Now, sleepless at a random morning hour in a lent empty central Barcelona flat, while waiting for my flight back to Santigo de Chile, I feel an urge to complete the thoughts I have posted before about Chile.
The writing, this time, will be about personal and business matters.
Doing Business in Chile
Startup Chile’s companies often consider a quest finding technical talent to join their projects, mostly web-related. It’s true most students and early graduate engineers are not ready to deliver value to a contemporary internet company: most of the Computer Science Engineers in Chile never heard about state-of-the-art programming languages, like Ruby or Python or software development methodologies like Scrum or TDD. Multimedia and Design students have never studied with markup languages, as HTML or CSS. Those who do are all self-taught enlightened ones.
The reason is simple, academia, wanting it or not, always follows market demand, if the market demands silver mining experts, geologists and mineralogist graduate from Universities. There is currently not enough market demand for Universities to be forced to include Ruby and Python classes in their curriculum, much less teaching Scrum and Agile methodologies.
Chile is a uber traditional country.
Business is done as traditionaly as it can be, it ignites from personal contacts and personal recommendations and after many face-to-face meetings are needed to get it all up and going.
Company incorporation in Chile is not as fast and simple as in most European countries but can be done as cheap as 500-700EUR by an attorney in a couple of weeks. Taxation is low, especially for startups. Bellow [10.000USD yearly revenue, I think.] there is no profit taxation.
Chile is a great platform to address other Latam markets, as it has been politically very stable and, due to copper exportations, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with yearly numbers of % growth in line with only China, Brazil and India. Santiago is a very organized city, architectonically and communications wise, constructions on the best city’s areas, as Las Condes or Vitacura owe nothing to European capitals and transportation system (bus and metro) has been recently restructured, so life can be managed without the hazards of a car.
Life in Santiago is enjoyable, hosting roughly 6 million or almost three times the population of Lisbon not being, by any standard, a small boring city. I especially enjoy the old cinema theaters, my favorites is the “Boligrafo”, in Lastarria, 5 minutes walking from my place, Chileans call these old theaters “Cine Arte” and they all displays alternative cinema, especially European, Chilean and Argentinian.
I live in a 35m^2 apartment in the city center, Bellas Artes quarter, which is a not-so-cheap-not-so-expensive area allowing me to walk to work in less then 10 minute or get into the “tube” in 5″ . Its around the same price, or a bit cheaper, of what I would pay for a similar apartment in Lisbon down-town but 2 or 3 times cheaper than in Madrid, London or São Paulo.
Food and drinks are a relatively more pricey, a Rum with Coke (or Pisco with Coke, Piscola among the locals) will usually go from 2.000CLP to 3.000CLP (4-6USD) and a disco entrance from 3.000 to 6.000CLP (6-12USD). For the sake of accuracy, Amanda Club, in the posh area of Vitacura charges 5.000CLP entrance and 3.000CLP for a Piscola. Coldplay, Guns’n'Roses and U2 perform from 28.000 to 35.000CLP (60-70USD) and tickets never ran out, in fact I bought my U2 entrance on the day preceding the show, bellow market price to some busy Chilean folk.
Remember, electronics are 20 to 25% more expensive due to custome taxes.
Chile is known to be a thin and tiny South American country, if the first point is a well-known fact the second one holds no true. It holds 750.000km^2 of territory , 8 times bigger than Portugal and 2 times bigger than Germany. This funny geographical situation makes it a must-visit country to world-wide adventures and nature lovers.
While the South of Chile is a soul calmer, with its incredible green fields, active volcanos, icebergs and tasty lambs, the North hosts the most mind-blowing and infernal views one can have. Is remarkable how just by staring at the most clear sky in the world, allows you to have a perspective of the Milky Way without any astronomical instrument. I would like to invite all of you to just lay on your back, from La Serena to Calama and contemplate our own galaxy, as seen from Earth. Your understanding of how finite we individually are can smash your city-boy ego in a glimpse.
The eternal day temperature of Atacama desert, contrasting with their cool nights and volcanic activity creates an Earthly version of Hell. Santiago - Calama can be easily done under 100.000CLP and Santiago - Torres del Paine under 150.000CLP.
Personally speaking, as a young guy, single and making his living out of the Internet, Startup Chile provided my the root networks to feel myself comfortable living in South America.
I suppose it would not be the same without them. I can learn, share and do business around technology without going very far. English is the lingua franca in the office and many go around without knowing any Spanish.
As we all know, society in South America is fractioned, with their higher class mostly based in descendants from German, Italian and Spaniards immigrants. Foreigners are well received and perceived, most of the times, better than they should. When I was living in Germany and England, foreigners were received with an apatic smile, if lucky. Don’t underestimate how important this is if you ever want to spend a a long time in a country which is not yours.
Chile is an easy country to get legal permit to stay. There are several types of visa, student, worker, temporary residency, permanent residency and, perhaps, others ones. I will just focus on the temporary residency and permanent residency, as the requirements for the first two are very straight-forward understand and get..
The main difference between applying for a temporary or permanent residency visa is the amount of money you bring into the country.
Permanent residency visas, demand you to either show proof of consistent tax payments to the state and display a considerable amount of assets. This holds true for either a single person or a company.
Temporary (1-2 years) residency visas, demand you display the necessary proof and reasoning for such a long stay, either for personal or business reasons, and to prove you are and will not burden the state itself (social, medica care, etc).
I am proving here the link to my motivation letter and list of documents sent to the Chilean foreign office here, which was the base to have my 1y extension visa granted.