Cost of Living in Chile

Expats will find the cost of living in Chile affordable and on par with that of a medium-sized USA city like Cleveland, or a European metropolis like Düsseldorf. While its political and economic stability means it's one of the more expensive South American countries, Chile still remains far cheaper than the continent's industrial giants of Brazil and Venezuela.

Expats moving to Chile's capital will find that the cost of living is reasonable but not particularly cheap. In Mercer's Cost of Living survey for 2016, Santiago was squarely in the middle of the pack with a ranking of 108 out of 209 countries. Still, Chile continues to boast one of the highest ratios of executive salary rates to cost of living. The latter factor is certainly a lure for expats but top management positions in multinational firms are especially coveted, so those planning to move to Chile shouldn't assume they'll be high-rolling all the way home.

Chile also claims one of the continent's largest wealth disparities, and while it's unlikely expats will ever toe the poverty line, it does mean that it's possible to pinch pennies if need be.

The purchasing power of foreign currencies like the US Dollar, Euro and British Pound is strong when compared to the Chilean Peso (CLP).

Cost of accommodation in Chile

Chile boasts a range of accommodation options and even top-quality housing tends to be affordable when compared to other global expat hotspots. Buying and renting prices in the country are among the cheapest in Latin America and a construction boom yielding sleek skyscrapers and an array of housing developments means that standards aren't sacrificed even in the face of lower costs.

There's also plenty of opportunity to negotiate incredibly cheap shared housing, either with a Chilean family or in a furnished space with other expats.

Cost of food in Chile

The cost of food in Chile registers as cheap on a global scale, but more expensive than in neighbouring South American countries like Peru and Argentina. Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables from the large central markets is a great way to save money and to sample the local flavour. Supermarket prices are slightly higher and buying typically Western, imported food items can be costly.

Cost of transport in Chile

Chile prides itself on its urban infrastructure and its systems of public transport are well connected and affordable. The country's main modes of transit are buses (micros) and the metro (in Santiago), both of which are efficient, safe and economical.

Taxis are more expensive and the drivers are notorious for ripping off foreigners. Fortunately, losing this small battle is a blip on the front of the larger cost-of-living war.

Cost of schooling in Chile

Expats with children have a few options for education and schools in Chile, though most choose to send their children to an international school. Two main problems put expats off the public education sector: first, public schools in Chile provide a low standard of education and second, all teaching and curriculum is entirely in Spanish. Some parents prefer to send their children to Chilean private schools but according to law, their fees have no limit so they are usually very expensive. Furthermore, they don't always live up to the promise of better standards of education. For many expats, international schools in Chile are the answer to this dilemma – once again, these fees can be astronomical, but it is possible to negotiate an allowance for school fees as part of an employment contract.

Cost of eating out and entertainment in Chile

Eating out is a popular pastime in Chile and won't necessarily run your bank balance dry. Many restaurants in Chile offer two-course set lunch menus at an appetisingly low price, and dinner in a moderately priced Chilean restaurant, including multiple courses and alcohol, also amounts to a manageable fare. Tickets for prime seats at the theatre cost about the same as eating out, while tickets to local cinema are much cheaper.

Cost of living in Chile chart

Prices may vary across Chile, depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Santiago in October 2017.

Accommodation (monthly rent in good area)
One-bedroom apartment in the city center 280,000 CLP
One-bedroom apartment outside of the city center 300,000 CLP
Three-bedroom apartment in the city center 550,000 CLP
Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city center 470,000 CLP
Eggs (dozen) CLP 2,000
Milk (1 litre) CLP 750
Rice (1kg) CLP 800
Loaf of white bread CLP 900
Chicken breasts (1kg) CLP 3,250
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) CLP 3,300
Eating out
Big Mac Meal CLP 3,800
Coca-Cola (330ml) CLP 825
Cappuccino CLP 1,600
Bottle of local beer CLP 1,500
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant CLP 28,000
Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute) CLP 95
Internet (per month) CLP 23,000
Basic utilities (per month for small apartment) CLP 100,000
Taxi rate (per kilometre) CLP 650
Bus/train fare in the city center CLP 700
Petrol/gasoline (per litre) CLP 750