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By Stephanie Foden, Contributing Reporter

SALVADOR, BRAZIL – Good news for anyone looking to buy property in Bahia’s sun-soaked capital: Salvador is among one of the cheapest major cities to purchase real estate in Brazil. According to the March 2013 FipeZap index, Salvador’s square meter cost is the fifth least expensive out of the sixteen cities evaluated.

A man walks down the main street of the beautiful Santo Antônio neighborhood, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News.
A man walks down the main street of the beautiful Santo Antônio neighborhood, photo by Stephanie Foden.

FipeZap’s index tracks the price average of real estate per square meter of major cities in Brazil based on their Internet ad database, with a national overall averaging at R$6,612. Not only is Salvador one of the most touristic areas in Brazil, it is also comparatively cheap to other capitals.

Bahia’s capital ranked lower than Brasília, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Florianópolis. It ranks much lower than Rio de Janeiro, the most costly city surveyed, which has a square meter average of R$8,941, more than double that of Salvador’s.

Salvador, Brazil’s third most populous city, has an average square meter cost of R$4,094, about R$1,000 less than other northeastern big cities, like Recife and Fortaleza. While the city has seen a significant 9.7 percent growth in price over the past year, the rise is still smaller than a number of big cities, including Rio’s 14.6 percent increase.

“I was originally planning on starting my business in Rio, but after researching housing prices it was clear that being in Salvador was the safer investment,” said Francisco Garcia, a young business entrepreneur opening a hostel in Salvador’s historic center.

“In Rio, rent prices were six times higher, as I was looking at the most touristic regions, like Ipanema and Leblon, which also happen to be the richest areas. While here in Salvador the neighborhood that attracts the most visitors is the old center, Pelourinho, which is far from being the most expensive area.”

Rooftops of the historic center and surrounding area, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Rooftops of the historic center and surrounding area, photo by Stephanie Foden.

“The prices are going up pretty quickly, especially in the areas that have international interest,” said Douglas Simon, a Salvador-based realtor and owner of the Bahia Property agency. “I would say the prices in Salvador are in the medium range, I wouldn’t say they’re on the lower end. [But] compared to Rio, they’re cheap.”

Salvador has a variety of districts to attract home and apartment buyers, from the bohemian neighborhood of Rio Vermelho to polished Vitória and charming, historic Santo Antônio to the thriving financial district.

The city is gaining international attention as it prepares to host the Confederations Cup in June and next year’s World Cup. Salvador has been constructing its first ever subway system for sixteen years, and the first line is set to be completed just in time for next year’s major football (soccer) event.

“If you are looking at an area in Salvador that is close to the beach with slightly more amenities, then I think the prices are in a medium range, maybe even a medium-high range,” said Simon. “I think the World Cup is going to help the market and I think the market is going to be driven even to the Olympics, even though they’re not [going to be held] up here.”

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