A little while ago, I posted some quick notes on Chile, after staying there only about 7-10 days.
What sometimes occurs after I publish a post like this was that a few people claimed I was making snap-judgements, and moving way too fast through countries in order to make a proper evaluation of the country.
I can see where they’re coming from. For instance, getting to know the people of Chile (i.e. developing relationships) is something that can’t really be rushed, and may be the most important part of getting to know a foreign land. I didn’t leave a lot of time for that.
Plus, there is definitely more to Chile than what I experienced. There are not only many more places in Chile to check out, there is also the large metropolis of Santiago itself, a globally-important city which would take at least several months to get to know well.
But, let’s be honest here. I’m not trying to make a full, comprehensive or otherwise proper anthropological evaluation of the country.
What I’m trying to do is decide whether I would like living there… And I accomplished that just fine, thank you!
Going Abroad To Live, Not Just To Travel
You see, I have a very strong idea of what I’m looking for in a country, based on a handful of factors that are relevant to me at this point in my life, within the context of my values and priorities.
I’m not trying to do a ’round-the-world’ trip, or be some backpacker-blogger who can follow a hostel trail, take pictures, say the world is wonderful and move on. I’m not trying to ‘see the world’, I’m trying to find something.
And, after being abroad and traveling a good bit over the past 2 years, it simply does not take me long to see whether I would like to live in a country or not, when compared to Colombia (specifically Medellin) or Brazil (which I intend to explore more).
I came to a ‘nay’ on living Chile rather quickly. (In my experience, the ‘nays’ come quickly but the ‘yays’ come slowly.) I’d say if Chile were cheaper, I might spend more time there to get a better handle on things, but there’s just no way I’m going to stay in a place that doesn’t really resonate with me while paying US prices (or more).
There wasn’t really much about the city that drew me to it. I say this after putting boots-on-the-ground and experiencing the city for myself.
Brazil has high prices and attracted me. Chile has high prices and didn’t attract me.
My attraction to a place, by the way, isn’t capricious. In fact, it’s part of a general process I go through when I am looking for liveable cities. (I actually feel that this is a process that most people should do, provided that they engage in it intelligently and don’t make foolish financial decisions. So pay attention…)
Here are some of the steps in the process (which I detail here):
- Have a point of comparison that you love
- Read the boots-on-the-ground reports of bloggers
- Don’t put too much weight on guide books
- Examine as many logistics (weather, costs, location, size) as you can before you visit
- Only spend your time in places that really resonate with you
To me, it’s simple… Just like you would visit various neighborhoods to see if you would live there, or visit various universities to decide whether you would attend, you also would travel to see if you would like to live in a place.
Having a reference point (or more than one) is the fastest way to decide whether you actually would live in a place.
It didn’t take me long to see I’d prefer Rio de Janeiro over Santiago.
Move On Or Return To Your Darling Cities
The reason I spent only one week in Chile is that I didn’t need to take another week away from living in or exploring other places that are already desirable to me, in favor of one that was 1) expensive and 2) less attractive.
There’s incredible power in a reference point.
Chile has a lot of things going for it, especially economically. I’m sure it’s a good choice for a lot of people.
But for my lively-but-sensible, internet-bootstrapper lifestyle, right now there’s no way I’d stay there. And honestly even if I had the extra income to afford it, I likely still wouldn’t live there.
Going to Brazil helped me reach this conclusion.