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How To Live In Chile As An Expat


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Noemi Covey



Chile, with its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant cities, has become an increasingly popular destination for expatriates looking to start a new chapter in their lives. From the bustling streets of Santiago to the picturesque shores of Valparaiso, Chile offers a unique blend of natural beauty and urban charm.


As an expat living in Chile, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a wealth of adventures, embrace a different way of life, and immerse yourself in a diverse and welcoming society. However, navigating the process of relocating to a new country can be daunting. This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive guide, covering all aspects of expat life in Chile.


Whether you’re moving to Chile for work, retirement, or to explore its natural wonders, it’s important to be prepared and informed. This guide will help you understand the necessary steps to obtain a visa, find suitable accommodation, familiarize yourself with the healthcare and education systems, navigate transportation options, and provide insights into the local culture and etiquette.


Furthermore, we’ll discuss the cost of living in Chile, examine the safety and security measures in place, and inform you about the various expat communities that exist throughout the country. This article will be your go-to resource for everything you need to know to live a fulfilling and rewarding life as an expat in Chile.


So, whether you’re dreaming of sipping Chilean wine in the Maipo Valley, hiking through the awe-inspiring Patagonia region, or exploring the vibrant street art scene in Valparaiso, get ready to embark on a new adventure in Chile. With this guide as your companion, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the challenges and embrace the wonders of life as an expat in this captivating country.


Getting a Visa

Before you can begin your journey as an expat in Chile, it’s essential to understand the visa requirements and application process. The type of visa you’ll need will depend on your purpose of stay in the country, whether it’s for work, study, or retirement.


For most expats, the most common visa is the Temporary Residency Visa. To obtain this visa, you’ll need to provide documentation such as a valid passport, proof of financial solvency, a criminal background check, and a medical certificate. Additionally, you may need to provide specific documents based on your reason for relocating to Chile, such as an employment contract or proof of enrollment in an educational institution.


It’s important to note that visa requirements and processes can change, so it’s best to consult with the local Chilean consulate or embassy in your home country for the most up-to-date information. They will guide you through the necessary steps, help you complete the application forms, and inform you of any additional requirements or fees.


Once you have gathered all the required documents, you can submit your visa application either in person or through a visa processing center. The processing time can vary, but it’s advisable to apply well in advance of your planned departure date to allow for any delays.


Once your visa is approved, you’ll be granted temporary residency in Chile, allowing you to live and work legally in the country for a specific period. It’s important to keep your visa and other identification documents up to date and carry them with you at all times, as random checks by authorities are not uncommon.


If you plan to stay in Chile for a more extended period or wish to become a permanent resident, you can explore options such as the Permanent Residency Visa or the Chilean Citizenship process. However, these paths typically require a longer stay in Chile and meeting additional criteria.


Overall, the visa application process may seem intricate, but with careful planning and proper documentation, you’ll be able to obtain the necessary visa to start your new life in Chile.


Finding Accommodation

Once you have obtained your visa and are ready to settle down in Chile, the next step is finding suitable accommodation. The country offers a range of housing options, from modern apartments in the city to charming houses in the countryside.


One of the most popular cities for expats in Chile is Santiago, the capital. The city boasts a vibrant atmosphere, excellent infrastructure, and a variety of neighborhoods to suit different preferences. Some popular neighborhoods for expats include Providencia, Las Condes, and Vitacura, which offer amenities, safety, and convenient access to services.


When searching for accommodation, you can start by looking online on real estate websites, such as Portalinmobiliario, where you can find listings for apartments, houses, and even shared accommodation. It’s also worth considering engaging the services of a real estate agent who can assist you in finding a property that meets your specific requirements.


In addition to Santiago, other cities in Chile, such as Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, and Concepcion, offer great residential options for expats. These cities have a more relaxed and bohemian vibe, with a variety of housing styles ranging from colonial-era buildings to modern apartments.


Keep in mind that rental prices vary depending on the location and size of the property. In Santiago, for instance, the cost of living can be higher compared to other cities in Chile. It’s essential to determine your budget and prioritize your needs when searching for accommodation.


