12 Best Places to Live in Chile for the Highest Quality of Life

by Jem
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Chile is not just a country; it embodies a unique way of life. From its stunning Andean landscapes to its charming coastal towns and vibrant urban centers, Chile offers an extraordinary array of living experiences. With its rich diversity, finding the ideal place to settle can seem overwhelming. To assist in your search, I’ve crafted this guide on the best places to live in Chile.

My extensive travels through Chile have given me a deep appreciation for the country’s remarkable variety and allure. From the ethereal beauty of the Atacama Desert to the lush vineyards of the Colchagua Valley, and from the mining powerhouse of Antofagasta to the seaside tranquility of Valparaíso, Chile’s diversity is unparalleled. Whether you’re captivated by the allure of high-altitude adventure, the charm of winemaking regions, or the vibrant energy of cities like Santiago, there’s a place in Chile that feels tailor-made for you.

But where do you begin? The ideal location varies for each person. Some prioritize proximity to nature, others seek top educational institutions, and for many, affordability is a key consideration.

Join me as I delve into the best cities to live in, tailored to what you value most. As someone who has experienced the many facets of Chile, I’m here to navigate you through the best places to live in the country. I’ve combed through research, analyzed data, and listened to locals to compile a list that accommodates a wide range of lifestyles and budgets. Let’s get started!

The top places to live in Chile for all

The Best Places to Live in Chile  

Eager to explore the most beautiful places to live in Chile, nestled along the western edge of South America? As mentioned, there’s a perfect spot for every preference. Continue reading to uncover the top places to call home in Chile.

In search of the ideal place to settle in Chile, with its unique location stretching from the arid Atacama Desert to the southern tip of Patagonia? Whether it’s urban living or scenic retreats, Chile has a multitude of options to suit your lifestyle.

  • Best for cosmopolitan lifestyle: Santiago
  • Best for bohemian charm: Valparaíso
  • Best for outdoor adventures: Pucón
  • Best for coastal elegance: Viña del Mar
  • Best for historical richness: La Serena
  • Best for beach life: Iquique
  • Best for remote beauty: Punta Arenas
  • Best for desert oasis: San Pedro de Atacama
  • Best for vibrant city life: Concepción
  • Best for tropical paradise: Arica
  • Best for scenic tranquility: Puerto Varas
  • Best for urban dynamism: Antofagasta

Here are all the best places to live in Chile that you should consider:

1. Santiago

Santiago, the pulsating heart of Chile, isn’t just any best city to live in Chile; it’s a vibrant hub where modernity meets rich cultural heritage. Imagine waking up to the breathtaking sight of the Andes, while being minutes away from contemporary amenities – that’s Santiago for you. It stands as one of the best places to live in South America, offering a blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty.

The city’s neighborhoods, each with its unique character, promise a diverse living experience. From the trendy cafes in Bellavista to the lush parks of Providencia, there’s an area for every lifestyle. Santiago isn’t merely a metropolitan wonder; it’s a gateway to Chile’s diverse landscapes, with ski resorts and vineyards within easy reach.

What truly sets Santiago apart is its cultural tapestry. Museums, theaters, and galleries dot the city, showcasing Chile’s artistic flair. Culinary enthusiasts will rejoice in the variety of dining options, where local flavors meet international cuisine.

With its robust infrastructure, including a well-connected metro system, and a reputation for safety, Santiago offers a comfortable living environment. It’s a city that doesn’t just reside in Chile; it narrates the story of a nation marching confidently towards the future.

With a blend of natural beauty and urban elegance, Santiago is one of the best areas to live in Chile.
With a blend of natural beauty and urban elegance, Santiago is one of the best areas to live in Chile.

2. Valparaíso

Graffiti-laden alleys, hills rolling into the ocean, and a bohemian spirit define Valparaíso. As one of the coolest places to live in Chile, this city is a canvas of vibrant street art and historic architecture. Every corner tells a story, making it a haven for artists and creatives alike.

