Best Places to Live In Rio De Janeiro

The best places to live in Rio De Janeiro are found all over the city.  Brazil is quickly rising as one of the favorite emerging economies in the world and can easily be named one of the best countries to live and invest in South America. Having spent over 6 months in the unique city one can claim that it is indeed a unique city in the world.

Tens of millions of dollars are being investing into the city for the upcoming 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

famous steps in rio de janeiro

The city is rapidly changing due to the investment and the emergence of city’s economy.  Rio De Janeiro and the country as a whole have become one of the most expensive places to live in South America because of how rapidly things are improving.

The first question that arises by those curious to live in Rio De Janeiro are the dangers of living in the city.

Stories of favelas (shanty towns with very high crime) and drug lords have unfortunately stained Rio De Janeiro’s reputation very similar to Medellin, Colombia.

There are many things that make Rio De Janeiro a  unique place to live.  It isn’t just because of its distinctive landscape and towering statue of Christ.  It is not because it hosts one of the most popular beaches in the world with everlasting visions of beauty.

No, Rio De Janeiro is also unique because of the city’s culture and people.

the famous steps in rio de janeiro

Brazilians from all over the country arrive in the bustling city for a chance at opportunity.  The world’s attention is on Rio De Janeiro.  It is one of the largest cities in the world, the fourth richest city in Latin America, and has a unique balance for everyone.

Living in Rio De Janeiro one can find lagoons, beautiful beach front property, unique & diverse nightlife, mountains, and great cuisine.

Rio De Janeiro’s Renaissance

The former capital city of Brazil has gone through a major renaissance both culturally and economically.  Up until April 22nd, 1960, Rio De Janeiro used to be the capital of Brazil.  The capital officially moved to Brasilia but many business decided to stay.

Having been the capital of Brazil for more than 300 years there is an abundance of history in the city.

Old historical palaces continue to be renovated into museums and public offices.  Many corporations have remained in the city as well which have contributed to its dynamic business landscape.

Teatro Municipal Rio De Janiero

Teatro Municipal Rio De Janiero

Centro Rio De Janeiro has now started to become a cultural hub with several events held throughout the month.  A massive restoration effort has been made to renovate and rejuvenate several neighborhoods.  The area of Lapa known as the party district and also the heart of Rio is at the focus of these changes.

Recently, the economic prospects of the city have dramatically risen as well.

Rio De Janeiro is now at the heart of the busy oil industry.  Contrary to the filthy vision that brings the city is segmented beautifully with unique landscapes.  There are plenty of open spaces, parks, and even outdoor gyms that many locals use consistently.

Brazil is continuing to rise in prominence and economic prowess. As Rio de Janeiro continues to be the face of the country it will provide great opportunity for citizens around the world.

Things to know about living in Rio de Janeiro

When considering living in Rio de Janeiro one must consider that the city is divided into two sections, north and south.  The south hosts the majority of the attractive areas to live and is mostly comprised of middle to upper income households (there are some lower-income pockets).

Popular neighborhoods in south Rio de Janeiro include Copacabana and Ipanema.

The farther north one moves away from Centro Rio de Janeiro (northwest the way a map is laid out) the more l lower income neighborhoods arise. This means more crime. There are great neighborhoods north of Centro but that is a general rule of thumb.

There are only a handful of favelas that do not have police and most of those can be found in the north.

The line in the sand is Centro & Lapa (see map below).

map of neighborhoods in Rio De Janeiro

Map of neighborhoods in Rio De Janeiro

The city is built around the coast and the interior is mainly mountainous with pockets of protected forest areas.  It is one of the most unique cities that I have lived in overseas.

Safety in Rio de Janeiro

The dangers in Rio de Janeiro are the same that one would find in any other large metropolitan area. The horrible stories and rumors that once heralded news headlines are no more.

A new visitor or resident of the city should use common sense while moving around.

Be very cautious entering mountainous areas that look like shantytowns. One can identify these areas by the brightly colored homes that are essentially sheets of metal.