When renting a property in Chile, it’s common for landlords to request a deposit, usually equivalent to one or two months’ rent. Additionally, you may be required to provide proof of income or a guarantor, depending on the landlord’s requirements.


While many expats choose to rent, there is also the option of buying property in Chile. If you plan on staying in the country long-term or making an investment, purchasing a home can be a viable option. It’s recommended to work with a reputable real estate agent and seek legal advice to ensure a smooth and secure property transaction.


Overall, finding accommodation in Chile requires careful research, consideration of your budget, and understanding your needs and preferences. With a wide range of options available, you’re sure to find a place to call home during your time as an expat in Chile.


Healthcare in Chile

One of the essential aspects to consider when living in a foreign country is access to healthcare. Fortunately, Chile offers a well-developed healthcare system, with both public and private options available to residents and expats alike.


The public healthcare system in Chile is managed by the Ministry of Health and is known as the Fonasa (Fondo Nacional de Salud). It provides comprehensive coverage to Chilean citizens, and as a resident, you may be eligible to join Fonasa as well. The level of coverage and services offered by Fonasa can vary depending on your income and insurance plan.


While the public healthcare system in Chile is generally considered to be of a high standard, it can sometimes face challenges such as long waiting times for appointments and specialized treatments. Therefore, many expats opt for private healthcare insurance to access a broader range of services and receive quicker medical attention.


The private healthcare sector in Chile is well-regarded and offers a wide range of facilities, including private hospitals and clinics with state-of-the-art equipment and highly qualified medical professionals. Some popular private healthcare insurance companies in Chile include Banmédica, Consalud, and Cruz Blanca.


Purchasing private health insurance allows you to choose your preferred healthcare provider and access services such as specialist consultations, shorter waiting times for appointments, and private hospital rooms. It’s important to research the various insurance plans available and compare coverage and costs to find the best fit for your needs.


If you require prescription medications, Chile has a network of pharmacies where you can purchase necessary drugs. It’s advisable to have a valid prescription from a licensed Chilean doctor to ensure you receive the correct medication.


Chile also has a reputation for its high-quality dental care. Many expats choose to visit dentists who offer a range of services, from routine check-ups to cosmetic treatments, at competitive prices.


Before relocating to Chile, it’s a good idea to consult with your current healthcare provider and insurance company to understand what coverage they offer while you are abroad. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may want to consider purchasing international health insurance to provide comprehensive coverage during your time as an expat.


Overall, Chile’s healthcare system provides both public and private options, ensuring that expats have access to quality medical care. By choosing the right insurance plan and understanding the healthcare landscape, you can have peace of mind knowing that your health needs will be taken care of in Chile.


Education System

Chile is known for having a well-established education system that provides a range of options for expats looking to enroll their children in schools or pursue higher education themselves.


The education system in Chile is divided into several levels: preschool, primary school, secondary school, and higher education.


Preschool education in Chile is not compulsory but is widely available and is an excellent way for young children to develop social and cognitive skills. Preschools can be public or private, and many international schools also offer preschool programs.


Primary education in Chile begins at the age of six and lasts for eight years. The curriculum focuses on core subjects such as language, mathematics, science, and social studies. Primary schools can be public or private, and expat families have the option to choose between Chilean schools or international schools that follow international curricula.


Secondary education in Chile typically lasts for four years, and students are required to pass a national exam called the PSU (Prueba de Selección Universitaria) at the end of their studies. The PSU results determine a student’s eligibility for higher education institutions.


Chile is home to numerous high-quality universities and technical institutes, offering a wide range of programs and degrees. Some of the most prestigious universities in Chile include the Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. Higher education institutions in Chile are known for their rigorous academic standards and research opportunities.


For expats looking to enroll their children in international schools, Chile offers a range of options in major cities such as Santiago, Valparaiso, and Concepcion. These schools follow international curricula, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the American curriculum, and provide a multicultural learning environment.


It’s important to note that tuition fees for private and international schools can be quite high, so it’s essential to factor in these costs when planning your budget as an expat family.


