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Making Decent Money Teaching English to Chinese While in Chile

One problem facing non-retired newcomers to Chile is finding a way to earn money in their new environment, especially when they do not yet speak Spanish. However, one thing that native English speakers can do is teach English to Chinese (ages 4 to 60) via video chat or Skype. If you happened to have homeschooled your kids then this job will be particularly easy. Apparently, a college degree is required and some experience teaching children (but homeschooling counts!). That might knock out a few prospects, but there are ways to improvise. Maybe one could sell them on a junior college degree and teaching piano lessons or heading up a boy scout troop can be used as proxies.

There is no prep time and no commuting time; nothing to grade and no department meetings to attend. You work from home and get paid via PayPal. Plus, many advanced Chinese students, which have faced censorship throughout their lifetimes, will gleefully pay you to “free talk” with them about pro-liberty and anti-communist / anti-state books like <i>Animal Farm</i>. The company strongly prefers American and Canadian native speakers, but (from what I understand) British, Australian, South African and Kiwi applicants are not excluded, even though it will be harder for them to land the job. They also do not mind if an employee lives in Chile or any other ex-pat destination. As of October 2017, the company had 6,000 teachers, just over one-half of them filipinos, 1,900 Americans or Canadians, and 1,000 other native speakers.

Resultado de imagen para logo 51talk

The NYSE-listed company is legitimate and I have confirmed that monthly, tax-free fee payments are made to English teachers. If you can get in as a one-on-one instructor, you will start at USD $15 per hour and if you work hard at it you will be raised to USD $20 per hour in just a few months. Eventually you will top out at USD $22 per hour. However, the demand for 4-child group glasses is so high now that they are requiring new hires to go in as group teachers right off the bat at USD $18 per 45-minute class. With some hires, it is not clear that they will ever teach individuals, and thus may not be able to get raises for a longer period. It may be something to negotiate. The company provides all the online teaching materials.

It is decent money for a stay-at-home-job. After one qualifies as a group teacher and starts working, he can then branch off and do extra individual classes. In April 2017, the company had 1,400 teachers. By October 2017, there were 1,900 teachers just from North America , not counting the thousand from other English-speaking countries or the Philippines. The demand for teachers is huge among Chinese parents and adult learners, especially if for Americans or Canadians with experience. Most teachers are women and women are in greater demand than men among the Chinese, but both genders get hired.

You can work as little as 15 hours per week (nine 45-minute small group classes) or full time+ and get to select the hours and times that you work. Actually, For one-on-one teachers, the minimum requirement is that one make himself available “at least 30 hours during peak for a period of 15 days,” which translates to 15 hours per week. Peak periods are 6am to 10am (New York time/EDT), plus 10pm to 6am on Friday and Saturday nights and working all night. Making oneself available does not mean that you will necessarily be teaching or earning money. You probably will (there is a seemingly unlimited supply of Chinese learners), but the requirement is that you be in front of your computer ready to go, while you do whatever other computer work you wish, or perhaps working as a part time proofreader (search for such jobs online or go to www.flexjobs.com). If you distinguish yourself, you might be asked to teach small groups or do training assignments long term, generally working full time, at a rate of pay up to USD $26.40 per hour or more for group classes, which also pay bonuses monthly, quarterly and semi-annually.

While the job is hardly high-paying, the money goes a long way in Chile or other Latin American countries (or places like rural Italy!). One can live (or travel) anywhere with a internet connection of at least 2 mbps download, 2 mbps upload. You need to have a camera, microphone and earphones. If you are interested, please follow this signup link for 51Talk. Make sure you fill out the form completely or you will not be interviewed right away.

Who knows? You might even make some business contacts in China that lead to enriching opportunities to import goods to Chile and export Chilean natural resources to China. What have you got to lose by trying? It is like getting a backup job that you can bring to a boil during times of slow regular employment, and let simmer as a weekend/evening hobby when normal work is going well. It is also an ideal part time job for a housewife and stay-at-home mom who wants to augment family income a bit.

After trying this for a while myself, I am ready to recommend that all non-wealthy newcomers to Chile join 51Talk (or something else similar) prior to coming to Chile. They should work from their home country on the weekend or evenings as a “hobby,” and do enough work to attain the $18 or $20 per hour level (which happens after 100 hours or 325 hours of one-on-one work are successfully completed). Then, whenever they need it, they can turn it on as a full time income source, starting at USD $18-$20, when they get to Chile. It makes a lot of sense. No visa needed. No taxes. Get paid via the ATM.

Again, whenever you do not need it, you can cut back to the minimum availability of 15 hours per week. It is like having an asset in your pocket to be used at any time. That has to be worth something to many newcomers. In fact, it might make the difference between choosing to come or not. Best of all. you can make sure you like it by doing it for a few months in the home country.

P.S. There are hundreds of online ESL teaching companies, especially aimed at China, South Korea and Japan. For instance, this site lists online ESL companies all over the world. Apparently, 51talk is quite competitive. However, this is one standout worth checking on, FastSchool, which apparently pays much more ($40 or $125 per hour). If that rate were true, then more serious money can be made. However, my attempts to get meaningful communication out of them has so far been fruitless. They may not be a serious organization. For teaching Chinese children, 51Talk’s main competitor seems to be VipKid. That company apparently pays more than 51Talk but is harder to get on with. You might try them as well if interested.

P.P.S. For the 51Talk phone interview: The people that interview you do not speak perfect English. They will ask about what your teaching experience is, especially with kids. Mention homeschooling and teaching at church, scouts, whatever. Make it sound to them like you know how to teach. They will never check out anything you have said. Tell them you have a college diploma and that you are a native speaker from America/Canada (or wherever). I am not sure that dress is that important so long as you are business casual or better. Age not an issue, as far as I know. Get your Internet upload speed to at least 2mbps, then take a screenshot of speedtest.net to send them. Upgrade your internet after you get the job if necessary. You will need a résumé of sorts, as I recall. Tell them what they want to hear. How the money works: A student told me that she pays US$13.40 per half-hour (25-minute) class with Americans/Canadians, or 90 RMB Yuan. Teachers get paid as low as $7.50 to start and rise over time to as much as $11 for that same half hour, which is 82% of the class fee. By the way, she wanted to know if it was just for a capitalist to earn that increment and I told her it was. The business owner has to have (in volume) a return on his capital after paying teachers and support personnel and computational setup/expenses. The question came up while she was reading the summary of Marxist ideology in chapter one of <i>Animal Farm</i> with me, particularly old Major (Marx/Lenin’s) speech abut how people are miserable since businessmen allegedly rob them of their true due. Anyway, that is how the money part works. You need not tell the interviewer that you have this information.

P.P.P.S. I suggest that you get a TESOL or TEFL certificate of at least 120 hours of training. It is not required but will help you get the job if you have one. The TESOL is not hard to get and might help for this job or in the future. As of the time of writing, Groupon was offering the course at a 98% discount: only US$9. Click this link to purchase and then get it done. If you have any background in this stuff at all, 120 hours can be done in under 10, if not under 5. 51Talk and other places recommend (or even require) either this TESOL certificate or the TEFL, so it would seem like a good use of time to get it, especially at a 98% discount.

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)

Quiet Townhouses with Ocean View in Reñaca

QUIET LIVING! Beautiful Ocean View in the World’s Best Climate!

