Travel and Retirement magazines love to write about seaside towns like Viña del Mar, but if you’re craving an urban lifestyle, consider Santiago de Chile as an option for your retirement. If you’ve always been a city-dweller the easy access to shopping centers, dining out, urban green spaces, and the bustling energy of Santiago de Chile is a great option.
Chile’s capital city is bursting with history, culture, and memorable culinary experiences. The streets are easily walkable, and the downtown core has amazing neo-gothic and neo-classical architecture. There are also several idyllic hills scattered around the city landscape. Santiago offers different neighborhood vibes according to your taste and lifestyle. Each has a unique charm and supplies various outdoor and indoor activities for you to enjoy.
The sheer size of Santiago makes it difficult to get to know which neighborhoods are safe and expat-friendly. To help you discover what this city has to offer, here are four of the best neighborhoods in Santiago Chile:
Bella Artes: The Cultural Hub of Santiago
If you’re an art or museum buff and you’re looking for great city views, Bella Artes might be the perfect neighborhood for you. Bella Artes is conveniently located near the Central Farmer’s Market and the Vivo El Centro Shopping Center. You won’t have any problem finding what you need in this bustling cultural center. There are also several museums and theaters within walking distance of each other, such as the Pre-Colombian Chileno Art Museum, the Santiago’s Municipal Theater, and the National History Museum.
If you want to walk around and discover the history of Santiago, you can’t miss Santa Lucia Hill. The 2,064 feet high hill will give you a great panoramic view of the city. The hill has stone stairways, a Hermitage chapel, and the romantic Neptune Fountain. Most of the structures were built as a fort by Spanish settlers and used to house ammunition in the 19th century. Bella Artes is considered a hip residential area with neo-classical architecture and cobblestone streets, influenced by European designers. La Moneda, the Chilean presidential palace and its surrounding park, is one of the grandest places in the city. It is very popular with foreigners and is not far from other great neighborhoods.
Bella Artes offers many furnished apartments and boutique hotels, and most of the buildings have been remodeled and modernized. You can also find new buildings with pools, gyms, and rooftop terraces. Some Chilean buildings have communal arrangements for paying for gas, internet, cable, heat, electricity, and water, but this will depend on the landlord or realtor. You should expect to pay between $600 and $900 per month for a one-bedroom apartment in this neighborhood.
Vitacura is considered the Manhattan of Santiago. Locals have taken to calling it “Sanhattan.” It is a safe and easy-to-walk area and is considered one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the city. This neighborhood combines Santiago’s financial district and several residential areas with high-end shops and restaurants. The jewel of Vitacura is Parque Bicentenario. The large municipal park has well-developed walking and biking paths, a bird exhibit, and a man-made lagoon with various animals that co-mingle such as flamingos, herons, and swans. The park is very safe and can offer respite from the busy city life now and then.
There are several other viewpoints and green spaces in Vitacura worth exploring. For example, near Saint George’s College, you can climb up to the Mirador San Cristobal, watch the sunset, and take some great photographs of the city. Bosque Santiago city park is also nearby, as are Alvarado Hill and Cerro del Medio. The neighborhood has two major shopping centers with all the necessary amenities: the Lider Supermarket has a broad selection of meats, fruits, and vegetables, and the Pueblo del Ingles Commercial Center has several clothing and household items for sale.
In Vitacura, you can find many houses in the areas of Lo Curro and Santa Maria Manquehue. The homes tend to be 25 years to 30 years old, and are usually remodeled. There are also a few unfurnished and furnished apartment buildings around Alonso de Cordova and in Bicentenario. The price for a one-bedroom apartment in Bicentenario will be between $1,050 to $1,755, and you can find more affordable accommodations in Santa Maria.
Lastarria is a historical neighborhood in the heart of Santiago popular with tourists and foreign residents. It has plenty of cultural activities, live street performances, and festivals going on throughout the year. The area is also home to Parque Forestal, one of the city’s best urban parks located along the Mapocho River. The park contains the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, one of the oldest art museums in South America. Its baroque architecture is one of the city’s main attractions and its exhibits represent the country’s colonial history.
At the southern border of Lastarria you can find the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center, a hub for the city’s many music events and concerts. For shopping, residents visit the Baquedano Plaza and the Mulato Gil de Castro Plaza, or they hop on one of the two metro stations and head to nearby neighborhoods like Bellas Artes. There are spectacular architectural treasures in Lastarria like the Palacio Bruna designed in the Italian Renaissance style, and the Veracruz Church which was declared a historical monument in 1983.
Lastarria is geared towards families and has plenty of great restaurants and a great weekend artisan market with food stalls, book vendors, and hand-made crafts. There are several places to buy fresh flowers and have a coffee. Lastarria has affordable rental prices but there are probably not as many units available because it’s the neighborhood is highly coveted. Rent is a little more budget-friendly. A one-bedroom apartment will cost between $600 and $900 and a three-bedroom will run you between $1,000 and $1,600.
Providencia is known as Santiago’s restaurant and shopping district. The main highlight of this neighborhood is Providencia Avenue and the Costanera Center, an in-demand six-floor business complex. The center has the tallest tower in Latin America which is home to the Sky Costanera Observatory. It offers the best panoramic view of the city skyline you can find. The shopping mall in the Center and the nearby shops on the Avenue have all the latest international fashion, cinema, and Chilean department stores such as Paris and Fallabella.
As one of the pricier areas in Santiago, Providencia has several new complexes with modern amenities like gyms and is surrounded by several parks and other green spaces. The average cost of a one-bedroom furnished apartment in this neighborhood is between $900 and $1,300 per month. The cost of living here is probably more comparable to a large North American city. In Chile, apartments don’t normally include utilities which means electricity, water, heating, and gas will be extra. Some buildings will have administrative fees as well so make sure to do your research. On many of the smaller streets in the neighborhood, you can find unfurnished apartments for rent in 35-year-old to 50-year-old buildings.
Areas to Avoid
There are a few areas you should consider avoiding if you’re planning to live long-term in Santiago. For example, the area near the BioBio Market on Avenue Santa Rosa is known for drug dealing and criminal activity at night, and there is often a police presence there. The Pio Nono and Estacion Central areas are often filled with drunk tourists and pickpockets, especially after dark. The area of Lo Barnechea is also a little sketchy. Yet overall, most of the city is very safe. Remember to use common sense and avoid walking alone after dark, or flashing expensive jewelry and cash.
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