Just got back from vacation to Santiago, Chile, and wanted to share some possible expat info. First, we stayed with my godfather who is quite successful, lives in Lo Barnacheo, a very upscale, custom home only area with guards, etc. His house was one of the first built there eight years ago - a manufactured home (he's a soil mechanics civil engineer and currently has his own consulting business - he assesses LARGE civil engineering projects for the large mining companies, one of which he worked for in northern Chile before and lived in Antifogasta (sp?)). They have a Peruvian maid, the third one they've had. His three children still live with him, all in various stages of law or architecture school; four dogs, a pool and beautiful front and back yard, great views of the Andes (above the Santiago smog). Their lifestyle is a bit better than mine and costs about the same as in the US. However, my husband and I asked about basic living simple middle-class style and got the following for 'costs':
Rent on 2 BR, 2 BA apartment in decent area of Santiago - from $500-$1000 a month - might get 3 BR, 3 BA for high end
Maid for a month- live-in -includes salary and healthcare/pension insurance - $350-500 a month - other wise could pay about $20 a visit - 4 hours plus.
Food - $200-$400 a month
Utilities - $100-$200 a month
Transportation - gas is four times the amount of US prices - didn't get info on a car - buses are fairly cheap and metro in Santiago is about 350 pesos per ride (~$0.75) - monthly pass would drive that price down
However, you can pay US prices very easily in Santiago - we went to some nice restaurants for lunch and dropped between $50-$70 for 3 people.
My godfather's brother said it costs him $2000 per month to stay in his house (house is fully owned - he lives fairly well in town).
We also went skiing in the local Andes - three resorts: El Colorado, El Portillo and Valle Nevado - costs per day for lift ticket ranged from $35-$40, food costs were outrageous (resort Kaderli "two week millionaire" prices). If you wanted to stay at the ski resort, hotel prices were outrageous as well. We took a van from Santiago and it ranged from $12 roundtrip per person to $30 roundtrip per person (el Portillo was farther away - cost more).
Also, did some of their wine valley (Colchuaga (sp-again?)) - not cheap to eat, but wines of good quality to be had for much better prices than here in my hometown area (20 minutes from Napa). We also went to Valparaiso (sort of like Naples, Italy - definite port-town) and Vina Del Mar - very rich cousin to Valparaiso - comment was made most of the condos are merely 'summer' residences of people from Santiago.
Chile is a third world county and some of the people resent American foreign policy - issues regarding Nixon's support of Pinochet - *however* I lived in Quito, Ecuador, for a month and I would say Chile is much more advanced economically and governmentally. I read the local paper which said that their female president was regarded as one of the most powerful women in the world. They did have a bloody riot union strike in downtown while we were there - we happened to be skiing that day - most people were not impressed with the outcome - I read the paper the next day - seems the union was stirking because they could.....no real reason except socialistic/communistic rhetoric (which was later confirmed by my hosts who are decidely more liberal in their political persuasions than us).
All in all, we were very impressed and would like to re-visit. One comment made to me was that they were impressed that I spoke Spanish - they had an impression that all "Americans" (another weird term down there - still means in general from US, but I tried to be sensitive to that) don't speak anything but English - my hosts were excellent English speakers, but they knew I understood and spoke Spanish and we spoke about many difficult subjects in their language. They couldn't get away with too much in Spanish that I didn't catch :-).
We need to visit the north deserts and the south parks, mountains and glaciers (and penguins!). We did like the skiiing, but didn't like the outrageous prices - the snow was great and it was *WAY* up there (one of the runs we skied was the highest one in the Americas - they slingshot ou up on a multi-seat poma at a very high rate of speed and then you get to try and tur around on very steep snow - sporting!). We are spoiled as we ski free here at Tahoe right now - bummer that might end soon....sigh.
Hope the above helps - I think Chile would be another favorable expat location for those looking for that Terhorst/Kaderli-like existence.
PS - Chilenos have their own Spanish dialect - they've lost all of the esses - they say Gracia.....donde esta el s