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Speedy Online Service in Chile

I never thought I would see the day when email would show signs of becoming a dinosaur, but it seems like other social media and certain cell-phone-based applications are becoming the preferred media for general communications and business around the world. Most of the world uses WhatsApp now–at least outside of the USA (SnapChat, etc.) and China (WeChat). In Chile, businesses advertise their WhatApp numbers as preferred means of contact. Supposedly ultra-private Signal has been making great inroads, too, eating away at WhatsApp’s market share a little, further cementing this category of communication’s phenomenal rise.

For the first time in decades my regular monthly cell phone bill has dropped to USD$11. I am just not using the thing to make many voice calls any longer, and I do not use that much data away from Wi-Fi zones or at home. I barely speak 100 minutes per month on the cell phone outside my home. I do make other calls from my landline, since I mostly work from home now. I spend a few extra bucks a month for my internet provider (VTR) to give me a cell-phone-enabled landline, which is cheaper and more convenient than using cell phones at home. VTR won the 2017 OOKLA speedtest award for Chile, apparently dominating its six competitors with average speeds being at least twice as fast.

My cell service (Virgin Mobile) gives me unlimited WhatsApp use (non-voice) with my cheap “antiplan” and I find that the overwhelming majority of my daily communication for business, church, friends and other contacts is done via WhatsApp. Sure, I still use email, but it is no longer the most important communication medium for me.

The internet itself is the only consumable that has increased more than WhatsApp in my life. I now generate even more of my income from internet-based activity than ever before. Whether it is IT, crypto-currencies, day trading, blogging, editing/proofreading, or teaching English online, more people than ever are generating portable, tax-advantaged incomes over the internet. Who would have thought that such a world would have existed in the mid-1990s when I first left the Land of the Free?

Speaking of the internet, I thought it would be worthwhile mentioning how extremely pleased I have been with internet speeds in Chile, a country which has had fiber optics installed everywhere for over three decades. So long as the service is connected correctly, we can easily attain plans that feature 160mbps to 320mbps download, and 8mbps to 15mbps upload, in any of Chile’s major population centers. The monthly cost is usually somewhere between USD$55 and USD$65, which includes the aforementioned landline phone. Basically, all newcomers to either Santiago or Viña del Mar (which is probably 98% of them) can enjoy fantastic, reliable internet connectivity. Data services on cell phones, and the hot spots they can create are also decent and often very good.

Admittedly, I have not been in the United States (thank God) for going on ten years. So I may not really be able to “feel” the difference in connectivity speeds between here and there. But as far as I can remember, Internet service speeds and quality have been better in Chile than the Land of the Free since the end of the Twentieth Century. Newcomers and more recent clients that I have interviewed on the subject confirm that the same is still true. In fact many cannot believe that I get speedtest.com download numbers around 180mbps. I could pay another ten bucks a month and get over 320mbps, but why? I will just use the savings to pay my ever-declining cell phone bill. For what I use the internet for, I probably would never notice the difference between 180mbps and 320mbps anyway.

When it comes to Europe, especially Italy, which I seem to visit once or twice a year, I have had more recent comparative data for internet speeds. I also have experience from my occasional visits to Germany, Spain, Switzerland, France and other parts of Europe. Maybe it is just bad luck, but wherever I stay up there I am lucky to get between 2mbps and 10mbps (download or upload). Indeed, my internet connection in Chile is vastly superior. Now, I am sure that if I had been staying longer term in Milan or Munich I would find great access to the internet somewhere, but it is simply does not seem to be as widespread as it is in Chile. I hear from others that China and Japan also have generally better connectivity speeds than southern/central Europe or North America. Perhaps they do.

Nonetheless, I was looking at Speedtest’s global rankings of 131 countries for internet download speeds by either fixed or mobile services and was actually surprised that Chile is ranked as low as it is: 47th (fixed broadband) and 66th (mobile data). The United States is 9th/45th. Italy is 51st/35th. Germany is 24th/43rd. China is 22nd/24th. Hong Kong is 2nd/26th. Japan is 14th/55th. I guess my travel experience, that of the family in the USA and clients and newcomers I know, is not indicative of general reality elsewhere.

However, I think a more plausible explanation is that Chileans opt for lower broadband speeds for economic reasons. Although Chile is a lower-end OECD country (30th out of 35), not everyone here is willing to pay US$60 per month for internet service. For people in Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, that cost is a minuscule part of average monthly income. I am sure the opposite is true in smaller cities in Italy, where many people “squeak by” on monthly incomes under 1,500 Euros, and perhaps the same holds for block apartment dwellers its larger cities there. Does the same dynamic likewise prevail in America and Canada, where so many North Americas live on less than US$2,000 per month? Maybe massive use by businesses and big city dwellers skew the statistics in those places? My guess is that per capita GDP is highly correlated with average sustained internet speeds. Unlike America or Italy, Chile only has one big city that generates business-related internet usage.

Accordingly, Chile’s internet speed rankings are plausibly lower on account of consumer choice rather than technological limitations or barriers in the country. Therefore, the upper classes, not to mention nearly all immigrants from “First Word” countries, will have no problem whatsoever attaining Hong Kong-level performance in Chile’s larger cities. As a result, newcomers who depend on the internet need not worry that they will have difficulty getting connected in Chile.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country. Non-wealthy immigrants to Chile should also create a portable income by signing up to be a 51Talk online English teacher. Read more details about the job in my previous post on the subject.

 Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2017 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, Fourth Edition, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $129.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged 2015 book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights (somewhat outdated) found in the larger book. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Note on the First World Status of Chile

Is Chile a First World country? During the Cold War Era, the term “First World” referred to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe, which were industrialized and had a large and growing middle class. The “Second World” referred to communist countries, especially in Eastern Europe, but by extension also in Asia, and even Cuba, perhaps. The “Third World” was basically everywhere else, mostly poor and/or oppressive countries run by a few wealthy families in Africa, southern Asia, Latin America and most Pacific and Caribbean island nations.

Note that in the compounds where the rich live within the Third World, the environment may look like the First World for a few blocks or even several square kilometers. Such is the case in cities within countries like India, Brazil, South Africa, Bolivia, Peru, Panama, Malasia and Thailand. Nevertheless, the limited existence of a high standard of living for those fortunate 1% or 2% of the population does not elevate the country out of its Third World status.

Since the end of the Cold War, the world’s political landscape has changed, and such terminology has fallen out of favor. But I still like using it. Hence, in my writings, I have chosen to hijack the term Second World and redefine it as something in between First World and Third World. The concept was accordingly morphed to refer to those countries that have a lot of urban blight and old or ugly buildings and infrastructure, but also have a significant and growing middle class with some disposable income. As a result, in countries meeting those criteria, there is very little hunger, nearly everyone has shoes, as well as access to technology (e.g., cell phone), education and basic medical services.

An online search for the term First World reveals that the word technically means, “the highly developed industrialized nations often considered the westernized countries of the world.” Beyond this definition, however, Wikipedia actually has a pretty good, embellished meaning that better relates to the modern-day scenario: “the definition has instead largely shifted to any country with little political risk and a well functioning democracy, rule of law, capitalist economy, economic stability and high standard of living. Various ways in which modern First World countries are often determined include GDP, GNP, literacy rates and the Human Development Index.” Obviously, this definition precludes the inclusion of countries like Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Belarus, etc. However, it also allows for the inclusion of countries like Chile, Israel, South Korea, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, all of which have large and growing middle classes, and possibly even opens the door to soon let in places like New Caledonia, Mauritius, Bahamas, Namibia, Turkey, Mexico and South Africa.

Building on that paradigm, in my book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, I argue that Chile is (by many standards) a First World country, especially in its central part, which includes Santiago and Viña del Mar-Concón. That rationale does not mean that Chile offers the same standard of living as Japan, Hong Kong, Western Europe, Canada, Australia or the United States. However, Chile does share some common features with them, a fact that is reflected by Chile being the only Latin American country to have qualified for the USA’s “visa-waiver program” and that it is no longer eligible for World Bank or IMF aid (like its neighbors). Chile’s standard of living and quality of life continues to rise, too, along with its amenities and infrastructure quality. Indeed, Chile has great, private inter-urban highways and the strongest, most earthquake-resistant, buildings in the world. Both things are hearty pluses for the country.

The case for Chile’s “first-worldliness” is underscored by its inclusion among the ranks of the formidable 35 OECD countries of the world. The OECD website states,

Today, our 35 Member countries span the globe, from North and South America to Europe and Asia-Pacific. They include many of the world’s most advanced countries but also emerging countries like Mexico, Chile and Turkey.

Excluding small island countries and minor, rich, enclave countries in Europe (e.g., Monaco, San Marino, Andorra), the OECD list basically includes the wealthiest 20% of all countries in the world, in terms of economic, political, social and legal development. Not surprisingly, Chile is ranked 30th in terms of GDP, and enjoys the company of Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Portugal, Greece and Estonia just ahead of it, and Poland, Hungary, Turkey and Mexico just behind it. All of those countries, excepting perhaps the last two, are widely considered to be First World countries. Why then should Chile not be?

Chile is certainly not the Third World but, admittedly, most of it would certainly fall into the Second World category if it were carved up. Nevertheless, judging from my travels to OECD and other countries, Northeastern Santiago, Viña del Mar-Concón, Pucón, Zapallar and Puerto Varas would all qualify as First World areas of Chile, with parts of the Concepción and La Serena metro areas making a run for it. That means that the majority of Chileans live in or next to First World environs. By extension, I think it is not unreasonable to place Chile marginally into the First World category.

Stating this fact does not mean that Chile’s standard of living is like that found in countries with much higher GDPs, like the United States, France, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, etc. All First World countries are not equal. One need only to compare most of Italy, Greece and Portugal with the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria to see that reality born out. The same is true with the United States, Australia and Canada, which have vast internal, socio-economic differences: bustling and beautiful major city centers surrounded by pockets of degraded neighborhoods or slums, and many shanties, mobile home parks or rural areas that can only honestly qualify as Second World sectors within First World boundaries.

Not all Americans, for instance, live in Manhattan, Michigan Avenue (Chicago), Boca Raton, Santa Barbara or Beverly Hills and make six- or seven-figure incomes. The great majority of Americans live in small towns, rust-belt, run-down inner-city slums (e.g., Watts, south Chicago, Detroit) and rural areas, mostly in the South or Southwest, where many earn less than a couple thousand dollars per month. American poverty is common and often abysmal in the aforementioned places. Over 20% of Americans receive welfare, not counting Social Security recipients.

The same thing happens in Italy, where large earners live in Turin, Milan and Rome, but myriad small towns and rural areas are chock full of families squeaking by on under 1,500 Euros per month. Such widespread income disparities or pockets of poverty do not disqualify America or Italy from being considered First World countries. The average or per capita measure is used to rank them. The same logic applies to Chile.

Chile is First World, but situated in a lower rung of the group. That fact is not in dispute. Accordingly, newcomers will have to make some adjustments. One newcomer recently remarked to me, “Bottom line–we will have to adjust to the lower standard of living or leave. That’s all there is to it.” Actually, he will learn over time that the upper middle class in Chile actually lives at a higher standard of living in Chile than in the USA or Europe. Here people from that class can afford household servants, private schools for their kids, better-quality vehicles, beach/lakeside second homes, country club memberships and specialized medical care that can only be afforded by the upper class up yonder.

Newcomers simply need to be patient and learn to break into this rung. They cannot see soon after arrival what the benefits will be, but they should ask themselves: “Why is it that the upper classes here do not try to live in North America or Western Europe, even when a great number of them hold American, Canadian and especially EU passports from Italy, Germany, Sweden or Spain, as well as their Chilean ones? It is at least in part because their standard of living and quality of life is higher in Chile than it would otherwise be up yonder. They have goods and services here that they could not dream of up there. That is why so many expats that come to Chile under contract with mining or agricultural firms try to stay on in country after their contract ends.

Anyone who claims that comunas like Las Condes, Vitacura and Reñaca-Concon are not First World has obviously not traveled much, even to non-glamorous parts of the USA or Europe. As an OECD country, Chile is classified among the world’s wealthiest nations, and noticeably more so every year. I see it more now compared to when I first arrived in 1996. If Chile continues to grow the same for the next two decades, it will surpass many other countries on the OECD list. Still, the USA is presently a richer country than Chile; no one is denying that fact. But how many wars, central bank disasters, EMPs, nukes, plagues, etc. is the USA away from facing more widespread poverty? Chile is mercifully free from those threats.

Indeed, Chile has already exceeded most other OECD countries in some things. It has far better internet connection infrastructure than any other country I have been to, including the USA, Spain, Germany, New Zealand and Italy. After ousting the communists in 1973, Chile installed fiber optics everywhere. Other countries are still catching up. Chile also has, hands down, the best and strongest buildings in the world. Indeed, building quality (excluding the finish work) is much better in Chile than in the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Western Europe. Neither of those credentials are unimportant. In addition, Chile has some of the most modern mining and port facilities in the world. The only place in the Western Hemisphere with superior medical care to the top Santiago “clinics” are the top places in the USA and maybe the Einstein system in Sao Paulo. The same may be said of some spots in the UK and Germany, and perhaps France and Japan, too. That fact is huge. One never knows when he will need good medical care.

Cell phone service in Chile is as good as in Europe and better than in the USA. It is top-notch in Chile. The intercity highways are on par with the richest OECD countries, too. People rightly complain about the poor quality of city streets in Viña del Mar, and rightly so, but their condition does not make Chile less than First World. Bigger First World cities like Naples, Italy have roads that are at least as bad. Supermarkets and super centers or malls are at least as modern in Santiago and Viña del Mar as I have seen in the USA and Western Europe. Santiago has a modern, fast and convenient international airport. These are just a few important indicators. If I were to spend a few hours pondering, I could come up with other things. Chile also copies some of the best things found in other OECD countries, such as magnetic, inclined moving walkways that grab onto the shopping cart’s wheels, and a system of red/green lights over parking lot stalls in larger garages that let drivers know if there are open stalls available in any given row.

Some newcomers complain about air conditioning and heating systems. While air conditioning is largely unnecessary in almost any part of Chile, with the possible exception of west-facing apartments in Santiago, heating is needed in most places. Most modern buildings have central heating but some do not, since locals prefer to use cheaper floor heater units instead. Nonetheless, even in this preference, Chile is not different than many other OECD countries.I have lived in Chile the better part of 22 years and have never needed or wanted air conditioning in either northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar. Ditto for ceiling fans. If either were needed, Chileans could easily import them.

The Santiago summer heat is possible to beat by just opening the windows in the morning and closing them in the afternoon. (The maids are used to coordinating this effort.) The only apartments that one will see with air conditioning units are directly west-facing ones, which always sell for less on account of this feature. Some apartments are designed without central heating since it is expensive and many people prefer to save the additional cost for central heating and simply bring their own US$250 Toyotomi (Japanese, kerosene) or other portable heater. However, that fact does not mean that apartments in Santiago are without heat. doing without heat is a choice people make. Indeed, I have central heat where I live in Viña del Mar. So, one can get it.

A newcomer once complained, “Outside of Northeast Santiago  there are shanty towns everywhere. Toilets don’t work right (don’t flush the paper). There is no toilet paper in public bathrooms, every house has to have its own dungeon-like security setup. There are homeless dogs everywhere. That’s my definition of Second World.” While some of these aspects admittedly discredit claims to Chile’s first-worldliness, they generally do not. Remember that relatively few OECD countries a perfect in every category of modernity, anti-theft measures, infrastructure, wealth and overall prosperity. Protective gates and fences, for instance, are also commonplace in First World Europe.

He also complained about oppressive relative costs for tolls, energy and other items, generated by taxes or monopolies in Chile. That idea is certainly true when it comes to gasoline and certain regulated monopolies, including notaries, real property recorders, along with electricity, water and natural gas providers. However, any observable relatively higher cost of certain goods and services, whether due to being taxed by government or corporate “tyranny” (even if such a thing did exist in a market economy), has nothing to do with whether a country is First World. Spend a little time in Western Europe, Japan, Singapore or Hong Kong and you will see very relative high prices for things and yet still those places are still very First World. Newcomers that state that high relative prices are part-and-parcel of the Second World are  non-economists using economics jargon in a nonsensical way.

Let me comment further on some of the claims of this newcomer. First, there are shanty towns in Chile, but they are no worse than those found in the rat/drug-infested Bronx, inner-city Detroit, Oil City, Pennsylvania, the miles of slums along the West Virginia/Kentucky border, “rust belt” slums, shanties in many parts along the Mississippi River or in many Arizona/New Mexico Indian villages. Ditto for many places in Europe, especially Portugal, Greece and Italy. Being “First World” does not mean the near absence of shanties, but it does imply far fewer of them over time. What Chile bears is nothing compared to what countries do in the Third World, like Bolivia and Brazil and, other than external appearance, generate not much worse living conditions than the non-seismic-safe, centuries-old edifices in poorer areas of Italy, Portugal and Greece.

Second, homeless dogs are definitely a point against Chilean first-worldliness, although Chileans think that euthanizing them in the other First World counties shows then to be in fact brutal regimes; ditto for abortion other than “in a few exceptional cases.” Third, people steal the toilet paper and that frequent situation is why one must “carry his own” unless he uses a pay restroom (better). Doing so is a total hassle but the absence of toilet paper has nothing to do with whether a country is First World. All public restrooms in pubic places in Europe are paid, too. Note that not being able to flush toilet paper due to inadequate sewer infrastructure (not the toilets themselves) does certainly indicate something less than First World, but it is the only thing on his list that is clearly so. Let’s hope the situation in Chile improves. Until then, we must grin and bear it.

I have done what I can to help my reader understand what to expect in terms of standard of living in Chile. What I said about costs and infrastructure is accurate. I pull no punches with regard to Chile and I have the relevant university degrees and extensive travel experience to back up what I am saying. When Chile needs to be slammed I do so, but I am not going to level untrue or unfounded claims at it based on incorrect definitions of things like “First World” or judgments about the features of the OECD group of countries. Chile has its problems but so does every country.

For newcomers reading this article, I suggest that you just be glad you are in a safe place in the Southern Hemisphere and learn to make the best of it instead of complaining a lot or throwing out sweeping, unsubstantiated claims. You did, after all, choose to come to Chile because you felt considerable uneasiness about living in the old country. As bad as Chile might be, it is probably still much better than a FEMA camp or a false-flag zone, no?

Prewar Germany, England and France were jewels, too. A lot of it soon became rubble, with all the associated carnage among their previously-thriving populations. Do you really think that the same thing cannot happen again in Western Europe or in North America? If you think that the risks of staying in the old country are too high, and have come to Chile to “escape,” then I suggest that you learn to be an optimist and adopt a positive outlook. No one likes to be making a go at something new and difficult, and to be frequently bombarded by whining and nagging people, reminiscing about how things were better in the old country. Chile is going to be what we make it.

I do not worry about being in my Chilean building if and when there is an 8+ Richter Scale earthquake. However, I would be very worried if I were in California or Italy by the prospect of such a large earthquake (and yet they are still First World places, too, no?). My food quality in Chile is better than in other First World places (and yet they are still First World, too, no?).

There are other things that I enjoy in Chile. I get to have an ocean view and can grow organic blueberries in my backyard. I have lots of avocados coming on the tree now, too. I have a gardener that tends to things. My view makes me smile every day. My internet almost always flies (over 170mpbs download and 8mbps upload). I have far more here than I ever had in the land of the free or Italy. I am content with what God has provided and hope to make more improvements. Can you say the same where you live?

