Is Santiago, chile a cheap place to live?

Remote Year generally takes us to fairly inexpensive cities, at least by US standards. If you think about it, that has to be their business model: they receive a set amount of money ($2000/month) from each remote, and they have to minimize their costs in order to turn a profit. As a result, I sort of expected that I’d save money this year in the long run – at least on food and drink costs. That hasn’t exactly been the case, at least so far. In Lima, we lived in the “fancy” part of town, and meals were often about the same prices as they would be in Scottsdale, Arizona (home for me). I, more than once, paid $15 for a lunch, or $10 for a drink. I spent $30-$50 on gel manicures. $30 on a chiropractic adjustment.

But the place that really shocked me was Santiago, and in particular, the groceries. Restaurants there were on par with what I’d spend at a similar restaurant in the states (which is to say, outrageously priced because the food really didn’t justify it most of the time – and the service certainly didn’t), but the grocery stores seemed to really gouge you. On top of this, the currency conversation was a bit tough to calculate in your head (680 Chilean Pesos to 1 US dollar), so I often found myself just guestimating at what I thought something would cost, and not bothering to actually calculate it out. After my first trip to the grocery store (a standard chain grocery store, nothing fancy), I actually did the calculations on what I expected would be around $25-$30 worth of groceries. It was $73 USD.

Here’s a few examples:

Carton of Florida’s Natural orange juice

Scottsdale, AZ: $2.98
Santiago, Chile: $4690 CLP ($6.87 USD)

Crystal Farms 8 oz block of cheddar cheese

Scottsdale, AZ: $2.59
Santiago, Chile: $2290 CLP ($3.36 USD)

Ice Cream (between a pint and a quart)

Scottsdale, AZ: $5.00
Santiago, Chile: $6190 CLP ($9.07 USD)

Nature Valley crunchy granola bars

Scottsdale, AZ: $2.98
Santiago, Chile: $2490 CLP ($3.65 USD)

Great Value fruit & grain cereal bars, 8 count

Scottsdale, AZ: $1.43
Santiago, Chile: $1990 ($2.92 USD)

One tub of margarine

Scottsdale, AZ: $1.00
Santiago, Chile: $790 CLP ($1.16 USD)
What are all of those strange bits in it though??

Snickers candy bar

Scottsdale, AZ: $0.78
Santiago, Chile: $790 CLP ($1.16 USD)

Dentyne Ice, 16 count sugar free gum

Scottsdale, AZ: $0.82
Santiago, Chile: $3,150 CLP ($4.62 USD)

Fun side note: condiments (mayonnaise, jelly, ketchup, etc) come in bags here!

Overall, I was very surprised at how expensive Santiago was. While it felt like a “proper” city, it doesn’t seem to get a lot of digital nomads or tourism, which would seemingly drive prices up. We also were not living in a very nice neighborhood, so that can’t be an explanation for the expensive prices. This grocery store was a standard chain grocery store, not a small bodega or gourmet market. Yes, many of these items are imported; however, that doesn’t explain why prices were so much higher for the same items relative to other South American countries.

Have you been to Chile? What did you think of the prices?