Where to Study: Buenos Aires or Santiago?

By | April 27, 2019

Buenos Aires or Santiago? Which of these two cities has the best living conditions for foreign students? The capitals of Argentina and Chile are two large urban centers in South America that attract many exchange students, whether for their universities or for Spanish courses. What they have in common is that they are considered two of the cities in the region with the best quality of life rates. But the two also have differences that can be decisive when deciding between one of the two as a possible exchange destination. Check it out now!

Santiago Cost of Living

Cost of living

According to the COUNTRYAAH, living in Buenos Aires is 32% cheaper than living in Santiago. The biggest differences are mainly in spending on public transport, housing and personal care. Check out:

  • Transportation: 40% cheaper in Buenos Aires
  • House: 38% cheaper in Buenos Aires
  • Personal care (spent on hygiene products, medicine, haircuts, etc.): 37% cheaper in Buenos Aires
  • Food: 31% cheaper in Buenos Aires
  • Entertainment: 20% cheaper in Buenos Aires
  • Clothes: 2% cheaper in Santiago


Both Buenos Aires and Santiago have recognized universities, some of which are among the best in Latin America. The main difference is that in Chile, even public universities are paid, both for national and foreign students. In Argentina, higher education is universal and free. In practice, this means that anyone, including foreigners, can study at public universities in the country without having to pay tuition and / or tuition fees.

With regard to private universities, institutions in Buenos Aires are generally cheaper than those in Santiago. Below, we list the main universities in each city accompanied by the positions they occupy in the ranking of QS World University Rankings of the 1000 best universities in the world in 2020. Note that from the position 500 on the list, institutions are ranked by group.

See the main universities in Buenos Aires

  • University of Buenos Aires (UBA): 74th
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina: 344th
  • University of Palermo (UP): 383rd
  • Austral University: 400th
  • Belgrano University: 438th
  • Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA): 601-650th
  • Universidad de San Andrés (UdeSA): 601-650th
  • Universidad Torcuato di Tella: 601-650th
  • National Technological University (UTN): 801-1000th

Check out the main universities in Santiago

  • Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (UC): 127th
  • University of Chile: 189th
  • University of Santiago de Chile (USACH): 489th
  • Adolfo Ibáñez University: 701-750th
  • University of the Andes: 801-1000th
  • Diego Portales University (UDP): 801-1000th

Buenos Aires Cost of Living

University life

QS World Universities also organizes the list of the best cities for university students in the world every year. This ranking takes into account factors such as university quality, job offers, cost of living, security fees, etc. The last edition, from last year, is led by London, Tokyo and Melbourne. The leader in Latin America, on the other hand, is Buenos Aires, which appears in position 31. Santiago is third in the region, in 54th place (just behind Mexico City, in 53rd).

Check below the performance of the two cities in the main ranking indicators:

  • Desirability: takes into account rates of economy, security, corruption, pollution and perception of students and parents in relation to the city.
  • Employer Activity: employability indexes at the main universities in the city.
  • Student View: takes into account issues such as tolerance, diversity, access to culture, nightlife, inclusion and the percentage of students who would consider staying in the city after completing their studies.

Buenos Aires

  • Desirability: 70th
  • Employer Activity: 21st
  • Student View: 16th


  • Desirability: 81th
  • Employer Activity: 17th
  • Student View: 60th


If your main objective is to study Spanish, it is important to know that there are some countries that have a clearer pronunciation of the language, which can end up facilitating learning. This is definitely not the case in Argentina and Chile, which are known for their heavier Spanish (or Castilian) and with an accent and vocabulary very typical of each country. But don’t be alarmed! This does not mean that learning Spanish in Buenos Aires or Santiago is an impossible task. Just to compare, studying Spanish in one of these cities would be the equivalent of studying English in Dublin, Ireland.


According to COUNTRYAAH, the seasons of both Buenos Aires and Santiago are well defined, with hot summers and cold winters. In Buenos Aires the rainiest months are March, October and November. The driest are June, July and August. In Santiago it is exactly the opposite, with the rainiest months being May, June, July and August and the driest months, December, January, February and March. That is, in Buenos Aires it rains more in late summer and during spring. In Santiago, the winter months are also the rainiest.

What’s up, Buenos Aires or Santiago? Which of these cities did you find the most interesting for you to make your exchange? Whatever your choice, the important thing is to get ready to win your dream opportunity. And with that we can help you through our specialized mentoring.