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Quiet Townhouses with Ocean View in Reñaca

QUIET LIVING! Beautiful Ocean View in the World’s Best Climate!

Unit N°1 (156m2/1,948sf + 40m2/430sf covered terrace/balcony) 2 stories, 4 bedrooms, 4,5 bathrooms, hardwood kitchen with green granite, 3 big closets and high-up kitchen storage, very large terraces, open-air private Jacuzzi, two parking spaces and large storage unit (10m2), in-floor heating, solar heating system.

Unit N°2 (107m2/1,151sf) 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 5 big closets and high-up kitchen storage, balcony, two parking spaces and large storage unit (9m2), hardwood kitchen with green granite, in-floor heating, solar heating system. Dining area can be enlarged 8m2/85sf and include visitor’s half bath (additional cost approx. USD10,000). 

Unit N°3 (100m2/1,076sf) 1 level, 2 bedrooms (one of which is a large living room that converts to a bedroom with two Murphy beds, American kitchen, 3 bathrooms, 3 hardwood shelves/”closets” and laundry area, very large terrace on garden level, one parking space.

New building with three units (or townhouses). All are for sale. A 50% interest is available in N°3, permitting a 60/40 split of rental income and providing a Chilean address and place to live for some/most of the March through December (except Easter weekend, July 15-August 5 and September 15-21). Price for a share in that one is 2,900 UF or half of USD 244,000.

The townhouse for sale is perfect for newcomers from North America or Europe.

Unit N°1 PRICE 10,500 UF (280 million pesos on September 26, 2017) USD 440,000

Unit N°2 PRICE 6,200 UF (165 million pesos on September 26, 2017) USD 260,000

Unit N°3 PRICE 5,800 UF (155 million pesos on September 26, 2017) USD 244,000

Units N°1 and N°3 can be combined to make a much larger 3-story townhouse.

2% discount for cash purchase. Buyer pays all closing costs, including notary, legal and any realtor fees.

50% discount on property taxes for ten years (government discount under law DFL-2)

Very low monthly community fees: 2UF in units N°3 and N°2 and 3.5 UF in N°1. +1 UF extra each until for the first 24 months.

Note: The UF is an inflation-indexed currency surrogate that is used in Chile for major purchases and loans. It has a value in pesos that changes daily according to inflation. For example, 0n April 1, 2017, one UF was worth 26,472 pesos (about US$39.69). [UF = 26.650 pesos on Sept. 26, 2017.]

Here is the view:

La gran puesta del sol 31 julio 2015 edificio los arándanos de Reñaca Cobin puesta del sol 31 julio 2015 edificio los arándanos de Reñaca Cobin20150525_185940

Puesta del sol desde los Almendros 1 agosto Los Arándanos de Reñaca Cobin parte 2

Puesta del sol desde los Almendros 1 agosto Los Arándanos de Reñaca Cobin

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 Nov 1st sunset

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LOCATION – LOCATION – LOCATION

The location of the new townhouse in northwestern Los Almendros, a highly desirable section of Reñaca, a sector of Viña del Mar.

Street address is José Suárez 185, Reñaca, Viña del Mar,

Longitude/latitude to find the lot with Google Earth: 32°58’00.00″ S  71°31’26.10″ W.

Viña del Mar has been named the city with the best climate in the world on EscapeArtist Chile. It is similar to coastal Southern California. Also see this article that I wrote on Viña del Mar, this one includes Valparaíso and this one that I wrote on Reñaca Beach in 2014. Others that might interest you include:

PLANS

Townhome N°2 is highlighted in yellow in the drawings (designated as “Depto 2”), Like Townhouse N°1, it is two stories and thus is on two different drawings. It is the one indicated as 105.6 meters squared on the plan legend, 107 meters squared if one counts the deep end of the large downstairs closet in the count (1,151 square feet). The deck for Townhouse N°2 is 3.5 meters squared (37 square feet). Townhouse N°1 has a 15m2 balcony and a 25m2 terrace. Townhouse N°3 has a garden terrace of approx. 50m2.  The storage unit (bodega), which could be converted into more living space or an office, is 9 meters squared (97 square feet) for Townhouse N°2 and 10m2 for Townhouse N°1. Both of these later features make the effective living area larger. Some people might consider enclosing the outside flower bed outside Townhouse N°2, enlarging the dining area by 64 square feet, adding a visitor’s half bath and possibly making the balcony larger.

