Discover Chile’s Top Posts on Facebook: Do’s and Don’ts Guide for Newly Arrived ExPats and Travellers
With almost 13,000 members so far, Discover Chile’s Facebook group is one of the largest and most vibrant English-speaking communities in Chile. It is a space where English-speaking foreigners, travellers, and, yes, even Chileans, come together to ask for and receive useful tips and advice for making the most of their experience in Chile – whether they are here for now or forever! For those of you who have yet to join (what have you been waiting for?!) CLICK HERE to join our friendly community, but for those of you not on Facebook, I will be posting some of our more useful threads right here on the Discover Chile blog 🙂 It goes without saying that the opinions and advice listed here are solely those of each individual member posting in the Discover Chile community and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Discover Chile administrators. You should, as always, do your own due diligence and decide for yourselves whether the tips and advice are relevant to your particular circumstance.
Original Post, Penny: Hi everyone! We need to put together a “Do’s and Don’ts” guide for newly arrived tourists and ExPats that we will publish here as a document that can be accessed at any time by our members. Please make your contribution (tips, advice, etc.) in this thread – it would be greatly appreciated and super helpful to those who simply don’t know how things work here in Chile. Thanks, Peter and Mark, for this excellent idea 🙂
Accommodations in Chile
Jorge: DO be aware that you can safely not pay your last month’s rent since you probably won’t get your security deposit back from a landlord.
- Mark: Certainly worth considering, but I’m not sure about the word “safely”. We have rented properties. I wouldn’t recommend not paying your last month’s rent to me because that will not go well. Though mostly we return deposits less outstanding bills. There aren’t many people who leave significant damage beyond wear and tear behind them. So I do think it is a worthwhile consideration, but it should be done with consideration rather than blindly and always.
- Roo: If you have to ship stuff out the country at the end of your contract, the landlord must sign a form giving their ok and you have to show receipts for the last month’s rent and utility bills. So this wouldn’t always work
- Erika: I have to disagree with this. As a landlord that I am, I include in the contract that the last month’s rent cannot be covered with the deposit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have any guaranty that the apartment wouldn’t suffer “last minute damage”, or that the bill and “gastos comunes” (condo fees) that will arrive the following month, will be paid. I have always returned the deposit 30 days later, after receiving the apartment in decent conditions and proof of payment of the remaining bills. As a tenant that I also am…. I do the same thing. I send my former landlord all the remaining bills paid and in turn, they pay back the deposit. The day a hand over the keys, I leave this in writing. That the apartment is handed over in good shape, and that after all the bills are paid, that landlord shall return ” x” amounts of money. Both parties sign the agreement.
- Lenka: Jorge that is not “the norm” here. There’s a contract. That contract states the security deposit cannot be applied toward last month’s rent. And… well, everything Erika said. You could, instead, say something like “In my experience as a landlord/tenant, I have always substituted the deposit for the last month’s rent” or something like that…
Bonnie: Do take before pictures of the place you plan on renting/leasing so at the end of the term, the owner doesn’t try and hit you up for the existing damages that were there before you moved in…Happened to me, and I was able to pull out my before pictures with the dates. Received my full deposit.
Peter: DO consider a private room in a hostel as it’s usually a cheaper and better option than hotels. Freedom, access to kitchen, private breakfast, personal service, wifi that works, cable, friendly service. DON’T overpay for boutique hotels, and DON’T spend hundreds and more on luxury tourist trap accommodations. They may be exclusive, but they are excluding as well. DO sign up for Groupon for discounts on good options. Plus, members on here also offer places to rent.
Gwen: To find a room in a shared flat, DO look for your future roomies on compartodepto.cl, or on Facebook groups like “Roommate and Flat Finder”. It’s difficult to line up housing before you arrive in-country (but not impossible!). I’d recommend booking an Airbnb room, or a private hostel room while you search for an apartment, meet roomies, and check out the neighborhood.
Driving in Chile / Getting Around in Chile
Penny: DO be aware that you can legally drive with your home country’s driver’s license for as long as you’re technically a tourist in Chile, and you can rent cars here with your driver’s license (car rental companies don’t require the international driver’s license).
