- Download our Moving to Chile Guide (PDF)
Those hunting for a home in Chile have a wide variety of locations to consider. Being the world’s longest country stretching north to south, Chile’s climate and topography are incredibly diverse, giving expats quite a bit of thinking to do before settling on an area of this beautiful South American country.
Chile boasts a broad array of accommodation options for expats, and even top-quality housing tends to be affordable compared to other global expat hotspots. Unfortunately, as the country’s strong economy is attracting more and more people, housing demand is increasing – and prices along with it.
There is much debate over Chile’s real estate, with housing prices in some areas far exceeding many budgets, especially those of young people. New housing developments are constantly under construction, though, even if the size of these dwellings tends to be quite small.
That said, expats can easily navigate their accommodation searches, find the right home and finalise a lease with the right guidance.
Types of accommodation in Chile
Expats will find accommodation in Chile in the form of apartments or houses (casas). Houses and cabins are more common in small towns and the countryside, whereas those living in urban areas tend to rent apartments. City dwellers also sometimes rent rooms in shared apartments, which is a bit easier on the pocket. Students, especially, often choose this option or, alternatively, they arrange for a homestay through a university exchange programme, which allows them to reside in the home of a local Chilean.
Finding the right home at the right price will require expats to do thorough research, especially if they’re looking for accommodation during peak season in tourist areas and large cities. That said, rent is often negotiable.
Furnished and unfurnished
Both furnished (amoblado) and unfurnished (sin muebles) options are available in Chilean cities. In either case, a full itinerary of the condition of furniture is critical when agreeing on the lease.
Unfurnished apartments will have limited furniture or appliances (usually ovens and hobs, sometimes light fittings and a couch or bed). It is typically possible to negotiate for other appliances as well. Furnished apartments come fully stocked, typically with necessary cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery.
For those seeking flexibility, short-term lets are a popular choice. These arrangements typically range from a few weeks to several months and are ideal for expats who are in Chile for a temporary period or are still exploring different areas before committing to a long-term lease. Short lets come in various forms, including serviced apartments, holiday rentals and Airbnb-style accommodation.
Serviced apartments offer a convenient option, as they are fully furnished and include utilities and cleaning services. This accommodation type is particularly popular in major cities and tourist areas. Holiday rentals, found in coastal regions and scenic areas, provide a homely experience for those wanting to explore Chile’s natural beauty. Airbnb and similar platforms also offer a vast range of short-term rental options, allowing expats to live like locals in both urban and rural settings.
When opting for a short lease, it’s essential to check the terms and conditions carefully, especially regarding deposits, utility charges and cancellation policies. These properties are often in high demand, especially in peak tourist seasons, so early booking is recommended.
Finding accommodation in Chile
Finding an apartment or house in Chile can be complicated if expats don’t speak Spanish and are conducting their search from abroad. It’s therefore a good idea to solicit the services of a friend who already lives in Chile, a realtor or relocation company who can translate and assist in the house-hunt.
Several rental agencies cater specifically to the expat community in Chile’s major cities, while relocation companies take it a step further, offering a comprehensive range of services that cover the whole moving process. These service providers make finding accommodation and moving much more straightforward but costly.
Santiago’s daily newspapers generally have a property listing section, while many supermarkets have bulletin boards where properties for rent are advertised. Numerous online property portals such as CompartoDepto, Vivastreet and ACOP can be helpful in getting an idea of the property market and narrowing one’s search based on the preference of price, location and property type. Social media networking via Facebook is also common.
It can be beneficial to search for accommodation after arriving in Chile. Many expats initially find temporary accommodation or a hotel before finding a more permanent option. Being in Chile means expats can also drive through areas they like, scanning for ’se arrienda’ signs.
Expats should do further research into locations like popular expat and tourist cities such as Viña del Mar, Valparaíso and, of course, areas and suburbs in Santiago. It’s important to consider the area where one chooses to live in Chile and its proximity to schools, shops, work and public transport links. Traffic congestion can be heavy in Santiago and other cities, so being close to specific amenities is an indispensable factor to consider.
- CompartoDepto is a leading platform for finding shared accommodation and rooms for rent in Chile.
- Vivastreet is an online portal offering a wide range of rental properties, including houses and apartments in various Chilean cities.
- Portalinmobiliario is a comprehensive real estate website for finding all types of accommodations in Chile.