Unit N°1 (156m2/1,948sf + 40m2/430sf covered terrace/balcony) 2 stories, 4 bedrooms, 4,5 bathrooms, hardwood kitchen with green granite, 3 big closets and high-up kitchen storage, very large terraces, open-air private Jacuzzi, two parking spaces and large storage unit (10m2), in-floor heating, solar heating system.

Unit N°2 (107m2/1,151sf) 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 5 big closets and high-up kitchen storage, balcony, two parking spaces and large storage unit (9m2), hardwood kitchen with green granite, in-floor heating, solar heating system. Dining area can be enlarged 8m2/85sf and include visitor’s half bath (additional cost approx. USD10,000). 

Unit N°3 (100m2/1,076sf) 1 level, 2 bedrooms (one of which is a large living room that converts to a bedroom with two Murphy beds, American kitchen, 3 bathrooms, 3 hardwood shelves/”closets” and laundry area, very large terrace on garden level, one parking space.

New building with three units (or townhouses). All are for sale. A 50% interest is available in N°3, permitting a 60/40 split of rental income and providing a Chilean address and place to live for some/most of the March through December (except Easter weekend, July 15-August 5 and September 15-21). Price for a share in that one is 2,900 UF or half of USD 244,000.

The townhouse for sale is perfect for newcomers from North America or Europe.

Unit N°1 PRICE 10,500 UF (280 million pesos on September 26, 2017) USD 440,000

Unit N°2 PRICE 6,200 UF (165 million pesos on September 26, 2017) USD 260,000

Unit N°3 PRICE 5,800 UF (155 million pesos on September 26, 2017) USD 244,000

Units N°1 and N°3 can be combined to make a much larger 3-story townhouse.

2% discount for cash purchase. Buyer pays all closing costs, including notary, legal and any realtor fees.

50% discount on property taxes for ten years (government discount under law DFL-2)

Very low monthly community fees: 2UF in units N°3 and N°2 and 3.5 UF in N°1. +1 UF extra each until for the first 24 months.

Note: The UF is an inflation-indexed currency surrogate that is used in Chile for major purchases and loans. It has a value in pesos that changes daily according to inflation. For example, 0n April 1, 2017, one UF was worth 26,472 pesos (about US$39.69). [UF = 26.650 pesos on Sept. 26, 2017.]

Here is the view:

La gran puesta del sol 31 julio 2015 edificio los arándanos de Reñaca Cobin puesta del sol 31 julio 2015 edificio los arándanos de Reñaca Cobin20150525_185940

Puesta del sol desde los Almendros 1 agosto Los Arándanos de Reñaca Cobin parte 2

Puesta del sol desde los Almendros 1 agosto Los Arándanos de Reñaca Cobin

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IMG_20150108_175356

 Nov 1st sunset

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LOCATION – LOCATION – LOCATION

The location of the new townhouse in northwestern Los Almendros, a highly desirable section of Reñaca, a sector of Viña del Mar.

Street address is José Suárez 185, Reñaca, Viña del Mar,

Longitude/latitude to find the lot with Google Earth: 32°58’00.00″ S  71°31’26.10″ W.

Viña del Mar has been named the city with the best climate in the world on EscapeArtist Chile. It is similar to coastal Southern California. Also see this article that I wrote on Viña del Mar, this one includes Valparaíso and this one that I wrote on Reñaca Beach in 2014. Others that might interest you include:

PLANS

Townhome N°2 is highlighted in yellow in the drawings (designated as “Depto 2”), Like Townhouse N°1, it is two stories and thus is on two different drawings. It is the one indicated as 105.6 meters squared on the plan legend, 107 meters squared if one counts the deep end of the large downstairs closet in the count (1,151 square feet). The deck for Townhouse N°2 is 3.5 meters squared (37 square feet). Townhouse N°1 has a 15m2 balcony and a 25m2 terrace. Townhouse N°3 has a garden terrace of approx. 50m2.  The storage unit (bodega), which could be converted into more living space or an office, is 9 meters squared (97 square feet) for Townhouse N°2 and 10m2 for Townhouse N°1. Both of these later features make the effective living area larger. Some people might consider enclosing the outside flower bed outside Townhouse N°2, enlarging the dining area by 64 square feet, adding a visitor’s half bath and possibly making the balcony larger.

A lot of Americans cannot imagine living in such a “small” space but once in Chile, like Europe or Japan, one gets quite used to living in smaller spaces comfortably, especially when there are common areas for BBQs, grassy yard with fruit trees and view decks, plus large, high-ceiling storage shelves and cabinets, in addition to the square footage for the apartment itself.

Looking down to the apartment from the street, it can be seen at the top of the drawing (for reference, the public area with marble sidewalk starts where the dashed line is indicated, the building property being to the right of it). Looking up at it from the ocean, it is on the upper right with the large view windows of the living room and master bedroom visible in the drawings.

Look at the architectural plans below, which can be downloaded as PDF files and printed. The parts labeled “Bodega” are storage areas, and one has been converted to the maid’s quarters or a fourth bedroom with full bathroom (Townhouse N°1). They have 2.87 meter (about 9.5 foot) ceilings and two go all the way to the property line, seen on the plans as a dashed line (right underneath the parking space, one highlighted in light blue). The rest of the top floor likewise has high ceilings. The apartment comes with two parking spaces, highlighted in yellow in the plans. Visitors can easily park on the street or in the large cul-de-sac, too. The lower floor, back and sides are made of solid reinforced concrete construction, as is the bodega and spine of the upper floor, with welded metal and metal framed (like one would find in low-rise office buildings) and stuccoed construction for the rest, Townhouses N°1 and N°2 share a common wall.

The yellow highlighting shows the kitchen, living and dining room and bedrooms and bathrooms. The outside landing and bodega that pertain to Townhouse N°2 are shaded in other colors.

The street-level, marble rooftop is a common area for gatherings and viewing, especially things like the famous New Years Eve fireworks displays over the port of Valparaíso and other shows over Viña del Mar, Concón and Reñaca. (This area is mixed with the parking area.) The small amount of land that “by law” goes with the apartment by law is not estimated in the highlighting.

Click on the links for each plan image to enlarge it. You can open, print and/or download a clean PDF version of the plans.

nivel-0 PDF here Street level with view deck (commons) and parking spaces, solar heating

 piso-0

nivel-1 PDF here Top floor (kitchen, laundry, living room, dining room, balcony, bodega)

piso-1

nivel-2 PDF here Lower floor (bedrooms, bathrooms and closets)

piso-2

nivel-3 PDF here Lower floor and garden area (commons)

piso-3

VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

The townhome is in a building that features 240 square meters of elegant marble flooring–2,582 square feeet! Residents even park on marble. It is quite elegant and makes the owners feel proud of their home. Much of the marble is on the view deck and staircase, both of which are shared or common areas.

Note: Videos show some debris/incompleteness becasuee they were taken prior to building completion.