A lot of Americans cannot imagine living in such a “small” space but once in Chile, like Europe or Japan, one gets quite used to living in smaller spaces comfortably, especially when there are common areas for BBQs, grassy yard with fruit trees and view decks, plus large, high-ceiling storage shelves and cabinets, in addition to the square footage for the apartment itself.

Looking down to the apartment from the street, it can be seen at the top of the drawing (for reference, the public area with marble sidewalk starts where the dashed line is indicated, the building property being to the right of it). Looking up at it from the ocean, it is on the upper right with the large view windows of the living room and master bedroom visible in the drawings.

Look at the architectural plans below, which can be downloaded as PDF files and printed. The parts labeled “Bodega” are storage areas, and one has been converted to the maid’s quarters or a fourth bedroom with full bathroom (Townhouse N°1). They have 2.87 meter (about 9.5 foot) ceilings and two go all the way to the property line, seen on the plans as a dashed line (right underneath the parking space, one highlighted in light blue). The rest of the top floor likewise has high ceilings. The apartment comes with two parking spaces, highlighted in yellow in the plans. Visitors can easily park on the street or in the large cul-de-sac, too. The lower floor, back and sides are made of solid reinforced concrete construction, as is the bodega and spine of the upper floor, with welded metal and metal framed (like one would find in low-rise office buildings) and stuccoed construction for the rest, Townhouses N°1 and N°2 share a common wall.

The yellow highlighting shows the kitchen, living and dining room and bedrooms and bathrooms. The outside landing and bodega that pertain to Townhouse N°2 are shaded in other colors.

The street-level, marble rooftop is a common area for gatherings and viewing, especially things like the famous New Years Eve fireworks displays over the port of Valparaíso and other shows over Viña del Mar, Concón and Reñaca. (This area is mixed with the parking area.) The small amount of land that “by law” goes with the apartment by law is not estimated in the highlighting.

Click on the links for each plan image to enlarge it. You can open, print and/or download a clean PDF version of the plans.

nivel-0 PDF here Street level with view deck (commons) and parking spaces, solar heating

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nivel-1 PDF here Top floor (kitchen, laundry, living room, dining room, balcony, bodega)

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nivel-2 PDF here Lower floor (bedrooms, bathrooms and closets)

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nivel-3 PDF here Lower floor and garden area (commons)

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VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

The townhome is in a building that features 240 square meters of elegant marble flooring–2,582 square feeet! Residents even park on marble. It is quite elegant and makes the owners feel proud of their home. Much of the marble is on the view deck and staircase, both of which are shared or common areas.

Note: Videos show some debris/incompleteness becasuee they were taken prior to building completion.

View deck and blueberry plants up top

Parking area and View deck

Walk to front door from lawn/garden area below

Marble entrance from street and parking area down to front door Townhouse N°2

Kitchen Townhouse N°2 similar to other kitchens

Climb staircase Townhouse N°2

Master bedroom starting at bathroom Townhouse N°2

Master bedroom starting from hall Townhouse N°2

Study or small bedroom and other bedroom Townhouse N°2

Second bathroom Townhouse N°2

Banister and walk down Townhouse N°2

Cozy living room dining room Townhouse N°2

Kitchen Townhouse N°2

 

Neighborhood

View from up top

Looking down from view deck

Storage unit Townhouse N°2

Garden 

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FEATURES

° solid hardwood (lenga) interior doors, stairway, hand railing

° spacious custom closets, in Townhouses N°1 and N°2, with storage room under the stairs and high up in the kitchen, too, plus the bodega outside.

° black marble entrance way in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° hardwood (raulí, cedar o lenga) kitchen cabinets with green granite countertops.

° custom (mostly hardwood) bathroom cabinets with green granite or brown marble countertops

° upgraded bathrooms with European fixtures, one with Jacuzzi tub in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° carved-out of the hillside lawn and garden (common areas) on flat area; dramatically cutting wind and any noise, and creating greater earthquake security.

° internal rainwater irrigation support system to reduce plant watering costs

° in-floor radiant heating system in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° video phone/camera gate opening system; four exterior security cameras with video feed to household computers.

° solar energy supplement for vital systems and hot water boost in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° higher ceilings, 9.3 feet on bottom floor, narly 10 feet on top floor in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.

° engineered cherry wood flooring with areas of porcelain flooring (especially in  in Townhouses N°3 but in all kitchens).

