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    Living in Chile: First Impressions

    in Chile Travel Blog, Living Overseas

    Best things to do in Santiago

    Best things to do in Chile

    Complete Pictures from Chile

    Atacama Desert Pictures

    There is nothing like paying a good $140  to have the right to enter a country.  I mean who wouldn’t want to dish out the cost of a full ipod nano to see a fantastic country side? But I digress.  Many consider Chile to be the Switzerland of the south minus the blonde hair and blue eyes of course.

    If you have never been to Switzerland I can sum it up in three words for you; picturesque, prosperous, and very tidy.  Everything is in its place and after living in Argentina I was ready to get a little efficiency back in my life.

    I arrived and got settled in my 3 bedroom condo near the center of the city.  After one day of living in Chile I consider the country to be American Switzerland because it resembles the states more than it does Europe.  Everything is new and they have new high rises going up by the minute.  I also figured that the country would be extremely clean like Switzerland, unfortunately I forgot I was in South America.

    university of Chile, pictures of santiago, pictures of chile, photos of santiago

    Performing typical Tourist Actions in Chile

    When living in Chile (in the summer) the first thing you notice is the gorgeous weather.  There is a dry heat during the day that hardly reaches 80 degrees (26 C) and there is a constant breeze throughout the valley that keeps you cool.  The people are unfortunately food addicts and the name of their addiction is ice cream.  Either they are eating it or lined up to buy it, they love ice cream.


    Ugly Jeans in Chile!

    Next observation is the cheap housing prices and the exorbiant prices of food.  I was use to buying 4 prime beef steaks in Argentina for $10.  In Chile I can’t get half that amount of steak for even $15.  Its a bit ironic because the fruits and vegetables that we buy in the United States (Florida specifically) come from Chile and they are cheaper than what they cost in Chile!  The cost of food while living in Chile does balance out with the cost of housing so in the end everything comes out about even.

    And one battle that I have taken against the women of Chile are the ugly jeans they wear.  I mean, it is the 21st century.  I have seen very attractive women and ugly jeans is just a deal breaker. Wouldn’t you agree? No? Maybe I am going overboard but I still wont talk to women with ugly jeans.

    Greetings from Chile!


    { 52 comments… read them below or add one }

    me December 12, 2010 at 2:41 am

    Mate, that’s what you get for being American :) Seriously though, I felt bad for the Americans lining up at border crossings for 30 minutes to pay their $140, when the rest of us breezed through like we were lining up for cheeseburgers at McD’s. You’re right, $140 isn’t that much in the scheme of things, but it feels like you’ve saved 1000s when you don’t actually have to pay it.


    WanderingTrader December 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    LOL cuz i used the American passport! Its the Americans own undoing, they shouldn’t charged Chile $140 to come into the United States to begin with. The only 1st world, efficient, country in S. America. Their not going to want to come to the United States. thanks for the comment


    emilyinchile December 17, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    The jeans are horrible here. Women don’t get the concept of dressing for their bodies rather than dressing based on what’s trendy, and your average Chilena does not have the build for skinny jeans.

    Are you buying your produce at the ferias? It’s cheaper and usually better quality than the supermarkets.


    WanderingTrader December 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Do you mean the ferias at the central market?


    emilyinchile December 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    The vega is the biggest feria (feria just means open-air market), but most neighborhoods have their own as well. If you’re shopping at la vega then you’re getting great quality and selection, especially this time of year – enjoy it!


    WanderingTrader December 19, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Im living near the center, corner of carmen and santa isabel, do you know how close a feria would be from my house? I went to la vega but thats quite a ways out of range.. thanks for the help!


    Erica Kuschel March 20, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Totally not looking forward to those entrance fees. Kill me now.


    WanderingTrader March 20, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I have a solution for you… travel via Bus through mendoza, you wont pay a penny :-)


    Javi May 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    I’m from Chile, living in the states for ten years now and I have to say that you may be right about the jeans on girls, of course, in some parts of the city; low class neighborhoods, which is where I think you were most of the time, because I recently went to Chile and the city in general is really clean. I saw no trash on the streets. Where I lived in the states before (which is Houston) there would trash and bums all over the place, so it really depends on which part of town you’ve lived. Next time (that’s if you do go back), make sure you have some sort of guide to show you all the nice areas the country has, and yes, the stupid united states OF America culture is plaguing my country. It’s a shame.

