I read that both 活 and 住 both refer to the verb "to live". Is there a difference between the two?
Yes. The two words are actually applied differently.
活 is applied in a more abstract sense. Such as to live in fear (活在恐惧之中), to live in this world (活在这世上). This has more to do with survival or staying alive.
住 is applied in a physical sense. Such as to live in this house (住在这屋里), to live in this place (住在这地方). "Stay" would be a good alternative to "live" for better clarity of the meaning. This has more to do with accomodation.