Santiago, Chile Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile 06/04/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Fourth expat experience. Previous experience living in Colombia, Paris, and Panama. Plus more than 45 countries for business purposes.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

New York, NY. Direct flight on LATAM is over 10 hours. Connecting through Panama or Bogota splits the travel time (nicely) roughly down the middle.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Work with a UN specialized agency.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

I live in a (small) apartment in Providencia, on an avenue running parallel to the river. Overall, I find housing to be on the smaller end of the scale compared to other countries in Latin America. New Yorkers would feel no shock (or sense of relief, if you want to put s different spin on it) moving here and adjusting to housing affordable options. There are, of course, very nice and large houses which correlate nicely with very high prices. Distance traveled to/from work is a major consideration and will impact your choice of where to live.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available, so long as you are willing to pay for the mark-up. Coffee is $25 USD/lb. Mexican (and spicy) food is generally lacking in Chile. I am not too much of a brand loyalist, so I don't ponder on the Skippy peanut butter I cannot buy or the ginger dressing that I miss from Whole Foods.

In general, supermarkets are large and well-stocked. Mind you, Chile had been buying out grocery store chains throughout Latin America in the last two decades.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None, since that takes away all the fun. Go local.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Uber Eats is alive and kicking (pedaling, actually) and most food options, ranging from fast to yummy Peruvian roti chicken and good steak can all be delivered to your door. Pizza is available but forget about the prices you pay for back home.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None that I can recall. Santiago is, in general, a warm city, which I found surprising. Anything that is triggered by warmer weather may pop up, but this is not a tropical landscape, so worry not.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I use email and travel back home often so I do not need the local postal service, Correos de Chile.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

None that I can share since I do my own cleaning/laundry. I have heard of help being available but the service is lackluster.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Many options. Sportlife is a good choice, although they do not offer towel service. Pacific Fitness is a low-cost gym around town, but rumor has it that their showers run only cold water. Personal trainers are available, but they are not cheap.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are widely available and yes, ATMs are safe to use. For me, the best option is to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You'll need to (1) know Spanish and (2) be able to translate Chilean Spanish into more mainstream Spanish. Betting on others to know English is not advisable.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

I would think so.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Buses (service seems lousy and dirty). Subways are Tokyo-like jam packed (and don't always cover where you need to go). Uber is illegal but, corporately, they have decided that it is still lucrative to pay legal fees and fines than to pull out of the market. Traffic is a nightmare for me.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

An SUV would be nice. A patient SUV driver is of the essence.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Sure, it's available, but nothing happens in Chile until you are issued a RUT. This can take a while.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

I use prepaid service since I travel constantly for work. Service is good and inexpensive.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Those that have done some research and networked outside of Chile, prior to arriving, are better able to anchor themselves to a good opportunity once they arrive. I would suspect that starting this process from scratch in Chile would be difficult since Chileans are not the most social/accepting crowd, so breaking down those additional barriers can be a problem. Pay close attention to the recent migration of Colombians, Venezuelans and Haitians. The recent immigration has created a bit of a 'Chileans first' narrative and made the hiring of expats a bit difficult. That said, human capital that adds value will probably find a spot here or anywhere. If I had to do it all over again, I would stress the networking outside Chile approach at all cost.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress casual to formal, keeping in mind the temperature. A winter day can start out at two degrees Celsius and climb up to 21 degrees by noon. Dressing here is a challenge. A/C is not as ubiquitous as in the US.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Street smarts should never fade, no matter where you live. The Carabineros (Chilean police) are widely considered to be the last bastion of non-corrupt cops in Latin America. I have had no direct experience with this. The City center is known for pick-picketers. The random acts of violence that I have heard of have been that-random.

The Hospital care here (Clincia Alemana and Las Condes) are A+, hands down, the best medical care available, comparable to NYU Langone in Mahnattan, only better.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The weather pattern is odd: mostly warm and very polluted during the winter. Tap water is highly mineralized (as in you'll need to scrape your glass with a knife after it dries). All faucets end up dissolving.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Overall it's poor.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

That you'll suffer.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

This isn't the most exciting place nor is it the most social. So, if you're not outgoing and confident, you can pretty much bank on becoming very isolated from the crowd. Becoming part of the Chilean crowd is very tough.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Warm. Sure, there will be cold days, but I just feel that Santiago will become a coffee-growing region in 10 years.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No experience yet, although I did inquire. Nido de Aguilas is the American School (and pretty much the only option is you want your kids to follow the US-based school calendar). Capital Assessment Fee is about US$14,000; annual tuition is around US$10,000. The social component of schooling your kids there runs about US$30,000 a year, I'd say. This is Beverly Hills High.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

No definitive answer, but the school referenced above is a solid school.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Trekking, soccer, skiing, running, and bikes everywhere.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Somewhat large.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Get out there. If you expect others to knock on your door you are guaranteed to have a very boring life in Santiago. Join Meet-up groups aligned to your hobbies. Here is a reference for you: I have yet to be invited to the home of a Chilean after being here for two years.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for singles if you have strong social skills and know Spanish. Socially awkward (and I mean this in a constructive way) need not apply. This place can be VERY isolating.

Families have a good time here. Couples yes, but see above.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

It is not easy. Chileans have been isolated (geographically) and this seems to have rubbed onto their view of foreigners. Migration to Chile is relatively new, so outsiders do, unfortunately, stand out like a sore thumb. This is no melting pot, no matter how big a city. Chileans socialize among themselves and with families.

It is important to understand the social dynamics brought about by the military coup in 1973. Long-life friends and neighbors snitched on each other, so distrust of others seems to be woven into the social fabric. At least a little. The we versus us factor is there.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Haitians, which have arrived by the thousands, are viewed as hard working. One was diagnosed with leprosy and it has taken time to shake off that stigma for all Haitians living in Chile.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trekking trips for the most part around the greater Santiago area. My job keeps me traveling quite a bit, so I haven't had much down time in Chile.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Meh, not really. Some crafts are nice.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How expensive Santiago can be.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would probably just to visit for a couple of months. You cannot get a good understanding of Santiago/Chile on a short trip because the distances are long. Santiago being permanent place to call home is a bit too much.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter jacket, unless you hike in the mountain ranges.
110 volt appliances (all of them).
Idea that Chile graduated to become part of the first world simply because of life under authoritarian rule.
Idea that the wounds of the the thorny political past have healed entirely.
Idea that market-based-everything-you-can-think-of has worked wonders here (there is lots of poverty and a weak safety net).
Thoughts that distance is irrelevant: not only will you be very far away (if US or Europe based), but going back home will feel like an eternity; in-country travel will take forever.
Notion that customer service will be in high gear.
Fear of mayonnaise: Chileans have a no-shame approach to life with mayo. I think I saw a mayo float at a restaurant the other day.
Fear of avocados. Here it is considered a fruit, not a veggie, so it goes on toast or marraqueta (french bread basked differently), and everything else.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor, beginner Spanish, acceptance of Chilean wine, hiking poles, and sunscreen.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

I'd read up on history books of the time Allende came to power. The Museo de la Memoria is a most once you get here. Discussing the rule of Pinochet, or Pinocho as he is called, will invariably come up at some point with the locals. You should know the basics.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Chile in general and Santiago in particular is a nice place that has its challenges for those who are less adept to going outside of their comfort zone to find themselves at home. This is true for all places that have a low cosmopolitan index.