For higher education, Chilean universities may have specific requirements for international students, including proficiency in Spanish and the need to submit additional documents. It’s advisable to contact your desired institution directly to understand their application process and any specific requirements for international students.


Overall, Chile’s education system offers a variety of options for expats, with both public and private schools and top-notch universities. Whether you’re raising school-aged children or seeking higher education opportunities, Chile provides a supportive and quality educational environment.


Cost of Living

Understanding the cost of living is crucial when planning to live as an expat in Chile. The overall cost of living in Chile can vary depending on the city and lifestyle choices, but it is generally considered to be more affordable compared to other countries in the region.


Housing costs in Chile can vary significantly, with prices being higher in major cities like Santiago and lower in smaller towns and rural areas. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost around $600 to $900 per month, while a similar apartment outside the city center may range from $400 to $700 per month.


Transportation expenses in Chile are relatively affordable. The public transportation system, including buses and metros, offers a cost-effective way to travel around the cities. A monthly pass for public transportation in Santiago, for instance, can cost around $40 to $50.


Grocery shopping in Chile is reasonably priced, especially if you opt for local produce and products. The country offers a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats at affordable prices in local markets and supermarkets.


When it comes to dining out, Chile offers a range of options catering to different budgets. Eating at local restaurants and street food stalls can be very affordable, while upscale dining establishments may cost more. A basic meal at a local restaurant can cost around $8 to $12, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant may range from $30 to $50.


Other expenses such as utilities, internet, and healthcare also contribute to the overall cost of living. Utilities including electricity, water, and heating can cost around $100 to $150 per month for a typical apartment. Internet services typically range from $30 to $50 per month.


It’s important to consider additional expenses such as healthcare insurance, education costs for children, and entertainment activities when calculating your budget as an expat in Chile.


While the cost of living in Chile can be relatively affordable, it’s essential to plan your finances accordingly and take into account your income or savings. It’s recommended to have a financial buffer to cover any unexpected expenses or emergencies.


Ultimately, the cost of living in Chile can be manageable, especially with careful budgeting and an understanding of the country’s pricing structure. With its affordable housing options, reasonable transportation costs, and diverse range of affordable amenities, Chile provides a comfortable living environment for expats.



Chile offers a reliable and efficient transportation system, making it easy for expats to navigate the country and explore its diverse regions. From public transportation to private vehicles, there are various options available for getting around in Chile.


The cities in Chile, like Santiago, have a well-developed public transportation network. The metro system, known as the Metro de Santiago, is an efficient and affordable way to travel within the city. The metro lines connect major areas, including the city center, suburbs, and even the airport. Buses are also widely available and cover a more extensive range of destinations, making them a popular choice for both locals and expats.


In addition to public transportation, taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber are widely available in Chile. Taxis are generally safe and reliable, and they can be hailed on the streets or through a taxi app. Ride-hailing services are convenient and often offer competitive fares.


If you prefer the independence and flexibility of having your own vehicle, purchasing or renting a car is an option. Chile has a well-maintained road infrastructure, including highways and secondary roads, making it relatively easy to navigate. However, traffic congestion can be an issue in major cities during peak hours.


It’s important to note that driving in Chile requires a valid driver’s license, and international driver’s licenses are usually recognized. However, if you plan to stay in Chile long-term, it’s advisable to obtain a local driver’s license.


When it comes to long-distance travel within Chile, buses are a popular choice. Chile has an extensive intercity bus system, connecting different regions of the country. Bus travel is affordable, comfortable, and offers a great opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of Chile’s landscapes.


For traveling even longer distances, domestic flights are available, connecting major cities across the country. Chile has a well-established airline network, and flying can be a convenient option for reaching destinations quickly.


Overall, transportation in Chile is well-developed, providing expats with various options for getting around. Whether you choose to rely on public transportation, use ride-hailing services, drive your own vehicle, or explore the country by bus or plane, traveling within Chile is relatively easy and convenient.


Working in Chile

Chile offers a range of opportunities for expats seeking employment in various industries. The country has a stable economy and is known for its business-friendly environment, making it an attractive destination for professionals from around the world.


