Living in ChileIyna Bort Caruso
Within Chile’s borders is virtually every microclimate and topographical feature: thousand-year-old forests, volcanoes, hot springs, deserts and even fjords, one of the few countries in the world to have them. Sparsely populated Patagonia, in Chile’s extreme southern reaches, is an eco-tourist’s dream. There’s drama in Chile’s landscapes and sometimes mystery, like remote Easter Island famous for its 887 monumental idols.
Chile is a spaghetti strip of a nation, some 2,670 miles long and just over 200 miles across at its widest point, situated between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Even its skies hold awe. A leading astro-tourism destination for stargazers, Chile has the clearest skies in the Southern Hemisphere, boasting 300 days of little or no light pollution.
The country is two centuries out from its independence from Spain. The Andean nation now has one of South America’s soundest economies and leads the continent in a host of quality-of-life rankings.
About 90 percent of the population resides in the central region around the capital of Santiago. Within a couple of hours’ drive of the city are top ski resorts like Portillo and Valle Nevado to the east and beach resorts like Viña del Mar to the west.
Viña del Mar is Chile’s popular beach resort neighboring the hilly and historic seaport city of Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sixteen funiculars help locals navigate the steep and windy streets. South of Valparaiso is Pichilemu, a cold-water beach on the radar of top surfers.
Few restrictions are placed on international property buyers except for areas in border zones. Luxury real estate in and around Santiago, especially exclusive condominiums, estates with mountain views and homes in gated communities, are in highest demand. Unsurprisingly, residences with wine cellars are not uncommon given the country’s prominent wine industry. The best-known wine region and birthplace of the Chilean viticulture is the Maipo Valley, just south of the capital and sometimes called the Bordeaux of South America.