When we started this trip, we were scared of Chile.
Scared of its size and the inevitable difficulties with transport, and scared that it was going to cost us a fortune for just a few weeks. In South America, its reputation precedes it as 'the expensive place'.
However, thanks to a more favourable exchange rate and our budget mentality, it really wasn't that expensive. Sure, we still had to watch the pennies, and take the budget option more than once, but it wasn't nearly the nightmare we were expecting.
The costs below are the average we encountered in our time in the country, and the individual items have been chosen for their ubiquity across the world and their popularity amongst backpackers. This will allow us, and you, to make a comparison of living and travel costs across Latin America.
Currencies are Chilean Pesos / £GBP / $USD. Conversion rate as at time of publication.
our average daily cost for two
Not bad at all eh?
However, (and this is a big however), we have to factor in that we spent 6 weeks house sitting and therefore had no accommodation or major travel costs, in addition to receiving a few comped stays from hostels in the country.
As a more useful indicator, in the period that we were backpacking, our average daily spend was £37 - still considerably less than we were expecting but much more than our average elsewhere in South America.
27,600 CP / £26 / $37.75
average cost of a dorm bed
As regular readers will be aware, we can normally afford to stay in doubles. But, alas, this is not so in Chile, where doubles often cost at least three times the price of a dorm bed. Therefore, pack those earplugs!
For those on not such a tight budget, you can find private doubles for around 25,000 - 35,000 CP.
9,000 CP / £8.55 / $12.3
cost of a 12 hour bus journey
Chile is the only country we have encountered in Latin America where buying your bus tickets in advance could save you a substantial amount of money. Even on very long journeys we just stuck to the 'semi-cama' but never found them to be unpleasant. Overall, the quality was excellent - way better than in Argentina and much more affordable.
Our top recommendation? Turbus. This is a country wide company with frequent buses, at good prices. They also have a great website with bus schedules.
13,000 CP / £12 / £17.7
one basic breakfast out
With only the occasional exception, most hostels in Chile provide a breakfast - and a good one at that!
3,000 CP / £2.81 / $4.1
one litre of water
Except in the the very northern towns (where there are very high levels of argon in the water), the tap water is perfectly safe to drink which should save you more than a couple of pesos.
600 CP / £0.56 / $0.82
one cup of coffee
Sure, you can pay a lot more than this, but we enjoyed a number of pretty decent coffees in some pretty cool and stylish locations for around this amount.
If you're looking for the cheapest coffee around, make sure to request a 'cortado'; it's significantly cheaper than a cappuccino.
1,500 CP / £1.40 / $2
lunch in local comedor
Although you can find this price, it is much more difficult than in other countries we have visited, particularly those in very touristy locations. Frequently, at least 6,000 - 8,000 was the going rate.
4,000 CP / £3.75 / $5.2
half dozen eggs
Chile is the first place we've been able to go back to free range eggs due to they're availability and non-prohibitive cost, with a dozen costing only 500 CP more than normal eggs.
800 CP / £0.75 / $1
one litre of beer
Whilst beer isn't expensive here, with a bottle of decent wine costing as little as 1,200 CP, you may want to give beer a little rest for a while!
If you do fancy a bottle, just make sure you don't forget the envase fee (the deposit on the bottle). In small bottle shops you will get this back when you return the bottle, but NOT if you buy it in most supermarkets - only a voucher to use against the next envase.
1,000 CP / £0.94 / $1.37
400g pasta plus 400g marinara sauce
For a country that is supposed to be expensive, this is an amazingly cheap option. Add in the fact that you can get the best cheese we have found on this trip for significantly less than back home, we ate quite a lot of pasta in Chile!
900 CP / £0.84 / $1.23
one can of coke
Soft drinks in large bottles (especially returnable ones) are significantly cheaper than individual cans.
700 CP / £0.65 / $0.95
one loaf of bread
Although a loaf of bread here will cost you perhaps even more than at home, for vegetarians it is often the only safe option - most of the individual bread rolls are made with pork fat!
1,300 CP / £1.21 / $1.78
one kg of laundry
Yep, you read that correctly. Laundry is not cheap here, and if you're in the country during the winter months, the costs could really mount up.
Every now and then you will come across a hostel that charges less, so our top tip would be to wear your clothes sparingly, and try and hold out for a bargain!
2,000 CP / £1.87 / $2.74
We can't do a 'what things cost in Chile' without including the national snack!
The most popular offering by far is 'pino' a meat heavy variety, although vegetarian options are becoming increasingly common, and the Chilean versions usually come pretty big making them excellent value.
2,000 CP / £0.94 / $1.37
local pack of cigarettes
Cigarettes are cheaper in Bolivia, Peru and Argentina - so maybe buy some before you get here if that's your thing.