The buzzing metropolis of Santiago, situated at the heart of Chile, is the country's political and financial centre. The city is attracting expats in their droves thanks to its cosmopolitan and fun atmosphere.
Living in Santiago as an expat
There are plenty of job opportunities available in Santiago, which serves as another huge drawcard for expats, particularly those with expertise in mining, agriculture and finance. A host of multinational companies have also set up shop in the city, and expats may even have luck setting up their own business in the Chilean capital. There's also a gap for those wanting to teach English in the city, which expats are taking full advantage of.
With its effective transport network, Santiago is one of South America's most modern cities. It has an expanding metro network, cheap buses and an inner-city highway network that links the eastern and western parts of the city in a short half-hour drive. Santiago also has a range of high quality hospitals and medical facilities. Many expats prefer to make use of the countries private clinics, but should ensure they are covered by medical insurance if they wish to do so.
With a range of shopping malls and an impressive array of international cuisine and local restaurants, Santiago is an exciting city for expats to get to know. While expats can live a spectacular lifestyle within the confines of Santiago, one of the charms of the city is the ease with which people can take a break and get out of the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Andes ski slopes and hiking trails are a short drive east of the city and some of Chile's beautiful beaches are just an hour or so to the west. Longer trips out of Santiago allow expats to explore glaciers in the south or the eerie moon-like scapes of the Atacama Desert in the north. With cheap flights throughout the region, it's equally easy for expats to spend a weekend away watching tango dancing or shopping in Buenos Aires.
Cost of living in Santiago
A slight downside is that Chile isn't the most affordable country in the region and Santiago definitely incurs a higher cost of living for expats than its regional counterparts. It can be compared to many North American and Western European cities in this regard, with some aspects of life being more expensive than others. While accommodation at decent rental prices can be found in several areas and suburbs, some of the more centrally located neighbourhoods will naturally be more expensive. That said, with a range of modern conveniences at one's doorstep, the slightly higher cost of living is understandable.
Expat families and children
Further adding to the long list of attributes that this city has to offer, and that makes it such an attractive expat destination, are its many quality international schools. While the local schools have a sufficient level of education, the language of instruction is Spanish and this results in many parents choosing the international schools route. Fees at these schools are astronomical though, and to keep them from breaking the bank, expats should negotiate a school allowance into their salary.
Outside of school hours, parents will find an abundance of family-friendly attractions to keep their kids busy and happy. There is a slew of both indoor and outdoor activities in the city, from zoos and parks to interactive soft play centres such as City Toys and Museo Interactivo Mirador. A family trip to the beach or the ski slopes is also always an option for a day or weekend trip out of the city.
Climate in Santiago
Santiago has a typically Mediterranean climate, characterised by long, hot summers and milt, wet winters. The summer months, from December to February, average between 77 and 86ºF (25 – 30ºC), while winter daytime averages sit around 55ºF (13ºC). Frost occurs regularly during the colder months, which is also when the city receives majority of its rainfall.
Overall, expats moving to Santiago will enjoy a high quality of life in this bustling city, with plenty of activities, events and natural attractions to keep them entertained throughout their stay in Chile.
►Read more about what there is to See and Do in Santiago
"Try to go out of Santiago when you can, to relax. The landscape is beautiful, especially during spring and autumn. Lots of great wineries are within an hour’s drive or less." Read our interview with Jérémie for more useful relocation advice.
"Santiago is sometimes criticised for being sterile and characterless. I think this is unfair, but it is true to say that it is a very developed country. On the whole, things work." Nina shares her thoughts about Santiago with us in her expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Santiago?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Santiago. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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