- Mark: Your home country licence ALONE is *ONLY* acceptable if it is in Spanish. If not a certified translation [International Driving ermit] is also required.
- Penny: Duly noted – although I should mention that you don’t get hassled if you’re from a “western” country…It’s unfair, I know – but it is what it is.
- Mark: The law is clear. The fact that it is often unenforced or mis-enforced is another matter. Don’t go relying on a lack of enforcement, because the day it matters will not be a good day.
- Jorge: and while not strictly legal, a foreign license will allow you to get away from stuff that a Chilean probably would get a fine for.
- Claudia: What if I am a Chilean citizen and USA citizen and have a USA driver’s license… can I use it for as long as it is good here in the USA?
- Jorge: Claudia, Legally? No. Are you likely to get in trouble? No.
- Mark: It is simple; if you are normally resident in Chile then you must use a Chilean licence. Irrespective of your Nationality. If you are not, then you may use your foreign licence with an international driving permit if your license is not in Spanish. Normally resident means the place where you are living at home. So even if I was in London on business for 3 months the fact is that I am normally resident here and must use a Chilean licence.
Heather: DO ask for how much a trip will cost (estimated) prior to getting into a taxi if you are not using Cabify or Uber
- Jorge: And DO have the exact money (look at it carefully). DON’T give a large note when a smaller note will do.
- Sally: Along this same line, DON’T overpay for a ride into town from the airport. (Recently met a young man who said he’d been charged 60.000) Also, DO beware of an “altered” taxi meter, the one that spins upward too rapidly.
Penny: When paying a taxi driver with a larger bill (so, $10.000 and $20.000 bill) DO say out loud that you’re paying with a $10.000 or $20.000 bill (“pagando con dies mil pesos” or “pagando con veinte mil pesos”) to prevent them from taking your bill and giving you change for a smaller bill and then claiming you paid with a $5.000 bill (I’m afraid that scam happens a lot here)
Carolina: If you are getting in a cab and you estimate your ride will be less than $5000 and you only have large bills (i.e. $10.000 or $20.000 bill), DO let the driver know right away, to make sure he/she has enough change. Should they always have change, because is part of their duty? Yes, but it not always the case and it can be a really annoying situation. It is what it is, for now, and better knowing in advance.
Margarita: DO use the app Moovit to navigate through Santiago…it helped A LOT in regards to what “linea” (metro line) or “micro” (bus) I should take or where the nearest stop is for those that will not have a car accessible once arriving.
- Mark: I use an Android App called “tsm” – TransSantiagoMaster. It seems pretty good, though to be fair I only use it about once every 6 months. I like it because it incorporates bus, metro and walking into a single journey as required.
Angelica: DO be aware that “Alameda” means Av. Libertador O’Higgins and the closer you get to the mountains it changes the name to Providencia, then Apoquindo, and at last ?Av. Las Condes.
Rachael: DON’T take the metro around 6-730 in the evening.
- Francie: But if you must take a bus during rush hour, DON’T try to get on a super crowded bus because a half empty one of the same number will usually follow close behind. It has worked for me many times, except when going to Vitacura.
Jo: Before you drive in Santiago, DO read all the special legal issues about traffic directions on rush hour or no permission to drive your car some days and no permission to go on some streets during polluted days (or use Waze)
- Baiba: Many streets change driving direction mornings and nights during traffic hours!
Alain: DO ensure you are insured. I read in this group that even with an international driving permit you may not be covered when driving a friend’s car. Apparently, you need a Chilean licence.
Jo: When you drive, DO always think that someone will cross the street at anytime or anywhere
- Penny: Especially during kite-flying season (September to November) as kids will run after a kite that has been cut (often crossing the street without looking!)
Baiba: DO Translate and legalize your high school diploma before coming over so you can do your driver’s license here
Peter: DON’T get in a taxi that looks like a pristine reggaeton one with shiny wheels, crazy lighting, bass, and tinted windows. All that has to be paid for. Not only will you be expected to enjoy the drivers choice of music, but you’re more likely to be charged double.