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Santiago, Chile 02/16/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, cities in different African countries and Europe.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

The US. Between 8 - 15 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Apartments and houses located in Lo Barnechea, Las Condes and Vitacura. Unless you have several school age kids or a large dog, you should try to be in an apartment as it is closer to more activities in the city if you are a social person. Lo Barnecha is a 20 minute drive (best) when it is early in the morning or late at night. Otherwise during peak times you should expect to spend an hour. Vitacura can take 5 - 10 minutes by car, unless there's a traffic pattern change due to the construction which happensor 30 to 45 minutes walking. Las Condes is about 2 - 5 minutes by car or 5 - 30 minutes walking to the Embassy.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries are expensive. Just to stock up initially will cost you about 200,000 pesos. A kilo of ground beef is about 3,000 pesos. A loaf of bread can start at 2,500 pesos this is not purchasing the maraquetta or one of the chilean bread staples that are produced fresh everyday.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Lots and lots of beverages and items that are considered a specialty like chocolate chips and tortillas.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There's basically everything, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Denny's etc. Everything costs from 3500 pesos to 25,000 from the chain restaurants. There are also fantastic non-chain restaurants in Bella vista, Providencia, Las condes, Independencia among others.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

During the summer sometimes there will be ants looking for water. Once outside the city, there are mosquitos. Otherwise there aren't many pests. Moths show up at a specific time of the summer, just keep doors and windows closed. Other little insects will creep in if you leave the doors open for hours and there's a light to attract them during the summer as well.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

There's FEDEX, UPS and DHL or through the regular chilean mail system.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

There's lots of bad domestic help of available. I've tried several people who were recommended and it didn't work out. Not many employers tells or shows them how to do things or what to do. And when you do tell them, they will still do whatever they want. The cost is (20,000-25,000) not very expensive and I would like to say if you paid more that it would change things, but I don't think that it would.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes there are a lot of them all over the place. The cost can be from US$80 - 150 depending on the type of gym and services provided.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

At times there are places (grocery stores, gas stations) that will not accept international credit cards so you should always be prepared for that by having cash. Some banks there's no problem using your ATM and others you can't. Also beware of ATM skimmers attached to the machines to steal information. Always check your card balance.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are some but I don't know anything about them.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need to know a functional amount of Spanish especially if you're going to be out and about and checking things out around the city.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

With the exception of a few places, I've seen someone with a disability would have a medium difficult time as some places only have stairs, no ramp or elevator. Buses aren't always the most modern to accommodate someone in a wheelchair or someone with a leg or arm issue to make the distance from the group to the step easier to navigate. There are some hills and steep areas that someone walking or driving might not notice, but a person on crutches or manually moving a wheelchair would notice right away.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes they are all safe and they are affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I've seen almost every type of vehicle here. Toyotas are the majority on the road but honestly there's a dealership for everything, Jeep, Ford, Chevy, high-end and economy. Unless you plan to go to places off the beaten track a car is fine and you don't need an SUV. Parts are mas o menos, because there's difficulty for everyone to get parts needs as they aren't always readily available like in other places. It is easy to find service for your vehicle. You can't bring a car in that is more than 5 years old so a lot of people bring in new vehicles. Unless you're going to drive like a granny or rarely drive, I recommend buying a used vehicle in country because at some point your vehicle will get scratches and scrapes. As of late there have been portonazos (carjackings at the house gate) around the city, so be aware of your surroundings and know if people are watching you or your family. The more high-end and expensive the car, the more desirable to steal.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, I pay 20,000 pesos for internet. It is rare that you ever get the tops speeds they claim to have. I stayed at 12mps which is sufficient for streaming.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Entel service ins good. Claro sometimes has issues. I have heard of anyone using WOM. Several people use Virgin as they are the easiest to provide a sim card until you have your RUT.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No; travel with your pet as excess baggage. On American you can do it and on United it can be a touch and go situation. If your dog travels as cargo expect to spend several hours to get your pet from customs. There are vets located everywhere. Do not completely trust what a vet says if they say they have handled international pet shipping paperwork before. You must know your stuff, as I have known people who ended up having problems even though the vet was said to know what was needed.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Depending on your education and what you want to do there are opportunities as long as you speak decent Spanish.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

You can volunteer for any and everything in the city and outside. Some have vetting requirements before you can participate.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

In most companies the dress code is business casual to casual for everyone. You will at times see men in suits but they are in a particular industry.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Just the normal things if you lived in a large city. Do not think that because Chile is deemed "safe" by people that you can be careless or become complacent.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is spot around the country; if you're in Santiago or a large city like Valparaiso you can expect the same standard of care you'd get in the U.S. Outside large cities it is touch and go what type of service you will get.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

There is air pollution, not as bad as China, but sometimes you can see the haze. There are several people who developed respiratory infections and sinus infections. In 2015, there were the most days of driving restriction anyone can remember. Even if you don't have allergies, if you're out and about during the day in the city you might find your skin and eyes become a little irritated. I liken it to the dust of the Haramattan.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring your meds and you will need to ask how they make everything. There are peanuts all over the place and you never know what they put in something.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There weather is good. It can get very warm during the summer which is expected. It doesn't get very cold at night but like in most places when you add in some wind you do need something like a fleece or slightly heavier. You definitely want your heavier winter clothes if you want to go into the mountains or down south where it is much cooler even during the summer than in the city or up north. Also keep in mind the location of Chile is very close to that of Australia which has the whole in the ozone. Always wear your sunscreen.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are a few schools parents can choose from.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are a few preschools and several people opt to have a nanny as daycare.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There are various sports programs through the schools and the municipalidads.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Several thousands. No sure about the morale. I would guess generally good.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There's lots of restaurant, bars, discos, concerts of all kinds, movies, plays, ballet, art exhibits. Every year there are a ton of ferias during the summer from food/beer to clothing/shoes. Tons of social things, there's the hash if you know what that is and tons of other activities that you can just join to learn.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is a good city for everyone as long as expectations are managed and people don't arrive thinking that Chile isn't a developing country. There are plenty of options for families, singles and couples to do and experience.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It seems to be more moderate here as there are gay/lesbian clubs, drag shows and even a rally for gay marriage and other rights. The people generally don't seem to outwardly express violent or derogatory attitudes towards gays/lesbians.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Sometimes people will assume certain people are nanas or when you look different you will get stares. That's fairly normal anywhere in the word. You take anything not see often and people stare. So far I haven't heard of prejudices openly expressed except when it was directed towards all people from Columbia in a news story. All religions are openly practices as are political views. There are some gender prejudices as well.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Visiting a lot of the beautiful views and places. I definitely recommend going to some of the smaller town outside the city and big tourist locations. There have been some interesting finds, like Bahia Inglesa, San Antonio, Melipilla and Frutillar. The wine route will feel a bit been there done that, if you've lived in California, South Africa, Italy etc. The real bonus are the vineyards and wineries that have good restaurants included. There are lots of outdoor activities during the summer. Many times even though it is still warm a lot of places are not about making money; once the kids go back to school they close.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Anything that isn't a normal tourist find is a secret or hidden gem. There are places art galleries and restaurants in bella vista and bella artes that most expats in a bubble don't know exist. There are places for ropes courses if you like that kind of thing as well as paint ball located in the city.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

If you like alpaca and ponchos there's an abundance. There's lots of local art and pottery as well.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Lots of beautiful scenery and pueblos to visit. As far as culture compared to other places there isn't much. You can learn about the Mapuche and the development of the country but that's about it. The weather is nice, never gets too cold. The people in the city are nice, but the people outside the city are very friendly.

