Where to live in Rio de Janeiro? Find your ideal neighborhood - Global Packing
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Where to live in Rio de Janeiro? Find your ideal neighborhood.

Where to live in Rio de Janeiro? Find your ideal neighborhood.

Do Leme ao Pontal

Não há nada igual!

From Leme to Pontal, there’s nothing like it! That’s what the great Tim Maia, one of the most important Brazilian singers, would say. From Leme to Pontal there’s not only a variety of beaches but also a great amount of city neighborhoods. With more than 150 neighborhoods, Rio de Janeiro offers every kind of landscape for every kind of public, that’s why we’ll help you find your ideal neighborhood in the “Wonderful City”!

Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon

The living standards among the South Zone neighborhoods are very similar, specially in the most famous ones, Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon. These three belong to the local elite and are filled with bars, restaurants and an active nightlife by the beach, making these neighborhoods great places to live and stroll in Rio.

Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon are also very close to the central area and have a  public transportation, with dozens of bus lines and some metro stations, ensuring an ease of travel by public transport around the area.

However, these neighborhoods are settled in Rio’s most expensive and privileged area, therefore, all three have a high cost of living. Apartment rents and the general prices of everyday necessities are quite expensive.

Known as the most expensive square meter in Brazil, Leblon is the most expensive of the three neighborhoods. Ipanema is a little less expensive and offers the same luxury and landscaping quality of Leblon. In addition, Ipanema is in the middle of the great waterfront that encompasses the three districts, so it is a lively place that guarantees quick and easy access to these three beaches. Also it’s usual to say that the public in Ipanema is the youngest and most open-minded of the three neighborhoods. Finally, comparing to the other two, Copacabana is the most popular and least expensive neighborhood. Despite being reputed to be an “old people’s” area today, Copacabana also has its nightlife along its famous boardwalks and beachfront bars.

Finally, the three neighborhoods offer very similar benefits. In spite of the high cost, the region is worth it, mainly due to its ease of transport and its strategic location, in one of the main spots of the city and close to other major areas.

Botafogo and Flamengo

Botafogo and Flamengo are other neighborhoods in the South Zone but with a different kind of public. Both upper-middle class neighborhoods, with living costs slightly lower than the neighborhoods mentioned above. They are very close to Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon and have a good public transport network, including lots of bus lines and two subway stations.

Its landscape is marked by Sugar Loaf and the Guanabara Bay. An important tip about this area is that its beach is not recommended for swimming, only for some jogging and strolling, since the Bay is unfortunately very polluted.

It is a pleasant area, though, and counts on a variety of  leisure activities: it has shopping malls and alternative movie theaters, as well as the many gastronomic, musical, and artistic events that take place there frequently.

Both Botafogo and Flamengo are younger neighborhoods and have some universities, including two federal universities nearby, the Praia Vermelha campus of UFRJ and UNIRIO. They also have clubs and bars well frequented and always full in the evenings, essentially in the so called “Baixo Bota”, well known by the university students of the area.


Still within the list of neighborhoods in the South Zone is the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, another elite neighborhood with a well disputed view and very luxurious apartments.

The neighborhood is very pleasant, not only for the landscape, but also for the leisure guaranteed by the walks around the lagoon that names it. At Lagoa you can enjoy a range of good restaurant and also have some fun going for a bike or a quad ride or even a run by the lagoon.

However, the lagoon is not suitable for swimming, so if you want to explore the lagoon itself, the best you can do is to go on a pedal boat ride.

Another issue is that it’s not so easy to use public transport services there. The Lagoa has few bus lines and only a single subway station on only one side of the neighborhood, which is the side that connects with Ipanema.

Barra da Tijuca

Finally off the South Zone, let’s talk about the emergent Barra da Tijuca, a neighborhood from the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro.

Inspired by the American city of Miami, Barra is marked by its grand boulevards and shopping malls on one side and luxurious apartments and beautiful beaches on the other. It is an essentially upper-middle class neighborhood and has beaches considered by many to be better than the most famous ones in the South Zone.

It’s a big neighborhood and difficult to walk around if you don’t have a car of your own. Nevertheless, Barra da Tijuca has common and BRT bus fleets, but its only subway station is in Jardim Oceânico. So if you want to live in a place where you can walk around on foot, Barra is not your ideal neighborhood.

A great thing about Barra is its great number of elite schools, including foreign and English-speaking ones. Another positive point is also the growing number of large multinational companies that are moving their offices to the region.

Lastly, Barra da Tijuca offers a lot fun, especially around the Jardim Oceânico region, where Olegário Maciel is located, a street with plenty of bars and themed restaurants. In addition, in this part of the neighborhood are several nightclubs, ensuring a busy nightlife.

On the other hand, the nocturnal movement by the beach itself, common in the South Zone, is scarce and little recommended, due to the assault rates.


This is a more popular, middle-class neighborhood, very close to the downtown area. Tijuca, Grajaú and Vila Isabel are pleasant and very lively neighborhoods. Its bars are well frequented and have lots of events every week. They all have several bus fleets, but only Tijuca has subway lines.

They are a good choice for cheaper rentals, yet close to the central area and with easy access to public transport services. However, like most of, if not all of Rio, the neighborhood is plagued by the problem of violence and insecurity.

In conclusion, these are just a few suggestions. Clearly, the post does not describe all neighborhoods in Rio, but we focus on the most sought after by foreigners and non-locals, in order to ease your search and identification with the neighborhood that will host your new home!

Welcome to Rio!


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