° solid reinforced concrete base and perimeter with and welded metal internal structure, lessening potential dampness problems.

° PVC thermopane windows and terrace door with quiet insulation (Germany).

° Ecological surroundings with 150 blueberry plants and seven different fruit trees plus flowers and summertime fruits and vegetables such as watermelons and tomatoes.

There is only one other year-round resident next door. In the summer there could be carefully-chosen renters in the townhouse below. The environment is very quiet.

 

COMPETITIVE PRICING

This price is competitive for this upscale (class “B-“) area of northwestern Los Almendros de Reñaca. In upper middle class (“C1”) areas of Reñaca, used houses or apartments (even without a view) average 1.3+ million pesos per square meter. Along the coastline, prices are nearly double. The upscale section of Los Almendros tends to be priced in between. The pricing of these units is commanded for its construction quality, its cozy setup with only one other full time family in the building rather than one unit among dozens in a larger building, the fact that it is impossible to obstruct the view, the fact that no elevator is required, the high quality of surrounding homes (some of which are 500m2 to 750m2), and the advantage of having a dwelling that is brand new without any wear and tear or earthquake history.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis?

The building in construction suffered no damage whatever from the September 16, 2015 earthquake (8.4 Richter Scale, epicenter 95 miles north) and hundreds of subsequent aftershocks (more than a dozen of them over 6.0 Richter Scale up to 7.6 Richter Scale). The townhome is safely located at about 124 meters or 410 ft. above sea level, and therefore there is no tsunami threat. Hurricanes have never threatened Chile.

Did we mention LOCATION?

The townhome is located exactly 2km to the Tottus Express supermarket and the many banks, restaurants, mail services, hair salons and shops in Reñaca, and 7km to the Jumbo and Líder Express supermarkets and the strip malls of Concón. The casino and restaurants of Viña del Mar are about 15 minute’s drive. You can see some images of the Reñaca and Concón commercial areas below.2014-01-30 21.10.31

The area is booming with new construction and roadways, making an increase in property value likely. The bus stop for line 607 is only 300 meters away, making it easy for the maid to get to work, or for renters or others to get to the store or the beach. The local bus fare is around 300 pesos or 43 US cents local travel and 68 US cents to central Viña del Mar or Valparaíso. Line 607 comes by every 10-20 minutes (until 9pm/10pm in Summer) and goes to Reñaca, the nice areas and malls in Viña del Mar (and close to the Santiago connections via the Viña del Mar bus terminal) and Valparaíso.

These images are taken from the top of the lot during the day, at sunset and at dusk. The apartment has parking and access from the street level where the photographs were taken and then the owner will walk down a flight of stairs to his apartment entrance. That means that the apartment’s second story will be below street level.

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COMPARATIVE SHOPPING

Online searching for properties in Reñaca will reveal a wide range of prices that reflect variables like (a) ocean view, (b) proximity to the beach (good for summer, if one can take the summer and long weekend traffic jams, but not for household humidity the rest of the year), (c) proximity to local transportation, schools and shopping, (d) age of the house and its surroundings (including its earthquake experience), (e) physical condition and/or remodeling needs, (f) ability to escape from summer and long weekend traffic jams, (g) tsunami safety, (h) busy-ness of the residential street or loud nightlife parties, (i) adequate parking (for owner and visitors) and storage, and (j) the desirability of the neighborhood in which a property is located (including the quality of surrounding homes, nearby parks, etc.).

There is a link below to an article I wrote about the best neighborhoods in Viña del Mar. The rule of thumb price for newer homes in nicer neighborhoods without ocean views is 1.3 million pesos per square meter. This property obvious offers much more and thus should fetch over 2 million pesos per square meter. It is a good deal and a place you will enjoy coming home to. 100_3591

For example, these “cookie cutter” tract homes 1km down the street in the “C1” section of Los Almendros are selling for ~US$250,000. The location is nice, but there is no view of the ocean, and the homes are of noticeably lower quality.

LAYOUT

In the drawing with the windows, the apartment is on the upper right side (as seen from the ocean). It is an inverted “T” shape, wider on the first floor (-2) than the protruding, twice as long (deep) second floor (-1) with its obviously independent roof-line. The architect put figurines on the apartment’s deck in the drawings above.