Stephanie: DON’T take the metro if you have a stroller or lots of bags. 90% of stations don’t have elevators (or they’re inconvenient at best.) It’s just not worth it.
Peter: DO take a taxi for short journeys. If there is more than one of you it can work out the same price as two swipes of the “BIP” (bus/metro card).
Peter: DO Use your “BIP” (bus/metro card) wisely. If you have a short job to do – a “tramite” or errand – take the bus one way and the metro back – the return trip is free.
Peter: DO Be careful of Bikesantiago. The basic plan only allows you 30-minute rides before they start charging top up fees. Park and ride, park and ride.
- Kate: Check the bike in at 25 min and take out another….always free
Gwen: When deciding which neighborhood to live in, DO consider that the metro and buses get very crowded (almost to the point of collapse!) heading up to Las Condes on Line 1 from the Center, and the reverse on the evening commute. Consider a reverse commute, or invest in a good bike that you can ride along the Mapocho cycleway or others. See the best google map ever of cycleways
Vikki: When travelling Ruta 5 towards La Serena, DO take about CLP$15.000 in cash for tolls (the same applies if you’re travelling south)
Joshua: DO know that you can recharge your BIP card at the orange machines in metro stations where the line at rush hour is often shorter – but you must do it in cash.
Joshua: DO take note that Blvd Bernardo O’Higgins (in Santiago) is never called that. It’s always “Alameda”.
Joshua: DO keep in mind that the Metro typically closes at 11 or so.
Joshua: To get to the Santiago airport for less money, DO take the Metro Red Line to Pajaritos and then walk through to the end of the line of buses where you’ll find the waiting area for “Al Aeropuerto”. There are two bus services (Centropuerto and Turbus) that leave frequently from that station, unless it’s early in the morning or late at night. A ride is about $2000 CLP. For trips from the airport, exit out “Puerta 4” (exit 4) and cross the street for where the bus stop is. Schedules and stops are posted there.
Lauren: DO keep in mind that once a foreign individual has maintained legal residence (explained in this link) for more than 3 years they become taxable on their worldwide income. Therefore if any of the members here have surpassed that they need to be mindful to include all foreign income and investments along with their Chilean source income on their annual tax returns here in Chile (Formulario 22).
- Yass: Does this apply to Chilean citizen too, as I am Chilean but this is my first time in Chile.
- Lauren: unfortunately no – as you are a Chilean citizen you are taxable on your worldwide income from the moment you establish residency. Therefore if you have been here for 6 consecutive months you will be subject to taxation on your worldwide income.
- Rod: What about us employed by American companies but work a substantial amount of our hours in Chile?
- Lauren: Depends on the nature of activities you are performing. If you are performing services for the benefit of a Chilean client or company then yes you are to pay taxes on a monthly basis as any income related to these services is legally considered Chilean sourced. The type of tax/tax rate applicable will depend on whether you have established legal residency or domicile in the country.
Robin: DO carry $1000 or $2000 peso notes and change for taxis….makes life easier. It will cost anywhere from 3500-6000 pesos to get money from an ATM, so DO plan ahead what cash you will need and withdraw all at once.
Erika: DO keep in mind that banks open for the public only Monday to Friday from 9 am to 2 pm.
Oswald: DO be aware that a $20.000 note can look just like a $2.000 note when you’re really, really drunk.
- Baiba: Or sober. And the taxi drivers know that.
Peter: DON’T get involved with ‘find the queen’ games on the street (as you’ll be conned out of your money).
Personal Safety in Chile
Dan: DON’T leave your cellphone or keys or anything like that on the table at a cafe/restaurant/bar. DON’T hang your bag/coat on the back of a chair. If in a crowded place (aka almost everywhere) bag on the front.
- Sally: Ladies, hold your purse in your lap. Never set it on an empty chair at a restaurant. If you put it on the floor, put your foot on the strap.
Sally: DO beware of people who stand “too close” to you. On the Metro, it’s inevitable, but if someone’s crowding you for no reason, beware.
Jorge: DO read my blog post on safety, rape, and sexual assault.
Konstantin: DO be aware of dangerous or non-safe areas around the country – like it’s dangerous at Cerro San Cristobal at evening near the Mirador Pablo Neruda.
