Puerto Varas : Chile


What It Is Like to Retire in Puerto Varas

Located in the Chilean Lakes District, Puerto Varas bills itself as the new Bariloche. With similar lakeside views and stunning surrounding mountains, the town is certainly justified in making the comparison. However, while every other shop in Bariloche sells souvenirs and ugly apartment buildings block views for most people, Puerto Varas remains a much more tranquil and undeveloped town. Considerably smaller than Bariloche, it has a strong community primarily made up of Chilenos and Germans.

This area offers many activities for active adults. During the summer, on sunny days the lake is perfect for swimming. The waters are also ideal for sailing, kayaking and fly-fishing. The roads surrounding the lake are great for walking, running and biking. The town is the gateway to nearby Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales, which offers hiking during the summer and skiing on the volcano in the winter.

Chile is one of the safest and most stable countries in Latin America. You wont feel as though you are in South America in this town. Puerto Varas is definitely the first world. Prices are higher compared to the rest of the continent, but right now, it seems to be less expensive than Argentina. Compared to the US, cost of living and real estate prices are quite reasonable. Photo of German influence visible in the town's prominent Sacred Heart of Jesus Church courtesy of Wikipedia and Tonza90 (public domain); photo La Burbuja Ski Center courtesy of Wikipedia and Marisa Garrido/marisadechile (public domain).


Where to Retire in Puerto Varas and Home Prices

The town, which is filled with wonderful German architecture, is composed of two settlements. In the proper downtown are a few hotels, several excellent restaurants, a beautiful church, coffee shops, grocery stores, a market, several stores and a beach. Just outside of this part of town are the school and residential area. Homes and a few new, yet not overwhelmingly high apartment buildings extend around the lakefront to the second area, which has a few more restaurants, hotels and a second beach. Both areas look out over the glistening waters of lake Llanquihue, across to the snow-capped peaks of three mountains.
The median home value hovers around $200,000.

What Is Special about Puerto Varas

Gorgeous lake views, volcanoes in the distance and proximity to many outdoor activities make Puerto Varas a very special place to retire. The community of foreigners and high numbers of tourists mean that it is easy to find everything you need in town. While developments are growing, the town seems to be limiting the size of apartment buildings to maintain the small town feel of this spot.

What Is Not Special about Puerto Varas

While most residents speak English, there is not a high population of Americans living in this town, so it is not for those looking for "home away from home." The town is growing, so those in search of a completely unspoiled spot should look to other towns in the Lakes District or in Patagonia. Don't expect perfect weather everyday here.

Who Will Like Retirement in Puerto Varas

Those people looking for an active spot with beautiful surroundings and an international community will like Puerto Varas.

Local Economy Is Driven by

The local economy is driven by tourism, real estate development and the casino.

Climate and Physical Environment

When it is sunny in the summer months between December and March, it is quite warm in the town. However, it is cloudy and windy often. In the winter, it is cold and snowy. The southern latitude means that summer days are quite long- the sun sets around 9:30. Of course, this means that winter days are short.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

This is a pretty small town, so cultural opportunities are limited. There are several outstanding restaurants and a casino. The town does have several festivals throughout the year, perhaps most importantly the feria de chocolate.


Crime in Puerto Varas is relatively low.

Medical Facilities

The town has a medical center and a small hospital, with 24 hour care. There is a larger regional hospital 20 kms away in the city of Puerto Montt.


Puerto Varas is conveniently located close to the regional transportation hub of Puerto Montt, which is only 20 kilometers away. Puerto Montt is a one hour and fourty minute flight from Santiago, which is about 8.5 hours from Miami. It is easy to get around the town on foot and cheap buses connect Puerto Varas to various sites in the area.

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