Lovers of relaxing beach days and wild nightlife alike dream of living in Rio de Janeiro. Known as one of the most famous cities in South America (if not the world), as the city develops infrastructure for businesses and more modern apartments, more and more expats are flocking to Brazil.
Luckily, moving to the “marvelous city” (as it’s called by the locals) won’t hurt your wallet too much; in fact, it’s pretty affordable. An upscale, one bedroom apartment in the city rents for just 2,164 BRL on average, and the price of fresh foods and nightlife is equally cheap.
Whether you’re moving to start a job or a business or just to enjoy the sunshine, one of the biggest hurdles can be finding an apartment. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know in order to find a great place to rent in Rio.
For the most part, the only type of housing you’ll find in central Rio are apartments. That being said, there’s something for everyone, from cozy studios to massive, multi-bedroom shares.
Most of the time long-term rentals are going to come unfurnished, so it’s a good idea to work some furniture into your budget. Short term residences, on the other hand, almost always come with plenty of furniture, appliances and housewares intact.
If you’re trying to save some money, it’s pretty common to rent just a room in an apartment, which you then share with roommates. These types of situations are ideal for students and singles, but are usually a bad choice for families and couples.
Where you should look for an apartment in Rio is completely dependent on what type of lifestyle you’re looking for, as each neighborhood has its own vibe and characteristics. Some of the most popular include:
- Botafogo and Flamengo: Despite being less well known than some other neighborhoods, Botafogo and Flamengo are excellent, middle-of-the-road options for lovers of good food and great shopping. Beach lovers beware, as the beaches in this part of town are ok for sunbathing, but the water is too dirty for swimming.
- Lapa: For cheaper rent in an up and coming, vibrant part of the city, check out Lapa. While this is the home of many students and young people, it’s also not known to be the safest, and many consider it to be the far northern edge of where the city goes from good to seriously unsafe.
- Centro: Centro is the main business district in Rio, and as such can seem a little lackluster compared to the beaches and nightlife of Ipanema or Copacabana. That being said, it’s a comfortable place to live with decent rent prices and good access to the rest of the city.
- Copacabana and Ipanema: If you’re in it for the beach, you belong in Copacabana or Ipanema. These neighborhoods can be fairly expensive to live in thanks to the massive influx of visiting tourists, but many think it’s worth it for the beautiful beaches, bustling nightlife and to mingle with beautiful Brazilian locals.
As is the case in many places, the best way to start searching for an apartment is by doing so online. Easily the most popular option is EasyQuarto, where you’ll find lots of options and get a good feel for the neighborhood. Homes In Rio also has a good selection geared towards foreigners. Meanwhile, Zap has easily the largest number of listed apartments in the area.
If you decide to go the roommate route, on the other hand, the best place to look is good old fashioned Craigslist.
Brazilian Portuguese can be a difficult language to learn, but it’s a good idea to remember a few key terms as you set out on your apartment search. For example, a real estate agent is known as a corretor de imóveis, and a “for rent” sign would say para alugar. Some other key terms include quarto (bedroom), depósito (deposit), and contrato de aluguel (rental contract).
Once you’ve found a place you like, the next step is to sign a rental contract. This should be done before you pay your new landlord your rent or your deposit, to ensure you’re protected. That being said, if you’re going to negotiate your rent price - which is usually a good move - it’s imperative that you do so before you sign your lease.
As is the case in most places, Brazilian landlords will require you to pay a deposit, which will be returned to you when you move out, assuming your apartment is in good condition. These deposits can vary widely, but expect to put down somewhere between one and two months rent.
Usually your landlord will let you pay online, which is a convenient way to take care of your rent. If you’re moving money from your international bank account to your landlord’s Brazilian one, consider using an exchange service like TransferWise to cut down on expensive international transfer fees. TransferWise uses the same real exchange rate you’ll find on Google and applies a low fixed fee.
While no one loves paying brokers fees, working through an agent can help you seriously cut back on the time you spend searching for a place. Some well-reputed companies include:
Overall, renting in Brazil is rewarding, as you get to experience one of the most vibrant cultures in the world. That being said, it’s important to protect yourself as you go through the process. For instance, never pay your landlord before you’ve signed a contract, and never rent an apartment site-unseen. If you can, avoid paying your landlord in cash - it’s much easier to trace an electronic trail if it comes to a dispute.
Otherwise, you’re ready to get started in your search. Good luck on your move to Rio!