    P.S.: “I have scene very attractive women”.. SCENE? Really?


    Marcello May 28, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I traveled to many of barrios in the city and lived in centro in an upcoming area where most things were newly built. I am not saying that places in Santiago or Chile aren’t clean but when you have the moniker of being the “Switzerland of the South” which implies being absolutely spotless. Santiago is not the cleanest of cities and I can say that considering that I did visit almost all the barrios including upper, middle, and lower classes.

    I didn’t live in a low class neighborhood, I didn’t party in a low class neighborhood. Overall the women in Chile have a very bad fashion sense and this has been confirmed to me by Chilean women. I understand you may be defensive but those are the facts since I saw that every day I went outside no matter what barrio I was in.

    I did have some guides that showed me around the city so being shown around the proper areas isn’t the issue. Thanks for the spell check :-)


    Yolandita February 26, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Why must we criticized always rater then enjoy, and embrace each-other’s culture?
    I do not see any Chileans come to America trying to change you people.
    Some race rather value the contain of the mind, rater than a stupid piece of rags…

    Get over your Capitalism/Imperialism plague.


    Yolandita February 26, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    It’s irrelevant trying to compare Chile with an European country…
    Why don’t you just moved there instead?? Chile is not holding all the drug and blood diamonds wealth of the world. May be that’s the reasons it’s not clean enough for your Majesty.?
    Man get over yourself please.


    Marcello February 26, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    If you have a better way to try and describe Chile Yolandita I’d love to hear how you would describe the country.


    Paul April 21, 2013 at 12:28 am

    I’ve been in chile for 2 years from now, and i think the $140 are fair, it’s the price that chileans have to pay to enter the United States… I disagree with you in a lot of aspects, first, i found most of the cities pretty clean, but the weather sucks, hot in the summer, and way too cold in the winter, easily 0ºC and there’s no heating inside most houses… Also i think the nightlife it’s incredible and cheap, for the cost of living, who i would dare to say it’s like the USA, ridiculously expensive country, for Latin-American standards… There are a lot of pretty hot girls, specially in upper neighborhoods, but there’s a lack of beautiful guys. And you’re right, not european, but a very americanized country, but they have a pretty interesting/non-conservative/educated youth, who differs a lot from older generations.


    pepa August 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    And the americans are so good!…. yeah right. You think because you are a gringo we have to recieve you with open arms. Before you talk like that, just take a walk and check all the fat ladys in your country. That must be really sexy. Check your gangsters and all the masive killings in school, unis and cinemas. Probably you are not aware of the ghettos and drug issues you have there. They must be so tidy .. like switzerland.
    Before talking badly about others look into your own reality and hopefully dont come back. We dont need people like you here.



    Marcello August 5, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Pepa… I am not a gringo. I was actually born in S. America and speak Spanish fluently. I share what I see on this blog and that was my first impression of Chile. Its a great country and actually one of the best countries to live in within all of Latin America. You shouldn’t get so offended others have made the same observations as I have.


    Chuck August 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    One of the fondest memories I have in life is spending time in Chile. I thought both the scenery and women were beautiful and the people very friendly. Also, the costs seemed to be reasonable, in fact a family friend retired to Chile in the late 80’s to make wine.


    Ricky August 31, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Chileans are assholes, rude arrogant and classist.I dont know where they get the impression that they are superior in South America.The country is grossly overpriced, the people are worth shit, lots of backstabbing envy and theft.Oh and I forgot to add, the people are UGLY as can be, dull average faces, go anywhere but chile.


    Marcello August 31, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Tell us how you really feel Ricky. Sadly, the description you just gave describes the people of many countries around the world including the west. The only difference is that more people have a higher standard of living and it isn’t as pronounced because there isn’t as much poverty. I lived there for quite some time and did not have the same experience with the people there. They aren’t as open as say Colombians or Brazilians but I wouldn’t say they are ass holes, rude, or arrogant at all.


