Living in Chile – The Ultimate Guide to Santiago – 2020

Living in Chile – Santiago

Living in Chile – Santiago is an intriguing destination for many of us from Europe or North America and Europe for several reasons. Firstly, its isolation from the rest of the world and position between the towering Andes and the pacific coast make it for a spectacular setting. Moreover, when compared to its neighbours, Chile stands out due its economic stability, job opportunities, high level of development and security. When taking these factors into account, it comes as no surprise that moving to Chile may seem like a sensible choice if you’re thinking of the best places to live in south america.

Santiago – Thoughts of Living in Chile

If there was one thing that shocked me about moving to Chile, it was how different the country is compared to the rest of Latin America. It’s hard to describe in words, but Chile seems to lack that “Latin Feel” in countries such as Colombia, Brazil and Mexico and even feels surprisingly different to Argentina, a country with which it shares a border of 3,000 miles.

Living in Chile could be a great option if you’re looking for more of a Western European lifestyle in Latin America. Public services are better, job opportunities are more plentiful, and problems such as crime and corruption are much less of an issue than on the rest of the continent. Add to this Santiago’s proximity to spectacular nature (some of the best in the world), beaches and ski-resorts then you’re looking at a solid destination.

I, on the other hand, decided that life in chile wasn’t for me. Whilst there were things that i liked, i found the city slightly soulless and lacking that spontaneous, care-free latin feel that i fell in love with when I first moved to Mexico. Whilst Mexico and countries such as Brazil and Colombia clearly aren’t perfect, they exude exoticness, colour, a casual vibe and a sense of freedom that can’t be found in many places in the West. Whilst Chile isn’t devoid of these characteristic by any means, i found to be more organized, orderly and its people to be more reserved, meaning that i personally felt out of place. That being said, each man to their own, and moving to chile might just be the right place for you to move to.

Moving to Chile – Where to Live in Santiago


Bellavista is wedged between the centre of Santiago and the more upscale neighbourhoods of Providencia, Las Condes and Vitacura to the East. Its central location means that it has become the main tourist hub and is home to one of the city’s main nightlife areas (similar to Lapa in Rio de Janeiro or Rua Augusta in São Paulo.) Bella Vista is a fun spot where things are happening at night, and is surprisingly tranquil during the daytime.

Providencia/Barrio Italia

To the the east of Bellavista on the other side of the Mapocho River, Providencia is a great area to base yourself. It’s a pleasant residential are with tree lined streets and a calmer vibe whilst still being close to the action, making it a great spot for first timers and for those who want a balance of everything.

Vitacura/Las Condes

Las Condes is a clean, safe spot in the financial district of the city with more of an americanized feel and home to several upscale restaurants and nightlife options. Vitacura is similar but with more of a residential vibe. Downsides are further distances from the centre of Santiago.

Living in Chile – Safety & Security

How Safe is Chile? This is a question that many of you are probably wondering due to the notorious reputation Latin America has for Crime and Corruption. Compared to cities such as Rio de Janeiro, La Paz or Lima, Santiago is very safe, and i even felt more at ease here than in European cities such as Paris or Berlin. That being said, it’s worth having some common sense and avoiding certain areas of the city. Plaza de Armas is worth avoiding after commercial hours, and Bellavista can be a bit sketchy during the early hours of the morning, especially towards the Recoleta Area.


I wasn’t impressed in the slightest with the weather in Santiago when first moving to Chile. It was 5 degrees celsius (at night) and the skies were overcast during the daytime, not exactly being what i was hoping for after just having left northern England. Luckily, the clouds gave away to abundant sunshine and it probably only rained around 5 times during the whole 4 months that i was there. Besides this colder, greyer spell in the winter months of June-August, you’ll find that sunshine is plentiful. On the downside, smog levels can get pretty bad, often limiting visibility and may sometimes get to levels where they have an impact on breathing.

Nnightlife in Bellavista

Cost of Living in Santiago

Compared to the rest of Latin America, living in Chile is very expensive, with prices nearly being on a par with many areas of Europe, and is slightly more expensive than living in Buenos Aires. To get a clearer idea of day to day costs – take a look at this article. That being said, salaries are much higher than in other Latin American countries

Meeting People/Nightlife – Life in Chile

One of the 4 keys to thriving in Latin America is being able to succeed socially and although this is undoubtedly possible in Santiago, I found that people weren’t as open when compared to other Latin America cities that i’ve lived in, such as São Paulo and Buenos Aires. From my experience, Chileans were shyer and harder to engage in conversation than Argentines or Brazilians and on they surface, they may not seem as open to foreigners on surfn the surface they might not seem as curious about foreigners However, this was from my personally experience, and would be interested to see in the comments section if anyone else has a different opinion.

Another barrier when it comes to meeting people is the language, as Chilean Spanish is surprisingly difficult to understand compared to other South American Dialects. To put this into context, one night i was out with an Argentine friend who was nearly as confused as i was when it came to understanding a group of locals from Santiago. This may sound disheartening, but it shouldn’t deter you from moving to Chile if you think that it could be the right fit for you, as learning Chilean Spanish is 100% possible.

In terms of the Nightlife, Santiago is a pretty good spot with the main areas being Bellavista, Las Condes and Vitacura. This article should point you in the right direction if you’re new to the scene.

Finding Work

When it comes to finding work in Latin America, Chile is one of your best options. Pay is much better than in rest of the continent and you’ll find that Visa requirements don’t tend to be as stringent. If you’re interested in finding out more about finding work in chile, then take a look at this article.

Along with building your social circle, forging a fulfilling professional life is one of the keys to making the most out of living in Chile, and it’s important to dig deep into potential options for your situation. If you’re looking for some guidance on this, feel free to shoot me an email at

The Verdict

Whilst i enjoyed my stay in Santiago, i decided that it wasn’t one of the best places to live in South America in my case, primarily due to the lack of that “Latin Feel” that i fell in love with when i first arrived in this part of the world. That being said, it’s a city that i would definitely like to go back and visit, and I found Chile to be spectacular in terms of adventure travel and nature.

But you never know, Chile could be the perfect place for you and the only way to really find this out is by getting yourself out there. Most likely, you’re not in a position where you can just drop everything and do this, so if you’re to know more about living in Santiago and have any further questions or doubts, then please send me an email at

3 thoughts on “Living in Chile – The Ultimate Guide to Santiago – 2020

  1. Pingback: Living in Buenos Aires as a Westerner – The Ultimate 2019 Guide | LinguistLifestyle – Living and Thriving in Latin America

  2. Pingback: Moving to South America – 5 Mistakes People Make & How to Avoid Them | LinguistLifestyle – Living and Thriving in Latin America

  3. Pingback: Moving to Latin America – Preparing for the Big Move -Part 1 | LinguistLifestyle – Living and Thriving in Latin America

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