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10. Can you save money?

You can save money as long as you don't eat out often and don't travel. Travel has been surprisingly expensive in country.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The toll system and to sign up quickly.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I would come to visit.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Leave behind any expectations. No matter what anyone has told you ... leave behind any thought or idea of things being systematic, functioning in an orderly fashion or working in a manner that makes sense to you. The police will not respond in 5 minutes more like an hour depending on the issue. Remember this is a developing country that looks modern. Have games and movies for your children as you will spend anywhere from 2 - 8 weeks without internet or tv until you receive your RUT. Leave any thought of good wait service behind, you have to ask for the bill and it may be 15 minutes before you get it after asking for it. Leave behind the belief of good drivers because people can legally buy their drivers license here. Leave behind any thought that you wouldn't have to deal with issues from a developing country.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor and patience.

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Santiago, Chile 11/22/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington D.C.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 year tour.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Either close the Embassy (Las Condes and Vitacura are 2-5 minutes drive) or in Lo Barnechea or La Dehesa which are close to the international schools which are about a 20 minute to hour drive if there's traffic.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Costs are higher. All the basics are readily available. We order special stuff from the U.S. via Vitacost.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More clothes. Clothes are expensive here and the quality is not great. Also the styles are distinctly Chilean.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything is pretty available. More expensive than in the U.S. We miss Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese as those are unavailable or just poor representations.

PS- Don't believe the lie that there's no good Chilean food. Try Porotos con Riendas, Cazuela, Costillar, and the ever present delicious pebre with freshly baked bread buns.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Embassy DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available and affordable.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes available. Little expensive.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

We don't use ATMs. There's an increase in the use of false facades of ATM dispensers which steal your cash. Credit cards are okay at major restaurants and stores, but not at small informal spots.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

We've heard there are some.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A LOT. Learn Spanish. In-country options are low quality, sometimes scams, and ineffective.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Probably some but compared with other posts this is likely a more manageable city. The metro stations almost all have elevators, there are bathrooms for individuals with disabilities in major buildings, most apartment buildings have ramps for individuals who use wheel chairs, etc.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

YES. The metro system is better and cleaner than any we have used in the U.S. The buses are a little hard to figure out but googlemaps helps and you can always ask the driver if you're unsure (again Spanish necessary). Taxis are fine and also colectivos which are shared rides that follow specific paths.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any car should be fine but check the importation restrictions which are strict.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, sometimes spotty but normally fine.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Meh. You can buy here or bring yours unlocked. Expect to spend some money if you want internet access or if you use your phone a lot.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not that we know of. Vets are available and pretty high quality. No Kennels we know of. Need to find a family to exchange dog caring with.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Work permit situation is rough. Really rough. If you are fluent in Spanish and get out there and work hard to find something you can do it but you might end up sacrificing an income. Not the best place for EFM's to progress their careers.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many as long as you speak Spanish. Some get very involved and create great experiences for themselves.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Pretty conservative but Chileans many times wear jeans to work.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Generally this is a very safe place to live. Petty crime such as purse snatching and theft happens sometimes. There has been an increase in crimes in residents in Lo Barnechea (where most families with kids live) but if you use your security system you should be fine. During our tour no apartments have ever been broken into. Unlike a previous posting when we have visited the Vitacura apartments (embassy-owned) they seem completely safe and even have big metal security gates as an additional measure.

We have felt absolutely safe here.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not really. Apparently giving birth at Clinica Alemana is a great experience.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Not great but not as bad as others have made it sound. Yes there is pollution but no you will not choke or be unable to breathe.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring allergy medications. Pollution can be rough.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Overall climate is great. Never gets below freezing and therefore we've never seen snow in Santiago. The mountains get covered in snow, great skiing opportunities and the Embassy normally takes an annual trip. It can get very warm in January and February when it can get nearly unbearable sitting outside under the sun. Embassy is just recently investing in air conditioning units which makes things much better. But overall the weather here is great.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Available, seems like they are great schools as far as what we've heard. Apparently Nido has a complicated admissions process to start early.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large expat community. Morale varies depending on how flexible the people you are speaking with are.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Eat out, entertain in, movies, there are theater events available, day trips.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes. Santiago can be great if you get out, explore, be unafriad to connect with Chileans. We've had great experiences with people from all different socioeconomic groups. You really must speak Spanish though. Only 5% of Chileans speak English and normally only basic conversational skills. Do yourself a favor and take the FSI classes if you're an EFM. It will completely change your experience in Chile.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Chile (the citizens that is) is in a process of slowly beginning to recognize the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Chilean government is already outwardly supportive and has anti-discrimination campaigns etc. On a micro level, LGBTQ individuals will undoubtedly experience moments of prejudice and discrimination but can pretty much live their lives without any dramatic changes to behavior.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are definite gender discrimination issues. Street harassment takes place. There are also racial discrimination issues as the racial makeup of Chile is very heterogeneous. Individuals who look different get stares.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Patagonia, Torres del Paine.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

We spend most weekends relaxing at home, going on walks, stopping at the few cafes, getting a bite to eat. If you have a vehicle or you rent a car for the weekend you can take day trips to Cajon del Maipo, the long coastline that's stretched from San Antonio all the way up to Con Con etc, Pomaire (pottery town), La Ligua (sweaters town).

There's Easter Island which gets some great and some less great reviews and a little pricey to get to.

Hidden Gem:
Quintay beach is nice and not too far away.
Casa Botha (not hidden) is a yummy restaurant to go to. Pricey though.
Emiliana Vineyard is organic and adorable with little chickens running around.


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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Lapiz (expensive), carpets, copper earrings and other items, paintings.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Great day trips (Pomaire, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, Wineries, beach days, etc.) trip to Patagonia will blow your mind (take at least 3 days overnight in the park itself), wine is delicious and inexpensive, metro system is excellent (even if busy during rush hour), safe.

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10. Can you save money?

Not really. Prices are pretty high in the areas where Embassy personnel live. Comparable to Washington D.C. prices.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

See above.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yeah probably.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectation of salsa dancing, spicy Latin food, sense of personal space, and good Chilean service. Chile is europe in Latin America.

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4. But don't forget your:

Winter clothes, spanish-language skills, VPN.

