After more than 1 year living in Chile, we’ve gone through our fair share of apartments. In fact when I added it up, I realised we’ve lived in 8 different places during our time in Santiago. Why we moved around so often is a story for another day…. However, with so much experience in trying to rent an apartment in Santiago, often with very little notice, I thought I’d write up my top tips to make the process easier and more efficient.
A Quick Guide to Santiago and Its Comunas
If you are looking to rent a modern apartment (or departamento as they say in Chile) in Santiago, the standard is generally very good. Modern buildings will often have rooftop pools, small gyms, laundry rooms, event rooms and of course, the quincho, the #1 priority of any respectable Chilean building (a quincho is an area specifically equipped for doing BBQ’s, often located on the roof of the building with fantastic views of the Andes!).
The most popular comunas or districts in Santiago for expats, foreigners, and visitors are Providencia, Las Condes, Santiago, Vitacura and Ñuñoa. Las Condes is the massive upscale district to the east of the city with lots of shopping and pretty parks. If you opt for this area, I would recommend to stay on the west side of the district, so you’re not cutting yourself off from the rest of the city. Providencia is also upscale but more affordable and centrally-located, near to a lot of fun and quaint neighbourhoods. Santiago is the heart of the city, so its louder, busier and more chaotic but you can get much better value apartments here and you’ll be near to plenty of tourist sights such as La Moneda and Plaza de Armas. Vitacura is north-east of Las Condes and very similar to its upscale neighbour, but quite far away from other fun parts of the city, so keep that in mind if you decide to live here. Finally, Ñuñoa is south of Providencia and is with usually cheaper for accommodation since it’s a little further away from the main entertainment and transport hubs of the city.
My personal preference is Providencia. It is perfectly located; walking distance to the bar and restaurant-filled neighbourhood of Bella Vista, the cobbled streets and bohemian vibes of Lastarria, the beautiful Parque Bustamante and its lovely Cafe Literario, a stones throw from Cerro San Cristobal, and several other interesting nooks and crannies in between. Providencia is safe, clean and reasonably affordable, so it is a really great location to rent an apartment in Santiago, whether you’re staying there for just a couple of days or longer term.
Understanding The Chilean Renting World
The whole world of renting in Chile can be confusing for newcomers and leave you asking a lot of questions like, “What the hell is UF system?”, “What are gastos comunes?”, or “Why does everyone keep calling me ‘Po’?”. I’ll try to answer these three questions, the most difficult one being the latter of course, to help you understand a little more about the Chilean renting market.
What the is UF system?
Apartments often states their rent prices online in UF. Wikipedia explains its best, stating that the “Unidad de Fomento (UF) is a unit of account that is used in Chile. The exchange rate between the UF and the Chilean peso is now (today) constantly adjusted to inflation so that the value of the Unidad de Fomento remains constant on a daily basis during low inflation.” So, basically you need to check the daily UF against the Chilean peso to get the current price of the apartment you’re looking at.
What are gastos comunes?
Gastos comunes simply means ‘common expenses’, and are compulsory fees that everybody must pay when they rent an apartment in Santiago. They are payments for the building, towards things like maintenance and tax. The monthly cost of gastos comunes depends on the building itself and often its location.
Why does everyone keep calling me ‘Po’?
I’ll let you try figure this one out yourself once you get to Chile… good luck 🙂
Finding Shared Apartments in Santiago
For those who like to skim through articles, here’s the summary of websites to check out:
- The Facebook groups Room Mate and Flat Finder, and a similarly named but separate group called Room Mate and Flat Finder Chile
It’s quite easy to find shared rooms in Santiago and people to share with. There are several online resources to help you find your new home. One of the best websites is DadaRoom.cl, which is designed for finding flatmates to pair up with, or people who are looking to rent their spare room. You can filter for options such as LGBT friendly, non-smokers, pet-friendly etc.
Another great option for finding shared apartments is in Facebook group “Room Mate and Flat Finder”. This group is really amazing for finding good-value places to rent in Santiago, as the rates are generally more standard than what you’d find on websites aimed at ‘gringos’ coming to Santiago (read: ridiculously overpriced).
Search through the posts on Room Mate and Flat Finder to find both rooms to share and whole apartments for rent. We’ve often found apartments here and I feel it is one of the best resources for finding short-term leases.
Finding One or Two-Bedroom Furnished Apartments in Santiago
For those of your with short attention spans, the TL;DR version is:
- Room Mate and Flat Finder
- Gringos/students/foreigners in Chile Facebook group
- Contact Chile (housing agency that charges commission)
Naturally, you will pay more for your own one-bedroom apartment, or two-bedroom apartment shared with a friend, than you would just renting a room. There are several places to look if you want to rent a furnished apartment (departamento amoblado in Spanish). Again I think Room Mate and Flat Finder is a great resource, as well as Gringos/students/foreigners in Chile (but be aware that any group aimed at ‘gringos’ will attract people who may try to take advantage of ‘rich foreigners’ and charge much higher-than-standard prices).
Another option is to go through AirBnb (use this link to get €18/$20 Airbnb credit for your first booking), but be sure to negotiate monthly prices, as I feel AirBnb prices in Santiago are 2-3 times higher than standard rent prices. You can contact hosts on Airbnb via a private message to negotiate before you book.
Other websites to check out include Yapo.cl, a classifieds site which I’ve pre-filtered to show furnished apartments in Santiago, and Trovit, a horrible looking website but that does the job, although it’s more common to see landlords looking for long-term renters on these two websites.
Using Housing Agencies to Rent an Apartment in Santiago
There are many great housing and accommodation agencies based in the city that will help you rent an apartment in Santiago quickly, dealing with the landlords on your behalf. This is great if you don’t speak Spanish, but their websites are usually available in English anyway. Staff of these agencies are great at recommending neighbourhoods and finding furnished apartments within your budget. However, this extra helps comes at a cost, which you pay via a commission on the apartment you rent. Some of the most popular agencies to help you find an apartment in Santiago are:
Renting Short Term Apartments in Santiago
When it comes to short-term renting in Santiago, you have a few options. AirBnb is, of course, the simplest solution and you can find gorgeous apartments on their site (use this link to get €18/$20 Airbnb credit for your first booking) but be prepared to pay around 2-3 times the price of a normal Santiago apartment.
Again Room Mate and Flat Finder is an awesome way to find Chileans or foreigners who may be renting their apartment in Santiago temporarily. We found an amazing deal when we contacted a Chilean guy who was leaving for Argentina for one month and we were able to rent his one-bedroom, centrally-located, fully-equipped apartment off him for roughly $360 USD for the month.
Renting Long Term Apartments in Santiago
Renting for long-term will always provide you with more options and better value. The longer you stay somewhere, the more value you can get, in every sense of the word. Staying for more than 6 months or a year will allow you to find great deals on beautiful apartments, from a variety of different websites including:
Long term renters (6 months to 1 year +) should be aware that it is common in Santiago to be asked for several documents before signing the lease, including employment contracts, so if you are a digital nomad, self-employed, or an entrepreneur, it may be difficult to go down this route. These requisites can often include:
- Work contract
- Last 12 AFP payments/certificate (Chilean pension)
- Last 3-12 wage statements
- Proof for income, or proof of ability to pay 3 months rent in advance
- Aval (I believe this is a Chilean company that acts as a guarantor. Please correct me if I’m wrong)
- Cedula (National ID card) & RUT (Tax ID number)
- DICOM report (credit reporting agency)
On a side note, we’ve never had to provide any of these documents as we always rented short-term apartments, so don’t freak out if you are a tourist, temporary resident or otherwise NOT a Chilean or foreigner living and working full-time in Chile.
Tips for Furnishing an Unfurnished Apartment
If you’re considering renting an unfurnished apartment, which is common in Santiago, you can often furnish it on the cheap. Facebook groups I have found that are great for buying and selling used items include:
- Gringos Garage Sale Santiago
- Ventas Santiago Chile
- Sell it in Chile
- Garage Sales Chileans and Foreigners
Because there is such a large amount of foreigners consistently arriving to Santiago, especially with the Start-Up Chile program, you can often buy some used good in perfect condition from people who are moving on, and of course you can go back to these groups to sell your stuff when you decide it is time to leave the country.
I hope this guide has helped make things a little easier for when you try to rent an apartment in Santiago. Overall, our experience of renting has been very straightforward and we’ve had mostly positive experiences.
If you’ve any questions about how to rent an apartment in Santiago, feel free to ask in the comments section below!