Valparaíso is a small city, two hours away from Santiago, Chile and it’s a great place to retire cheap.
I’ve been traveling looking for the best country to retire cheap for the last 4 years, exploring everywhere from the countrysides of Thailand, to the party city of Medellin, Colombia, and I can tell you that Chile is by far one of the the best places to retire cheap.
When you are looking for the best city to retire cheap in the world, there are some cities that will immediately say “Yes! This is the place!” And some cities like Phnom Penh, Cambodia where you’ll say “Hell, No! Hard pass on dog bbq and pollution.”
Valpo (as all the cool locals call it) is a place that I fell in love with as soon as I got off the plane from Peru.
The Santiago customs was efficient and friendly, with buses, taxis and shuttles that take you directly to Valpo. For the article on how to get here, click here
When you get here, the first things you’ll probably notice is how clean, and safe it is.
Unlike some other cities in South America, there isn’t a huge amount of crime or danger.
Every city in the world has bad areas, but some places definitely have more.
For example check out Medellin in this article
Valpo, is super safe unless you stray into bad areas at night. You can definitely tell if you wander into those areas, because the level of sketchiness increases dramatically. (Hint: Large groups of guys drinking and peeing on the street is a sign you’re not in the best area.)
English levels, like the rest of South America is pretty much non existent, with the need to be able to speak Spanish to survive.
The people here don’t really try, unlike Asia, where all the locals speak a smattering of English.
I ran into a cute family at a restaurant where the little girl, had been going to an English speaking school, who was so happy to practice her English with real people who spoke native English
Hospitals, and pharmacies are everywhere here. The hospitals are private/public. You’ll definitely want to go to the private hospitals.
COST OF LIVING
My budget is $1000 Canadian, and Valpo is a little bit out of this range. I’d say maybe $1100.
My room in a house that I’m sharing costs roughly $280 a month, my gym $40 a month and the price of a cheap meal is about $4.
This is more expensive than Arequipa, Peru by about 30%.
Here’s an article on Arequipa, if you want a more in depth review
That being said, while it’s not the cheapest city I’ve been to in South America, there’s a really good reason for it.
It’s got a light rail system, big sidewalks, and lots of police.
This city has the perfect mix of tiny street stands, and massive malls. I love being able to get fresh produce, and then go see a movie in a comfy cinema.
I arrived in the winter, and it’s about 12-14 degrees Celsius. Not super cold, but brrrrrrr……bring a jacket.
You can see what people wear, in my photo above. As a Canadian, you’ll be running around in a T-shirt …. hehhehehehe.
The oddest thing I’ve noticed is that there isn’t really public taxis! That’s right. Crazy.
It’s got collectivo taxis, aka shared taxis. You wait in a line and the taxis go to a destination and people share it. So odd.
It does have Uber, Cabify and othe ridesharing apps though.
A private taxi is about $2 one way to pretty much any part of town. I’ve been doing about 10 000 steps a day. But, if I was lazier? I’d be cabbing everywhere.
There are gyms everywhere here, but not quite as good as a North American gym. And relatively expensive . Roughly $35 a month.
One huge pro though is that it has protein milk, and protein yogurt available to be bought in the stores.
Other cities I’ve traveled to in the world, don’t really have this.
Protein powder is super expensive (double the cost of what we pay in North America), but the protein milk and yogurt is delicious and a good price. $1 a serving
The food in Chile, kicks the crap out of Peru, and Ecuador.
It’s empanadas, burgers, hot dogs, and seafood
And the steak and meat are good here. Unlike Asia, you can get great beef here.
And unlike Peru/Ecuador, the local food is much much tastier for our North American palate. In Ecuador I like the Menu del Dia, of beans, rice, chicken and a banana. And it’s only $2. But after a few months of this…..it can be boring.
Chile, the Menu of the day is $6 roughly.
A big giant 300g burger with bacon and cheese is about $8. Yikes! Worth every penny!
(If you’ve been to Asia, you’ll know what I mean…..after a year there, I’d kill for a good hamburger).
McDonald’s exists here, as well as Pizza Hut where a giant family sized pepperoni pizza is $10!
If you like to cook, and eat at home, the prices are much cheaper.
The produce stands are cheap.
Here’s an article on prices of fresh fruit
But the great thing is that, if you want North American food, like Southern biscuits, or sour cream? You can do it here.
The prices of North American food ingredients are a bit more than at home, but not insanely priced. Like a bottle of KRAFT mayo is 25% more, vs 100% more in Asia.
If you stick with local ingredients, you can do your grocery shopping for about 35% less than at home.
Beer is cheap. $1 a 1 liter bottle is standard.
Rum and vodka are also about half of what you’d pay at home.
The big big big drink here is wine. If you like wine, you’ll love it here.
A $20 bottle from home, is about $5 here.
What’s not to love?
- The people are super friendly, they might not speak English but really don’t mind my broken ass ghetto Spanish.
- It’s safe, I don’t have to worry about motorcycle thieves.
- There are sidewalks. Yes. You might think it’s crazy to mention this, but some places in the world I’ve gone to don’t really have them. Well technically they have them, but the sidewalks have been overtaken by motorcycle parking and street stands. (I’m talking to you Vietnam!)
- Warning though, Valpo has a a million dogs. And they all poop on the sidewalks. So much so, that in my head I call this place ValPoop.
- Shopping is easy. No haggling needed. And no tourist/gringo double charging. Prices are clearly labeled.
- Banks! Get a Scotiabank account before you leave Canada. Scotiabank is HUGE here, and everywhere.
- Beaches, mountains and exploration are only a 30 minute taxi away.
- Lots of hills though, sooooo sick of hills.
- Super fast wifi! No need to worry and a phone data plan with 6 gigs of data $12 a month
If you’re looking for the best place to retire cheap? Valpo is definitely worth checking out.
I’m 100% coming back and you should come visit.
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