By Lauren Vita Sgarlato, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With living costs skyrocketing in Rio in recent years, for many it is time to consider options beyond Zona Sul (South Zone). Much more affordable real estate can be found in Zona Norte (North Zone) which is quickly becoming more appealing, and with its tremendous size come many options for places to live.
Zona Norte consists of four zones (Tijuca and surroundings, and Zona Norte 1, 2, and 3) with a total of 96 bairros, and considering the general lack of tourists, many feel it has a more pure Brazilian soul. While some areas may be dangerous and are not recommended for gringos, some are beautiful, safe and full of life.
The most popular areas catering to the middle and upper-middle classes are Alto da Boa Vista, Tijuca, Grajaú, Maracanã, Méier, and Jardim Guanabara. São Cristóvão is another popular bairro, which accommodates more of the middle and lower-middle class residences.
The most popular and largest bairro of Zona Norte is Tijuca, which is so large that it alone makes up a Zone with its surrounding neighborhoods, such as Alto da Boa Vista, Maracanã, Grajaú, Vila Isabel and Andaraí. It is also the only bairro that gives a name to its residents, and Tijucanos and Tijucanas could not be more proud.
Home to some of the best samba schools, Salgueiro and Unidos da Tijuca, only three stops on the metro line 1 (and another underway) from Maracanã, Floresta da Tijuca and even a SESC, it makes sense why prices are high.
Example: This one-bedroom unfurnished apartment of 40m² costs R$1,100, which isn’t so much different than some apartments in Zona Sul.
Jardim Guanabara, in the region of Ilha do Governador, has the highest income level in Zona Norte and therefore generally lacks favelas. It is the most luxurious and most valued bairro in Zona Norte. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it ranks the third best on the HDI (Human Development Index), right behind Leblon and Gávea.
Jardim Guanabara even has its own beach, Praia da Bica, with the busiest nightlife in the area. There may not be a metro or SuperVia, but there are plenty of buses going in and out of this bairro.
Example: This two bedroom unfurnished apartment of 92m² costs R$1,900. Apartments come large, and renting a large house or mansion isn’t unusual.
Most already know of São Cristóvão because of two places, the Feira Nordestina de São Cristóvão and Jardim Zoológico. Most residents of this bairro are from the middle-low class, but this is currently changing for the better. Its location is easily reached by metro on the green line (line 2), being only one stop away from Centro, which makes São Cristóvão a lot more desirable.
Example: This three bedroom unfurnished apartment of 120m² costs R$1,600, which is more than half the size of an apartment in Zona Sul at this price and much cheaper than those mentioned above.
There are two sides to the bairro of Méier: a hectic, busy side in the area near rua Dias da Cruz and a tranquil side around the internal streets. It has a similar vibe to its neighbor, Tijuca. While Méier isn’t part of the metro system, it is part of the SuperVia, making life more convenient for residents.
“Méier is the pride of the suburbs and of the suburbans,” quoted famous author Lima Barreto in “Feiras e Mafuás.” Rent prices are much more reasonable here.
Example: This two bedroom unfurnished apartment of 82m² costs only R$900.
Prices do not include condo fees and taxes, or the “seguro fiança,” a type of renter’s insurance often required for long-term leases that can be equal to two or three month’s rent and paid upfront.