Sunday, August 17, 2014

Costs of moving to and living in Chile

Who wouldn't want to live here?

Many people want to know the expenses involved with such a big move to see if it may be feasible for their family. This can vary quite a bit but here are our expenses from 2013 when we moved to Chile
Passports - about $100 each
Documents for residency- varies by state and how many documents but we probably paid around $100 total
Airplane tickets - $900 roundtrip from Miami to Santiago
extra bags - varies by airline - $80 per bag
Entrance fee - $160 per person but since has been waived
seaworthy shipping container - $4300 in 2012
shipping expenses for container - $1,000 to truck to the Port of Charleston (4 hr trip)
                      $3700 from Charleston to the port in Concepcion
                      Agent & Port fees- around $1,000
                      Trucking from port to our home $2,000 - ( 8 hr trip)
Now for the cost of living in Chile. We live in the south in the country which is cheaper than the city. esp. Santiago but we have asked some friends what their costs of living are in some different cities so you can compare. We came from the southeastern US which has some of the lowest costs of living in the US so sometimes the prices here seem kind of high to us.

My friend who lives in Santiago contributed the remarks in bold letters.
The first thing I'd mention is that "ofertas" (sales) are not sales as we know them!  We are accustomed to discounts of 10%-75% off depending on the item and whether it's a closeout.  In Chile, a "sale" could be as generous as a few pesos--which is less than $.01! Even if it's damaged or has a part missing, and you have to buy the missing part yourself or do without, the store will not discount the item just to get it out of their inventory.  It's futile to ask. I have seen some markdowns in items for clothing that made them reasonable but this seems to be the exception.

Eating out is costly.  NO buffets, and so you pay for pre prescribed meals of whatever they put on the menu, usually a lot of starch/carbs. Even just a sandwich and drink in a sidewalk cafe can be around $10. When we go to our favorite cafe in Frutillar, Cafe Cappucini, we pay $25 for 3 coffees and 2 ice creams.

Gasoline is about $8 a gallon, isn't it? Yes, gas prices have gone up since we got here one year ago. They were about 850 pesos per liter and now they are 950 pesos per liter that is the equivalent of $6.24 per gallon. Actually I think the US is quickly catching up!

We're in a 1000 sq ft apt and the rent is $700 a month; the gastos comuna fees (assn fees) are anywhere from $50-$300 a month, so watch out! This apartment is in Santiago. Another friend in Puerto Montt, a small southern city, pays around $350 for a small house.

Your supposed to "tip" and pay for things we aren't accustomed to paying for, i.e. boys who bag your groceries, when you park where there is free parking, there are men hanging around expecting to be tipped for watching your car and keeping it from vandals.  Saying "thank you" isn't enough.  You're expected to tip them.  If you're pulling out of a parking spot with a lot of traffic around, there'll be a man waving you out while he stops traffic, you have to tip him.

Cell phone billing is interesting, as are other utilities.  The companies don't have a "grace" period for you to pay.  You have to pay immediately, or your utility gets shut off.  Make a note of the due dates of each of your bills, and pay them the day they come, OR better yet, go to the utility with an old bill containing the account number and have them look it up and you pay it right then and there. We're spoiled in the states because we have unlimited calling and text plans.  That doesn't seem to exist in Chile.  The plans are limited and if you go over your minutes, the charges add up fast.

We have a pay as you go plan with Entel which is great as long as you don't accidentally run out of minutes during an important business call!  No idea how much I pay per minute. Probably too much!
We also have internet service fees. I think the average is around $80 per month. In the towns, there is  unlimited high speed internet but in the country it is a little harder to get. We use Teledata which is beamed off the Volcan Osorno. If you can see the volcano, you can get their service. We have unlimited usage but it can be slow when you have 4 people using it at the same time!

As far as the power bill goes, you can see my discussion of this subject in the post titled "Electricity and Power Bills" dated July 7.

Buying a used car is expensive as they don't seem to go by the mileage.  Not quite sure how they determine the value of used cars, but it doesn't make sense to me.  A 4 year old car with high mileage can cost slightly less than a brand new car with a warranty. Cars do seem to retain their value which is great if you have a car to sell! We paid around $16,000. for a 2007 Toyota Prada with around 80,000 miles on it.
I think we could have got it in the US for under $10k.  The taxes were high- around $435 annually. Inspection fees of $23 annually. Owning a car here is expensive which is why so few do and take the bus instead.Less than 20% of Chileans own a car.

Tools and other manufactured items seem to be 1.5 - 3 times more costly than we find in the states.

Health care, is fairly affordable.  if you don't have health insurance, a doctor's visit cost about $70 for that consultation.  A colonoscopy in the states costs about $3k-$5k.  In Chile, the procedure costs $350.
See my post on healthcare in Chile titled "Our first experience with Chilean healthcare" from June 4.

Here is a link to a website that has some great info on the cost of living in Chile compared to costs in NYC.

And here is a link to rentals and sales of homes and apartments in Santiago.

Did I miss anything? Anything in particular you might want to know the cost of?

Jobs are not easy to come by here and the pay is sadly low. Minimum wage is the equivalent of $2.37 USD so I would not move here unless you have an outside income like social security or a pension or have saved a year's worth of income to live off of while developing your own business or looking for a job.

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