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



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



  1. With lower prices, lower local purchasing power just means that wages in Chile are *even more* lower than the prices, compared to the US. If prices are about 30% of US, and local purchasing power 50% of the US, I guess average wages must be about 50% x 30% = 15% of the US? That sounds like it is quite low.

    But if you somehow manage to keep a similar income as in the US, or you plan to live on life savings, then the lower wages don't impact you personally, and you should benefit from the lower prices, right?

    1. Yes, I think you are right, If you are bringing money in as opposed to earning it in Chile then the impact is not as great. We live much cheaper here than in the US but a lot of it is life style choices.

  2. I found Chile pretty expensive, especially after living in Mexico, Brazil and even Argentina. Rental prices weren't too bad but i found supermarkets and bars pretty pricey. One of the things that makes up for this is the dirt cheap bus travel around the country, which is actually much cheaper than Argentina and even Brazil. I just a blog post about my time in Santiago back in 2016, and would great for you to take a look and let me know if anything is outdated. Guide to Living in Santiago in 2019

  3. Thanks for your comment, Eddie. I enjoyed reading your article on your blog you linked in your comment. I found it very insightful. I have not lived in Santiago, matter of fact, I make it a rule to stay away from cities :) but I appreciate your observations and you have many good things to say about Chile, Yes, it is more expensive than many other Latin American countries though you need to understand that Santiago is the most expensive place to live in Chile. I feel you get what you pay for. Chile has a good and growing economy, a stable government, there is less crime and corruption here - things you mention in your article so I am willing to pay a bit more to live here for those reasons.

  4. Hello Dorchaks from sunny Florida. My wife and I will be traveling to Puerto Varas, Frutillar, etc. on February 22. I would like to know if it is possible to meet with you and learn a little more about life in Chile? We would be more than happy to treat you to lunch/tea and learn what ever you might be willing to share. Please let me know if this is a possibility. Really appreciate your videos!

  5. Thanks for the comment! We would love to have you over to our little farm! Please contact us through Jim's Youtube at Chile Expat Family

  6. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and cost of living in Chile. I found you from a post on Permies.com while searching for places to live without chemtrails. Do you get much spraying there now? I think the chemtrails here in the USA are ramping up more than ever. I'm thinking my many health issues are caused by our toxic environment and lack of nutrients in our soils and foods.
    Chile has just been a place my heart has been drawn to and I'm exactly sure why. I've never been there but would love to visit. If only I could get family on board to ditch the USA and have an adventure. God bless you!

  7. Thanks for the comment! I do try to practice some permaculture down here on our small farm. I feel the air is cleaner and life is less toxic than the USA though , of course, there is some use of pesticides and herbicides, on the surrounding farms but not too much on the dairy farms. The biggest problem is the use of Roundup. It makes me so angry. I do see a few contrails around but it is uncommon. I hope you can make your dreams come true!