I remember having read this question on Reddit a couple of times before but maybe if you’re a digital nomad or just wanna read a book or study there are some places you can go and spend no money.
CORFO is the government’s entrepreneurship office and in their HQ in Santiago they have a library which they rebranded as a collaborative space to work. It’s located in Moneda 921 (Metro U. de Chile). Just tell the receptionist that you wanna go to the library (on the 2nd floor) and show your ID.
PROS: It’s designed for work. It’s free, they have plugs, wifi and you’re not supposed to buy anything to stay there. They have a cafeteria inside.
CONS: It’s the only one from Corfo and people tend to speak louder than in libraries since all the people come here to work. Also, there is not an area for meetings and organizing meetings with outsiders is strictly prohibited.
Biblioteca de Santiago
Located near Quinta Normal station, the park of the same name and Cultural Center Matucana 100 it’s not a business or work space so you will mainly find students inside. The library is meant to be used by everyone however they like and there’s plenty of space. If you wanna read a book or work you can just find a table in one of the six rooms and work there. I recommend the third floor where there are also study rooms that can be requested in case you need some privacy, for instance, for a private video call.
PROS: Plenty of space, comfortable places to sit, lockers, study rooms. A cafeteria down in the first basement. Good place if you don’t need internet all the time.
CONS: Not meant for business work, more of a student/reading place. WIFI works but only for 45 minutes at a time. Environment is noisier than in other places at times.
This one is also a public library but it’s part of the GAM cultural center next to Universidad Católica station almost at the east end of Santiago downtown not far from what’s known as Plaza Italia. This one is more business work friendly although you’ll see a lot of students here as well. The library is located in the building A (the westernmost one) in the third floor (there’s an elevator available).
PROS: Beautiful library, most people go there to study or work, WiFi is not time limited, lockers, plenty of plugs in some tables (check which tables have plugs before sitting down!). People don’t talk much here. Private rooms are available.
CONS: No cafeteria so if you need to eat lunch bring all your stuff with you. Closed on Mondays like most libraries but also on Sundays. Unlike Biblioteca de Santiago, lockers here do need $100 coins to work (important because you can’t get inside with bags).
The public library system in Providencia has several libraries that tend to be very comfortable to study and work although they tend also to be more strict than state libraries and the membership is paid (8000 CLP at the time of writing this article). However, you need the membership only if you are going to take books outside. The main library is located in Providencia and Antonio Bellet but there are a few more that are smaller like the café literario ones (“literary coffee shops”) located in Plaza Balmaceda and Parque Bustamante.
PROS: Several locations in an area where there are not state libraries. Coffee shops in some branches.
CONS: Even just taking a book inside may require an ID verification and silence is enforced strongly.
Info at Biblioteca Providencia.
Biblioteca Viva (Mall Plaza)
This is another library network but this one is private. However, it’s more coworking friendly than the other one having their own space for coworkers in every library with a space, tables and plugs specifically meant to be used with that purpose in mind. The wifi is reliable and you feel comfortable and safe inside.
PROS: It’s free.
CONS: They are only in Mall Plaza shopping centers so if you’re near one of them check if they have a library. The most central location is Mall Plaza Egaña (Ñuñoa) but easy to reach by metro. Another one is Mall Plaza Los Dominicos in Las Condes but they are also available in Puente Alto, La Florida, San Bernardo and Huechuraba.
Other places that are not free but affordable: Cafés
You can choose to work inside a café but not all of them are work friendly:
- Starbucks: There are plenty of these in Santiago, especially in the most commercial and affluent areas. You already know these so I won’t go into details. Store Locator.
- Work/Café: These are coffee shops inside some Santander bank branches. They exist across Chile and they are accessible even if you’re not a customer. You are supposed to eat something but like Starbucks you can stay a long time working. Unlike Starbucks they have private rooms available for booking but apparently you need to be a Santander customer.