Layout details: 2 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, big-windowed living room and dining area (white PVC thermopane), kitchen, marble entrance with a garden where flowers and shrubs can be put in, or it may be converted into more living space or a Jacuzzi; a deck for outdoor relaxation or place to put your BBQ on the street level or on the garden level below, large storage area (bodega) and parking space. Radiant floor heating and solar panel support. The bottom floor (-2) has the master bedroom with bathroom, another bathroom and two other bedrooms, one of which could be used as a study or a den. The apartment is located on a secure cul-de-sac and thus has no significant traffic or loud parties.

NO ELEVATOR REQUIRED

Yes! No elevator is required, which is an advantage given that this is technically a townhouse or condo setting. You will have to take stairs one level down from the parking area and front gate, a walkway which could be beautifully lined with flowers. Remember that in Viña del Mar, flowers grow like weeds. You can already see the garden setting that has been put in, along with a rainwater collection system with 13,000 liters of irrigation storage.

WHAT YOU GET FOR THE PRICE


Finish work:
  • “Porcelanato” and engineered cherry wood floors 
  • Hardwood interior doors and entry door.
  • Walls painted in a neutral tone in Townhouse N°2 with white crown moldings, other in Townhouses N°1 and N°3 have green walls and some colored rooms.
  • Central heating and water heating system with solar heating support and solar backup for pumps and key outlets in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Cherry colored wood baseboards
  • Hardwood (lenga) hand railings, stairs in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Bedrooms with closets, except Townhouse N°3 that has open hardwood shelving.
  • Kitchen with tall, hardwood-faced cabinets (not typical in Chile)  in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • Bathrooms with upgraded tile floor and toilet, sink and tub/shower in one bathroom, spa tub in the other.
  • The bottom floor and back half of the first floor is made of reinforced concrete (hormigón), with the remainder being thermically-efficient steel beam framed on concrete backing, nestled against the hillside. 
  • Efficient LED light fixtures are included, which is not typical for Chile.
  • Wider oven in Townhouses N°1 and N°2., dishwasher, modern faucets, gas range and hood; gas dryer connection ready in Townhouses N°1 and N°2.
  • No curtains or blinds are included.
  • Some appliances are included: range, hood, sink, wash basin.

Note: Central heating is installed in the floors in Townhouses N°1 and N°2, but air conditioning is not needed in Reñaca.  in Townhouses N°3 uses a portable heater and has a natural gas Calefont water heating unit

AGAIN: WORLD’S BEST WEATHER

The EscapeArtist Chile mentioned above referenced this article online from a weather expert that says that Viña del Mar has the best weather and climate for humans in the world.

LANDSCAPING

Landscaping is not included in the main entrance way flower bed but is provided everywhere else on the property. Flower gardens are easy in this climate. The backyard has grass, flowers, blueberry bushes and fruit trees planted (cherry, apple, pear, minature lemon, orange, two avocados, fig), along with some occasional vegetables. The main home and apartments are not built on fill.

RESERVE THE PROPERTY WITH 15% DOWN

You can reserve one of these properties with a non-refundable deposit of 25% down.

The Chilean tax IDs are 3032-564 for townhome N°1 and 3032-568 plus 3032-569 for its bodegas (storage units). The Chilean tax IDs are 3032-565 for townhome N°2 and 3032-567 for its bodega (storage unit). The two in-line parking spaces assigned to each of these units do not require a separate tax ID. The Chilean tax ID is 3032-566 for Townhome N°3. It has only one parking space and no bodega.

Chilean residents can go to a bank and borrow the full amount for the property.

LOW CONDO FEES

“Gastos comunes” (condo fees) will be much lower than typical properties. The apartment will have its own property tax account, its own water, internet/TV, phone, gas and electricity bills.

The apartment owner will pay to keep up his terrace, electric gate opener, gate or fence damage, pipes and wiring maintenance or repair and walkway/patio repairs or changes.

A fund used to pay for the following common exterior items will be created:

  • Painting of walls and front gate or fencing
  • Wall and roof repair
  • Rain gutter upkeep
  • Sewage pump maintenance and replacement every 2-3 years
  • Lawn, flowers and tree/bush/plant irrigation
  • Lighting in common areas
  • Solar systems maintenance

The main property owner (Townhouse #1) will be in charge of having this work done when it is needed.

