How We Chose Chile as Our Expat Destination – Part 2

• A High Level Of Education

Education is compulsory in Chile. With a literacy rate above 96% Chile possesses a high percentile and is a country filled with people who can read and write! Also, learning the English language is now mandatory in the schools of Chile. Ricardo Lagos, the current President of Chile was the Minister of Education and Chile continues to invest wisely in the human capital through education.

• The Ability To Invest In And/Or Own Real Estate.

Many countries do not allow foreign citizens to own land in their country or if they do, the title can be clouded and it can be next to impossible, once your investment has been made, to expatriate your funds back out of the country. Chile has maintained strong property ownership laws since the mid 1800’s. Also, there is a constitutional guarantee to allow foreigners to expatriate their investment funds as well as profits. In Chile, foreign investors are considered on an equal footing with Chilean citizens.

• A Low Population Density

Okay, consider this. California has a population of over 30 million people. Chile’s ENTIRE population is just a tad over 15 million people. Need we say more? Just in case you were wondering, Chile’s population density is ranked #153 on Wikipedia’s list of countries by population density.

• The Ability To Import Personal Belongings Without Penalties

Many countries limit importation of personal belongings to the clothes on your back or perhaps a suitcase or two. Chile allows up to $5,000 worth of belongings. Chile does not allow for the importation of used cars, but if it is a fairly new vehicle, there are exceptions. Vehicles are very reasonable in Chile and there are strong new and used car markets. Also, Chile has established trade agreements, which reduce or eliminate duties on the importation of vehicles so you can expect to find prices about the same or perhaps a bit lower than what you are used to.

• A Culture That Promotes Ethics And Values

How can one measure Ethics and values? We guess you will have to take our word for it but we have met a great number of decent, honest people with very strong family values. This is a very refreshing experience, when coming from a land where the word “Enron” is now considered a verb that means, “to cheat.”

• A High Quality Of Health And Dental Care

In Chile, the smiles are usually wide, clean and if not pure white, at least close to it. There is not a lot of illness to be seen and the hospitals are clean, well-stocked and the medical care is first class as well. Life expectancy rates are high and rising in Chile. The Chilean average life expectancy is now 76.3 years, which is on a par with the USA.

• Low Crime And A Safe Environment

Can YOU walk outside at night without fear of being mugged? Where we live, we can and do quite regularly. While there ARE places in some of the larger cities that would NOT be considered safe under any circumstances, Chile is relatively safe and unless you are a walking advertisement for a mugger, wearing showy jewelry and flashing wads of cash, you do not generally need to worry because no one will be seeking you out. Our 22 year old daughter and a friend made the mistake of being in the wrong place at the wrong time one evening, but the five young, would-be muggers did not expect that a 6 ft 1 in., thin and beautiful blonde Amazon would knock their teeth out and take away their chance of ever having children, either. Luckily our daughter was prepared for this type of event. We would have preferred that she not have PUT herself in that spot, but we are thankful that she is well trained. No matter where you are in the world BE CAREFUL!

• The Ability For Us To Obtain Visas And Work In Our New Homeland

Obtaining a visa to work and live in Chile is not the mass of red tape that many countries have in place. We must say that we have researched other countries’ requirements for visas and Chile is about as straightforward as it gets. In Panama, where the Pensionado program does not lead to a Passport and one can not work under that type of Visa, Chile will easily allow you to work, live and eventually to receive a Chilean Passport. One can form a corporation or a Limited Liability Association and may even be the only employee, if you wish. In Panama, there are restrictions about working yourself and a requirement for hiring Panamanian employees. In Chile, it took us less than three weeks to receive our Visas from the time we first applied. We will say that it appears to be a much simpler process from within Chile, rather than from one’s own home country. Also, we have never heard of anyone being denied a Visa if they first obtained a Work Contract.

• Ease Of Importing Family Pets

As you may already know from reading some of our other articles, our pets are family members. For them to languish in an “Animal Jail,” while we roam free is unthinkable! We understand the problems that certain countries may have involving diseases like rabies, heartworm or worse, but to make a DOG or a CAT have to spend MONTHS in Quarantine, when the worst thing they “might” bring into a country is a case of ear mites is unacceptable! Chile has a very simple process for importing your furry family members. While not barbaric, Panama’s procedure usually requires the services of an attorney and your pets may be allowed to be under personal Quarantine so they can stay with you. We are not sure about bringing them in and out of Panama, on a regular basis, though, so it would be wise to check.

Excerpted from “Moving To Chile, Part Two: Chile Measured Up!” in Escape From America Magazine, Issue 76.

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