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Living Expenses

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6/5/2013 12:32 EST

My wife and I are considering establishing residency in Chile. We have some concerns, two of which are the cost of living versus the U.S. and the other is the cost of medical care. We are both on Medicare so here our bills are largely funded. I assume that in Chile we would be paying them out of our pocket.

Could someone enlighten us on these two subjects? Thanks.

6/13/2013 08:43 EST

expenses depend upon where you live, however in the past few years cost of living has risen and I would say that it is about the same as most of the U.S. AS far as your medical care is concerned you will not be covered or reimbursed by medicare, although it will be deducted from your SS. Any medical expenses will be out of pocket.

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6/13/2013 09:55 EST

My husband just spent 3 days in the intensive care cardiac ward here and the whole bill before our private insurance paid it was just a little over $2,000! I was shocked at that low price let me tell you. Medical is cheaper depending on what hospital you use. We pay $300+mo for our private insurance which paid 80% of the above costs and his care was excellent, modern and very up to date. He since had to go back for a pacemaker as he had another episode but we don't have that bill yet--I am assuming it will be similar as it was same hospital, same Dr, one day less stay, only diff will be what ever they charge for the actual procedure of placing the PM orif there are operating room charges. So his pacemaker will run us less than $1500USD after our ins. pays out. (Like you we were very concerned about such events b4 we moved. )

The public health system here will also allow you to pay in a small percentage of your SS benefit (I think it is 8%) and you can be enrolled for the public system which several expat friends assure me is quite good.
As stated by B. they will not just take your Medicare. So plan alternatively. But it is not like US prices and it is quite do-able. I have epilepsy and the insurance accepted me and I have had one hospital stay and the bill higher but similar to costs above. It was a pricier hospital.

Most expats live in several areas of the city that are indeed pricey and similar to the US big city. We are in a quite nice house just outside the city but 15 min to downtown and pay $800USD a month for a nice 4BR house. So as usual expenses are a function of where you have to live.

The first year to get our bearings we stayed in Los Condes in a nice little rental that cost more but was half the size of this place and with a very small yard for the dog. Now we have lots of space and room for dog and guests. This is a beautiful little gem of a suburb. But one has to look. We are now engaged in building out here and because of low labor costs this is proving we can have a much nicer place than we had hoped. Materials are on par or slightly more than US but labor is very low so....

If you live in the hi-middle class end of town and want to shop in the mega mall for all your goods then costs are like the US, indeed for computers and such pricier. But if you are prepared to have some fun and shop for fresh veggies in the outdoor market, live with the local lawyers and dentist in a nice but almost unknown suburb then it is lots cheaper.

In any case enjoy the adventure;

For some fun reading have a look at; Uprooting! The Unwinding of Unusual tales of Relocation

Suzie Hammond is the author of; "I Don't Know Where I Want to Be -But it Isn't Here' (A Comprehensive System for Finding the Perfect Place to Live)

6/13/2013 09:56 EST

Can you give some examples of rents in, and near Santiago versus some outlying area? I understand the cost of living in Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and Houston, but it differs greatly from Elgin IL, Tracy CA, Saginaw MI, and Missouri City TX. All close to the big cities and much less expensive. I have no idea what costs are like NEAR the larger cities of SA. Trying to get an idea. Thanks.

6/13/2013 11:45 EST

Dear Suzie,

Thanks for the great info! Would you please let me know the name of youe suburb? When I was transferred to LA, years ago, it took me 4 months to find a town that I could afford, and where my family would be safe. Your advice can save me that awful period when we move to Chile.

6/13/2013 14:27 EST

We live in a small community on the west side of the city that is now officially the 'safest' in all Chile. Where they get that statistic I am not sure but anyway. There are 250 houses here with one dead end road in and out. A river on one side and mountain behind us. There are very few houses for rent here. When is your time frame and what kind of price range do you have? I will check to see what is possible. There are many building going up as they are expanding by 60 houses down near the river but I can't imagine any of those will be rentals. Ours will be available in about 6 months as our house goes up tho.

Good schools are pretty close but if your kids would be going to the special fancy International School that is on the other side of town and very pricey in terms of fees and time to get there. Serious US prices for all over there. Do the kids have some Spanish?

Blog; Uprooting! The Unwinding of Unusual Tales of Relocation

William Russell International Health Insurance

Need health insurance in Chile? William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite).

Get a Quote

6/13/2013 14:35 EST

Oops! Forgot to type the communa. If you are looking on a map It is part of Santiago and Pudahuel. It is called 'Lomas de lo Aguirre' It looks far from the city but by car is 15 min to town. By bus/subway during high traffic it is 1 hour plus. (they use a different route and stop a lot :) But we use them a lot, you just plan ahead.

6/18/2013 06:49 EST

While certain things are less expensive others are more, just like anywhere it depends on where you live. ASfar as medical here I would say that in private hospitals it is excellant and better than what most care in the U.S. would be. I had a friend visit here who had to go to the hospital for an emergency and ended up staying for 11 days. All exams and treatment came to about !6,000 U.S. which was probably less than it would have been in the U.S. Aside from the pollution and crime Stgo. offers a diverse lifestyle with theater, arts and shopping. Cost of living has risen greatly in the last few years and will probably continue to do so as the economy continue to grow. I suggest that you spend sometime and look around and meet people who live here. Good luck

6/19/2013 10:29 EST

living expenses will vary depending on your lifestyle. There are many areas where rents are cheap and areas where they are not. Sound strange , well it depends on what you are looking for. I.E. living in a condo or gated community you will have to pay rent and even if you buy you will have to pay condo fees which vary as well as the service, you will have to pay for your utilities again which will vary and also it it suggested that you get a security system, although most are less than good to say the least. . Everything is subject to tax and the IVA tax is 19%. some service have a 10% tax rate. If you live outside the city you will need a car and a license fee will depend on the type of car you have. Public transportation whichis expanding is costly. If you live in Gringolandia ( El Golf , Las Condes rents are high I.E. a friend has a two bedroom and she pay about 1600. a month rent plus condo fees. Aside from all that you have to deal with traffic and pollution.

6/19/2013 12:00 EST

Hi Doug,

All of the above is for living in Santiago, the capital city in the Región Metropolitana.
I've been living in Chile for almost four years, in the 5th, 6th, and 15th regions.

The 5th region is the Valparaiso region, and includes Viña. I lived in Limache, about 20 mins outside of Viña, and had a metro train connection right outside my house to go to work every morning. We paid $480 for a big house in a closed condo with a big yard for our dogs.
Most of the 5th region is just West of Santiago (2 hours away).

The 6th includes Rancagua, mining, beautiful mountains, and beaches. I lived in Machali, right next to Rancagua, and worked in Machali and Santiago (about an hour away. Popular commute). We paid $450 for a two floor house in a nice condo, with plenty of space for my two dogs.

A week and a half ago we moved to Arica (northern Chile). I'm just getting to know it. So far, it's quite calm and pretty deserty, except for the beaches! The rent here is known to be high, and we're paying $1100 for a pretty big, four bedroom house, with lots of yard space all around the house for our now three dogs.

If you choose to live in Santiago, the above info is probably what will help you. Personally, having working in Santiago for the past 2.5 years, I could never live there. It's too loud, crowded, and has way too much pollution. I'd recommend Limache or Machali any day!

6/19/2013 12:10 EST

Thanks! All good information. What we will look for is semi-rural area with internet access and nearby public transportation. A small cottage or one bedroom apartment will do.

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