Before starting work in Chile, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate visa and work permit. Your visa type will depend on the nature of your employment, whether you have a job offer from a Chilean company or if you plan to start a business of your own.


The job market in Chile is diverse, with opportunities in sectors such as mining, finance, technology, agriculture, tourism, and education. The country has a high demand for skilled professionals, particularly in areas such as engineering, IT, finance, and healthcare.


It’s worth noting that the official language in Chile is Spanish, so having a good command of the language will significantly enhance your job prospects. Many companies in Chile value bilingual skills, particularly in the areas of business and tourism.


Networking plays an important role in finding job opportunities in Chile. Consider joining industry-specific professional organizations, attending networking events, and utilizing online job portals to connect with potential employers.


When it comes to working conditions, Chile has labor laws in place to protect employees’ rights. The standard workweek is 45 hours, with a maximum of 10 hours per day. Employees are entitled to at least one day off per week and annual paid leave based on their years of service.


The salaries in Chile vary depending on the industry, your qualifications, and level of experience. It’s important to research salary ranges for your field to ensure fair compensation.


For expats planning to start their own business in Chile, the country has a favorable environment for entrepreneurship. The process of setting up a business is relatively straightforward, and there are resources available to provide guidance and support.


Chile offers a stable and competitive business landscape, making it an attractive destination for expats looking to advance their careers or start their own ventures.


Overall, working in Chile can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, given the country’s diverse job opportunities, competitive salaries, and favorable business environment. With the right qualifications, networking efforts, and understanding of local work culture, expats can thrive in Chile’s dynamic job market.


Cultural Etiquette

Understanding and respecting the cultural norms and etiquette in Chile is essential for expats to integrate and thrive in the local community. Chileans are known for their warm and friendly nature, and embracing their cultural customs will help you establish positive relationships and navigate social interactions smoothly.


Chileans place a strong emphasis on personal relationships, and it is important to greet people with a warm handshake and maintain eye contact during conversations. Personal space is also respected, so it’s best to avoid excessive physical contact unless you have a close relationship with the person.


Punctuality is highly valued in Chile, so it is courteous to arrive on time for appointments and social gatherings. Being late may be perceived as a lack of respect for others’ time.


When it comes to dining etiquette, it is customary to wait for the host to start eating before you begin. Chileans appreciate good table manners and may express their admiration for your etiquette during a meal.


Chileans are proud of their culture, history, and traditions, so showing an interest and respect for these aspects will be well-received. Taking the time to learn some basic Spanish phrases can also go a long way in building connections and showing appreciation for the local language.


Chileans are generally polite and cordial in their communication style. It is important to be respectful and avoid confrontational or aggressive behavior when engaging in conversations or negotiations.


Chile has a collectivist culture, and family plays a central role. It is common for people to live with their parents until they get married, and family gatherings are frequent. Showing interest in others’ families and asking about their well-being is appreciated.


Additionally, Chileans take pride in their natural landscapes and their national heritage. Respecting the environment and participating in sustainable practices, such as responsible tourism and recycling, will be highly regarded.


Lastly, be aware that Chile has historical and cultural sensitivities. It is important to approach topics such as politics, religion, and the country’s past with sensitivity and respect, as Chileans may have varying opinions and emotions regarding these matters.


By being aware of and respecting the cultural etiquette in Chile, expats can forge meaningful connections, foster goodwill, and fully embrace the rich cultural experiences the country has to offer.


Safety and Security

Chile is generally considered to be one of the safest countries in South America, with a relatively low crime rate. However, it’s still important for expats to take precautions and be mindful of their personal safety and security.


Major cities in Chile, like Santiago, have areas that may have higher crime rates, so it’s advisable to research and familiarize yourself with the safer neighborhoods. It’s always a good idea to exercise caution when walking alone at night and avoid displaying valuable belongings in public.


Public transportation in Chile is generally safe and reliable, but it’s important to be aware of potential pickpocketing or theft, especially in crowded areas or on public buses. Keeping your belongings secure and being vigilant can help prevent any incidents.