View deck and blueberry plants up top

Parking area and View deck

Walk to front door from lawn/garden area below

Marble entrance from street and parking area down to front door Townhouse N°2

Kitchen Townhouse N°2 similar to other kitchens

Climb staircase Townhouse N°2

Master bedroom starting at bathroom Townhouse N°2

Master bedroom starting from hall Townhouse N°2

Study or small bedroom and other bedroom Townhouse N°2

Second bathroom Townhouse N°2

Banister and walk down Townhouse N°2

Cozy living room dining room Townhouse N°2

Kitchen Townhouse N°2

 

Neighborhood

View from up top

Looking down from view deck

Storage unit Townhouse N°2

Garden 

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FEATURES

° solid hardwood (lenga) interior doors, stairway, hand railing

° spacious custom closets, in Townhouses N°1 and N°2, with storage room under the stairs and high up in the kitchen, too, plus the bodega outside.

° black marble entrance way in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° hardwood (raulí, cedar o lenga) kitchen cabinets with green granite countertops.

° custom (mostly hardwood) bathroom cabinets with green granite or brown marble countertops

° upgraded bathrooms with European fixtures, one with Jacuzzi tub in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° carved-out of the hillside lawn and garden (common areas) on flat area; dramatically cutting wind and any noise, and creating greater earthquake security.

° internal rainwater irrigation support system to reduce plant watering costs

° in-floor radiant heating system in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° video phone/camera gate opening system; four exterior security cameras with video feed to household computers.

° solar energy supplement for vital systems and hot water boost in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° higher ceilings, 9.3 feet on bottom floor, narly 10 feet on top floor in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° engineered cherry wood flooring with areas of porcelain flooring (especially in  in Townhouses N°3 but in all kitchens).

° solid reinforced concrete base and perimeter with and welded metal internal structure, lessening potential dampness problems.

° PVC thermopane windows and terrace door with quiet insulation (Germany).

° Ecological surroundings with 150 blueberry plants and seven different fruit trees plus flowers and summertime fruits and vegetables such as watermelons and tomatoes.

There is only one other year-round resident next door. In the summer there could be carefully-chosen renters in the townhouse below. The environment is very quiet.

 

COMPETITIVE PRICING

This price is competitive for this upscale (class “B-“) area of northwestern Los Almendros de Reñaca. In upper middle class (“C1”) areas of Reñaca, used houses or apartments (even without a view) average 1.3+ million pesos per square meter. Along the coastline, prices are nearly double. The upscale section of Los Almendros tends to be priced in between. The pricing of these units is commanded for its construction quality, its cozy setup with only one other full time family in the building rather than one unit among dozens in a larger building, the fact that it is impossible to obstruct the view, the fact that no elevator is required, the high quality of surrounding homes (some of which are 500m2 to 750m2), and the advantage of having a dwelling that is brand new without any wear and tear or earthquake history.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis?

The building in construction suffered no damage whatever from the September 16, 2015 earthquake (8.4 Richter Scale, epicenter 95 miles north) and hundreds of subsequent aftershocks (more than a dozen of them over 6.0 Richter Scale up to 7.6 Richter Scale). The townhome is safely located at about 124 meters or 410 ft. above sea level, and therefore there is no tsunami threat. Hurricanes have never threatened Chile.

Did we mention LOCATION?

The townhome is located exactly 2km to the Tottus Express supermarket and the many banks, restaurants, mail services, hair salons and shops in Reñaca, and 7km to the Jumbo and Líder Express supermarkets and the strip malls of Concón. The casino and restaurants of Viña del Mar are about 15 minute’s drive. You can see some images of the Reñaca and Concón commercial areas below.2014-01-30 21.10.31

The area is booming with new construction and roadways, making an increase in property value likely. The bus stop for line 607 is only 300 meters away, making it easy for the maid to get to work, or for renters or others to get to the store or the beach. The local bus fare is around 300 pesos or 43 US cents local travel and 68 US cents to central Viña del Mar or Valparaíso. Line 607 comes by every 10-20 minutes (until 9pm/10pm in Summer) and goes to Reñaca, the nice areas and malls in Viña del Mar (and close to the Santiago connections via the Viña del Mar bus terminal) and Valparaíso.

These images are taken from the top of the lot during the day, at sunset and at dusk. The apartment has parking and access from the street level where the photographs were taken and then the owner will walk down a flight of stairs to his apartment entrance. That means that the apartment’s second story will be below street level.

2014-02-14 20.28.47 2014-02-14 20.31.37

COMPARATIVE SHOPPING

Online searching for properties in Reñaca will reveal a wide range of prices that reflect variables like (a) ocean view, (b) proximity to the beach (good for summer, if one can take the summer and long weekend traffic jams, but not for household humidity the rest of the year), (c) proximity to local transportation, schools and shopping, (d) age of the house and its surroundings (including its earthquake experience), (e) physical condition and/or remodeling needs, (f) ability to escape from summer and long weekend traffic jams, (g) tsunami safety, (h) busy-ness of the residential street or loud nightlife parties, (i) adequate parking (for owner and visitors) and storage, and (j) the desirability of the neighborhood in which a property is located (including the quality of surrounding homes, nearby parks, etc.).

There is a link below to an article I wrote about the best neighborhoods in Viña del Mar. The rule of thumb price for newer homes in nicer neighborhoods without ocean views is 1.3 million pesos per square meter. This property obvious offers much more and thus should fetch over 2 million pesos per square meter. It is a good deal and a place you will enjoy coming home to. 100_3591

For example, these “cookie cutter” tract homes 1km down the street in the “C1” section of Los Almendros are selling for ~US$250,000. The location is nice, but there is no view of the ocean, and the homes are of noticeably lower quality.

LAYOUT

In the drawing with the windows, the apartment is on the upper right side (as seen from the ocean). It is an inverted “T” shape, wider on the first floor (-2) than the protruding, twice as long (deep) second floor (-1) with its obviously independent roof-line. The architect put figurines on the apartment’s deck in the drawings above.

Layout details: 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, big-windowed living room and dining area (white PVC thermopane), kitchen, marble entrance with a garden where flowers and shrubs can be put in, or it may be converted into more living space or a Jacuzzi; a deck for outdoor relaxation or place to put your BBQ on the street level or on the garden level below, large storage area (bodega) and parking space. Radiant floor heating and solar panel support. The bottom floor (-2) has the master bedroom with bathroom, another bathroom and two other bedrooms, one of which could be used as a study or a den. The apartment is located on a secure cul-de-sac and thus has no significant traffic or loud parties.

NO ELEVATOR REQUIRED

Yes! No elevator is required, which is an advantage given that this is technically a townhouse or condo setting. You will have to take stairs one level down from the parking area and front gate, a walkway which could be beautifully lined with flowers. Remember that in Viña del Mar, flowers grow like weeds. You can already see the garden setting that has been put in, along with a rainwater collection system with 13,000 liters of irrigation storage.

WHAT YOU GET FOR THE PRICE


Finish work:
  • “Porcelanato” and engineered cherry wood floors 
  • Hardwood interior doors and entry door.
  • Walls painted in a neutral tone in Townhouse N°2 with white crown moldings, other in Townhouses N°1 and N°3 have green walls and some colored rooms.
  • Central heating and water heating system with solar heating support and solar backup for pumps and key outlets in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Cherry colored wood baseboards
  • Hardwood (lenga) hand railings, stairs in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Bedrooms with closets, except Townhouse N°3 that has open hardwood shelving.
  • Kitchen with tall, hardwood-faced cabinets (not typical in Chile)  in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Bathrooms with upgraded tile floor and toilet, sink and tub/shower in one bathroom, spa tub in the other.
  • The bottom floor and back half of the first floor is made of reinforced concrete (hormigón), with the remainder being thermically-efficient steel beam framed on concrete backing, nestled against the hillside. 
  • Efficient LED light fixtures are included, which is not typical for Chile.
  • Wider oven in Townhouses N°1 and N°2., dishwasher, modern faucets, gas range and hood; gas dryer connection ready in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • No curtains or blinds are included.
  • Some appliances are included: range, hood, sink, wash basin.

