- Download our Moving to Chile Guide (PDF)
Most expats find moving to Chile an easy transition. Not only is it a modern, stable and relatively wealthy country that offers expats a great quality of life, it also has plenty to offer culturally speaking. The incredible length of Chile also provides much variation in terrain as one moves south, leaving expats with plenty of natural beauty to explore.
Living in Chile as an expat
Santiago, Chile's vibrant capital, is an incredibly picturesque city. High-rise buildings, shopping centres and sprawling urban developments are set against the spectacular backdrop of the Andes Mountains. The city is a regional business hub. It generates a large portion of the country's GDP and is home to the regional headquarters for many multinational companies. Santiago also has an extensive transport network, with a great subway and bus system connecting all parts of the city.
Expats looking to work in Chile will do well to search for job opportunities in the agriculture, mining, finance and tourism sectors of the Chilean economy. Chile has both excellent public and private healthcare available for expats. The healthcare system is the best in South America, and standards are generally high, although less so in rural areas.
While Chile doesn't have a distinctive cuisine, expats can look forward to the incredible variety of dishes on offer throughout the country. With over 3,900 miles (6,400km) of coastline, including its islands, Chile is a seafood paradise. Chilean wines also hold their own on the world markets against those from France, Australia, California and South Africa.
Cost of living in Chile
Compared to other South American countries, the cost of living in Chile is somewhat pricey, especially in Santiago. That being said, expats in high positions will also receive a salary to match and will most likely be able to live a rather comfortable life in this South American country. Some aspects of life can be pricey here, though. While expats may be able to save slightly on accommodation and transport, schooling and entertainment can take up a decent chunk of the monthly budget.
Expat families and children
Those with children will be pleased to know that there is a multitude of international schools offering quality education in Chile. While there are also a number of good public schools in the country, the standards vary, and classes are taught exclusively in Spanish, meaning most expat parents go the international school route despite the high fees involved.
Chile is also exceptionally child-friendly, and parents can rest assured that their kids will have plenty of activities and attractions to keep them busy, especially if living in Santiago. With parks, zoos and children's museums at their fingertips, expat children will not be wanting for things to do in their spare time.
Climate in Chile
The country's immense length means the weather in Chile varies from region to region. Generally, summer (December to February) is perfect for those wishing to acquaint themselves with Chile's beautiful beaches or its range of vineyards, while winter (June to August) is a time when many Chileans hit the ski slopes.
Expat life in Chile is vibrant and fun-filled. With great living standards, beautiful surroundings and a welcoming local population, many expats choose to extend their time in the country, a sure sign that Chile is an ideal choice for a home away from home.
Population: Nearly 20 million
Capital city: Santiago
Neighbouring countries: Chile is bordered by Bolivia and Argentina to the east and Peru to the north.
Geography: Chile's geography is varied and diverse. The country is home to a significant portion of the Andes mountain region and the Atacama Desert. Chilean territory encompasses South America's southernmost points and an extensive coastline with many islands, including Easter Island.
Political system: Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Major religion: Roman Catholic and Protestant
Main language: Spanish
Money: Chile's currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP). ATMs are abundant, and expats should be able to use their credit cards in all major urban centres.
Tipping: 10 percent is the standard tipping amount in restaurants, but it's usually less for other services
Time: GMT-4 (GMT-3 from September to April). Easter Island is GMT-6 (GMT-5 from September to April).
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz. Plugs with two or three round pins are used.
Internet domain: .cl
International dialling code: +56
Emergency numbers: 131 (ambulance), 132 (fire), 133 (police)
Transport and driving: Cars in Chile drive on the right-hand side of the road. Most major urban centres have efficient and reliable transport systems, and there is an extensive network of buses and trains throughout the country.
What do expats love about Chile?
"What I enjoy the most is the better work/life balance, shorter commuting distance and predictable weather!" Read more about Karim, a British expat, and his experience living in Chile.
"I love the people, the surrounding landscapes, the mountains and the sunshine." Nina shares more positive and negative aspects of living in Chile in her expat interview.
►Pros and Cons of Moving to Chile will give expats more of an idea of what expect from life in the country
►Whether planning a holiday or a longer stay in Chile, new arrivals should research the visa process
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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