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The Ultimate Entrepreneur’s Guide To Living and Traveling in Santiago, Chile

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When I first arrived in Santiago, Chile, I absolutely hated it.

True story. I called my sister and lamented how I wanted to quit right then and there.

To start with, Santiago was abnormally cold and rainy. It literally rained straight my first two days after everyone told me that it NEVER rains in Santiago. And then on my fourth day in the city, I actually broke my toe. At the same time, when I was wet and freezing, I couldn’t even buy a jacket because it was a national holiday, and everything was closed…

Obviously I didn’t start off on a great note with Chile. But something magical happened over the course of the next few months. By the time I had to leave, I was attached.

Santiago will be in my soul forever.

The vibrant city became my home, a haven of endless memories, extensive personal and professional growth, and a place of profound community. Words cannot even begin to describe my LOVE for captivating Santiago.

In large part, Chile will always hold a special place in my soul because my time there was synonymous with community.

Before Santiago, I had been traveling solo for two and a half years. I was growing a successful business, but I had no one to share the trials and triumphs with. I was missing my tribe.

But in Chile, I was living with 30 other entrepreneurs from around the world who had come to the country for the sole purpose of growing their businesses. To say that Chile has an amazing entrepreneur culture would be an understatement.

And it was here, with this newfound group of entrepreneurs from around the world, that I found my community and tribe. For this, I will be forever grateful.

I still get asked all the time about my time in Santiago, primarily from other entrepreneurs and digital nomads who want to experience the same groundbreaking community of trailblazers that I did. So finally, here you have it.

If you’re an entrepreneur thinking of living or traveling in Santiago, Chile, then this is my guide for you. Enjoy!


The Entrepreneur's Guide To Santiago Chile

photo via Paula Soler-Moya on Flickr

The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Living and Traveling in Santiago, Chile


Expats and Entrepreneurs in Chile

1. StartUp Chile

While I wasn’t a part of StartUp Chile myself, I did have the opportunity to network and mingle with many of the the amazing entrepreneurs in the program. This is an excellent way to get funding to live in Chile and work on building your business. Applications for 2016 are open from Jan 19 – Feb. 16th.

2. Exosphere

I got to be a part of the first Exosphere. Since then, the program has shifted and iterated, but I believe that they still have promising programming for budding entrepreneurs from around the world looking to make the leap of learning—and join a community that will take your entrepreneurship to the next level. I met and got to see + create daily with some of the most brilliant minds out there; these are contacts and friends I will have for life, not to mention meet up with all around the world! The program is no longer in Santiago, but I would recommend checking out what they have to offer.

3. Chile: The Expat’s Guide

This fantastic guide to Chile was written by my friend and mentor Nathan Lustig. I had the privilege of working with Nathan while in Chile, and I can guarantee that his book is a source of serious inspiration and resources. Use it to understand the neighborhoods in more detail, as well as to find housing. (Nathan might even help you with apartments and houses himself!)


An Entrepreneur's Guide To Santiago Chile

photo via alobos life on Flickr


The Neighborhoods of Santiago

Santiago has many wonderful neighborhoods to explore or live in, each with their own distinct flavor and energy. Here were a few of my favorites:

  • Lastarria: This is where I usually worked. Specifically, Wonderful Cafe is, as its name suggests, incredible. Savor their salmon salads and fast wifi. Or head to Colmado, another great cafe to work and socialize. Lastarria is where I would typically wander around with friends, drinking inexpensive Chilean wine or splurging on one of the decadent restaurants.
  • Los Condes: This neighborhood is certainly schmancy. It’s more for visiting than for living but certainly worth checking out. I used to visit the neighborhood’s large park for outdoor workouts, running, and music festivals.
  • Bellavista: Bellavista is posh and touristy, just across the river in Santiago. I do have to say, BE CAREFUL of getting robbed here. I had a small coin purse pick-pocketed and several friends had laptops stolen at the Starbucks (Though I spent days at the Starbucks and nothing was ever stolen from me) The local thieves know there are tourists around, so just be careful. I primarily recommend Bellavista for its funicular that will take you to the top of San Cristobal. From here you can enjoy the Mary statue and the epic view. The restaurants here are all just okay, though pricier than most of the city, especially if you want to enjoy a few alcoholic beverages. This is definitely the place to go out at night. I never went out for drinks myself, though I did catch an epic drum circle performance on the street.
  • Around The University of Santiago: This is where I lived. I had a fabulous apartment building with a pool, gym, and doorman, all for only $500/month. I shared the apartment with two friends, and could be at the subway in just 10 minutes.


Additional tips for choosing a neighborhood to live in:

  • Stay somewhere near the subway! Trust me, if you want to explore the city and see the most you can, then you don’t want to be far from a subway stop.
  • The co-working space I spent a lot of time at was Urban Station Los Leones. There are TONS of other co-working spaces, though, and of course, no shortage of internet cafes. Just request the password (el clave) for the WiFi and you’ll be hooked up in no time.


An Entrepreneur's Guide To Santiago, Chile

photo via David Berkowitz via Flickr

The City of Parks and Hikes

Santiago is known as the “City of Parks,” which massively appealed to the wanderer in me who can walk and talk or walk and think for hours on end. Santiago is green all along the river, with beautiful sculptures and statues to stop and admire. Alternatively, the big main park is on San Cristobal Hill and the surrounding area. If you’re looking for a fantastic place to run and hike, then don’t miss Santiago Metropolitan Park.

Most weekends that I was in Santiago were spent hiking. This was primary because we worked like crazy on our businesses all week long, but also to get above the smog line. (Seriously, don’t visit Santiago during the hottest parts of the summer when you won’t even be able to breathe.)

Manequehue was easily one of my favorite hikes, consisting of two hills. Much of the hills are soft dirt, so we slid down on our butts more than we walked, but it was an incredible location. It’s located on the outskirts of the city with all the most swoon-worthy mansions, but it’s easy to arrive at Manequehue via bus.


The City of Love

If there was ever a city of love, it must be Santiago, Chile. I like to make jokes about it, but everyone in Chile loves LOVE. And they like making out all over the place—on the subway, on the grass, on the sidewalk… I thought it was charming and romantic, but if you’re not into PDAs, it might be a turn-off. I decided just to add a passionate make out session of my own to my Santiago to-do list!


An Entrepreneur's Guide To Santiago Chile

photo via James on Flickr


The Food In Santiago

One of the primary reasons why I travel is for the food. Different tastes, flavors, textures…especially delicious new healthy options I can add to my own arsenal of at-home recipes.

  • Avocados: It’s only fitting to begin with talking about Avocados. I love Chile because one of their main condiments is avocado, or, as they call it, Palta. In most other Spanish-speaking countries, you’ll hear it called aguacate, but Chile is unique that way. (In fact, keep an ear out for all the special words you’ll here in Chile.) You’ll find palta on everything from hot dogs to burgers to sandwiches and more. Avocados are sold on the street by all of the vegetable vendors for dirt cheap. Chileans get the importance of this delicious, healthy fat!
  • Pastel de Choclo: This dish blew my mind. Cornmeal casserole is usually combined with meat, onions, olives and chopped hard boiled egg. Bizarre, yes, but also delicious and gluten-free—all fantastic in my book!
  • Humitas: So much yum. Similar to tamales, but a Chilean version that is sweeter.
  • Empanadas: These flaky pastry turnovers are to die for.
  • Ice Cream: Chileans LOVE ice cream, so you’ll find a ton of it throughout Santiago. Emporia La Rosa is hands down a must-stop, especially if you go when it’s hot out. Dulce de leche is my favorite flavor, but you really can’t go wrong with anything. I also recommend Lucuma and the Emporio’s cup. Ask for ulmo, honey, chocolate, and almond. I am actually drooling while I type this because it is just so decadently delicious!


For more traditional Chilean foods, this article is an excellent introduction.


An Entrepreneur's Guide To Santiago Chile

photo via Adam Bailey on Flickr


Markets in Santiago

Markets are fantastic places to shop for fresh produce and seafood, flowers, household goods…the works! I even purchased a stunning second-hand sweater when I arrived because it was so abnormally chilly for a Santiago spring.

The primary market is Mercado Central. It’s admittedly a bit touristy, but still worth a look.

La Vega Market is intense but authentic. Lynan’s Insider Tip: Don’t miss the food stalls and restaurants upstairs of the market. They are fantastic homemade, local food. This is where I had the best Caldo de Pata (chicken soup) in all of Latin America. Seriously, it heals the soul.

There are additional local markets in the streets in many neighborhoods. I frequented a local market near my apartment every week to supplement the largest mega-grocery store staples like quinoa, frozen food, lucuma…

There are also a few health food stores in Santiago. I would stop by these every few weeks for specialty items like gluten-free pasta/crackers, coconut oil, etc.


Additional Tips To Exploring Santiago, Chile

  • Plaza de Armas is cool to see. The state buildings here are grand and exciting, and you’ll find the fancy guards outside. Just don’t plan on eating around here as the food in the area isn’t very good.
  • The subway in Santiago is great but VERY crowded during the commuter hours—I think it’s even worse than NYC at times. However, the subway is a great way to get around. I also enjoyed walking if I had the time. It’s a great city to walk, and it’s super safe!
  • Overall Santiago was a bit more expensive than I expected, but it is a metropolitan city with a great subway system and tons of malls. That said, it was affordable to live in as a nomadic entrepreneur, with a 90-day visa. I actually had to get my visa extended after I stayed just a few weeks over my visa (oops). If you want to come back to remain in Santiago longer than 90-days, I recommend the much easier option of a border run to Argentina (Mendoza for wineries) or Bolivia (see below for more on these epic adventures.)


Weekend Trips

Valparaiso: Don’t miss a trip to the magical town of Valpo, otherwise known as Valparaiso. Quaintly perched on a hill, this town boasts gorgeous street art, a funicular up the hill, cute cafes, restaurants and shops to explore. Buses regularly leave from the central bus station in Santiago about, about 1.5 hours away. Valparaiso is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the views out to the seaport as you meander through town are spectacular.

Vina del Mar: This gorgeous beach is a fun spot to drive around while savoring delicious seafood and soaking in the luxurious swims. Expect miles of beach.

Pichilemu: This cool surf town is an excellent spot for fresh caught local crabs and ceviche, both for cheap. It’s a local place and not too touristy though all the surf hotels right on the beach were incredible. I went when it was cold but it’s a hot spot for surf camps and weekending when it’s warm (in the winter months of the northern hemisphere) We had fun in the cafes and had delicious family style meals at mom + pop places—truly authentic Chile at its best.

Bolivia and Patagonia: It’s possible to travel to Bolivia and Patagonia via bus. For more epic adventures exploring the Salt Flats and serious hiking expeditions, there are short and inexpensive flights.


If you’re a trailblazing entrepreneur looking for a dynamic community to share in the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship, then you can’t go wrong with Santiago, Chile. This very special place will forever hold a place in my heart—and I know I’ll return again soon.


Have you visited Chile? What places have you found the best community for entrepreneurs?


Featured photo via Alobos life on Flickr.


Lynan Saperstein

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