Note: Central heating is installed in the floors in Townhouses N°1 and N°2, but air conditioning is not needed in Reñaca.  in Townhouses N°3 uses a portable heater and has a natural gas Calefont water heating unit

AGAIN: WORLD’S BEST WEATHER

The EscapeArtist Chile mentioned above referenced this article online from a weather expert that says that Viña del Mar has the best weather and climate for humans in the world.

LANDSCAPING

Landscaping is not included in the main entrance way flower bed but is provided everywhere else on the property. Flower gardens are easy in this climate. The backyard has grass, flowers, blueberry bushes and fruit trees planted (cherry, apple, pear, minature lemon, orange, two avocados, fig), along with some occasional vegetables. The main home and apartments are not built on fill.

RESERVE THE PROPERTY WITH 15% DOWN

You can reserve one of these properties with a non-refundable deposit of 25% down.

The Chilean tax IDs are 3032-564 for townhome N°1 and 3032-568 plus 3032-569 for its bodegas (storage units). The Chilean tax IDs are 3032-565 for townhome N°2 and 3032-567 for its bodega (storage unit). The two in-line parking spaces assigned to each of these units do not require a separate tax ID. The Chilean tax ID is 3032-566 for Townhome N°3. It has only one parking space and no bodega.

Chilean residents can go to a bank and borrow the full amount for the property.

LOW CONDO FEES

“Gastos comunes” (condo fees) will be much lower than typical properties. The apartment will have its own property tax account, its own water, internet/TV, phone, gas and electricity bills.

The apartment owner will pay to keep up his terrace, electric gate opener, gate or fence damage, pipes and wiring maintenance or repair and walkway/patio repairs or changes.

A fund used to pay for the following common exterior items will be created:

  • Painting of walls and front gate or fencing
  • Wall and roof repair
  • Rain gutter upkeep
  • Sewage pump maintenance and replacement every 2-3 years
  • Lawn, flowers and tree/bush/plant irrigation
  • Lighting in common areas
  • Solar systems maintenance

The main property owner (Townhouse #1) will be in charge of having this work done when it is needed.

The charge will be UF2 every month, for Townhouses N°2 and N°3 which is about US$78, and UF 3,5 in Townhouse N°1. It will need to be deposited by you directly into a designated bank savings account. Instead of paying the low condo fees in this apartment, people that buy other apartments (condos) in buildings frequently pay more than $1,250 per quarter.

A lien will be placed against the property for the amount due, a penalty of 10% extra for each month the payment is late, and interest charged at 20% per year. In addition, the Townhouses N°1 and N°2 buyer agrees that his bodega titles will be forfeited after one year of not paying this small maintenance fee. Obviously, the penalty is large just to make sure that the apartment owner never falls behind.

The repairs and upkeep will be done when needed with no specific time frame. Should there be a major problem like dry rot or weather/earthquake damage, the costs of repair will be shared proportionally. This cost is above and beyond the UF 2 /3.5 charge every month.

All owners will agree to maintain fire and earthquake insurance on the property. This coverage should offset many repair costs due to fire or weather.

Please keep in mind that there are technically three living units in the building but one family will be using two of them, unless one of those units is rented or even sold later on. This is a pretty intimate relationship that family will share with the apartment purchaser.

RESTRICTIONS

The apartment owner will agree to make sure that the colors and materials remain uniform. The restrictive covenants have been recorded with the Chilean equivalent of the county recorder, called the Conservador de Bienes Raíces.

The buyer will also agree that no loud parties will take place, especially after midnight, by himself or by renters.

LOW MAINTENANCE EXTERIOR

The brick exterior will be as low-maintenance as possible for a pacific coastal climate.

The small roof area is covered with “estate grey” color asphalt shingles.

The double-pane windows are white PVC window frames from Germany, providing high security and energy efficiency. They provide a quiet interior, too.

RENTAL INCOME

Also note that the apartment owner has full rights to rent out his apartment, of course, which can be quite lucrative in Reñaca during the summer months Dec. 26th to March 5th, and still possible after those months at at least 50% occupancy. Furnished places can get around 2 million pesos per month in the Summer if administered well (USD 100-150 per night), especially in January and February, and also good rent during the week prior to Easter, the last two weeks of July (winter break) and the week around Chilean independence (September 18th). The best ways to rent out a Townhome are with Booking.com or Tripadvisor.com. During the non-summer months, people from Santiago also come and rent furnished places for about the same rate, viz. once again, in mid to late July (winter break), Easter week, long weekends around May 1st, May 21st and October 31st-November 1st, as well as the week around Independence Day (September 18th). So there are other rental opportunities during the year from Chileans. A market also exists to rent to foreigners that visit Chile for short periods. In general, one can expect 90% occupancy and full price during the summer, and about 30% less with 50% to 70% occupancy during the rest of the year, on average.

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For those that want to keep a unit as a full-time rental all year, many people rent to university students, maybe 5 students to an apartment, for $175 per month each, during the rest of the year. But doing so is probably not going to yield as much as using online services.

Bear in mind that the owner is responsible to make sure that renters agree not “to party” or make lots of noise, especially after midnight.

Others keep their coastal apartments open for their own use during the rest of the year. Viña del Mar is a great place to live year-round and one might consider doing so or leaving it open for weekend use even if they live in Santiago most of the time.

Another choice is to live in northwestern Los Almendros de Reñaca from March through December and then rent the house for the summer while the owner rents a place down by the southern Chilean lakes and mountains or travels abroad. A very pleasant option for those that like to travel!

WINTER HUMIDITY

There is some humidity problem in this location during the wintertime that can easily be dealt with by running dehumidifiers. Listen to the evidence from the market. Locals tend not to live close to the beach for a reason, and lower price is not the only one. They want to avoid even higher humidity indoors. Townhouses N°1 and N°2 are designed to reduce dampness even further with partial steel beam framing.2014-04-26 19.26.15

TAX BREAK

Because the property is new construction and under 140m2, Chilean law DFL-2 provides for a 50% reduction in property taxes for 10 years. I do not know what the effective taxes will be, but I am guessing that they will initially be around 70,000 pesos (US$125) per quarter. They could be less.

If you are interested, please send an email to osorno7@earthlink.net or call +56-32-3277712.

Here are some other images of the area. The neighborhood park, near the bus stop, is just 300 meters from the apartment.

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 Houses in the neighborhood (seen in the photos below), across the street, have between 400 m2 and 750 m2, or around 4,300 sq. ft. to 8,000 sq. ft., while adjacent apartments tend to be around 140 m2 or 1,500 sq. ft. The cul-de-sac located apartment you will be buying is located in good company for sure!

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See a couple photos of local buses below, running through Reñaca sector, the first one being number 607, stopped at the little plaza near the property.

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Strip malls, the small Reñaca mall and other nearby shopping and services, including the new Tottus Express supermarket, all less than 2 kilometers away.

