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Finding suitable accommodation in Rio de Janeiro will likely be a daunting task for new arrivals. Although there is a wide variety of housing to choose from, space is limited in this bustling metropolis and finding a home in a sought-after area of Rio can be challenging.
Areas and suburbs in Rio de Janeiro
Divided into four districts, Rio de Janeiro's areas and suburbs are home to diverse neighbourhoods, and expats from all walks of life can find something perfectly suited to their preferences and budget.
Young professionals and single expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding accommodation in Rio de Janeiro. As the city claims the title of the entertainment capital of Brazil, there are plenty of neighbourhoods with access to nightlife and entertainment spots. Suburbs such as the world-famous Copacabana, Ipanema, Jardim Botanica and Lapa are fantastic options for young expats.
Expat families will be well-catered for in the suburbs of Lagoa, Flamengo, Santa Teresa, Botafago and Leblon. While some of these areas may be on the luxury end, they boast excellent amenities, public transport access and proximity to some of Rio's top international schools.
See the page on Areas and Suburbs in Rio de Janeiro for more detail on the best areas to live in the city.
Types of accommodation in Rio de Janeiro
Property in Rio ranges from apartments to condominiums and houses with gardens. The majority of expats live in apartment blocks or closed condominiums with on-site facilities such as swimming pools, gyms and 24-hour security.
Most accommodation in Rio is rented unfurnished: this may even include the absence of light fittings and basic kitchen appliances. Generally, the standard of accommodation in Rio is exceptional, particularly at newer establishments. Apartments in newer blocks and condominiums are usually quite large.
The cost of accommodation in Rio can vary depending on the area and amenities available. Accommodation in the more popular expat-friendly neighbourhoods is typically costly. The proximity of accommodation to Rio's city centre and beaches will influence the cost of rent. The closer one is to the city centre or beaches, the more one will often pay.
Finding accommodation in Rio de Janeiro
Rentals are frequently advertised in local newspapers and classifieds. Several online portals specialise in rental properties in Rio de Janeiro, with websites in Portuguese largely offering accommodation at better prices than English websites that are aimed at foreigners. Word-of-mouth and networking are good ways to find accommodation in Rio de Janeiro.
It may also be useful to work through a rental agent who will be able to provide listings of appropriate properties. They can also negotiate with the landlord and will understand all the legalities involved.
Renting accommodation in Rio de Janeiro
Most property owners and landlords are unlikely to speak English, and it's a good idea to take a friend or trusted colleague who can speak Portuguese along to assist with the negotiations.
Making an application
Expats looking to rent accommodation in Rio de Janeiro must provide numerous certified documents such as their work permit, proof of income and Brazilian social security number. Those without a formal or sufficient income, such as retirees or students, will need to find someone to act as a guarantor or fiador.
Leases and deposits
Leases in Rio are usually signed for a 30-month period. Shorter-term options are available though, and landlords are sometimes willing to negotiate. A deposit equivalent to one to three months' rent is normally expected, and landlords are legally obligated to put it in an interest-bearing account for tenants to get back at the end of their lease.
See Accommodation in Brazil for more detail on the leases and rental process in Brazil.
Electricity and other utilities are often excluded from the rental price and need to be paid on top of the monthly rental. The tenant is usually responsible for organising utility accounts with their local municipality.
Expats who have hired a real estate agent can get assistance from them with getting utilities connected. In some cases, the administration department of a particular apartment building or housing complex will help new tenants with this.
Electricity and gas
Light is the main electricity provider in Rio de Janeiro, and expats moving into detached homes will typically need to contract a private agency to assist them with the electricity connection process. The electrician can assist expats with generating a residence evaluation report, which includes information on what kind of meter has been installed on the property as well as the number of outlets.
The residence evaluation report can then be submitted along with original and certified copies of the expats' CPF number and proof of identity, such as their passport or Registro Nacional de Estrangeiro (RNE). This can be done in person or online. Expats moving into an apartment or condominium will have their electricity connected by the building management. Electricity bills are typically distributed and paid monthly via direct debit or at the bank.
Most homes in Rio de Janeiro use gas for cooking, and it is usually sold in tanks in the city. Liquigás and Ultragaz are among the biggest bottled gas providers in the city.
Water can only be connected and disconnected by property owners in Brazil. Sabesp supplies the water in Rio, and while the water is officially considered safe to drink, most expats filter it.
New arrivals renting an apartment will have their water connected by building management, and the cost will be included in the condominium charge. Those moving into a standalone residential property must contact Sabesp's customer service to add their name to the bill and get connected. Expats will need to provide the agent with their CPF and RNE numbers, and they will ensure their services are connected. Sabesp also has English-speaking operators and staff on-site.
Bins and recycling
Waste management in Rio de Janeiro is managed by the city's waste collection utility, Comlurb. As is the case in the rest of Brazil, waste collection in Rio de Janeiro is based on a curbside system.
Residents are required to separate their waste into transparent bags with recyclable, general and food waste sorted into individual bags. Comlurb will then collect the waste on designated days. Expats can visit Comlurb's website and enter their street address to find their specific rubbish collection day and route.
Rio also has private recycling centres dotted throughout the city that form part of the city's informal waste management network. Informal waste collectors, catadores, also play an increasingly important role in driving recycling in Rio de Janeiro.
"I find rent prices very high here. Generally, apartments come unfurnished and Cariocas are generally quite happy to do some improvement work on an apartment when they move. I think this is more difficult for the expat as they are generally here for a fixed and relatively short period of time and are thus less inclined to invest in home improvements. It can be very difficult to find an apartment that is ready to move into." Read more about Irish expat Niamh's experiences in Rio.
Are you an expat living in Rio de Janeiro?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rio de Janeiro. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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