I´ve met some wonderful people through this blog. Top of the list, Valentine. A Cali girl, she’s thrown herself into expat life since she moved here last year.
When she’s not cruising around with her kids on a double decker bus tour, mountain biking down the Andes or hiking in the hills, she works as Community Liaison Officer at the US Embassy. If anyone knows about expat life as an American in Chile, it’s Valentine.
I asked her top ten tips for any American moving to Chile…
- Dive in with the expat community through group chats and Facebook pages. You’ll find your very best survival information from them! Discover Chile and its offshoots (English Speaking Moms etc) are great.
- Buy rash guards (sun shirts) for the family. The sun is intense here and skin fries.
- Have a purse or bag that wraps around you. Never carry anything loosely.
- Bring a bike! Parking is the pits and so are the drivers here but getting around by bike is easy. Buy a top of the line bike lock though and be sure to use it.
- When asking questions or trying to get tasks accomplished, always ask three times. The first two times the answer is usually no and the third is miraculously yes.
- If you buy a car here, get an SUV or something sturdy or with 4-wheel drive. Outside of Santiago roads can get gnarly!
- If you wear a size bigger than 8 for women or a medium for men, clothes can be hard to find. For shoes, it’s hard to find anything bigger than 8 or 9 here in woman’s. Chileans are small!
- Finding schools for the kids can be hard because they are very expensive. Ask all the expats for advice, there are more options than you might first think. Check out the Facebook group Chile English k-12 Schools Review.
- Chileans can seem quite reserved compared to the US. Don’t take it personally, especially if you find yourself with no Chilean friends even after being here a while.
- If you’re staying in a hotel or making big transactions, ask if you can pay by PayPal or a foreign currency card – you may be eligible for avoiding the 19% residence tax.
Still unsure about making the move? Read these great reasons to visit (and move to) Chile. You can also download my Santiago directory here with listings of all the places I love in town.