Friendly last word to newcomers: Try not to focus on negative things. It does not help to do so. We know they are here in Chile. But there are a lot of positive things, too, right? Do you fear jack-booted thugs breaking down your door by accident one night and shooting you? How about a “terrorist” bombing/shooting/stabbing/vehicular homicide? Or a family court stealing all your assets and filching your children? Is there any concern that the feds might steal your retirement savings? Will the EPA or FCC use you like a guinea pig? Is there a chance that you will be fired for not being politically correct enough at work? How about chem-trails, GMO foods, possible radiation? While, I am not sure about the true extent of any of those threats, I am confident that I do not face them here. It seems to me that all of us in Chile have a lot more to be thankful for than many are willing to admit. I hope you will agree and put on a positive attitude moving forward in our adopted First World country.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country. Non-wealthy immigrants to Chile should also create a portable income by signing up to be a 51Talk online English teacher. Read more details about the job in my previous post on the subject.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2017 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, Fourth Edition, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $129.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged 2015 book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights (somewhat outdated) found in the larger book. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

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 Zealand or Hong Kong,

2. The way things are done in the aforementioned countries is not the only or “right” way to do things. Believe it or not, there is usually a good reason why things are done the way that they are done. You may not know those reasons now or for some time after arrival.

3. People do things differently in Chile than where you come from. That fact does not mean Chile is bad, but rather that Chileans have found different ways of coping with the challenges of their cultural context. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Do not be an ugly American. It is not any fault of Chileans that you have to move.

4. You will pay more to live in Chile for the first 14-20 months than citizens and permanent residents do. This fact should not be surprising since tourists (newcomers) usually pay more than locals in any country of the world. Be prepared for the extra expense (i.e., “get a grip” and “deal with it”). It is part of your cost of emigrating from the “land of the free” or wherever. Over time, you will see that the overall cost of living here is probably lower than where you came from. Reducing costs might require you to change the way you have done things in the past.

5. You will not know everything you need to know about Chile on the day of your arrival, or even a year later. You will undoubtedly learn by the school of hard knocks. However, you can greatly minimize your butt-beating by not being lazy and taking my advice: read Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers before you land in the Santiago airport. Also, attend as many Escape America Now webinars as you can prior to coming. If you do not read every page of the 1,500+ page book prior to coming, and hence attempt a life-changing, international move in a state of near-total ignorance, you forever forfeit your right to complain. Onlookers might also consider you to be somewhat moronic.

6. Your negativity, worry and complaining have never really helped you before and they will not help you in Chile. No matter how bad things seem, they could be worse. Best to look on the bright side and make the best of it. There are a lot of “bright sides” in Chile. Dwell on them instead, along with all the ugly/nasty/unpleasant reasons that have impelled you to leave “the old country.”

7. Chile is a Spanish-speaking country. Do not expect more than 2% of Chileans, nearly all found in Northeastern Santiago and Viña del Mar-Concón, to speak English. At some point, you will have to begin conducting your life in a different language than your mother tongue.

8. Plan on learning Spanish (starting now). Doing so will be really hard, take you years to accomplish and you may have to spend up to US$1,000 per month, per person for classes or tutors for up to a year. “Get a grip” on this fact. Add the “budget item.” There are a few things you can do from the old country to learn the language prior to getting here. Follow my advice from a decade ago. It is still valid.

9. If you choose to bring a “reluctant wife” with you to Chile, she will not become less so after she is in-country. She will make you ten times more miserable as a newcomer than you would ever have been if you had come alone. Indeed, you will experience rancor, odiousness, grumpiness (maybe even mean-spirited tantrums), resentment and grief like never before. If you are smart, you will think about how to minimize this emotional cost long prior to arrival, and take the proper steps to alleviate the problem. Note: there is a chance that you will not succeed.

10. You will need to spend money in Chile and have an income from somewhere. Put your assets in offshore havens and bring ATM cards with you so you can access your cash from Chile. If you are not wealthy, you should immediately sign up to be a 51Talk teacher and get a few weeks or months under your belt, so that you will have an income upon arrival in Chile. Doing so is also great for older children that accompany you, reluctant wives needing something to do and efficient homemakers. Even if 51Talk teaching ends up only being a stop-gap measure for a couple years until you have a “real job,” it could be a lifesaver. Read more details about the job in my previous post on the subject. Alternatively, you can also bring any other internet-based business with you.

11. Chile may be “somewhere over the rainbow” but no one ever promised you a bed of roses. Grow up. Your life in large part is what you make it.

12. While you may not be responsible for your present circumstances or the need to emigrate, you are responsible to make as wise and thoughtful move as possible. Do not blame me, the instigator, if you do not comply with this directive and prepare as best you can for that life-changing transition. Also, remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Therefore, stop being lazy, fatuous and otherwise complacent when it comes to proper preparation!

cc. general file

moron file

get-a-grip committee

Kansas/rainbow crossing/deal-with-it project

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2017 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, Fourth Edition, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $129.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged 2015 book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights (somewhat outdated) found in the larger book. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

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 vuelta.

However, this year (2017) the “Right” is having a primary election for its three top contenders on Sunday, July 2nd. Besides former president Sebastián Piñera (independent, populist, center-right), the other two candidates from the Right are Senator Miguel José Ossandón (an independent, ignorant-but-popular, centrist, pragmatic populist) and Representative (diputado) left-leaning Felipe Kast (political evolution party). The most libertarian and pro-life candidate is Representative (diputado) José Antonio Kast (independent, ex-UDI). He did not get enough signatures to be on the primary ballot but will be on the November ballot.

The hard Left is participating in the primary, too, with key contenders being radio reporter Beatriz Sánchez (supported by the Humanist Party and also many left-leaning libertarians, including the Liberal Party) and sociologist Alberto Mayol (from the “wide front” coalition). The Right and hard-left primaries will narrow the candidate field a bit in November.

Since the “moderate” Left could not come to any agreement within their coalition to have a primary, their two prominent candidates: senators Carolina Goic (Christian Democrat) and Alejandro Guillier (Radical Party, also backed by the Socialist party) will both run in November. The centrist Christian Democrats are even talking about supporting the Right instead this year in the second round (if Goic does not make the cut) should favored centrist Sebastián Piñera win the Right’s primary. Morevoer, if things look bad for Goic in November, these voters might turn to Piñera in the first round instead, which might push him over the top and preclude the necessity of having a December run-off.

If you can read Spanish, see the write-up at this link where you can learn more about each of the candidates. Remember that both citizens and permanent residents (of at least five years) can vote in Chile. Permanent residents and citizens living abroad can also vote; they should contact their local Chilean consulates to find out how to do so.

At first glance, libertarians that vote should do so for José Antonio Kast. Like Ron Paul, he will likely not win. In the end, we will probably be stuck with Piñera again. He will face Guillier, Goic, José Antonio Kast and whatever other socialist, green-leaning or communist candidates that appear. If José Antonio Kast were not running, Piñera would clearly be better, in spite of his populist support for the “morning after pill” and silly labor laws used to “buy” votes.

Since the primary ballots allow voters to select either leftist or rightist candidates, some have suggested that the hard left will go to the polls in July to vote for Felipe Kast or Ossandón in order to derail Piñera and keep the Christian Democrats in the leftist fold. The center-left candidates would have a shot at beating Felipe Kast or Ossandón but would be unlikely to beat Piñera. So, the strategy makes sense.