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Santiago, Chile 10/10/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I have lived in Germany (in various cities), Dubai, India, and Suriname.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base is Arlington, VA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have lived in Santiago for 15 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work at the U.S.Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

All types of wonderful housing except for the building in Vitacura where the Embassy purchased 6 units. The building has chronic leaks and other plumbing problems, poor security, and black mold.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Very available in chainmstores such as Jumbo and Lider. Way, way cheaper at markets like La Vega, that features an awe-inspiring range of fruits, veggies, meat, fish, household items.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Specialized spices--the Chilean fear of strong flavors ensures that only mild spices are available.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, and local chains that serve the famous Chilean hot dog, called completo.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Via the DPO at the Embassy. Chilean post is relatively reliable but slow.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available, hard-working, and affordable, but there are strict labor laws about the contracts, sick leave, maternity leave. Research before you hire, or ask for help from the English Speaking Moms in Santiago facebook group.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, they're available, and some are incredibly luxurious such as Balthus, but like so much in Santiago, they're very expensive.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Easy to do, and safe.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There is an English speaking church.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

A lot. English and other languages are not widely spoken.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes they might, although there are lots of accommodations, such as ramps to building entrances.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, in general. Some pickpocketing on the metro, which can be prohibitively crowded during rush hour.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Chile is super strict about car imports and it's near impossible to get a driver's license, but it does happen, and it's relatively safe driving, even if aggressive. There are stories about people having their tires shot out and then being robbed by a supposedly good samaritan who stips to "help," and there are stories of purses being grabbed from front seats at stop lights. Leave nothing in your car when you park it.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, about US$100 per month for a package that includes cable, internet, and landline phone.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Expensive! Do pay-as-you-go plans.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine and vets are ample and high quality. If you ship your pet into Chile separate from your own arrival, you will be subjected to a seven-hour pick-up procedure that features bouncing among the cargo company (usually LAN), customs, and SAG, which is their agricultural ministry.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

The idea of volunteerism is new in Chile but there are opportunities.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Chileans favor black, conservative attire.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

More and more, people are getting robbed, both in their homes in the swankier neighborhoods such as Lo Bornichea and La Dehesa, and in cafes and restaurants, especially places where muggers know they can prey on tourists: Starbucks, McDonald's, Denny's. Now it's almost guaranteed that if you put your backpack or purse down, or leave it hanging on a chair, it will get snatched in a nano second.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Chile probably has some of the best medical care in South America, even in some of the public hospitals that appear dilapidated. But the clinics that really cater to foreigners are Las Condes and Clinica Alemana. They're very expensive, but definitely state of the art.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality in Santiago is extremely bad in the winter. On especially soupy days, you feel as if you are choking on your own throat, and your eyes burn. The rain clears it out so post-rain days are beautiful with magnificent views of snowy mountain peaks.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The winters are grey and dreary, and the summers are relentlessly sunny, with absolutely no rain for 6 months.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No experience but schools such as Nido abd the Grange seem to have a good reputation.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large and varied, lively and,active, in fairly good spirits in spite of closed nature of Chilean community.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Hanging out in Bellavista, salsa clubs, movies, restaurants.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for all types!

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There are noises about how young people in Chile are supportive of gay marriage, but there is not much public evidence of a vibrant gay community, and it's a super conservative country.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

It's a very conservative country with very traditional gender roles.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling around the country of Chile is a fantastic experience.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Skip the museums (Belles Artes is uninspired but has a great cafe, and the Museo de Memoria, while interesting, is tired, witth an oddly disjointed display) and travel outside of Santiago to the mountains for condor spotting, to wineries, to the beach, to quaint fishing villages. One fun and up-and-coming neighborhood is near the Santa Isabel metro station, with jazz clubs and funky bars and restaurants.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not much--there's a dearth of artesenal artifacts and those that are available are not particularly aesthetically appealing. Omaire has nice, solid, simple ceramics.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's a real city in many ways, with high quality cultural offerinhs (ballet, opera), restaurants, parks, good shopping.

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10. Can you save money?

Absolutely not.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations of getting close to Chileans.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bicycle, caping gear, hiking boots, bathing suit

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Any travel guides, A Nation of Enemies: Chile Under Pinochet (Norton Paperback), and, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability (National Security Archive Book)
.

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Santiago, Chile 09/16/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

La Paz, Bolivia; Chiapas, Mexico;Guatemala, Guatemala; Madrid, Spain.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Ottawa, Canada. Direct flight from Santiago to Toronto, almost 12 hours

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Canadian foreign service.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

There is a huge variety. Lots of apartments and lots of houses. Lots of options of different places to live, but most expats live in Las Condes, Vitacura, or La Dehesa. Commute time would depend on the time of day and where you are going.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Fresh fruit, vegetables and fish/seafood is much cheaper when it is in season than in Canada. Anything imported is significantly most expensive.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Customs is very strict so you cannot bring fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey, etc.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

LOTS of American-style fast food restaurants are available. There is a wide range of cost for restaurants and it also depends a lot on which part of the city you live in. But I generally find that restaurants are more expensive than in Canada.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

You should be able to find anything you need in Santiago, although it will likely be more expensive than what you would pay in Canada or the US.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Moths and some flies. There is one poisonous spider.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

UPS and other large companies operate in Chile.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is available and typically costs approximately CAD$30 for 1 day. It is pretty easy to bring a nanny with you from another country.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, lots of options for gyms.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs and credit cards are common. The max withdrawl from ATMs tends to be CLP200,000 (approx. CAD$400). Foreign credit cards are not always accepted and there can be significant discounts for using a local credit card (eg. LAN flights). Depending on where you are making purchases, it can be cheaper to use cash than to use a credit card.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are a few local English-language newspapers. You can get several English-language channels through cable.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Spanish certainly helps, but you could certainly survive without it, especially if you have a friend who speaks Spanish who could help you deal with cable companies, etc.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Easier than many Latin American cities, but would still pose some challenges.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Both safe and affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

There are about 10 cars on the list of commonly-stolen cars (one of them is the RAV4). In general, 4-wheel drive is not necessary.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, and comparable cost to Canada.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

It can be difficult to get a pre-paid plan, but pay-as-you-go is easy to get.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are definitely lots of jobs available, especially if you are fluent in both English and Spanish, however, Chileans tend to hire who they know and don't always advertise jobs. So, if you are new to Chile, you will likely have to rely on international organizations for jobs.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Generally quite formal and conservative.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

It depends on where you live. In Santiago, Las Condes, Vitacura, and Le Dehesa tend to be quite safe. Other parts of Santiago can be extremely dangerous. Car theft is extremely common. But compared to most Latin American capitals, I consider Santiago to be quite safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Excellent medical care. There are several private clinics where many of the doctors have trained in the US.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air is terrible in the winter when it doesn't rain. When it rains it's clean immediately after. In the summer it's moderate. It doesn't help one's personal air quality that people smoke so much here.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Mediteranean. Hot but dry in the summer (around 30 degrees C) which lasts from September-April. Cool in the winter (dropping down to 0 or -1 at night) which lasts from April-September. It almost never snows in the city, but you can drive an hour up into the mountains to ski during the winter. I would say that the climate is ideal.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are several international schools.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Several seem to be available with Vitamina being very common.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, although I have no personal experience.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Quite large. There are lots of foreign mining companies, banks, and lots of people who have chosen to move to Chile.

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2. Morale among expats:

Quite good, although it can be very difficult of make Chilean friends or to find a job.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are lots of great restaurants, lots of theatres, lots of concerts. There is always a lot going on. You will not have trouble keeping busy.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Excellent city for families, good city for singles/couples. People from Santiago aren't the typical outgoing friendly Latin, so don't expect to make a lot of Chilean friends immediately.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It could be difficult, primarily if you have adopted children.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There are definitely prejudices against Peruvians and Bolivians. Lots of prejudices against indigenous groups in Chile. Probably against other ethnic groups as well.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trip to Patagonia where I saw wild penguins, dolphins, seals, ostrich and much more. Planned trip to Easter Island later this year.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Skiing an hour away in the winter. The beach 1-2 hours away year round. Vineyards of varying distances, but as close as 30 minutes. Lots of easy weekend trips. Nice malls. Lots of art/culture.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Wine, lapus lazuli, pewter.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Easy place to live.

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11. Can you save money?

It depends on where you live and what your lifestyle is. You could save money, but if you want to live comfortably, you will probably not.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter coat (unless you go skiing or go to Patagonia).

