By Teresa Geer, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Vargem Grande is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro with a 39 percent price hike in properties this year and new condos being developed on a regular basis. Its popularity for local home buyers is based on its relatively easy access to the city via the highway, as well as the untouched natural surroundings.
The 2010 census showed a growth in population in the area from 9,306 inhabitants in 2000 to 14,039 in 2010, with the wider Zona Oeste (West Zone) of Rio having a 150 percent growth in population.
“The increase is a lot, to get an idea, the average value per square meter in Rio de Janeiro is about fifteen percent per year. This shows once again that Rio is going through this phenomenon of decentralization,” says Eduardo Zylberstajn from FipeZap.
Two decades ago the region was the preferred host for vacation homes. Today, according to the Association of Directors of Corporate Real Estate Market (Ademi-RJ), the region registers an increase of twenty percent real estate growth and is one of the most sought after neighborhoods in western Rio.
“Vargem Grande has many valued properties, but they have a specific type of buyer; normally those who already live in the west, or those coming from outside the city of Rio de Janeiro. With the recent ‘boom’ of real estate in the region, sales are rising in new houses as well as the older, more spacious houses – something increasingly rare in the city.” Comments local estate agent and Vargem Grande resident of ten years Jorge Corrêa of Jorge Corrêa.
The region, originally covered by sugar cane and coffee fields in the 19th Century, began its urban transformation in the 1990’s when the Rua Guaratiba was paved – providing easy access to and from the city. Vargem Grande is now considered as a natural expansion of the city, with the progressive reduction of land supply in neighboring Barra da Tijuca and Recreio.
“Being the only area of town with room to grow is the main explanation for the migration of the population” According to the head of state from the IBGE unit (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) in Rio, Romualdo Rezende.
Vargem Grande poses a strong option for those looking to live a better quality of life, but do not necessarily desire to live in a beach area. Home to the largest urban forest in the world, the Pedra Branca State Park, covering an expansive 12,500 hectares.
The forest offers visitors rainforest trails, waterfalls and plenty of outdoors activities including, rocking climbing and mountain biking. “It is a region where the green is still preserved and relatively close to the edge of the Recreio and Grumari” said the municipal secretary of Urbanism, Sérgio Dias.
The attraction of Zona Oeste also lies in the fact that it still has large areas and space for new ventures and is currently the construction site of the Olympic Village and the sports facilities for the 2016 Games. With the lack of space for large projects in other areas of the city and the skyrocketing real estate prices in neighborhoods that have good urban structure, the area is increasingly attracting the locals.