At the moment, the Right is far ahead. Chile has endured four long years of detrimental leftist-rule and the populace is tired of it. Whichever rightist candidate wins will undoubtedly receive the support of the backers of the other rightist pretenders–just as with the Republican Party in the USA. Once again, if Goic supporters fall in with Piñera over Guillier, then it is even possible that the Right could win in the first round (la primera vuelta) of elections in November.

Achieving that would mark an historic victory for the Right and put it firmly in the political driver’s seat. For that reason, some libertarians I know will be voting for Piñera instead of Ossandón in July. They like José Antonio Kaast better, of course, but are choosing what they consider to be the best option in the primaries. Ossandón is considered to be like Ronald Reagan by some Chilean libertarians. They also see José Antonio Kast as just warming up now so that he can take the bid in 2021. Could be the case. I am no fan of Piñera. I am a libertarian. But I am a fan of Chile and I must confess that Chile will probably fare far better under Piñera than Guillier or Goic.

The bigger races to watch are, perhaps, the congressional seats in hotly contested parts of Chile, especially Viña del Mar, Concepción, Punta Arenas and some areas of south central Chile (Temuco to Puerto Montt). Iquique and Arica might also turn right if the politics are well-played and the rightest candidate is only opposed by a hard-left one.

As always, the northeastern part of Santiago will go to the Right. However, adjacent parts like La Reina, Santiago, Puente Also, Ñuñoa and Huecheraba will be, as always, in a tug-of-war between Left and Right. The same is true for Estación Central, Maipú and La Florida. The Right needs to do well in these districts if it wants to be able to shift Chile back on the right track. The Right typically forms a tight coalition in the houses of Congress, meaning that individual ideas are less important. The balance of power needs to be shifted back and recover the ground lost in 2013.

If the Right wins big like it did in last year’s mayoral races, Chile could become even more solidly libertarian and an even better place to do business. Keep a close eye on things. 2018 could be a very good year!

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2017 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, Fourth Edition, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $129.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights (somewat outdated) found in the larger book. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

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 themselves, everyone should have been in his home. (That fact might explain why there was a large, Summer-style traffic jam coming into Reñaca the evening before.) At any rate, every resident, tourist, newborn (but excluding unborn children) that was located in the home as of 00:00 on April 17th was counted as living there. Even people that died later that day were included (even if the death was prior to the arrival of the census taker).

Source

All stores were closed, at least until 8 p.m. Bus and Metro lines only ran for a couple of hours in the morning and evening in order to bring census workers to their locales. Census workers started quizzing people at 9:00 (except for homeless people, which were counted earlier before they got a chance to get up and move away). In spite of the wide publicity about the coming census, many people were still surprised when the knock on the door came. Our census taker, a young man doing military service apparently, did not arrive until after 1 p.m., and we were only the second household of the eighteen he was required to do. He was obviously behind schedule.

President Bachelet herself went to Renca (a lower middle-class comuna in north central Santiago) and personally did the census for eighteen households. She saved taxpayers 15,000 pesos, or about US$23 (supervisors got US$15 more), that would have been paid to someone else. The young man that came to our home said that he received nothing for the effort, since it was apparently part of his public service requirement.

Census questionnaires were available in Mapudungun (local Indian/Mapuche language), English, Portuguese, Creole (reflecting the growing Haitian population), French and German. The census committee wanted to make sure to correctly count tourists, new arrivals and tribal elements within the overall population. Hotel guests and passengers on trains, planes and buses were given questionnaires to complete, too, albeit with different questions than households received.

Overall, for most people, Census Day was boring and largely unproductive. Some people with small shops still opened, like my vehicle mechanic, and people with Internet-based businesses could still work. But there was little economic activity resulting from people moving around or shopping.

Many people feared (and newspapers reported) that some of the twenty-one census questions had been turned in a politically correct direction, like allowing people to declare their gender, even if different than their sex at birth. I am not sure how much traction this particular rule got, but it was annoying to read about it. Nevertheless, the census worker did not ask us our gender, but rather decided for himself that I was a man and my wife was a woman. Hence, the transgender questions were probably put “out there” for public image purposes while in reality Chileans just ignored the provision. I inquired about the matter with the young man doing the census and he just shrugged and gave me a puzzled look. Apparently, he was not gender-confused. I bet the vast majority of Chileans are not.

The “head of household” had to be declared in each home, and could be anyone age fifteen or older, regardless of gender or income. Again, in the case of our census-taker, we were never asked who headed the home, as it was evident that I did. Once again, political correctness was trumped in Chile. The gender and head of household gestures were published as a concession to leftists that ended up meaning nothing in reality.

Contestants were, apparently, allowed to remain anonymous, by only giving nicknames to census personnel. We just gave him our names when asked, since we did not find the census to be intrusive. No question was asked about household religion, as people on WhatsApp had been discussing during the week before. The only questions asked of a personal nature were one’s age, how many children he has (living or dead), one’s employment status, if he had a job last week, one’s city of birth, where one was located during the last census (in 2012), where one’s mother lived when he was born, and how many years of education one had completed.

In sum, the census was simple and hardly as contentious as some people were making it out to be. Just in case you are here in 2022, you can expect to go through the same process.

The bigger contention came late in the evening on Census Day, and the next day, when it was revealed that many people living in large buildings and certain provinces did not get counted. Scores of people wrote comments under online news stories that people were neither interviewed nor counted in places in Santiago like Maipú, Ñuñoa, Conchalí, Estación Central, Quilicura, plus provincial cities and towns like Colina, La Serena, Puerto Varas, Peñaflor, Quilpué and Ercilla. In Maipú alone, 1,358 census workers did not show up to do their job. Elsewhere in Santiago, 390 census takers did not show up in Cerro Navia (and 1,500 homes were missed) and 350 failed to do so in Pedro Aguirre Cerda (leaving 7% of homes missed). The Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas reported similar problems with absenteeism (on a lesser scale) in San Ramón, Conchalí, Cerillos, San Miguel, San Joaquín, Macul, Ñuñoa, Las Condes, La Pintana, La Granja, La Florida (where 3,000 homes were missed), La Cisterna and Huechuraba.

Like most public policies, the 2017 Census was an example of government failure. Replacements (usually bureaucrats from the municipalities) were running around the next day, and even for a couple weeks afterwards, trying to collect the missing data. Just how accurate Chilean censuses end up being is a matter for considerable debate. Academics are also upset that more questions were not asked during the push. To go to such an effort and yet only collect a paltry amount of data seemed quite wasteful to them. It is good to have it over and done with.

