We find South America to be much more expensive than we thought. So when fellow travellers told us that Chile is so expensive, we thought we might spend a lot more money than anticipated. They said it is even more expensive than Argentina!
Well, we loved Chile. It is a true adventurer's paradise. Sometimes it was expensive, but we actually spent less than in any of the other countries we visited thus far. I guess it's all relative. You just need to know how to go about doing things. So here are our tips for saving money in Chile.
Buy food and cook for yourself
Ok, so every backpacker and budget traveller knows this one, so it's not so little known. But in Chile, it is necessary. Food in a restaurant or even cheaper street food, often comes with a price tag of 3500 to 5000 pesos (R70 - R100/ $6 - $8) each. Maybe this doesn't sound so bad, but you have to consider the fact that this is usually a vienna hotdog slathered with avo and mayo, or a box patty burger with mayonnaise. This is not the price of a proper plate of food that you would find anywhere else. Drinks and fries are usually extra as well. Honestly, even if they were included, it is still a lot of money for a meal you can make at home. In the supermarket, you can buy food for 3 days for the same price and it would be a healthier option.
Buy from Lider Supermarkets if you must buy from a supermarket
Buying fruit and vegetables from the local market is by far the cheapest option. Fresh produce is more fresh and cheaper, but if you have to go to a supermarket, buy from Lider.
Lider is a chain supermarket In Chile. You find them in most cities. The other popular one is UniMarc. The reason why we suggest Lider specifically, is because they are 1) cheaper than Unimarc or any other store; and 2) they have great specials ALL THE TIME.
They have daily specials on many products for a 1000 pesos (R20/ USD 1.6/Euro 1.35). The items can range from a quarter roast chicken with chips to combo packets of pasta and sauce, bread, cheese, toiletries etc. You will find many products on this type of promotion that would cost you at least double to triple the price anywhere else. It is totally worth it. We saved a lot of money just buying from this store.