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3. But don't forget your:

Skis and sunscreen. UV is very strong in Chile.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Santiago, Chile 07/21/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

4th expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington DC - 12 hours on most carriers with connections in Miami to Santiago.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government, US Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is a morale issue at post -- two different areas: Apartments in Las Condes near the embassy for singles or couples without children, and family housing developments in the La Dehesa and Lo Barnechea areas, which are a considerable distance for commuting and which means hefty expenses for fuel and road tariffs.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Similar to the US, and sometimes more expensive. Comparable to Washington DC with grocery chains. There are bargains available at the Mercado Central, which is a popular Farmers' Market.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All the major chains that you can find in the US, except for Wendy's. But why would you want fast food when you can enjoy the spectacular seafood that Chile has?

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Widely available at US$30+ dollars a day.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, prices are comparable to US gyms.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Reliable and safe in most areas of Santiago.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

A few.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are a few, and some English TV channels offered on premium cable television packages.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You will need to have a working knowledge of Spanish to get around Santiago.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be complicated -- Santiago is not user-friendly for the handicapped person.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Chile has a very reliable public transportation system which includes buses, taxis, collectivos, and a subway system.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any vehicle type will work down here. Be aware of the import restriction, however: the vehicle cannot be older than 18 months. Most newcomers will purchase vehicles from expats who are departing post, and others purchase their vehicles in the U.S. and export them to Chile.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes - fair prices start around US$80 a month for DSL.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You will need a quad-band GSM phone down here. If you bring a normal cell phone from the US, it will not work in Chile. U.S. standards are actually behind with the approved frequency standard.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Good.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not many, and it's extremely bureaucraticto get employed on the local economy.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative dress: suit and tie for men, dress or skirt for women.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Just the same precautions that should be taken like in any major city -- avoid areas where crime is more prevalent.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Excellent medical care available, but not cheap.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is unhealthy with smog, however during the winter when it rains it cleanses the air for a few days.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Santiago is much like Sacramento, California, in climate. Hot and dry during the summer months, and almost freezing temperatures during the peek winter months in the evenings and early mornings.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Nido de Aguilas is the American school in Santiago.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

In most of the elite schools they offer programs for children, and many of the communities within Santiago offer programs for children.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fairly large.

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2. Morale among expats:

It varies. Many have a difficult time adjusting to the isolation of Chile and the affects it has on the culture. Others make the best of it and enjoy local relationships within the community where they live.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are all different types of entertainment in Santiago. Depends on the group mix of people at post.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's good for everyone.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Chileans are quite conservative with their moral views, so it's not as widespread as in other parts of South America.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Chileans are reserved with people of different races and cultures, especially those with darker skins. It takes some time and patience to penetrate the conservative shell the Chileans have -- once you do however, you will enjoy your experience with the culture far much better.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling the country has been the highlight of my tour.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are many things to do in the area, such as skiing, river rafting, beaches, mountains, vineyards, and many other outdoor related activities.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Local crafts and products, travel throughout the country.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The eco-tourism is spectacular. The geography is magnificent, and there is much to offer for the adventurist.

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11. Can you save money?

Absolutely not.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I probably would still go, but I would make sure that I lived close to my place of work to save money on gas and other expenses.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations that Chile is like other Latin American cultures -- it's definitely not.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and sense of adventure.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you like the outdoors, then Chile is a must. If you're looking for a cosmopolitan experience, then Chile may not be what you're looking for. Traveling outside of Santiago will make your first impressions of the country fade away, as you will begin to see the country in a different perspective.

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Santiago, Chile 07/12/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, also lived in Seoul

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2. How long have you lived here?

From May 29, 2009 until August 8, 2009

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Embassy

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

8+ hours from Miami, about 9 hours from Atlanta

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

The housing seems pretty good. The apartments are spacious.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries and household supplies cost about the same as in the U.S.Produce is cheaper, however. Be careful of the tuna fruit. It has tiny fibers that cut your hands. The taste isn't worth it.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Drugstore supplies such as Neosporin, decongestants, herbal medications.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are a lot of bad restaurants here and Chilean food has not impressed me. However, there are some very good places. El Huerto, in Providencia, is a great vegetarian option. I've also enjoyed Cafe Melba, owned by a woman from New Zealand, which is on Don Carlos just off of El Bosque Norte. Their breakfast is excellent. I've heard good things about Bar Liguria but I've never eaten there.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

At least during the winter, it's fine. I've only seen a couple of very small bugs during my time here.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

I believe so. I've heard good things, also, about Yoga Shala.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

There are lots of ATMs. I've used the one at the embassy and just carried cash. However, my fiance used his credit card a lot and everything seems to have been okay.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are some English channels and a lot of shows are in English with Spanish subtitles. I would definitely recommend, however, using another source for video/TV entertainment in addition to the cable.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It would be difficult to live here without Spanish. Also, the Chileans have their own dialect which is much more difficult to understand than the version spoken in other areas of Latin America. They have a lot of slang and they speak very, very quickly.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

It would be impossible to use public transportation here if you're disabled.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are very affordable and readily available. The metro is great. It's cheap and I haven't had to wait more than a few minutes for the next train. I haven't taken the bus yet. There are a lot of them, but they can get very crowded. Often there are long lines of people at the bus stops. The long distance bus service is good. They run often, tickets are cheap, and they're clean.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Chile only permits vehicles less than two years old to be imported into the country. The roads seem to be good quality. Although some people complain about the drivers here, they're the same as in D.C.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

High speed is available through various providers. I have VTR and haven't had any problems with it. I've heard Telefonica is terrible.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are EFM positions at the U.S. embassy and it's fairly easy to get a position teaching English. Other than that, I'm not sure.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Professional, suits at work. Chileans dress very conservatively, black, grey, and red are the most common colors. Skirts are almost nonexistent. I feel like my skirt suits immediately identity me as a foreigner.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy, I didn't realize how bad it was until I took a tour of the city and sat in the open air top of the bus. My lungs hurt for the next 2 days. However, my fiance, who has asthma, visited for 12 days and didn't have any problems.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There's a lot of petty crime, I already know a lot of people here who've been robbed. I've stopped carrying a purse and credit cards and try not to look too conspicuous.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The pollution can be an issue.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The winter here is fairly mild. However, the nights get a lot colder than the days so I make sure to bring a coat if I'm not going to return until after dark.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

N/A

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

N/A

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

N/A

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

N/A

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fairly large, there's also a group for American women married to Chilean men.

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2. Morale among expats:

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a good city for different types of people. Although I don't go out to the bars or dance clubs, it sounds like there are plenty of options.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I'm not sure. Chileans are fairly conservative so it could be difficult.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, I've been shocked by some of the racist comments I've heard here. As a woman, I've also noticed the men can be aggressive. It makes things easier to dress very conservatively.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, lots and lots of things to do and see in the north and south. Chile is a very interesting country.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

pottery in Pomaire, lapis lazuli jewelry, manjar desserts (yum!)

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9. Can you save money?

It depends on your lifestyle. It's not much cheaper here than in the U.S.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely, I wish I had a lot more time here so I could do more exploring

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Skimpy clothes, expensive jewelry, and expectations of good Asian food

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3. But don't forget your:

car (great road trip opportunities!!), winter coat, and books (the books here are super expensive)

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Chile is a great place to live. It can be isolating since society here is very exclusive. However, the standard of living is pretty high and the geography is amazing.

