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La Serena Area Questions

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6/5/2014 13:38 EST

I am planning on moving to the La Serena area of Chile Sept 2014. I have been doing much research online but would appreciate any feedback on the basics such as places and costs to live, possible employment opportunities, banking options and any other information anyone would like to offer. I am a single 40 y/o female who has office administration and healthcare experience, I will have very limited funds to start out with, a small savings to assist in transition. I have even been dabbling in thoughts of starting own business in Chile. I have limited Spanish speaking and writing skills however have been brushing up on it prior to my planned move. Would really like to live a bit outside of city but have access to transportation into city if need. I am really wanting to get away from rat race here in States and simplify my life in all aspects! I truly appreciate any feedback!

6/7/2014 15:49 EST

I have lived in Chile for 2 years now, the first in La Serena and now further up the valley near Vicuna. I was not fluent when I moved and now am doing much better but there is a steep learning cure. Everyone tells me that the spanish here is not like anywhere else. Have you been to Chile before?

There are plenty of apartments in La Serena and in the surrounding area that have access by collectivos or busses. I have found that even apartments in the city are pretty quiet at night.

Do you have any contacts here in Chile to help with work? If you have any specific questions about La Serena let me know and I will see what I can do to help.


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6/19/2014 17:44 EST

jordanhaven, I am a 60-something single , soon to be retired lady who is also considering La Serena Chile as a quieter, calmer, saner place to live than the USA. Do you know about how much an average 1 bdrm apartment would rent for and the approx. cost of utilities would be? I don't really want to be on the beach. Anywhere within a mile or so is close enough for me. I do speak some Spanish, but it is more the Spanish of Mexico and Spain. I realize also that Chileans speak more rapidly and have somewhat different vocabulary. I am a very good student of language and anticipate no great problems with leaning language skills. Thank you for any information you can offer

6/21/2014 18:24 EST

I lived there 16 years ago for one year, and although it was nice in many ways, it was not for me. I am from Canada and I prefer the system here. The life down there is very different so takes time to adjust.
It is desert and very dry and there are alot of insects; they seemed to be doing of spraying in peoples homes to keep the insects at bay which I didn't like. The water tastes strongly of chlorine. I could not drink it but had to shower in it, which caused my hair to bleach out and ignited my excema. There are alot of nice things about living there but not enough to convince me to go back as a permanent resident. If I were you I would go there and experience it for a year before selling everything and moving permanently. Some people's Spanish is easier to understand in Chile than others....I could speak Spanish fairly well with most Chileans but I could not understand the fisherman on the beach. Rents vary depending on what kind of place you want to live in and I don't know the current cost of renting an apartment. Restaurants on the beach in La Serena were very expensive and weren't anything special. As with housing it varies. If you want to buy imported goods it is very expensive. Labour seemed to be cheap, and there are many working poor as a result. There was alot of new development going on when I was there so I suspect the town has grown alot. I had also lived there 34 years ago and it had changed alot when I returned 16 years ago. I was surprised. The nice quiet streets had become much more congested with traffic.

6/21/2014 19:36 EST

vroom, thank you so much for your information. I have been researching a number of different places, and Chile was just one on my list. I didn't realize that La Serena was in the desert, and I hate lots of insects and bug spray. I may check out other areas in Chile, though. I know some folks who have retired to Ecuador, and they love it down there, so I'm going there first. If nothing else Ecuador will make a good base for me to explore other places in Latin America. I've always wanted to live in Europe, but it's a bit too expensive for me right now. I just have to get to a cooler climate than where I'm currently living in Texas. Texas is fine in the winter, but summer here is 7 months long and it's miserable! Life is too short to spend half of it in misery because of the weather!

6/22/2014 18:32 EST

I have been up in the La Serena area off and on for the last five years and I had little of the problems mentioned.

It is on the edge of the desert but the valleys that run behind the city are stuffed full of people who are into organic farming and co-ops.

Sorting out your own personal priority and keeping them all in mind is the way to go. Good for you.


Suzie Hammond is the author of; I am Not Sure Where I Want to Be -But it's Not Here (Easily Find Your Ideal Relocation Destination)

Blog, FREE eZine & Free Special Report-

GeoBlue International Health Insurance

For more than 20 years, GeoBlue has helped the globally mobile navigate the complexities of international health insurance, providing members with confidence and peace of mind. Wherever your destination, GeoBlue can keep you and your family covered with the right health insurance. Click here to speak with GeoBlue's Sales Team.

6/22/2014 18:48 EST

Thank you, suziehammond for your boots-on-the-ground experience and information. I think when I get down to Chile, I may as well check out La Serena as well as the areas around Santiago. I'm definitely not a big-city kind of girl, but I'm OK with suburbs and smaller towns within an easy commute of a big city. Does the area around Santiago have decent public transportation, or would one have to have a car? I know from reading that Santiago has some bad air pollution problems at certain times, so that would eliminate the city proper for me. Does the air pollution become a problem for surrounding areas as well?
Thank you !