    Matthew September 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Everything I have seen/read about Chile is okay with me and I want to visit South America…the girls and those jeans are okay with me too. :p


    Ricky September 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Is how I really feel something that you want to hear and not the truth.Buddy I live in Chile many years.If you wanna see poverty go to Valparaiso and you will see 80 percent of its shit slums right next to the beautiful pacific ocean, or just go to la pintana puente alto.Yea high standard of living where the 90 percent of chileans are in debt.anyone can buy a 2 million dollar ferrari and pay it until the day he dies.chileans like to show off their pathetic achievements.if it wasnt for the copper they would be living in strawhuts, or maybe you are just like them, rude and vulgar with no education.Chile is a way overrated country, and the people are boring vague ignorant insular extremely classist(if not the most classist country in the world) and very rude, maybe thats why you like kissing their ass so much.Oh and by the way i lived in USA for many years where I was poor and i could befriend a rich kid and go to his house and have much better life and open conversation with anyone on the street.Bet you cant get a doctor in vitacura talking to a obrero from las polas in the streets, cant you….Thought so idiot!


    Camila January 4, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    if you really think so, just avoid the country e.e I think that you’re just an asshole that wants atention. I don´t know what kind of people you were with, but I’m sure that not ALL the people in a frickin’ country can be the same shit. That kind of people live all over the world. You don’t know all the truth, live with it ;)


    Marcello January 5, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Camila… very contrary to what you think and believe I love Chile. I loved the people there and also really enjoy being there. These are simply my impartial observations of the country.


    JP October 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Hay, Ricky the part where you talk about being rude,vulgar and uneducated …describes you to a T….whata D**!!!


    Marcello October 6, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Ricky & JP lets keep the convo PG this isn’t forum board.


    Dana October 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Geesh. That dude is intense.


    Carola November 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Hello, I´m Chilean living abroad and I would like to comment your article about Chilean women, I live in east Europe now and I understand your point of view about comparing cultures, and in this case “fashion matters”, in this I have to say that the only “sin” of the Chilean women is “to be conservative” that means to do not take risks… why? because we are a society ruled by who is richer or who is poorer… Chilean women in general doesn´t take risk with the clothes to do not be the flash of comments , to do not stand out… to do not look like a whore…. why? because our thinking is like that… prove of that is how I amazed myself everytime I see the eastern European women wearing during the day, clothes that are absolutely for the night! ( every time that I mentally make comments i say also: ohhhh my Chilean conservative mind).
    Also, the comment about Chile/Switzerland … LOL … but Europe has also a lot of garbage..
    and now I m going to say that I´m absolutely impressed by the comment of Rick, the way he writes, the way he expresses himself is absolutely Chilean… In English and trying to hide his origins but CHILEAN ! I think this guy left the poor part of Valparaiso guided by the typical arribism of our society…Im sorry you couldnt get closer to the Universities areas of Valparaiso, to get a little education or at least one beer with a nice chat, because my friend this is what you need, to cool down!


    Marcello December 5, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Good points all around Carola but I cannot agree that there is some fashion sense when most of the country seems like it doesn’t care about its appearance. There were very few people that I found that dressed up. It isn’t part of the culture there which is cool but that is just the way Chilean culture is.


    Chris November 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I completely agree.After living many years in Chile, the people are chronic bulliers and every chance they get they will try to backstab you.They are very insular people and their inner family are their only social life.Once in a blue moon there will be a stand out that will openly start a conversation, but that is very rare.I am more likely to have a conversation with an American than with a chilean.They are very frustrated people who only care about trying to go up on the social class.The majority of people have absolutely no idea what common courtesy or education is.They will push your grocery cart out of they way like animals do and will insult you without even thinking of the other persons feelings.As a society and culture, the chileans are grossly rude and secretly very angry people.They can also relate to their argentinian neighbors in being very arrogant and close-minded.Not worth the time or travel if you ask me and definetely on the overrated side.I suggest Brazil and Uruguay, much more friendly people and definetely more extrovertical and polite.


    Paul November 10, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Try living there, you will soon see what Chileans are really like.An unfortunate set of people that happen to be a scar on its naturally beautiful landscape.


    Marcello December 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I lived there for 6 months Paul but they aren’t that bad… lol


    captain December 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Chile is a wonderous beautiful place. Its people warm and friendly. The women in ugly jeans still turn it sexy. Chile is a very class orientated society, but only if you let it. Education is the key and admittedly not everyone has access to break these barriers. I have experienced both sides of the scale.Go there and enjoy the Ceviche, Churrascos and a Fanchop(fanta & beer). Go to Bella Vista and dance with the locals. Swim in the cool Chilean waters and visit the dry deserts. Watch for stray dogs which I thought Chile has an issue with. The land and its people are still beautiful and worth the visit.



