It’s not the US
Life was hard in Chile. Why? Because it was not comfortable… of course that totally depends on your own point of view and your background. But for me, moving from Southern California, going to Disneyland any day I wanted (78 times a year actually), having A/C in my house so I can always wear light clothing and be barefoot if I wanted even in the winter, having Amazon deliver something the next day, having IKEA and Costco; amongst other things, yes, life in Chile is uncomfortable and undesirable.
But is it?
In all honesty I wanted to answer YES to the previous question because I wanted to move back to the States. I was forgetting however, that we had decided to move there for a reason, a reason that was escaping me as I was truly feeling like I was at the end of the world.
We did it!
It was a regular Christmas season and we traveled to Chile, as usual, to visit family and spend the summer season of celebration. When we came back at the beginning of the new year, we strongly felt that we had to move there and in ten days we were back. We didn’t come back to the US for another two years.
Growing up in Chile
I grew up in Chile and since I moved to the US right when I was 18 years old and I went straight to study, I never had a real grown up experience while living in Chile. So coming back to my country of birth after 11 years was like moving to a foreign country. Besides, Chile has changed tremendously since I left.
After being there for one year, I made a list of the things I learned and I hope they are helpful to you wanting to visit this unique place.
We learned the true meaning of bureaucracy. Everything you want to do in Chile requires some form of paperwork. For. Real.
Living in Chile is EXPENSIVE
Cars are more expensive than in the United States but it costs about the same to drive them (although they have 97 octane). You can find cheap cars, but if you want a good and safe car, pray that it never has an issue because you will either have to take it to a dealer that charges you an arm and leg and an eye (as they say in Chile), or you would have to import the part yourself and pay the import tax of 19% and hope that a mechanic will fix it for you… in less than 3 months…
Living outside of Santiago means that at some point you have to go to Santiago for something, and not the other way around. True story. We lived for 6 months in Quillota, which is only an hour and a half away from the city and we wouldn’t even get mail delivered to our address…
The Public Health System in Chile
The public health system works great if you don’t have the means to pay for better insurance options, although you do have to plan on spending a whole day at a public hospital (which we did when Ryan hit his head playing soccer). The doctors are good and the service was the same as in the States, although in a less beautiful building. We had to vaccinate our 1 year old and even though we didn’t have insurance yet, they administered them for free. Same vaccines as in the US.
The Culture of Living in Chile
Living in Chile means soccer is important, for whatever reason. Actually, let me write that again: Soccer is SUPER important! and I do like soccer, don’t get me wrong. If you didn’t like soccer or you didn’t care for it, you will care because the euphoria of the people is very contagious. If Chile is playing, the streets are empty, the stores paralysed with all the TV’s on and the smell of BBQ everywhere you go.
The quality of food is good and it’s delicious. Avocados everywhere, delicious fruit that isn’t common in the US like Cherimoya. I’d say there’s not a defined Chilean cuisine (in my opinion) and if there is, it’s plain/bland and not super creative. Do I love the “traditional” plates? Oh yeah! They are simple and flavourful.
Supposedly any immigrant like my husband or an European is considered a “foreigner” but if you’re an immigrant from Latin America or anywhere that may resemble that, then you’re an “immigrant” 🤔
Living in Chile, I’ve never met (just yet) a true patriotic, proud Chilean. Someone that truly has great things to say about this country… not even the foreigners that are here consider Chile a great place and they always talk about how their countries are better. I met a lady from Siria… who had been in Chile for five years… who wants to move to Australia… not even she can say something great about Chile!!
Anyway… for those that know us, we never abide by the rules or followed blindly what people say and we are against the system of which we are part… #chileanlife
The Real Chile Revealed
The grass is always greener somewhere else and you can apply this to your own little world you have going on at home. At some point we are all doing the same thing: taking what’s given to us and creating with it, using it, transforming it or simply observing it. No matter where we live. There’s good and bad in every place. I’m a US citizen and a Chilean citizen and the truth is… it doesn’t mean much to me in terms of identity. I simply love the people that are placed in my path. We’re all part of a whole no matter where we’re from. I don’t believe in being “proud” because you’re from “some great country”. Please! Character is formed by people, not by geography and paperwork.
I grew up never liking living in Chile. I think I wanted to leave the country since I was 5 years old. I even faked speaking English! Going back after eleven years away however, taught me to love it. We did more in one year there than we had done in many years living in the States. We had more impediments to do everything! It’s hard to get things done there. So? You have to get creative… something we have truly loved is how creative Chileans are. We always felt so inspired and so creative.
We made great, close friends in very short time, and they are still some of our best friends to this day despite the distance.
We found great spaces and opportunities to do music, the thing that brought us together in the first place. There are so many venues and so many opportunities for music. There are many talented people in the field and we were fortunate to work with some of them.
We laughed more and were so much more happy and close as a family.
We felt free and were able to dream more.
We felt the push to be the best we can and to actually be helpful to the people of the earth instead of self-serving all the time. This was because of a deeper connection not only to those around us but also with the Earth and the respect for it that everyone shares. I guess you could say things are “more real” in Chile and not always focused 100% on me.
We had more contact with people that aren’t of our faith, mainly family members and I’ve been grateful our kids could be surrounded by that as well. There’s so much love and care from so many people no matter what they believe. I used to be afraid my kids would grow up in a place where the church wasn’t as established as it is in the States. I’m not concerned anymore. It truly comes down to a change of mind and thinking. If you think differently, then you see your problems, which aren’t really a problem for someone else that practices the same faith, from their perspective. This helps you see that maybe your problems don’t really exist…
It’s all about the people
One of the greatest things we discovered and loved was that you can live with less and find joy in developing more personal relationships.
I can go on and on with this list but at some point you will have to go and visit Chile. We want to come back every day, eat bread and chat with our family and friends until 4 AM.
There’s true magic in travelling. Our children were able to become proficient Spanish speakers and even though they were little, they still remember their time in Chile and the friends they made. This video we made reflects just a little bit of the joy of being with friends and visiting new places. Children love to travel and they will feel safe as long as they are in the company of those they love.
We recorded this video in a colonial place located on the East side of Santiago. It’s called Pueblito Los Dominicos.