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 The Reñaca area offers all the conveniences of life: restaurants, supermarkets with a wide variety of goods, beauty salons, banks, mail services, money and exchange services, appliance stores, fast food, stationery stores, and more:

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If you’re seriously interested in this wonderful opportunity, send an email or fill out the form below and I’ll get back with you as soon as possible. Please don’t use this form for any other purpose.

Important New (Mostly Bad) Legislation in Chile

Besides the imminent opening of the new Metro Line 6 in central Santiago, and the fabulous season-end flop of the Chilean national soccer team, along with the upcoming presidential and congressional elections on November 19, 2017, hardly anything has been more polemical than the controversial, new legislation that has passed, which has been recently affirmed and is now being implemented by the Chilean Left. Indeed, the Left is making its mark before losing power, and the resulting tattoo is bad for Chile.

First, the least-pernicious change: as of September 2018, Chile will have a 16th region. The new region of Ñuble will be split off the north end of the 8th Region (Concepción) and will thus be comprised of only about 440,000 inhabitants. Nearby regions have almost twice that amount. The provincial capital will be Chillán. It is still unclear how this new region will benefit the Left, other than that it creates a whole new level of bureaucracy and wastethings that leftists typically love—and this new region will have its own legislators—although it is unclear that they will be from the Left, given that the central valley farm belt towns do not tend to vote leftist.

Second, Chile is no longer a pro-life country, at least not in legal practice. The Left has successfully subverted the Constitution. The Chilean Constitution of 1980, Chapter 3, Article 19, Paragraph 1 says that, “La constitución asegura a todas las personas el derecho a la vida y la integridad física y psíquica de la persona. La ley protege la vida del que está por nacer.” That affirmation means, “The constitution ensures all persons the right to life and their physical and mental integrity. The law protects the life of the unborn.” [Emphasis added]

Yet, in spite of Chile’s constitutional provision to protect life from the point of conception, the Left rammed a bill through the Chilean Congress that permits abortion in the three cases of (1) the life of the mother being in jeopardy, (2) the baby being deformed or defective and (3) rape. The Right challenged the new legislation in constitutional court and just recently lost. (Chilean judges tend to be leftists.) As a result, just like in the United States, the Constitution simply does not matter. By extension, Americans should be put on notice that even obtaining a right to life amendment to the U.S. Constitution would have little or no effect on saving the unborn in the face of leftist meddling and manipulation.

What’s worse, the rule allows women to self-declare or self-proclaim that they were raped, without evidence, in order to obtain an abortion. They do not have to report the rape to the police, ask the fiscal (District Attorney) to prosecute the named aggressor or be certified as having been raped by a doctor (with a sample of residual semen and DNA taken). Chilean culture is full of lying and mistrust, of course, and thus this new legislation has virtually achieved the same openness toward abortion on demand as found in North America, China and Europe.

The policy is a real tragedy for Chile and liberty, as innocent unborn human beings can now be slaughtered with impunity. The fact that a child’s father is a horrible man (or even a criminal) should not lead to the unborn human being compelled to die, in order to adjudicate the crime of another. Doing so is inherently cruel and certainly anti-libertarian.

Obviously, the mother should be compensated by enslaving the perpetrator for 18 or 23 years, or more, once the legal facts are established and the accused is found guilty. But killing an innocent party for the crime of another cannot be just. The internet has many videos and articles featuring adults that were generated as a result of rape. I suggest you watch one or two of them. Nevertheless, the rape issue matters little in the Chilean case, since the “rape” exception is just a leftist ruse to permit a backdoor means of limitless abortion on demand.

There is some hope that the rule will change once the Right is back in power and once Chileans realize that the rule allows de facto abortion on demand. At least very few, if any, “doctors” are stepping up to the plate to start the murderous racket so far. Abortion is not widely approved of in Chile. Even so, one of the things I have liked most about Chile as a libertarian has been trashed: very negative news indeed.

Third, the famous binomial parliamentary election system in Chile has been replaced, both houses of Congress have been redistricted, and the number of diputado and senado seats have been increased by approximately 30%, from 120 to 155 and 38 to 50, respectively These changes will likely favor the Left by removing the binomial protection of minority interests.

Under the new system, individual parties will continue to form coalitions. The highest vote-getter in each coalition will serve as a benchmark, with the second place candidate being assigned a value of one-half of the benchmark, the third place candidate a value of one-third, the fourth place candidate a value of one-fourth and the fifth place candidate a value of one fifth of the benchmark. This method was developed by D’Hont.

After the final scoring is tabulated for all coalitions, the score sheets are merged and winners are assigned from each coalition. Since some places in Chile are dominated by the Left (mainly) or the Right, one can expect that the benchmark value for the favored party will be so high that the opposition parties will hardly be able to have their top vote-getters exceed 50%, 33%, 25% or even 20% of the favored party’s benchmark figure. Thus, in some places, it is evident that four or five seats (maybe more in some congressional districts?) will go to the dominant coalition’s candidates.

New senator counts: Smaller regions will have only two senadores: 15th (Arica), 1st (Iquique), 3rd (Copiapó), 16th (Chillán), 11th (Coyhaique) and 12th (Punta Arenas). Middle-sized ones will have three: 2nd (Antofagasta), 4th (La Serena), 6th (Rancagua), 8th (Concepción), 14th (Valdivia) and 10th (Puerto Montt). Larger regions will have five: the Santiago Metropolitan area, 5th (Valparaíso), 7th (Talca) and 9th (Temuco). One-half of all senators and all congressmen are elected during each presidential election cycle.

New congressmen counts: Extreme northern and southern regions will have only on district with three diputados: 15th (Arica), 1st (Iquique), 11th (Coyhaique) and 12th (Punta Arenas). Of the remaining regions, smaller-sized ones will have one district with five of them: 2nd (Antofagasta), 3rd (Copiapó), 16th (Chillán) and 14th (Valdivia). The 4th (La Serena) has one district, too, but with seven diputados. Middle-sized regions will have two districts with varying numbers of congressmen: eight in each of the two for the 5th (Valparaíso), five in one and four in the other in the 6th (Rancagua), seven in one and four in the other in the 7th (Talca), eight in one and five in the other in the 8th (Concepción), seven in one and four in the other in the 9th (Temuco) and five in one and four in the other in the 10th (Puerto Montt). The Santiago Metropolitan area has seven districts, two with eight congressmen, two with seven, two with six, and one with five.
In total, there will be 29 congressional districts across the 16 regions of Chile (as of September 2018), of which 7 (24.1%) pertain to the Santiago metropolitan area. The Santiago metropolitan area has 30.3% of all Chilean congressmen, the 5th Region (Valparaíso/Viña del Mar), 10.3%, and the 8th Region (Concepción/Talcahuano), 8.4%. Some fear that the new distribution and gerrymandering will benefit the Left, but it is still unclear how, except that they might possibly pick up extra seats in heavily-leftist areas of the country under the D’Hont system.
The system does benefit libertarian independent candidates significantly, since they can gain a seat in Congress with just 11% of the vote in the largest districts of Santiago and the 5th and 8th regions, and 25% in the smallest districts, with 13%, 15%, 17% or 20% needed in districts with sizes in between. Under the previous system, independents needed 5% more votes (e.g., 30% in smaller districts) to have a shot. It would be nice to get a true libertarian in the Chilean Congress from central or northeastern Santiago, Viña del Mar, Concón, Temuco, Villarrica, Pucón or San Pedro de la Paz!
Fourth, a stupid new gender rule has been imposed upon political parties and coalitions, requiring that all coalitions have at no more than 60% of their candidates from one gender. Noncompliance will result in all the candidates from the offending coalition being removed from the ballot. As a special incentive, the government (taxpayer) will award UF500 (US$21,400) to a party for each female candidate that it successfully gets elected. In addition, the victorious woman will get a prize from the state of UF0.01 (US$0.43) for each vote she received, which may be used to reimburse campaign expenses. This sort of blatant feminist public policy is nothing less than sickening, and bodes poorly for Chile.
Finally, here is a legal change from back in 2014 that I have not gotten around to reporting until now: personal bankruptcy is now possible in Chile. Before that year, only companies could file for bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcy may be declared once every five years. I view this as a positive step, especially in a country where credit card and personal/consumer loan (“signature”) debts can all now be secured eventually by real property. That’s right: there is no such thing as unsecured debt in Chile insofar as banks and credit institutions are concerned. By charging exorbitant interest rates for such products, those institutions get to have their cake and eat it, too.
On balance, other than this last bit of bankruptcy legislation, none of these new rules bodes well for Chile. Even though the country stands head and shoulders above other nations of the world in terms of possible ex-pat destinations, it appears that it should now be knocked down a bit.
Time will tell if the new 16th Region and the new parliamentary election rules will end up being negative or positive on balance. The first test will come during the November 2017 elections. We will also see if the evil or stupid abortion and feminist policy rules stand up under the expected right-leaning government to come. So, do not be so quick to cross Chile off your list of country candidates. Other places are still much worse. And some things might actually improve in Chile yet! Thankfully, the current mood is very anti-Left.

