In Lima’s Plaza de la Zona, or City Square, a young woman is preparing to exchange keys with her landlord as two years of eviction proceedings are completed. Young adults are moving out, sick patients are arriving, empty apartments of friends and family are all of a sudden littered with items. But the market is efficient and the few market rents in the neighbourhood are relatively high. Monami — who didn’t want to give her surname — spends her days wandering around the city buying and selling things. She likes the hustle, she explains, “Here people are in contact with everything.” Monami’s boyfriend, another young woman, is selling women’s purses for big money. Monami doesn’t mind the sight of people who sell things. “Everyone has some sort of profession — whether it’s a doctor, someone who works for Amazon or something,” she remarks, smiling. She also enjoys meeting new people and meeting up with her friends, regardless of the time of the day. “It’s a way of meeting people, and a way of enjoying the nightlife. And the coffee? I like the coffee here in Lima,” she adds enthusiastically. Monami’s life has changed significantly. Originally from the suburbs, the recent wave of evictions in Peruvian cities as part of “removal of previous occupants” has pulled her from city life into the environs of towns where she knows no one.
Moliko — who did want to give her surname — recently purchased an apartment in a complex occupied by a family that had been living there for many years. Moliko and her boyfriend live together in their new apartment and make friends easily. But at night, when Moliko goes out with her boyfriend in the neighbourhood, she feels lonely. Two years ago, the apartment complex was empty, she says. She feels no need to leave to attend parties or hang out with her friends. Because she doesn’t know anyone, her social life has changed too. Moliko used to live in a two-room apartment, far away from the city centre. Now she lives in a spacious three-room apartment. But because of rising market rents, she spends a lot of time travelling between town and the center. “I was working in one of these big factories, and now I don’t need to make money,” she smiles. Moliko is surrounded by her friends and enjoys chatting, listening to radio or watching documentaries. The apartments are quite nice, in one case Moliko pays just 500 soles ($120) per month. Still, she has no idea where her next meal is coming from. “There’s a problem with this. The prices of these homes in Lima are terrible,” Moliko says, pointing out the buildings located at the edge of her apartment complex. “We’re going to battle to change these rents,” she explains, “but this is not easy.”