Chile at a Glance
Accommodation and Education in ChileFotolia
The cost of living is rather low in Chile.
The Cost of Living
One thing speaking for a life in Chile is its comparatively low cost of living. In a ranking of 112 towns and cities worldwide, Santiago placed as tenth cheapest when it comes to buying a home. This ranking was undertaken by the Global Property Guide. However, the Mercer Human Resource Consulting came to a similar result with their Worldwide Cost of Living Survey. According to Mercer, living in Chile’s capital is considerably cheaper than settling in Madrid or Prague, for instance. However, the low cost of living is not detrimental to the quality of life in Santiago. In fact, Chile’s capital is considered the second best city to settle down in Latin America.
The Apartment Search
Before you begin your apartment search in Chile, it is always best to do some research and find out about the best and worst neighborhoods. It is important to know where you will get the most value for money, where the connection to your work place is the best and which areas you should avoid. This is also the time to set some priorities, to figure out what you want, and how much money you can spend on rent. You should also talk to your friends and other expats in Chile, to figure out the nuts and bolts of the apartment search in Chile.
Although most expats are looking for an apartment, it is often easier and just as inexpensive to rent a house while living in Chile. Most Chileans think of a house as a big hassle and would rather rent an apartment. Have a close look at newspaper and online classifieds, or contact estate agencies, if you are in a hurry. However, you may also just drive through a neighborhood you like and keep your eyes open for signs which say “se vende” (for sale) or “se arrienda”. Make sure to be reachable by phone throughout the apartment search, so that potential landlords can get hold of you.
It goes without saying that canvassing is the way to get best housing deals in Chile. However, some of you may not have the time to do this or are still to overcome the language barrier. If that is the case, you can always have a look at English-language websites for house hunters and see if you find the home of your dreams there.
- ContactChile has listings on unfurnished rooms and apartments as well as other expat information.
- HomeChile focuses on Santiago.
- CompartoDepto is the place to look for furnished rooms and roommates.
If you already have a basic knowledge of the Spanish language, you should also have a look at the classifieds section El Mercurio, one of the largest daily newspapers in Chile.
Education in Chile
As primary and secondary education is mandatory in Chile, most public schools are subsidized, letting parents only pay a small portion of the tuition fee. Most public and private schools, however, are based on voluntary tuition and only charge a fixed fee for admittance. Public schools usually belong to the respective municipality in which they are located. Secondary schools offer regular education with a scientific-humanist focus, vocational education, or artistic education.
Chile’s education system and particularly higher education has been largely criticized in recent months and years. The problem is that the Chilean government spends only a very small percentage of its income on education, leaving the family and students with the costs of education. However, there is also a lot of room for improvement when it comes to school facilities, teaching equipment, and the quality of teaching.
That being said, there are still quite a few great schools and dedicated teachers in Chile that might be just right for your children. If you are on a short-term assignment or don’t want to subject your kids to culture shock, you can also send them to one of the major international schools: