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By Bhamika Bhudia, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the midst of the Olympic and World Cup hype, and with Holiday festivities and Carnival around the corner, the rental market in Rio de Janeiro is tighter then ever this December. Renting an apartment in Rio at the best of times can be a painstaking task, but attempting to do this as the high season arrives is even trickier, with prices soaring and availability rapidly decreasing.

The view from an apartment in Copacabana, photo courtesy of Rio Apartments.

In Brazil to get a long term apartment lease, usually for thirty months, requires a having a guarantor who owns property, as well as a CPF and other documentation that people don’t often have when first arriving. Another option is finding a roommate situation, but of course this doesn’t work for everyone.

Fortunately, according Micheal Thompson (an alias), who has resided in the city for two years, “Finding a temporary apartment is easy because Rio does have the infrastructure – but you have to pay for it.”

Thompson continues, “It is much harder to find an apartment during the months of December to March because it’s the high season and anyone renting an apartment knows that they can charge two to three times more during these months … and many temporary apartments are already booked for New Years and Carnival Weeks.”

This is evident with established temporary rental firms offering two bedroom apartments in the prime location Copacabana, which provides the beach, bars and shopping, for around R$4,000 – R$6,000 per month in the low season compared to R$8,000 – R$10,000 starting in December. One bedroom apartments will be about half this, depending on the specific location and amenities, and of course there are deals to be found with independent vacation homeowners.

Two bedroom apartments in Ipanema, the Cariocas’ preferred choice of beach and rated one of the World’s sexiest beaches by the Travel Channel, can be rented for as much as R$14,000 in December, compared to a low season rate of R$8,000 – R$10,000 per month. Again one bedrooms apartments are proportionally less, with many listings around R$2,500 – R$3,000 per month normally.

A view of the Lagoa from a two bedroom penthouse in Ipanema, photo courtesy of Rio Exclusive.

Leblon, one of the most affluent areas and home to the rich and famous in Rio, has a quieter, more relaxed beach than Ipanema, and consists of cafes, bookshops and an array of sushi restaurants, usually two bedroom temporary apartments rent for around R$9,500 per month but is a whopping R$18,000 in the peak season.

Thompson adds “Most expats want to stay in Ipanema, Leblon, or Copacabana because it has direct access to the beach, restaurants and amenities and is especially helpful for if you don’t know Portuguese, as more people around speak English. If you’re on a budget in the high season though, look for a place in Botafogo or Flamengo because prices there don’t fluctuate as much.”

These areas, which are on the edge of Guanabara Bay, do come at significantly better prices. Flamengo, the middle class residential area close to the center of the city, boasts of stupendous views of Sugar Loaf mountain. It has easy access to the Metro system and is a cheaper alternative to other more popular areas with monthly prices around R$3,500 low and R$6,000 in the high season for a two bedroom temporary apartment. There is a beach in the vicinity but it is unsuitable for swimming due to pollution.

Also on the edge of the bay is Botafogo which encompasses two of the city’s largest shopping malls, Rio Sul and Botafogo Praia Shopping. It has restaurants, cafes, cinemas and museums and like its neighbor has easy access to the Centro and the beaches. At good prices although not as cheap as Flamengo, an apartment in Botafogo is available for R$3,000 – R$5,000 a month in the low season and R$6,000 – R$9,000 in the high.

“If you’re planning to stay in Rio for a year or so, try to negotiate as long a contract as possible,” says Thompson, “get somewhere for a long enough time to average out the high season months. And remember, everything in Rio is negotiable!”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. NEGOTIATE! NEGOTIATE! NEGOTIATE! those are definitely words to live by, because everything in Rio really is negotiable. Owners are not shy at all about asking for some crazy ridiculous price for their rentals. A good cure for that though is to laugh uncontrollably when they tell you the price, leave your contact info, and tell them to call you when they are serious about renting the place at a fair price. I once had an owner contact me only 2 days later offering to rent his apartment for R$1600 less than what he originally asked.

    Also do your homework. Figure out what local Brazilians are paying so you at least have a starting point. Better yet if you have any Brazilian friends have them help you with your search. Ask them to contact the apartments and get prices. This is really helpful because in Rio there is always a normal price and then a “gringo price.”

  2. I agree with Shon Starr, NEGOCIATE!! These “Real Estate Firms” are TOURIST TRAPS such as Rio Exclusive and Rio Apartments! The article doesn’t mention the Airbnb system, which is a great alternative, and where you get a much better value for lower price by renting directly to brazilian owners.
    Also, getting a CPF can be very easily done from any city in the world where there is a Brazilian Consulate, and takes about 5 days with the new printed card.

    Also getting a temporada contract of 89 days max, is VERY EASY. But if you’re looking for the lazy way, and don’t want to look yourself, you can chose tourist traps and pay twice to three times the price!

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