The city’s heart beats in its bustling streets and cafes, where the aroma of fresh seafood and strong coffee lingers. Here, life moves at a rhythmic pace, influenced by the ebb and flow of the Pacific. Valparaíso’s cultural scene is dynamic, with frequent festivals and a lively nightlife that showcase its spirited community.

Living here means embracing the unexpected. The city’s unique layout, with its numerous ascensores (funiculars), offers stunning views and hidden gems at every turn. It’s not just a place; it’s an experience.

Chile’s best cities to live often boast about their amenities, but Valparaíso prides itself on its soul. It’s a place where the past and present merge, creating a rich tapestry of life that appeals to those who seek adventure and inspiration in their everyday surroundings.

Valparaíso is defined by its bohemian spirit, hills that roll into the ocean, and alleyways covered in graffiti.
Valparaíso is defined by its bohemian spirit, hills that roll into the ocean, and alleyways covered in graffiti.

3. Pucón

Emerging from the lush landscapes of the Araucanía Region, Pucón is a nature lover’s dream. Here, life is an outdoor adventure, set against the backdrop of the majestic Villarrica Volcano. Recognized as a nice city to live in Chile’s southern wonderland, Pucón offers a mix of adrenaline and tranquility.

Seasons in Pucón paint different pictures. Summers are vibrant with lake activities and hiking, while winters turn it into a snowy haven for skiers. The town’s cozy size fosters a close-knit community feel, making it welcoming for newcomers.

Apart from its natural allure, Pucón is famed for its thermal springs – perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. The local cuisine, with its Mapuche influences, adds another layer of richness to the experience.

Living in Pucón is about embracing the great outdoors. It stands out among the best places in Chile to live in for those seeking a balanced lifestyle, surrounded by nature’s grandeur. Whether it’s the thrill of climbing a volcano or the peace of a lakeside retreat, Pucón promises a life less ordinary.

Nature lovers will like Pucón, which emerges from the beautiful surroundings of the Araucanía Region.
Nature lovers will like Pucón, which emerges from the beautiful surroundings of the Araucanía Region.

4. Viña del Mar

Imagine a city where the ocean breeze mingles with the elegance of manicured gardens and historic castles. Welcome to Viña del Mar, a coastal gem that rightfully earns its title as one of the best places to live in Chile. Here, the harmony of urban and beach life creates a unique living experience.

This city isn’t just about the famed flower clock or the sun-kissed beaches; it’s a cultural hub with a calendar filled with music festivals and international events. The streets of Viña del Mar are lined with a blend of modern facilities and charming architecture, reflecting a rich history.

Family-friendly and bustling with activity, Viña del Mar is ideal for those seeking a lively yet laid-back lifestyle. The beautiful place in South America is renowned for its well-maintained public spaces and safety, making it a desirable location for both families and singles.

Living in Viña del Mar means waking up to the Pacific’s soothing sounds and ending days with spectacular sunsets. It’s a good place to live in Chile, offering a balanced lifestyle where tranquility and vibrancy coexist seamlessly, making every day feel like a vacation.

One of the best places to live in Chile is Viña del Mar, a beautiful coastal town that truly earns this distinction.
One of the best places to live in Chile is Viña del Mar, a beautiful coastal town that truly earns this distinction.

5. La Serena

Nestled between the desert and the sea lies La Serena, a city where history and natural beauty converge. Its colonial architecture and serene beaches make it a standout among the best areas to live in Chile. This city is a blend of tranquility and cultural richness, offering a peaceful yet engaging lifestyle.

La Serena’s charm is evident in its well-preserved buildings and the Elqui Valley’s nearby mystique. Astronomical observatories capitalize on the region’s clear skies, offering a gateway to the stars. The city’s beaches, stretching along the Pacific, are perfect for sunbathing and water sports.

Community life here revolves around vibrant markets and festivals, reflecting a strong local culture. La Serena is not just about scenic beauty; it’s a hub for education and arts, attracting families and intellectuals alike.

