House hunting is both fun and frustrating at the same time. Great fun in that you get to check out houses all over, but frustrating in that you actually have to make a decision on one. And drive around a lot…toddlers dont like carseats, especially getting Into them several times a day. Yay tantrums 🙂 Food bribes have worked well, whoops – bad parents.
We’ve chosen to live on the North/east side of the city which heads up into the Mountains – and therefore is a bit out of/above the air pollution (not that you really escape it, but you can try!) It’s also where most of the expats live. I know I know, not the ‘real’ Santiago…but close enough.
The trouble is that there are lots of different communities and suburbs out there to pick from, all having their own pros and cons. If you actually live in a place it feels different, but here is our overview of the areas, and a little summary of our feeling of what it’s like for us (from driving around and checking out some houses for rent, and of course hunting for good coffee).
- Vitacura: A fun, posh little area with nice shops, cafes and restaurants. Older-style houses, mostly un-renovated (when renting). We’d love to live there, but so far it is really tough to find a big house – particularly one with a yard. They do come up every so often but go quickly. You can definitely find cool apartments though, and you can walk to shopping, parks and cafés. Vibrant area.
- Santa Maria de Manquehue: The residential part of Vitacura. No shops at all in this area, but nice houses (some renovated, some not) with yards, at least one park and school in the middle, and if you go up the mountain a bit you get some awesome city views. Downside is that it doesn’t get much sun in winter as the mountains block it out (=high heating bills and lots of complaining!). Need to drive everywhere as there is minimal public transport, but city and cool Vitacura is very close (5 mins drive) – short commute for Achim. Quiet area.
- Los Trapenses: A newer area, with big new gorgeous houses. You’re sure to get a massive house with yard up here, and great views. It seems pretty far from the city and a lot longer commute (probably minimum 20 minutes more than Vitacura). Your shopping is centered around a shopping-mall that sits in the middle. Quiet area.
- La Dehesa: There is an older part and a newer part. La Dehesa (Lo Barnechea) is a big town of its own really. There is a great shopping mall – no real “street shopping” that we can find yet, dozens of schools and daycare centres, and things to do. Great city views from gorgeous houses on the hill. For us it just feels pretty removed from the city and mall-centred, despite the fact that it doesn’t take long to get there on the highway.
- Las Condes: Loads of expats with school-aged kids live in Las Condes and in La Dehesa for the massive variety of school options. Las Condes is huge – there is an upper and a lower part. Lower part is apartment-living, with access to loads of parks and shopping, and it’s the central business district for international companies (Achim’s company is there). Upper part is big houses with yards and views. It feels pretty modern and new. For us, the upper part (where the houses are) is again, bit too far from the vibrant part of Santiago.
So, while we’d love a house in Vitacura it seems too tough to actually get one (with a big yard, which we really want for Em), so we are now aiming at the next suburb out – Santa Maria de Manquehue. Quiet and residential, but pretty close to it all with a car. Stay tuned for house details…