Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro

Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro
Updated 2022-03-25 08:55

With an official population of about seven million people, and almost twice that number in the metro area, Rio de Janeiro is the second-largest Brazilian city, after São Paulo. Nicknamed “The Marvelous City”, Rio de Janeiro also attracts huge numbers of tourists each year. As you'll be competing with many others for accommodation, finding a reasonably-priced place to live in a nice part of the city can be a challenge. But where you live is very important in Rio, so give apartment-hunting the time and effort it deserves. Before beginning your search for accommodation in Rio, first read's Accommodation in Brazil section.

Living in Rio

Rio has long been popular with Brazilians and foreigners alike, drawn by the city's beaches, nightlife, weather, and distinctive flair. For many years, Rio remained relatively inexpensive by world standards. All that changed in 2009, when easier credit coupled with the anticipation of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games led to a sharp increase in real estate and rent prices. While prices have fallen back a bit since late 2016, they remain high, particularly in Zona Sul (South Zone), the desirable section of Rio, which includes Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon.

Here are some important considerations when searching for a place to stay in Rio.

Location is everything

The old axiom in real estate of “location, location, location” is particularly true in Rio. To a large degree, where you live will determine your safety, the time you spend getting about, your social circles, and your overall happiness.

Good accommodation isn't cheap

Expect to devote a higher percentage of your budget to accommodation than you would in other cities. But Rio has inexpensive transport, cheap neighborhood eateries, and many free or low-cost options for entertainment, so don't be reluctant to allocate an extra 5% or even 10% of your total budget to housing. You'll be glad you did.

Access to transport

You'll want to be close to public transportation, a few bus lines at a minimum, but preferably near a metro line. Getting around easily will save you lots of time and also keep you safe.

Personal safety and security

Safety is a concern in most large cities, and Rio is no exception. With the current economic crisis in Brazil, crime rates are up. Live in the best area you can afford.

Also, keep in mind that the profile of a neighborhood can be markedly different at night from during the day.

The condition of the property

Many buildings in Zona Sul were built in the 1930s, and often, electrical wiring and plumbing aren't up to modern standards. If you intend to buy a house or an apartment, you may need to spend a considerable amount of money to modernize the space.

Neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro

Most expats in Rio choose to live in Zona Sul (South Zone), which includes the well-known bairros (city districts) of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon, as well as many lesser-known bairros such as Botafogo, Flamengo, Larangeiras, and Gavea, among others. Others prefer Barra de Tijuca, which is generally referred to simply as Barra (and which shouldn't be confused with Tijuca, which is a different bairro). Barra, and neighboring Recreio, while technically part of Zona Oeste (West Zone), in actuality, form their own upscale satellite.

The most expensive bairros are Leblon and Ipanema, with Copacabana, Flamengo, and Barra a bit cheaper in general. As noted above, look for the nicest area that your budget will support.

While virtually any large city will have wealthier and poorer neighborhoods, Rio is unusual in the juxtaposition of favelas and some of its most upscale neighborhoods, most of which lie in Zona Sul.

Good to know:

The word favela is not synonymous with crime. However, in general, you'll want to be located some distance from favelas if possible. Often, the safety level of a neighborhood can change in only one or two blocks.

Read on for some more detailed descriptions of the neighborhoods popular with expats.


You might've heard of Copacabana before, but truth be told, its glory days are over. And if you don't like living where there are tons of tourists, then it won't be fun to live in this neighborhood.

Many expats still call Copacabana home though. But if you'd like better value for your money, then we'd suggest Ipanema instead.


Ipanema is often referred to as the “New Copacabana” and is considered by many to be the best neighborhood to live in. It's still very touristy, but not as much as Copacabana.

Here in Ipanema, you'll find great nightlife, as well as fantastic restaurants. Plus, you're a stone's throw away from the only lagoon in Rio de Janeiro.

The downside is it's quite expensive to live in Ipanema. But the tradeoff is you'll get to live on the beach and take in breathtaking sights of the coast.


Botafogo is a favorite amongst expats. It's not too expensive but it's still middle-class and relatively safe. It's perfect for families that are just starting out.

Within Botafogo are a few shopping malls and lots of metro stops. You'll still get a beach here, albeit not as fantastic as the ones you'll find at Copacabana or Ipanema. However, these two neighborhoods are just a 10-minute car ride away, so you won't have to go far to get Rio's luxurious beaches.


Flamengo is another middle-class neighborhood where rent is affordable. You'll also be just a 10-minute car ride from popular beaches and the city center.

Like Botafogo, Flamengo has its own beach. It's an average beach, but still pretty good, especially if you come from somewhere that doesn't have beaches (or they're of poor quality). You might even be able to rent an apartment that overlooks Sugarloaf Mountain.


Here's another middle-class neighborhood to look into. Rent prices are very affordable in Tijuca, and it's located in the interior part of Rio. If you're looking to share a room with someone, you just might be able to find something for just a few reals a month.