For those who dream of a life where history whispers in the streets and nature’s wonders are just a stone’s throw away, La Serena is an ideal choice. It’s one of the nice parts of Chile, where life moves at a gentle pace, allowing residents to savor every moment.

La Serena is one of the best places to live in Chile since it is a city that blends the outdoors with history.
La Serena is one of the best places to live in Chile since it is a city that blends the outdoors with history.

6. Iquique

A city where the desert meets the sea, Iquique is a coastal paradise with a historical twist. Its duty-free status and vibrant beach life make it one of the best Chile cities for both living and leisure. Iquique is a place where urban comforts blend effortlessly with natural beauty.

The city’s heart is its historic downtown, a testimony to its prosperous nitrate mining past. Here, Georgian-style buildings line the streets, leading to the bustling Zofri shopping zone. Iquique’s beaches, like Playa Cavancha, offer golden sands and ideal conditions for surfing and paragliding.

Culturally diverse, Iquique is home to a mix of traditions and cuisines, making it a melting pot of flavors and festivals. The city’s nightlife is as lively as its daytime activities, with a range of dining and entertainment options.

Living in Iquique means enjoying the best of both worlds – the tranquility of ocean views and the thrill of desert adventures. It’s more than a where to live in Chile question; it’s about embracing a lifestyle where every day feels like a getaway.

Iquique, the place where the desert and the sea converge, is a historical twist on a coastal paradise.
Iquique, the place where the desert and the sea converge, is a historical twist on a coastal paradise.

7. Punta Arenas

At the edge of the continent, where the winds of the Strait of Magellan whisper ancient tales, lies Punta Arenas. This city, a gateway to Antarctica, stands proudly as one of the most livable cities in Chile, offering a unique blend of history, nature, and culture.

The essence of Punta Arenas is its rugged charm and remote beauty. The city’s streets are a mosaic of colorful buildings and historical landmarks, like the iconic Plaza Muñoz Gamero. Adventure seekers here can indulge in unparalleled experiences, from penguin watching at Isla Magdalena to trekking in the nearby Reserva Nacional Magallanes.

Despite its far-flung location, Punta Arenas is surprisingly vibrant, with a bustling port and a lively cultural scene. The city’s culinary offerings are a testament to its coastal and multicultural heritage, featuring fresh seafood and traditional Patagonian dishes.

Living in Punta Arenas is about embracing the extraordinary. It’s a place where the world feels both vast and intimate, where the wild landscapes inspire both awe and a sense of home. For those wondering what are the best places to live in Chile, Punta Arenas offers an answer filled with adventure and tranquility.

Glancessly standing as one of Chile's most livable cities, Punta Arenas is the gateway to Antarctica.
Glancessly standing as one of Chile’s most livable cities, Punta Arenas is the gateway to Antarctica.

8. San Pedro de Atacama

In the heart of the driest desert on Earth, San Pedro de Atacama is an oasis of wonder. Its stark, lunar landscapes and brilliant starry nights make it a great place to live in Chile for those seeking an otherworldly experience. This small town, surrounded by vast salt flats and volcanic peaks, is a gateway to some of Chile’s most stunning natural wonders.

San Pedro’s charm lies in its simplicity and connection to nature. The Atacama Desert offers a playground for adventurers – from sandboarding on the dunes to exploring the surreal Geyser del Tatio. The town itself, with its adobe houses and laid-back atmosphere, is a tranquil retreat from the bustling world.

Culturally, San Pedro is rich with indigenous heritage, reflected in its archeological sites and local markets. The town’s cuisine offers a blend of traditional flavors and innovative dishes, catering to a variety of tastes.

Living in San Pedro de Atacama means being in constant awe of the natural world. It’s not just one of the best Chile towns to live; it’s a place where every sunset and starlit night reminds you of the planet’s extraordinary beauty.

San Pedro de Atacama is an amazing oasis located in the middle of the driest desert on Earth.
San Pedro de Atacama is an amazing oasis located in the middle of the driest desert on Earth.

