7 Best Places to Live in Chile

A photo of the city of Santiago in Chile. It shows a large city with snow capped mountains in the distance

When thinking about moving to another country, hundreds of things start running through your mind, specifically about what city to live in. This is no different when planning a move to Chile. Where can you live with the best schools in Chile? Where do the wealthy live in Chile? Where’s the best city in Chile for expats? What’s the safest city in Chile to live in? The list goes on and on. 

This large country has a relatively small population compared to its size, but it still makes it a beautiful place to live. There are mountains, cities, beaches and islands, and even glaciers. There’s a city for everyone. Whether you’re making the big move due to work or are looking for a change of scenery, here are the seven best places to live in Chile. 

1. Santiago

Santiago, Chile, is a great place to live for those who love living the big city life. The capital of Chile is the most populous city in the country, with just over seven million people. 

When you’re living in Santiago, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the diversity you may not find elsewhere in Chile. This urban landscape has the picturesque Andes Mountains in the background giving it a unique and beautiful atmosphere. 

Students from around the world flock to Santiago to attend classes because they have some of the best global universities in the country and South America. One of the best parts of living in Santiago is how central you are. 

You have everything you could ever want in a big city right at your fingertips, scenic hiking options to your east, and you’re about an hour east of beautiful beaches. 

This urban setting has more than enough to keep entertained and thrilled living here. It’s a very internationally connected country, so you’ll often see other expats and international travelers frolicking through the city. 

Because it’s a big city, it can be pricier to live here. The average monthly rent in Santiago is about $300, and the cost of living per month is $985. Many people worry that living in a large city is unsafe. 

While crime tends to be higher in some parts of Santiago, that’s to be expected when it’s the most populated city in the country. Potential crime aside, this city is filled with excellent restaurants, museums, and a unique culture you can’t find anywhere else in the country. 

2. Antofagasta

Are you asking the question of where do the wealthy live in Chile? Antofagasta is the spot for you. Antofagasta is the richest city in the country. This port city has the highest GDP (gross domestic product) in Chile. 

Antofagasta is the perfect combination of a bustling city and a laid-back beach life. You’ll have the skyscrapers you’d typically see in big cities with waves crashing on the beach on the other side. 

It may seem odd, but you can have your feet in the Pacific Ocean while standing in front of hills that are the start of the world’s driest desert. You truly do get the best of both worlds when living here. 

You’ll find many of the same appeals as Santiago here but with a significantly less amount of people. The population in this city is around 388,000 people compared to the seven million in Santiago. 

The average monthly rent and cost of living are comparable too. Antofagasta has beautiful beaches for you to relax on and a booming nightlife scene. 

Antofagasta is the perfect place to live if you’re looking for many of Santiago’s features but with fewer tourists and people. This city is generally a safe place to live. The closer to the beach you live, the lower the crime rate. Even though the crime rate isn’t very high in the first place, living closer to the beach may give you some peace of mind.

3. Vina del Mar

A photograph of Wulff Castle in Vina del Mar, Chile. It shows a large castle situated by the ocean

Vina del Mar is overwhelmingly the best place for expats looking to live in Chile. You’ll find several hundred expats from around the world living here. The cost of living is very affordable, and you get to live in one of the most beautiful places in Chile. 

Valparaiso is the northern neighbor of Vina del Mar and is two different cities. Even though they’re legally two separate places, these two cities share the same public transportation lines, making them feel like one larger city. 

Vina del Mar is your typical beach-loving town. Everyone who lives here really embraces the beach life, from their relaxed nature to regularly spending hours and hours at the beach. 

The locals soak up everything there is to love about living on the water. You’ll see people participating in water sports often, lying at the beach, and events held on the beaches. 

You’ll find a lot of people choose to retire here because of the resort town feel. Many people seek a warm city to retire in that offers a laid-back atmosphere while still offering plenty to do. While there is a lot to do and people to meet, if you’re looking for more Chilean culture, this may not be the best town. 

The neighborhoods in Vina del Mar have a charming beach appeal, even when you move closer to the city area. You’ll find many communities nestled into the hills but still offer you access to the metro lines. This city is perfect for art and music lovers. There are museums with modern and historical artwork and a few places to see live music regularly. 

Even though you’re right on the ocean in this town, there’s more to do here than lay on the beach. There are golf courses and hiking trails that give you some of the best views of this gorgeous sea town. 

4. La Serena 

La Serena is another beautiful ocean-front city in Chile. The population of this city is around 350,000 people. This is significantly less than the capital, Santiago, but it still gives off some larger city vibes while feeling laid back like a beach town. The average monthly rent is about $380, and the average monthly expenses are $1,260.

The beaches reach for over 10 kilometers in La Serena, giving you plenty of options for places to lounge. The city area of La Serena has ample Spanish architecture for you to admire and explore. You’ll be able to live in one of the oldest cities In Chile. 

If you’re looking to live somewhere that has Spring weather all twelve months of the year, La Serena is the place to be. The temperatures range from the 60s and 70s in the summer and then the 60s and 50s during the winter months. 

One of the most famous things about La Serena is the historic lighthouse. No matter how many times you’ve seen this structure, it’s always a beautiful sight. It’s even better when you can see it as you go to the beach every weekend. 

If you’re looking for the perfect neighborhood to live in La Serena, there are two that make the top of the list. San Joaquin and Cerro Grande are two of the best communities to move to in La Serena.

5. Iquique 

An photographic aerial view of Iquique, Chile. It shows a large port city surrounded by dry desert hills

Another wonderfully urban area of Chile is Iquique. Iquique is another coastal town in the very northern area of the country. You’ll find this city nestled in between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, with an elevation of 600 meters. This old mining town is a bustling city, but there’s more to this city than meets the eye. 