Fuente: Emol.com – http://www.emol.com/noticias/Nacional/2017/04/20/854989/Censo-2017-En-Maipu-1358-voluntarios-inscritos-no-llegaron-a-sus-locales-para-el-proceso.html

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

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 remarkably insignificant. And the damage that did occur was quickly repaired. Most people went to work or carried on with life as normal the next day.

Why is Chile so much more resilient to earthquakes than New Zealand or Italy, or even California or Japan? The answer lies in the fact that during the “framing” stage, the base of Chilean homes (if not the home entirely) and all office and apartment towers is made of 10-inch thick (or more) poured, reinforced concrete. Welded beams or metal framing studs are used on higher floors in homes sometimes, but the base is always sturdy. And many upscale homes feature poured, reinforced concrete on all floors.

In my project in Viña del Mar, like others in hilly coastal Chile, I carved out the hillside and embedded the building into it, making the structure even sturdier. Partially completed, it was unaffected during the 2015 8.3 Richter Scale earthquake.

People used to criticize Chile’s “wasteful” building procedures at the framing stage, which features so many costly restraining walls, deep-base concrete forms and poured reinforced walls. However, after the last decade’s earthquake experience here (and around the world), no one is hurling criticisms any longer. Chileans have done the rough-in stage right, ever since as many as 30,000 people died in the January 24, 1939 Chillan earthquake (7.8 Richter Scale), inland from Concepcion, wherein 47% of all Chillan’s structures were destroyed. That event made Chileans very safety-conscious. Consequently, one can feel quite safe during earthquakes in Chile, especially in modern urban areas.

Finish work is another story, however. I am not just referring to the overall high-level of defects permitted in the finish-out (at least by North American or European standards), which seems to predominate all Latin American buildings. Part of that imperfection is due to not having proper tools, laziness or workers just not having a culture of quality, given that workers tend to live in squalor and do not see the need for (or desire to have) nice-looking, perfect finish work.

Instead, I would like to emphasize that Chileans (especially in the middle classes) value image over true quality. They will buy kitchens that look nice for a few years but end up deteriorating rapidly as the particle board gives way. Cabinets, doors, “wood” floors and furniture are built with cheap wood products and then laminated with hardwood veneers. Laminated doors tend to be hollow. Floors are vinyl or wood veneer laminated. Imitation marble or granite are used if something other than Formica is used at all. Bathroom fixtures and accessories are almost always on the low-end of the scale. Stucco is preferred over brick or more elegant siding. Roofing is often cheap, local tile that frequently leaks. Windows tend to be the cheapest aluminum variety one can find in home building supercenters. Yards and gardens in houses and smaller buildings tend to be pathetic as if Chileans do not care or simply ran out of money to fix them up.

All is made to look good for a little while but is not built to last. Just about the only exceptions are building/home facades and apartment building foyers and lawns, which are elegant all the way around in upscale neighborhoods. They grant an air of affluence to those that stop by to visit, making them think more highly of the residents. That vanity is highly sought after in Chile.

One might think about buying a home or apartment with mediocre finish work, then gut it and put in high-quality stuff. Doing so is fine for those that plan to live there a long time and enjoy the amenities. However, being the best in the building or on the block will not necessarily translate into obtaining a greater resale value. One will not likely get his money out of the remodeled home. However, those that do remodel will enjoy both living with elegance and safety during fires or earthquakes.

Most people that I speak to that have lived outside of Chile, in Europe or North America especially, are simply appalled by mediocre finish work in supposedly upscale homes and apartments. However, my readers should not be surprised. Chileans like to buy cheap and they almost universally buy for image rather than quality. After the barrio quality, Chileans buy for proximity to private schools and being adjacent to neighbors in their social class. Ocean or mountain views come afterward in order of importance.

If you want something different than what is offered to the masses in the middle class, you will have to buy through one of the few quality builders around (like me!) or have a custom-built home done for you with the support of a good, expensive architect.

Quality materials are available here and, other than bathroom and kitchen fixtures, they are not terribly expensive relative to other countries. Custom cabinet and door makers exist, too, but the quality is not quite the same (even though it is very good). In sum, you can get what you want, but it will hardly be the norm by upper middle-class standards. Homes for the wealthy are another story, although even their mansions pale by comparison to the fabulous structures in the Northern Hemisphere.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

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 doing so being a topic of academic discussion. The relative pay scales are a bit different in Chile compared to places like the United States as well.

According to El Mercurio, a Chilean notary business can rake in well over 10 million pesos (USD $155,500) per month, although a great number must languish with only USD $100,000 per month. Even in small towns like Puerto Varas, the local notary can knock down USD $15,000 per month.

That income level is due to the fact that notary positions are lifetime monopoly grants from the government (the Ministry of Justice, related to the Appellate Court, in particular). There appears to be political favoritism and even nepotism involved in the designation of notaries, which are almost impossible to remove once installed. Indeed, prior to 1995, they could not be removed at all.

One can find siblings heading different notaries, and their children. For instance, notary Tavolari has his shop in Viña del Mar while his sister runs another notary in Valparaíso, both going under the same last name: Notaría Tavolari. One would think they are related branch office, but they are not. In some cases, the designations have been effectively hereditary, passing down to children. Furthermore, the “industry” basically is unregulated. Thus, it is an ideal business to be in!

Not surprisingly, notary designation recipients _notarios_ make a big business out of their privilege. For instance, the Fischer Notary in Viña del Mar has sixty employees and rents the entire third floor (complete with private client parking area outside) of one of the most modern office buildings in the city. It is one of the largest notaries in the country. A number of Santiago notaries are even larger.

The number of notaries in any given area is limited by decree, and this fact can cause significant problems. In Concón and Lo Barnechea, for instance, both growing, largely affluent urban areas, there is only one notary, respectively. Both are congested with slow service, just as one would expect under monopolization.

Since people can use any notary in Chile, the folks from those areas often use other notaries instead (perhaps in Viña del Mar or Las Condes) in order to get better service. People might have to do that anyway since not all notaries are competent on legal matters or able to handle all document requests. Notaries willing to sign documents in English are even scarcer.

Chilean notaries are, in large measure, a product of living in a society of great distrust and mistrust. Contracts are basically unenforceable if they are not notarized. The same is true with all incorporations, transfers of vehicles or real estate, wills, affidavits, powers of attorney, insurance payouts, as well as documents needed to work with subcontractors. With the exception of some employment contracts, a non-notarized document is essentially worthless. Photocopies of legal documents, certificates, diplomas, records, etc. are likewise unacceptable, generally, unless they are photocopied by the notary himself and stamped as being a legitimate copy.

Lately, some politicians and public figures have called the notarial system “anachronistic, bureaucratic and hardly transparent.” Rates should be standardized throughout Chile for certain services. Yet prices can vary greatly: three or four times as much in one (usually affluent) place compared to another.