9. Concepción

A vibrant city pulsating with youthful energy, Concepción is a hub of education and culture. Its lively university scene infuses the city with a dynamic spirit, making it one of the best cities to live in Chile. The blend of modernity and tradition creates a rich, diverse urban experience in this South American gem.

Concepción’s cultural landscape is as varied as its population. The city hosts numerous festivals and events, showcasing everything from music to art. Its parks and public spaces buzz with activity, offering a green escape in the urban setting.

The city’s connection to nature is evident in its proximity to both the ocean and the Biobío River, providing residents with ample outdoor activities. From kayaking to beach outings, there’s never a dull moment.

For those seeking a lively, yet affordable lifestyle, Concepción is a perfect choice. It’s a place where community and innovation meet, offering a quality of life that stands out among places to move in Chile. Concepción is not just a city; it’s a vibrant stage for life’s many adventures.

Concepción is among the best places to live in Chile due to its vibrant city life.
Concepción is among the best places to live in Chile due to its vibrant city life.

10. Arica

Perched at the northern tip of Chile, where the desert meets the sea, Arica is a city of perpetual spring. Its consistently warm weather and beautiful beaches make it a standout among Chile’s best places to live. Arica’s charm is in its laid-back atmosphere and natural beauty.

The city is a paradise for those who love the outdoors. Surfing, paragliding, and trekking in the nearby Parque Nacional Lauca offer endless adventures. The El Morro de Arica provides a panoramic view of the city, blending the blues of the Pacific with the browns of the Atacama Desert.

Arica’s cultural tapestry is vibrant and diverse. Influences from the indigenous Aymara people add depth to the city’s heritage. Festivals like the Carnaval Andino con la Fuerza del Sol showcase this rich cultural blend through music and dance.

Offering a unique blend of leisure and culture, Arica is more than just the best town to live in Chile; it’s a haven for those seeking a tranquil yet vibrant lifestyle. It’s a city where every day is a celebration of sun, sea, and heritage.

Arica is a city of endless spring, situated at the northernmost point of Chile, where the desert and the sea converge.
Arica is a city of endless spring, situated at the northernmost point of Chile, where the desert and the sea converge.

11. Puerto Varas

In the shadow of the snow-capped Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes, Puerto Varas captivates with its natural beauty and German heritage. This picturesque town, nestled on the shores of Lake Llanquihue, is one of Chile’s best cities to live. Its unique charm lies in the fusion of natural splendor and cultural richness.

Puerto Varas is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake invites for sailing and kayaking, while the surrounding parks and volcanoes offer hiking and skiing opportunities. The town itself, with its traditional German architecture and vibrant flower gardens, is a delight to explore.

The cultural scene in Puerto Varas is as lively as its natural surroundings. The town boasts a variety of local and international cuisine, influenced by its German settlers. Annual events like the Bierfest and the Semana Varasina festival add to the town’s appeal.

Living in Puerto Varas is like stepping into a fairy tale. It’s a place where adventure and tranquility coexist, making it a top city in Chile to live. Whether it’s the breathtaking views or the warm community, Puerto Varas offers a lifestyle that’s both enriching and serene.

One of the best places to live in Chile is Puerto Varas, which enthralls with its rugged beauty and German heritage.
One of the best places to live in Chile is Puerto Varas, which enthralls with its rugged beauty and German heritage.

12. Antofagasta

Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the stark Atacama Desert, Antofagasta strikes a balance between urban life and nature’s wonders. Known for its clear skies and expansive beaches, it’s a best Chile city for those who cherish the coastal desert climate. Antofagasta blends modernity with natural beauty, offering a unique living experience.

The city’s waterfront, with its iconic La Portada natural arch, is a testament to its geological marvels. Urban development sits in harmony with nature, offering residents both comfort and adventure. Antofagasta isn’t just about stunning landscapes; it’s a center of commerce and industry, providing ample opportunities for career growth.

Cultural life in Antofagasta is as vibrant as its environment. The city hosts numerous festivals and events, fostering a sense of community among locals and newcomers alike. The culinary scene reflects the city’s diversity, with a mix of local seafood and international cuisines.

