Moving to Chile Soon? An Expat Guide to Living in Chile

Welcome to Chile, one of the best countries in Latin America and the longest country in the world! There are a ton of reasons to visit and live in Chile. Not only is its capital, Santiago a beautiful and lively city, but there are also so many other bucket list destinations that you must visit.

The Torres! Well worth the steep hike

Chile is home to the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world! It’s also a part of Patagonia where the famous Torres del Paine reside. And you can’t forget about Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) which is the most isolated island in the whole word. It’s famous for its 887 Moais.

There are still several active volcanoes in the country which you can trek up to or even bungee jump into their craters from a helicopter. There are tons of beach spots where you can surf or raft. There are also several ski resorts that are absolutely perfect places to ski and snowboard. Additionally, Chile is home to one of the world’s largest natural jacuzzis, called Termas Geométricas where you can enjoy a relaxing break in its thermal baths. And last but not least, Chilean food and wine are simply delicious and a must try if you are a food lover.


Once you’re in the country, either as a tourist or an expat, there are some important things you need to know!

Capital: Santiago

Currency: Peso chileno (clp)

Emergency telephone numbers:

  • Ambulance (ambulancia): 131 
  • Firefighters (bomberos): 132 
  • Police (carabineros): 133 
  • Sea Rescue (rescate del mar): 137
  • Air Rescue (busqueda y salvamento aereo): 138
  • Mountain Rescue (rescate del montana): 699 4764

Country’s population: 18.1 million people (2016)

Top 5 most populated cities in Chile with population statistics from 2016:

  1. Santiago: 4,837,295 people
  2. Antofagasta: 309,832 people
  3. Vina del Mar: 294,551 people
  4. Valparaiso: 282,448 people
  5. Talcahuano: 252,968 people

Safety: According to a survey conducted by Universia, 58.5% of the locals say they feel safe walking on the streets at night.

Earthquakes: There are earthquakes in Chile every year but they are mostly minor ones. If you are in Santiago, it’s normal for the ground to shake and buildings to sway. You will especially feel this if you live on higher floors. The most important thing to do is stay calm and open exit doors. If you feel like there is a strong tremor, seek shelter under a table or under the doorway of an interior wall.

Health: Tap water is drinkable. There’s no life-threatening disease as of this moment (2016) in the country that you should be worried about. But it’s a good idea to wash your vegetables even if you’ve bought them from the supermarket.

Average life expectancy is 78 years; more specifically 81 years for men and 76 years for women.

The top private hospitals in Santiago that you should go to in the case of an emergency or if you need a surgery are:

  1. Clínica Alemana
    Av. Vitacura 5951, Vitacura, Santiago.
  2. Clínica Universidad Católica
    Camino Alba 12351, Las Condes, Santiago
  3. Clínica Santa Maria
    Av. Santa Maria 0500, Providencia, Santiago
  4.  Clínica Las Condes
    Lo Fontecilla 441, Las Condes, Santiago

Transportation: Santiago’s public transportation can get your pretty much anywhere you need to go. I recommend taking the metro whenever you can. The map below will be your new best friend.


Holidays: One important holiday that you should know about is Chile’s Independence Day, often referred to as “dieciocho” because it happens on Sep. 18th every year. The celebration lasts for days with everyone eating empanadas and dancing cueca.

Education: Chile hosts the no. 1 university in Latin AmericaPontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.

Here, a bachelor degree is called licenciatura and the university programs are usually 5 years. A master is called magister, and a PhD is called doctorado.

Some of Chile’s famous poets that you must know about, as their names will most likely come up during conversations, are:

  • Pablo Neruda
  • Gabriela Mistral
  • Isabel Allende
  • Roberto Bolaño

National Dance: Cueca.

When you’re in Santiago, a top activity that you must do is go to a dinner show where you can see cueca performances, as well as other types of Chilean dances!


  • Aimaras and Atacameños: live mostly in the north
  • Mapuche: live mostly in Santiago and in the south
  • Alacalufes and Yámanas: live in the very south, the tip of the country
  • Rapa Nui: live on Easter Island

Traditional foods:

The three main Chilean dishes that you must try are: pastel de choclo, empanada de pino, and cazuela de vacuno. However, Chile has a ton of different dishes and it might be difficult to order if you don’t know what they are. Luckily, there’s a local guide on TheBesty app that has a list of Chilean dishes, desserts and drinks with descriptions and pictures for you to know what they are before you order!


There are tons of public events and ferias every week. There are always lots of things happening, especially in Santiago and Valparaíso.


Nightlife in Chile is amazing! There are infinite bars and clubs in Santiago, as well as Valparaíso. Particularly in Santiago, some of the areas that you should hit are: Vitacura, Bellavista, Lastarria, and Barrio Italia. Happy hours can be found in many bars and restaurants.


If you’re still not convinced of all that Chile has to offer, be sure to download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

One thought on “Moving to Chile Soon? An Expat Guide to Living in Chile

  1. ellie March 22, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    Why so many girls from USA. …Germany. ..Sweden. …coming to Chile and not males???


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