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Santiago, Chile 04/12/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Not my first expat experience. I have lived in Manila, Philippines, Tokyo, Japan, Caracas, Venezuela, Lima, Peru, Panama City, Panama, San Jose, Costa Rica, and now Santiago, Chile.

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2. How long have you lived here?

I have been here for 9 months now.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government - U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About 9 hours to Miami.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

For those without kids - most will live closer to the city, in Las Condes, which is walking distance to the U.S. and many other embassies.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

I have a hunch that there is a a special work program for the descendants of Nazis who fled to Chile after WWII - they all now work in Chile's agricultural service (SAG). Their mission is to preclude the entry into Chile of any food or natural product. You will encounter them at the airport upon arrival (better to step off your flight with a kilo of cocaine in your rectum than a forgotten apple in your bag!). Despite relying heavily on exports, Chile is surprisingly closed to food imports - which contributes to a disappointing selection at supermarkets. You'll simply have to learn to go without, since it's unlikely that you could even smuggle things in your luggage past the fascists at the airport.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing food-related, since it would only be confiscated upon arrival.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Chilean food is nothing to write home about. In fact, the only spice they use with frequency is salt. Unlike their Peruvian neighbors, Chileans do not appear to enjoy nor appreciate good food. That said, there are plenty of good restaurants in Santiago, but a good meal is not cheap.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use the Embassy's post office.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Peruvian domestics (nanas, as they say in Chile) are the best.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but they are very expensive compared to U.S. prices.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Available. Safe. Expensive fees.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable or Direct TV is available.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

I speak fluent Spanish, and yet I struggled upon arrival to learn Chileno. In addition to using made-up words (poniente for oeste; mantencion instead of mantenimiento; or entretencion instead of entretenimiento), the Chileans have an odd way of speaking. Some sound like they are speaking in falsetto, others speak as if they're talking to a child, and many men speak as if someone is grabbing on too tightly to their family jewels. However, Spanish is necessary - most Chileans study english in school, but cannot speak or understand it.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Safe and affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Small cars are probably best. Gas is expensive (due to taxes) and the roads are excellent.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Good luck figuring out the dialing system in Chile!

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, it is fairly easy for an expat to get a legal work visa.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Conservative - all black, grey, or navy blue, especially in the winter. Classic styles.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Quite unhealthy - I have given up running outside, especially during the winter months. For the first time in my life, my lungs feel weighted down and I will occasionally wheeze (I do not, and have never, smoked either) after running outside in Santiago.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

Don't know.

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Santiago is probably one of the safest capital cities in Latin America. There is some pickpocketing and purse snatching in the downtown areas, and tourists and obvious foreigners are usually preyed upon there.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good medical care.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's almost always sunny in Santiago. Rain is a rarity during the summer months. And even in the winter, there are quite a few sunny days.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

OK, I guess. There is no sense of community, so it depends more on your group of friends. I think most people arrive in Chile with higher expectations, which settles into disappointment. Most are more than happy when their tours are completed.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

The usual in a large, cosmopolitan city.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Sure - Santiago has a lot to offer everyone. However, regarding singles - compared to other Latin American countries, Chileans are less keen on dating foreigners. They are rather closed and stick to themselves. Most of your friends will likely be other expats.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I would guess that it would be confusing for gay men - given the way that even straight Chilean men carry themselves. In general, society is extremely traditional in Chile - while there are gay clubs, you will unlikely see outward signs of homosexuality even in cosmopolitan Santiago.(Except for the El Golf neighborhood of Las Condes, where there seem to be an abundance of transvestite prostitutes lurking on the street corners at night.)

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Anyone with African blood is treated like a rockstar in Santiago. In clubs, black men will literally be groped and goosed - especially by aggressive Chilean cougars. A Chilean man would die to bed a mulatta. Yet it would be very unlikely for these same Chileans to ever openly date a black person. I chalk up this behavior to severe sexual repression.

Re: gender bias - Chile is probably one of the most machista countries in Latin America. Despite having a female President, Chile has no female CEOs and very few professional women. I am a female and I often take male contacts out to lunch/dinner - the waiters will often laugh outright when I choose the wine or pay the bill. Another pet peeve is when waiters completely ignore me - the only woman at a table of men - and walk away without taking my order (I assume they think that since a man didn't order for me, I wasn't going to eat). Chilean women pride themselves on being mother-martyrs and uber-housewives, and education and career are not priorities. It was recently reported in the local newspapers how Chile scored poorly in world labor rankings due to the lack of women in the workforce. This is also likely due to ridiculously generous maternity packages which have the effect of disincentivizing the hiring of women.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Too many to list - grab a guidebook for ideas.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Excellent wines.

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9. Can you save money?

Probaby not.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Depends on what my other options were. What's not to like in Chile? It's a beautiful country. Very safe, orderly, with courteous, respectful people. However, the country as a whole lacks charm and passion, and is in fact, quite dull.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Teetotaling ways. The wine is great.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunblock. The sun is strong here, and the newspapers publish a daily sun index as a warning. Despite the dangers of the hole in the ozone layer, I am always amazed at the supertan Chilean women. They tan better than Argentinian leather.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Chile is an island, more so than any other natural island. Surrounded by the world's driest, highest altitude desert to the north (the Atacama), the Andes to the east, Antarctica to the south, and the vast Pacific to the west, Chile has been closed off to the world for most of its history, and you will be quick to notice the mentality when you arrive here. They are wary of foreigners - their social circles include their relatives and some longtime childhood friends. Unlike other Latin American countries, Chileans will not be eager to befriend you, perhaps because they are protective of their mutated, in-bred society.

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Santiago, Chile 09/20/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

I have lived in Santiago before.

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2. How long have you lived here?

7 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Educator/Missionary.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

About 3 hours direct flight from JFK via Jet Blue, Delta or American airlines; Newark via Continental. About 2 hours direct from Miami via American.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

1-story ranch styles, 2-story homes and apartments. Many apartments have a guachiman (watchman) for added security. Most of the homes and apartments expats live in are in close proximity to the businesses, schools, churches, shopping areas, etc. (within 20 minutes) The neighborhoods on the east end of Santiago tend to be the nice family neighborhoods and are convenient to all the amenities.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

