Although the cost of living in Chile is considered relatively affordable for expats, its political and economic stability still makes it one of the more expensive South American destinations, with prices that fluctuate and vary around the country.

In the past year, the cost of living in Santiago, Chile's capital, has dropped. Mercer's 2024 Cost of Living Survey ranks it 160th most expensive out of 226 expat destinations worldwide. This is a drop of 73 spots compared to its previous ranking. Santiago remains generally more affordable than many other major global cities, especially for those on an expat salary.

While attractive executive salaries may lure many expats to Chile, competition for top management positions in multinational firms can be fierce, and expat packages may not be as lucrative as they once were. Those considering a move to Chile should ensure their salary is high enough to accommodate their lifestyle, especially in urban areas like Santiago, where living expenses can be higher.

Moving to a foreign country often means using a new currency and getting familiar with banking, money and taxes in that country. Here is a breakdown of costs in Chile.

Cost of accommodation in Chile

Chile boasts a range of accommodation options for expats, and even top-quality housing tends to be affordable when compared to other major destinations. Buying and renting prices in the country are among the cheapest in Latin America, and a construction boom yielding sleek skyscrapers and an array of housing developments mean that standards aren't sacrificed even in the face of lower costs.

There are also plenty of opportunities for young, single expats to negotiate incredibly cheap shared housing, either with a Chilean family or in a furnished space with other expats. This option provides an affordable way to live and also offers a unique cultural experience.

Cost of transport in Chile

Chile prides itself on its urban infrastructure, and its systems of public transport are well-connected and affordable. The country's main modes of transit are buses and the metro, both of which are efficient, safe and economical. Taxis are more expensive and the drivers are notorious for overcharging foreigners, so expats should do their best to negotiate a reasonable fee or use a ride-hailing service that charges standardised rates.

For those who prefer to drive, the cost of driving can vary. Driving in Santiago is better than in some other capitals, but considerate motorists are found more outside the bustling capital.

Cost of groceries in Chile

The cost of food in Chile registers as cheap on a global scale but more expensive than in neighbouring South American countries such as Peru and Argentina. Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables from the large central markets is a great way to save money and sample the local flavours in Chile. Supermarket prices are slightly higher, and eating out and buying imported food items can be costly.

Imported items tend to be more expensive, and the cost of good-quality toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste is high in Chile. Purchasing fruit, vegetables, pulses and seeds at local ferias (fresh produce markets) can save money and provide superior quality while supporting Chilean farmers and independent suppliers.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Chile

Chile is known for its vibrant culture and delicious cuisine, making it an attractive destination for expats seeking adventure and culinary delights. However, like in any foreign country, the cost of entertainment and dining out can vary depending on where one goes and what they do.

For entertainment, expats will find a wide range of options available to them, from exploring the bustling streets of Santiago to hiking in the Andes mountains. In general, the cost of entertainment in Chile is quite reasonable, especially when compared to other major cities in the region. Film tickets and museum admission are generally affordable, and outdoor activities like hiking and skiing can be enjoyed at a reasonable cost.

When it comes to dining out, expats will find that the cost of food can vary greatly depending on the type of restaurant and location. For example, fine dining restaurants in upscale areas like Vitacura can be quite expensive, while small local cafés and street vendors offer affordable and tasty options. Chile is also known for its wine, and while some high-end bottles can be expensive, there are many affordable options available that are just as delicious.

Cost of education in Chile

Expats with children have a range of options for education and schools in Chile. Public schools in Chile tend to provide a lower standard of education than expats might be used to, and the curriculum is usually taught in Spanish. Some parents prefer to send their children to Chilean private schools, but fees for these institutions can be awfully expensive. Plus, they don't always live up to the promise of providing better standards of education than public schools. 

For many expats, international schools in Chile are the answer to this dilemma. Their fees can also be fairly high, but it's often possible to negotiate an education allowance as part of an employment contract.

Cost of healthcare in Chile

Healthcare in Chile is a mix of public and private sectors, with Chile boasting one of the most advanced healthcare systems in South America. The World Health Organization ranks it 33rd out of 190 countries in terms of healthcare standards. The public healthcare system in Chile is managed through the government-run FONASA scheme, providing free and subsidised healthcare to Chilean nationals and legal residents. Expats living and working in Chile are eligible for public healthcare but must have legal residency and pay taxes.

Private healthcare is popular among expats, especially in Santiago, where standards are high, but it can be expensive. Expats often opt for international health insurance, which is comprehensive and cost-effective. The quality of healthcare may vary in different geographical locations, especially in remote areas with less advanced medical facilities.

Cost of living in Chile chart

Prices may vary across Chile, depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Santiago in June 2024.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreCLP 875,000
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreCLP 750,000
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreCLP 505,000
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreCLP 425,000
Food and drink
Dozen eggsCLP 3,650
Milk (1 litre)CLP 1,185
Rice (1kg)CLP 1,650
Loaf of white breadCLP 1,535
Chicken breasts (1kg)CLP 2,600
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)CLP 4,750
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantCLP 51,500
Big Mac MealCLP 7,800
Coca-Cola (330ml)CLP 1,520
CappuccinoCLP 2,850
Bottle of beer (local)CLP 1,260
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)CLP 165
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)CLP 19,000
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)CLP 75,000
Taxi rate/kmCLP 1,535
City-centre public transport fareCLP 810
Gasoline/Petrol (per litre)CLP 1,290

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