Deposits and agreements

Contracts and utilities in Chile

Deposits and agreements

Signing a contract is one of the final hurdles in your search and can be daunting. But don’t worry, Chile has few barriers to foreigners wishing to relocate. Even so, there are a couple of points you should consider before putting pen to paper.

Furnished or unfurnished?

In general the local population prefers to rent housing, with most opting for apartment living over houses. This has made the rental market for apartments incredibly dynamic, something that people looking to relocate should be excited about, as it means a wider range of property and prices are out there, but also wary when it comes to making decisions about rentals. 

The first question for most people who are set on signing a rental contract should be location. But next in their mind ought to be whether to rent furnished, safe in the knowledge that their place will be livable immediately, or unfurnished, and all the benefits and satisfaction of making your new dwelling truly your own.

With the inclusion of a tax included as part of furnished accommodation prices, landlords can understandably be keen to use this as grounds to rent at higher than necessary rates to foreigners. Don't let this deter you though as depending on your situation it may be cheaper, not to mention less hassle, to rent a furnished property than hunt for furniture with the knowledge that you may have to sell it or dispose of it at the end of the tenancy. 

On the other hand, if you can negotiate effectively with a landlord, it is sometimes possible to have some essential household items included in an otherwise unfurnished rental.

Ensure you can view a satisfactory itinerary of the furnishings before you finalise any agreements, and don't be afraid to ask for pictures if you are at all unsure as to the contents of the property.

Contract lengths and requirements

Rental contracts are available in a variety of lengths, and are often negotiable with landlords. Availability will depend on location, with holiday destinations offering more options to rent short-term, often with seasonal variations in price. 

Santiago’s status as the business centre of the country means that long-term contracts for foreign employees are often more appropriate, and consequently there is more support for expats living there full-time. Sources have mentioned that some landlords may ask for longer rental periods for unfurnished properties, probably due to the lower rates. 

Ensure you have done your research and can negotiate fluently with them yourselves, or through a third-party.  Bills and utility payments are not usually included in rental contracts as standard, something you should be aware of as you check any contracts.

Deposits are standard with most rental agreements, with a month’s rent usually required by landlords. Also (and this is by no means the case with all agreements) a Chilean guarantor may need to co-sign or validate your contract on your behalf or a larger deposit may be requested. Again, this is unusual but not unheard of, and expats who encounter this should have no problems if they can establish contacts in the country.

Utilities in Chile

Utility prices in Chile can appear more expensive than expected, as the country has no cheap energy reserves. And whilst it does generate around 40% of its power with hydroelectric schemes, the cost of importing traditional sources of energy mean that heat, electricity and water prices can be a larger part of budgets. 

Obviously your needs and location will dictate just how much you use these services; for example those in southern parts of the country will obviously incur higher heating bills in winter compared to regions closer to the tropics.

Unusually for South America, provision of both electricity and water are both handled exclusively by privately owned companies. Anti-monopoly regulation means there is a huge range of companies catering to the public, with coverage varying by region.

Further reading

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