- Yapo.cl is a popular classifieds website in Chile where locals frequently list properties for rent.
- The website of the Chilean Real Estate Association offers resources and listings for various types of accommodation.
Renting accommodation in Chile
Rental agreements in Chile are either for an indefinite or a definite period. The more flexible leases allow tenants to leave after giving one month’s notice. Leases with a definite period are generally for 12 months. Overall, expats may be able to negotiate shorter or longer rents with a flexible landlord.
Depending on the landlord, expats may be required to have a Chilean guarantor to secure a rental contract. In most cases, an expat’s employer will act as a guarantor – otherwise, a lawyer or relocation company can assist in explaining the contract. When a guarantor is required but expats cannot find one, they can usually negotiate to pay a larger security deposit instead.
Rental agreements typically require a deposit of at least one month’s rent. A higher deposit may be required in some cases. Expats should always ensure the condition of the accommodation when securing the deposit and signing a lease.
Terminating the lease
Terminating a rental agreement in Chile requires attention to specific legal formalities. Tenants wishing to end their lease early should review their rental agreement for any clauses regarding early termination. For fixed-term leases, tenants are generally obliged to fulfil the lease duration unless an agreement is reached with the landlord.
In the case of an indefinite lease, tenants are typically required to give at least one month’s notice in writing. It’s advisable to communicate this intention as clearly as possible to avoid misunderstandings. The notice should be sent via a formal method, such as registered mail or a notarised letter, to ensure there is a record of the communication.
If a tenant leaves without giving proper notice or fulfilling the lease terms, they may forfeit their deposit. In some instances, landlords may even pursue legal action for breach of contract. Therefore, it is always recommended to adhere strictly to the terms set out in the lease agreement.
When a tenant needs to leave due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a job relocation or family emergency, it is often possible to negotiate an early termination with the landlord. Being transparent and providing ample notice can lead to a more amicable resolution.
Utilities in Chile
Utilities aren’t often included in the rent and should be factored into the monthly budget. Water, gas and electricity are relatively expensive, and as Chilean accommodation can lack insulation, heating can become costly during winter. In some complexes, water and other utilities may be included in the rent, although there may be additional fees, such as maintenance expenses if the complex has a swimming pool and storage and parking spaces.
In Chile, the electricity sector is predominantly in the hands of foreign and local private companies. Key players in the market include Enel Generación Chile, AES Andes, Colbún S.A., Suez Energy Andino and EE Guacolda. The sector primarily utilises hydroelectric power alongside oil, gas and coal, with an increasing contribution from wind and solar energy sources.
The standard voltage for electricity in Chile is 220V, and the frequency is 50Hz. Expats should be aware that the most commonly used plugs are Type C, which are two round pin plugs, and Type L, which are three round pin plugs. It is important for expats moving to Chile to ensure their electronic devices are compatible with these standards. Adaptors and converters might be necessary for appliances brought from countries with different electrical standards.
While not overly frequent, power outages in Chile do occur, especially during the rainy season. To protect sensitive electronic equipment, it is advisable to use surge protectors. Additionally, the electrical infrastructure in some older buildings may not be up to modern standards, including a lack of grounded outlets. Before renting a property, it’s recommended to check the condition and compatibility of the electrical infrastructure to avoid any inconveniences or safety issues.
For more information on electricity in Chile, including guidelines on electrical safety and standards, expats can visit the websites of major electricity providers like Enel Generación Chile and AES Andes.
In Chile, natural gas plays a crucial role in electricity generation, industrial applications and residential uses. The majority of natural gas is imported from Argentina through the GasAndes pipeline. Efforts are underway to expand the connection of residential users in larger cities to the gas transmission system.
ENAP is responsible for the importation and production of natural gas in Chile. Other companies involved in natural gas distribution include Metrogas, Gas Sur, Innergy Holdings, Gasnor and Gasmarket. These companies ensure the provision and distribution of gas across different regions of the country.
For heating and cooking purposes, residents have access to both piped and bottled gas. Piped gas is predominantly available in urban areas, while bottled gas is more commonly used in rural regions. Depending on the rental agreement, either the landlord or the tenant may arrange for the gas supply setup.
For further information on natural gas usage in Chile, including safety guidelines and service providers, you can visit the websites of ENAP and major gas distribution companies like Metrogas and Gasnor.
