What is moving to and living in Santiago, Chile, like?
I Interview Rebecca, one of the expats in Santiago, about her experiences.
This interview is part of the Ask an Expat series. In this series I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips about moving to the city, town or country the expat lives in, and information about what to see and do here.
Expat Life in Santiago, Chile
Name: Rebecca Collins
Home town: Perth, Australia
“I’ve done a few jobs over my life – I started out with engineering and then moved into finance jobs in mining. I currently work as a finance manager for a consultancy firm, part-time as well as doing a diploma in cultural studies at a local university.
I also have 2 kids and a very busy husband.
In Australia, we lived in Perth which is a beautiful city, but it’s very remote. While my stepdaughters were younger we needed to live close to their mum, but as they became independent we took the opportunity to move overseas.
Our first time living abroad was in San Juan, Argentina which was really eye-opening – the Argentinian people are great, but the challenges of living in rural Argentina in a struggling local economy were not small!”
Why Did You Move to Santiago?
“We moved to Santiago when my husband started up a new branch of his company here in Chile.
I still work part-time (remotely for the main part) for our company in Australia.”
What Do You Like About Living in Santiago?
“Santiago has a vibrant street art scene and there is always something to do on the weekend.
In addition to the local cultural scene, there are some nice parks to hang out with the family, some great hiking trails at the edge of the city and a great selection of weekend trips that you can take that are only 1-2 hours out of the city.
We are 1 hour from the Andes mountain range (with great hiking and skiing in winter), an 1 hour from awesome wineries in Casablanca and 1.5 hours from the funky port side city of Valparaiso.”
What Do You Dislike About Living in Santiago?
“The pollution in winter is very hard to deal with, as the valley traps in a lot of pollution between July-September.
The traffic can also be a drag and somedays you can be better off walking than trying to drive!
The slow government processes are a drag for a lot of expats in Chile. But having lived in South America before it’s actually relatively good here compared to other countries in the region.”
What Is Your Favorite Thing to Do in Santiago?
“I love to check out the different local markets (ferias). There is a different one each week and you can see and buy some amazing handicrafts.”
What Is Your Favorite Place to Hang out in Santiago?
“Oh, this is a tricky one!
Black Mamba in Providencia has a pretty awesome coffee, I love Uncle Fletch for a burger casual lunch and Lobo does a brilliant local brunch.”
What Is the Expat / International Community like in Santiago?
“Very strong, there are lots of English speaking activities and some active Facebook groups which are always having meetups.
There are lots of awesome expats in Santiago and I’ve made some friendships here that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
Any Tips for Moving to / Living in Santiago?
“Get every document you can imagine apostilled and translated! For example, I never would have thought that you’d need a translated and apostilled copy of my high school records to get a local drivers license!
Also, bring lots of patience and try a lot of different activities. It can take a while to find your groove, but there are some great options.”
Any Resources You Found Useful During the Process of Moving to And/Or Building a New Life in Santiago?
“Discover Chile is a great facebook group to ask for local, up to date information on living in Santiago and Chile in general.
There is another great blog by an expat in Santiago, Nina, called TheExpater.com which is super helpful particularly with tips about things like the best schools in Santiago.
The main website for finding property rentals is Portalinmobiliario.com. However, it’s a bit deceptive as most rentals here want you to have your national ID, 3 payslips, a bank account, and a signed work contract. And they often ask employers to guarantee rental contracts too.
So a lot of the ‘available’ properties may not actually work for new expats in Chile. A lot of people use a relocation agent as a result, who can weed through those listings to find some that might accept you.”
Is There Something You Just Have to See or Do When You Are in Santiago?
I think the Pablo Neruda museums in both Santiago and Valparaiso are must-sees.
The Bella Artes/Santa Lucia barrio is a great area for a wander around.
You should also try and see the San Francisco Museo, and try and go to the La Vega market to hang out with the locals.
Bella Vista is a lively area by night and has a lot of restaurants.
If you want a more cultural experience try and stop by the PreColumbian Museo and do a walking tour of the center of the city.
In summer a swim in one of the pools on the Cerro San Cristobal, overlooking the city, is not to be missed. The name of the pools are Piscina Tupahue and Piscina Antilen.”
Follow Rebecca on her blog Globalexpatlife.com
About Santiago, Chile
Santiago, also known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital and largest city of Chile. It is a cosmopolitan city and the cultural, political and financial center of Chile.
Santiago is a lively city with a lot of museums, events, theaters, restaurants, bars and other entertainment.
The city is entirely located in the country’s central valley. This, unfortunately, does contribute to a considerable smog problem, especially in winter.
Santiago’s cityscape is shaped by several stand-alone hills and the fast-flowing Mapocho River, lined by parks. The Andes Mountains can be seen from most points in the city.
The city’s outskirts are surrounded by vineyards and Santiago is within an hour of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Its central location makes Santiago a convenient base point to further explore Chile and its Mediterranean climate means it has mild winters and very warm and dry summers.
Santiago is home to the regional headquarters of many multinational corporations, attracting expats from all over the world.
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