Have you been to Santiago de Chile? How was it?

With my boyfriend we’re on a year long trip and we’re currently in Europe. But we’re thinking about going down to Chile to change environments (and because Schengen).
We’re both fluent in Spanish, and I am Central American, but I’d like to know what Chile’s like for digital nomads: internet speeds, coworking spaces, commuting, safety, etc.

Also, how easy/cheap is it to fly to other South American cities?

Any recommendations, stories or thoughts are welcomed :slightly_smiling:

I was there 3 years ago and the Internet at the apartment I rented sucked. I had a suspicion that it may have been due to a mis-configuration of the DSL modem, though. Or maybe it was the provider. In any case, it created quite a few difficulties for me.

I liked Santiago well enough, and I hope to return at some point in the future, but didn’t think it was anything extraordinary – certainly not by European standards. One thing that struck me as funny is how “upscale” areas to the east are actively importing lowest-common-denominator fast food brands and how people living in those areas consider them cool – for example, there are Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shops in expensive areas of Las Condes.

I have a bit of an old-school-European-city bias: I am in favor of dense and walkable urban layouts. Santiago is not perfect in that regard: there are a few dense neighborhoods downtown, but mostly it’s low-rise almost everywhere except large commercial streets (where it’s high-rise).

Safety-wise, I personally had no problems (stayed in Santiago proper, but close to Providencia), but I saw a weird fight on the street, in the middle of the day, heard police helicopters overhead on a regular basis (although it probably had more to do with the ongoing protests and post-soccer-match crowd control rather than street crime) and unfortunately witnessed a suicide, which was the most shocking for me – all in the space of 3 months.

Chile is the Thailand of South America: it’s the safest and easiest country to start exploring the area. But I feel like everything is much safer and easier in Southeast Asia.

You can live the condo live in the skyscrapers of the better parts of the city. You’ll be going to malls that feel similar to being in the US, to areas without overhead wiring and to sushi restaurants just like in any other city – but if that is was you are looking for then I wouldn’t recommend to go to Santiago. The beaches are not too nice, the food gets boring although the quality of fruits is the best I’ve ever had, the mountains are a nice thing to have but you won’t spend as much time there as you might want to.

I have lived there for 3/4 of a year, but that was before my DN live started. I lived in a guest family in a poorer part of the city but pretty close to the center, doing a social project with street children. Taxi drivers wouldn’t want to drive me into that area unless I managed to convince them that it was safe enough for them. I heard shots at night but was told by my family, with a smile, that it was only because someone shot into the air for celebrating the win of a soccer match. I grew up as a single child and enjoyed becoming part of a large family I never had before. Once, while I introduced my new family to some drinking games, we ran out of beer and had to go out with my guest father at night to buy some more through a neighbors’ cage like barred mini shop. I then had to see two dead bodies laid out over the curbside surrounded by a crowd of weird looking people just a few meters next to my house. My guest father quickly explained to me that I had to look away and to not intervene. That was very much against all I had learned and every instinct I possessed. Wasn’t the nicest experience and makes you wonder who would intervene if you were in problems.

I am a white blonde European having ties to Germany and Spain, both having a long and totally fucked up history with Chile. I often felt racism that made me uncomfortable. To a lot of uneducated people, which of course are the majority, I was just a US-gringo and they looked at me as if every problem they had was my fault. In the city center I and other white people, especially those with a Spanish language that sounds like the one the Spanish royal family speaks, not like the Spanish spoken in Latin America, were treated in a privileged manner. I didn’t like it either. I wanted to emerge, not to be special. I remember standing in a long line of a phone carriers’ shop with around 50 people in front of me waiting to be attended. I was approached by a security guard and was pushed to the front of the line to be attended next. I was expecting the crowd to give me angry faces but, much worse, they looked at me as if it was the correct thing to do.

A lot of socialism, a lot of religion. Fucked up brainless TV, reggeaton (think of Hip Hop with more sex, one rhythm only and even much less intelligent texts), corruption, dependent media. A very divided society. People that I had contact with in my neighborhood where either scarred of me because I was shocking them with my Spanish or because they saw me walking through the streets without fear of being hijacked. At the end some respected me because they had heard that I was helping the community. Othesr thought that I was some sort of fearless rich gangster ruling the area and started greeting me in an overly respectful manner. All in all a good travel experience for adventurous people and good story to have lived but I would think about other places first if I’d work as a DN.

Chile is extremely long and thin. Flying to other places is not common. You will take moderately priced luxury over night busses to either the north or the south because that is the only two directions you can drive in this country. I have been to impressively dry deserts in the north and just by accident, without knowing it, had been much further south than Tasmania, which is souther of Australia. Santiago already is at the same latitude as Cape Town in South Africa is. The landscapes are diverse and the national parks are nice but there are other options on the planet I’d go first.

Thank you so much for such a detailed account of your time there @snu6eW . It really puts things in perspective. I’ve had friends doing semesters in universities in Chile and I was surprised at how nice their time there sounded, but maybe they just hung out on the rich side of town. It is funny how it’s been said that Chile is the only place in Latin America that feels like the first world, maybe it’s only that way for the privileged few.
It might not be the best to digital nomad for now, though I’m still interested in going there, but maybe more as a tourist. Thanks again!

1 Like

I think I also have that bias, I’ve enjoyed my time in Europe greatly because of that: just being able to walk anywhere.
Thanks @bisonravi!

Take personal experiences with a grain of salt. If you feel like going to Chile go!
The safest countries in South America by far are Chile and Uruguay, but still they are more dangerous than the glorified countries in south east asia than most people here crave for. Also Chile and Uruguay are not cheap places, they are expensive in comparison to SEA.

Hey @andredardon,

So I lived in Chile for about 3/4 of a year, traveled from Arica to Santiago to Chiloe and in a fair amount of the small mountain and beach towns.

A quick rundown on my experience there:

  • Santiago: I lived on and off in Barrio Brasil, which is very centrally located to downtown, and gives you a nice flavor of the city and really being in Chile. If you live up by the malls/in Providencia/anywhere nearer to the mountains you will be getting much more of an American (not European) city experience. This probably has something to do with the fact that in general the average Chilean is just like the average American circa 2006 before our stock market crash. I won’t go on a rant about consumerism or public debt but let’s just say if you don’t live in one of the “cooler” barrios you will have a very generic experience. ** Had bad internet experiences everywhere in Santiago, from my home to hostels to cafes.**
  • Concepcion: I actually LOVE Conce, way more so than Stgo. I stayed near the university area, so there’s decent nightlife and a hotbed of intelligent academic- and student-types you can meet. Food options are more interesting since it’s near the sea, there are some nice park options, and congestion is totally not a thing. You’re also closer to countryside, the sea, and the mountains if you want to go do things. Highly recommend a stint in Conce. It sort of feels like Portland, OR, if you’ve ever been here…Internet experiences spotty–sometimes really good, sometimes really bad

I could continue about other places, but how about if I just follow up one day here with links to some of my blog posts about it, where the info is already aggregated?

To address someone’s comment about Chileans being racist, I’d say this: they just stare a lot. A woman alone? They are going to stare even more. Just ignore it; it’s not meant to be anything more than a culturally accepted practice. You can even stare back :smiley:

P.S. This is coming from a fluent Spanish-speaking multiracial brown girl of indiscernible racial heritage. The closest accent I ever got to Chilean was an Argentinian version. Good look with Chileno…it’s tough.