As the capital of one of South America’s most economically stable countries, Santiago is an attractive destination for global businesses. Chile’s economy is characterized by rapid growth, set to reach an impressive 2.8% in 2018. Significantly, copper mining accounts for 20% of Chilean GDP, with the country producing one third of the world’s copper. Other principal exports include wood pulp, fish fillets, and the world-famous Chilean wine. With a literacy rate of 96%, Chile has an advanced education system and offers extensive higher education with some of the best universities in the region, including Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Measures are being taken to further reduce economic inequality in the country, including an increase in wages. In 15 years, Chile has managed to reduce the poverty rate from 26% to 7.9%, demonstrating its high financial hopes for the future.
In the last 3 years, Santiago has attracted over 700 startups from more than 50 countries thanks to various government initiatives, including funding and access to infrastructures and networks. Such programs foster the entrepreneurial culture in Chile and have transformed Santiago into the “Chilecon Valley”, a key hub for startups in Latin America. Building on its growing innovative reputation, Chile has hosted large international startup conferences such as Seedstars World and MeetLatam.
Publicly-funded by the government, Start-up Chile, the country’s thriving accelerator, aimed to raise Chile’s profile on a global scale and strengthen its business environment. The program has rapidly become an international phenomenon, working with more than 1,300 businesses and involving entrepreneurs from 79 countries. Significantly, it has been replicated by over 50 countries worldwide.
Chile is the second best country for doing business in Latin America, according to the World Bank Group’s 2017 report. With a rapidly growing business environment, salaries are becoming more attractive, enhancing professional ambition throughout the nation. The country has a strong work ethic with long hours, and business encounters are initiated with a firm handshake. However, as professional relationships develop, friendships start to form, demonstrated by the initial greeting which becomes a kiss on the cheek. Having the right contacts can determine your career path in Chile’s elitist professional environment, which runs on networking and connections. The startup environment, by contrast, has a more flexible, less hierarchical structure. Yet both business environments coincide with their relaxed approach to punctuality, typical of Latin America.
With the lowest tax rate of all the OECD countries, Chile is a sought-after destination for expats, especially considering the low cost of accommodation. Compared to other South American countries, Chile is very safe, so foreigners can freely explore its beautiful landscapes without any bother. As a seismically active city, Santiago’s infrastructure is well-built and resilient, ensuring the security of its inhabitants. The capital boasts an efficient public transport system, consisting of short distance ‘micros’, long distance buses, the metro and trains. They are also very cheap, with a ‘micro’ journey costing $0.33, whilst a metro trip costs between $0.04-0.16 depending on the time of day. Chile has one of the best healthcare systems in South America, rivalling that of North America, although it is far more affordable. There is also a readily available public healthcare scheme, called FONASA.
As a capital city in Latin America, Santiago’s entertainment certainly doesn’t disappoint, with hundreds of bars lining the streets of several districts. From 5 pm onwards, people can be seen sipping on the national favorite Pisco Sour, before they venture to a club and eventually return home at 3 am. The bohemian Barrio Bellavista is a key entertainment district which comes alive at night, with over 100 bars, restaurants and clubs catering to all music tastes, whether it be reggaeton, techno, or ‘cumbia’, a typical Latin American genre. For a more upmarket scene, Chilean partygoers head to Vitacura, renowned for its fashion, or Las Condes, two of the most expensive areas in Santiago. Chileans make the most of their weekend, hosting barbecues, typically known as asados, which are replete with meat and washed down with wine and beer.
As a modern city, Santiago is home to 5 million people. Its metropolitan region has expanded into the mountains, where it is now possible to experience both nature and urban life. Santiago boasts the largest park in Latin America, Parque Metropolitano, which spans 1,780 acres of land. A key destination to visit is La Chascona, formerly the home of Pablo Neruda, the iconic Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner. Santiago’s Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino has been voted Chile’s most important museum with over 1,000 pieces to admire. Chileans celebrate their national day with fervor on September 18th, filling up on asados and terremotos, a strong drink made of sweet fermented wine served with pineapple ice cream. Despite maintaining its local culture, Chile also relates to the U.S. and Western Europe. Consequently, culture shock tends to be minimal for expats.