    Marisol December 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I am a chilean and I do love my country. I married a Swiss man, I have lived in Switzerland and please ,,,,,,,, as much as I love Chile, you can’t compare with Switzerland, the only thing you can say about is that both countries are full of immigrants that makes lots of changes in the way countries were in the past, because of the mixed cultures. We are trying to go out from undevelopement but not even close to europeans countries. First, we, chileans and Southamericans in general, have to go for the excelence and forget the mediocre way we use to do things and also accept critics. We need to have higher standards if we want to be compared with the best countries on earth. At present what we have is a beautiful country ( I mean landscapes) but still mediocre minded people. We have potential, we need to work much more and change our attitude, then we could be better.


    Marcello December 23, 2013 at 12:19 am

    Thanks for the comment Marisol but I would still compare it to Switzerland. That is why they say Switzerland of the south not Switzerland.


    Danielle December 18, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Ricky, you know, people from Santiago are rude and assholes, the people from the south are the nicest people on earth. Don’t stay in Santiago, travel arround the country!


    Marcello December 23, 2013 at 12:16 am

    I didn’t think people were rude there in Santiago. I would say its just a by product of living in a big city city that’s all. Same with any other big cosmopolitan city around the world.


    Camila January 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    My god, are you from regions? I really don’t understand why you people keep treating us like this. Please, don’t forget that Santiago is just a city, the people that live in santiago it’s just people. Why do you have to be so despreciative? One of my best friends it’s from regions, an she doesn’t have that stupid complex of “I live in another part of Chile and i Hate Santiago” :’c it’s pretty sad that people of the same country treat each other like that. I do love South </3


    Marcello January 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I am not from the region of Santiago or Chile Camila. I was making observations between Chile and other countries as well


    Gonzalo December 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    This is a great article, and coming from a foreign visitor, I think (we) chileans must sit and listen rather than switch to defensive mode.
    The $140 fee is called ‘reciprocity fee’, because that”s what we chileans must spend in paperwork and time to apply for a visa at the US Embassy. Beside that, I think waiting in line at the airport to pay a fee, is way more friendly than spending 30mins in line at any US airport, just to have an unknown officer checking my GF’s underwear through that X-ray scanner. Probably the most awkward and paranoid welcome of any western country.

    Chile is still southamerican in many ways, though we are in the process of acquiring the ‘Developed Country’ traits, good or bad: cleaner streets, 1st World individualism taking over the Southamerican friendliness, slightly more efficient services, and of course a faithful army of trolls and haters from neighboring countries, most of them illegals complaining that Chile won’t let them cook food on the sidewalk, bribe cops or move drugs like in their home bases.


    Charity December 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I’m looking for travel advice. I plan to travel to south america starting in 2015. I want to spend a month or two (depending on cost and safety for Americans) in Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. This will be my first time leaving the US so i would like to know if any of you have helpful advice. Fees associate with travel (entrance fees, etc), least expensive areas of the country, best time of year to travel, things you know now and wish you knew before. Any info you think would be helpful i’m grateful for.


    Marcello January 1, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Chile and Argentina are the only places where you will have to pay visa fees. Argentina you will have to subscribe and pay before hand and Chile you pay at the border. That may change for Chile in the future because Chileans are now able to enter into US visa free. Their visa that they charge Americans is a reciprocity visa so they may drop that once the US drops there. Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Panama, are on the equator so anytime of the year would be good for those. I would recommend looking up the rainy seasons and avoiding those. Those can get bad in Costa Rica for example as those are tropical climates. Peru is mostly mountainous so avoid the rainy season there. The further south you go, ie: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, the more opposite the climate is. Would recommend their spring (our fall) to visit there. Hope that helps!


    Anibal January 28, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I sort of share your feelings towards Chile… (am a Chilean). Both girls and boys dress in a rather conservative fashion, albeit all major brands and collections are present in the country (and yet everyone seems to have headed to the same shop, ie, H&M!). Regarding that cliché of the “South American Switzerland”, I would say that applies more to the South, Valdivia, Frutillar, Puerto Varas? Santiago is quite polluted during the winter, you can barely breathe! The river is full of rubbish too, but the nice neighbourhoods (Vitacura, Las Condes, and Providencia, to some extent) are quite clean, with beautiful gardens and parks. It has nothing to do with your post, but Santiago is really clean compared to other places in Europe. At least it doesn’t smell like urine like Paris or some “posh” places in London, or even the tube in New York! :)


    Marcello February 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    It isn’t just the lakes and mountains Anibal it is also the efficiency of the country in compared to its neighbors


    Anibal January 28, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    PS: I have lives in REALLY dirty places like Dhaka, Delhi or Varanasi… Santiago is seriously spotless lol


    Marcello February 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Wasn’t comparing it with that Anibal but agree with what your saying. Chile is supposed to be a first world country and expected it to be much cleaner.