- Jorge: Yes but DO know that it can happen anywhere. in my professional opinion, everywhere is equally dangerous or safe. It’s better to get into a mindset where you are equally aware that something bad can happen anywhere than to be in a mindset that it’s a bad area in x place but I’m safe in Las Condes. Predators go where the prey is.
- Carolina: I would say that a wise standard, in general terms would be: avoid solitary places, especially what applies to say….Las Condes as much as Estación Central, a hill in Valpo or most any other places…Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
- Jorge: A sexual predator likes the solitary places but a pickpocket prefers busy areas.
- Baiba: These things/places change over time.
Mark: DO Beware of pickpockets. Always. Never leave your belongings unattended. Even for a moment. Ever
Margarita: Women, DO know that you will come upon instances of catcalling. It’s especially creepy when old men do it but that is just a thing in Chile (and basically Latin America, sad but true). So just be aware of it.
Margarita: And for women my age, if you decide to go out to clubs, DO go with other friends and always be aware of your surroundings. This goes for any night life event anywhere in the world but when you are in a new country and may not be so familiar with the new language, or even if you do know Spanish remember Chilean Spanish is unique on its own, it’s always best that you take precaution!
- John: And as well with the drinks. It happens a lot in world capitals cities that people put drugs on (mostly) girl’s drinks, make them unconscious, and if the girl has no friends around, they are able to do anything they want with her, even rape. So don’t drink from strangers glass, nor accept drinks from strangers, especially if you are alone
Bud: DO put away your nice phone on the bus
Roo: DO try to blend in if you’re a short-term visitor. DON’T wear those ridiculous travel clothes people wear on vacation; dress as you would at home. DON’T speak loudly in English. Look like you know where you’re going even if you don’t.
- Carmina: Agree, don’t look at a city map while in the street do that elsewhere
- Rob: Even better having Chilean friends who know where they are going.
Laura: DO consider that fanny packs are incredibly useful, especially flat ones that are made for runners. They can be tucked under clothes to make them less obvious and are good for storing essentials where you can keep an eye on them. Also, DON’T keep all your money in the same place so if someone manages to take some, you aren’t left high and dry
Andres: DON’T EVER leave a bike unattended…. it will evaporate in no time
- Alain: Or buy a cheap one with a good lock
Jo: DON’T stop your car to help someone that looks hurt in the middle of your way at night. Better you drive passing them and call police and emergency from your phone.
Jo: DO ask for directions or other issues to any police guy (“Carabinero”) on the street
Peter: DON’T wear grabbable jewelry at all around Estacion Central and other places. Leave necklaces and earrings at home.
Peter: DO keep an eye on everything. DON’T walk and talk. DON’T use your mobile near an open window in a taxi or bus. Find a doorway and make the call or answer the call with a 300-degree street side view, and make the call super quick.
Peter: DON’T listen to Chilean sob stories near Santa Lucia entrance about 40-year-old men wanting to finish their university studies and how the Chilean government does nothing to help good citizens like themselves. This fellow and his mates are not looking for a “luka” (CLP$1000)- they’re looking for 50 “luka” (CLP$50.000) up contributions and will keep pushing until they have cleared you out – even having the cheek to take you to a cash point.
Patricia: DO pay attention to your volume/tone when you talk. Chileans tone of voice is softer, same with the use of space which in general for US citizens is more. That way you will not be noticed as a tourist.
Sally: If you go to Bellavista (or anywhere else) and get stinkin’ drunk, DO beware that you are a large target on your way back home. DON’T flash cash; guard your cards. You might consider getting an RFID blocker. Though I see many people using their iPhones in public, I’d advise caution before flashing it around, especially if you’ve been drinking.
Sally: If someone is following you, DO try to find a carabinero and ask for help. This happened to me once. The carabinero immediately took action, detaining the man, asking for ID, etc. while I made a hasty getaway. In general, the Carabineros here are helpful and don’t expect a bribe, as they might in some other countries.
