International Destination Report

12 Tips for Living in Pucon, Chile

By FAIRCLOUGH

An expat in Pucon, Chile has described in detail what it is like to live there as an expatriate. Information offers advice about nightlife, health care, activities, safety, and much, much more.

12-Tips-for-Living-in-Pucon,-Chile

Expats Living in Pucon, Chile

There is a small group of expats and adoptive expats (Chilean born with US residency) that enjoy the climate, the outdoorsy activities, the healthy food, the relaxed living in Pucon, Chile.

Cost of Living in Pucon

Things like gasoline, propane and imported goods are more expensive in Pucon. Things like fresh food, wines, fruit, land, medical expenses, taxes, are cheaper to considerably cheaper.

Meeting Expats in Pucon

There is a restaurant in Pucon called Paralelo 36 where expats in Chile can often be found.

There are a reasonable number of expats and "seen the light" expats ( Chilean born but lived in the US and returned to Chile ) . We have a list or database of e-mail addresses and get together to celebrate Thanksgiving with an outdoor turkey picnic. Thanksgiving is just the excuse because a good number of us are not US citizens, some expats from other countries come too.

The most common way to meet them is to hear them speaking English in the supermarket. People are a little more social and communicate more in Pucon so do not be afraid to ask.

When we moved there last year, word got around that we had bought a home there so the neighbors we have came over to meet us and remind us of the Thanksgiving dinner.

International Schools in Pucon

Since we retired there, we do not have school age children but know that there are private schools in Villarica where one of our "seen the light" expats send their kids. They are tri-lingual and have a bus service that picks up and delivers the kids.

Shopping in Pucon

In Pucon there are three large stores. Unimark, a Walmart food clone with more imported products. A Expres Lider that is quite complete, three El Tit stores with a hardware and lumber yard included. Across from the Express Lider is a farmers market greengrocers store where in season fresh veggies can be found. All organic and local grown with no pesticides or fertilizers.

There is a Falabella store, like a small Sears with an on-line catalog system, local delivery or pick-up at the store. All of these are on the main drag of Pucon which in every city in Chile is named Bernardo O'Higgins.

For larger purchases, Villarica has the same stores but also a larger hardware store and more specialty stores. As construction is booming, there are many lumber yards and businesses selling windows, doors, roofing, flooring and appliances.

Finding something as simple as raisins or BBQ sauce, for example, can be a challenge.

Public Transportation in Pucon

Public transportation is abundant. There are buses that can take you as close as Villarica or as far as Santiago or Argentina. There is a transfer service that picks up and delivers passengers from the Temuco airport to Pucon and back. Just look for the half dozen men holding up TRANSFER signs as you walk out of the baggage pick-up area. About $15 per person one way. There are taxis all around Pucon. as for safe... well, like in any city they drive like maniacs, so be sure tho yield the right of way in traffic. As for general safety, Chile is one of the safest places in the world with very strict gun laws and one of the lowest murder rates in the world. It is safe to walk the streets day or night.

Climate in Pucon

Summers ( December thru March) are fantastic. Not hot enough for air conditioning. a good breeze is all you need. There are no mosquitoes so windows don't need screens. It cools off at night and is fresh in the mornings so a light jacket is always at hand. In winter, the remaining eight months of the year, it is cold and wet. Occasional snow falls in the dead of winter but not enough to accumulate or be a problem. It is about like Seattle or Vancouver.

Heating in most homes, and cooking in some, is done with a wood burning slow combustion device, or a combination of firewood and propane / hot water radiators.

Nightlife and Restaurants in Pucon

As Pucon is a tourist destination, January / February for summer vacations, July for the ski slopes, the restaurants are tourist driven and quite reasonable in pricing. Most have a "menu" system which serves an inexpensive lunch for anywhere between $5 and $15 per person.

During the rest of the year many of these restaurants are closed.

As for nightlife, as any tourist town, threr is plenty of activity.

Health Care in Pucon, Chile

There are two clinics in Pucon, One is municipal and is free or inexpensive. The Pucon Medical Center has emergency services with ambulances.

Villarica is 20 Km away and also has a hospital and ambulance services. Temuco is about an hour away and has a large German Hospital with excelent services as well as other hospitals and clinics both public and private. The doctors in Chile get a free education but only the brightest graduate. Most public services are free and the same doctors have to work for the public hospitals for years to pay for their education.

Even if you have to pay full price for medical services in the German Hospital, it will cost less than your copay would cost with insurance in the US. Waiting times are much shorter than what I experience with insurance in the US.

Expat Health Insurance in Chile

Expats interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Things to Do in Pucon

Pucon is blessed with lakes, rivers, three national parks, a national forest, a ski slope, salmon fishing, river rafting, sailing, scuba diving, parasailing, parachute jumping, canoeing/kayaking, trecking, cycling, jogging and marathons.

There is a golf course, the main hotels have swimming pools and in the surrounding areas there are several hot springs / day spas. There are tennis courts, massage parlors, exercise rooms, gymnasium, yoga classes. Plenty to see and do.

Expat Visa Requirements in Chile

A 90 day visa is provided upon entry to tourists. This can be renewed by crossing the border with Argentina that is an hour away. A resident visa for 360 days can be obtained either in Chile or from the US. It can be renewed several times.

After two or three years of temporary residency one can apply for permanent residency and/or citizenship.

Cost of the temporary visa is around $450 and requires a certificate from the FBI showing no criminal record. That can take a month or more to obtain.

A cover letter stating that you have amonthly income of more than $1200 US if you are retiring there.

Three copies of your current passport and photographs.

Crime and Safety in Pucon, Chile

The crime rate is something everyone complains about but when you hear about it it makes you laugh. The last crime in Pucon was many decades ago, while in Houston there re an average of five or six murders per day. There are strict gun laws in Chile and the only thing to worry about is petty theft. Not pickpockets but locals stealing chickens or that kind of thing.

It is one of the safest places on earth. The economy is sound, It is a real democracy and throughout the whole western hemisphere corruption is the lowest in Chile, Uruguay and up to a certain extent Costa Rica.

US, Mexico and Venezuela being the highest.

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