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.
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.
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!”