    Anibal January 28, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    PS: I have lived in REALLY dirty places like Dhaka, Delhi or Varanasi… Santiago is seriously spotless lol


    Marcello February 9, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I wasn’t comparing it to places like that lol. Was comparing it more to places like Medellin, Colombia and other places in Latin America.


    Rodrigo February 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    As a one time immigrant in the States and as a current immigrant in Chile it is best to just say that any comparison between Chile and any first world nation is totally unfair. Chile as most developing countries, it is still a work in progress and no one should get offended by that. We also tend to forget that even rich countries have big pockets of poverty, permanent underclass and other dysfunctional issues, but all in all Santiago is pretty decent in its own right. No comments on jeans, fashion, except to say that American pop culture/fashion sense is very low compared to its economic might. And as to the people, Chileans are no worse than other people or my ex-neighbors in Miami! It takes two to tango..and certainly I dont think Chileans or people in Santiago are backstabbers. For Chris’ sake! they are my neighbors, co-workers, the people with whom I share my life, and they have been very kind to this foreigner


    Veronica March 18, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Hey, I was born in Chile but have lived in Australia for over 26 years. I constantly visit the country and have seen an enormous transformation in the country over the years. There is definitely a sense of prosperity and more stability compared to other S.A countries but I must say I agree with the comment about the rubbish. I feel like they try to keep the city center relatively clean, but there is definitely a shortage of rubbish bins and still a lack of culture of cleanliness from the people, it actually drives me quite insane, just as the graffiti does. In terms of clothing, yes I agree women tend to dress in boring jeans they definitely lack style. I’m not sure wether they just don’t have enough European culture in them in terms of fashion or wether women feel like they will get too much attention if they dress more sexy. The food I think like you said balances out with the prices of affordable housing. I do believe this is a nice place to visit though. The geography if the country is like a big national park.


    Marcello March 18, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Thanks for the note Veronica….


    LLL March 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I have been living in Chile for 5 years. I do not find chilean people attractive. I am from Eastern Europe.
    In general people of Chile are very short, fat and their faces are u..ly. Those fat people as usual are so lower calss. They have big social resictence (resentemiento social). There are also so called upper-class here. fake blonds with dry old skin and skiny bodies.This type of peopel completely and absolutely depend on their maids (nanas) . Even young people (couples of two) get maids as soon as they can pay for them. To have a maid is must-to- be for a middle-class Chilena. They fall apart if their maids have a day-off!!!!!Shame! Their maid looks after their houses and kids (NANALANDIA).
    So, I would say in Chile nanas rock the world! I hope there are educated, not poor Chilenos who are capable to make their beds and clean their toilets without NANA. But I would never marry a chileno and would never recomend a European man to marry a Chilena. By they way , watch out for Lanzadoras, Chilenas who are hunting for Gringos , as usual mining fellows with money. Their methot- to get pregnent…and then a poor Gringo will have to look after a woman. a child and her BIG family(they are very united!!!)


    James March 29, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Having read all the comments written before me, I cannot help but smile. We have never been to Chile, but are planning on going there towards the end of this year for 3 to 6 months….and if we love it, maybe we will never return to Canada. Yes, we are Canadian and over 50…..we have traveled to many places in the world…not as many as we want to or will, but many. One thing we have always found is that we get treated the same way that we treat others. Before going to Paris, we heard all the stories about the french and how obnoxious they were…..what we found was that they were very welcoming and generous and loved that we made an attempt to speak their language and adopt their culture. We have experienced the same in every corner of the world. If you expect people to adapt to you and your beliefs, you may be disappointed. We look forward to spending time in South America….we live in a city that is extremely multicultural and Toronto has a very large Latino community from all South American countries. The people we have come across are fabulous. I guess that by living in a city full of different cultures, one becomes very tolerant and accepting of differences. Not to mention that the choice of food is unbelievable. We are very fortunate to be able to experience the world in our own city.

    My message is simple….you will get what you give….enjoy everyone’s differences and find the common ground.


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