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:

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, food, taxes and health care. Cost of living is often used to compare how expensive it is to live in one city versus another locale. Cost of living is tied to wages, as salary levels are measured against expenses required to maintain a basic standard of living throughout specific geographic regions.

Accordingly, newcomers from Paris, London, New York and Hong Kong will find Chile to be relatively inexpensive, albeit with lower salary expectations, while people from places like small town Italy, rural New Zealand and many places in the USA and Canada located outside of major cities will find it to be extraordinarily expensive. The same thing is true when people from those places travel to other spots in the world that feature a significant cost of living disparity.

Sometimes, normally rational people, make rather irrational judgments based on limited data. For example, newcomers to Chile from the USA see that gasoline costs much more in Chile and then extrapolate that the overall cost of living is higher in Chile. This conclusion is false. By the same logic, Venezuela and Bolivia, where gasoline supposedly costs fifteen U.S. cents per gallon, must be extraordinarily cheaper places to live than in the USA, where gasoline is “excessively” expensive. However, this reasoning is erroneous. Other things in those countries are not cheap. Living in the Third World is cheaper for a lot of things but the added costs of bodyguards, criminal threats, political unrest, unsanitary conditions, etc. have to be factored into the equation.

Can I fairly judge that the USA or Finland are excessively expensive for wine since I pay US$4 for the same bottle Chile that people in those countries pay US$25 or US$40? One must look at overall cost of living in Chile verses those other countries without getting caught up in extrapolating on the prices of individual products, whether they be cheaper (e.g., medical care, vegetables, yogurt, pharmaceuticals, maid service) or more costly (e.g., gasoline, peanut butter, boxed cereals, power tools). Also, to be fair and consistent, one should never compare cost of living in small town Italy or Arkansas verses a major metro area like Santiago. Instead, use Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Milan, Berlin, Hong Kong, Sydney or Singapore as a baseline. Should anyone be surprised to know that living in Chicago, San Francisco, Munich, Barcelona or Geneva costs more than it does in Mobile, Little Rock, Porto, Cuneo or Salerno?

Some items that make up our standard of living should also be considered within any discussion of cost of living. For instance, what is the value of having an ocean or maintain view from your living room window? What is the value added by having a Mediterranean climate? What is the benefit of having a maid that does all your cooking, cleaning and laundry? Does having a year-round garden appeal to you? How about a much lower probability of being mugged, murdered, drafted, bombed or accidentally shot by cops? Let’s not forget to consider the level of air and water pollution, or overall food quality. Or maybe add the proximity to good medical care, a professional baseball stadium or world-class theater, not to mention living in strong buildings, with great internet service and quality interurban highways all around.

In other words, any analysis is deficient that simply compares only the cost of living in a place without also considering the amenities which influence our standard of living and quality of life. With most of the aforementioned items, Northeastern Santiago and Viña del Mar, Chile provide far more to augment one’s standard of living than can be found in most metro areas of over one million population around the world. The same can be said of Auckland and some other places, but not many others. For many people, it is worth paying more to have a better environment and certain amenities.

Nevertheless, cost of living still serves as a good starting point. After all, newcomers must be able to survive. If they have no accumulated wealth, they can create portable income by becoming a 51Talk online English teacher with a decent salary, most likely tax-free. After having money to spend, they will likely want to avoid paying higher living costs. At this point, many newcomers become frustrated by the price of “little” items. Perhaps the following remarks will help keep things in perspective and alleviate frustrations about living in Chile for the fist couple of years.

One newcomer recently told me, “Prices are by far the most demoralizing thing about Chile.” I suggested that he read the chapter on cost of living in my book Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers. He needed to get the “big picture.” Many smaller items are more expensive in Chile but many larger budget items are not. His frustrations and worries were based more on emotion than rational analysis. Do not make the same mistake.

It is always good to answer questions and concerns rationally when it comes to the relative cost of products and overall cost of living, especially when the products in consideration make up a small percentage of our overall spending in any five-year period. For instance, how much contact lens solution does one buy a year? Even if it is significant, are there alternative means to get it cheaper? Can you have it shipped to you via Amazon and pay the 25% duty in Chile and still come out ahead? Do the same exercise with peanut butter, pliers, shoes and alarm clocks. It is not more expensive to live in Chile. You simply have to change your way of doing things from what you used to do. Try ordering smaller things online or stocking up on them while on trips to Europe or the USA and even pay an extra suitcase fee to bring them back (you might save enough to cover the costs of the flight!).

A household’s biggest budget items are housing, insurance and taxes. Those costs are all going to be reduced dramatically in Chile, even as a percentage of income, dwarfing any extra costs one has for “little” things. Food, transportation and education are important second category items. Depending on how one handles them (mode, selection, quality, etc.), and where one chooses to live, they will be either a little more or a little less in Chile than where you came from.

Let’s consider another “little” item that tends to be expensive in Chile by USA standards, but is not something you can import: meat. Think about it. How much more does a family spend on meat, continuing to eat it normally in Chile as they would have in the old country? Let’s say it costs an extra US$200 per month or US$2,400 per year. This sum pales by comparison to US$40,000 less in paid taxes alone, once a newcomer starts working his professional job. Until then, he simply has to absorb the cost as part of the price of emigrating. Even so, assuming the family eats lots of fruits and vegetables, there might be savings of US$2,000 per year if those foods are regularly bought in open-air markets. Therefore, look at the big picture rather than individual items. Also remember that we do not eat GMO-fed beef in Chile and the fruits and vegetables are better quality. Again, the cost of living should not be divorced from the standard of living.

