Chile is a great country with lots of offer. However, life in Chile can be much easier if you make the effort to bring a long a few things from home. Because of high import taxes and a small consumer market (Santiago has population of 7 million but only around ~500,000 buy goods online as of 2019), many items are impossible to find or are extremely expensive, at almost double the prices from home. In addition, it’s difficult to transfer money to Chile to pay rent and bills.
At Andes, we put together a quick checklist of things you might want to get / buy before you leave the US.
- Get a debt / ATM card that refunds ATM fees or has a partnership with a bank in Chile. ATM fees in Chile can be anywhere from $5-15 per transaction so there is a lot of value if you can get a debit / ATM card that absorbs the these fees. Andes recommend the Charles Schwab Investor Checking Bank Account. It’s free with no monthly minimums and refunds back ALL ATM fees whether charged by the ATM Machine or the bank in Chile. And you get the best exchange rates at very close to the market rates at the moment of the transaction. The cards works at any Plus network ATM machine in Chile which includes most banks.
- Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees . We currently recommend the United Plus Explorer Card. If you use our this link provided by our friends at United, you’ll get 30,000 mileage sign up bonus.
- Clothes for cold weather and a jacket even if you plan to come for warm weather! In the nights it can get cold in many parts of Chile and people wear jackets.
- Chile has 220-volt plugs with the circle outlets they use in europe. Most electronics will work but bring an plug adapter so you can charge your phone. you can buy a cheap adapter when you arrive as well. Voltage converter may be necessary in rare cases if you have some 120-volt electronics.
- Sign up for google voice and forward your cell phone to the google voice number. You can always sign up from google voice using a proxy after you have arrived in Chile and then call your cell phone company to forward your cell phone number to the google voice number. Note, that the forwarded calls count towards your cellular minutes but since you probably won’t be using your phone much, it should be okay to use it just for the incoming calls your receive and no go over your plan limits.
- Stock up on spices and herbs (be careful with any seeds as they may confiscate them).
- Pack hard to find or expensive items such as coconut oil , etc
- If you are coming for winter in Chile (may – august), pack some winter clothes for the cold weather, skiing, and travel
- Buy an unlocked phone (have to pay a small fee in Chile to use it but much cheaper than buying a new phone in Chile)
- Buy a kindle or ebook reader. books are super expensive
- Buy spare chargers and cables, adapters, etc.
- Buy condoms, medications, creams, etc.
- Buy salted nuts (you are allowed to bring nuts into Chile as long as they are salted).