There is still a high level of caution among Rio de Janeiro’s citizens and its always important to remian vigilant.  Don’t carry around large bundles of cash and ensure to be mindful of surroundings.

Penthouse in Rio De Janeiro

View from the Penthouse in Rio De Janeiro that we rented

One would need to be more attentive in crowded areas such as nightlife events in Lapa or spending the day at the beach. If one wants to be extra careful don’t go any further north than the Metro station Uruguaiana.

Honorable Mentions

There were many things to be considered when thinking about the best neighborhoods to live in Rio de Janeiro. The prices have risen substantially in just the last year due to the investment in the city.

Costs will only rise so it is important to have a balance between affordability and convenience. One of the highest variables for us is convenience. Everyone always wants to be close enough to where the action is.

At the same time the general populace also wants to be able to save money.

The neighborhood of Flamengo is a poor man’s Rio de Janeiro. It is a great middle-class neighborhood with an okay beach.  Flamengo is well situated in between Centro and the popular beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. A 10 minute Metro ride will send anyone where they want to be in the city.

One may be lucky enough to find a condo with a view of the popular Sugarloaf Mountain.  There aren’t any negative aspects of Flamengo other than there are better places to live.

Sidewalks in Rio De Janeiro

Sidewalks in Rio De Janeiro

The neighborhood of Leblon is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city. This can be equated to Manhattan in New York City, not quite ultra expensive but very upper-class.

Leblon has a great beach and is just south of the popular beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. 

The culture here is quite different with very clean streets, eclectic restaurants, and higher than average efficiency. If the power ever goes out in Rio de Janeiro (not common) Leblon would be one of the neighborhoods where power would be restored first.  The downside to Leblon is the cost, definitely one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city.

The neighborhood of Tijuca is a great middle-class neighborhood in the interior of Rio de Janeiro. Tijuca is great for those that are cost conscious and don’t want to live in a paperback. Many times you can find a place to live in Rio de Janeiro for a few hundred dollars a month sharing a room with someone else.

The rooms are not that big in Rio de Janeiro.

Tijuca is quite far from where most people want to be. A ride on the Metro could take upwards of 20 to 30 minutes or possibly more to just get to a beach.

Be advised that it would of utmost important to plan ahead. Many people have trouble finding a place to live in Rio de Janeiro. The best resource to find a great apartments is Homeaway.com.

Stay away from Google searches containing any variations of “apartments in Rio de Janeiro” as you will only find the apartment mafia.  Specifically, companies that are geared to overcharging tourists. Here are the best places to live in Rio de Janeiro:

Santa Teresa

Nestled on a hill in between Flamengo and Centro, Santa Teresa was the bane of my existence for two months when I first arrived in the city.  It was very hard to live in Santa Teresa because of the distances and the reliability of services.

Internet for example is something that must be given considerable thought. Continuing to look for investing opportunities in Brazil it was very difficult to do business while living in Santa Teresa.

It was enjoyable as long as I never wanted to leave the apartment .  The viability of opening a day trading center in Brazil quickly diminished as business as usual could not be conducted.

Here is a video of our penthouse we rented in Santa Teresa:

One would think that any emerging economy wouldn’t have these kinds of problems.  If extra caution is not taken one will end up with unreliable services.

The neighborhood is rustic and is filled with colonial architecture at every turn.  A hill comprising of a mostly residential neighborhood one can find majestic architecture and an endless supply of winding roads.

There is no denying Santa Teresa will provide incredible views of Rio de Janeiro.

One will be able to find privacy and some convenience if located in the vicinity of the party district of Lapa.

There are significant downsides to living in Santa Teresa as mentioned earlier. It is extremely far from most conveniences. Any major supermarket is roughly 30 to 40 minutes away (assuming mass transport is taken). This of course will depend on location.

Lots of extra money will be spent taking taxis (if one can be found) to many places in order to save time.  The beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are a minimum of 30 minutes away.

If one needs any kind of department store or special item a special trip will have to be taken into the city center.  It is nothing but a residential area with impressionable views of the city. One could easily find privacy and a penthouse overlooking the popular statue of Christ or the coast.

Day Trading in Brazil

My Day Trading Office in the neighborhood of Santa Theresa


The neighborhood of Botafogo was my favorite neighborhood in all of Rio de Janeiro. A great middle-class environment and a location that is central to everything. I was very close to looking into international movers to make it my home base and the transition much easier.

There are shopping malls just a short Metro or taxi ride away.  One can also find the popular beaches of Copacabana or Ipanema Beach roughly 10 minutes away.

The vibe at Botafogo is something that everyone should experience. It has great conveniences with Metro stops every few blocks and even small tree-lined streets for those that want a bit of privacy.

Impressive apartments can be found with incredible direct views of Sugarloaf Mountain.

While the beach at Botafogo cannot be compared to Ipanema or Copacabana it definitely holds its own.  One could easily walk to the beach of Copacabana from Botafogo.

Upon returning to Rio De Janeiro I will be procuring an apartment in this great neighborhood.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf Mountain


Sadly, the glorious vision of Copacabana cannot be compared to what it was years ago. The neighborhood is dilapidated and is one of the most touristy areas in the entire city.

One of the reasons Botafogo is a great place to stay is because it’s far enough away from the tourists but close enough to where the action is.

Having said that Copacabana is still Copacabana.

It is at the heart of where the movers and shakers are (old money) and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if redevelopment projects were already underway. It is a very convenient part of the city where people want to be.

Some deals can be had in Copacabana but most residents are looking at other up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Cinelandia and Ipanema. The area still has great convenience but definitely needs a lot of work.

If money isn’t an option Ipanema would be highly recommended over Copacabana.

Cinelandia (Centro)

The neighborhood of Cinelandia is a newly renovated neighborhood that has turned into an arts district.  The area is incredibly convenient with a short walk to Lapa and other places downtown (Centro).

Cinelandia is the neighborhood I called home for nearly 4 months in Rio de Janeiro.

Similar to Botafogo, you can really experience the city and its people in Cinelandia.  I really enjoyed living in great loft I located in the center of the city.  It is the location where we actively tried to open a day trading center.

The third Thursday of every month a local Samba band plays, there is an endless amount of exhibitions and city events nearby, and is extremely safe.

Lapa Rio De Janeiro

Buildings in Lapa: Rio De Janeiro

One could easily get to various markets in the Centro or even explore the endless local restaurants in the area or in Lapa.

A Metro can be found in a short walking distance away from most residential buildings. There also happens to be a great interest in continuing to renovate the neighborhood of Cinelandia.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see new buildings and entire residential complexes being constructed within a few years.  It is definitely the up and coming area which is now starting in the initial stages of being developed.


Ipanema is the best neighborhood to live in Rio de Janeiro. Not having the cost conscious in mind Ipanema is the heart that beats in Rio de Janeiro.

Great restaurants, great nightlife, and Ipanema is a short distance to amazing locations such as the only lagoon in the city.  This is where most tourists & residents of the city want to be or want to be near.

Copacabana Beach Rio De Janeiro

Copacabana Beach in Rio De Janeiro

Ipanema is commonly known as the new Copacabana. 

The only downside to Ipanema is that it’s quite touristy (not as much is Copacabana) and the high cost of living. If living on the beach and having incredible views of the coast are a priority Ipanema is where a heart will be fulfilled.

A filled pocketbook is the only thing one will be in short supply living here. Many travelers who want an affordable stay in Brazil often live as backpackers in Ipamena.

No matter what your option in Rio De Janeiro is the city is set to be one of the best places to live not only in South America, but the world.  It could easily be placed in the world rankings of best places to live.

Scouts honor.


  1. Hey Marcello, love your work man! I’d like to teach English in Brasil, what are your thoughts on that? I speak Spanish and I am working on Portuguese.


  2. Hi Marcello,

    When you say you were considering to open a Day Trading Center in Brazil, did you mean a center where you will teach trading or set it up as a prop shop?
    Love the blog….keep up the great work!!


    1. Both Ferdous… I have lots of interest from a lot of traders in Brazil and I know that a lot of people are looking for a great opportunity. We would be looking to do both.

  3. Marcello!

    Love this post. Love your site!

    I am really interested in teaching English in Rio, and am quite serious about it.

    Is there any way you could help me out? I would GREATLY appreciate it!

    Thank You,

    1. Paulina honestly wouldn’t know where to start… I do have a friend that teaches English and owns a company in Brazil that teaches English. Could possibly put you two in contact and see if he can help you out. Feel free to contact me via the contact page and I can send you his information

  4. Rio is amazing I am wondering have you been to Sao Paulo if so which do you prefer? I can’t decide which to see first and which one I will like more

    as far as Rio goes, what are the chances of say renting a place in the city or even a neighbouring city for around $1000 Canadian a month

  5. Hello Marcello! How are you doing? I must say that your webpage is very interesting and the information has come in very handy too! I am an English teacher and hope to soon be in RJ (around September time).
    Are you there at the moment? If not when do you plan to return?

    I happen to have a few contacts in RJ but would like to know if you knew of any contacts or companies where I could apply for teaching positions. I can speak and teach French and English. Hold a British degree in modern foreign languages and now focusing on improving my portuguese over the summer with books and conversation lessons with help from some of my brazilian buddies, before arriving.

    Look forward to chatting soon!
    Email address: ebonymermaid@hotmail.co.uk (also on Facebook)

  6. Hey Marcello I have a question. I am a ethical hacked/penetration tester here in the US, but I’ve always had an interest in living in Rio. In the article you said some businesses stayed in Rio, do you think there are many opportunities In Rio for penetration testers? I’ve thought of starting an online buisness to and just living in Rio while running the buisness. I know São paulo probally has more opportunities for my work but I’m mesmerized by Rio’s landscape. Ps. Keep up the great work I love your blog and Youtube channel.

    1. Hunter sorry for my ignorance but what exactly is a penetration tester? I have never heard of that before. If you could give me some insight I would be happy to let you know.

  7. Sorry about that, a penetration tester is a person who tests a company’s security. Basically looking for vulnerabilities in the network and seeing if they could be exploited to gain data about the buisness or customers, or take control of the network. Buisnesses hire pen testers to see if their buisness is secure and not hackable, and if vulnerabilities are found the reccomendations to fix the problem and have better security.

  8. Hola,
    I am Luis from México and I going to move to rio in august with other two friends and we want to rent a apartment or some like that in the zone of ipanema, leblon or copacabana during august to December. I would be nice if u know some websites where we can fin a place there or contact. Thank u

  9. Hi Marcello,

    Great blog. I am a sports tv producer and I have just arrived in Rio de Janeiro for work with my wife and my two year old son.

    I am looking for a two-bedroom apartment in Botafogo and wonder if you have any decent contacts for finding the right place.

    Hope you are well and thanks in advance for your help.

    All the best,


  10. Hello Marcello,I’am from the USA and I ‘am looking to live Permanently in Brazil. Although I have family living in Suriname,SA I will be living in Rio. Some of the neighborhoods are wonderful,including your place. Im looking for two bedroom apartment nothing fancy, just the basics. Close to city,shopping,etc.And complete Privacy is Key.For the most part, I will be getting around by Moped but willing to use Tranist. Im highly skilled from Cement Mixing for Construction Work to Sous Chef so Im more than willing to find work. Any recommendations you may have would be gratefully appreciated. I plan to arrive in Brazil by Spring of 2014 and visit for two weeks.