A similar thing could be said of electricity costs. A newcomer living in an apartment in Santiago once told me, “I got the electric bill; it is unbelievable. I cannot understand how people can survive here.” Yet they do survive here, and on much less than their American counterparts. Why? They know how to play the game, whereas a tourist does not. After my years in Chile, I am now spending about the same on electricity as I did in the land of the free. In our household, we use electricity for lighting, small kitchen appliances, range hood, oven, washer, dishwasher and things plugged into outlets inside the house. Outside it is used for a sewage pump, lights and outlets (e.g., for the lawnmower). Those that choose to heat with electricity make a mistake. Most locals choose to get one of the Japanese or European kerosene units, like Toyotomi. The cost for heating will thus be much less over the long run than using electricity. Another slightly more expensive but more convenient option is to hook into the natural gas system if it is available.

My (cynical) Chilean wife says that Chileans that heat with electricity have found a way to alter the electric meters and thus rip off the companies. She may be right. Others use some sort of gas heating system. Newcomers should listen to her. She often knows. While in Las Condes, we used the Toyotomi heater instead of the apartment’s furnace heat or electric heaters. We saved a bundle and the heat was better. Also, the maid could help fill up the heating unit, maintain it and the room temperature, which is a benefit that newcomers are likely not accustomed to having.

What newcomers often do not realize is that electricity bills come with whopping surcharges for “overuse.” In Chile, once you go over a basic amount of electricity in winter you get nailed with a rate that is 2x or 3x the normal rate and the bill skyrockets. So, in order to not cross the threshold, one learns to mix into one’s household some natural gas (or propane) appliances for heating, hot water, cooking and clothes drying. Is that inconvenient or a hassle compared to the USA (Europeans are used to such things)? Maybe so. But so what? You do not live in the old country any more. It is just something else to learn, in a new place. Locals know how to optimize energy use. Imitate them. Every government-sanctioned utility monopoly has its own unique way of “ripping off” citizens and tourists. You have to learn to cope here just like anywhere else. Locals know. Newcomers must learn. Why do newcomers expect to know everything the first two months after arrival?

A key point of my book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is to inform newcomers of issues as much as possible prior to coming to Chile. Things will be hard enough as it is for newcomers. Yet these folks routinely put off reading it as if the information were optional. They pay the price because of when they arrive unprepared. All newcomers have a hard time, but the more ignorant ones suffer the most. Newcomers should not think immigration will be easy. I have never said it is. However, you can look at my experience and that of many others who have stayed and see that it is more-than-possible to make it. Hard times make for hard choices, but the diligent can succeed.

Consider, too, the cost of using interurban toll roads. For instance, driving from Santiago to the Talca (farm belt) area on the weekend will cost perhaps US$24 dollars in tolls round trip (33% less on weekdays). One might first ask why there is a toll when gasoline (not so much diesel) taxes are so high? In Chile, most interurban highways are private and tolls are paid to a company that has won a monopoly right through a competitive bidding process (one of the “Chicago boys'” innovations stemming from the 1980s). Because of that fact, newcomers will notice that highways are in perfect condition, unlike Chile’s city streets (often rotten outside of Santiago). Fuel taxes are used in part to pay for city roads. Hence, Chile is a case study in why all roads should be private.

Furthermore, before one complains that, “Roads are no better here than in the USA,” he should consider how much he pays in taxes in the USA or Europe to get those good roads. Remember, too, that in New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania and California people pay tolls to the state on top of paying taxes. Also, tolls in Chile are much cheaper than New York and Europe. In those places one already pays high income and fuel taxes. Consequently, one must not judge the cost of living in Chile based on what a tourist pays for things. Once one has a job and pays less in taxes, owns a home and use medical care in Chile, all will become strikingly clear: the savings far outweighs the additional costs for some things.

For example, if one earns US$120,000 in the USA and pays US$45,000 in all taxes, including income, Social Security, car registration, capital gains, property taxes and fuel taxes, in Chile he might pay US$12,000. Europeans will have a similar experience. Given that fact, is it “excessive” to pay US$24 in tolls to go to Talca, especially if one only goes there, say, four times a year? Once again, if one only looks at the cost of the tolls, he is missing the bigger picture.

Newcomers also tend to be myopic in my experience. They might be saving, for instance, 80% on world-class medical care in Santiago (compared to the USA) or procedures like in-vitro fertilization, not to mention the associated high transportation costs of traveling to specialized clinics. Yet they completely ignore those massive savings (that even newcomers can garner) and instead complain about the relatively paltry costs of things like tolls, meat and contact lens cleaner. Doing so is really irrational, if not ridiculous. Those who do so are not yet seeing the whole picture. With the savings in medical care and procedures alone, how much “excess” costs for cleaning fluid, meat and tolls can one pay? Five or ten year’s worth?

Newcomers live as tourists for the first year or two in Chile. The associated extra costs have to be counted as part of the cost of resettling to a new country without a visa in hand. Probably, no one has ever told them that it would be cheap to leave the old country and settle into a new one. Ask yourself: “Is it worth it to me to spend an extra US$25,000 on store-bought products over the next two years in order not to have to stay in my present country?” If so, deal with it.

So many people come to Chile with the unfounded expectation that transactions costs to adopt a new culture and way of life will be low. This thinking is tragically errant, always leading to frustration. An international move, including full immigration to a new country where one does not speak the language, is not easy and is hardly cheap. Why anyone would think otherwise is beyond me. I never make such claims in what I write or on my webinars. Nonetheless, rest assured that over time initial costs do subside. In the meantime, do not be surprised by the transition costs you will face. Try to minimize them, of course. Yet, is it not far worse to live in danger in the old country? Be thankful that you at least have the money to pay to move, Most that want to do so, cannot. That fact is one reason why becoming a 51Talk online English teacher is a Godsend.

Consider, too, that coming to Chile can end up being a career enhancement. No matter what happens, even if one “goes back,” being in Chile provides an opportunity for career growth. Indeed, there is little downside professionally if one plays his cards right. These benefits offset transitional costs. Living productively overseas does not look bad on one’s resume: after a few years you will be able to list such new personal attributes as “bilingual,” “experienced in living in an overseas environment,” “dual citizen” and “cross culturally trained.” How many new opportunities will those attributes create for you? Might it generate a higher rate of pay, too? Thus, the higher transition costs do come with some ancillary benefits. In addition, if one ends up buying real estate while here, Chile is a good place to invest in rental units and a retirement or second home, even if one chooses to leave someday.

Think about it. Base your judgments and conclusions in rationality.

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:

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, especially school teachers, that say things like “Christmas is in winter” or that June 20th (or is it the 21st?) is the “longest day of the year.” Someone needs to explain to them the difference between the northern and southern hemispheres. Yet so many teachers do not even “get” such basic stuff. So, how can we expect that their students will? I just ran into this issue again today with a “white Christmas” slide show presented by an online academy.

With so much misinformation how can we possibly expect students to know other more crucial and insightful things that require interpretation of facts and some analysis when we teach them incorrect “facts”? How can they possibly evaluate whether the U.S. government’s story about 9/11 is true, for instance?

Christmas is in the summer for many millions of people, at least twelve percent of the world’s population, living in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and many other countries. It is certainly not “white” (except maybe on beaches in Tahiti, Samoa or Fiji) or “cold.” And for them it is in summertime–when Christmas Day is very long, too!

