Santiago has a diverse range of areas in which expats tend to settle. What constitutes the best area for each expat depends entirely on what features one values. Some expats prefer family-friendly suburbs with quiet parks and plenty of green space, and others opt for the centres with a Bohemian vibe or a youthful and lively nightlife.
Much like any large world-class city, Santiago has it all. Here is a snapshot guide of expat-friendly areas and suburbs in the Chilean capital.
Lo Barnechea District
Located in the east of Santiago, this district is divided into three main areas: El Arrayán, Los Trapenses and La Dehesa. Characterised by luxury houses and mansions, beautiful green areas, and private security, this residential space is considered to be the most exclusive in the city.
Here, expats will find silence, tranquillity and low pollution levels. There are shopping malls, social clubs and international schools in the area, but residents may find themselves rather isolated. Therefore, having a car is an essential part of living here as the distances are significant and the area is not well served by public transportation.
Las Condes District
Las Condes is a wealthy district surrounded by parks, great shopping malls, gyms, restaurants, and coffee shops.
San Damian and San Carlos de Apoquindo
These are the most exclusive residential areas of Las Condes and, again, it is vital to have a car to get around this section of town. From this neighbourhood, the Andes mountains and ski resorts are almost close enough to touch.
Nueva Las Condes
Comprised of modern and spacious apartments as well as luxury offices, Nuevas Las Condes also includes one of the largest shopping centres in the country. There are excellent parks, specifically Parque Arauco and Parque Araucano. Stores and restaurants abound and also create a pleasant ambience. The closest metro stations are Escuela Militar and Manquehue.
This space is far quieter than the other Santiago districts and claims a completely different style of coffee shops, restaurants and bars. It should be noted that it is also definitively more expensive, but most expats consider it worth the extra price. The closest metro stations to this residential area are El Golf and Alcántara.
Vitacura is a family-oriented district reputed for offering its residents an excellent quality of life in Chile. It is divided into residential areas such as Santa María de Manquehue, Lo Curro and Jardín del Este.
Santa María de Manquehue and Lo Curro
These areas are both beautiful and luxurious. Embassies often choose to place their representatives in the area, and as such property can be quite expensive. Each house tends to be completely different to the next one but they all offer plenty of space to exercise and they each boast unique architecture. A car is needed to live in this area, as distances to the city centre and other areas are great.
Jardín del Este
This is an area favoured by local Chilean families. Expats will find brand new apartments, but houses are old, usually built across only one floor. The area has great boutique stores and amazing restaurants. Public transportation is accessible and it is easy to get around with buses and taxis.
A cosmopolitan and popular neighbourhood, Orrego Luco is just as packed with stores, bars and restaurants as it is with traffic. Although the area is extremely busy during the day, expats who live here can still find some peace inside their own homes. Orrego Luco attracts plenty of young expats from around the world, giving the area a unique atmosphere. The closest metro station is the Pedro de Valdivia.
Salvador and Manuel Montt
Although these are quieter residential areas, they are still busy during rush hours. Expats will find beautiful parks and small squares throughout. As a predominantly residential area, there are fewer stores, bars or restaurants than one would find in other neighbourhoods in Santiago.
In this neighbourhood that is full of life, expats will find lots of cosy coffee shops, restaurants and bars and many local designer boutiques and handicraft stores. Expats choosing accommodation in Santiago should note that this is a cosmopolitan area with great architecture, but it is very noisy during weekdays because of the surrounding offices and street traffic.
An artistic district at heart, Lastarria and is home to many theatres, art galleries and restaurants. It is characterised by French Neo-Classical architecture. Nearby is Cerro Santa Lucia hill, an elegant park prime for exercise or just a simple escape from daily stress. Like Bellas Artes, this area is very noisy during the daytime.
The bohemian neighbourhood of Bellavista is packed with restaurants, bars, dance clubs, theatres and art galleries. It is a lively area in which to live, ideal for the young and adventurous expat. At the end of Bellavista street is the city zoo and the entrance to Cerro San Cristobal, a hill that offers magnificent views of the city. Cerro San Cristobal also boasts cable car rides and is a great spot for running, biking, picnicking and more.
La Reina and Peñalolen
These areas are famous for their image as low-population-density residential areas with plenty of parks and green spaces. Both have a combination of economic classes, and expats can find a number of ecological communities, mainly in Peñalolen. For those who want calm in their life and can't afford to live in Lo Barnechea, this could be a suitable option.