Hello, I'm Jeremy! I spent a year in Chile first on student exchange and followed with an internship at HSBC Bank. I came up with this guide for future travellers/students/workers who are travelling to Chile and I hope this will help you :)
Getting the Chilean Student Visa in Singapore
1. Visit the Chilean Embassy. Apply for your visa with the letter of confirmation for your exchange (or for any work-related matters)
2. Get a Certificate of Clearance from the Police HQ. It is a declaration by the Singapore government that you do not have any criminal convictions. (Do note it takes 2 weeks!)
3. Print a copy of your bank statement. You need to show you have a sufficient amount of cash to live in Chile.
Getting the Chilean ID in Santiago, Chile
Now here’s the tough one! Arriving in Chile with minimal Spanish, you will struggle!
Firstly, you need to legitimise your stay and get a Chilean identity card. Head to the international police office, Jerfatura Nacional de Extranjeria y Policia Internacional at Calle Morande 672, Santiago, early because it closes by lunch(and there’s a long queue). Pay the registration fee, wait to have your photo taken and receive a document.
Next, apply for your Chilean identity card at the other office, Registro Civil E Identificacion on Calle Jose Miguel Claro 543. This takes a long time and they close before lunch so leave it for another day. Get your fingerprints stamped and register your details. Expect to wait between 2-3 weeks for your card.
It is highly recommended that you do all these with a Spanish speaker (treat your friend to lunch for helping you out)!
Average Cost of Living
Rental cost is around S$400-S$600 for a room (decent sized rooms). The places I’d recommend are Baquedano, Santa Lucia, Parque Bustamente and along Tobalaba street as these are the central locations.
You can check out rentals here (you will need your language skills for this).
Again, I recommend going with a native speaker especially when you are getting your lease documents signed. I made the mistake of going alone with no language skills (the document is in Spanish) and I missed out a few details.
The supermarkets run promotions on a daily basis like 10% off meat on Mondays. Also, prices of fruits and vegetables are slightly cheaper than they are in Singapore. Do consume tons of avocado and salmon (S$10 for a kilogram) – it is ridiculously cheap there!
If you’re aiming to stretch your dollar, avoid supermarkets and get your produce from La Vega (a market at Patronato). Things are much cheaper and you can get Peruvian spices which are similar to those used in Asian cuisine.
Expect to spend around S$40 a week on groceries if you cook. Eating out can cost you around S$140 a week and gets you a huge tummy.
Things Do Get Stolen
If you are not careful, things will get stolen!
Being an uninitiated Singaporean traveller, I was a little complacent at first, but I learnt my lesson. My bag was stolen when I slung it over the back of my chair whilst having ice cream with friends. There were 20 people on the table each facing one another – Last Supper style and the amazing thing is, no one saw who took it!
Okay, so what do you do when your things get stolen?
1. Contact your insurance agent to get your claims (yes, get insurance). I’m usually the kind of person who travels without insurance but it is essential.
2. Contact the police – not in the hopes of finding your belongings or justice, but rather, for the police report needed to claim on your insurance. If your Spanish isn’t fluent, bring a friend along because the report is filed in Spanish.
- If your credit cards were stolen, contact your bank immediately to cancel the cards
- If your passport was stolen, head to Singapore’s Honorary Consulate at
El Regidor 66, Piso 10, Las Condes, Santiago (Closest Metro station is El Golf)
Medical Advice in Chile
There are hardly any clinics as most people are medically insured. As such, hospitals double as clinics. If you are not insured, be prepared to pay a bomb – get insurance!
Get your medical insurance from Singapore, it is harder to apply for it in Chile if you are not there for the long haul. Claims take a lot time to process. You only receive your medical claims when you have submitted the receipts and documents to your insurer (about 2 months).
Alternatively, do not get your medications from the hospital, get them from the pharmacies instead. If you’re suffering from a bad bout of food poisoning, get a friend over who can help you out. True story.
Nonetheless, if you are on exchange to Pontificia Catolica Universidad de Chile, rejoice! There is an in-house hospital in the university and consultations are discounted.
Chile awaits your arrival so we hope you found this useful! Do you have tips on living or travelling to any other country? Let us know in the comments or write in to us!
If you liked this post, read more articles about Chile here.