When driving, it’s important to follow traffic rules and be cautious of your surroundings, especially in busy city traffic. It’s not uncommon for drivers in Chile to be assertive, so it’s necessary to stay alert and drive defensively.


Chile is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its geographical location. It’s advisable to familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and be prepared for such events. Stay informed through local news sources and adhere to any evacuation or safety instructions issued by authorities.


As with any foreign country, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance that includes medical coverage in case of emergencies. This will provide you with peace of mind and ensure that you receive appropriate medical care if needed.


It’s always a good practice to register with your local embassy or consulate upon arrival in Chile. They can provide you with important updates, travel advisories, and assist you in case of an emergency.


Chilean authorities prioritize the safety and security of residents and visitors. They have emergency services such as police, ambulance, and fire departments, readily available throughout the country.


All in all, while Chile is generally a safe country to live and visit, it’s important to exercise caution, be aware of your surroundings, and take necessary precautions to ensure your personal safety and security. By staying informed and being prepared, you can enjoy your experience as an expat in Chile with peace of mind.


Expat Communities in Chile

Chile is home to a diverse and vibrant expat community, with individuals from all over the world choosing to call this country their new home. Connecting with fellow expats can provide a sense of belonging, support, and valuable insights into navigating life in Chile.


In major cities like Santiago, Valparaiso, and Concepcion, expat communities thrive, offering various social and professional opportunities. These communities often organize events, social gatherings, and networking activities where expats can make connections and forge friendships.


Many expats in Chile belong to professional organizations or industry-specific associations. These groups not only facilitate networking but also provide a platform for sharing knowledge, accessing resources, and finding job opportunities.


In addition to professional networks, there are cultural and social organizations specifically catering to expats. These groups celebrate the diverse cultural backgrounds of their members and promote friendships between expats and locals. Joining these organizations can help you integrate into the local community while maintaining connections with people who share similar experiences.


Online forums, social media groups, and expat blogs are also great resources for connecting with other expats and accessing valuable information about living in Chile. These platforms allow you to ask questions, seek advice, and share experiences with fellow expats who have already navigated the challenges of settling into Chilean life.


International schools in Chile often have a strong expat presence, as they attract educators and families from around the world. This creates a supportive environment where expat parents can connect, share tips and recommendations, and organize playdates and social activities for their children.


Chilean locals are generally welcoming and open to making connections with expats. Embracing the local culture, engaging in community events, and learning the Spanish language will further enhance your ability to connect with both the expat and local communities.


Overall, the expat communities in Chile offer a supportive and inclusive environment where expats can find common ground and seek assistance as they navigate the challenges and joys of living in a foreign country. Whether through professional associations, cultural organizations, or online platforms, connecting with fellow expats adds an enriching dimension to the expat experience in Chile.



As an expat in Chile, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a country that offers natural beauty, a rich culture, and a welcoming community. From navigating the visa process to finding accommodation, understanding healthcare options, and embracing the local customs, this guide has provided you with a comprehensive overview of what to expect and how to make the most of your experience living in Chile.


Chile’s strong economy, stable political environment, and well-developed infrastructure make it an attractive destination for expats looking to work, study, or retire. With its diverse job opportunities, quality education system, and affordable cost of living, Chile offers a high standard of living that can be enjoyed by individuals and families alike.


While safety is generally not a major concern in Chile, it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. By respecting the local culture, embracing the vibrant expat communities, and staying informed about safety measures, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience in Chile.


Whether you’re captivated by the bustling streets of Santiago, the awe-inspiring landscapes of Patagonia, or the bohemian charm of Valparaiso, Chile offers a diverse range of experiences that will enrich your life as an expat.


By taking advantage of the opportunities, embracing the culture, and connecting with both expat and local communities, you’ll be able to forge meaningful connections, create lasting memories, and fully embrace the wonders of life in Chile.


So pack your bags, prepare for an adventure, and get ready to embark on a new chapter in your life as an expat in Chile. It’s time to embrace the vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality that await you in this captivating country.


¡Bienvenidos a Chile!