In Chile, Aguas Andinas is the largest water and sewage utility provider, catering to around 40 percent of the country’s population, including Santiago. This company plays a vital role in ensuring the supply of drinking water and the treatment of sewage within its service areas.
Chile stands out in Latin America for its water quality. A World Bank survey indicated it as one of the few countries in the region where tap water is considered safe to drink according to the US Centers for Disease Control. The country boasts 100 percent coverage in both drinking water and sanitation. Despite facing high water stress, Chile has one of the lowest rates of water supply shortfalls among surveyed countries.
For expats relocating to Chile, it’s reassuring to know that water quality is generally high and tap water is safe for consumption in most urban areas. However, in some rural regions, relying on bottled water may be advisable. Given the ongoing droughts and water scarcity issues, water conservation is a significant concern in Chile, and expats are encouraged to be mindful of their water usage.
To learn more about water services in Chile, including water quality and conservation efforts, you can visit the website of Aguas Andinas and other regional water service providers.
Bins and recycling
Chile is actively working towards enhancing its waste management and recycling capabilities as part of a broader commitment to achieving a circular economy by 2040. The country faces a significant challenge, with an estimated 17 million tons of municipal solid waste generated annually, of which only about 10 percent is currently recycled. This waste includes a considerable amount from households, amounting to around 6.5 million tons.
The recycling culture in Chile is still in its nascent stages, focusing mainly on materials like paper/cardboard, glass bottles, plastic bottles, aluminium cans and multilayer ‘tetrapak’ containers. Facilities for recycling electronics, batteries, tires, plastics, metal and printing cartridges are not widespread, making it more challenging for residents to recycle these materials.
The Chilean government has introduced the Extended Producer Responsibility Law, a significant step towards a sustainable future. This law prioritises the prevention of waste generation, followed by reuse, recycling and other recovery methods. It embodies the ’polluter pays’ principle, encouraging responsible waste management.
For expats living in Chile, understanding and participating in local recycling practices and waste management regulations is crucial. While the recycling infrastructure is evolving, there is an increasing demand for environmentally friendly solutions and technologies. Expats can contribute to Chile’s sustainability efforts by complying with local recycling practices and staying informed about waste management regulations.
For more information on recycling practices and waste management in Chile, expats can visit the official website of Chile’s Ministry of the Environment at Ministerio del Medio Ambiente.
Chile has a mature and modern telecommunications infrastructure. Key players in the market include Movistar, Entel and Claro.
Expats relocating to Chile will find that the country boasts a well-developed telecommunications network, particularly in urban areas, where access to reliable internet services is the norm. However, in more remote or rural regions, the availability of high-speed internet may be somewhat limited. This disparity is something the government is actively working to address, with ongoing commitments to increase investment in telecommunications infrastructure and bridge the digital gap.
When choosing an internet service provider in Chile, expats should consider the provider’s reputation for quality and reliability. It’s also important to be aware of local regulations governing telecommunications to ensure compliance and to make informed decisions regarding service subscriptions.
Buying property in Chile
Both Chileans and foreign citizens have rights without restrictions on buying property, except in some areas near the country’s borders. It’s not necessary to have full Chilean residency to buy property in the country.
Expats should investigate obtaining a tax number (RUT) and a Chilean ID number, allowing them to open a bank account. This is useful when transferring funds to the previous owner and obtaining a mortgage.
Expats should look out for "se vende" (for sale) signs, as well as adverts in local papers and online. If unable to speak Spanish, expats should have a friend or agent who is fluent to assist and translate throughout the process. When buying property, it is also important to hire a lawyer who is specialised in property law and can record the necessary details and draw up the contracts. The deed must be signed and stamped by all parties at the notary and then recorded at the inscription office called the Conservador de Bienes Raíces.
What do expats think of accommodation options in Chile?
"For security reasons, most expats prefer to live in apartments with a shared communal garden or houses in gated condominiums. Some like to live in larger detached homes." Read about Nina’s experience with accommodation in Santiago.
"Most new housing developments are on the outskirts of the city and are typical cookie-cutter suburbs. You need a car if you are going to live there. They seem to appeal to families rather than single people or couples without children." Noëlle chatted to us about how she found the standard of housing in Chile.
►For information on opening a bank account and filing taxes, see Banking, Money and Taxes in Chile.
►Read more in Accommodation in Santiago when looking for a place to stay in the capital
Are you an expat living in Chile?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Chile. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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