Next move: Arequipa in Peru

The more often you move, the more you find out what you like and what you don’t like. It has been emerging that I love mountains and grassland more than the sea or the tropics. Huge cities are impractical because you lose too much time in transit, but small villages become boring too easily. Mid-sized cities between a few hundred thousand a million people are perfect. If the climate is one of constant spring, one could almost want to stay forever. Like here in Cochabamba.

But because I am illegal in Bolivia since my visa expired in March and I am thus living under the constant threat of going to prison, it’s time to get moving again.

Looking for a city in South America with a similar quality of life, I have stumbled upon Arequipa in Peru, where I will move to in August 2016 and stay until the end of the year.


As you know, I am a great fan of natural disasters. It is therefore a further benefit that there are almost daily earthquakes in Arequipa and that I will have a view of volcanoes from my window.


The volcanoes Misti (5,822 meters) and Chachani (6,057 meters) are relatively easy to climb – when they are not erupting – and I will try to set new altitude records there.

Colca Valley also seems to be predestined for hiking.


But apart from that, I actually want to take a slow approach over the next six months. Less traveling, more sitting in the garden in the shadow of palm trees and finally putting the stories of the last few years to paper.

For my readers in Arequipa: I have rented a room for the first month of August, but I am still looking for an apartment for September-December 2016. Something furnished and quiet, so I can write there. Because of that, I am looking for an apartment of my own, nothing shared. Location almost not important. I hope to find something for less than 800 soles/month. Gracias!

(Hier gibt es diese Ankündigung auf Deutsch.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Bolivia, Peru, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Next move: Arequipa in Peru

  1. Pingback: Nächster Umzug: Arequipa in Peru | Der reisende Reporter

  2. Hiker Spike says:


    Can see you really a fun of traveling around places but do you have any plan for Africa -Uganda in particular?

    • I am a very slow traveler, so probably not for the next couple of years. From South America, it would be too expensive to travel to Africa. But when I do, I will probably travel through Africa for a few years in a row.

  3. Rodrigo says:

    I sent a book to ur Bolivia address..should arrive the 22nd..
    All the best, r

  4. List of X says:

    Good thinking on trying to stay out of prison – they combine the ugly urban landscape and overcrowding of big cities with small size of villages, so I’m guessing you’re not going to like them.

    • Haha, very good point! Although a prison might at least have a library, something which I always miss when staying in a village for longer.

  5. Lou-ter-Lou says:

    I’d like to know what the second month of August looks like ;-)
    Great pictures!!! And good luck with finding a suitable place to stay!

  6. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    Is it a smart idea to post about your illegal status on the net? Those volcanoes look spectacular

    • It shows (1) how much I would like to go to prison, and (2) how relaxed Bolivia is.

      Yes, I generally love volcanoes, I have climbed some in Sicily. I am really looking forward to these mountains!

  7. Caitlin says:

    Hello! I am an American-Swedish traveler who is moving to Arequipa in the end of August as well! I will be living there until March. Perhaps I will run into you somewhere!

  8. Pingback: Moving to the Pacific Ocean | The Happy Hermit

  9. Bill says:

    My family is from Cochabamba, and my uncle who travelled to Arequipa said it felt very similar to Cochabamba and he was right at home. That picture of the plaza you show even has a similar air to Cochabamba’s main plaza– not identical, of course, but similar enough that you have to look twice because at first glance it looks familiar.

    How are you finding Arequipa? What are the biggest differences and unexpected issues you are facing? I ask because my wife and I are considering Peru for a move in order to be somewhere “close to home” but still novel. Thanks.

    • I had exactly the same hopes, but honestly, Arequipa was a huge disappointment:

      – Arequipa is the noisiest city I have ever lived in. Even a small side-street in Arequipa is noisier than Avenida America or Avenida Heroinas in Cochabamba.
      – There are almost no green spaces, and the few parks close at night. There are no spaces for running. In Cochabamba on the other hand, there are plenty of parks which are open 24/7 and large enough for running and many of the roads are lined by trees.
      – Arequipa is much more touristy. Some people may like that, but I didn’t like the atmosphere it created. You can’t sit in the central plaza without people shoving a restaurant menu under your nose. In Cochabamba on the other hand, I was never harassed although I obviously do look like a tourist.
      – It was much easier to find friends and to feel welcome in Cochabamba. I found it more relaxed, friendly, natural, also more intellectual. Arequipa is more hectic and commercial, yet people are extremely proud, making any open discourse impossible. (Just wait for the comments from Arequipenos on this comment. ;-) )
      – On the positive side, Arequipa has the same perfect climate as Cochabamba, but even more sunshine.

      But then, your uncle really liked it and a million more people do. I personally think that the quality of life in Cochabamba is much higher, particularly the way you are treated by Cochabambinos. In any case, I would recommend to spend a week or so in Arequipa before you make a decision to move. And I am curious to hear what you will decide and how it will go!

    • Bill says:

      Wow! This is all very good to know because my uncle went repeatedly to Arequipa for work and came back enamored every time. But then, he doesn’t look like a tourist.

      The “proud” and “less intellectual” aspects of Arequipa getting in the way of connecting with other humans immediately made me think of Santa Cruz– Bolivia’s least interesting and most culturally sterile major city– where I previously lived and we are (grumbling) moving back to next year (long story). So we’re looking at Peru maybe 3 years from now.

      My question to you– is the environment in Arequipa simply a matter of strong regional pride and less intellectualism than in Cochabamba, or is it rabid regionalism and hostile anti-intellectualism like in Santa Cruz? (Assuming you have experienced Santa Cruz)

    • I had to smile at your description of Santa Cruz! I visited Santa Cruz twice and this was exactly my impression. At first, I thought I had bad luck or something must be wrong with me, for how could two cities in the same country be so completely different. But when I spoke to my Bolivian friends about it, many felt the same way.

      There are some people in Arequipa (and indeed in Peru) who claim that Arequipa is its own country. It’s not as serious as in Santa Cruz.
      Arequipa seemed less cultural and bohemian than Cochabamba to me, but not as superficial as Santa Cruz. At least people in Arequipa don’t believe they live in Miami. ;-) It’s really somewhere between the two cities.

      If you will be in Bolivia from next year, I would suggest that you visit Arequipa for a week and check it out.

    • Bill says:

      >> how could two cities in the same country be so completely different

      Indeed, the opposite side of this coin also surprises people who explore Andean valley cities– that cities in different countries could be more similar to each other than cities in the same country. I, personally, feel much more at home in Southern Peru than in the Oriente Boliviano. Similarly, when my father visited Quito, Ecuador on business numerous times he always said it felt like a bigger version of Cochabamba– the mountain topography, the climate, the food, the spanish-Inca hybrid culture, hearing people speak Quechua, etc. It’s really a political accident that Cochabamba and Santa Cruz are thrown together in the same country while cities with much more shared history and ancestry such as Cochabamba and Ayacucho are in different countries.

      >>> It’s really somewhere between the two cities.

      Then it may be a good compromise city.

      We are definitely planning to visit southern Peru once we settle in Bolivia, and your recommendation of giving Arequipa a week makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the insight and please keep us posted about life in Arequipa!

  10. Hi friend! Welcome to Arequipa. I live in Arequipa and I’m happy I have been born here.

  11. Pingback: The difference between Peru and Bolivia, illustrated in random messages | The Happy Hermit

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