Humid weather's no fun. It's hot, it's heavy, and it's uncomfortable. If you want to be able to walk down a street without instantly feeling a sticky mess, there's plenty of places in the world that offer a more comfortable climate. What might come as a surprise is how many of them are in South America. Admittedly, the majority of the continent is humid and tropical, but search hard enough, and you'll find more than enough spots that boast an arid climate. If you're searching for places that boast low humidity and high livability, don't miss our round-up of the 20 best places to live in South America with low humidity.
20. El Gran Roque, Venezuela
The Los Roques archipelago is a stunning collection of 350 islands, cays, and islets set about 80 miles north of the port of La Guaira in the Caribbean Sea. Thanks to its pristine coral reef, crystal clear waters, rich variety of sea life, and picture-perfect beaches, it's a popular destination for yachters - although thanks to the strict control of tourism in the area, it never feels overwhelmed with invaders. As the only populated island on the archipelago, El Gran Roque is a haven for expats looking to enjoy a slow pace of life, buckets of great seafood, and some of the driest climes in South America.
19. Valparaíso, Chile
Wedged between the sea and the Chilean capital city of Santiago, Valparaíso is a vibrant, lively city of 300,000 inhabitants. The city is divided into two parts: the lower city with its buzzing port and its fantastic selection of shops, and the residential upper town. Both sides have a welcoming ambiance, plenty of things to do and see, and, increasingly, very safe streets. If you want somewhere that combines great livability with one of the driest climates in the area, Valparaíso could be your ideal match.
18. Los Nevado, Venezuela
The small town of Los Nevado may only have around 2000 inhabitants, but what it lacks in permanent inhabitants it more than makes up for in tourists. Its location in the Sierra Nevada National Park is a huge draw to those looking to enjoy the breath-taking natural scenery of the area. Thanks to its arid climate, it's also perfect for those who prefer the drier side of life.
17. Iquique, Chile
The seaside town of Iquique offers wide beaches, rocky outcrops, and eerie sand dunes. It's also got a great clutch of amenities and facilities for its residents to enjoy. With 200,000 permanent residents and a huge, fluctuating population of tourists, it's a lively, vibrant place with plenty to offer. In 2001, it even earned the distinction of being named the American Capital of Culture. As the first fishing port in Chile, fishing is obviously big business, but there's no shortage of other job opportunities either. With a desert climate that's tempered slightly by the Humboldt current, it's got exceptionally low humidity and great all-year-round weather conditions. Little wonder that expat.cl rank it as one of the best places to live in Chile.
16. El Chaltén, Argentina
If you're into tracking and hiking, you're going to love El Chaltén, Argentina. Ranked as one of theculturetrip.com's most beautiful places to visit in Patagonia, it's a charming, colorful town within the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares that boasts easy access to some of the region's best natural beauty. But a town is about more than its surroundings, and in that sense, El Chaltén doesn't disappoint. Crammed with charming little cafes, intimate restaurants, and lively bars, it offers a little something for everyone. As with most of Patagonia, humidity levels are astonishingly low.
15. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is like nothing else on earth. With fantastic scenery and a charming range of shops, hotels, and restaurants, it's understandably one of the area's biggest tourist destinations. Thanks to its incredibly dry climate (expect a maximum of 1.4 inches of rainfall every year), it's also a fantastic place to live for people looking to avoid humidity. Rugged, slightly surreal, and undeniably impressive, it's the kind of place that will take your breath away.
14. Arequipa, Peru
It may not be considered a 'mountain town' by Peruvian standards, but Arequipa's elevation of almost 8000 feet is plenty high enough for the rest of the world. Sandwiched between the volcanoes of Misti, Pichu Pichu and Chachan on one side and low mountain ranges on the other, few would argue its setting isn't breathtaking. Fewer still would argue that its mix of 16th-century houses, white stone churches, and arch-lined walkways aren't charming enough to leave you slightly spellbound. As one of the region's oldest towns, it's a must for history buffs. It's also a hugely attractive destination for galloping gourmets - with its outstanding mix of traditional diners and world-class restaurants, it's every foodie's dream. And don't worry about working up a sweat as you tuck into your delicious dinner - its location guarantees very acceptable levels of humidity all year round.
