Santiago : Chile


What It Is Like to Retire in Santiago

Santiago has been the capital city of Chile since colonial times. The city has a downtown core of 19th century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, dotted by art deco, neo-gothic, and other styles. Santiago's cityscape is shaped by several stand-alone hills and the fast-flowing Mapocho River, lined by parks such as Parque Forestal. Mountains of the Andes chain can be seen from most points in the city. The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards, and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santiago is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of the country.  It gives off a very active and safe urban aura.


Where to Retire in Santiago and Home Prices

There are many expatriates from the USA as well as from other South American countries who have retired to Santiago. There are several neighborhoods to choose from - Providencia (a bit funkier) and Las Condes (more sophisticated) would be nice choices. We have heard of 3 bedroom apartments selling for $300,000 or so, with prices rising annually. You do not need to be a full-time resident to buy property in Santiago but you will have to have a tax identification number; hiring an attorney for legal representation is also necessary. See this New York TImes article on expatriates buying in Santiago. estimates that the cost of buying an apartment in downtown Santiago is $1,700 per square meter.


What Is Special about Santiago

The city has a very unusual mix of architectural styles, mostly derivative or duplicative of Europe. Gustave Eiffel designed the main train station - it looks like it belongs in France. There are also lovely art deco buildings. The city is vibrant and prosperous, for the most part. There are numerous large parks and much of the cityscape has an open feeling. Many wealthy neighborhoods and fancy stores and malls are attractive. There are very good mass transit systems.


What Is Not Special about Santiago

These mountains contribute to a considerable smog problem, particularly during winter.  Chile, like most South American countries, has had a rough political life. Under the authoritarian regime of Allende followed by the reaction of the long lasting Pinochet governments, considerable freedoms were lost. However today the country seems to be doing very well, much more stable than its old rival across the Andes, Argentina.


Who Will Like Retirement in Santiago

People who want an urban life in a bustling capital city, who also have chosen to retire in South America.


Local Economy Is Driven by

This is the commercial and financial capital of the country. Mining and energy and banking dominate. There is considerable tourism as well.  The economy is strong and stable. puts the Chilean cost of living index at 68, compared to 80 for the U.S.


Climate and Physical Environment

Being in South America the city has reversed seasons from north of the Equator. The elevation is 520 meters. Average January temperature is 69 and average July temp is 46.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

As a major city Santiago has a rich trove of restaurants.  The Contemporary Art Museum and the Fine Arts Museum are important cultural institutions.  There is a special tax on books, which was intended to hurt intellectuals, which also makes them quite expensive and copyrights relatively unprotected. There are numerous free reading centers which are an interesting phenomenon.  There are 2 symphony orchestras and a National Theater.  The Gabriel Mistrala Cultural Center is alive night and day with artists and dancers.



Santiago is generally a safe city, although there is a certain amount of urban street crime. Be wary of pickpockets and criminals in tourist areas. Rental cars are often broken into.  There are occasional political demonstrations which you should avoid as they might turn violent.


Medical Facilities

Santiago has two main private hospitals that are accredited by The American Hospital Association and meet U.S. standards: Clinica Alemana and Clinica Las Condes. Both have international patient departments and experience with some international insurance companies. Medical care in Chile is generally good, though it may not meet U.S. standards in remote areas. Major hospitals accept credit cards, but many doctors and hospitals in Chile expect immediate payment in cash. U.S. Medicare is not accepted. Check with your insurance company to see what you are covered for while in Chile.



As a major city Santiago has every form of transportation, including an extensive Metro system. A network of bike lanes is starting although it needs work - nevertheless, biking is a pretty good way to get around.


Valuable Links

Wikipedia page on Santiago


What people are saying about Santiago

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