By Lindsay Spratt, Sub Editor

Copacabana apartment view, photo by Lindsay Spratt.
Copacabana apartment view, photo by Lindsay Spratt.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Finding an apartment can be difficult in any major city, whether it is a holiday rental or longer-term.  Rio has a lot to offer both tourists and those coming to spend months or years in the Marvelous City, but there are some important cautions to heed before ringing up the nearest realtor, which The Gringo Times has carefully detailed for you in this guide.

If you are looking for a holiday rental, an apartment offers more independence than hotels and hostels, with the option of preparing home-cooked meals, either for purposes of intimacy or to save money on costly Rio restaurant bills. The cheapest type of apartment you will find in Rio is known as a conjugado (studio) and consists of an open-plan apartment often with only basic kitchen utilities, and the most expensive are luxurious penthouses with sea-views and swimming pools.

The majority of holiday rentals are found in Ipanema and Copacabana as they are closest to the most popular beaches and New Year’s festivities.  An important thing to keep in mind is that apartments over New Year and Carnival book up very quickly, and to secure your first choice of property you will need to start looking in May or June the year before.

Recommended websites offering holiday rentals include, who offer one-bedroom apartments and luxurious penthouses with swimming pools.  Prices are on request.  Another useful site is who offer a two-week package for three to four people in a one-bedroom apartment in Copacabana for R$110 per night.

For those looking to rent longer-term in Rio, the classifieds section in O Globo newspaper is the first port of call, with the Sunday edition offering the most extensive selection.  The preferred method of contact is by telephone as apartments are often advertized, shown and rented in the same day.  There are also various websites such as O Globo’s online classifieds zap and olx, aluguetemporada and imovelweb.

There are two main options for renting long-term in Rio.  The first is with a yearly or thirty-month contract.  This is the most economic way to rent but bear in mind that the apartment normally comes unfurnished.  The snag with this type of rental, apart from the hefty deposit, is that you need a fiador.  This is someone who owns property in Rio de Janeiro state legally responsible for the conditions stipulated in your rental contract if you fail to pay or damage the property. 

As with holiday rentals, the most expensive neighborhoods are Ipanema, Leblon and Copacabana, and we may add Lagoa and Urca to this list.  More affordable properties can be found in Botafogo, Flamengo, Humaitá, Santa Teresa, Glória, Catete and Barra da Tijuca. 

The other option for long-term rentals is to rent by season, known as ‘por temporada’.  This will involve a contract lasting between one and three months and may be renewable for years, at the owner’s discretion.  A pitfall for this type of rental is the possibility of the price increasing from December to March, by up to R$500.  If you are not willing to pay this inflation then it is a good idea to ask about the owner’s policy in the first call, to avoid viewing apartments you would dismiss on this basis.

This is in fact where a good grasp of Portuguese will come in very useful.  When you inquire about an apartment, you should prepare a list of your necessities such as a four-ring stove-top with oven, and only visit properties you know to have these facilities.  If you don’t like noise, check the apartment is not facing a main road, and if the price seems suspiciously low it may be near a favela. 

Expect to pay up to R$2,500 for a furnished, one-bedroom apartment in Ipanema or Leblon, R$1,800 in Copacabana, R$1,500 in Botafogo and R$1,000 in Santa Teresa.

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  1. I think that the Prices given there are far to generous if you want to be lucky enough to find some thing thats up to western standers.
    If you are looking I wish you good luck, as its a nightmare you will see a lot of places that are quite frankly in offensive conditions.

  2. I agree with TJ. I have been apartment hunting for some time now and the prices are only getting steeper and steeper in Zona Sul (the region where the neighbourhoods are located in as mentioned in this article) as the summer months are fast approaching and because, in the first place, the demand is high and the supply is low. I have visited several dumps which simply based on hygiene (not to mention poor to no maintenance) should not be allowed to be rented out.

  3. As foreigner i have rented some apartmen ts in Ipanema – from year to year more expensive, some with really low quality in furiture and kitchen. Now having an own apartment for rent in Ipanema I see the demand for nice places. They are somtimes rare.

  4. I had similar experience recently, the apartments were not the ones actually shown on the website, and there were a couple of scams where people were wanting to courier keys from Nigeria or the UK for us to view places advertised for rent!

    However, we found a great place on craigs list, offered what we could afford which was R300 less than the advertised price and we have a lovely one bed roomed place in copa for R1500. It took a lot of effort and we saw loads of places.

    Hope others are as lucky as us.

  5. “Expect to pay up to R$2,500 for a furnished, one-bedroom apartment in Ipanema or Leblon”????? WHERE?! I’d say about 3x that amount if you’re looking for something up to par with Western standards. I have to agree with TJ as well; the best word I can use to describe my experience in searching for reasonably-priced, quality apartments in Zona Sul is a NIGHTMARE. Any further help/recommendations would be tremendously appreciated!

  6. We had to settle getting an empty place in Copacabana which we found by trawling the dirty streets asking porter after porter.
    I would suggest buying your own furniture if you can justify doing so, this is what we had to do.
    After moving to our apartment every thing that could brake in an empty apartment broke, we have nearly been here 1 year and have had broken air-con, broken electric box that had to be re-wired(could have set the whole place alight and killed us)
    Leaking toilet ceiling, shower that is just plane week and cheap…
    And to top it all off our toilet has just started leaking and is flowing downwards about 4 floors was promised a plumber on Monday and have herd nothing since.(have to turn the stop tap on and off every time we wanna use water).
    The only good thing to happen out of all of this is our land lady has had to pay for the lot as we didn’t have to put down a deposit as we came to an agreement to pay every 3 months rent up front.
    Renting in Rio?……..GOOD LUCK TO YOU :-)

  7. In Rio prices vary significantly depending on the season. New Year and Carnival you will never find anything cheap at all. Also during brazilian holidays (x-mas, easter, bank-holidays etc.) Brazilians from other regions are heading to Rio and prices are several times higher than during low seasons. Rio is very lively between New Year’s Eve and Carnival, but also much more expensive. If you already came to Rio for a Carnival (that is certainly a must regardless of the price) you should plan to travel to Rio in OCT/NOV or APR/MAY, where it is much calmer and cheaper but the weather is anyway like in European summers. During these periods you might find acceptable standard for appr. BRL 2.000 also in Ipanema, if you know a local agency. There are significant price differences between agencies that usually workwith foreigners and agencies that are specialized in Brasilian tourists. It’s always a plus if you have a Carioca friend helping you with the search. If you like Ipanema for a cheaper price you should search in the area between Ipanema of Copacabana and Ipanema (near Rua Bulhões de Carvalho). Some Cariocas would advice you that that region is dangerous due to a nearby favela, but the situation improved since the Ipanema metro station General Osório is in function, which is actually around the corner. The metro is still one of the safest means of transport in Rio.

  8. Muito legal pessoal. Aproveito para dizer que uma outra novidade é que caso alguém esteja procurando imóveis de Alto Padrão no Rio de Janeiro, vale a pena procurar a Alto Padrão Rio. Eu mesmo vendi minha casa na Barra da Tijuca pra comprar meu apartamento em Ipanema com eles – recomendo mesmo! O site deles é o – Pode dizer que fui eu quem indiquei!


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