13. Medellin, Colombia
As the Telegraph writes, over the past couple of decades, Colombia's 2nd largest city, Medellin, has shaken off its disreputable reputation as “the most dangerous city on earth” to become South America's latest "hipster holiday destination". What was once a crime and drug-riddled city is now a clean, safe, lively cosmopolitan with plenty to offer both permanent residents and tourists alike. If you like your creature comforts, you won't feel deprived: whether we're talking coffee shops, salsa clubs, boutiques, nightclubs, fine dining, shopping malls, hotels, spas, galleries, libraries, or museums, it's all here in abundance. Sat around 5000 ft above sea level, the city enjoys clement, spring-like weather all year round - perfect if you prefer to avoid the searing heat of some of Colombia's other cities.
12. Urubamba, Peru
As the largest town in the Sacred Valley (the legendary 60 mile stretch between Machu Picchu and Pisac that attracts over a million visitors a year to wonder at its breathtaking beauty), Urubamba, Peru is understandably something of a tourist trap. But don't let that put you off. With its exceptionally affordable cost of living, its friendly residents, and its active social scene, it's a great place to live, work, and enjoy the gorgeously low humidity of the climate. And when you get bored of doing that, you could always head out to join the tourists as they admire the spectacular Inca ruins scattered around the surrounding area.
11. La Serena, Chile
Dynamic, modern La Serena is a regular fixture on 'best places to live in Chile' compilations - little wonder. With 250,000 inhabitants, a Mediterranean vibe, and a fantastic array of shops, cultural centers, and amenities, it's got all the creature comforts you could ever wish for - including, you'll be pleased to know, exceptionally low humidity levels and a pleasant year-round temperature that, while warm, never quite reaches the oppressive levels experienced in Santiago. As for the job market, you'll find few places in Chile with more opportunities, particularly if you happen to work in the mining industry.
10. Manizales, Colombia
When you think of Colombia, you don't necessarily think of a country blessed with low humidity. If you know a thing or two about caffeinated beverages, you are, on the other hand, likely to think of coffee. Manizales manages to both destroy your stereotypes and confirm them. As one of the three cities that make up Colombia’s coffee triangle (eje cafetero), coffee is understandably a big deal here. It forms the bulk of the industry and it's given rise to some of the best coffee shops you'll find in the world. So far, so stereotypical. But then we come to the climate. Far from being hot, sticky, and humid, Manizales enjoys cool, dry conditions, thanks in no small part to its perch on top of the Andes mountains. The average annual temperature comes in at a cool 63 F, negating the need for air-conditioning but necessitating more stoves and central heating than you'd think necessary in South America. Asides from the low humidity, there's plenty here to recommend it, including a scenic location in the shadow of Los Nevados National Natural Park, a vibrant ambiance, and a host of great amenities. Just be warned that the city has almost as many steep hills as it does coffee shops, something that's given rise to its nickname - the “San Francisco of Colombia”.
9. El Calafate, Argentina
While most of Argentina is off-limits to those who hate humid climates, the southern corner boasts enough dry areas to suit even the most humid-phobic among us. Overlooked by the breathtaking glacier of Perito Moreno and offering more than enough indoor and outdoor pursuits to keep the whole family happy, there's plenty about the small town of El Calafate to pull you in.
8. Armenia, Colombia
Armenia is as far removed from the tourist trail as it's possible to be, making it perfect for anyone who wants to experience authentic Colombian culture without an army of tourists getting in the way. With a low cost of living (expect to pay around $500 per month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in the most desirable area of the city and less than $300 for a one-bedroom apartment in other equally nice but slightly less posh areas), plenty of amenities, and some gorgeous surrounding scenery, it's an attractive proposition for anyone who likes their home town to come cheap, cheerful, and crammed with things to see and do. The climate, meanwhile, is comfortable and consistent - expect plenty of warm days, cool nights, and a lot less humidity than you'd think possible for Colombia.
