New arrivals to Chile will undoubtedly have questions about their new home. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Santiago.

Is it easy to ship goods and household contents to Chile?

While it is easy to ship goods worldwide, some expats have complained that shipping to Chile is a long and tedious procedure, and goods sometimes don’t arrive intact or at all. While this has been the experience of plenty of people, there are hopeful stories too. Usually, it is best to look into relocation companies that offer a full suite of services and hire a reputable shipping company that covers insurance on your goods. It’s also helpful to ask future coworkers for recommendations of shipping companies.

Is Santiago safe?

Santiago is one of the safest cities in Latin America, and it does not share the reputation for crime that some countries and cities in the region have. This is not to say it is completely crime-free. Pickpocketing is an issue in popular tourist areas, and some violent muggings have been reported. The city has also seen protests in response to a rise in the cost of public transport. Like anywhere else, it’s not recommended to carry large amounts of cash, walk around alone at night or leave valuables in the car.

Is it useful to buy a car in Santiago?

This depends on the person. It’s easy to get by without a car, as Santiago has a well-developed and accessible public transport network. That said, many people find that driving a car makes life easier for travelling in the city and around the country. It’s important to learn the meanings of Chilean road symbols and to know that the road signs are all in Spanish.

Are there good international schools in Santiago?

Santiago has a range of international schools, offering curriculums from different countries such as the US, the UK, Germany and France. These schools are popular with expat families, providing high standards of education and helping children integrate into their new environment while maintaining continuity in their studies.

What should I do if there is an earthquake?

Big earthquakes seem to hit Chile every 15 to 20 years, but obviously natural disasters cannot be scheduled or predicted. The safest place to be during an earthquake is outside, and expats should try to make their way outside if possible. Indoors, it’s advised to position oneself in a doorway or beneath a table or desk. Not panicking is also key. Gauge the quake; if it lasts longer than 10 to 20 seconds, it may be wise to move to a safer location.

How complicated is the visa process for Chile?

Getting a visa for most countries can seem daunting, but Chilean embassies are helpful, and the official Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs website gives the most up-to-date info. There are different types of visas and work permits, and expats should research which would suit their needs best.

What is the cost of living like in Santiago?

The cost of living in Santiago varies based on lifestyle and personal preferences. Generally, it's considered affordable compared to many Western cities but higher than other cities in Chile. Expenses like rent, groceries and entertainment can be lower, but imported goods might be pricier. It's beneficial to budget carefully and consider local salary scales when planning finances.

Can expats find good healthcare services in Santiago?

Santiago boasts high-quality healthcare facilities, many of which offer services comparable to those in Europe or North America. Expats usually opt for private healthcare, which is more expensive but offers shorter waiting times and English-speaking staff. It's advisable to have comprehensive health insurance to cover these costs.

How is the expat community in Santiago?

Santiago has a vibrant and diverse expat community. Newcomers can find numerous expat groups and clubs that organise social events, cultural exchanges, and language practice sessions. These networks can be invaluable resources for support and advice on settling into life in Chile.

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