The city itself is relatively safe, but it can be a little loud since it is the city. If you’re looking for a more quiet place to live in Iquique, you’ll want to check out the southern area of Iquique. Cavancha is a very nice and safe neighborhood that locals love. 

No matter where you live in Iquique, you’ll find more than enough places to shop and dine at. When you live here, be ready to embrace the beach life culture fully. You’ll regularly see people on the beach lounging and having events.  

The city is relatively walkable, even though it seems pretty spread out. Many of these streets are quiet and peaceful even though they have a bustling nightlife as well. 

Even when the sunset and people begin venturing out on the town, the city’s atmosphere feels safe and welcoming. One of the most picturesque areas to walk through the town is Baquedano Street in the central area of the town. 

While locals are the principal inhabitants of this area, Iquique has seen an influx of tourists because of this city’s charm.

6. Pucon

Chile has much more to offer than just coastal towns. Chile has over 4,000 miles of coastline, so it’s no surprise that many cities are found on the coast and have a beach and port lifestyle. Even though the coastal regions are absolutely stunning, the inland areas of Chile have just as much appeal as the coastal areas. The small city of Pucon is in the heart of the lake district of Chile. 

The Lake District is the best spot in the country when it comes to quality of life. The people who live here tend to be happier than in other areas of the country. This isn’t to say that people aren’t satisfied in other cities, though. 

While it’s a more rural area, life is anything but boring here. You can live a very laid-back life here and create adventures for yourself daily. This rural but thrilling city has a reasonably small population of about 22,000 people.

Even though it may be a small town, tourists frequent the area. Many of these tourists are wealthy and may even own vacation homes in Pucon. Many people who live in the city year-round are relatively wealthy due to the booming tourism industry. 

The buildings in the city center resemble an alpine mountain village. If you’re looking to find a job in the tourism industry, Pucon is a great town to do so. 

Pucon is on the shores of Lake Villarrica and Villarrica’s volcano. But you’ll also find several other lakes in the area that you can visit in a day. You’ll be living the ideal lake life with beautiful mountainscapes surrounding you. Pucon is the perfect spot for outdoor lovers who enjoy a little adventure. 

When living here, you’ll feel like you’re on a permanent vacation because of all the activities that are available to you. There’s snowboarding and skiing, skydiving, zip-lining, hiking up the volcano, and white water rafting. The lake turns into a beach during the summer months too. These are just a few of the exciting things you can do while living in Pucon. 

You can explore the fantastic natural landscape that Pucon has to offer in your way. Many people love cycling and jogging, parasailing, salmon fishing, and exploring the three national parks that are in the area. 

This lake-side resort town is a fun and touristy area to live in. If you love feeling like a tourist in your home, Pucon is a great place. If you’re looking to relocate to this area of Chile, you may want to live closer to the center of Pucon because that’s where all the action is. 

You’ll have all the restaurants, bars, and nightlife in the city center. You’ll also find access to various outdoor activities. Even if you’re not the most adventurous person, there’s still plenty to enjoy while living here. 

Taking a leisurely hike, going for a horseback ride, or soaking in a hot spring are all more calm but fun things to do here. This is a significant change from living in a booming city like Santiago or Antofagasta. 

If you’re a lover of chocolate, you’ll need to live here or at least visit here when they have the festival of chocolate. This annual festival contains an assortment of decadent chocolate that even the pickiest chocolate eaters will love. 

One thing to keep in mind is that things may move at a slower pace during the off-season. The slow pace isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, after months of thrilling adventures. 

The one downside to living in Pucon is the weather. The Lake District has some of the highest rainfall amounts in the entire country. But if you’re not worried about a little bit of rain, Pucon is an ideal place to live. 

7. San Pedro de Atacama

A photo of the entrance road to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. It shows a wide sweeping highway surrounded by a desert

If the beach life, mountain life, or city life are where you’d take a vacation but not where you’d want to live, San Pedro de Atacama is another option. This town is a desert oasis that sits high in the arid plateau of Puna de Atacama.

This quaint town in the northeastern part of the country sits in the world’s driest desert, the Atacama Desert. It’s a little dusty here, but it’s not something you can’t get used to. There is an abundance of hot springs, volcanoes, salt flats, and geysers close to town for you to explore and appreciate.

You may be wondering why one Earth someone would choose to live in the desert, but San Pedro de Atacama is much more than just an arid desert. This town is rich in history. You can learn all about the fascinating pre-Columbian civilizations that occupied this town before the Europeans did. 

Pre-Columbian civilizations had been living in what we now know as San Pedro de Atacama for over two thousand years before the Europeans arrived. This small town is more like a village because it’s small and everyone knows almost everyone in the city. If you love a small town feel, this is a great place to be. 

Just because it’s located in an arid desert doesn’t mean there’s nothing else to do except explore the sandy area. You’ll find some delicious restaurants and local shops where you can spend time eating local dishes and shopping for your new home.

Even though this village is relatively small and somewhat spread out, you’ll still have access to everything you need without having to travel very far. Since everyone knows everyone here, you should find it easy to introduce yourself to the locals who have been here longer than you and make some new friends. 

Wrapping Up

Whether you’re thinking of making the big move to Chile because of a new job opportunity, you’re retiring, or you just want to live in a new country, Chile is a great place to be. The landscape is diverse, from mountains to cities to the sea, everyone will find a city they love here. 

Even in the biggest cities, Chile has one of the lowest crime rates in all of South American. Their lower crime rate makes them one of the best countries to move to in South America. Whether you’re ready to make the big city of Santiago your home or the quiet lake town of Pucon, you won’t regret your decision to move to this diverse and beautiful country.