Living in Chile?
Accommodation and Education in Chile
Quality of Life at an Affordable Price
Life in Chile comes with the benefit of a comparatively low cost of living. In the 2017 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Santiago ranks 67th, demonstrating a much lower cost of living compared with other South American capitals such as Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. The low cost of living does not have a detrimental effect on quality of life — in fact, it makes Santiago, Chile’s capital, one of Latin America’s best places to settle.
House-hunting in Chile
Before you begin your apartment search in Chile, it is always a good idea to do some research on where you will get the most value for your money, where you’ll have the easiest commute to work, and which areas you should avoid. Set aside time to work out your priorities and decide how much money you can realistically spend on rent. You should also talk to other expats in Chile to see if they have advice from their own experience of searching for apartments.
Although most expats look for an apartment, it is often easier and just as affordable to rent a house. Most Chileans think of a house as a big hassle and would rather rent an apartment, but this is not necessarily the case. Have a look at newspaper ads and online classifieds or contact real estate agencies who can give you extra help, but for a fee. You could also just drive through a neighborhood you like and keep your eyes open for signs which say “se vende” (for sale) or “se arrienda” (for rent).
It is often the case that word of mouth will get you the best housing deals in Chile. However, this is a time-consuming method and can be particularly difficult if you do not speak much Spanish. If that is the case, you can always have a look at English-language websites for house hunters and see if you find the home of your dreams there:
- ContactChile has unfurnished rooms and apartment listings, as well as additional expat information.
- HomeUrbano focuses on Santiago.
- CompartoDepto is the place to look for furnished rooms and roommates.
If you already speak some Spanish, have a look at the classifieds section El Mercurio, one of the largest daily newspapers in Chile.
Education in Chile
Primary and secondary education, between the ages of 6 and 17, is mandatory in Chile. For most schools, whether government subsidized or privately funded, there are small enrollment and admission fees. In the public government subsidized schools, there are voluntary monthly fees, which the parent has the right to refuse to pay. Private schools on the other hand usually have a compulsory tuition fee. Public schools usually belong to the municipality in which they are located.
Secondary schools offer regular education for the first two years, then the final two years are more focused; students can choose whether to follow a scientific-humanist, technical-professional (vocational) education, or artistic education path.
Chile’s education system, particularly higher education, has been criticized recently. Reforms have been ongoing for several years and are still the subject of much controversy. The issue is that Chile has one of the world’s lowest levels of public funding for higher education, forcing the costs upon the students and their families, creating vast inequalities and preventing many from accessing higher education.
International Schools in Chile
That being said, there are still many great schools and dedicated teachers in Chile that might be just right for your children. However, many expats — particularly those on short-term assignments in countries where a different language is spoken — prefer to send their kids to international schools. The majority of international schools in Chile are in the capital, but there are also a few in other cities around the country.
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