Mark: DO take note that Santiago is safe. Or at least, as safe as any other capital city and safer than many. However, you should still take the normal precautions you would take everywhere. Be aware and be sensible. Petty thievery is rife here, so never leave anything unattended. Not for a moment. Even a phone out of arms reach is too far. Though if you have a broken washing machine to get rid of, simply leave it by the side of the street with a notice saying “En venta. No Tocar”. This is colloquial slang for “Free, please take away immediately”.
Erika: DO always carry a hands-free when in the street or public transportation. Someone can rip your phone off your ear as you’re having a conversation.
Shilpa: DO be aware of motorcycle thieves, especially talking on mobile on the road in certain areas…
Healthcare in Chile
Francie: If you are over 60 or have a pre-existing condition, DO keep in mind that you likely cannot get an “isapre” (private health insurance). I visited a few of them when I was thinking of retiring in Chile, and that is what they told me.
Shilpa: As soon as you are eligible ( in terms of visa etc) DO contract health insurance.
Tipping in Chile
Margarita: When shopping at a grocery store, DO tip the people that bag your groceries
Daniella: DO keep in mind that it is common to tip at restaurants, always to the waitress/waiter and normally 10% of the bill
Heather: DO take note of your restaurant bill as a suggested tip is often included on the bill. You do not have to pay the tip. That being said, you can most definitely leave more if you have great service. Just inform your server
- Jorge: Or less or even none. Inform your server so they do better.
- Mark: Good service happens because the server gets more money. Bad service is avoided if the server’s money at risk. If too many people just pay 10% because they think they should, then you get service like we have in Chile.
Joshua: DO keep in mind that 10% is the typical tip at restaurants. They are required by law to ask if you want to include it. To avoid this awkwardness, just tell them to include it up-front “mas propina” (plus tip).
Service Providers in Chile
- Carlos: DO be aware of “maestros” (home construction workers) -most of them ask for 50% before they start -never expect too much, usually maestros will never get it right and if they do… Well, it will break down again in a short period. If the maestro tells you that he will do a job in a certain amount of time, multiply by 3 – half of the time, maestros will just leave you with his job undone. The good thing is that while you stay in Chile, it is a good time to learn how to make it yourself.
- Jorge: DON’T ever pay in advance to a maestro.
- Peter: DON’T expect maestros to necessarily get parts for you – that’s outside their remit when fixing anything – although, you’re the clueless gringo going to a hardware store trying to figure out what to buy.
- Peter: DON’T pay any money to any intermediary offering to provide a service for visas, adoptions, rentals, anything at all. It’s all something you can do yourself – and a scam if they are promising to help you get something that’s usually quite difficult.
- Peter: DON’T expect to get executive service from an ‘executive’ in a Chilean bank. They are only authorised to offer you credits (commission is part of their wages), but not authorised to approve the credit – even relatively small amounts. For the most part, your credit application will be rejected by committee.
Shopping and Eating Out in Chile
Vikki: DON’T expect fresh milk in the fridge at the shop. DO get your fruit, veggies and bread weighed and tagged before going to the cash register.
- Roo: Or fresh soup
Claudia: DO ALWAYS look around to see if there is a number system implemented when standing/waiting in line….
Claudia: At the “farmacia” (pharmacy), DO take a number, then: 1. order your item 2. pay for your item at the little window 3. pick up your item – usually not at the little window.
Bonnie: DO remember that the return policies on merchandise bought (cash) is not necessarily the same as your home country. When trying to return a pair of pants at Merrell sports shop at the mall, even if you have your receipt they WILL NOT refund cash. Only store credit. Oh and look for the sign that states this hidden behind the counter.
Jo: If you like to eat in restaurants, DO check the bill before paying. They can make mistakes…
- Penny: The same is true for your grocery store receipt!
Peter: DON’T buy from street vendors when there are a multitude selling probably stolen goods. They are thieves by nature, and they are surrounded by their thieving brethren.
Jo: DON’T ask for vegetarian food in a non-vegetarian place. Cook or go to recommended places…Without meat in Chile means without cow. But food can have ham, pig, chicken fish or cooked in meat soup but people will say “this doesn’t have meat”
Stacey: If you have a problem with a company, DO go straight through social medias. A company’s social media will have better organised technicians than any call centre. In-person can work as well. If it has to be over the phone/email prepare to pursue them daily. It’s the only way.
