Saturday, August 20, 2011

How to Find an Apartment in Rio and Not Kill Yourself

We're about to enter a new stage of life and it feels like the night before the first day at school.  Or, maybe the night before the next 3-4 years of University, because that's sort of what it is.  Little piece of advice, when you rent an apartment here in Rio, the typical contract is 30 months (2 1/2 years) so you better love the place you're living in, like you love a French hooker.  And who doesn't love a good French hooker.  

I sure do, now!  (love my apartment, that is)

Not that that means we'll be here fo shizzle (Mom!) but that has sort of been our plans in terms of length of stay in Rio for the next little while.

Now that it's (almost) 100% a done deal (we still need to sign the contract and get the keys), I'd like to highlight the joy that it is to rent an apartment in Rio.  Oh, wait, did I say joy?  I meant pure headache and bane of my existence.

First, when you are looking for that apartment of your dreams, be prepared to never find it.  Or at least for it to take a solid week (I'm talking 8 hours a day for 7 days straight) or more, of searching.  You will go through countless apartments that should be ashamed of themselves for showing up to The Ball dressed like that.  I mean, I wouldn't let people see me with literal streaks of dirt running down my body and broken arms and legs.  But they have no shame.

So you'll see the crap apartments, but you'll know immediately that they are crap and quickly move on to the next ones.

How do you find these apartments, you ask?

You'll need to buy the O Globo paper every Wednesday and Sunday (that's when the majority of apartments are listed, and even more-so on Sunday).  Don't even both with the online stuff.  Most of the same apartments, plus way more, are in the paper. 

Then, don't make the mistake of calling to arrange a time for a couple days into the future.  No no, you'll have to make sure you take an entire day off work and then call the apartments the day you want to see them in the hopes that they haven't already been rented.  It's that easy impossible, folks. 

Once your hard labour has paid off and you find the apartment of your dreams, you'll run into more problems!
Most places in Rio these days are asking for a fiador.  This is a co-signer and this person has to OWN property in RIO.  Forget about your uncle who owns a million dollar mansion in São Paulo (ok, still not us).  Fiadors can be Rio-owning co-signers ONLY.

Well, we don't have that, which makes life so much more interesting for us. 

Option Two: Seguro Fiança.  Here you can opt to pay R$2,500 (per year) to the bank so that they will act as your fiador.  This is not a deposit.  You do not get this money back.  You must pay it every year that you are living in the apartment.  Ridiculous option?? I agree.  FAIL!

Option Three: Capitalização.  It's like a deposit/savings account done through the bank.  They ask for a minimum 6 months rent/condo fee, which in our case is about R$2000.  The owner of the apartment can accept the minimum or ask for more.  The other apartment we were looking at was asking for TEN.  That's twenty-thousand reais.  R$20,000.  !!!???  The freaking 1 bedroom apartment costs R$2000 per month!  What makes you think I have R$20,000 just sitting around, waiting to be used?!?

Option Four (and the options that the angels made available for us): STRAIGHT UP DEPOSIT!  This is probably the least common method, which really limits your options, but also your decisions!  Our apartment is still asking for a bazillion dollars (3 months deposit and 3 months of rent up front) but since we did have a little bit saved up, we can do it. 

My advice would be to have about 6 months worth of rent saved up so that you can offer this as a deposit option to people who are being jerks and insisting on a fiador.  

As for you, if you don't have one of these options available to you, you might be renting a room in a party house or in an older lady's house.  I'm serious.  Does anyone else have experience renting outside of these options?  If so, I believe you found a miracle.

As for us, we got our place and we get the keys on Monday...!!! Wahoo!


  1. The hurdles are incredibly high. Good for you for towering over them!

    House-warming party...

  2. This is so helpful! I'm going to put a link to it on my blog.

    I second Jim on the house-warming party. That just might be when we'll have to plan my next visit. :)

    Congrats again <3

  3. That brings back all the pain of finding an apartment in SP. I think I spent 3 weeks every day searching and of course didnt know about looking in globo...ugh dont even want to THINK about ever moving again in my life. Congrats though and enjoy your new place!!!!

  4. Lindsey,

    Congratulations! It is a great feat.
    Back in my days, in Sao Paulo, most real state companies demanded a "Fiador" that owed 2 properties, within the city limits of Sao Paulo, it couldn't be an apartment in the city and a beach house for example. They wanted 2 properties within the city limits, it was really hard.
    We didn't have the option of "Seguro Fianca", that is somewhat a new novelty option, neither all the other options you mentioned.
    However, they make it really hard because tenants in Brazil have ridiculous rights. If a tenant decides to stop paying the rent for "ANY" reason, it will take the landlord between 8 months to a year, considering they have a good lawyer. That is why landlords became so protective and make all kinds of demands.
    Opposed to Texas, for example, if you are late paying your rent on the 1st of the month, you will have your stuff thrown on the curb by the 6th. Needless to say, it's very easy to rent an apartment in Texas.
    I am glad to learn all these new options, people are getting creative.
    Thanks for sharing.
    We will be looking forward to hearing your new impressions of Rio living in a different/better part of the city.


  5. Thanks all! Ray, I heard about this alleged '2 property owning' fiador, but I thought it was a myth! How could anyone in modern day Brazil afford 1 property, let alone 2?? It boggles my mind.

  6. Well, keep in mind, property prices just went insane in the past 5 years, plus, many people inherited properties, but it is still crazy. I don't know how people ever did it.
    I remember people always looking for relatives and even co-workers or friends who would be a fiador for them, but that was always a delicate matter.
    No wonder so many Brazilians lived ( and still do ) with their parents until their late 20's.


  7. Hi Lindsey, hope you are well and best of luck in the new place - very interesting post, are you on Twitter by the way? , kind regards Gary, London

  8. Thanks Gary! No.... sorry I'm not on Twitter! I just dont understand the point of it! Seriously.... Care to englighten me?

  9. Wow, really absurd process. You survived and conquered!

  10. Twitter - what can I say in 140 characters:) I think it can be a very useful way to make contacts and get a sense of trends and breaking news - you don't have to Tweet you can just observe - find someone who interests you and see who they are following - and ease yourself in! This is me on Twitter:!/Duffygary

  11. Can I come to your housewarming party? heehee. Naturally, a t-shirt will be the housewarming gift. ha. I am hankering for another Rio visit!


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