Life in Antofagasta is an ongoing journey of discovery. It stands as a nice city to live in Chile’s northern region, appealing to those who seek a lifestyle that combines the tranquility of a coastal city with the excitement of urban living.

Antofagasta successfully balances the wonders of nature with the urban lifestyle.
Antofagasta successfully balances the wonders of nature with the urban lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Chile   

Interested in learning more about the top living destinations in Chile? Below are some frequently asked questions about the finest places to reside in Chile that I often encounter.

Where are most expats in Chile?

The majority of expats in Chile reside in Santiago, the country’s capital. Santiago attracts the largest expat population due to its comprehensive range of amenities, including shopping, restaurants, and entertainment venues. This is largely because most of the businesses in Chile are located in and around Santiago. Additionally, Santiago is the most populous city in Chile, with approximately 6 million people in the city and 8 million in the metropolitan area, accounting for about 45% of the country’s population. This makes Santiago a natural choice for expats seeking a cosmopolitan lifestyle with access to various public offices, big companies, restaurants, shops, and cultural outlets​​​​.

Other popular locations for expats include the coastal cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, which are close to Santiago and frequently referred to collectively due to their proximity and shared public transport system. These cities are significant tourist attractions and offer a cheaper cost of living than Santiago, with better air quality and magnificent views​​.

La Serena, known for its clear skies and being a gateway to sites like Valle del Elqui, is another location where many expats reside, particularly those working or studying in astronomy-related fields​​.

Puerto Varas is also a prime spot for expats, situated in breathtaking surroundings on the waterfront of Lake Llanquihue. This area is well-developed by Chilean countryside standards and has a fairly extensive expat community, including amenities like English-speaking book clubs​​.

Where is the most affordable place to live in Chile?

The most affordable place to live in Chile, based on the cost of living, is Ovalle, with a cost of living index of $694. This makes it the city with the lowest cost of living among the major cities in Chile​​​​. ​​

Is Chile a good place to live in?

Chile can be a good place to live, with several pros and cons to consider:

Pros:

  • Affordable Cost of Living: Chile offers affordable rent and a variety of goods and services at competitive prices. This extends to utilities and public transportation, which tend to be lower in cost compared to many other countries​​.
  • Beautiful Landscapes: The country boasts diverse and stunning landscapes, from the Andes Mountains to the Atacama Desert, offering a unique living experience​​.
  • Thriving Expat Community: Chile has a welcoming and diverse expat community, providing opportunities for socializing and networking​​.
  • Strong Economy: Chile has a stable economy, with opportunities especially in mining, agriculture, finance, and tourism. It is also supportive of entrepreneurs and start-ups, particularly in technology and innovation​​.
  • Vibrant Culture and Rich Heritage: Chile’s cultural scene includes festivals, music, dance, and culinary delights, reflecting the country’s diversity​​.
  • Good Public Transport and Connectivity: Santiago, the capital, has an extensive and reliable public transport network. The country also offers scenic road trips and efficient domestic flights​​.

Cons:

  • Expensive Education: Private schooling in Chile can be costly, though some expats may reduce this cost through employment contracts​​.
  • Air Quality Issues: Cities in valleys like Santiago often experience trapped pollution, particularly in winter​​.
  • Work Culture and Job Market Restrictions: The work culture can be slow-paced, and the job market may favor those with qualifications from the US or UK. A language barrier exists for non-Spanish speakers​​.
  • Challenging Dialect: Chilean Spanish can be difficult for foreigners due to its rapid pace and use of slang​​.
Chile is a mosaic of colorful cultures and stunning scenery, with a wide range of lifestyles to fit different tastes.
Chile is a mosaic of colorful cultures and stunning scenery, with a wide range of lifestyles to fit different tastes.

What is the most beautiful part of Chile?