A parallel monopoly institution that is beleaguered by similar problems is the county recorder equivalent in Chile (called the conservador de bienes raíces that handles the recording of real estate transactions, as well as other legal rights and company formation documents. This institution, too, is very lucrative and is spawned by political privilege or favoritism. In fact, they make much more than notaries do. Getting this position is to hit a true goldmine.

Like notaries, they have an obligation to the “public trust” to ensure the safekeeping of public records for display when necessary. Consequently, they are both custodians of public documents, making them quasi-state institutions. They both subscribe to at least one powerful lobby to protect their benefits, too.

As an expatriate in Chile, it will be impossible to avoid having to use notary services, and unlikely to miss utilizing a recorder for legal transactions. Therefore, be prepared for inefficiencies, high costs and stressful hassles when you do. Nevertheless, being mentally prepared will help you cope better.

The system actually works, despite its monopolization and inefficiency. One must simply pay the price to get the desired result.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Overview of Nightlife and Activities for Younger People

There are many reasons to live in Santiago: jobs, business and networking, modernity, large First World areas, great medical care, extensive and modern shopping, amusement parks, bowling, golf, international access/airport hub and access to language schools or many people that speak English. Other than work and business, Viña del Mar can tick most of those boxes, albeit on a much smaller scale, and what lacks is just ninety minutes away in Santiago. What Viña has over Santiago is less traffic (except during the Summertime, when it can be a bit oppressive on the coast), cooler weather in Summer, ocean views and no air pollution. The rest of Chile pales by comparison to these two spots, and thus it is no wonder that well over ninety percent of the expats we have serviced settle in either Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar.

Nevertheless, one thing that often goes unnoticed is the needs of younger, usually single people, mainly in their 20s and 30s. Most expats that we see are 45 to 65 years old. A few come with children, but most do not. For that reason, these immigrants rarely ask me about what social life is like for younger people. Other than church groups, I really do not know–being a man in his 50s that likes the quiet pleasantries of Viña del Mar. So I asked my 27-year-old son what cities he prefers to meet people, go out and have fun: restaurants, dancing, pubs, shows, casinos, soccer matches, beaches, concerts, horse racing, movie theaters, whatever.

While one observation (my son’s views) is hardly scientific, I think it could be of interest to readers since he was partly raised here and has since lived in Chile for many years, attended graduate school here and is perfectly bilingual. He also gets out a fair amount.

I asked my wife to fill in bits of information she knows about Southcentral Chile. I have a few bits of information to add to the mix, too, based on locales I have seen and activities I have witnessed during my extensive travels in Chile.

In my son’s view, Northeastern Santiago is clearly the best choice. It is a “10”. However, other places are also good or fair, while most places are mediocre or outright terrible. Here are the rankings:

10 Valparaíso/Viña del Mar on New Year’s Eve and during Festival de Viña (around February 19-28)

8 Viña del Mar during the summertime (including Reñaca and south Concón)

7 Viña del Mar during the rest of the year

6,5 Concepción

6 Pucón or Villarrica (especially) and Puerto Varas during the summertime

5 La Serena and Iquique

4 Temuco and Valdivia

3.5 Puerto Montt and Rancagua

3 All other popular lakes and beaches during the summertime, Antofagasta

2 Arica, Talca, Curicó, Linares, Chillán, Los Ángeles, Punta Arenas, Coyhaique, Osorno, Calama, Copiapó, Los Andes, Quillota, Pucón and Villarrica and Puerto Varas during the rest of the year

1 Rural areas and small towns throughout Chile, other lakes and beaches during the rest of the year.

Take the ranking for what it is worth, but at least you now have an idea of what to expect in each area of the country. My son would not live anywhere but Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar, unless (of course) he was called to work in another city. Remember, too, that even if Viña del Mar is more suitable for his parent’s generation or retirees, there is still a fair amount for younger people to do and he can easily get to spots in Santiago by bus/metro in a couple hours for Friday and Saturday night–a virtue that no other provincial urban center provides (like Concepción–too far away).

In many ways, Viña del Mar is the superior choice if a young person does not have to work in Santiago every day. He gets the benefits of nightlife in both of those cities without having to put up with the disagreeable aspects of daily life in Santiago (smog, traffic, summertime heat). Overall, it seems pretty clear that young people will tend to be most comfortable and content with social life in either Northeastern Santiago or Viña del Mar.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

A Couple of New Scams by “Friendly” Chileans

Chile is well-known for its scams.

It is society built on lying, cheating, stealing, dishonesty and deception. I do not know how I can put it more plainly. Yet, those of us raised in other cultures, even after living here many years, can still be blindsided by criminals and scammers. Thus, one can imagine how bad the situation can be for newcomers. That weakness is something profound that you should not take lightly, starting from the moment that you step off the aircraft at the Santiago airport. If you do not, beware the biblical adage: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12), because you likely will fall!

Recently, a new client of mine arrived in Chile. It was the first international trip he had taken in his life, fueled by fears of being “Trumped.” He got scammed by a taxi service, ignoring careful instructions from me, or at least not taking them seriously.

Normally, we pick up all clients personally from the airport with VIP service. However, this one had made a last-minute plane reservation and had an arrival time that conflicted with other commitments we had, thus making it necessary to find an alternative means to pick him up. The client was so worried about President Trump and the coming expected world war that he did not want to waste any time in leaving “the land of the free.” Unfortunately, he paid the price for not acting sooner and giving us a chance to better-prepare for his arrival.

Many Chilean hotel transfer drivers have long since given up writing names of arriving guests on placards. Crooks would simply look for the names that drivers had written and write them on their own placards, figuring out ways to get to the customer first. Then they would drive him off and either rob him or at the very least charge him an exorbitant amount to get to the hotel–sort of a “ransom service.” Under current practice, many hotels just hold up a placard with the logo of the hotel and the customer is instructed to look for that logo instead of their name.

Nowadays, there are pirates at the arrival gate, masquerading as airport employees. The merry thugs and thieves hire a front-man that can speak good English, providing a welcome voice to weary international travelers in a sea of foreign language confusion. Yet, sometimes bilingual Chileans are the least trustworthy, even if they wear a convincing uniform!

The tactic is simple: identify a target as he leaves the sliding glass doors at customs. Gringos are usually easy to pick out, especially when they look lost or a little tired and bewildered. Then politely ask him if he needs some assistance, noting that (the pirate) is an airport employee assigned the task of helping international travelers: a sort of “welcome to Chile” service.

In the case of my unwary client, the pirate was informed that he needed no help since he was awaiting a transfer van from the Renaissance Hotel. Then the pirate replied, “unfortunately, that van had already left.” (Literally, “he missed the bus” and was about to get bent over without knowing it was coming.) No worries, however, replied the “airport employee,” since he had other trusted taxis that would whisk him away to his destination. This sort of mishap “happens all the time,” but the airport is prepared to serve visitors caught up in such difficulties.