Gwen: DO keep in mind that food is generally more expensive in the supermarkets. Packaged food will be pricier than you may be used to in your home country. DO take advantage of the plethora of gorgeous fruits/veggies and other products like nuts, olives, grains (and nearly everything else) at “the feria” (farmer’s market). Permanent ones like La Vega and Tirso de Molina (metro Patronato) are open daily, and most neighborhoods have “pop-up” ferias one or two days a week in the afternoons. There’s a google map of that, too
Shilpa: DO keep in mind that prices of goods vary from store to store and location to location. Get to know “La Vega” (the largest farmer’s market in Santiago), local “ferias” (farmer’s markets) and other supermarkets.
Joshua: DO take note that when buying something with your credit card or debit card, they will often ask, “con o sin cuotas” (with or without monthly payment plan). For most foreigners, “sin cuotas” (without monthly payments) is the correct response.
Joshua: When they ask for your RUT or ID number after paying with a foreign credit card, DON’T worry about it and just write any number down (your home phone number, for example).
Joshua: DO keep in mind that many older establishments (and even some new ones) have a cash register “caja” that is completely separate for “security reasons” from the sales department. So the typical thing is to select your purchase, get a ticket to give to the “caja”, pay at the “caja”, get a receipt, then give the receipt to the salesperson or the inventory specialist who then gives you the item.
Joshua: DO consider that high-quality coffee for home brewing is extremely hard to come by. There are a few roasters in Santiago that do it well (Original Green Roasters, Cafe Altura) but expect to pay upwards of 20.000 CLP per kilo for the stuff.
Joshua: DO keep in mind that Chilean lunch is at 2 pm and dinner is at 8 pm. You can often get the jump on popular locations by going a half-hour early, but if you show up at the North American times (12 noon and 6 pm) you may find the establishment hasn’t opened yet.
Roo: DO get ready to learn to cook unless you want an expensive time of take-outs and eating out. Ready-made meals mostly don’t exist.
Leisure Time in Chile
Roo: DO keep in mind that practically all Chileans take their vacation in February. If you don’t like crowds, go in January. Likewise, the Sept 18 holiday week is best spent at home or in a distant foreign country.
- Penny O: Uuuuu! I can’t disagree with you more! Chile comes alive during its 18 de Septiembre holiday – and it is best spent IN Chile enjoying all of the festivities
Jo: DO enjoy the day after the rain in Santiago. It is the only chance you have to really take good pics of the city (no smog)
Peter: DO enjoy the “parques” (parks) – even downtown- That’s the best way to see Chileans at play – especially Sundays. Some “parques” (parks) are really nice.
Peter: DO go to the cinema – it’s the cheapest option for a night out. Try not to pay full price – there are lots of ways to get discounts. Also, treat yourself occasionally to Premium. Plus, if you go on key dates and the cinema is full – St Valentines on a Saturday….. check all options on automatic machines – Premium, 4D etc. Usually more expensive seats available. Plus, choose a nice cinema – La Reina, Plaza Egana are lush and next to metros and have eating options. Casa Costanera is really nice in Vitacura. DON’T go to Augustinas, it’s filthy and the carpet is sticky with 20 years of coke stains. DO try Cine Arte in Lastarria and other places.
Peter: DO broaden your horizons…some of the most interesting and value restaurants and bars are in downtown.
Peter: DON’T go to Metropolitan Zoo, it’s cruel. Go to Buin Zoo instead.
Joshua: DO keep in mind that a whole lot of stuff is closed on Sundays. Most museums are closed on Mondays.
Peter: DO sign up to join as many Chilean/gringo groups on Facebook as possible. Be informed.
Gwen: DO make friends as that is the best way to improve your Spanish skills from basic to intermediate. There are many Chileans in Santiago who speak English and are interested in world travel and other cultures. Plus, there are many other expats who come from Spanish speaking countries who are also looking to meet new people. Meetup.com, Discover Chile, Couchsurfing, and the Language Exchange parties are a good start. It’s fun and rewarding to have “Spanglish” friendships as you both grow your language skills.
