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Living in Santiago de Chile ?

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Mathias Döringer

Living in Chile, from Austria

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Living in Chile, from Belgium

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Santiago de Chile at a Glance

Living in Santiago de Chile

Living in Santiago de Chile will put you at the heart of one of the southernmost countries in the world. But the beautiful scenery is not all you will discover while living in Santiago de Chile. Find out about the city’s general culture, safety, and transportation network here.

Santiago de Chile is the most modern metropolis in all of Latin America. The five million inhabitants living in Chile’s capital city enjoy a quality of life which is relatively high. As an expat, though, it might take you some time to accustom yourself to the slower pace of life in Santiago de Chile.

The Local Language

The majority of the people living in Santiago de Chile have never left their home country. This means that they are unused to foreigners impressing their own way of life on them. This is most clear in the importance that they attach to their national language, Spanish.

After Chile gained independence from Spain in 1817, the Spanish language and culture was well ingrained into everyday life. So when you are staying in Santiago de Chile, you will need to learn Spanish: this is extremely important if you want to be accepted warmly by the local population.

But speaking Spanish is not only a means of being accepted: A lot of Chileans do not speak English. Given that you are living in Santiago de Chile, the country’s largest city, it is more likely that you will be able to communicate in English in certain pockets of the city, but do not count on it being understood everywhere.

Geography of Santiago de Chile

Santiago de Chile is beautifully situated in Chile’s central valley, and is encircled by mountain chains. The most prominent of these are the Andes, situated to the north and the east of the city. While these provide amazing landscapes and backdrops to the city, do not expect to be blown away immediately.

Sadly, Santiago de Chile deals with substantial amounts of smog. This blanket of pollution is caused by a plant powering one of the largest copper mines in the world. Don’t let it ruin your first impressions of Santiago de Chile, especially if you are arriving in winter, when the humidity increases the smog.

You should also be aware that living in Santiago de Chile will mean experiencing earthquakes, or tremors, on a fairly frequent basis. The country as a whole is used to this threat, and Chileans don’t tend to worry about weaker tremors which might seem terrifying to someone who is unused to them!

Chilean Culture

Founded in 1541, the city has developed a lot in recent decades. Some colonial Spanish buildings can be seen scattered around Santiago de Chile, but they are interspersed with far more modern architecture, reminding visitors that the city is determined to make a name for itself as a viable center of business.

While you are living in Santiago de Chile, take the time to journey away from the colonial plazas, and enjoy the trekking, skiing, climbing and wine tours that you can participate in throughout the surrounding countryside. The city has a unique location in the world, and it would be a shame to take this for granted while you are living there!

The Local Currency

While you are living in Santiago de Chile, you will be dealing in Chilean Pesos (CLP). Beware: despite its different name, the currency uses the same symbol as USD ($). Although Chile is relatively expensive compared to other Latin American countries, it is extremely cheap when compared to a Western lifestyle.

Safety in Santiago de Chile

Living in Santiago de Chile should not be too dangerous. After all, Chile prides itself on being one of the safest countries in South America. Just be more careful with personal belonging than you are used to. For example, when sitting in restaurants and cafes, do not leave bags on the backs of chairs, and always beware of pickpockets, who are usually very well dressed.

InterNations Expat Magazine