Santiago de Chile is a  city I always look forward to travelling to on business. Crossing the Andes is the highlight of my two-and-a-half hour flight from Montevideo, but there’s so much to look forward to when I arrive in Chile’s capital.

Flying over the Andes

Flying over the Andes

So what is it about Santiago, a city not particularly well-known to those outside South America, that keeps me wanting to come back_

1- The people.

In Santiago I feel at home. Culturally, Chileans are very much like Uruguayans. They are very warm, whilst being professional, polite, respectful and even punctual. And the mix of nationalities, races and cultures makes Santiago really interesting, too.

2- The accent.

I adore the Chilean accent, it sounds beautiful to me. Their unique words and expressions are also so charming. For example, Chileans call kids “cabros chicos”, they ask you what you fancy saying “qué te tinca?” and when they park backwards (more on driving later) they call it “aculatado”. Their constant use of “po” (as obsessive as Uruguayans’ use of “ta”) and their naming people with a proposition (I’m “la Gabriela” for my local contacts, never just “Gabriela”) just add to the charm.

Gave me the giggles (lost in translation unless you speak pretty fluent Spanish!)

Gave me the giggles (lost in translation unless you speak pretty fluent Spanish!)

 

And I love that they use the same sockets as in Uruguay. Easy.

And I love that they use the same sockets as in Uruguay. Easy.

 

3- The food.

OK, this is not Lima (tip: don’t ever compare Peru and Chile, it’s like comparing England and Scotland, it will end up badly), but I find food in Chile fresh, varied and affordable. Pretty delicious, too. Chilean bread is second to none and I don’t have to tell you about the wine. Chilean salmon is gorgeous and so is the famous drink, pisco sour. But keeping it simple: tomatoes and avocados don’t taste this nice anywhere else!

 

Pastel de choclo.

Pastel de choclo.

4- Business.

There’s a lot of business to be done in Chile. Think of supplying the food & drink industry, or the mining sector. Think of renewable energy or highways. Chile has it all. Chilean retailers are taking over South America, while the start-up scene in the country is the envy of the rest of the continent. Add to that fairly straightforward systems and processes (bureaucracy is as low as it gets in Latin America), fairly low corruption, a strong respect of the law and free trade agreements with almost every country in the world, and you get a perfect mix that attracts businesses worldwide.

Mining land.

Mining land. 2 hour flight from Santiago.

Visit to a mine in Antofagasta.

Visit to a mine in Antofagasta.

5- Design.

I have a weakness for Santiago. Ok, it doesn’t have the grandeur of Buenos Aires or the colourfulness of Rio, but it’s full of pretty stunning modern buildings and some impressive older buildings. And you find design is something that a country with a strong middle class (Chile has the highest per capita income in Latin America) really values. You can see it in the quirky restaurants, the uber-chic hotels, the tiny boutiques and the plethora of museums and art galleries across the city. I find that good design in Chile is much more available and affordable than in my native Uruguay.

Las Condes. Upmarket Santiago neighbourhood where you'll find lots and lots of offices.

Las Condes. Upmarket Santiago neighbourhood where you’ll find lots and lots of offices.

6- Things happen.

Chileans work very long hours and I join them in their habit when I come over. However, in the odd occasion when I get freed up earlier or have the odd hour before a flight to spare, I’m never short of things to do. Shopping (from their amazing supermarkets through to quirky independent shops), eating out, art, literature, music, festivals, crafts, theatre, you will find it all in Santiago. And a lot of it is free, too.

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Enjoying the very trendy design fair ED Bazar in Vitacura, November 2014.

At Espacio Food Service, trade show.

At Espacio Food Service, trade show. September 2014.

7- The roads.

I also love how Chileans drive and even how they ride their bikes (they can be very “proper”!). Their traffic jams are legendary (they call them “tacos”) but they can endure them in their pretty stunning cars (the sort of cars hardly anyone can afford in overly expensive Uruguay).

Your average car park in Santiago has this kind of average (!) cars.

Your average car park in Santiago has this kind of average (!) cars.

And they even have a road with my name!

And they even have a road with my name!

 

 

So if you’re coming over to Santiago, you’re surely in for a treat, whatever season you arrive in. Enjoy, po!

 

2 Responses to 7 reasons why I love doing business in Santiago

  1. david says:

    can you suggest of specific business to be opened in Chile?
    Or good investment opportunity?

  2. Gabriela says:

    Hi David
    It would be very difficult for me to suggest specific business opportunities, since I am not an investment advisor!
    I’d recommend that if you’re specifically interested in Chile, you travel to Santiago and probably to other corners of the country and see for yourself, apart from doing the research, of course. Mining, energy and infrastructure are important sectors but so are consumer goods and services. Chile is an open economy, a market of a manageable size and a country where it is relatively easy to do business. Good luck!

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