  11. Finally got the chance to visit your website and read your blogs, love your photos on Instagram. I would love to visit Brazil in the future and some of the places you’ve visited (Bolivia and Italy included). Cheers! 🙂

  12. I traveled and stay in Copacabana back in early 2012. Although I had a good time I would not recommend Rio to a new comer into Brazil. I would recommend Florianopolis ten times over Rio. One, the Brazilians in Florianopolis are interested and eager to meet Americans. In Rio no one makes eye contact. Two, Rio is NOT safe with millions of people in adjunct poverty. When you see the shacks people live in driving from the airport you will know your not in Kansas anymore. No one is safe in a society that cast half the population aside like stray dogs. What would you do if your children were starving? Three, it was more expensive to buy a hamburger with fries in Copacabana than in New York City. About $22 dollars in Rio. Four, the waves at the beach are very rough. Not fun for swimming. Florianopolis has all kinds of beaches from surf ready (Jocquino) to very up scale with calm waters (Jurere) to lagoons and calm waters for the locals (Mole) to touristy (Inglesis). I would be happy to tell anyone more about Florianopolis or Rio but my experiences are limited. I just wanted to give another perspective. Lastly, I recommend Ipanema and Leblon over Copa. You have an amazing view of a favela at night that looks like God threw a hugh blanket of Christmas lights over the beach side mountain. Watch out for the open sever drain between Ipanema and Leblon. In a word it is disgusting. Brazil, such a beautiful country with the most sexy women in the world. Wasted potential.

    1. Thanks for the note Dominick. I would agree Florianopolis is a safer city but I don’t think that Rio is as dangerous of a city that people think it is. I lived there for well over 6 months and never encountered one problem. I did see some pockets picked out a few nights but that can happen anywhere especially in emerging countries. I would agree with you that people need to stay away from the popular tourist spots like Copa or Ipanema. I stayed in centro, Cinelandia, a great place to be with many cultural things to do. Thanks again for the note definitely appreciate your thoughts.

  13. Hi Marcelo,
    I’m planning to live in ipanema for 6 months and need your help. I couldn’t find your email to send a private message. I’m visiting from new York. thanks

  14. Well, rio is wonderful, brasil is beautiful, I live here for 15 years,but you forget to mencion that Brasil is one of the most dangerous places of the world, due to the numbers of murders, and the cost of living in Rio is very high if you want to live in a safe and nice place, and the oficial salary is $350 of course that you can make more than this, and you can walk safe if you are smart and dont have anything of value whit you.
    If you want to have a great time is the place.. but if you want to work dont expect much…is very..very hard to make it unless you have a good money to invest..

    1. Miguel there are many more dangerous places in the world than Rio I can assure you. If you go to the favelas and the dangerous parts of town of course you are going to find trouble. You find that anywhere around the world. Rio is more safe now than it used to be an wouldn’t say that it is dangerous now except if you are going out and looking for trouble.

  15. Hey I am a college student doing a report about Rio and I was wondering if I sent you some question about living in Rio can you answer them and send them back to me

  16. Hello Marcello!

    Your story is absolutely amazing and so inspiring to me. I also appreciate the information you’ve provided about places to live in Brazil. I have found it very useful! Like others who have comment on this blog, I am also perusing teaching English as a second language in Brazil. It has been a dream of my for quite some time to live in Brazil and experience its unique culture. I noticed in the previous comments that you have a contact for someone who owns a company that teaches English in Brazil. Is that contact still available? That kind of information is like gold because it’s impossible to come by! I’m a certified ESL teacher with work experience. I am planning to come at the end of January and stay for 6 months. Can you also email me your friends contact information? It would help me tremendously

    Best regards,


  17. Hey, I was wondering if you could suggest language schools/programs in Rio. I speak Spanish and French fluently, and have a good working knowledge of Portuguese already. Specifically, I need a program that can make me fluent in about 3 months. Any suggestions?

    – Alexis

    1. Alexis I didn’t go to any schools in Rio I just learned my Portuguese on the street so wouldn’t be able to advise you on that. If you Google that or do some research when you get to Rio then I think you will be able to find something pretty easily!