Chile, with its diverse landscapes, offers some of the most beautiful places in the world. Here are some highlights:

  • San Rafael Glacier: Within the Laguna San Rafael National Park. This glacier stands majestically, creating a stunning view against the Patagonian mountains and lush forests​​
  • Valle de la Luna: Located in the Atacama Desert. It resembles the surface of the moon with its stone and sand formations in an array of colors and textures, especially captivating during sunset​​​​.
  • Torres del Paine National Park: Known for its turquoise glacial lakes, rugged scenery, and towering peaks. It’s a must-see destination for adventure travelers, offering some of the world’s most magnificent views​​​​.
  • Lauca National Park: Set in the Andean range, this park is known for its striking volcanoes and diverse flora and fauna, including vicuñas and viscachas​​.
  • Laguna Verde: This green lake in the Atacama region, surrounded by high mountains, changes color from green to turquoise depending on the time of day​​.
  • The Capillas de Marmol: These marble caves, located in the heart of Puerto Rio Tranquilo, are formed by the natural collision of wind, water, and rock over thousands of years​​.
  • The Lake District: Encompassing regions like La Araucanía, Los Ríos, and the Lakes District, this area is known for its volcanoes, glaciers, and roaring rivers​​.
  • The Beaches of Bahía Inglesa: Featuring white, powdery sands and crystal waters, these beaches offer a magical coastal experience in the driest desert in the world​​​​.
  • Altiplanic Lagoons: Part of The Flamingoes National Reserve in the Atacama Desert, these lagoons are surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, offering an ethereal landscape​​.
  • Osorno Volcano: Compared to Mount Fuji, this active volcano in the Chilean Andes provides a stunning backdrop for the Chilean Lake District​​.

Where is the rich area of Chile?

In Chile, the wealthiest areas are predominantly located in Santiago, the capital city. The most exclusive districts include:

  • Lo Barnechea District: Located in the east of Santiago, it is characterized by luxury houses, mansions, beautiful green areas, and private security. It is considered the most exclusive district in the city and offers tranquil living with low pollution levels​​.
  • Las Condes District: A wealthy district adjacent to Lo Barnechea, Las Condes is a hub for commercial activity. It comprises modern and spacious apartments, luxury offices, large shopping centers, and excellent parks. Neighborhoods like San Damian and San Carlos de Apoquindo are particularly exclusive within Las Condes​​.
  • Vitacura District: Known for its high quality of life, Vitacura is a family-oriented district with international schools nearby. The area includes upscale residential areas such as Santa María de Manquehue and Lo Curro, often chosen by embassies for their representatives​​.

These districts offer a mix of luxurious living, cultural amenities, and natural beauty, making them attractive to wealthy residents and expatriates.

What is the richest region in Chile?

The richest region in Chile, in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is the Santiago region. It significantly surpasses other regions in economic output. For instance, the GDP (PPP) of Santiago is $175.108 billion, which is much higher than other regions like Antofagasta ($38.886 billion) and Valparaíso ($30.758 billion). The economic dominance of Santiago is attributed to its status as the capital and the largest city, housing most of the country’s businesses and financial institutions​​.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Chile  

Chile is a tapestry of breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultures, offering a myriad of lifestyles to suit diverse preferences. From the bustling streets of Santiago to the serene shores of Viña del Mar, Chile caters to every inclination. If you’re contemplating where to live in Chile, the choices are as abundant as they are appealing.

For budget-conscious individuals, cities like Ovalle and Talcahuano present an affordable way of life without sacrificing quality. These places demonstrate that living in Chile can be cost-effective with the right location. Conversely, for those seeking an active and dynamic lifestyle, cities like Santiago and Valparaíso offer boundless opportunities for career advancement and cultural immersion.

Happiness also plays a key role in choosing a place to live. Locations like Puerto Varas and La Serena are often praised for their ideal mix of natural beauty and modern conveniences, making them some of the most livable areas in Chile.

So, what are the best places to live in Chile? The answer is as diverse as the country itself, depending on what you value most in your ideal habitat. Whether it’s the job prospects, scenic splendor, or cultural vibrancy that draws you, one thing is certain: Chile is more than just a location—it’s a way of life.

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