Do note that because Tijuca is located in the interior of Rio de Janeiro, you won't be next to any beaches. In fact, it'll take up to 30 minutes by car to get to one.


If you're looking past middle-class neighborhoods and want to stay somewhere where the upper class does, then look no further than Leblon. It may not be super expensive by Western standards, but it's definitely very high class here.

Expect to find clean streets and good neighborhood infrastructure. This neighborhood also has an excellent beach. And if you don't find it to your liking, you're just minutes away from Copacabana and Ipanema. There's also a wide variety of nice restaurants, so foodies will be happy in this neighborhood.

Accommodation prices

While real estate prices and rents have pulled back a bit in the last few years, Rio continues to have the highest rent prices of any city in Brazil, higher even than São Paulo.

In Copacabana, a one-bedroom apartment currently rents for R$1,800 to R$2,400 (Brazilian reals) per month. In Ipanema and Leblon, a one-bedroom generally runs R$2,000 to R$3,000 per month, although some furnished units in good locations will run R$6,000.

When budgeting, be sure to factor in the condominium fees and property taxes, which are the renter's responsibility and are typically not included in the quoted rent. Also note that while many landlords like renting to foreigners, you'll still probably need to provide a fiador or a deposit (more on this later).

While Ipanema, Leblon, and Copacabana are considered by most to be the best bairros in which to live, don't fixate on them if they just aren't in your budget. Botafogo, Flamengo, and Barra are also good places to live. Santa Teresa, adjacent downtown, is also an interesting, somewhat bohemian bairro.

If renting an apartment in Rio on your own seems out of reach, consider an apartment share or renting a room. This approach has many advantages. You won't need a fiador. There's rarely a formal contract, and usually, a deposit isn't even required. Also, you won't need to furnish the apartment.

Buying in Rio can be good now. Prices have declined a bit, and it's the best the real estate market's done since summer 2015. But in Rio, you really need to understand the local market before taking the plunge and purchasing. So we'd suggest working with a real estate agent.

Finding accommodation in Rio

To find accommodation in Rio de Janeiro, you can visit real estate websites, several of which are listed below under “Useful links”.

Good to know:

Check out websites that are in Portuguese, as these sites target Brazilians rather than foreigners, and prices will often be lower.

You can also contact a real estate agent, who will help you find accommodation according to your preferences. You'll find many real estate offices in Copacabana and Ipanema.

Also, be sure to ask all of your local friends and contacts. If you speak Portuguese, you can also canvass areas you particularly like and ask porteiros (doormen) about possibilities.

The rental process

Take a look at your options and then when you're ready, you can schedule a viewing. You can do this by contacting either the landlord or the real estate agency. During the viewing, make sure to thoroughly inspect the apartment and ask any questions you may have. While housing may be tough to get in Brazil, it doesn't mean you should just take any property that's available. Make sure it's inhabitable and up to your standards.

Contact the landlord or rental agency ASAP if you decide you do want to rent the place out. Don't hold your breath if you've waited a little, as good properties tend to get snatched up quickly.

The lease

The norm in Brazil is to have 30-month leases, or ones that are between two to three years long. If this doesn't sound ideal to you, then the good news is, if you choose an area that's popular with expats, and/or there are rich landlords who want to use their properties for part of the year, you might be able to sign for 12 months or even less. On paper, it'll still be a 30-month lease. However, your landlord or rental agency will add a clause where you can leave the property after 12 months without consequences.

To sign the lease, the landlord or agency will usually require that you have one or two fiadors, which are co-signers. These people will need to meet certain requirements, which can be tough. Not to mention, since you're new to Brazil, you might not have any friends, much less someone who's willing to be your fiador. If you don't have possible fiadors, you can offer to pay a higher deposit. Or you can show a strong work history to prove that you'll be a reliable tenant.

You can also try to negotiate for a lower rent price before you sign. This is much more feasible with a landlord, but it's not unheard of for a rental agency to lower prices as well. It certainly wouldn't do any harm to try.

In addition, you should know that you need your Brazilian Identity Card (Cadastro de Pessoas Fisicas (CPF)) in order to sign a rental contract. Because it can take a few months to get your CPF, expect to stay in a short-term accommodation for that duration. You also won't be able to sign for long-term accommodation in that period.

For expats signing from overseas, you'll need the contract notarized. It can only be notarized in Brazil, as the country doesn't accept foreign notarizations.

The deposit

You'll need to pay anywhere between one to three months' worth of rent for the deposit. This money will be safeguarded in a separate savings account that's not attached to the landlord. Any interest earned will be given to you when you move out of the property. This is true even if you've done damage and won't get any of your deposit back.

As for short-term accommodations, you won't have to worry about deposits. Rent is due every month and that's it.

Do note that if you're signing a rental country while outside of Brazil, landlords can legally ask you to pay up a 50% down payment. The alternative is having a fiador.

Useful links:




Viva Real

Second Casa

Gabino Home

Vacation Key

Rio Times Online classifieds

RoomGo for apartment shares

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