By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Growing businesses, beautiful beaches and affordable housing have many home-buyers taking a closer look at Niterói, the city across the bay. Accessible from Rio via the Rio-Niteroi bridge and two ferry services, Niterói is perhaps best known for its iconic landmark, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea (The Contemporary Art Museum).
Yet a deeper look reveals that it is a sprawling city of its own with almost 500,000 inhabitants. Divided into five main regions that contain a total of 48 different neighborhoods, Niterói offers varied types of housing.
Everything from beachfront homes to high-rise apartments to plots of land to build your own dream home upon are available and often listed with comparably lower prices than similar properties in Rio de Janeiro.
“As a Carioca, I was really hesitant to live there,” says Andrea Santos, who relocated to Niterói last year because of work. “It really grew on me over time, though. In some ways it can be a slower lifestyle but in others it’s just as hectic and lively.”
One region great for prospective home buyers is that of Oceânica, with its seven separate neighborhoods of Itaipu, Engenho do Mato, Cafubá, Piratininga, Itaquatiara, Jacaré and Camboinhas. With diverse lifestyles and communities, the housing prices can vary throughout the larger region.
In the gated middle to upper class neighborhood of Camboinhas, where buses only stop near the gate and do not circulate through the streets, there is a separation of commercial and noncommercial property, which gives the neighborhood a noticeably different feel.
The noncommercial areas consist of mostly houses all on or in close proximity to the rarely crowded Camboinhas beach. A three bedroom home can be found there for R$430,000 with bigger, beachfront properties staring around R$1 million.
Also a middle to upper class neighborhood, Itaquatiara features a beautiful beach with its rougher Atlantic waves attracting surfers year round. Made up of mostly houses often with backyards, the neighborhood has one entrance and private security patrolling the streets 24 hours a day.
Houses here start around R$800,000 and often go for prices the millions. Smaller homes, apartments and duplexes with proximity to the beach are available from R$250,000 and up depending on square footage and locations.
The Oceânica neighborhoods of Itaipu and Piratininga also offer greener surroundings with even more affordable home prices. There are several three bedroom homes currently selling between R$250,000 and R$350,000.
For those who would prefer to buy an apartment on the Guanabara Bay, there are the neighborhoods of Icaraí and São Francisco. Icarai offers more of an older Rio feel while São Francisco has a vibrant nightlife and dining scene. Apartments in both neighborhoods can be found for between R$400,000 and R$600,000 but for views across the bay the prices currently start around R$900,000.
One drawback the prospective and current homeowners might find about living inside Niterói is the commute across the Rio-Niterói bridge. During heavily congested times, it can take hours to get from central Rio to central Niterói. The ferry services do offer a faster option but can become overcrowded.
Some commuters with the means choose to have two homes, one in Rio where they spend the weekdays and the other in Niteroi for weekends. Also, there are numerous growing businesses in Niterói, so a long commute might not be an obstacle for some. “I live and work in Niterói now,” says Santos. “It’s different, but good. It’s a different kind of marvelous.”