The charge will be UF2 every month, for Townhouses N°2 and N°3 which is about US$78, and UF 3,5 in Townhouse N°1. It will need to be deposited by you directly into a designated bank savings account. Instead of paying the low condo fees in this apartment, people that buy other apartments (condos) in buildings frequently pay more than $1,250 per quarter.

A lien will be placed against the property for the amount due, a penalty of 10% extra for each month the payment is late, and interest charged at 20% per year. In addition, the Townhouses N°1 and N°2 buyer agrees that his bodega titles will be forfeited after one year of not paying this small maintenance fee. Obviously, the penalty is large just to make sure that the apartment owner never falls behind.

The repairs and upkeep will be done when needed with no specific time frame. Should there be a major problem like dry rot or weather/earthquake damage, the costs of repair will be shared proportionally. This cost is above and beyond the UF 2 /3.5 charge every month.

All owners will agree to maintain fire and earthquake insurance on the property. This coverage should offset many repair costs due to fire or weather.

Please keep in mind that there are technically three living units in the building but one family will be using two of them, unless one of those units is rented or even sold later on. This is a pretty intimate relationship that family will share with the apartment purchaser.

RESTRICTIONS

The apartment owner will agree to make sure that the colors and materials remain uniform. The restrictive covenants have been recorded with the Chilean equivalent of the county recorder, called the Conservador de Bienes Raíces.

The buyer will also agree that no loud parties will take place, especially after midnight, by himself or by renters.

LOW MAINTENANCE EXTERIOR

The brick exterior will be as low-maintenance as possible for a pacific coastal climate.

The small roof area is covered with “estate grey” color asphalt shingles.

The double-pane windows are white PVC window frames from Germany, providing high security and energy efficiency. They provide a quiet interior, too.

RENTAL INCOME

Also note that the apartment owner has full rights to rent out his apartment, of course, which can be quite lucrative in Reñaca during the summer months Dec. 26th to March 5th, and still possible after those months at at least 50% occupancy. Furnished places can get around 2 million pesos per month in the Summer if administered well (USD 100-150 per night), especially in January and February, and also good rent during the week prior to Easter, the last two weeks of July (winter break) and the week around Chilean independence (September 18th). The best ways to rent out a Townhome are with Booking.com or Tripadvisor.com. During the non-summer months, people from Santiago also come and rent furnished places for about the same rate, viz. once again, in mid to late July (winter break), Easter week, long weekends around May 1st, May 21st and October 31st-November 1st, as well as the week around Independence Day (September 18th). So there are other rental opportunities during the year from Chileans. A market also exists to rent to foreigners that visit Chile for short periods. In general, one can expect 90% occupancy and full price during the summer, and about 30% less with 50% to 70% occupancy during the rest of the year, on average.

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For those that want to keep a unit as a full-time rental all year, many people rent to university students, maybe 5 students to an apartment, for $175 per month each, during the rest of the year. But doing so is probably not going to yield as much as using online services.

Bear in mind that the owner is responsible to make sure that renters agree not “to party” or make lots of noise, especially after midnight.

Others keep their coastal apartments open for their own use during the rest of the year. Viña del Mar is a great place to live year-round and one might consider doing so or leaving it open for weekend use even if they live in Santiago most of the time.

Another choice is to live in northwestern Los Almendros de Reñaca from March through December and then rent the house for the summer while the owner rents a place down by the southern Chilean lakes and mountains or travels abroad. A very pleasant option for those that like to travel!

WINTER HUMIDITY

There is some humidity problem in this location during the wintertime that can easily be dealt with by running dehumidifiers. Listen to the evidence from the market. Locals tend not to live close to the beach for a reason, and lower price is not the only one. They want to avoid even higher humidity indoors. Townhouses N°1 and N°2 are designed to reduce dampness even further with partial steel beam framing.2014-04-26 19.26.15

TAX BREAK

Because the property is new construction and under 140m2, Chilean law DFL-2 provides for a 50% reduction in property taxes for 10 years. I do not know what the effective taxes will be, but I am guessing that they will initially be around 70,000 pesos (US$125) per quarter. They could be less.

If you are interested, please send an email to osorno7@earthlink.net or call +56-32-3277712.

Here are some other images of the area. The neighborhood park, near the bus stop, is just 300 meters from the apartment.

P1040131 P1040121 P1040130

 Houses in the neighborhood (seen in the photos below), across the street, have between 400 m2 and 750 m2, or around 4,300 sq. ft. to 8,000 sq. ft., while adjacent apartments tend to be around 140 m2 or 1,500 sq. ft. The cul-de-sac located apartment you will be buying is located in good company for sure!

P1040128 P1040127 P1040124 P1040123 2014-07-16 12.14.02 2014-07-16 12.13.47

See a couple photos of local buses below, running through Reñaca sector, the first one being number 607, stopped at the little plaza near the property.

IMG_20150120_191735 2014-07-16 12.26.19 P1040134

Strip malls, the small Reñaca mall and other nearby shopping and services, including the new Tottus Express supermarket, all less than 2 kilometers away.

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 The Reñaca area offers all the conveniences of life: restaurants, supermarkets with a wide variety of goods, beauty salons, banks, mail services, money and exchange services, appliance stores, fast food, stationery stores, and more:

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If you’re seriously interested in this wonderful opportunity, send an email or fill out the form below and I’ll get back with you as soon as possible. Please don’t use this form for any other purpose.

Sectors of Viña del Mar

Without a doubt, Viña del Mar (about 1:45 by car via superhighway WNW of northeastern Santiago) is the second most livable city in Chile. Note that when I make that claim I am not considering the many beautiful smaller Chilean towns with First World amenities reasonably close: Pucón, Zapallar, Puerto Varas, Rocas de Santo Domingo, Coyhaique or even Pica, San Félix, Vicuña (and surrounding towns), Vichuquén, Corral and Bahía Inglesa. I am referring to the most livable larger city in Chile outside of northeastern Santiago.

Viña del Mar is precisely that place, with La Serena running a distant third, followed by spots mostly in the southern and eastern parts of Concepción (as well as Pingueral) and then possibly Valdivia, Temuco and maybe Rancagua (in that order). Remember that the metro area formed by Viña del Mar and Valparaíso (Chile’s second most important port and home of the Chilean navy and Chilean Congress) has almost one million inhabitants, making it a commercial center, full of culture and attractions.

One can live and work in Viña del Mar, even though it is harder to do so than in Santiago, far more than he can in smaller regional cities in Chile. Only Concepción comes close to offering the same employment possibilities for professionals outside of Santiago.

The Viña del Mar area has three Jumbo supermarkets (if one counts the branch in Valparaíso), several Líder stores, Homecenter and Easy builder’s supermarkets and home improvement centers, all banking and medical services, car and replacement parts dealers, a hospital that is the best among the regions of Chile (the Clínica Reñaca), good bilingual private schools (Mackay and St. Margaret’s), several universities (including one of Chile’s top three engineering schools, the Universidad Federico Santa María in nearby Valparaíso), an elegant Casino, an upscale mall with a bowling alley, cinemas, good restaurants, fast food chains and most everything else one can think of.

Of course, it probably goes without saying that there are much less of these things in Viña del Mar than in northeastern Santiago. However, the level of infrastructure and amenities is more than adequate. Viña del Mar also has a better climate than Santiago, just like coastal southern California is more temperate than inland areas, with warmer winters and cooler summers (but with 7% to 19% more rainfall during the winter months).

The city seems to be full of flowers and gardens, including its famous flower clock. The people tend to be among the friendliest I have met in Chile.

Viña del Mar is a tourist city and hosts the famous Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar, where many singers and musicians begin their rise to fame. There is still felt much of the British influence from the past when the port of Valparaíso was thriving and wealthier than before the Panama Canal era. For instance, the British institute has a good English language library and one can find several Anglican churches. 

The cost of living is lower in general (by about 17.8%) than in Santiago. Comparable housing in the upper class sections of Viña del Mar is about 30% to 50% cheaper than in northeastern Santiago, as are the costs of property taxes and community fees in apartment buildings and condominios (gated communities with common areas). Maid service is cheaper, too, along with public transportation costs (metro, bus, train).

Busses leave for Santiago every 10 minutes from downtown Viña del Mar, making the big city very accessible for just a few dollars. The air is far cleaner in Viña del Mar than Santiago, there is much less noise (other than the constant sound of rolling waves for homes near the shore) and, outside of the dreadful summer months, less traffic congestion.

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On the hills above the city, one will find good ocean views looking one way and mountain views the other. Many pine forests run along the hills overlooking the coastline and there are areas with significant sand dunes just to the north in Reñaca and above Concón. Viña del Mar (up through Concón) features the interesting phenomenon of something like 90% vacancy in the thousands of apartments during the non-summer months, other than long weekends and holidays. Most of the beachfront apartments are owned by upper class people in Santiago, as are some a little bit further inland, although most of those tend to be owned by year-round residents.

