- Download our Moving to Chile Guide (PDF)
Wildly beautiful and absurdly long and narrow, Chile ‒ el país de los poetas (the country of poets) ‒ can stretch expats’ imaginations as casually as it tries their patience.
It’s always good to do extensive research before relocating to a new country, and Chile is no different. Our list of pros and cons is a good starting point for any prospective residents of this gorgeous South American country.
Cost of living in Chile
+ PRO: Affordable rent
Rent prices are certainly one of the perks of living in Chile, as they’re fairly low for a major international destination. Single expats can reduce accommodation costs even more by seeking out Chile’s incredibly low-cost shared housing options.
+ PRO: Variety of affordable goods and services
In addition to affordable rent, Chile offers a wide range of goods and services at competitive prices. From local markets selling fresh produce to affordable local services, expats can enjoy a high standard of living without breaking the bank. The cost of utilities and public transportation also tends to be lower than in many other countries, adding to the financial benefits of living in Chile.
- CON: Education is expensive
Expats in Chile usually send their kids to private schools, which are hugely expensive. Some expats may be able to reduce the cost by negotiating an education allowance as part of their employment contract, though.
Lifestyle in Chile
+ PRO: Beautiful landscapes
Chile lies between the mighty Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and stretches from the Atacama Desert in the north to the glaciers of Patagonia in the south, transporting travellers to a different fantasy with every change of region. Road trips in Chile are the stuff of legend.
- CON: Air quality
An unfortunate geographical fact is that cities situated in valleys – such as Santiago, Temuco and Osorno – often have their cold winter air sealed in by the landscape, trapping pollution too. Pollution in Chile is seasonal, though, and far less severe than in many other countries.
+ PRO: Thriving expat community
Chile's expat community is welcoming and diverse, providing newcomers with ample opportunities to socialise and network. This thriving community makes it easier for expats to settle in, find support, and make friends, enhancing the overall quality of life in Chile.
Working in Chile
+ PRO: Relatively strong economy
Chile has one of the strongest, most stable economies in South America, and quite possibly the region’s most competitive job market. The main economic sectors are mining and agriculture, but finance and tourism may also hold opportunities for expats.
- CON: Slow pace
Expats may struggle with general tardiness in the Chilean work culture. Colleagues may not respond to emails or return calls in a timely fashion or acknowledge messages.
- CON: Job market restrictions
Companies value qualifications over experience in some sectors, especially degrees earned in the US or UK. This might mean that expats from other parts of the world will begin the job application process at a disadvantage.
+ PRO: Entrepreneurial opportunities
Chile is renowned for its supportive environment for entrepreneurs and start-ups, particularly in the technology and innovation sectors. The government offers various programs and incentives to encourage business development, making it an attractive destination for expats looking to start their own ventures or invest in emerging businesses.
- CON: Language barrier
Outside of English teaching positions, the job market tends to favour Spanish speakers, so expats without a knowledge of the language should consider investing some time in learning it.
Culture shock in Chile
+ PRO: Vibrant culture and rich heritage
Chile boasts a vibrant cultural scene with a rich heritage that includes a variety of festivals, music, dance and culinary delights. The country's cultural diversity is reflected in its arts and crafts, folklore and culinary traditions, offering expats a unique and enriching living experience.
- CON: The dialect is challenging
Chilean Spanish has a reputation for being difficult, with some sources regarding it as the most challenging variety of the language. The Chilean habits of cutting the 's' off the end of words, speaking rapidly and mixing in a lot of Chilenismos (Chilean slang) account for why foreigners have been known to struggle with the local Spanish.
Getting around in Chile
+ PRO: Good public transport network
The capital, Santiago, has an extensive, reliable public transport network of buses, taxis and a metro, all at relatively low prices. Long-distance bus travel in Chile is also affordably priced and has a reputation for comfort, efficiency and punctuality.
+ PRO: Scenic road trips and efficient domestic flights
Besides the efficient public transport network, Chile is well-known for its scenic road trips, with well-maintained roads offering breathtaking views of the country's diverse landscapes. Additionally, the country has an extensive network of domestic flights connecting major cities and tourist destinations, making travel within Chile both convenient and time-efficient.
Healthcare in Chile
+ PRO: Good healthcare system
All legal residents are entitled to free and subsidised public healthcare, which is managed by the government-run Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA). Expats who don’t have residency won’t qualify for FONASA and will have to rely on private healthcare. Most doctors in the public and private systems are well trained and speak English.
- CON: Public, slow; private, pricey
For expats who get to choose between the public and private systems, there is a trade-off. The public system drags a bit and waiting times for operations can be long. The private system, on the other hand, can be rather expensive.
What do expats love about Chile?
"I love the people, the surrounding landscapes, the mountains and the sunshine. I have a great friend tribe of locals and expats, and feel very at home here. I’ve found it incredibly easy to make great friends." Learn more about Nina, a British expat, and her experience living in Chile.
►For more information about relocating to this scintillating South American country, check out our Moving to Chile page
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.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance - 10% off any plans bought in November and December 2023
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.