I’ve been contacted by a few people looking to move to Santiago, Chile and asking about life here.
Sure, not everything’s perfect, and we had a rough start to our move, but compared to anywhere else I’ve lived Chile has got to be the one of the best yet in terms of quality of life.
Yes, there are things here that I don’t like (smog). There are things that scare me (crime), that annoy me (the no queue culture) and frustrate me (grocery shopping), but weigh Santiago up against other places and I reckon you’d struggle to find anywhere quite as lovely.
For any expats about to make the move, here are 10 reasons why I reckon Santiago de Chile is a great place to live.
- The weather. OK, so I’ve yet to brace the winter months of June and July, but coming from the UK, Chile makes a great change. In fact since we arrived about four months ago we haven’t had one bad day of weather. It’s not just the general feeling of sunshine all day round, it’s the ability to go out and socialise without being battered by gale force winds that really changes things.
- Healthcare is amazing. As long as you’ve got private insurance, that is. I’ve had a few health hiccups, so much so that the Clinica Alemana is now listed among my GPS favourites. The hospital was rated number two in Latin America, it’s very well organised, staff are lovely (special mention to the paedriatric nurses and surgeons who attended to my son) and the facilities are top notch. I’ve also had a flu jab at the Clinic Tabancura and service was truly excellent.
- Getting around. OK, the traffic system takes a while to get used to, and the jams can be awful at rush hour, but roads are pretty good on the whole. Sure, I’m coming from the perspective of the pot hole ridden lanes of Angola and rural Britain, but still… Apps like Uber and Beat also simplify life, as well as a fairly efficient metro network.
- The lifestyle is great for small children. We have two kids aged two and four and they love it here. The culture is very welcoming to small children, with locals making a real fuss over kids and really going out of their way to help. I’ve been helped countless times while crossing busy roads or struggling with my (rather unruly) children. Our kids are noisy little creatures and we’ve yet to receive complaints from the neighbours (touch wood).
- Nanas. In case you’re new to the whole ‘nana’ thing, these are nannies cum maids, who, if you’re lucky, will revolutionise your life. We employed a nana from day one and just recently switched from our beloved live out to an equally lovely live in nana. Both ladies have been incredible and have really lifted the burden of life here for us. I’ve been rather sick with my pregnancy and I honestly don’t know how we would have survived without them on hand to help.
- It’s away from all the hassle in life. For the good and the bad, Chile is very isolated. Yes, perhaps it is a zillion miles from your friends and family, but it’s also a zillion miles from most of the crap in the world. Now I don’t condone turning a blind eye to the crises in the news today, but I’ll be honest, it does make a refreshing change to be a little detached from it all. In the UK and Belgium, terrorism was often the topic du jour and while like any country Chile has its own issues, these pales in comparison to a lot of what’s going on in the world today. It’s easy to become frustrated with how local the news is, but it’s also rather comforting.
- No health and safety obsessions. Moving to Chile is in some respects like travelling to Spain 20 years ago. If you’re not used to it the lack of regulation can seem a little daunting, but also rather charming. For example at my kids’ nursery, the teachers kiss and cuddle the kids a lot and there are no risk assessments – kids just play. I have friends who’ve created impressive start ups which I doubt would be possible in other countries. In many respects, life is rather simple here.
- Wine. I’m pregnant and alcohol is off limits, but ohhhh the red wine here looks so delicious. And unlike other things, it’s ridiculously cheap. Just an hours drive from Santiago you’re also spoilt with some of the most stunning vineyards in the world.
- Social life. My on and off sickness has made it a little more challenging for me to get around, but unlike other places I’ve lived, I’m not stressed about meeting people. There are loads of expat groups, local clubs and networking events to make friends. Book clubs, cookery workshops, start up networking get togethers, mummy and child play dates, pregnancy meet ups – the list is endless.
- Relaxed way of life balanced with efficiency. In my view there’s a balance between a relaxed and efficient way of living. I reckon Santiago strikes a pretty good balance. Everyone runs late. Traffic rules are rather relaxed. But on the whole things work and (for a price) most things are available. Best of all, unlike Switzerland I don’t have to worry about the noise police if I need to cough in the night (or if my kids decide to play the bongo drums at 4am).