By Felicia Bryson, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Just a couple of weeks after Brazilian security forces took over nine favelas surrounding the Rio neighborhood of Santa Teresa, residents now await a real estate valuation, which is said to increase the area’s property value by around 30 percent within the next three months.

Real Estate for sale already in Santa Teresa
Real Estate for sale already in Santa Teresa, photo by Felicia Bryson.

According to vice president of the Real Estate Market Association (Ademi), Rubem Vasconcellos, Santa Teresa, popular with artists, musicians and tourists alike could experience a property boom similar to the one which took place in Rio’s Tijuca neighborhood after a UPP (Police Pacification Unit) was established there in May 2010.

With its cobbled and winding roads, many of the old colonial buildings in Santa Teresa still stand, reminding of a once wealthier era, which residents hope to see revived again. However, some local homeowners fear that the implementation of UPPs will only disperse and relocate crime, forcing criminals operating in favelas encircling Santa Teresa to obtain money through other means.

“People around here are talking about it a lot. It would be good if prices went up, but it will also be a problem as they (drug dealers) will have to find a different way to make money. No one knows how effective this government program will be. Only time will tell.”, says Lucas Gabriel Nunes de Oliveira, referring to the attempt by the government to enforce public order.

Alexandre Magno, who recently bought a house on one of the main streets in Santa Teresa says that he does not feel safer or unsafer since the presence of the UPPs, but is concerned with the youngsters who were involved in drug crime: “I am curious to see what will happen without the drug business … They will need support.”

A quiet cobble-stone street in Santa Teresa
A quiet cobble-stone street in Santa Teresa, photo by Felicia Bryson.

Alda Maria Talavera Campos, the owner of a small confectionery, Alda Maria Doces Portugueses, has been a Santa Teresa resident for 20 years and although she has always felt safe sleeping with open windows at night, knows that other residents haven’t.

Houses and apartments that previously stood empty because they were situated close to favelas and were subjected to frequent clashes between the police and traffickers, are now inhabited again.

“The value of houses will certainly rise. I am sure of that. There are people who have been waiting to sell their houses for a very long time”, she says.

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games looming, the city of Rio, which lost its capital status to Brasilia in 1960, has since experienced a large decline in security and therefore also in attracting business to the area. The government’s overall aim is to rid its neighborhoods of drug gangs, making them safer and more appealing to residents, visitors and investors.


  1. Increased real-estate values are great for those who own their properties… but what about those of us who rent..? The rental market is becoming more and more difficult each month. A friend of mine who lives there in Santa pays R$800… but his landlord will now up the rent to R$1200 because of the UPPs.

    These guys quoted here make valid points about how unemployed ex-trafficantes will now seek other means of income. At least the trafficantes contained their crimes within the favelas – now it will relocate to the streets…

    Regardless, Santa Teresa is an incredible neighborhood… with it’s preservation of historic architecture. I wish other parts of RJ had been preserved in such a way… instead of demolishing everything to construct hideous high-rise condominiums…

  2. Diego ,
    unfortunatley renting market in rio is crazy i looked for an apartment for 3 months before i found anything and apartmens are old, nasty some of them in unlivible conditions and the rent they ask for is unreal. I rent one in sao conrado for 3500 a month. Finally i just bought one in barra if i am going to pay all this money atleast i owned at the and.

  3. Do a search on this site and you will find an article on buying apartments in Rio/Santa Teresa with specific agents listed.
    Good Luck!

  4. Well i agree with you diego. Having lived here in Rio four years it is unbelievable to see what has happened to the price of living. My suco in general osorio has gone up from 2.90 in 2007 to 4.50. My room rent in santa teresa went up from 900 to 1800 reais with no explanation other than ‘olimpiadas, copa, UPP’. The landlord couldn’t even look me in the face as he said it.

    Someone tried to charge me 3000 reais per month for a conjugado in Ipanema and when i said she must be joking and that I used to pay 1500, she replied that ‘now rio is more expensive than london or new york.’
    The problem is….Rio is NOT london or New York. Yes it is a spectacular city that i love dearly and I have made it my home and my girlfriend is carioca but Rio, as wonderfully naturally beautiful it is, has a long long long way to go before being as well presented and maintained as other world capitals.

    On top of these price hikes is a total crash of the pound and dollar. The ‘super real’ is slaying we foreigners left right and centre, having doubled in strength. I honestly do feel happy for all the brazilians now requesting passports and using their currency overseas. But, anyone coming from abroad thinking Brazil is cheap has another thing coming..

    Asides from foreigners, people here are also watching in utter awe how prices of housing doubles, triples, quadruples. All of the people who don’t have housing are feeling the pain.
    Personally I have been looking for an old house to renovate and live in. NOT as an investor or speculator, but as my home, as I am an immigrant. Every 10k reais I save the house I want goes up 20k reais or 30k.

    never before in my life have i seen such a huge jump in so little time. As for 30% rise for implanting a police force? That is pure caracas. Please, without seeming sinister I don’t believe the UPP’s will help security, they will just aggravate crime just as america’s war on terror has made terror more inevitable. Where was the police in morro das prazeres for the last 40 years?


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