Retiring in Chile: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated May 31, 2024by Unbiased team

Discover everything you need to know about retiring in Chile and why US citizens are choosing this country as a prime retirement destination.

Summary 

  • Chile is a popular retirement destination, offering low crime rates, robust public healthcare, and beautiful coastal cities and views. 

  • You do not need to be retired to apply for a Chile Retirement and Periodic Income Visa. 

  • Chile offers a high standard of living for retirees and has one of Latin America’s strongest economies. 

  • A financial advisor can assist you in planning for your retirement in Chile. 

What are the pros and cons of retiring in Chile? 

With its incredible natural beauty, high cost of living, and immersive culture, retiring in Chile is an attractive option for many US citizens. However, there are both advantages and potential drawbacks to choosing Chile as your potential retirement destination.  

Pros 

  • A unique culture: Chile has diverse cultures and cuisines, a friendly and vibrant community, and a favorable climate, offering warm summers and plenty of heritage sites to explore. 

  • Safety and security: Chile has low levels of corruption. It is one of South America’s strongest economies and offers retirees a very high standard of living. 

  • Good private healthcare system: The private healthcare system has hospitals and clinics with developed infrastructure and the latest equipment.  

Cons 

  • Poor air quality: Chile and its capital city, Santiago, experience significant air pollution, particularly in the winter months between June and September. 

  • Currency stability: The value of the Chilean peso can fluctuate significantly, making it challenging to convert dollars into pesos and to keep track of your immediate expenses. 

  • Language barriers: Chile is a Spanish-speaking nation, but Chileans speak a specific dialect that you will need to learn to communicate with the locals.  

What are the best places to retire in Chile? 

Many places will suit US citizens looking to retire in Chile, each with its own benefits. The best places to retire in Chile include: 

  • Santiago de Chile: The capital city of Santiago is diverse and cosmopolitan. It offers most of the country’s public offices, major companies, employment opportunities, and more. It also boasts a variety of international restaurants, shops, and the Metropolitana de Movilidad public transportation system. 

  • Valparaiso and Viña del Mar: These two coastal cities offer access to Chile’s coastlines and are the nation’s top tourist destinations. They are generally more affordable than living in Santiago and are known for their clean air, colorful homes, and status as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

  • La Serena: La Serena is another coastal city known for having the clearest sky in the southern hemisphere. The city is walkable and bike-friendly and offers a slow and peaceful pace of living. 

What age can you retire in Chile? 

The age of retirement in Chile is 65 for men and 60 for women, but it is possible to retire earlier.  

You do not need to retire to obtain a Chile Retirement and Periodic Income Visa, as long as you are receiving a periodic income, including income from Social Security, retirement accounts, pensions, annuities and real estate rentals. 

What is the average cost of retirement in Chile? 

Living costs in Chile have risen over the past few years due to the nation’s growing development.  

Chile is one of the most expensive nations in South America.  

The estimated monthly living expenses for a single person, including rent, average around $2,000. 

Do you pay taxes after retirement in Chile? 

Chileans are only taxed on income earned in the country itself.  

The local tax rate is progressive, with a maximum of 45% 

If you emigrate to Chile as a US resident, you must file your taxes in the US each year and report your foreign bank accounts. If you earn outside of the US, you can use a range of provisions to reduce your taxable income, including the foreign tax credit, the foreign housing exclusion, and the foreign earned income exclusion.  

If you choose to retire in Chile, you may also use your retirement savings and Social Security payments to cover your living expenses. 

What programs are there for emigrating to Chile? 

You can apply for temporary residency in Chile under either the family, pensioner, retiree, or investor categories. All permits must be applied for from the US.  

If you wish to become a permanent resident, you must apply before your temporary residency expires. Chilean Chile Retirement and Periodic Income Visas are valid for 12 months and can be renewed once they expire. 

What visas do I need to retire in Chile? 

Those who emigrate to Chile often choose to apply for a retirement visa, which allows them to spend a year in Chile. This visa must be renewed annually, and you will also need to apply for a work permit if you wish to work after retirement. 

You do not need to prove that you are retired to apply for your Chilean retirement visa, which allows you to work, establish businesses, and purchase property. However, you will need a copy of your passport and passport-sized photo to apply and proof that you can support yourself financially.  

Once you receive your visa, you will need to register with the civil register and police department. After one year of holding the visa, you may apply for permanent residency, provided that you have not been out of Chile for more than 180 consecutive days. 

What are my healthcare options in Chile? 

Chile offers public and private healthcare through the Fondo Nacional de Salud (FONASA) and Instituciones de Salud Previsional (ISAPREs), respectively.  

Retirees are eligible for FONASA public healthcare services but can choose private healthcare. Public medical services are free for people aged 60 or older. 

Is it safe to retire in Chile? 

Chile has one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America, with petty theft being the primary concern.  

It is generally safe to retire in Chile, although you should keep an eye on your possessions, keep your car locked when parked, and remain cautious of pickpockets on public transport. 

Is Chile a good place to retire? 

Many US citizens consider Chile to be a good place to spend their golden years. The nation’s low crime rates, diverse cultures, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and vibrant cities offer a slow pace of living and many activities and destinations to explore.  

The robust public healthcare and transportation systems also make it easier to retire in Chile. 

Get expert financial advice 

Emigrating to Chile is a popular choice thanks to the country’s enjoyable climate, unique culture, and reliable healthcare and transportation systems for seniors. While there are some potential challenges, including the high living costs in major cities, the nation’s low crime rates and developed infrastructure are significant advantages. 

For expert retirement advice, let Unbiased connect you with an SEC-regulated financial advisor now. 

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.