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Moving to Chile – 5 things you need to know

As one of the most developed countries in South America, Chile is a very popular place to live and work for people from all over the world. If have already started thinking about moving to Chile, this blog can help you with everything from organising your trip to helping you to settle in.

The Regions

Chile stretches out in a narrow strip across half of the western coast of South America and is over 4, 300km in length. Due to its sheer length the country has a remarkable variety of climates and landscapes. Chile is divided into 5 main regions, each of which is also divided in sub-regions, The Far North ( Norte Grande), The Near North (Norte Chico), The Central Zone (Zona Central), The Southern Zone (Zona Sur), The Far South (Zona Austral) and also includes Easter Island.

While most of the major cities are in the Central Zone there are also some very popular areas and resorts for tourists and travellers in other parts of Chile.

For more information about Chile’s different regions please visit this website.

The Weather

Each region has its own varies landscape and climate, ranging from the Atacama desert, which is the world’s driest desert, in the north regions to a Mediterranean climate in the central region, and a cool and rainy climate in the south regions, which are also home to Chile’s glaciers.

In the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are reversed, therefore summer is between the months of December and March and winter is between June and September. Whichever part of the country you decide to visit make sure you are informed about the weather and take the necessary precautions.

It is essential to wear sun protection and to make sure you always have bottled water with you, as well as watching out for insect and snake bites. In the Far North and Far South regions it is also important to be aware of the risk of altitude sickness or cold exposure as even in the summer when the weather is warm during the day, at night temperatures fall dramatically.

The Culture

Chile is a multicultural society and consists of people from many different ethnicities. The main cities are very multicultural and offer a great diversity of cultures, while the less populated areas have smaller communities which are more traditional. The identity and traditions of the population vary from region to region due to Chile’s unique geography. The north regions are greatly influenced in their culture by the indigenous tribes of the Andes and the Spanish Conquistadors, while the Central region, which holds about 80% of the Chilean population, identifies with rural traditions and culture of the Chilean countryside, and the south regions are dominated by the Mapuche and German cultures.

In whichever part of the country you end up in, Chileans pride themselves on their hospitality and usually love to interact with travellers or visitors. Relaxing and relating with others are integral parts of Chilean culture.

The Language

Spanish is Chile’s official language, and although spoken with a variety of differences from mainland Spanish, Spanish-speaking foreigners usually have no problem understanding it. English is also widely understood in large cities, but to a much lesser extent in the smaller towns.

Most larger cities also offer both short and long-term courses in Spanish as well as one-on-one sessions. Experiment Chile also organises recommended language-learning and volunteer programs.

Another way to work in Chile and learn the language is to volunteer for the English Opens Doors Program which provides volunteers with the opportunity to stay with a Chilean family while working as an English teaching assistant. The program provides health insurance, pocket money and access to an online Spanish course and it costs nothing to participate!

The Food & Drink

While all the major cities have a wide selection of international cuisines, Chile also has a diverse range of national dishes that are also widely available.

A few of these include empanadas (pastries filled with various ingredients), cazuela (a soup made with beef, chicken or turkey, and rice, corn and potatoes), and curanto (a dish prepared in a hole in the ground or a pot, with a lot of seafood, beef, chicken, pork, cheese and potato). The further south you go the bigger the portions get!

Chile is also internationally famous for its wines, however, unlike in other Latin-American countries it is illegal to drink alcohol in unlicensed public areas like parks or in the streets, and there are also restrictions on the vending hours for alcohol.