  18. Hello Marcello,

    I’m from Rio de Janeiro and I found very interesting your website. I agree with many points about the neighborhoods in Rio. But I think that most of Tourists get stuck in the fact to be in “south Rio de Janeiro” which I know there are good areas to live. Ex: Leblon, Ipanema… As Carioca I consider that Barra da Tijuca is also a great place to live. There you can find one the the best and cleaner beaches in Rio de Janeiro, is a very safe area with low rates of robberies, crimes etc, it is a upper middle class neighborhood, you have a variety of malls, restaurants, clubs, supermarkets, (more than south rio) and the infra structure of condos, houses are much better than all the other areas of Rio de Janeiro. Most of famous people from Brazil choose Barra da Tijuca to live instead of south Rio. To get in Leblon, Ipanema, or Copacabana takes 25-40 minutes by bus and right know it will be launch the new subway line. I think it’s a neighborhood which tourists should give more attention as many people from south Rio are moving to live there. Best areas in Rio to live in my opinion: Leblon, Ipanema, Barra da Tijuca.


  19. HI marcello thanks for the information it is great, i been thinking in visiting rio de janeiro and stay there for about a month and if i like it i will stay longer, i just want to experience something new my question is how much money i will be spending for a month i dont know how expensive it is or how much money i will need to live decent for a few months.

  20. Hi,

    Thanks for your post.

    i’m intended to visit Rio de Janeiro for the first time. I will say for about two weeks. what is your recommendation from Hotel point of you and area that i can stay? i am not big spender. i look forward to stay economically!

    Thanks and Looking for your reply

    Best regards,


    1. Maxim if you are only going to be there for two weeks then I would recommend staying somewhere in Ipanema. I rented an apartment in Cinelandia which is near centro. I would look for something near Cinelandia and that will be more economical for you but the best location would be Ipanema

  21. Thank you for your assistant.
    i try to reserve a hotel through booking.com. are they reliable?

    Thanks Maxim

  22. Hi,

    Thanks for info: i found hotels trough “booking.com” are they reliable? how much USD enough for me for two weeks in Rio?



  23. Hey Marcelo!

    Thanks for this post. I plan to live in Rio for about 10 months, so I would like to know how I can find some places to live without using the popular and expensive websites. Please let me know if you have some contacts I can call.

    I appreciate your help.

    Kind regards,
    Juan Manuel Benítez V.

    1. Juan there is a Facebook group that people look on for the rooms and apts for rent in Rio. Contact me via my about page and I will be happy to add you to the group.

  24. marcello,

    love your blog bro. i’m a fellow trader, although i’m more of a long term investor. i’m an ex-hedge fund, etc.

    i plan on living in rio for a few months … want to get my portuguese to fluency… it’s pretty good right now.

    Question i have for you is, what is the best way to meet people there? should i go to samba classes, or yoga and pilates to meet women, ? or there meetups in rio? etc… i want to meet as many people as possible.

    thanks in advance and keep up the inspiration!

  25. Hi Marcello.

    How are you? A group of us are planning to stay in Hotel Nova Mundo, Praia do Flamengo, 20, Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, CEP 22210030, Brazil in the middle of April. Do you thing is the areas safe and easy to access? Any advise?

  26. Hey Marcello, I am looking for a play to stay in Rio for 6 months, I will be a international volunteer for the Olympics as well as teaching in Brazil for a couple of months. I was wondering about your facebook page that can link me up to find a place to live for that time period.

    I know that you mentioned something to Juan about finding a place on Facebook. I would also love to find out more about that. I love you blog.

    your bit about Bogotafo was interesting I hadn’t considered that option yet. Let me know thanks


  27. Hi my names Ashley moving to brazil to do my university for dentistry because it’s too expensive to study here in Florida for me specially because I am living on my own. Im from puerto rico so basicly used to the island life, moved to florida over 3 months but the cost of living is too high for me to be living here on my own and since I qualify out of state they charge me like 3 times what I’m supposed to pay. I was looking for a good place were I could start on my own in brazil while still keeping my tropical vibe from back home and looking for a safe place specially if I’m going to be on my own since I’m 18. That way I can study dentistry, work and still keep my tropical life any recommends? Never been to brazil

  28. Oi Marcello

    Very nice blog! First time visitor preparing for areas in Rio, this looks very handy, thank you.
    Me and my best friend are visiting Rio, staying most likely in Ipanema, thanks to you. 🙂
    There is a local guide service in showaround.com, do you know other good options?

    Thanks again

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