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Note on Cost of Living for Newcomers to Chile

The cost of living is a technical economics term. It means, generally, “the level of prices relating to a range of everyday items, and regular household, educational, tax, insurance and transportation expenses.” Investopedia provides a more complete definition:

Cost of living is the amount of money needed to sustain a certain level of living, including basic expenses such as housing, 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)

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 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. They also do not mind if an employee lives in Chile.

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. 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.

You can work as little as 15 hours per week or full time+ and get to select the hours and times that you work. Actually, the minimum requirement is that one make himself available “at least 30 hours during peak for a period of 15 days.” 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. 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.

While the job is hardly high-paying, the money goes a long way in Chile. 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.

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 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 is 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.

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)

A Note on the 2017 Chilean Primary Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chilean Census – 2017

In Chile, the national census is taken every five years. Wednesday, April 19, 2017 was census day, and people were forced to take a confined (paid) holiday in order for census workers to get around to them and conduct a ten-minute household interview. The idea was that other than emergency personnel and the census takers themselves, everyone should have been in his home. (That fact might explain why there was a large, Summer-style traffic jam coming into Reñaca the evening before.) At any rate, every resident, tourist, newborn (but excluding unborn children) that was located in the home as of 00:00 on April 17th was counted as living there. Even people that died later that day were included (even if the death was prior to the arrival of the census taker).

Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notary and Recorder Monopolies in Chile

Notaries (notarías) and notarial services are vastly different in Chile than they are in places like the United States.

A notary designation is not easy to get in Chile, and a notary does far more than just verify the veracity of the signer. In many cases, notaries offer legal advice, too, the liability associated with doing so being a topic of academic discussion. The relative pay scales are a bit different in Chile compared to places like the United States as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overview of Nightlife and Activities for Younger People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Viña del Mar during the rest of the year

6,5 Concepción

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

5 La Serena and Iquique

4 Temuco and Valdivia

3.5 Puerto Montt and Rancagua

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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