In fact, the hotel driver was waiting just a few meters away with his placard held up, but was never able to connect with the client. Instead, the client was quickly taken to the nearby ATM by the pirate, who explained that it was necessary to pay for service in cash, in advance. Then, the pirate took him to one of the ring’s cabbies and loaded his luggage, He was then charged four to five times the normal rate for taxi service to the hotel, and of course paid in unfamiliar cash, further confusing the tired, bewildered traveler, not quickly apt to convert between currencies or to know that the normal rate should not exceed US$25 to US$30. Also, the employee (curiously) requested a 10,000-peso “tip” (which is about one-third to one-half a day’s wages for a common worker here).

Obviously, paid employees do not normally request tips, as if they were customary and obligatory. The fact that he did, should have immediately tipped off the client. The scoundrel was probably drooling as he watched the blue bills being spit out of the ATM. Thankfully, the client arrived safely at the hotel, even though he was ripped off and the hotel was annoyed that the airport driver had to wait in vain for over an hour at the airport.

We were worried, too, and had been on the phone with the hotel driver since the time the client exited customs. Indeed, prior to that we had been on the phone with the client since the moment he got his passport stamped, trying to ease his way out. During the 2 minutes that we lost contact with the client and he left customs, the pirate got him.

The point man probably split the cab fare with the cabbie thieves. Notice that it pays to be bilingual in more ways than one! In Chile, crime pays. And P.T. Barnum’s “sucker” gets off the plane “every minute,” from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and beyond!

In another new, Samaritan-esque scam, local criminals are going around and letting the air out of people’s tires while parked. When an unsuspecting driver returns, and starts to drive off, the villain appears and points out that the driver has a pinchazo or a punctured tire. Not to worry, however, since the feigned Samaritan knows where to go to have the flat repaired. Once he leads his victim somewhere out of sight, especially if the victim has let him inside his car, he will pull a knife or gun and assault or rob his victim. Yet another reason to beware of helpful and courteous Chileans!

Furthermore, Chileans might be exporting this craft more frequently and easily in coming years. Did you know that of the 35 OECD countries, only South Korean and Chilean passport holders have visa-free travel to all G-8 countries (including Russia)? Another nice feature of Chilean citizenship, but perhaps not such a boon for the rest of the world that has just made it easier for criminals to arrive and practice their craft in new “territories.”

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s older (2014), not updated, abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

Why Should You Live in a Very Flawed Country?

Chile is dominated by about twenty families. Some have connections to the Rothschilds in Europe and others to the Rockefellers. Most have no apparent affiliation.

Still, there is no mystery about Chile’s “feudalism” or corporatism. There is no false belief that there is a land of equal opportunity or that there is no classism or that there is less corruption among politicians and bureaucrats than in other places.

Viña del Mar 2The difference between Chile and other Latin American countries is that there are more powerful elites at the top in other countries (for instance, I have heard that Mexico has only seven ruling families–but seven times the population). Plus, the Chilean elite has permitted a very large and growing middle class in Chile. In that sense there is less classism, and from what I can tell there is less corruption than most countries of the world. Indeed, Chile falls in the top twenty-five least-corrupt countries of the world, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index.

Moreover, the lower classes are “cared for” by their rulers such that all live fairly well, with adequate food, shelter, shoes, 90%+ literacy; plus, upward mobility is allowed and sometimes encouraged. Food supply is of much higher quality, as is the energy supply. And pristine natural beauty is abundant and encouraged.

Chile’s situation is similar to other vassal states like Switzerland and so many European enclaves like Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco—not to mention Hong Kong and Singapore. Generally speaking, the elite like to do business in places they dominate and crush others “below them” but choose to live in countries where there are large nicer sections and a large middle class. They all appear as wealthy countries, which are marvelous to visit and see their opulence, fine shopping, wonderful landscapes and so forth.

Most people considering emigration err by jumping to the conclusion that that since there are so few families ruling Chile then it is no better than the USA. Nevertheless, on the contrary, they fail to see the special role that the USA plays on the world scene for the Soros, Gates, Rockefeller, Rothschild, et al, networks. The war machine is a crucial piece of the overall strategy. The Fed and the (still) dominant fiat currency is another. The testing ground for any “ism”, any new theory that affects the population and needs guinea pigs, GMOs, imprisonment testing, psychological manipulation, family manipulation, police, DEA or ATF brutality, and much more, are yet other items on the agenda that make the corporatism, “feudalism” and “manorialism” in the USA far more egregious than in places like Chile.

The level of involvement that Chile and many other countries (including the smaller ones mentioned earlier) is a degree of magnitude less, if it exists at all, than what is going on in the USA. You must certainly know this fact.There are Terrorists

So why do folks keep on making lame excuses or quips to justify stupid, self-destructive behavior? Do you really believe that you are “freer” than other people, especially those that live in places like Chile? Just think about taxes, regulation, political correctness and danger you face compared to other places!

I live in Viña del Mar, overlooking the sea, pine groves and upper class structures. I do not awake each day worried that I might be mugged, murdered, or that the state will take 45% of what I earn by income, sales, property, capital gains, inflation or traffic taxes – or that the state will poison me, draft me (or my kids), shoot me by “accident” or destroy my family (family court, DSS).

In the USA I did have such worries and if you do not, then you are simply living in denial. I have not heard of any improvements since I left there in 2008. Am I mistaken?

“Oh,” you say, “but I live in Europe, Canada or Australia.” So what? Are you seriously going to say that those places are better than the USA with respect to the evil inflicted on its residents by the state?

I will also add that as bad as the current Chilean President Bachelet is, her approval rating is down to 15% and her left-wing coalition is on the ropes. We look forward to a swing to the Right in a year. On the other hand, you look forward to statist Trump most likely, otherwise sinister Hillary–elitist, power-brokering scoundrels that are hardly worse than the assorted character lineup in Europe or Australia. Do not kid yourself that you are pleased with politics in your country or do not think it matters much. It does.

In the final analysis, the question of migration never depends on whether the place you are considering going to is flawless, but rather: “Is it better, or less-flawed, than the place where you currently reside?” Those that reason otherwise are simply looking for excuses not to have to make hard personal choices, perhaps based on emotional and illogical decisions. They prefer to live in denial or an unwarranted optimism about the future of the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and even South Africa.

Can you honestly say that I am mistaken? If not, they why are you still living where you do? Or at least why do you still not have “Plan B” residence somewhere else, like Chile? Wake up and smell the coffee! While you are at it, get a copy of my new book Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers and read it. At least by informing yourself about the Chile option will be a step in the right direction.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at www.esccapeamerianow.info. Visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at Amazon.com:

Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (2006)

Bible and Government: Public Policy from a Christian Perspective (2003)

A Primer on Modern Themes in Free Market Economics and Policy (2009)

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