I’m Eva-Maria, born and raised in Salzburg, Austria. I studied international business and economics at the University of Innsbruck, Austria and the Handelshoegskolan in Gothenburg, Sweden. Some people call me a living “Jukebox” or “Shazam”, due to the fact that I am able to name lots of songs of different decades. I always end up being the DJ on every party, sometimes even missing the party itself…
This week I talked to Eva-Maria of TwentyNineSomething. She is currently living in Chile, which I personally think is super cool. Check out TwentyNineSomething for some awesome travel tips and cool music tips as well. Also, you can follow along with Eva-Maria’s adventures on Twitter or Instagram (she has some really amazing pics). Now for the interview!
Why did you decide to move to Chile?
After living abroad in Sweden and Singapore, I always had the wish to live and work in a South American country for a significant period of time. At the age of 15, I made the wise decision to learn Spanish in school and always dreamed of using it in real life someday in the future. No sooner said than done: I really made my wish came true by jumping at the opportunity after my boyfriend was offered to work in Chile for his company for a certain period of time. Chile seemed to be an attractive option for us, as it is considered to be one of the most advanced and stable economies in South America, offering a rather high standard of living.
What do you love about living in Chile?
Besides the fact that I can finally celebrate my birthday in summer (November), I am fascinated by Chile’s nature and the various possibilities one has regarding traveling and sports. Having the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean right at the doorstep (both destinations are only a 90 min. drive away), theoretically allows you to go skiing and surfing on one single weekend. In case you want to escape from the city centre, you will find several wineries close to Santiago, offering a great variety of outstanding wine and great food.
What is not so great about living in Chile?
For someone growing up in a picturesque country such as Austria, known for its clear blue skies and fresh air, I really struggled with the heavy smog during wintertime. To go out for a run or playing golf definitely isn’t something recommendable during this time of the year. Earthquakes are quite common as well and add a certain thrill to your everyday life: you never know when the next one is coming and how strong it grows when it finally starts. I remember a rather strong one in September 2015, but luckily, the buildings in Santiago are constructed quite solid, keeping the damages to a minimum.
What do you do for a living there & what was the job search process like?
I remember the job search process being quite complicated, as it is hardly impossible to apply for a job without having a RUT Number (which is a number that is used as a tax payer/social insurance number, also commonly used as a customer number in banks, retailers, etc. When applying for a job directly on a job portal of a company, it´s mandatory in most cases to enter your RUT number, which one only gets after having obtained a Visa already or a concrete job offer with a contract. Chilean companies expect you to have a Visa already. In order to clear this hurdle I would recommend sending a so-called spontaneous application directly to a central HR department at a company’s headquarter, expressing your wish to work at their subsidiary in Chile. This is how I found my dream job here in Santiago, working in Marketing and Sales for an Austrian company.
How was the visa process?
Applying for a visa at the Chilean embassy in your home country usually works out quicker, compared to applying for a visa directly in Chile. In Chile everyone needs a so called RUT number, which one needs for almost everything: Opening a banking account, applying for a job or for simply buying a cinema ticket online. Without a visa it’s almost impossible to get a RUT number. In case you are coming to Chile without a job, it´s possible to obtain an “expert visa” , subject to the condition that you are able to present a publicly authenticated copy of your academic degree.
What is the cost of living like?
Santiago is quite expensive, especially when it comes to grocery shopping and other goods you need for your daily life (shampoo etc.). I can only speak of Santiago, but depending on which district of the city you are living in the prices for an apartment can be quite expensive as well.
Would you like to stay there long term?
As the job position was limited to certain period of time, it was always clear for us that one day we will go back home or to another country. It was a great time, but after three years I think it´s a good time to move on.
What are your fave traditional foods that we should definitely try if we go?
I really like traditional Peruvian/Chilean dishes such as “Aji de Gallina” (chicken in a spicy sauce with rice and potatoes), “Arroz chaufa” (a Peruvian style fried rice with meat and seafood) and any kind of “Ceviche”. I am fascinated by the vast culinary offer this region of South America has to offer.
What are some places we should definitely visit?
I really like the Surfer´s Paradise Pichilemu, as it offers a variety of nice little hotels and “cabañas” to spend a weekend chilling at the beach and giving surfing a try. If you are really looking for a great wine, I would recommend going to the “VIK” vineyard in the “Cajon de Maipo region”. It’s not that easy to find, but really offers a unique experience when it comes to great wine and architecture.
What are some things about the culture we should know before going?
Throwing so-called “Asados (=Barbecues)” is the national hobby of Chileans and heavily practiced throughout the whole year (even contributing a lot to the city`s air pollution, especially during wintertime). The biggest mistake you can make as a foreigner is to get there punctually on time and arriving hungry: In most cases not even the host itself will be there when it starts and it usually takes hours for the meat to be done (it`s simply one big piece of meat). There aren’t any salads and sometimes not even bread. It seems to be more of a social thing and it happened quite often that people got that drunk after drinking too many Pisco Sours (Chile´s national Cocktail), that they totally forgot the meat on the grill in the end.
Would you recommend it to other people who are interested in moving abroad?
Yes – If you really want to live abroad for a certain period of time in a South American country, Chile is the place to go. Especially when it comes to traveling the country itself and escaping from Santiago every once in a while, you have various options to go to, such as the Atacama desert in the North, Patagonia in the South and the Easter Island.