Shilpa: DO maintain in contact with other foreigners. Penny Ortega arranges various meet-ups for expats. This (Discover Chile) is a very good place to start your contacts with fellows.
Shilpa: DO enjoy the Chilean culture and your stay in Chile. It’s a very beautiful country with fascinating sea shores. DO try to travel as much as you can
Jorge: DO keep in mind that, in general, Chileans have a problem with saying no to your face so they will often agree to something but then will not do that thing or turn up afterwards.
- Chantel: I’ve experienced this. It’s about saving face, similar to Asian cultures. It is considered impolite to say no, even if you can’t… so, it really helps them when you give an easy out and make it seem like no problem for them to say no. Of course, there are many Chileans who more direct too, I think especially younger generations.
- Jorge: When I interact with new maestros and the like, I tell them (in a way, give them permission) to say no – stressing that it really pisses me off to have people miss appointments and to say yes when they mean no. That I really appreciate straight forward communication, and it seems to do the trick.
- Mark: Pay attention to the body language of the “maestro” (contractor). Never batter them into agreeing or committing, because it will fail. Don’t ask the maestro to do something unless you are sure it is in his skillset. Never expect or rely on initiative. This may well be out of his comfort zone and he may well not know how to carry out the task. Never rely on a rush job. Always allow extra time. As far as possible try to understand the solution before he starts work. Or at least be sure he does. Do not be fobbed off or bluffed. Etc. etc.
- Mark: Maestros are generally nice people. I generally get on well with them and I use quite a lot of maestros quite a lot of the time. Just don’t make assumptions and don’t push them too hard. I can think of one maestro who has been working for me for about 20 years now. He’s honest, and I like him, and we have fun. I still check on his work and if we disagree on the solution I make sure I am present to ensure he implements MY solution
Hester: DO read my blog post on how to find a job / get a temporary visa
Shilpa: DO learn basic Spanish before traveling to Chile, it’s essential in everyday life.
Shilpa: If you plan to move to Chile with kids, DO plan ahead and contact schools as the admission process starts and ends ( for most of the schools) 1 year ahead.
Joshua: The best place to exchange American $ for CLP in Santiago is on Agustinas con Ahumada.
Rob: DO go with the flow, think Chilean. You are not here to change things.
Carmina: In winter, DO be prepared for the fact that most houses don’t have a proper heating system
- Carolina: And if you do have proper heating, the electricity or gas bill will triplicate during winter months.
- Roo: An air conditioning in the summer is almost unheard of. The dry climate means it’s not so necessary but it also means outdoor swimming pools NEVER warm up!
Yass: DON’T be angry at Chileans when it comes to timing and punctuality
Roo: DO keep in mind that a 9-hour work day is standard and many Chileans even work longer hours.
Alain: DO learn Spanish! It does help a lot
Helen: DO get your toilet paper before you enter the loo (bathroom stall). Put it in the bin afterwards (not the toilet).
- Margarita: I second this one. It is extremely important to check if the stall has tp or else you will be screwed.
- Veronica: Or always carry tissues
- Margarita: And pocket change just in case they charge for tp or to use the toilet!
Peter: Any “tramites” (errands) at government offices or even banks (cashing a pay cheque – end of the month) go at 13.50 pm and take a book.
Baiba: DO take our advice with a grain of salt
Peter: If you’re here for a long (ish) stay, then DO notarise your school and university certificates before you come and bring them with you.
Stacey: When speaking with a local, DO prepare to talk around the issue to eventually get to your point. Use lots of compliments. Speaking bluntly and directly often leads to them feeling insulted. Smile and speak softly.
Sally: DO keep in mind that the water is safe to drink. Your stomach may not love it, but you’re unlikely to get “Montezuma’s Revenge” from it.
- Leesa: If your stomach objects to the high mineral content (mine does), DO buy a faucet filter at any of the home stores.
- Curtis: I lived there for about 22 years without any problems with water. Many tourists think that because Chile is in South America, it has poor water quality, as well as other deficiencies. Not so. Chile is definitely not in the Third world.
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