- Download our Moving to Chile Guide (PDF)
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 last year or so, the cost of living in Santiago, Chile's capital, has spiked. Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey ranks it 87th most expensive out of 227 expat destinations worldwide. This is a jump of about 40 spots compared to its previous ranking. Nevertheless, Santiago still remains generally more affordable than many other major global cities.
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. 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 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 November 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)|
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre||CLP 810,000|
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||CLP 760,000|
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre||CLP 450,000|
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||CLP 420,000|
|Food and drink|
|Dozen eggs||CLP 3,200|
|Milk (1 litre)||CLP 1,130|
|Rice (1kg)||CLP 1,490|
|Loaf of white bread||CLP 1,480|
|Chicken breasts (1kg)||CLP 2,800|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||CLP 4,400|
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||CLP 45,000|
|Big Mac Meal||CLP 7,300|
|Coca-Cola (330ml)||CLP 1,370|
|Bottle of beer (local)||CLP 1,200|
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)||CLP 123|
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)||CLP 16,200|
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)||CLP 77,000|
|Taxi rate/km||CLP 1,200|
|City-centre public transport fare||CLP 800|
|Gasoline (per litre)||CLP 1,280|
What is the cost of living as an expat in Chile?
"There are variations in expenditures. On the one hand, you do get good value for money for what you rent compared with London. Apartments are generally larger than in London and your costs per square foot are lower.
"Petrol/transportation is also cheaper in Santiago. Eating out is just as expensive as London, whereas the quality is often below average." See what else Karim, a British expat has to say about life in Chile.
►For more on managing your finances in the country, see Banking, Money and Taxes in Chile
Are you an expat living in Chile?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Chile. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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