Living in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is known across the world for its beaches, its spectacular samba parades during Carnival, its obsession with football—and, since City of God, also its favelas and gang violence. If you plan to go and live in Rio, though, you’ll need to move beyond the smokescreen of clichés and prejudices created by the media and the tourist industry. Stick to the guidebooks and the sands of Copacabana, and you’ll miss the poignant contrasts of one of the most beautiful and troubled cities in the world.
The first thing to do is find a place to live. You’ll likely arrive in the backpacker neighborhood of Catete and find a room for $10-$20 a night, depending on how much you’re prepared to rough it while looking for an apartment. You’ll almost certainly scout for a place to live in the zona sul, the southern part of the city, which is the safest and most scenic.
Apartments are advertised every day in the Globo newspaper and the classifieds also can be searched online. Alternatively, there are travel agents who specialize in finding apartments for foreigners—but they will take their cut on top of the rent. Most landlords are flexible on lets of three months or more and don’t generally require a large deposit. Expect to pay between $300-$500 for a studio flat, depending on the area.
The best way to come to grips with living in
Rio is to learn Portuguese. If you stick to English then you’ll only talk with the richer Brazilians and you’ll fail to connect with the majority of the cariocas, the inhabitants of Rio. The good news is that people in Rio are chatty and friendly so once you grasp the basic grammar and vocabulary, you just need to head to a crowded bar and get talking.
With a strong Brazilian real to the dollar, living in Rio has gotten more costly, but there are often jobs teaching English. Once you learn some of the lingo, discover where not to stroll after dark, and make some friends, there are few places quite as impressive as Rio to live.
For more info visit these sites:
Complete Rio de Janeiro City Guide
Learn Portuguese with a host family, as a great way to get acquainted with the city: www.a2zlanguages.com/riodejaneiro.htm
A good selection of Rio nightlife resources: www.ipanema.com
Organized tours of the favelas: favelatour.com.br