I read that both 活 and 住 both refer to the verb "to live". Is there a difference between the two?
1I think it serves if you are to look up the definition of to live. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/live . Once you understand the difference between the different senses of to live, you will naturally understand the difference between 活 and 住.– deutschZuidAug 27, 2012 at 23:28
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.
活 means "live" in the sense of being alive, while 住 means "live" in the sense of "to reside."