Housing is well defined by sectors of Viña del Mar, which are strikingly more distinct than in Santiago. One can drive twenty kilometers in Santiago’s upper class area before seeing much in the way of lower or lower middle class housing. The same is not true in Viña del Mar that has abrupt and obvious distinctions. Immigrants from the First World should know before hand where to look, avoiding areas not highlighted in this article, and bearing in mind that apartments and housing closer to the shore will usually carry a much higher cost per square meter than interior properties. 

The main section just north of downtown is no more than 15 square blocks, along with the older part west of downtown called El Plan. It is an elegant area, located mainly between Avenida 1 Norte and Avenida 15 Norte, west of Avenida Libertad to the beach, full of apartment buildings, a mall, banks, pharmacies, private hospitals, automobile dealers, restaurants, the Casino, services and nice stores. Buildings range from 5 to 80 years old, with newer part being on the northern subsection near Avenida 15 Norte.

A second section of town, housing the “old wealth” much like the comuna of Providencia does in Santiago, is called Miraflores Bajo. It is located further inland (just past the famous horse racing track), with some of the homes going up the hill having views, but nothing spectacular. Some of the homes are elegant and well kept, with nice gardens, with larger ones being 350 square meters (around 3,750 square feet) for around US$600,000. It boasts its own hospital and fire station, too.


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Other sectors include areas of newer apartments east and south of the central district’s seashore, hillside sectors called Recreo and Agua Santa, as well as basin sectors called Avenida Álvarez (and Avenida Vianna) and some of Avenida 1 Norte. I do not care for these areas as much as others, even though they are usually cheaper for the same quality, because the surrounding properties are either older or often not well kept up, the views are not always as good, and they are further from amenities and job sites or many business opportunities.

Nevertheless, bargain-hunters and future-looking buyers might consider them. Small, newer apartments can be had for under US$150,000. Like Miraflores Bajo, Avenida Álvarez and Avendia 1 Norte have an important advantage of being close to the Jumbo superstore and quick superhighway access.

The fastest-growing and thus most popular affluent sections of Viña del Mar fall along the north side of the ocean crescent and several miles inland from the shore. These communities include scenic places like Reñaca (right on the beach with stair step apartments and homes lining the adjacent hillsides), with easy beach access, easy shopping access, wonderful views and ocean sounds, but horrible traffic in January and February.

More popular among year-round residents are the communities directly inland, often with hillside sea views, pine or eucalyptus forests and mountain views to the east. The oldest of these in Jardín del Mar, mostly built in the 1980s and 1990s, but new construction is still going on, with many smaller (140 square meters or about 1,500 square foot) homes and apartments selling from US$200,000 to US$300,000. There are also larger homes priced near half a million dollars. The main branch of the Clínica Reñaca is in this section and the northwestern viewscapes are wonderful from just about everywhere.

Across the valley is a new, perhaps slightly more elegant section called Los Almendros, although prices do not seem much different. Much of the building quality is the same, but some spots do not have ocean views. One does see larger homes here and fewer apartments, and there are some gated communities with cookie cutter homes that are not found on the other side of the valley. Electrical and phone wiring are also buried on this side, making views better than from many homes in Jardín del Mar.

Finally, there is the ever-expanding section that bleeds north into Concón from Reñaca, called Bosques de Montemar. This section is residential and much like Vitacura or La Dehesa (in Santiago). Most have only views of the impressive sand dunes except for housing going up the hills toward the pines that have broad ocean views. Some of the homes are much larger and prices tend to be 20% higher in these neighborhoods than they are in parts of Los Almendros and Jardín del Mar. (Of course, it is hard to generalize such things!) The sector is also loaded with many 20 to 35 story luxury apartment buildings, some right on the cliffs overlooking the sea below. These apartments tend to be very elegant and range in price from US$250,000 to US$800,000. There are Jumbo, Líder Express, Easy, Construmart and Monserrat superstores nearby, along with St. Margaret’s private school for girls and a couple of service stations.

One thing that has struck me time and again is the relative lack of mansions and estates in Viña del Mar. Sure, there are some elegant and exclusive spots. But the real concentration of wealth in Chile is clearly in Santiago.

