Medellín vs Santiago, Chile, which is really the better place to live? In our Medellín vs Santiago comparison, we comprehensively compare the two cities in 21 categories to see which is the better place to live in for expats.

We previously published an article about 11 reasons why Medellín is considered a top foreign retirement location. The foreign retirement publications have for several years been touting Colombia as a top foreign retirement location.

Also, the International Living retirement publication ranked the country of Colombia as its sixth best foreign retirement location in 2019. And Chile is not even ranked by International Living.

Several Medellin Guru readers asked for a comparison of Medellín vs Santiago, as we have published several comparisons in the past.

Santiago is located in Chile’s central valley and is the largest city in Chile. The city has a metro population of over 7 million. And Santiago is surrounded by mountains with a river running through the city.

Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia located in a valley in the Colombian Andes Mountains in Colombia. It has a metro population over about 4 million. And mountains surround Medellín with a river running though the city.

Many expats I have met living in Medellín prefer Medellín. And expats living in Santiago tend to prefer Santiago. However, many of these expats living in one of these two places have never traveled to the other. It’s not really fair to compare two places if you have not been to both of them.

I have lived in Medellín for over eight years. But I have traveled on business and vacation to Santiago several times. In my opinion, both places have their pluses and minuses. No place is perfect.

Note, the following 21 categories in this Medellín vs Santiago comparison are in no particular order. And where possible in our Medellín vs Santiago comparison, we provide some statistics to back up how we chose the winner of each category in our comparison.

Also, in our comparison we assume the winner of each category is chosen based on what expats from North America would likely choose.

Arial view of Santiago, Chile and O’Higgins Park, photo by Andrés de la Cruz Bauerle

Arial view of Santiago, Chile and O’Higgins Park, photo by Andrés de la Cruz Bauerle

1. Climate – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín wins here. The temperature during the year in Medellín averages 72.5 °F (22.5 °C). The Medellín weather and climate is a benefit of living in the city.

Also, Medellín is also known as “La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera”, or the city of eternal spring. The average temperature in Medellín typically only varies by about 1 °F during the year.

In Medellín, the high daily average temperature ranges from 81.0 to 82.8 °F (27.0 to 28.2 °C). And the low daily average ranges from 61.7 to 63.3 °F (16.5 to 17.4 °C).

Santiago has seasons. Santiago has warm and dry summers (November to March) with temperatures reaching up to 35 °C (95 °F) on the hottest days. And winters in Santiago (June to August) are cool and humid, with typical daily maximum temperatures of 14 °C (57 °F), and low temperatures near 0 °C (32 °F).

In Santiago, the temperature during the entire year averages a much cooler 57.2 °F (14.0 °C). During the entire year the average high temperature in Santiago ranges from 59.5 to 85.8 ° F (15.3 to 36.5 °C). And the average low temperature during the year typically ranges from 36.5 to 53.6 ° F (2.5 to 12.0 °C).

In terms of rainfall, in Medellín there is one month out of the year with heavy rain (October), which is normally over 220 mm (nearly 9 inches) of rain. The average rainfall in Medellín for the entire year is about 69 inches (1,752 mm) per year.

In comparison, it rains much less in Santiago. The average rainfall in Santiago for the entire year is about 10.9 inches (276.9 mm) per year.

Medellín arguably wins this category due to Santiago having seasons requiring heating and cooling, which aren’t needed in Medellín.

Santiago from Cerro San Cristobal, photo by Robert Cutts

Santiago from Cerro San Cristobal, photo by Robert Cutts

2. Cost of Living – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín wins here. The cost of living in Medellín is lower than in Santiago. Some residential properties I saw in Santiago were over 50 percent more expensive to rent or buy for similar properties compared to the costs in Medellín.

When looking at cost of living, it is important to consider the standard of living, which more than anything will affect a person’s or couple’s or family’s cost of living.

The Expatistan website estimates that the cost of living is 25 percent cheaper in Medellín compared to in Santiago.  And the Numbeo website estimates that the cost of living is much higher in Santiago compared to Medellín.

Both the Expatistan and Numbeo cost of living websites collect data using a crowdsourcing. Users enter prices for their own city and the more users that enter prices for a city, the more accurate comparisons will be. But this method has limitations. For more accurate cost of living information we recommend talking with expats living in the cities.

Stephanie previously shared her cost of living in Medellín for a single woman was about $1,063 USD living in a shared place.

Also, I shared our actual cost of living as a couple living in Medellín, which has been dropping but has been about $2,100 per month over the past couple of years.

The bottom line is the cost of living in Medellín is lower than in Santiago. So, Medellín wins this category.

Clínica Alemana, the best hospital in Santiago, photo by Ahmedd

Clínica Alemana, the best hospital in Santiago, photo by Ahmedd

3. Healthcare – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín wins here. Good healthcare is a very important category for retirees. Medellín has nine of the top 58 ranked hospitals in Latin America. And Colombia has 24 of the best hospitals in Latin America. While Santiago only has two of the top ranked hospitals in Latin America.

Also, Colombia’s healthcare system has been ranked as the best healthcare system in Latin America by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Here is a list of all the top ranked hospitals in Medellín and Santiago, with the rankings in the top 58 hospitals in Latin America:

  • Clínica Alemana – Santiago (#2)
  • Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe – Medellín (#9)
  • Hospital Universitario de San Vicente Fundación – Medellín (#16)
  • Complejo Asistencial Dr. Sótero del Rio – Santiago (#24)
  • Clínica las Américas – Medellín (#26)
  • Clínica Universitaria Bolivariana – Medellín (#28)
  • Hospital General de Medellín – Medellín (#33)
  • Clínica El Rosario – Medellín (#41)
  • Clínica Cardio Vid – Medellín (#42)
  • Clínica Medellín – Medellín (#43)
  • Clínica Las Vegas – Medellín (#53)
Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, the best hospital in Medellín, photo by SajoR

Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe, the best hospital in Medellín, photo by SajoR

WHO ranks Colombia’s healthcare system as #22 out of 191 countries it ranked, which is ranked higher than many wealthier countries like the United States (#37), Germany (#25), Canada (#30) and Australia (#32).

Colombia’s healthcare system is ranked better than the healthcare system in Chile.  WHO ranks Chile’s healthcare system at #33 out of 191 countries.

The bottom line is that Medellín has more of the top hospitals in Latin America – a total nine compared to only two in Santiago. Also, Colombia’s healthcare system is ranked at #22 by WHO, which is higher than Chile ranked at #33. So, Medellín arguably wins this healthcare category.

The Medellín metro

The Medellín metro

4. Public Transportation – Medellín vs Santiago

The two cities tie here.  Both Medellín and Santiago have comprehensive metro systems and extensive networks of buses.

The Medellín Metro is a comprehensive and inexpensive system. Furthermore, it integrates two rail lines, five Metrocable cable-car lines, two Metroplús elongated bus lines, a Tranvía tramcar line and even feeder Metro buses. Medellín’s metro system has over 60 stations throughout the city. The fare on the Medellín metro is about $0.70.

Inside the Universidad de Chile metro station in Santiago, photo by Rodrigo Fernández

Inside the Universidad de Chile metro station in Santiago, photo by Rodrigo Fernández

Santiago’s metro system has six lines and over 130 stations and it carries over 2.5 million passengers daily. In 2017, the government announced a seventh line that is projected to open in 2025. Fares on the Santiago metro depend on the time of day and range from about $1 to $1.20.

The Santiago metro is part of Transantiago, which is the integrated public transportation system that services the city and also uses feeder and main bus routes.

It is possible to live in Medellín and Santiago without a car with the good and inexpensive public transportation in both cities. Reportedly about 80 percent of the expats living in Medellín don’t have a car.

Since both Medellín and Santiago have comprehensive and inexpensive metro systems as well as inexpensive buses the two cities tie in this category.

5. Safety – Medellín vs Santiago

Santiago wins here. Santiago generally has lower crime rates than are found in the city of Medellín.

Chile has the lowest homicide rates out of all the countries in Latin America. It appears that there no regularly published homicide statistics for Santiago. In 2016, Chile’s homicide rate was 3.5 per 100,000.

The security environment in Chile is moderately safe, with comparatively less violent crime than if found in other Latin American countries. In Santiago, pickpocketing, telephone scams, vehicle thefts, and residential break-ins are the most common crimes against tourists and resident expats.

Visitors who use common sense and do not take unnecessary risks will normally find their time in Santiago is hassle-free

In comparison, the homicide rate in Medellín of 23 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017 was up from a homicide rate of 20 in 2015 in Medellín. But over the past few years Medellín has experienced a homicide rate that is lower than is found in St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit or New Orleans in the U.S.

Furthermore, Medellín dropped off of the list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world a few years ago based on homicide rates.

We previously looked at security in Medellín and expat safety tips. And in a survey of 12,548 Colombians, Medellín ranked higher than all other cities in Colombia in terms of citizens feeling safe in their barrio (neighborhood) – slide 41.

6. Pollution – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín arguably wins here Santiago has very serious pollution problems. WHO has previously ranked the pollution in Santiago as worse than in Medellín.

Santiago with its population of over 7 million has suffered for many years with dangerous levels of air pollution during the winter months. The city faces a future of increased smog amid declining rainfall and continued growth in the number of vehicles.

Santiago is ringed by mountains and is affected during the fall and winter by a phenomenon known as thermal inversion, in which hot air is concentrated in the upper layers of the atmosphere.

Medellín also has pollution problems but not as bad as in Santiago. Medellín’s biggest issue is that it’s located in a canyon like Santiago. Mountains surround the city of Medellín. So, pollution tends to stay in the Medellín metropolitan area.

This is similar to the problem in Denver in the U.S. But more regular rain in Medellín compared to in Santiago can help clean the atmosphere.

According to WHO, in Latin America several cities and towns have worse pollution than in Medellín. Lima, Peru; Monterrey, Mexico; five towns in Chile; and Guatemala all have worse air pollutant problems.

In general, during the winter in Santiago, it has worse air pollution than is found in Medellín. So, Medellín wins this category.

Traffic in Medellín, one of the downsides of living in the city

Traffic in Medellín, one of the downsides of living in the city

7. Traffic – Medellín vs Santiago

The two cities arguably tie in this category. In a survey by Waze in 2016, Medellín was ranked #176 in the world in terms of drivers’ satisfaction out of 186 metros surveyed. And Santiago was ranked with somewhat better driver’s satisfaction at #128.

But both cities were ranked poorly in terms of traffic, with both cities ranked by Waze at less than 2 on a 5-point scale for traffic, with 5 being better. In my experience, the traffic can get pretty bad in the larger city of Santiago.

Traffic can also get pretty bad in Medellín during rush hours. It can sometimes take an hour or more during rush hour to get to some places in Medellín. The worst traffic in the Medellín metro in my experience tends to be in El Poblado, El Centro and Envigado.

However, there is worst traffic in Latin America than in found in Medellín and Santiago. In my experience, the traffic is much worse in the bigger cities of Bogotá, São Paulo and Mexico City.

A 20-story building collapsed in Concepción in Chile during an earthquake in 2010, photo by Claudio Núñez

A 20-story building collapsed in Concepción in Chile during an earthquake in 2010, photo by Claudio Núñez

8. Seismic Risk – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín wins here. Chile is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and has a long history of deadly quakes. During the past 150 years, Chile has experienced more giant quakes with magnitudes of 8 and larger than any other region in to world.

In May 21, 1960, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3 hit Conception and impacted Santiago. The responders were interrupted by dozens of aftershocks, whose epicenters slowly migrated south from Concepcion. The strongest aftershock on May 22 reached a magnitude of 7.9.

But within 15 minutes after that 7.9 aftershock, two separate 8.6 events merged into the largest earthquake the modern world had ever seen. This quake with a magnitude estimated at 9.5 hit with its epicenter at Lumaco. Valdivia was the most affected city where nearly half the buildings were rendered uninhabitable.

This series of earthquake and aftershocks in 1960 in Chile triggered tsunamis and volcanic eruptions and reportedly 2 million were made homeless and over 1,600 people died.

In 2010, an 8.8 magnitude quake hit off the south-central coast of Chile, which triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal towns. And more than 500 people died.

In addition, located near Santiago is the active San Ramon fault, which hasn’t caused a major quake for thousands of years. But experts have warned it may be gearing up for a major quake. In 1647, a major quake in Santiago is said to have brought nearly all buildings in the city to the ground and caused thousands of deaths.

According to geologists, Medellín is situated on a giant block of andesite, which is a gigantic and deep-rooted hunk of igneous rock. This rock is hard like granite and resistant to seismic motion.

While there is no certainty, this resistance to seismic motion likely makes Medellín safer than many other places in Colombia and certainly safer than Santiago and other places in Chile.

Inside the Arturo Merion Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago, photo by Rodrigo Pereira

Inside the Arturo Merion Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago, photo by Rodrigo Pereira

9. Travel Access to North America, Europe and Latin America

Santiago wins hereThe Arturo Merion Benítez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago is the largest airport in Chile. It has non-stop flights to over 25 international locations in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

From the SCL airport in Santiago there are non-stop flights to Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, New York-JFK and Toronto in North America.

In addition, from the Santiago airport there are non-stop flights to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris and Rome in Europe. Also, there are non-stop flights to over 10 international locations in Latin America and flights to many domestic locations in Chile.

Inside Medellín's José María Córdova international airport

Inside Medellín’s José María Córdova international airport

Medellín’s José María Córdova international airport (MDE) is the second largest airport in Colombia. This airport has non-stop flights to 12 international locations in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

From the MDE airport there are non-stop flights available to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami and New York (JFK) in the U.S. In addition, from MDE you can fly non-stop to Madrid in Europe. Also, you can fly non-stop to Cancún, Lima, Maracaibo, Mexico City, Panama City, San Salvador and Valencia.

In addition, there are more domestic Colombia flights available from Medellín as the city has two airports: the international José María Córdova airport and the domestic Olaya Herrera airport (EOH). From Medellín’s two airports you can fly non-stop to over 30 cities in Colombia.

Since you can fly non-stop to more locations in the U.S. and more international locations from the Santiago airport, Santiago wins this category.

10. Cost and Time to Travel from the U.S. – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín wins here. It is cheaper and quicker to travel from the U.S. to Medellín than traveling from the U.S. to Santiago.

It’s important to not only look at flight availability but also look at the cost and length of flights. Proximity to the U.S. is important for some expats from the U.S. that travel home for family or work.

We previously looked at finding cheap flights to Medellín. For example, it’s possible to find roundtrip from New York to Medellín for under $400 and roundtrip from Los Angeles to Medellín for under $500.

From New York to Santiago, the cheapest roundtrip I found in April was $791 with a connection in Bogotá – which is about double than the cost of flying to Medellín. And from Los Angeles to Santiago, the cheapest roundtrip I found in April was $703 with a connection in Lima.

Also, Medellín is much closer to the U.S. than Santiago in Chile. For example, it’s only about a three-hour non-stop flight from Miami to Medellín and a six-hour non-stop flight from New York to Medellín.

In comparison, it’s about an eight-hour non-stop flight from Miami to Santiago and about a 10.5 hours non-stop flight from New York to Santiago.

Since the flights to Santiago from the U.S. are more expensive and much longer flights, Medellín wins this category.

Plaza de Armas in Santiago, photo by Apincheira

Plaza de Armas in Santiago, photo by Apincheira

11. Things to Do – Medellín vs Santiago

Santiago arguably wins here. Both Santiago and Medellín and the regions near these cities have many things to do.

TripAdvisor has over 500 things to do listed for Santiago. And it has over 200 things to do listed for Medellín. While this is unscientific it demonstrates there are more things to do in the city of Santiago than in the city of Medellín.

But for Medellín, TripAdvisor only includes a few day trips and doesn’t include all the pueblos near Medellín as well as the other municipalities in the Aburrá valley.

If we include Medellín plus other municipalities in the Aburrá Valley and nearby pueblos, TripAdvisor has over 400 things listed to do. And if we include things to do near Santiago, TripAdvisor has over 600 things listed to do.

The bottom line is that there are hundreds of things to do in Santiago and nearby and there are hundreds of things to do in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley and nearby pueblos. But Santiago arguably wins this categary with more things to do listed on TripAdvisor.

12. Restaurants and Nightlife – Medellín vs Santiago

Santiago wins here. Both Santiago and Medellín have many good restaurant options. But you will have a bigger choice of restaurants in Santiago.

If you look on TripAdvisor, it lists over 4,800 restaurants in Santiago but less than 1,500 restaurants in Medellín. Both Santiago and Medellín have many good restaurant options. But there is a larger choice of restaurants in Santiago listed on TripAdvisor.

In terms of nightlife, Santiago has many more nightlife options than Medellín due to having a metro population of about 7 million compared to a metro population of 4 million in Medellín.

In Medellín you can find bars, nightclubs, music and pubs of many styles found in areas like Parque Lleras, La 70 and La 33.

As a much bigger city, Santiago wins this category with a larger selection of restaurants and nightlife.

13. Taxes – Medellín vs Santiago

The two places arguably tie here. We highly recommend talked to a tax professional to understand the tax implications before moving to another county.

In both Colombia and Chile, you are libel for filing taxes if you earn income in the country or if you are a tax resident.

Chile tax residents are liable to a progressive tax on their income ranging between 0 – 45 percent. And Colombia tax residents are liable to a progressive tax on their worldwide income ranging between 0 – 33 percent.

We looked at filing income taxes in Colombia last year. Colombia has many income deductions including deductions for expenses related to receiving your income, mortgage interest, health insurance, retirement savings and economic support of dependents.

In addition, in Colombia, you can exclude 25 percent of your salary (up to a limit) from income taxes. Also, some income taxes paid in another country are subtracted from income taxes due in Colombia.  And foreign pensions are no longer taxed in Colombia (up to a limit).

Property taxes in Colombia typically range from 0.3 to 3.3 percent. Property taxes in Chile on residential properties are 0.98 percent on part of the value not exceeding a certain limit and 1.143 percent on the remaining value. And the property tax rate is 1.2 percent for urban properties and 1 percent for rural properties.

The VAT (IVA tax) tax for most items in Colombia and Chile is the same – currently at 19 percent.

14. Job Opportunities – Medellín vs Santiago

Santiago wins here. Santiago is a much larger city with a metro population that is almost twice as large as than the metro population of Medellín. So, clearly there are many more job opportunities in Santiago.

Both Medellín and Santiago have several very large employers and several multinational companies have offices in both cities that are headquartered in the U.S.

But there aren’t that many work opportunities in either place for foreigners. Fluency in Spanish is typically required for the best jobs in both Colombia and Chile.

In both Medellín and Santiago you can find English teaching job opportunities if you are a native English speaker. However, the pay for English teaching isn’t the greatest in either place.

Also, to work in both Colombia and Chile will require a visa.

15. Expat Community and Expat Friendly – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín arguably wins here. The expat communities in Medellín and Santiago are relatively small but unfortunately there aren’t reliable statistics for Medellín or Santiago.

However, I would estimate there may be less than 5,000 expats from North America and Europe living in Medellín. And the expat community in Medellín seems to be much better organized. Medellín has several large expat groups on Facebook that are very active including:

Santiago doesn’t appear to have a large Facebook group for the city. But there is a large Gringos/students/foreigners in Chile Facebook group, which has about 17,000 members but only about 10 posts per day. And I couldn’t find a Santiago Digital Nomads group.

In addition, in Medellín there are many regularly organized meetups for expats each week. There is normally something organized for expats almost every day of the week in Medellín.

Two expats I met in Santiago the last time I was there told me there aren’t nearly as many regularly organized meetups in Santiago for expats, as there are in Medellín.

Finally, Colombia is rated an expat friendly country by InterNations. In 2018 when looking at the best and worst places for expats, InterNations ranked Colombia as #9. And Chile is ranked much lower at #33.

The expat community in Medellín looks to be better organized than in Santiago.  Also, Colombia is rated a more expat friendly country than Chile. So, Medellín arguably wins this category.

16. Education Options – Medellín vs Santiago

The two cities arguably tie here. Medellín has about 40 universities. So, there are many university choices available. And Santiago has over 50 universities. So, both cities have many university options.

In addition, Medellín has many Spanish language programs available for foreigners. Also, Medellín has Universidad EAFIT, which reportedly has the largest Spanish language program in Colombia for foreigners. Also, Santiago has many Spanish language programs available for foreigners.

Furthermore, both Medellín and Santiago have several bilingual schools available for children.

Since both cities have many university options, several Spanish language programs and several bilingual school options, the two cities arguably tie in this category.

17. Internet Availability and Infrastructure Reliability

Santiago arguably wins here.  In Santiago, it is possible to get higher Internet speeds than in Medellín.

In Medellín, it is possible to get up to 300 Mbps Internet speed from Claro. In addition, up to 150 Mbps speed is available from Tigo-UNE and up to 40 Mbps from Movistar.

Most buildings in Medellín will have service from at least one of these three providers. And all three providers in Medellín provide triple-play Internet/TV/phone services. Also, we have a guide to Internet and cable TV providers in Medellín.

In Santiago there are several Internet providers including Claro, Entel, GTD and VTR and these providers offer triple play services. In addition, Entel, GTD and VTR reportedly offer up to 400 Mbps Internet speed. And Claro reportedly offers up to 100 Mbps Internet speed.

Furthermore, the highest speed Internet in both cities will normally be available only in the newest apartment buildings. In older buildings, where fiber or coax hasn’t been run, you may be limited to lower speeds.

In terms of other infrastructure like electricity and water, the two places are similar with electricity and water services considered to be reliable. And the tap water is considered safe to drink in both cities.

However, since Santiago reportedly has higher Internet speeds available, Santiago edges out Medellín in this category.

18. Economic Freedom, Ease of Starting a Business and Corruption

Santiago wins here. Since both places are in different countries it is worth comparing the countries in terms economic freedom and ease of starting a business as well as corruption when considering them as places to live.

The Heritage Foundation ranks countries in terms of economic freedom. It ranks Colombia as a “moderately free country”. It ranks Colombia #42 out of the 180 countries it ranks in terms of economic freedom in the world.

Heritage Foundation ranks Chile much higher than Colombia with a “Mostly free country”. It currently ranks Chile #18 out of 180 countries in terms of economic freedom.

In terms of ease of doing business, Colombia is ranked #65. And Chile is ranked #56 in terms of ease of doing business. So, it’s generally somewhat easier to do business in Chile.

Corruption is perceived to be worse in Colombia than in Chile. Chile is ranked #26 out of 180 countries in terms of corruption perception by Transparency International. And Colombia is also ranked #96.

Since Chile beats Colombia in terms of economic freedom, ease of starting a business and corruption, Santiago wins this category.

The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado, the largest mall in Colombia

The Viva Envigado Mall in Envigado, the largest mall in Colombia

19. Shopping – Medellín vs Santiago

The two cities tie here. Both Medellín and Santiago have many malls and many shopping options.

We have looked at 22 malls in Medellín including the 13 best malls in Medellín. And there are five malls in Medellín with at least 400 shops each.

For example, Santafé mall is one of the largest malls in Medellín with over 400 shops. And in October 2018, Viva Envigado, the largest mall in Colombia opened in Envigado, directly south of Medellín, which also has about 400 shops.

Inside the Costanera Center mall in Santiago, photo by Xamuhinamorix

Inside the Costanera Center mall in Santiago, photo by Xamuhinamorix

Santiago also has over 20 malls. The largest malls in Santiago include Parque Arauco with over 350 shops and Costanera Center with over 300 shops.

The bottom line is that both Medellín and Santiago have many malls and many more shopping options. So, the two cities arguably tie in this category.

20. English Proficiency Levels – Medellín vs Santiago

Santiago arguably wins here. In everyday life in both Medellín and Santiago you will be challenged to find English speakers. But more locals speak English in Santiago than in Medellín in my experience.

In both Medellín and Santiago you will some English speakers in hotels and nicer restaurants. And some of the taxi drivers and shopkeepers in both cities speak some English. Also, executives at larger companies are typically are bilingual.

Education First ranks Colombia #60 in its English Proficiency Index with a score of 48.90, which is a low level of proficiency (a higher number signifies that more people speak English).

And Chile is ranked #46 in Education First’s English Proficiency Index with a score of 52.01, which means a low level of English proficiency but somewhat higher proficiency than Colombia.

If you want to be able to speak to all the locals you will need some Spanish in Medellín and Santiago. But in general, there are more English-speaking locals in Santiago in my experience. So, Santiago arguably wins this category.

21. Ease of Getting a Visa – Medellín vs Santiago

Medellín arguably wins this category. Colombia and Chile both have a number of visa options.

Colombia streamlined its visa process a couple years ago and you can apply online, fewer documents are typically required and approvals are now relatively fast, typically in about a week. We previously looked at all the Colombian visa options.

In Chile, the visa process takes a long time. It can take 2-6 months in total from application to receiving a visa in Chile. For a Chile student visas, it’s recommended to do this at a consulate and it will normally take 3-4 weeks. But for other visas it’s recommended to apply in Chile.

Also, the income requirements are higher in Chile. For example, the income requirement for a Chile retirement visa is higher than in Colombia. In Chile, you need to show a monthly income of $1,000 per month. The income requirement for a Colombia retirement visa is lower, currently about $800 per month.

Medellín arguably wins this category with Colombia having similar visas that are easier to get and with lower income requirements.

The Medellin Guru City and Place Comparisons

We have compared on this website living in Medellin with living in several foreign locations:

Also, we have compared living in different cities in Colombia:

Santiago, Chile at night, photo by Javmoraga

Santiago, Chile at night, photo by Javmoraga

The Bottom Line: Medellín vs Santiago

In our Medellín vs Santiago comparison:

  • Medellín wins in 8 of our 21 categories.
  • Santiago wins in 8 of our 21 categories.
  • The two cities tie in 5 categories.

So, in this unscientific and somewhat subjective Medellín vs Santiago comparison of 21 categories, the two cities tie if you equally weigh the categories. But it really comes down to which categories are more important for you.

Both of these places in our Medellín vs Santiago comparison have their pluses and minuses. If having a better climate, better healthcare, a lower cost of living, proximity to the U.S. and less of a seismic risk are your most important categories, then Medellín would win for you.

And if having more job opportunities, less crime, higher Internet speeds, more things to do and a bigger restaurant selection, then Santiago would win for you.

The bottom line in our Medellín vs Santiago comparison is that the best place to live is the best place to live for you. Everyone has different priorities. The only way to know which place is the best for you is to spend time there.

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.

Editors note: updated on October 29, 2019 with new 2019 hospital rankings in Latin America.