7. Pereira, Colombia
As the largest of the three cities that make up the Coffee Triangle (eje cafetero), Pereira is a sophisticated, lively city with plenty to recommend it. Home to over 700,000 people, it's got everything you could need to keep you busy from dawn to dusk and back again - cafes, open-air nightclubs, fine dining restaurants, shopping malls, and cultural sights. The health care system and public transportation system are both top-notch, while the cost of living is surprisingly affordable. Job opportunities abound, resulting in an upwardly mobile population and an ever-growing middle class. Meanwhile, its reputation for friendliness has, as pereiracityguide.com notes, earned it the nickname of “The City without Doors.” But best of all is the weather - thanks to its position in the Andes, residents enjoy spring-like weather all year round, with average temperatures that hover consistently in the comfortable mid-70s. Humidity is low, the livability is high, and all in all, this is one very attractive city.
6. Coche Island, Venezuela
Located just south of Margarita, the arid landscape of Coche Island comes as a welcome relief to anyone tired of wiping their brow from the heavy humidity of most of Venezuela's interior. While fishing and salt mining represents the bulk of the industry on the island, the tourist trade has also provided a welcome boost to the economy in recent years. Boasting a great selection of amenities for both tourists and residents alike, it's a place that makes the most of its natural surrounds. If you enjoy water sports, beach-life, and an arid climate, you're going to love Coche Island.
5. Ushuaia, Argentina
Argentina might have a reputation for being hot and humid, but don't overlook it in your search for a low-humidity haven. Thanks to the country's dramatic range of elevations, it boasts enough climates to suit just about every preference possible. For every hotspot, there's a cold, snowy one, and for every region blessed with a tropical climate, there's another one that's more arid than the desert. If you prefer your weather conditions to be mild and on the low-humidity side, the resort town of Ushuaia will go down a treat. But it's not just the climate that's worth writing home about. As well as being able to claim the title of the world's southernmost city, Ushuaia boasts a fabulous range of restaurants, promenades, waterfront cafes, and charming little boutiques. Thanks to its location near Isla Yécapasela (or “Penguin Island”, as it's known for very obvious reasons), it offers just as much for lovers of the great outdoors as it does for those who prefer their amusements to come with four walls and a door.
4. Antofagasta, Chile
As expedia.com notes, the Atacama Desert is said to be one of the driest in the world. It stands to reason, then, that the towns and cities scattered along its length don't have much to worry about in terms of humidity. Lively, sun-scorched Antofagasta is one such city. Unburdened with the excesses of the tourism trade, it's as an authentic a slice of Chilean life as you're likely to stumble across. Crammed with fascinating architecture, lively bars, and local businesses, the city offers up a distinctive taste of everyday life that's hard not to love.
3. Arica, Chile
Arica is a bustling port city with a population of 222,619 in northern Chile's Arica y Parinacota Region. Located just 11 miles south of the border with Peru, it boasts a mild climate (so mild, in fact, that it's earned the nickname of "city of the eternal spring") and one of the lowest annual rainfall rates in the world. Served by both an international airport and the Pan-American Highway, it offers excellent commuting, an abundance of job opportunities, and more great beaches, cultural sights, and recreational pursuits than you'll know what to do with.
2. Calama, Chile
As The Lonely Planet notes, Calama may seem drab and gritty on the surface, but spend some time here and you'll soon discover why it's considered the pride and joy of northern Chile. The economy is buoyant, the lifestyle is relaxed, and there's plenty of amenities to serve its ever-growing population. Thanks to its desert position, humidity is next to zero.
1. Copiapó, Chile
Located in the fertile Copiapó River valley, Copiapó is a desert oasis that also happens to be one of Northern Chile's most important mining towns. With history for miles, culture for days, and enough modern conveniences to keep you well supplied in creature comforts, it's a distinctive, vibrant city with one of the lowest humidity levels in the entire country.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn