One Thing I Got Wrong Before Moving to Chile

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One Thing I Got Wrong Before Moving to Chile

Post by Britkid » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:16 pm

Before moving to Chile get all your bank accounts, pensions, life insurance, investments etc in order for the long term and sign up for more than you think you need. Because opening new accounts or extending additional ones can be more difficult after leaving (or not allowed at all).

Hopefully this article is useful for the lurkers reading the forum considering moving to Chile one day. Check all this stuff 3-6 months before you actually move - you don't want to be trying to open a bank account 4 weeks before you leave; you'll be too busy. Also, even if you haven't decided yet for sure if you are leaving home or not, and even if you haven't decided whether or not you are going to Chile or another country, you can still start on these activities right away. If you later decide to stay you won't have lost anything except a little wasted time.

Here's my experiences, of going from the UK to Chile, but I think some of it would be relevant in general for moving between two countries. Perhaps others can comment on whether this generally rings true for your other, home country?

Metrobank allowed cash to be withdrawn without fees in Chile, but changed this rule the day I arrived. This illustrates why you need to have multiple debit and credit cards before you leave. Make sure you always have ones that do not charge the usual sneaky 3%+ fee on the exchange rate like most do. Seeking out such cards before going to live abroad is a no-brainer. See here for UK: ... edit-cards
How many credit and debit cards you need from your home country would depend on an individual case. For example, if
you are going to be paid within the Chilean system, and have a pre planned job that is arranging a bank account and credit cards locally before you even get there or at least in time for your first paycheck, and you are planning to cut all ties with your home/current country, then you might need about 3 cards from your home country. If you are planning to work remotely in Chile on some kind of job where you earn non-Chilean money to the accounts of your home country, then I would have about 7 cards/accounts. Just always have more than you think you need so when your cards are cancelled, or the company starts treating you badly or starts charging more to you at Chile ATMs or whatever you can just ditch that card and you still have others and don't need to replace the one that has gone bad. It also means less hassle about replacing stolen, lost or expired cards. When you have spare ones, it doesn't matter if your replacement card is taking 2 months to arrive in the post. Just use another one until it arrives.

EDIT June 2018: Also, consider not just name banks but new, online banks like Transferwise borderless debit card and N26 (more for smart phone) and various others. Some of these are now offering the best rates of currency exchange for people travelling or living abroad.

LIfe Insurance

Before I left I called my life insurance company and got them to say I am still covered abroad, and recorded the call, and then got them to also say this in writing. However, the life insurance policy is too low. When I tried to increase the amount later, they wouldn't do it because I had left the country already. And now it's a hassle to try and find a good policy abroad. It's way harder here in Chile to do this.

Similar story. I decided to double the amount I pay into my pension after I left but they wouldn't let me. No changes after leaving the country. I lost a chance to pay money tax free into my pension i.e.with a rebate on the morning earned. The moral of the story is to get a good life insurance and pension in place before leaving at a high enough level, considering what future changes you want to make.

I decided to invest in the international stock market about 6 months or a year ago. It took ages to sort out because most of the companies I wanted to deal with wouldn't allow me to sign up from Chile. I eventually found one that did, but it took a lot longer. Would have been a lot easier to sort this out before leaving.


There are probably other financial products as well that would follow a similar pattern, although I can't think of them right now.

Getting around it?
Of course, you could just not tell that you are moving abroad. This may work in solving some of these problems, but there are some potential issues.
1. You (perhaps) won't be able to have a forwarding postal address in Chile if you are hiding the fact that you have left the country, and would need to maintain an address at home somehow.
2. You often have to sign a document or click a button online saying you are resident in the UK (or other country) when you sign up for stuff. Of course, you could just lie but then you have exposed yourself to trouble if found out later. Perhaps less of an issue with banking stuff(?), but probably not worth the risk on a life insurance policy. (Note that to open a new bank account/credit card in the UK you typically have to be resident in the UK, but that does NOT mean you can't still use it while living abroad. It is usually perfectly legit, or at least tolerated, to continue to use that account while living abroad as long as you weren't living abroad at the moment you opened it.)
3. You may have to go in person to hand over documentation, show your ID etc, in some cases. (Or be required to post it or a photocopy.) Obviously this is less of an issue if you will be regularly visiting your home country.
In 2014/2015 I blogged about my life in Chile. ... age_id=268

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