my boyfriend and I are thinking of moving to Latin America, more likely Chile, for about 5/6 months. we're currently living in Belfast and trying to save up as much money as possible to make this dream come true. we are planning to leave Europe around the end of January/beginning of February for Chile hopefully, possibly Santiago. the big problem is that we don't know Chile at all, and we're in desperate need for advice, share experiences, what to expect, etc etc... the main questions being: general living conditions, living cost (living as frugally as possible, we would need an idea of a monthly budget to get decent shelter and food!), accommodation (is it hard to find, is it expensive, is a decent apartment or shared accommodation easy enough to find), and the job situation (is it totally unrealistic to think of getting a job in Chile for 2 European with very limited Spanish and no degree?? of course, we would both be ready to take any job we could get. i have been told that being fluent in English and French, and with a basic/good level of Spanish, i should be able to find a job in tourism with no difficulty...is that really so?).
anyway, we are both REALLY REALLY motivated, and ready to live the adventure to the fullest, the good, and the bad.
however, we do desperately need advice, especially from people who know Chile well, and who possibly currently live there or have done. please send me your feedback, I'm looking forward to it !
Personally i've only travelled to Peru so far, but i would also love to travel to Chile in the near future...
Santiago is the capital and would more than likely be quite expensive, places not to miss are Valparaiso y Vina del Mar close to Santiago and also further south is a city called Frutillar which looks incredible from a DVD on Chile i saw recently.
I would say between November and February would be the best time to visit in terms of Climate, with the exception of Puntas Arenas to the south which is always very cold being so close to the Antartic.
I base most of the knowledge above on having a friend that lives in Santiago and learning from her so if i find out any more info regarding your post, i shall let you know.
I can only make some very general comments.
- the price level in Chile is significantly higher than in the rest of South America. Rents in Santiago are higher than in Buenos Aires, for instance, prices ranging from €350 to ... I wouldn't know. Same for costs of living; higher than elsewhere in SA, but lower than in Europe. I'd say that, very very roughly, you need about 80-85% of what you would need in Europe to maintain the same standard of living.
- as far as I know, it is EXTREMELY HARD to find a legal job in Chile, just like anywhere else in SA. Learning spanish will at best slightly improve your chances at finding smt (which doesn't mean of course that you shouldn't bother; you should!). You can probably find something in the grey-ish circuit though, but be prepared for lousy pay, insufficient at least to cover your expenses. Make sure you have ample emergency funds for if the job search doesn't work out
Hey, well I'd say if you plan on staying in Santiago, save like crazy because it ain't a cheap city. It is a fantastic city though regardless of it's prices and has some fantastic sights and people there!!! The Chilean men often show signs of "maschismo" when around a single woman, i.e. wolf whistling etc. and if you are fair (like me) you will get a lot of stares. At first, as a woman travelling alone in the city of Santiago, this was very intimidating, but I soon got used to it, and I found out it was more out of curiousity these men and women acted the way they did, and soon I got talking to Chileans and found them to be so friendly and I'd happily visit Chile again!!! A lovely place also is Pucón, with live snow-topped volcanoes, white-water rafting, lovely walks and natural spas!! There is definitely a lot to discover, and most of the country is relatively cheap for the westener, but not Santiago, which is on par with European prices!! Maybe you could get a job as a teacher, or set up one before you leave, however I think most who pay teachers well rely on a degree so I'm not sure!!
Why Chile and why on earth Santiago????
I spent 9 months in South America and had a wonderfull experience but Santiago was one place i hated and i wasnt entirely impressed with Chile except for San Pedro de Atacama,Pucon and Torres Del Paine which were fantastic.
Compared to Argentina the people were not as friendly in Chile and it is so much more expensive and value for money Argentina is so much better.
As for Santiago i got stuck there for 10 days and i was dying to get out of that place after 2 days.It was a national holiday and all the buses get booked up in advance.The streets were dead on the holiday because everyone else wants to get out to.After 3 days of no traffic it was the only time you had a clear view of the mountains in the distance because the smog is so bad.
I just wanted to say thanks to all the people who replied to my post. I got some very good info and advice from all your replies, thank you all ! and of course, if you have anymore information, don't hesitate to write to me again! I surely will write to you again if i have anymore questions...!
all the best,