation and hotel

These costs obviously vary depending on where you’re living in Peru, but that is a general idea of living costs in a small town in Cajamarca.
Blogging Abroad's Boot Camp Blog Challenge: Starting January 2015

What is the cost of living where you live? Are there costs that surprised you when you arrived? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!