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).