However, looking to the future, Viña del Mar is set to continue its expansion into greater prosperity and progress. Those who settle there will enjoy a higher quality of life in many ways over Santiago and a good chance for future gains in property values. If you want to bet on Chile’s future, besides Santiago, mining areas and farmland, Viña del Mar should be a prime consideration.

Chileans I have spoken with consider that Viña del Mar is Chile’s best overall city to live in. In many ways, I think they are right. I have been in every part of Chile, and it is hard to think of any other place that ticks all the boxes like Viña del Mar does. Every immigrant should have a plan to check it out.

Chile has a new sustainable community starting called Freedom Orchard. Check it out. Invest in it, and diversify out of the decaying assets in “First World” nations.
Also, be sure to tune in to Dr. Cobin’s radio program: “Red Hot Chile” at noon (ET) on Fridays on the Overseas Radio Network (ORN). You can also join the thousands of other people who download the shows each month via the archive link on our Red Hot Chile page (recorded show updated every Monday morning).
Be sure, too, to visit AllAboutChile.com for discussion and forums about the country and what’s going on with Freedom Orchard.
Dr. Cobin’s book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service – Chile Consulting – where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $49.
Dr. Cobin’s sequel book, Expatriates to Chile: Topics for Living, adds even further depth on important topics to expatriates who either live in Chile already or who have Chile on the short list of countries where they hope to immigrate. The book deals with crucial issues pertaining to urban and rural real estate transactions, natural disasters, issues pertaining to emigration and its urgency, money and the quality of life, medical care and insurance, business opportunities, social manifestations (including welfare state and divorce policy concerns), Chile in the freedom indices, social maladies (lying, cheating, stealing and murder), as well as discussion of a few places worth visiting and some further comments about Santiago.
For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books.

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These and other resources can be found on the Escape America Now resource page.

 

 

Viña del Mar and Valparaíso

Viña del Mar and Valparaíso used to be two physically separated cities long ago. Today they have merged into one. Moreover, they have grown to engulf Con Con to the north and spurted inland to Villa Alemana, Quilpué (where my daughter Rachel was born) and beyond. The area has a bit under a million inhabitants and is mostly Second World living–other than a good chunk of Viña del Mar (including Reñaca beach) and Con Con which are very First World.


Indeed, Viña del Mar is the second most livable city in Chile besides northeastern Santiago, except in February. During that month a large chunk of santiaguinos move into town for summer vacation and cause the worst sort of beach and automobile traffic nightmare you can imagine. There is no lack of loud music at night either. January is not much better when the area is full of Argentines and Brazilians. Teenagers apparently love all the company. The best time for someone (especially over age 21) to visit is in either December or March. I recommend that adults visit the southern part of Chile during January and February and leave the beach and hassles to youngsters.

Valparaíso was greatly expanded in the heyday of the British Empire when much shipping went around the horn. And there are still remnants of the British era: horse racing, cricket, rugby, Anglican churches, a British cultural center, architecture, soccer teams with English names, trains and funicular elevators that run on the “wrong side” of the tracks, etc. Even though it is very run-down, Valparaíso is a great place to visit for a history lesson. Like Viña del Mar, the hillside city is full of interesting nooks and crannies, winding narrow streets, quaint plazas, and great ocean views. Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda’s house is there (now a museum). The Chilean Congress is also located in the city, and the Chilean navy is headquartered there. Fish is inexpensive. There are several good universities in the area like Universidad Federico Santa María (top engineering school) and Universidad Adolfo Ibañez (top business school).

The view from either side above the crescent bay is spectacular. The climate is very similar to Santa Barbara, California’s (i.e., mostly dry and warm, rarely very hot, with rainfall only coming from April through October). The cost of living is almost 20% less than in Santiago. Rent for great view houses is very cheap from March to December. The air is clean. It is only a little over an hour to the Santiago airport, and about 2 1/2 hours to the Portillo ski area. Horseback riding is nearby (north of Con Con). People tend to be very friendly and helpful. The plaza in Viña del Mar is gorgeous. It is a city full of flowers. 

Our family lived in a nice cliffside home above Reñaca beach for 6 months in 1996. There were spectacular ocean views (maybe 300 degrees from my glass office space) I have lived a lot of places but I think that was the best house I have ever lived in on account of the view. I enjoyed listening to the waves crashing while lying in bed at night too.

To see photos, click these links below: