South America generally does not fare well in surveys of the most liveable places in the world. Many cities in that continent have serious problems with crime and political instability as well as poverty. But it would be a mistake to dismiss an entire continent on generalizations. Moving to Chile is a far safer option than moving to Columbia or El Salvador, for example. South America does have many bright spots, towns and cities that are safe, comfortable places to retire, study or pursue a career.
Santiago, Chile is one of those bright spots. It’s ranked as the second most liveable city in South America, right after Buenos Aires, Argentina. Santiago’s low population density boosts its standing. Buenos Aires, in contrast, is a high-density city. That gives Santiago an edge in terms of traffic, although the public transport system gets good reviews too. The low density helps the air quality, but the proximity of the Andes Mountains is a mixed blessing. It’s great having easy access to an amazing natural wonder, but they do trap smog in the city.
Chile is also rated as clean for corruption by Transparency International. The country earned a 67 out of 100 score, putting it in the 26th spot in a list of 180 countries. To put that in perspective, Ireland scored 74 and ranked 19th while Argentina scored 39 and ranked 85th.
Chile does not have the volume of red tape seen in most of Europe. It’s considered a great place to start a business for this reason. But starting a business is not one of the main reasons for moving to Chile. The draw is really the lifestyle, the adventure and the climate. Yes, there are jobs there. And it is relatively easy to teach English there without being a qualified teacher.
Reasons for Moving to Santiago
Back to the lifestyle those moving to Santiago can expect. Forbes magazine once it called it the most underrated city in South America. Warm, sunny weather and proximity to the mountains and the sea are an appealing combination. Santiago is a good city for people who enjoy the outdoors. New motorways give good access to the surrounding countryside as well as making it easier to for others to travel to the city – shipping your car to Santiago may even be an option for some. Good access and roads have also subsequently improved Santiago’s arts and culture scene.
Newcomers to the city from Europe and North America generally report a relaxed pace of life in a vibrant, friendly, safe city. The cost of living is higher than in many parts of South America, but that goes with the standard of living. If you would like to take some of your belongings with you, there are many ways of doing so, including door to door.
The language is one of the biggest issues reported by those moving to Santiago. Even fluent Spanish speakers struggle with the local accent and slang. Yes, it will help to brush up on Spanish before moving to Chile, but new arrivals can still expect a steep learning curve. But given the welcoming, friendly culture, it isn’t too big an obstacle for most.