New arrivals to Chile will undoubtedly have questions about their new home. Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Santiago.
Is it easy to ship goods and household contents to Chile?
While it is easy to ship goods worldwide, some expats have complained that shipping to Chile is a long and tedious procedure and goods sometimes don’t arrive intact or at all. While this has been the experience of a lot of people, there are hopeful stories too. Usually, it is best to look into relocation companies that offer a full suite of services and hire a reputable shipping company that covers insurance on your goods. It's also useful to ask future coworkers or post on expat forums asking for recommendations of shipping companies that others have found trustworthy.
Is Santiago safe?
Santiago is one of the safest cities in Latin America and it does not share the reputation for crime that some countries and cities in the region have. This is not to say it is completely crime-free. Pickpocketing is an issue in popular tourist areas and some violent muggings have been reported. The city has also seen recent protests in response to a rise in the cost of public transport. Like anywhere else, it's not recommended to carry large amounts of cash, walk around alone at night or leave valuables in the car.
Is it useful to buy a car in Santiago?
This depends on the person. It is simple get by without a car as Santiago has a well-developed and accessible public transport network. Many people, though, find that driving a car makes life easier travelling in the city and around the country. It is important to learn the meanings of Chilean road signs and to know that the road signs are all in Spanish.
What should I do if there is an earthquake?
Big earthquakes seem to hit Chile every 15 to 20 years but obviously, natural disasters cannot be scheduled or predicted. The safest place to be during an earthquake is outside and if possible, it's best to try to make it outside (using the stairs). Indoors, it's advised to position oneself in a doorway or beneath a table or desk. Not panicking is also key. Gauge the quake and if it lasts longer than 10 to 20 seconds, then it would be time to move to a safer location.
How complicated is the visa process for Chile?
Getting a visa for most countries can seem daunting, but Chilean embassies are helpful and the official Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs website gives the most uptodate info. There are different types of visas and residence and work permits, and expats should research which would suit their needs best.