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By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The real estate market in Rio de Janeiro is rather active and fast. While some apartments stay empty for months, the more popular ones can rent out within minutes after the visitation, so many times one has to act fast to secure a nice place to live in.

Zona Sul's high rise apartments, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Zona Sul is the most popular area to live among foreigners, photo by Fernanda Maia/Riotur.

The decision in which part of town to live in can be decided by the preference of location, some want to stay close to the beach as in Ipanema or Leblon and others choose to live in the more bohemian or traditional neighborhoods, like Santa Teresa and Botafogo.

However, more often than not, the decision where to live is a question of budget as rental prices within the city differ considerably between bairros (neighborhoods).

The most expensive areas, but also the most sought-after are certainly Leblon and Ipanema. They are followed in price segment by Gávea, Lagoa and Jardim Botânico. Copacabana, Botafogo and Flamengo are in Zona Sul’s (South Zone) midfield, whereas Santa Teresa and Tijuca are more economical alternatives.

Before starting to look at apartments, it is advisable to make sure to have all the necessary documents ready and most rental agencies’ requirements fulfilled in order to make a successful bid to the desired apartment. The requirements usually include having a CPF (tax number), a bank account in Brazil, having a fiador (guarantor) or being ready to take out a “seguro fiança”, a non-refundable 1-3months deposit or insurance policy, which unfortunately for foreigners is not accepted by all rental agencies.

The largest offer of apartments can certainly be found on the Zap homepage. The site lists apartments all over the city and the Metropolitan area and also is leader in real estate statistics based on the ads placed on the page. As of today it lists 7,742 apartments for Rio de Janeiro alone.

Temporary apartment available in Arpoador, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
View from a two bedroom apartment in Arpoador, photo courtesy of RioExclusive.

On Zap one can filter for location, price, size and even special amenities such as a swimming pool or a party room. It is important to note how long ads have already been on the site, as popular apartments can rent out very fast and it might not be worth it to look at older placements.

Another way to find an apartment is to walk into one of the big rental agencies, such as Apsa or Julio Bogoricin. They can inform you immediately of apartments available and sometimes give the keys to have a look at them or will schedule a visit.

The third way is the old fashioned way of looking at newspaper ads. This is not necessarily less successful than the other two methods, as many Brazilians prefer to post their places in renowned newspapers, such as O Globo’s Sunday paper and apartments found there might have less suitors than those posted online.

Also, when finding find a building to one’s taste, it is worth asking the doorman if there are other apartments available in the same building, some of which might not even have been advertised yet.

One struggle is that with all methods described here, it is usually necessary to call the party advertising an apartment, most of which don’t speak any English. However, even with a little Portuguese one can usually fight the way through and get a visitation appointment.

Most apartments in Rio are rented for a standard 30-month period (with a fine if cut short) and contain no furniture or appliances (such as stove, fridge and most times even the kitchen cupboards). The rental prices advertised can be negotiated a bit, especially if the place had been empty for a while, but usually the condominium fee and IPTU tax that are added monthly to the rent are fixed.

Finding a home in Rio can be difficult and tiresome, but with a little patience and determination one can find a nice, homely apartment in the desired neighborhood.

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