6/22/2014 19:46 EST

La Serena must be seen with Coquimbo as Twin Cities as they are neighboring cities. La Serena is more organized, one of the oldest cities of Chile, keeping some Spanish style. Coquimbo is more popular, more workers living on it, but got the charm of the port, the always attractive fish market and the fun of the lay people.

Regarding weather is like a permanent Spring. Never cold and seldom over 30ºC. Today at the start of the winter, the ranges were 12ºC and 21ºC.

Both cities got a fantastic beach of more than 10 kilometers. Nice for swimming, walking and watching birds. There is always room to be alone, isolated on such lengthy beach. If you go off seasons, the better.

For your information, Chilean mostly have their vacations concentrated in only two months of the year: January and February. Also another fun date for Chileans are Fiestas Patrias, the days around 18th and 19th of September when we celebrate Independence. If you ilke local customs, you shouldn't miss this celebration. It is an entire week of holiday, so people come massively to La Serena on these days. But the rest of the year. You got 9 months and 3 weeks of beach activity just for local people. Coquimbo people are unique in Chile.
They take tents and celebrate for an entire week this festivity to a place called La Pampilla, around the end of September.

La Serena is not surrounded by desert. Just look Google Earth. It is a dry area and a severe draught is affecting it. If you move 60 kilometers to Ovalle into the inner valleys, there are big green parcels of land full of grapes, avocado trees and vegetables. You have both dry soil with cactus and scarce food for the peoples goats, and at the same time beautiful green areas. But I don not know which area of Chile visited the friend that said it was a desert. He hasn't seen real deserts, because if you travel to Copiapo, or Antofagasta, there is real desert.

La Serena is really close to Santiago by air. it is a 450 kilometer raid, or 6 hours for normal good bus lines and there are many of them. So, you always can travel to Santiago for business or for shopping. La Serena has branches of all the major department stores of Santiago. So, you can find almost anything you may need.

Going to the Andes, away from the coast, here are beautiful small valleys where the temperature easily rises over 30ºC during several months of the year. There are many spots for natural healing, meditation and alternative practices on those valleys.

Coqumbo-La Serena must be around 300.000 people in both cities combined. In Ovalle city probably 60.000 a rural town, where there is lot to be done yet. On the beach south of La Serena, you find Tongoy a small town for a peaceful life. They got a fantastic 12-15 kilometers shoreline where you can be alone for sightseeing.

Between Tongoy and La Serena there are very fancy resorts. usually for people coming from Santiago. You can rent a place there, quite expensive I guess. Nice locations.

As somebody said, Vicuña is also a nice small town. There is a lot of history around that place, as 1945 Nobel Prize Winner, poetry writer Gabriela Mistral, was born there.

Bottom line. I live in Santiago, but La Serena and its surrounding area has a lot to offer from beach to mountains; from dancing and partying in Coquimbo to meditation on the inner valleys. You can find campesin life and agriculture in Ovalle and dry and dessert life up in The Andes, if you search for old mining gold camps.

if you are interested in mining, there is small miner activity near La Serena in Andacollo. Also some copper mining.

Besides, on rural areas of La Serena, there are astronomical observatories due to the great quality of the sky. There are some for amateur people like me, where you can watch the Southern Cross and receive good information from experts. If you are interested on astronomy Chile by far, must be the country concentrating most of the larger telescopes of the planet, due to some conditions:
1. Clear sky
2. Political stability
3. interest in Astronomy by Chileans

In La Serena starts the observatories.

I hope I helped you to understand the area.

If you need business assistance, send me a private message with your information. I am Business Consultant.

6/22/2014 20:42 EST

Socium has a great write up on La Serena...I'd agree with every bit of it.

We live right outside of and looking down on Santiago in an outer suburb as we are not interested lousy air. Buses and subway to town are regular and cheap and it generally take about a hour to get where you want to go. If we take out the car it is 15 min to town. Our little comuna is very quiet and pleasant and we are so happy with it we are building our 'retirement haven' here now. Depending on when you visit we might have a room for rent.

We want all the perks of the big city and the delights of the countryside. Enjoy your search


Suzie Hammond is the author of; I am Not Sure Where I Want to Be -But it's Not Here (Easily Find Your Ideal Relocation Destination)

Blog, FREE eZine & Free Special Report-

6/23/2014 21:05 EST

Socium, you have given a very thorough explanation of La Serena, Coquimbo, and the surrounding areas! Thank you so much! I am now eager to go and see that part of Chile, as well as the capital of Santiago and the surrounding areas. The descriptions of Chile I have been reading sound to me so much like my native California in USA. So many of the same geographical features. Mountains, deserts, seashore, great central valley of agriculture. And the climates in all these places seem similar to California as well. Necesito estudiar mas el espanol! Muchas Gracias!

6/23/2014 21:07 EST

Thank you again, suziehammond! I am so interested to visit Chile and see Santiago and La Serena myself. Perhaps by this time next year!

12/30/2018 18:55 EST

Did you move to Chile in 2014 ? I'm living in Florida . Looking to doing Business.

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