It is also worth mentioning that around forty percent of the world’s population live in the tropics, with no significant seasons or snow whatsoever, except perhaps a very high altitudes such as in the altiplano of Chile, Peru and Bolivia, or a couple of peaks in Hawaii. The vast majority of them may have never seen a snowfall, let alone a white Christmas.

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:

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 am required to pay for cell and data service. I realize that other people may have different needs and preferences, but this system works for me since I spend so much time at home. I also make use of WhatsApp (and sometimes Signal) now more than voice communications. It is more convenient, less intrusive and far less expensive.

Newcomers can bring their smart phones to Chile. Just be sure to request that they be unlocked prior to coming (or as soon as one arrives). Companies like Apple and Samsung allow one to manage this feature change (or restriction) online. If  the old country’s phone cannot be unlocked, then a new one can be purchased from the sales representative. If a new phone will be purchased, Samsung is very popular in Chile. For iPhones, find an Apple store in the bigger malls of Santiago and Viña del Mar.

The day after one arrives in Chile, I suggest taking his phone to any Virgin Mobile stand, located in most department stores, many mall walkways, some strip centers, etc. They will help to remove the old company chip and install the Virgin Mobile one. Be sure to bring the Samsung or Apple key! You will be surprised at how easy it is to change cell phone carriers in less than ten minutes.

I have used Virgin for many years now and am quite satisfied with the service and price. They offer many “antiplans” online. An antiplan is not a contractual plan but its price is similar. You must pay every thirty days or your service will expire, much like a prepaid phone. If you leave the country for a few months, when you get back just add more minutes and you will be back in business. The chip will usually have to be replaced after six months of disuse.

As a newcomer, just buy Virgin’s “hablar más” antiplan for 7,000 pesos (USD$11). It will be sufficient for most people’s first few months in Chile. If you know that you will be on the phone more than that, since you already have people to call or you plan to use a lot of data, then get the 15,000 (USD$23) peso antiplan to start. Choose the “navegar más” antiplan if you want to surf more than talk.

With any Virgin antiplan, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be used for free, except for voice communication features, without discounting one’s data balance. That fact will make one’s cell phone costs much lower.

Your initial installation at the Virgin stand will come with the first month’s plan fully charged. After that, you will have to purchase more minutes at the website via credit card.

If the international card does not work, which is often the case, you will have to go to any supermarket or pharmacy and present the clerk with (1) 7,000 pesos (or credit card), (2) your phone number and (3) a note that says, “Por favor, recarga mi celular con 7,000 pesos. La empresa es Virgin Móvil.” Be sure to cross your sevens in the middle when you write; otherwise the clerk will think you are writing 1,000. (American sevens look very similar to Chilean ones.) The operation will be done in less than two minutes and then you can go back to the website and activate your antiplan.

You can set the account up to automatic activation, too. Thus, if you pa the clerk before the 30 days expires, your antiplan will continue with uninterrupted service.

Getting good, inexpensive cell phone service is easy in Chile. Newcomers will be surprised. However, without having the foregoing information, the level of stress and complication will rise.

Should you decide later that you prefer another company’s contractual plan, such as Claro or Wom that offer much more data and calling time for around US$30 per month, it will be equally easy to change over to them later without any extra cost. But there is little reason for most people to go this route, especially when just arriving in Chile.

For those coming to Chile under our residency program, we handle cell phone setup for you upon arrival. Just make sure to bring your unlocked phone(s) or be prepared to buy a new phone.

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:

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)

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 accounts abroad or that receive payments from abroad and access those funds via a Chilean ATM. These fees are in addition to the normal (reasonable) exchange rate spread that the bank earns (around one percent).

The problem is compounded by the fact that the fee is a flat  for every ATM withdrawal from 1,000 pesos to a maximum of 200,000 pesos (300 USD or 262 Euros). At the most expensive and some of the most common banks, one will pay over three percent of the cash withdrawn in ATM fees alone, plus the exchange rate spread. These fees add up fast. For instance, if your European bank card has a daily limit of 1,000 Euros and a weekly limit of 3,000 Euros, and a person withdraws the maximum amount over three days, he will end up paying 11.5 fees (90 Euros) plus the rate spread.

Basically, one could buy a new Samsung Galaxy cell phone every two weeks with the money he spends on Chilean ATM fees. Consider the fees charged by Chilean banks on July 10, 2017:

Bank

(branch with ATM)

Fee (Pesos) Fee (USD) Fee (Euros) Northeastern Santiago Viña del Mar
Banco Internacional 0 0 0 Two None
Banco BICE 2,500 3.75 3.27 Yes No
Scotiabank 3,500 5.25 4.58 Yes Yes
Banco Estado 4,000 6.00 5.25 Yes Yes
BCI 4,738 7.11 6.20 Yes Yes
Banco Condell 5,000 7.50 6.54 Yes Yes
Corpbanca 5,000 7.50 6.54 Yes Yes
Banco Security 5,000 7.50 6.54 Yes Yes
BBVA 5,000 7.50 6.54 Yes Yes
Banco Santander 5,000 7.50 6.54 Yes Yes
Banco de Chile 6,000 9.00 7.85 Yes Yes
Banco Consorcio 6,000 9.00 7.85 Yes No
Banco Edwards/Citi 6,000 9.00 7.85 Yes Yes

Insofar as I can tell, this list is exhaustive. Banco Falabella does not allow international cards to be used at its ATMs. Some banks do not have ATMs, like Banco Ripley, Banco Paris, Banco de la Nación de Argentina, Rabobank and all the other foreign banks registered in Chile but yet without retail operations (i.e., Chinese, Brazilian, French, U.S., Japanese).

Those that live in Santiago, especially if they are often near the El Golf area of Las Condes or in downtown Santiago near Metro stations Santa Lucia or Universidad de Chile, can benefit from having access to the only two ATMs in the country that do not charge a fee for international card use: Banco Internacional branches located at La Pastora 128 and Moneda 818. The Viña del Mar branch of that bank used to have an ATM but it was removed and there is no plan to replace it.

The lowest fee-charging bank, Banco BICE, is not much larger than Banco International but does have a few more branches with ATMs, especially near metro stops Alcántara and Moneda (only accessible until 2pm weekdays). People in Viña are out of luck again since BICE has no branch in town.

Banco Security (a slightly larger bank than BICE with branches both Santiago and Viña del Mar) used to have the same no-fee policy as Banco Internacional, but ended it on July 1, 2017. Now people in Viña del Mar are stuck with #3 Scotiabank or making foreign card withdrawals when in Santiago for other business. Furthermore, consider that Banco Internacional’s no-fee policy could change just as fast as Banco Security’s did. It might already be on its way out now! Who knows?

 

Foreign cardholders can avoid paying ATM by paying most bills with their cards. Most utilities, insurance and other services can be paid with foreign credit cards either with online company services or at Servipag, or directly at each company’s commercial offices. Grocery stores, home improvement centers, mall or other shops, department stores, restaurants, cell phone companies, fitness clubs and gas stations also take foreign cards, generally. One big exception is the tax authority for property taxes, mainly. They require a Chilean card or cash. Still, the amount of ATM fees paid can be minimized, especially if one carefully applies the knowledge gained in this article.

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 (somewhat 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)

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)

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