By Lenora Deslandes, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Roommates require tolerance, synergy, and more often than not, youth. It seems the primary reason for living with roommates is the financial benefit, splitting the cost of common rooms and utility bills. When moving to a new city though, or a new country, having roommates can also be a way to establish a new network of friends.
Finding that room in a shared apartment in Rio is not a simple task though, and one of the few options in English is Craigslist.org. Unfortunately a lot of the ads posted there are targeting naive, and presumably wealthy tourists, so the financial benefits can be limited. Searching in Portuguese is the cheaper alternative, though admittedly not the easier one.
MoraComigo.com.br and EasyQuarto.com.br are the most widely used by locals. An Internet search in Portuguese, something like “quartos para alugar, Rio” (rooms to rent, Rio) will result in several other options.
On these websites one can find both people who are looking for a room and people who have a room available, information about pricing and included amenities. Contact information can be more complicated. EasyQuarto, for example, will let you send someone a message through the website. If you are not a paying member however, you cannot read the response when it arrives. Sometimes people will post their phone numbers or emails right in the ad, which makes things significantly easier.
Easy Quarto offers the most options, although it is not very user friendly a search can be filtered according to neighborhood and price range. With a free membership, you will receive daily emails with all of the newest posts added which match your criteria. Other websites, like MoraComigo, have fewer options but are worth checking for new posts.
There is availability for entire apartments, for rooms to rent with-in an apartment and still some offer what they describe as a “space” divided with the others living in the apartment. Rooms are available in a variety of living situations. The most common are single older adults renting out one or several rooms, a family renting out a room for extra income, or students and young professionals looking to split the rent.
Would be renters should be cautious that they understand what they are agreeing to when renting a room. One woman who is offering a room in Copacabana for R$800, in the apartment where she lives with her daughter and nine year old grandson had several demands of the would be renter: “ You’re welcome to use the microwave to heat up food but you can’t cook, the living room is for family use only and the bathroom across the hall will be for your exclusive use unless I have guests over.”
On average, a single room, furnished, including Internet and use of a laundry machine, ranges from around R$500 a month to about R$900 a month depending on the neighborhood in which it is located. Of course there are some offers that are cheaper and many that are more expensive. There are short-term and long-term rentals available. Many short-term rentals require at least a month long commitment and others require more.
If using a Brazilian website seems too daunting, another option is networking. Speaking to people who already live here is a favorite method of many foreigners on the search. For Damian O’Donnell of Ireland, who has been living here since January, this fact became clear once he arrived here, “I did an enormous amount of research before I came to Rio. To source an apartment isn’t difficult, but to get ripped off is easy. When I arrived in Rio I realized that word of mouth was a cheaper [if] more unreliable route.”
Another option is checking the listings in the Classifieds section of a local newspaper. Significant money can be saved with some research, a Portuguese/English dictionary and maybe some help from a native Portuguese speaker. Francesca Siad, a Canadian living in Botafogo, agrees “I’m leaving soon, but if I could do it again, I would search for a room on Portuguese sites.”