Saturday, November 21, 2020

Chile opens its borders to tourists

 As of November 23, 2020, Chile will be open to foreign tourists. Here are the rules summed up from El Diario Oficial. 


Rules 1 & 2 You must fill out a health form up to 48 hrs before arriving on the Ministry of Health website www.c19.cl 

Rule 3  Is only for Chilean citizens and permanent residents

Rule 4 Tourists and nonresident foreigners may only enter with a negative PCR test not more than 72 hrs old attached to the health form from c19.cl

Rule 5 says you must have health insurance with coverage of at least $30.000 USD document attached to your other forms.

Rule 6 says you must submit to Traveler Tracking period of 2 weeks. You will be emailed daily and you must report any symptoms and your location on the c19.cl website. If you have any symptoms you must quarantine

here is a link for further reading https://immichile.cl/se-publica-la-resolucion-exenta-n-997-del-ministerio-de-salud-que-dispone-medidas-sanitarias-para-el-ingreso-al-pais-por-brote-de-covid-19/

Happy travels!


Sunday, October 4, 2020

How to get a tourist visa to visit Chile

 

A beautiful mountain lake in winter near Pucon 

Covid 19 Alert- Currently the borders of Chile are closed to tourists only permitting citizens and permanent residents to come and go. As of September 15, President Pinera extended the state of emergency for another 90 days but we are hoping that he will lift the restriction before the tourist season starts in December. Check back here for the latest updates. 

Americans, Canadians, Latin Americans, and Europeans for the most part can come to Chile as a tourist and not have to apply for a tourist visa before arriving.

Citizens from the following countries can arrive in Chile without a prior visa for 90 days: Albania, Germany, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Granada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent And Grenadines, San Marino, Holy See, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela.

Citizens arriving from Greece and Indonesia can receive only a 60 day visa upon entry. And citizens arriving from Belize, Georgia, Jamaica, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Singapore, and the Ukraine can receive only a 30 day visa upon entry.

For a citizen of any country not listed above, you must request a visa prior to arrival in Chile from the closest Chilean Consulate or online.

For my readers from the following countries - Hong Kong does have a consulate. Ukraine uses the Russian consulate in Moscow. UK has one in London. Turkmenistan uses the consulate in Kazakhstan. Hungary has one in Budapest. China has consulates in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. UAE has one in Abu Dhabi and Italy has one in Rome and Milan. Portugal has an embassy in Lisbon.

Please note that the laws for immigration and foreigners to Chile are changing rapidly and this post may become obsolete. As of this writing on October 4, 2020 the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate have been drafting new laws on foreigners and immigration. I would advise that you check with an immigration attorney or your closest Chilean consulate before you do anything and please buy my book - listed in the right side bar-  which has lots of valuable information for immigrating including some trusted contacts in the attorney, immigration, and real estate world. A purchase of my book gets you a free documents worksheet and a 30 minute consultation with Jim by phone or Lori by email.


Power and the cost of living

 


The water and sun that keeps our lights on!

The cost of living is an important consideration for  most people on a budget and Chile is certainly not one of the cheaper countries to relocate to in Latin America but we feel you get what you pay for! Chile may be a bit more expensive than Ecuador or Peru but the quality and standards of living are quite a bit higher. 

Two people in a two bedroom apartment will spend an average of $30,000 CLP per month on electricity. Five people living in a four bedroom house should expect to pay around $80,000 CLP per month.

Most homes use a propane stove and a propane hot water heater with no central heating. Many city-dwellers use propane space heaters since they can’t burn firewood because of pollution regulations. A two person home will spend around $18,000 CLP per month on propane. A four- five person home should expect $54,000 CLP per month just for the stove and hot water but with no propane heater. 

We currently pay around 25,000 CLP for a square meter of firewood which could last a month if we were using it only for heat. But on our farm we use wood for heating,cooking, and hot water and we often harvest wood off our own property so our price per month could be much lower depending on how hard we want to work to harvest the wood!

If you are interested in more information on the cost of living in Chile and other important topics to immigration, please consider purchasing my book available for sale on the right sidebar. Your purchase includes a document worksheet plus a 30 minute free phone or email consultation. We are not lawyers or immigration experts but we can share our experiences and put you in contact with those who are the experts!

Energy production in Chile is mainly through coal fired power plants with a roughly equal production through hydro and less in natural gas and oil power plants while wind and solar generation is growing. The coast of Chile is always windy so many wind turbines are going up. The Atacama desert is the sunniest and driest place on earth so solar plants are going up there. 




This wind farm is in Loncotoro near the town of Llanquihue


Big beautiful wind turbines. Here are the statistics-

Each tower is 119 meters or 390 feet tall
The blades are 61 meters or 200 feet in length and weigh 14 tons and are made of reinforced fibreglass.
Each turbine is 3 megawatts and with 43 turbines the project, when fully operational,  will have a maximum capacity of 129 MW and will supply clean energy to around 200,000 homes.
The largest wind farm in South America is the El Arrayan in northern Chile and there seem to be plans for several other sites as well in the Coquimbo region north of Santiago and one in the deep south near Punta Arenas.
It is great to see Chile investing in wind and solar energy as energy has been a real problem and Chile and has high costs compared to other South American countries.
What's even more interesting is that one wind turbine is going up in our neighborhood! Great to see though it won't affect us much as we are solar off grid. 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-28950685 - La Serena , Chile's biggest wind farm

https://www.evwind.es/tags/chile - lots of news on all the different energy projects going on all over Chile

International Energy Agency - the stats on Chile's energy production

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Chilean Healthcare

 Healthcare is always a big question to answer when you are considering moving to a foreign country. Our experience with the system overall has been very favorable. We typically use our little local hospital for most of our health problems. We signed up for Fonasa which is the public healthcare insurance system based on your income. Our income level entitles us to almost  free service at public hospitals. We sometimes have to make a co-pay for diagnostic services like x-rays. The higher your income, the more is your co-pay. When we have a problem, we go to our local hospital to see the doctor. If they cannot handle the problem, they will send us by ambulance to the larger city hospital an hour away. 

A very scared unhappy boy on his ride to the big hospital


Last Christmas, our son had a sharp pain in his side that we did not feel to good about so we took him to the hospital emergency room. We only waited a few minutes. After an exam, the doctor thought it might be appendicitis so they put him in the ambulance and took him to the big hospital. There he had an ultrasound showing an inflamed appendix so that night the pediatric surgeon came in and did the surgery. We were impressed with the professionalism and care we got at this public hospital. Everything was clean and well maintained on par with US hospitals though not as much marble and chandeliers. The best part of the whole experience was that we paid absolutely nothing! In the US, we lived in fear of a major medical emergency. 

If you don't like or want to use the public healthcare system, you can always use the private hospitals. Jim needed an MRI and he didn't want to wait for an appointment at the public hospital so we went to the private hospital and got it done right away and only paid $256 for 3 MRIs. These would have been thousands of dollars in the USA and they even used the same machine as his US doctor. 

Want to know more about healthcare in Chile? Then buy my book for a whole chapter on this topic. See side bar for the link. Your purchase of my book includes a worksheet on what documents you need to gather for immigration and includes a chat by phone or email with Jim or Lori to answer all your most pressing questions!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The answer to all your mail problems!







Many people ask me how the mail service is in Chile and how do we get mail. I know in some South American countries the mail service is unreliable and even nonexistent in some areas! But Correos Chile has been fine for us. We get packages with tracking in 2-4 weeks but letters can take considerably longer without tracking. Tracking is great and helps keep it honest. We have had a few problems with customs taxes but usually only on new purchases. With mail service, we pick up our packages at the local post office. 
Don't ever use DHL for shipping as they are terrible thieves. Fedex and UPS only deliver in Santiago. When we order through Amazon they ship through Chilean carriers that will even deliver to our house in the country!
I have recently discovered a new service to take care of all your mail problems and it is awesome! Here is how it works- 
US Global is a mail forwarding service with a physical US address. The physical address is important because oftentimes products won't ship without it. Within 2 hours of your mail arriving at the US Global mail facility in Houston, you will receive an email notification. You can then log into your virtual mailbox where you will see a scanned image of the outside of your package. Then you can decide what to do with it. You can request them to forward it to your international location, shred it as in junk mail, or even open and scan letters for you! They will even send checks to your bank for deposit. This is an awesome service with many benefits and perks to make living internationally easier.

It's easy to set up an account and prices start as low as $10 a month!
Please click the affiliate link below to take advantage of this service which will give you peace of mind and help support our chilean adventure and chile expat family on Youtube     

 US Global Mail 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Real Estate in Chile - Lot for sale

Chile has no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so finding properties can be difficult. Chile also has no public access to courthouse records so you can't find out who sold what for how much. This info is only available to lawyers but it makes it difficult to understand values and owners just make up numbers when they put their land up for sale.
The best way to find a property in Chile is by word of mouth. Visit an area you are interested in and just start asking around town to see who knows someone who wants to sell. Jim and I are doing this all the time and our latest contact has turned up 5 or so properties in the Lago Rupanco area of the Los Lagos region.
Here is one lot video posted on our Youtube channel.

This is just a spectacular property. Mountain views. River close by. 2 Waterfalls, a rental house, and an excellent home site as well.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Air Pollution in Chile

aerial photo of city
Santiago on a less smoggy day 






I often boast about all the clean fresh air we have here in the Los Lagos region. It blows up from the Antarctic clean and fresh and pure. Jim often jokes that the only pollution in our air is penguin farts. When I saw this report on air quality in Chile on this English language news site-

Chile Today

and the top 10 most polluted cities in South America were in Chile, I was not only surprised but a bit dismayed and disappointed.
Is this the Chile I know and love?
On the surface, it appears to be true but a little knowledge of Chile's way of life and climatic/topography factors put the numbers from this chart into a better perspective.

First, we must understand what PM 2.5 is which is what this report is measuring.

"The report focuses on PM2.5 as a representative measure of air pollution. PM2.5 refers to particulate matter (ambient airborne particles) which measure up to 2.5 microns in size and has a range of chemical makeups and sources. PM2.5 is widely regarded as the pollutant with the most health impact of all commonly measured air pollutants. Due to its small size PM2.5 is able to penetrate deep into the human respiratory system and from there to the entire body, causing a wide range of short- and long-term health effects. Particulate matter is also the pollutant group which affects the most people globally. It can come from a range of natural as well as man-made sources. Common sources of PM include combustion (from vehicle engines, industry, wood, and coal burning), as well as through other pollutants reacting in the atmosphere." 
                            -from World Air Quality Report 2018 by IQ Air - Air Visual


Then we need to understand the topography and climate conditions of Chile. Chile is like California with a long central valley shooting straight down the whole length of the country. On each side are mountains - the Andes to the east and the Coastal Range to the west. This traps a lot of air down in the valleys when there are no winds especially over the cities located in these valleys. The drier climates of central and northern Chile also exacerbate the situation with no raindrops cleansing the air except sometimes in the winter.
And now we must look at some lifestyle factors. Most Chileans heat with wood. Wood is cheap and plentiful. We use it to not only heat our homes but our water and we cook with it though most modern Chileans use propane now. Wood burning stoves have been banned in most larger cities like Santiago but not in some smaller cities like Osorno which is near the top of the heavily polluted list.

So when you look at this chart

www.airvisual.com/world-most-polluted-cities


make a note of the air quality conditions in the summer months of December - January- February- March when most people are not burning their woodstoves heavily and the prevailing southerly winds are fresh and straight from the Antarctic. The number one polluted city in all of South America, unfortunately, goes to the little town or suburb of Padre Las Casas located just south of the large industrial city of Temuco in the Araucania region. And note that #10 is Puerto Montt which has moderate air levels most of the year because it sits on the ocean with nice southerly breezes.

"Chile has the highest recorded PM2.5 pollution levels in this the region, providing the top 5 most polluted cities here. Major regional emission sources contributing to air pollution in all countries include agriculture, transportation with inefficient vehicle and fuel standards, as well as biomass fuel burning for household and commercial heating and cooking. Chile, in particular, suffers from high levels of particulate pollution as a result of wood-burning for heating, which government policies are aiming to tackle by promoting access to cleaner heating technologies.  (note that pellet stoves have been accepted for use in Santiago as they burn cleaner but the cost is prohibitive for the average Chilean)
MONITORING STATUS Real-time air monitoring coverage in this region remains moderately low, with Chile and Mexico supplying the largest number of measurement points. "  - from World Air Quality Report 2018 by IQ Air - Air Visual

The town of Coihayque in Patagonia is situated in a bowl valley surrounded by mountains. Linked is an interesting story about some of its citizens.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jul/17/a-city-suffocating-most-polluted-city-in-americas-struggles-to-change-coyhaique-chile

And an older story from 2015 about the air pollution problem in Santiago.

http://www.coha.org/the-battle-to-breathe-chiles-toxic-threat/

So I don't feel so bad about pollution in Chile. Yes, it is unfortunate and yes, it is a problem but there is a big difference between wood smoke and industrial/chemical pollution.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Abortion Laws in Chile

grayscale photography of sleeping baby covered by textile


In 2017, President Michele Bachelet lifted the ban on abortions in Chile with a clause giving doctors the right to refuse on the grounds of personal belief.
According to the Chilean Ministry of Health,  50% of doctors will not perform an abortion in cases of rape, 29% if the baby will die, and 21% will conscientiously object if the mother's life is at risk.
Or look at this another way - 50% of doctors will perform an abortion in cases of rape, 71% will abort a terminal baby, and 79% will perform an abortion if the mother's life is at risk.  It doesn't seem like it should be too hard to find a doctor to perform an abortion in Chile.
See this BBC article for more info.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49110647?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/cvenzmgyg45t/chile&link_location=live-reporting-story



Sunday, August 11, 2019

Crime and Safety in Chile



Mounted Carabineros of Santiago



When considering relocating to a foreign country, crime and safety are always important considerations. Who wants to move to a foreign country to be the victim of a crime or perish in a natural disaster? No place is free of crime and danger but with some smart planning, you can decrease your chances of becoming a victim. 

The shocking headlines of "Canadian Tourist Dies in Valparaiso" had many wondering how this could happen in Chile. Canadian Peter Winterburn was actually not a tourist but had lived and worked in Chile before and several months prior had moved back to Chile. He was familiar with the language, culture, and the city he lived in. He was just the victim of a random senseless crime. Here is a link on that for further reading -
https://chiletoday.cl/site/shocked-reactions-after-canadian-tourist-dies-in-valparaiso/

Carabineros on parade

According to Statista.com homicide rates for Chile are the lowest in Latin America. Chile ranks at 2.7 homicides per 100,000 people while Panama and Costa Rica, popular expat havens, are triple or more at 9.6 and 11.9 respectively for the year 2018. To put it more in perspective, the USA homicide rate in 2017 was 5.4 while Canada was only 1.8 which makes it the lowest in all the Americas. “They ought to give Chileans travel advisory warnings for the USA,” jokes Jim Dorchak, 6 yr. American expat living in Chile. “Chilean people as a whole are generally more restrained, reserved, and less aggressive than some of their Latino neighbors which may account for the country’s lower homicide rate,” notes Jim.

Numbeo.com has statistics on general crime levels throughout the Americas for 2019. Their statistics are based on surveys of the overall level of crime in a given area. The information found on Numbeo.com is people's perceptions based on what they see happening in their home countries or cities. It measures the safety of walking during daylight and during the night, worries of being mugged or robbed, worries of physical attacks, drug problems. It also summarizes the problem of property and violent crimes. Canada ranks number 1 with the lowest crime index of 39.51, Panama is number 2 with 46.43, Chile is number 3 with 46.81, and the USA is number 4 with 47.13.  

Safearound.com ranks Chile, the only Latin American country, in the top 30 safest countries in the world. The USA is ranked number 49. Uruguay and Venezuela recently issued warnings for their citizens traveling to the USA to avoid large crowds and certain cities like Baltimore, Detroit, and Albuquerque because of indiscriminate violence. Safearound.com takes into account all kinds of crimes such as mugging, rape, robberies, road death toll, the occurrence of terrorist attacks and wars, to build their own ranking of the world's most dangerous cities and countries.



The eruption of Volcan Calbuco in 2016

But wait! You may be thinking. What about all those earthquakes, and volcanoes, and tsunamis!! If the criminals don't get you, one of those will!!

Chile is a land of over 500 volcanoes. Its borders are within the Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the most dynamically unstable and active regions on Earth. There are 90 potentially active volcanoes and 60 of these have a historical record of activity. Despite this fact, Chile is still a relatively safe place to live as long as it is not on the side of a volcano! There aren't a lot of recorded deaths from volcanoes or from earthquakes either.
The strongest earthquake in recorded history was a 9.5+ quake in 1960 in Valdivia, Chile. The death toll was 1,655. The 8.4 quake in 2015 had a death toll of 13. The 8.2 quake of 2014 and only 7 died. The 2010 quake of 8.8 had a high death toll of 525 because of the tsunami aftermath.
So all the earthquakes in the past 60 years including the largest in recorded history with a combined death toll of less than 5,000. And you wonder why especially after seeing the aftermath of the 7.0 Haitian earthquake in 2010. Several factors are in play here. Chile is not as heavily populated, the buildings are better quality and built to withstand earthquakes, and Chile is much better prepared to pick up in the aftermath.

If you liked this article, please consider purchasing our new book-


Six years of living in Chile as American expats have given Jim and Lori Dorchak unique insights and knowledge that they want to share with you!
This valuable resource will tell you:

  • Why Chile should be tops on your list of places to retire
  • A list of the documents you may need and how to have them authenticated
  • How the cost of living is cheaper than some areas of the US
  • How safety and crime are compared to the US
  • How to rent or buy a place
  • How to obtain residency 
  • and much more...

Please visit us at this site to place your order for a digital copy available instantly as a download.


Monday, June 10, 2019

Top 10 Things I LOVE about Chile!

By Lori Dorchak
1. The breathtaking natural scenery: the Andes with snow capped volcanoes, the rugged Pacific coast, the sparkling blue lakes, and the lush green Valdivian rain forest.From the driest desert in the world, the Atacama, in the north of Chile, to the Mediterranean climate of central Chile,  to the rugged sub-antarctic climate of southern Chile, the diversity is incredible!
Punto Godoy facing south to Isla de Chiloe
2. The clean fresh air that blows up from the Antarctic. It’s some of the cleanest in the world.
The southern hemisphere is a lot less populated and less polluted and the winds from the more polluted northern hemisphere stay there as well as the ocean currents. So it’s a lot cleaner down here!

Rainbow over Petrohue on Lago Todos Los Santos
3. The kind, gentle people of the campo. Country folk are much different than those of the city so I am not speaking for the people of Santiago. But the people in the south of Chile in the country are for the most part kind and helpful and understanding as you stumble through their language!
Plus they love Gringos!
4. The culture is more family oriented. While most Chileans have small families, they admire large families.
The country is not filled with trashy billboards of a questionable nature.
The grocery aisles are not filled with porn and the streets are still safe for children to play and walk home from school unattended.
Celebrating Fiestas Patrias
5. Smaller, less invasive government that doesn’t spend money it doesn’t have.
Less taxes and fees, less rules and regulations. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, the government has shown prudent public financial management, keeping  public debt low and budget deficits under control.
Plus government corruption is the lowest in Latin America.

Military parade in Frutillar Bajo
6. A stable economy that produces more than it consumes. The country exports more than it imports. Chile produces wine, copper, and veggies which are exported all over the world.
This culture is not based on consumption. Life is not about buying and buying, who has the nicest car, and clothes, who is wearing the latest fashions (It may be that way in Santiago but not here). And the quality of life is high. You don’t see much third-world poverty here like in Peru or Brazil.
7. The small town atmosphere where everybody knows everybody. Life is centered around the town plaza where people hang out to socialize. It’s reminiscent of the USA in the 1950’s.
Volcan Osorno on Lago Llanquihue
8. There is little to no social and civil unrest. No race wars. The level of crime here is half of what it is in the USA. though the communists are often causing minor problems in Santiago.
9. You don’t need any vaccinations to visit Chile as there are no tropical diseases and the water is always safe to drink.
10. Great tasting local fresh produce and seafood and the meat is always pasture fed! Little to no fast food here. Comida rapida (fast food) here is picking up a handmade empanada.

11. Less densely populated. With a population of 17.6 million, 1/2 of which is in Santiago, the rest of the country is pretty empty. No traffic jams, except at milking time when the cows cross the road–and no road rage.
12. A rich Christian cultural heritage where religious holidays are national holidays and it’s not illegal to show your faith.
Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Patroness of Chile
13. Inexpensive quality healthcare- $15 to see the doctor at the local hospital with the meds (antibiotics) running about $2-3.
14. Oops! What can I say? I got a little carried away and I could go on with more but I think I already went over my top 10!
Well, I just love Chile 🙂

Friday, May 24, 2019

Bumblebees and Agriculture


Another sad story of how bringing non-native species into an environment that is fairly isolated, like Chile's, can cause problems for the native species like this big beautiful orange bumblebee native to Chile. To read more of the story go to this link from the Guardian and below is another link to the blog "Save our Bumblebee" which is trying to push for legislation to save native species. 



Sunday, March 10, 2019

Chile's plastic bag ban

Before 2018, the plastic bag problem was crazy! Honestly, everywhere I went everyone was over using plastic bags. Everything was always doubled bag because the bags always had holes and sometimes there was only one or two items in a bag. I think we were all drowning in bags!
I was a bit surprised the time I went to the grocery store to discover that they were only going to give me 2 bags for my $200,000 CLP worth of groceries. I only shop once a month and had missed the big news but at least they were slowly weaning us off plastic bags. But it's never an easy transition. You buy reusable bags but invariably forget them so you have to buy more. Boy, the reusable bag makers were making a million (probably the friends of the politicians who enacted this legislation like the yellow vest legislation from 2016) But I admit plastics and the environment is a problem so I'm trying to do my share. Though I am glad to see some more alternatives as of 2019. Someone is now manufacturing paper bags for 500 CLP per bag and many have been using and recycling boxes which are usually free.

A sign reads "Help us help: No more bags. No more plastic bags will be handed out from 1 April 2018 "

Patagon Journal "Possibilities for the future"

BBC Article - "Why some see Chile's plastic bag ban as rubbish"


Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announcing the country's enlargement of the plastic ban. Photo: Gobierno de Chile
President Sebastian Pinera announcing the expansion country wide of the plastic bag ban photo: Gobierno de Chile

Sunday, March 3, 2019

An adventure to Lago Rupanco and the hot spring beach


It was July and the middle of the winter but fairly mild and no rain. A good day for an adventure! 
We had heard about the mysterious and elusive hot spring beach which could only be reached by boat. A beach where if you dug up the sand, the hot springs would come bubbling up. My first thought was "Is it safe?"
I hadn't heard any stories in the news of anyone being boiled alive on any beaches. Our elderly friends had gone and they came back alive and healthy. Then our favorite NZ family came back with all of their kiddos and tales of their magical experience. We had to go but where was the boat? "Well, you just drive out there until you find a boat and then the guy takes you over!" Ok! well that sounds simple enough so we loaded up the car with towels and drinks and snacks and bathing suits and shovels and our 2 workawayers and warm clothes (just in case) after all it was winter.
And so we drove out on the only road that goes along the lake. The lake is 40 km long from west to east and the road is a pretty poor dirt road with lots of curves and lots of pot holes. After a half an hour of bouncing around we found a boat! And it was a ferry boat but it looked suspiciously deserted. We knocked on the door across the street but they were not going out! Not easily deterred we continued our journey. We were rewarded after 10-15 minutes more of driving with a small sign that said
"fletes a las termas" translated  "charter to the hot springs" With a big cheer, we turned in  and went to find the boat.
We found the boat!
For 30,000 CLP or around $45-50 USD we could, all 5 of us, take the boat over. They provide the shovels. So we set off across the lake for a 30 minute ride, our goal in sight. We were dropped off on the black sand beach with a few instructions and the promise that the boat would be back in an hour or two. Everyone started digging and were quickly rewarded. The eastern end was hotter than the western end. And you'd better dig as close to the lake water as you could get because the spring water was HOT!


digging, digging, digging


Letting in some cold water

Yes, I'm burning my feet off and the rest of me is freezing!

Ah, just perfect .... for a minute or two



The end to a magical day

Sunset over Rupanco


For those who may want to visit, here is a link to places to stay with locals. It's a great cultural experience and supports the local economy in Las Gaviotas. (the seagulls) Stays also include fishing and horseback riding.

http://www.chileturismorural.cl/sitio/

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Cost of Living in Chile

Our favorite little ice cream shop with handmade ice cream in Frutillar 2,000 CLP for a double scoop waffle cone 
The cost of living in a country is an important consideration. Some countries are very inexpensive to live in like Panama or Ecuador or Peru. But there may be trade offs for this lower cost of living like poorer infrastructure, unavailability and quality of goods, safety, the quality of living like safe water and clean food. And another big factor is how you choose to live. You can live like a king in Ecuador on an average US social security check or you can live like an average Chilean in Chile. Your choice but you need to do your research and make your choices based on the facts and your wishes of how you want to live. Some people want to have it all to be happy while others are looking to downsize and let go of things  to enjoy the simple life.
 The costs of living is a big and variable issue to deal with because prices vary from high in Santiago to low out in the country and small towns. 

Here are some numbers from my experience and as the rates are continually changing if you want to convert these prices to USD or any other currency, you can use this website https://xe.com/   

Rent-   1-2  bedroom apartment or cabin- out of city 150,000 CLP (chilean peso) in city 250,000 CLP
Rent-  3 bedroom apartment or cabin - out of city 280,000 CLP in city 350,000 CLP
A useful link - https://www.yapo.cl/
Yapo is the Craig's List of Chile. Just put in the region you are looking for and then put in the key words for what you are looking for in the left side bar in spanish, of course! Or you can search through the categories on the bottom of the left side bar. Rentals and cars are very popular items to list on Yapo.cl.
Always lots of cabins to rent especially in tourist areas 


Cellular/Internet - The most popular services for cellular and internet are Entel, Movistar, and Claro.  BTW, you can't get service unless you are a temporary or permanent resident. You can get a pay as you go plan but no service contracts. High speed wireless in town 20,000 CLP or Low speed intermittent signal out in the campo with an internet company that has a tower on the nearest volcano 45,000 CLP . We have 2 cell phones and an internet plan with a router for 66,000 CLP per month.

Gasoline - 650 pesos per liter which is $3.63 per gallon. Diesel is significantly less like only 480 pesos per liter. So it would be best to purchase a diesel car or truck if you could.

Power Bill - 2 people in a 2 bedroom apartment with an average of 20,000 CLP per month or 5 people living in a 4 bedroom house with an average of 100,000 CLP per month

Propane -  Most homes use a propane stove and a propane hot water heater and with no central heating many homes use propane heaters esp. if they live in a city that can't burn firewood because of pollution. A 2 person home uses around 18,000 CLP per month and our 5 person home used 54,000 CLP per month

Direct TV- 10-20,000 CLP per month

Food - Food prices are comparable to the US. Jumbo is the high end grocery store and the prices may be a bit higher especially with imported specialty items. Better deals can be found at Lider ( the Chile Walmart) or Unimarc. We also shop for food at the local feria for fresh produce and seafood. We also shop for produce in bulk at the local feria that sells to markets. It's kind of like wholesale but it's not and if you can or dehydrate the produce it is much cheaper.


Shopping at the local feria

We spend about 200-250,000 CLP per month on our family of 3 but remember we also grow a lot of our own food.
Here are a few prices for you - 
milk- 700 pesos per liter that is about $4.00 per gallon 
ground beef - 4-5,000 CLP per kilo = 4-5$ per pound
bread - 1,000 CLP per kilo = $1 per pound
Here are some links to the most popular nationwide grocery stores


My crazy teenager outside the Jumbo Supermarket

Jumbo

Lider/WalMart

Always a good supply of fresh bread at Lider

A nice specialty coffee for 2-3,000 CLP


Cars -  Car importation is highly regulated and over taxed especially on used cars so cars retain their value better than in the US. You can get a decent small used car or truck for 4,000,000 CLP See yapo.cl for the selection of used cars. Towns and cities have great bus systems so if you live in the city a car is not always necessary.


We bought a 2007 Toyota Prado in Santiago in 2013 for about 8,000,000 CLP


This chart shows that living in Chile can be a whole lot cheaper than living in most places in the US. So prices are lower in Chile than the US but take a look at that last line on local purchasing power. Here is the definition of that term from Numbeo 

Local Purchasing Power shows relative purchasing power in buying goods and services in a given city for the average wage in that city. If domestic purchasing power is 40, this means that the inhabitants of that city with the average salary can afford to buy on an average 60% less goods and services than New York City residents with an average salary.

Hmmm, I guess that decrease in purchasing power means your chilean pesos don't go as far. So the lower prices may be a wash overall.

This chart was taken from Numbeo with the link provided below.
Indices DifferenceInfo
Consumer Prices in Chile are 22.67% lower than in United States
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Chile are 33.47% lower than in United States
Rent Prices in Chile are 55.26% lower than in United States
Restaurant Prices in Chile are 25.61% lower than in United States
Groceries Prices in Chile are 33.17% lower than in United States
Local Purchasing Power in Chile is 53.08% lower than in United States

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Chilean slowdown and a new president

*Note the update below as of 4/22/2018 with a new video from VisualPolitik

 Presidential elections are held every 4 years and a person can serve more than once but not consecutively. Bachelet, a pediatrician, served from 2006-2010 as a socialist. Then Pinera served from 2011- 2014.Incidentally, during Pinera's term Bachelet served as the first executive director of the newly created  United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Bachelet again served from 2014-2108 as president of Chile. November 2017 were the last elections. Like the US, it is just a bouncing back and forth between conservative and liberal and now Pinera is in office as of March 2018. He is a conservative capitalist business man. Watch the video link below and then I will make a few comments.  Note also that this video was produced in June of 2017.






Yes, minimum wage here is abysmally low at only $700 US dollars per month which is about 325,000 Chilean pesos per month. But many jobs in the  farming business also come with a house and power and water are included plus free milk and occasionally meat on a dairy farm. So there are some perks with some jobs. Despite this and the high cost of products, Chileans live well just simply. They don't own a car but the bus system is great. They live and eat simply. The quality of life is good. You would be hard pressed to find a shack with dirt floors and even the simplest most rustic looking cabins have Direct TV, indoor plumbing, and woodstove.
Being the capitalist that I am, the 2nd highest corporate tax rate in the world and the increase on taxation on companies by almost 40%  during the Bachelet presidency has really hurt the Chilean economy and stifled growth.
Less investment by businesses is less growth for the economy and less tax revenue for the coffers. This hurts the government but mostly hurts the people who could be working and making a better life for themselves.
I guess I was not surprised to see the low immigration of foreign professionals. It is hard to start a business here. Before you can even open your doors for business, you have to hire an accountant who will guide you through the maze of documents you need to sign to open your business. Plus the SII, which is the Chilean IRS, I found to be even more repressive than the IRS and we had been audited before. The system is archaic. If you visit the SII office for any length of time, you will see small business owners coming in with boxes and boxes of paper receipts. Every transaction must be recorded with a bolete or factura which must be turned into the SII so you can pay the tax. The SII is trying to switch over to all electronic receipts but the new program is so archaic our Windows 10 computer wouldn't run it. The SII contacted us when we had no receipts one month wanting to know why we hadn't paid our taxes. And try opening a bank account here! You need to have at least your permanent residency. No bank accounts for tourists but even then most banks wouldn't take our money except Banco Estado but then the limitations on the account were so ridiculous you couldn't do much with it. They limit the amount of money you can put in on a monthly basis. Totally puzzling.

Another thing we found puzzling was the difficulty in importing goods. Chile would quickly sink into bankruptcy with out the exports of copper, fruits, veggies, and wine to the US and other countries but any imports have a  26% tax  including those from the US. So much for free trade. These taxes stifle growth.

Here is a quote from a young Chilean

"I am Chilean and I'm 20 years old, my parents always tell me "Son, the Chile you can live in is a paradise, the Chile of our times was a constant fight for survive".

They told me about how in the 70's the people was dying of hunger, my father hardly could find a job to buy some bread, and how those who could leave Chile did it to go to some better country like Sweden or Germany. And it's a little bit hard for me to imagine all of that now, being that I grew up all my life seeing that in Chile we have as problem the overweight, the low-income people are able to donate their money to the neediest in the country, and how people from other good countries like Peru or Colombia come to my country with the hope to find even a better life.

I cannot avoid to feel proud about my country when I think about it, we used to be the worst shit of the whole Americas, but we did progressed when no one thought we could, and now we find out that the rest of the world knows about us, and they consider us one of the best countries of our region.

Perhaps we are not like our brothers of Canada, perhaps we'll never be like our brothers of the U.S.A,. But we are Chileans, we can be proud of it <3"

My comment to this is the reforms from the communist Allende (1970's) to the dictator Pinochet did a lot for the economy. Pinochet tortured and killed many of his political opponents but he did do a lot to establish a free market economy in Chile which has improved the quality of life for all Chileans.
Here is another quote

"As a Chilean I do share some of these points, but the problem is more than just what is shown in the video. The fact that power/money and politics are deeply ingrained in the chilean system, blocks any chance of reform. This marriage between power and politics affects every single party in Chile (from left to right). There's no motivation and incentive for these families to invest in long term solutions, nor they want to, all chilean businesses are focused in short to mid investment, primarily in the extraction of resources. There's no manufacture sector so we, for example, extract copper but then buy copper manufactured products from other countries. We do have several natural resources that could bring revenue if they are then transformed into manufactured products (Like Lithium, Copper, Iron, etc). There's also a big problem with class mobility and general racism among the people. The education system is archaic and quite stagnant for the modern world challenges, and the private education system is not focused in actually guaranteeing a minimum of education for their students, they only seek profits. Our pension system (same as Australia) is not working because there is no protection from the government not help from companies to ensure that their workers have decent pensions once they retire from the active workforce.

What Bachelet tried to do I think was partially correct. But she and her coalition applied the reforms badly. They were badly designed and they were more focused in gaining popularity for the next elections than actually helping the people. The right wing coalition also has not contributed anything to find a solution, and both left and right have gained the ire from the people who are tired of being abused. Both coalitions have deep ties to these families and between them, so corruption is terrible. "


As my closing notes, I would like to say that we love Chile. I don't have many criticisms of the  Chilean people or life here. All is good but no place is perfect. Most governments and politicians have weaknesses and problems. I would like to see Chile grow and prosper but I think growth and prosperity bring their own problems. There is a lot of potential in Chile and hopefully for the sake of the Chilean people, Pinera can open the doors and clear out the stumbling blocks to growth and free trade.

See VisualPolitik's latest video on Chile
Can Pinera resuscitate the Chilean model?