The capital is the city that receives the largest number of visitors to work and study and is the place where the country’s main administrative activities take place. Notwithstanding certain changes over recent decades, Chile is a centralized country.
The city of Santiago has a population of over 5 million people and has expanded its urban limits considerably, as more and more people want to live in the capital. It is in the capital that a major proportion of the educational services, companies and businesses, are concentrated.
Downtown Santiago is the oldest part of the city and has a variety of tourist attractions, such as the Plaza de la Constitución, the Plaza de Armas, Parque Forestal, and the Fine Arts Museum. Particularly popular neighborhoods to live in are Lastarria and Concha y Toro, which feature old, solid buildings of great architectural beauty. Lately there has been a significant increase in demand for apartments in this area, as it is centrally located and the prices are attractive.
The municipality of Providencia is one of the most important ones in Santiago, with an upper-middle class tradition. The sector combines residential neighborhoods with business sectors. It features lush tree-lined streets and a blending of architectural styles, with old houses alongside new high-rise buildings. This mix of houses and buildings is also evidence that both older families and young people live in the neighborhood. It is common to find two-room apartments for around US$ 300 in buildings that have laundry services, projection rooms, swimming pools, gyms, and barbecue areas.
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The sector of Ñuñoa and La Reina is chosen above all by young university students who rent houses as a group to cut down on expenses. This is a middle-class residential sector near downtown Santiago with good transportation. In addition, Ñuñoa has maintained its low houses and neighborhood identity with its green areas, cafés and restaurants, and a chat with the neighbors while watering the lawn or meeting with them in the square continues to be part of everyday life.
There are other sectors that have undergone sustained development, dormitory communities of middle class workers, like La Florida and Peñalolén that feature condominiums with their own security systems and shared practical and recreational services.
Las Condes and Vitacura are more exclusive neighborhoods outlying from the city center and preferably residential, with major shopping centers. These municipalities cluster part of the capital’s business and social activities. Rental prices in these places are much higher than in other neighborhoods.
The aforementioned sectors and neighborhoods provide comforts and security to live in them and also have bicycle lanes and areas set up for jogging.
Because of the proximity and the appropriate bus service combined with the metro, houses and apartments on the beach are also an option. It can be very cheap and relaxed to rent a beach house outside of the summer season. Mountain areas like the Cajón del Maipo, which is near Santiago, are also a good alternative for people with their own means of transport.