Our home here in Santiago is fenced. It’s walled actually. An eight foot masonry wall surrounds the property, and there are spikes atop the wall. There are barred gates for entry and exit into the courtyard and driveway. I’ve yet to see a house without a similar wall and fence. Many homes have electrified wire strung along the top of the fences. And most businesses also. From what I can tell, all the business have fences around the building. At night, the car dealerships on Vitacura Avenue bring out temporary fences, piece by piece, and erect them around the property.
I thought perhaps that was a real estate trait reserved for the more urban setting. We are after all in a rather dense area, and perhaps crime rates are higher here. However, as we’ve ventured further out into the suburbs and into surrounding towns, we find all the houses and properties have fences. Just about every property is fenced, small and large. Not privacy fences, but security fences.
I don’t feel particularly threatened on a day to day basis living in Santiago. From what I can tell, Chileans are a rather friendly bunch, and I don’t get the sense that they live in fear of each other. To me, the community feels as safe as any large city in the US, though I don’t presume to understand the dynamics here or even the regional differences within an expansive city of six million people.
I don’t know the history as to why Chileans like or need their security fences, but it’s an observed difference from our home in the United States. Erecting an eight foot tall security fence with spikes and electric wiring around the entire yard in our neighborhood in Raleigh would invite unending derision, likely condemnation from the city, and perhaps a lawsuit from a disgruntled neighbor. Here I’ve yet to see one home, even the most modest, without a substantial fence and gate.