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John Cobin

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Note on Cost of Living for Newcomers to Chile

The cost of living is a technical economics term. It means, generally, “the level of prices relating to a range of everyday items, and regular household, educational, tax, insurance and transportation expenses.” Investopedia provides a more complete definition: Cost of living is the amount of money needed to sustain a certain level of living, including basic expenses such as housing, […]

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Memorandum to Newcomers

From: Dr. Cobin, Instigator To: All Newcomers to Chile Re: Fundamentals, Expectations and Rules of Conduct Please take careful note of the following: 1. Chile is not the United States (i.e., “We are not in Kansas anymore.”), nor is it Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore or a Western European country–thank God. It is also not New […]

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Keep Your Hemispheres Straight!

It’s not just whether the North Star or the Southern Cross governs the night sky. There are hemispherical differences that go beyond climate or weather concerns, and how clocks are set in relative countries; people in Chile should especially be aware of them. I just chuckle every time I have to deal with ignorant people, […]

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Getting Cell Phone Service in Chile

Nowadays, everyone seems to need a smart cell phone with camera and tablet capabilities. In Chile, I have found it optimal to add a 500-minute cell phone-enabled landline onto my VTR internet service package at home (about USD$7 extra), and thus minimize the purchase of cell phone minutes. Consequently, I reduce the overall amount I […]

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ATM Fees for Foreign Cards in Central Chile

One annoyance that newcomers to Chile face is that they will have to put up with making ATM withdrawals with foreign-issued cards at Chilean ATMs–most of which charge high transaction fees–until they can attain permanent residency status (often 15-20 months after arrival). The same is also true for residents and Chilean citizens that have bank […]

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A Note on the 2017 Chilean Primary Elections

Chile does not usually hold presidential primary elections. For that reason, we typically arrive at election day in November with seven or eight (or more) candidates on the ballot and thus no one ends up getting at least 50.1% of the vote. Therefore, the top two vote-getters do a run-off election in December, called la segunda […]

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A Second Citizenship Beyond Chilean

There are certain motifs that fascinate expatriates in general. The most common ones I hear are gold and its storage, tax reduction, escaping warfarism or welfarism, relationships with non-American women, offshore banking, lower-cost living (lifestyle upgrade) and second passports. For many of them, this last motif requires a great, if not the greatest, amount of […]

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Chilean Census – 2017

In Chile, the national census is taken every five years. Wednesday, April 19, 2017 was census day, and people were forced to take a confined (paid) holiday in order for census workers to get around to them and conduct a ten-minute household interview. The idea was that other than emergency personnel and the census takers […]

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Construction Quality in Chilean Cities

By now, most thinking people know that Chileans build the safest buildings in the world, at least in terms of earthquake protection. In the last seven years, populated areas of Chile have been struck by three large earthquakes (Richter Scale 8.2 Iquique, 8.3 Illapel and 8.8 Cauquenes). The damage done to postwar structures and highways was […]

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Notary and Recorder Monopolies in Chile

Notaries (notarías) and notarial services are vastly different in Chile than they are in places like the United States. A notary designation is not easy to get in Chile, and a notary does far more than just verify the veracity of the signer. In many cases, notaries offer legal advice, too, the liability associated with […]

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