It depends if you want to buy mainly american goods, then you're going to pay a lot more. Although prices of some things from the states like peanut butter and cereal have gone down since the DR-CAFTA trade agreement. Also drinks such as DR Pepper and Mountain Dew which weren't available before DR-CAFTA, are now stocked in the American-style stores. For us, we tend to buy more Dominican brands-they're cheaper and some things like the Mayo, Mustard and Parmesean cheese are tastier. Supermarkets:1. Supermercados Nacional- frequented by expats and the upper middle and upper class Dominicans. American brands are pricier, but they have a great selection of yogurts, drinks and meats.2. Pricesmart- kind of like a BJs or Sam's Club where you buy things in bulk. You need to purchase a membership to shop there, but they do sell hard to find things like Silk Soy Milk, Chocolate chips, Bratwurst and decent cheese.3. La Sirena- kind of like the Dominican version of Super Walmart. They have a great selection and the best prices in town on just about everything from groceries to appliances to school supplies. 4. Supermercado La LLave- a smaller supermarket-just opened a couple of years ago. But its selection is getting better and its closest to our house. Most of houses and apartments are located within walking distance to colmados (corner convenience stores) where you can purchase a loaf of bread, milk, ice and water. You cannot drink the tap water here b/c of parasites, but you canpurchase 5 gallon purified water containers for 250 pesos (about $8 US dollars) and take it back for a refill thereafter for only 25 pesos (about .67 cents)-the cheapest place I know to buy water.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Unless you're really adamant about having certain things, you can find most of what you need to survive here-even refrigerated Soy Milk. Maybe extra printer cartridges would be good to bring. We shouldn't have shipped so many medical supplies down b/c getting what you need at the pharmacies here is easier and cheaper than we thought.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast Food- your standard American fare is here-McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Taco Bell and KFC. A TGI Friday's just opened here as well-its a little more expensive than the TGI Friday's in the states, but the service there is excellent. Local Fast Food- the Dominican fried chicken place Pollos Victorina is great-actually we think its better and more tasty than KFC (and its cheaper too). There are also a few decent Chinese Food places in town. And we tend to enjoy the local Pizza favorite Pizzarelli more than the Dominos and Pizza Hut. There is a great sandwhich place called La Campagna on Avenida Duarte that serves great Cubano sandwhiches. High Priced places: There are a handful of decent Italian places that we hear are good, but we haven't tried them yet. Camp David Restaurant serves decent, but pricey steaks.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We use a Missionary Flights Service that comes here every 2 weeks, but we know people in the business community who receive packages from the states via the airport much more frequently than we do.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

About US$90 a month for our help-she comes 2 days a week.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most of the major places like the supermercados I mentioned accept debit/credit cards. The DR is becoming less of a cash society, but it is still more of a Cash society than the US. ATMs are located throughout the city. The ones in the shopping malls and major supermarkets are safe to use-I've had no problems so far. Outside of Santiago, I can't guarantee.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

We know of 2 English-language churches:1. Santiago Christian Fellowship which meets on the campus of Santiago Christian School. It is non-denominational.2. The Hub: kind of more like a fellowship than church. Very informal and relaxed-mostly singles attend there. Non-denominational. However, our family recommends to regular churchgoers who want to stay here for the long term to try attending a Dominican Spanish language service to establish relationships w/ the people and learn the language.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

TV: there are several Cable companies here in Santiago that offer anywhere from 10 to 20 channels in English-depending on the company. We have Aster which offers NBC and ABC out of New York, CNN, Fox News, FX, WGN Chicago, TBS, TNT, USA, ESPN networks, HBO, Cinemax, WPIX CW 11 from New York, Golf Channel and few others. If you are a baseball fan, on a any given night during baseball season you will find most Major League games on via Wild feed. Cost per month is only around $15. Newspapers: every once in a while you find the Miami Herald or New York Times at one of the convenience stores for sale.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Well, we know of a samll handful of people here who somehow get around w/o using much Spanish, but to really enjoy getting to know the people and their culture, learning Spanish is a necessity. You will be able to get around, interact and better communicate your needs when you can communicate in Spanish. Most of the Dominicans here show a lot of grace when you at least attempt to communicate w/ them in Spanish. Have a teachable spirit and a good sense of humor about your language mistakes and many people here will be more than willing to help teach you.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Unfortunately, most facilities in Santiago are not designed for people with physical disabilities

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right side just like the states. But driving here tends to be much more chaotic than in the states. The government is trying to crack down on people running lights and have installled timers on the lights and more traffic cops patrolling the busiest intersections. Once you get used to the driving, you'll learn to go with the flow.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis: are readily avaliable and cost anywhere from 100-150 pesos per one way trip ($3-$5).They are safe. Just agree on a fare at the beginning of the trip. Motoconchos: public cars. very cheap, but can get very crammed w/ passengers. Just watch your wallet/pocket book. You can rent a whole car by forking over some extra pesos. Guagas: (mini buses) can be crammed w/ up to 20 people-maybe more. Very cheap-but the same rule applies, watch your wallet or pocket book. There are plans in the works to build a high speed rail service fromt he airport to the central business district. The long range plan will be to connect that rail to the rail/subwayservice being built currently in Santo Domingo. However, it would be some time until it gets completed.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You can get by w/ a regular sedan, but if you want to travel with more ease over the many potholes or do some driving on the back country roads, it might be a good idea to fork over the extra bucks to purchase a 4 wheel drive SUV. Be sure to have a car alarm and/or steering wheel lock. Parts are readily avaliable here for most Japanese cars, Peugots, and Fords. Tires are affordable.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. We have DSL connection w/ a wireless modem in our house through the company Codetel. We pay about $30 a month for internet. Many restaurants and the Plaza Internacional Mall now have wireless internet access.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

There are several cell phone companies here. Claro/Codetel and Orange are the 2 biggest companies. What we did and many other people we know do is bring the cell phone from the states and have it re-configured for use on the network here. Verizon phones tend to reconfigure well for use on Codetel/Claro's network and Sprint and Virgin Mobil phones tend to configure well for Orange use. We just purchase phone cards that give you a certain amount of minutes. It takes a couple months for us to use those minutes up, but we don't use our cell phones a whole lot. If you are a heavy cell phone user or like to text msg a lot, signing up for a plan would probably be your best bet.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We have a U.S. phone # through Vonage which goes through our DSL connection. We pay about US$17 a month for the service. Many people we know here also use Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Great-there is a large and very reputable veterinary clinic just around the corner from our house that we know many expats have used. We also had no problem bringing our cat into the country with us-just be sure to get a rabies shot and a vet's clean bill of health (w/ documentation) within 10 days of arrival to the DR.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not sure, most are pre-hired before they arrive.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dominicans have a higher level of dress expectations than generally found in the United States and Canada. Sensitivity on the part of expats is essential so as not to offend Dominicans. Where I work I am expected to dress in a manner appropriate to the Dominican culture both on and off of school grounds. As a man, I do not go out dressed in shorts in public-men who wear shorts in public are viewed as

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. Some pollution, but the Capital (Santo Domingo) is much worse. Trade wind breezes that blow into the Cibao (the valley in which Santiago is located) tend to keep the exhaust fumes from sitting in the valley too long. During the winter months, the air tends to be cooler, clearer and even cleaner.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

To be honest-some. But like any large city in the United States-you must be smart-don't walk alone at night (especially if you're a woman), and keep your doors and gates locked at all times. Also, don't leave valuables sitting in your car where people can see and steal them. We have a German Shepherd who also helps deter any thieves. Most importantly, don't flaunt your wealth and make yourself any easy target to get robbed. But from what Dominicans and expats tell me, Santiago is a much safer place to live than in the capital.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Health Care: Quality is Improving. A new hospital just opened up here called HOMS. Many of the best doctors and specialists in the Carribean practice medicine there. I have also been highly impressed with the dental care as well-they were using the latest technology from the USA. That said, if you needed some type of major major surgery or treatment for some type of rare disease, returning to the states or a medivac to Miami would be your best bet. Health Concerns: The biggest concern here right now is Dengue Fever from mosquitos. Some of our friends and their family members have contracted Dengue. All of them were able to get excellent treatment here at HOMS medical center and have since recovered. Suggestion-to limit the chance of getting Dengue you should install screens on your windows even if you live on the 4th story of an apartment. It is not 100% foolproof, but will help keep most of the mosquitos out of your home. The Water: as mentioned earlier- do not drink the tap water due to prevalence of parasites. I would also avoid purchasing food from street venders from whom you could get food poisoning from outdated or poorly handled food

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

There are generally 2 seasons in Santiago:May to about mid November: Hot, Humid w/ a chance of a daily Thunderstorm after 4pm. Highs generally in the Upper 80s to Low 90s. Nights in the 70s. August, Sept and October are especially humid as you are in the height of the tropical storm season. Still the trade wind breezes and Santiago's close proximity to the mountains moderate the heat somewhat. Santiago usually feels the rain and occasional flooding effects of a hurricane and tropical storms; the mountains surrounding the city tend to shield us from the worst of the winds from a hurricane. December to April: Absolutely beautiful. Highs rarely hit 90 during this time.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Santiago Christian School-a K-12 school. English-speaking, American style classes taught by certified teachers mainly from the United States and Canada. The school also offers AP classes for high schoolers. Most of the nationals and expat children who attend SCS go on to colleges and universities in the United States, Korea and the Dominican Republic. SCS offers also a dual diploma program for Dominican nationals wishing to obtain both a US accredited HS diploma and a Dominican one. The school has a mix of expat kids (American, Korean, Chinese and European), MKs and Dominican nationals from the most prestigious families in the Santiago area.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Santiago Christian School does accept a certain amount of students with learning disabilities.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Santiago Christian School has recently added a Pre-K 2 program. However there are numerous daycares all over the city, but SCS's is the only one I know in English.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a nice sized American and Korean missonary community. Also many expats from Korea, the US and Europe who work in the Industrial Free Zone are here with their families.

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2. Morale among expats:

Most expats we know enjoy it here. Life is not not without its inconviences here, but those expats who have developed a support circle consisting of a good balance between expats and Dominicans thrive here.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for all three!! For families, once your kids get to know other kids of families (both Dominican and expat) they will find kids to play with. As for family activities, there is a great water park for all ages in town called Kaskada Park. A modern bowling alley just opened here about 1 year ago and is a family favorite. The north coast beaches of Sosua and Cabarete are within an hour to 1 and half hours drive from Santiago for day trips to the beach. There is also a series of waterfalls that kids like to go about 45 minutes to an hour away near the mountain town of Jarabacoa.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Racial Prejudice-Dominicans are a fun loving and great group of people, but they hold deepfeelings of racism towards the darker-skinned Haitians. Religious-nothing noticeableGender-nothing extreme, women are treated well, but still not as equal as in the USA or Europe.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Going to the Beach (Sosua and Cabarete-kitesurfing), hiking at nearby Armando Bermudez National Park, walking, people watching at the Parque Central, shopping, and there is a jazz club in the center of town that I hear is great.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, especially when you buy Dominican brands of food.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes and we still are here.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter Coats and thick sweaters (unless you plan a trip high up in the Mountains)-even up there a hoodie or sweatshirt will do just fine.

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3. But don't forget your:

Good shoes for walking, most other things you can purchase here or order via mail.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

We love living and working in Santiago. But more than the city, we enjoy living with and learning from the people here.

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Santiago, Chile 07/17/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've lived in several SE Asian Countries as well as India.

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2. How long have you lived here?

10 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work for the U.S. Embassy.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Direct overnight trips to the USA.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

In town housing is mostly all apartments, and tends to be fairly spacious. We love our apartment, and have terrific views of the mountains, when the smog isn't too bad. Our place is only a 25 minute walk from the embassy. Out of town housing tends to require more upkeep and repairs, and requires a longer commute to work.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries and household supplies tend to be much more expensive. Even coming from DC, we had a hard time adjusting to the high cost of things. After a couple months here I disovered a local fresh fruit and vegetable market, called La Vega. It's huge and has nearly as much available in the line of fruits and vegetables as the supermarkets and is cheaper.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Bring anything you can, because it'll almost always be more expensive here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Most food chains you'll find in the USA are available here. There are even a few Taco Bells, but they only have a couple options available and we've never eaten there. TGIF, Ruby Tuesday, McDonalds, KFC, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut and the list goes on.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have DPO. It isn't customer friendly as APO, but it works. If you want to send packages the cheapest way possible, you must have stamps, otherwise you can print priority postage from the postal website.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

More expensive than Asia, but still somewhat cheap.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most places are equipped for this.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

I think there are a couple non-demoninational English speaking churches. We attend a Spanish speaking church.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

The embassy has a plan with a local newspaper so we can read it online and in English. There are several English TV stations as well. Not sure of the cost.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You need to know at least a fair amount of Spanish as not many people speak English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Some difficulties, but many places have ramps or elevators available for those in wheelchairs.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

The right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public Transportation seems to be pretty good here. We've used the bus a couple times. Taxis are easy and safe to use, just be sure you get all your money back when you need change. There are collectivos, which are kind of like group taxis that travel a specific route, they are cheaper, but crowded. Santiago has a pretty good and easy to use metro system. We find it easier and cheaper to use than DC's system.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Anything will do for here. We have a small Toyota and it's perfect for most things. With the high cost of gas (about US$6+) a gallon we're happy with a small fuel efficient car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, for cable/internet/phone it's about US$100-150 a month. Sometimes the phone bill doesn't arrive, and you'll suddenly discover your phone has been cut off. This happens with some frequency. Our internet has never been cut, although it's part of the same plan. However, it gets frustrating when you have to go to the company's downtown office and request your bill so you can have your phone turned back on. Beware, because you may also get charged a late fee, even though you never received your bill.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

They're expensive to call from a landline, but as always, convenient and nice to have.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

We use Skype.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Vets and Kennels are plentiful and up to par.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There seem to be.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Professional.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very unhealthy in the winter, I've had some serious problems due to the pollution. The rest of the year isn't too bad.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Normal big city issues. Just beware of your surrounding. Keep your purse on the floor of your car, and out of sight, even if you're in the car. Never set your purse down. Even in a restaurant, keep your purse always on your lap. Don't wear lots of jewelry out in crowded areas.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The pollution can be very bad during the winter. But the rest of the year it isn't too bad. I've had a really hard time health wise dealing with the pollution, but my husband hasn't been effected too much. Medical care seems to be as good as the USA.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Like CA, just opposite seasons.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are several good international schools. NIDO seems to be one of the preferred choices.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Very large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a great place for everyone. There's always a wide variety of choices in things to do. Great outdoor activities such as hiking and horseback riding, hot springs, the beach (though it's usually too cold to swim), lots of wildlife to see. There are also lots of restaurants, theaters, museums and activities within the city for children.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I've noticed, although there is some class discrimination.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Hiking, Patogonia, Ferry/Cruise, wildlife to see, the beach, mountains, museums, theaters, restaurants, and so much more. Chile has virtually everything available that you'd find in the USA. It's a very long country, as so there are always new and vastly different places to explore and visit, such as the desert in the north, to Patagonia in the south.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are a few local artesan markets. Specialty jewelry and copper items are plentiful.

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9. Can you save money?

If you can save money in the USA, you can probably save money here. Things seem to be more expensive here than in the USA. Hotels and travel are also expensive, but if you're willing to stay in backpacker type places you can save a little.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, I think so. But I think that one term here is enough.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

We've been happy for everything we brought as things are very expensive here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen. There's a big hole in the ozone here and you'll burn faster than you've ever burned before. Even for a few minutes out in the sun, I have to wear sunscreen or I go around with a constant rednose.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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7. Do you have any other comments?

It's easy to get frustrated with the people here. They seem very self focused, easily angered and distant, also very impatient, especially when it comes to traffic. It's also sometimes difficult to not expect things to be just like America as life here is very modern and similar. Just focus on your attitude and you can have a great time.

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