What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Beautiful apartment on a quiet street, old but nice. Close walk to beach, stores, restaurants, etc. - Oct 2019

Housing is phenomenal. Our apartment was very large, very near the beach, and very near the Metro. Of course, you will get people who complain about anything. So, if you think housing will suck in Rio, then housing will suck in Rio. If you think housing will be good in Rio, housing will be good in Rio. - Sep 2019

My housing was fantastic. I had a three bedroom apartment 20 yards from the beach with views of the beach and Christo Redentor/Corcovado. it was too big for me, but I suffered through it. After construction on the Metro was completed, my commute door-to-door was 40 minutes. - Apr 2019

Loud, dated, poorly designed and poorly maintained. However, the neighborhood is very walkable, and I'm near the beach. - Jun 2017

Most of the consulate apartments are in zona sul. Most are decent size apartments for a family. We have two kids, i think our apartment is more spacious than others. We have 4 bedrooms, a balcony, and a small pool and sauna at the roof top. Commute time on a regular day is 45 minutes to an hour in the late afternoon rush hour. Morning commute is faster, like half an hour. But on a rainny day, it could take 1-2 hours to get home; this city does not handle the rain. - May 2016

Apartments only. Consulate housing, and pretty much all housing in Zona Sul is old, poorly maintained and small, despite the astronomical rent. Loud, dripping window units in the bedrooms often aren't enough to beat the heat in the summer. Commute time to work from where most housing is located averages about an hour, but can be much much longer in traffic. The white-hot real estate market in advance of the upcoming mega-events means that tiny one bedroom apartments go for thousands of dollars a month in rent and the MGMT section struggles to find places that are suitable size for folks. Nearly everyone lives in a place smaller than what is allotted. Recently the Flamengo neighborhood was re-opened by RSO and that will really help as apartments there are larger and much closer to the CG. - Aug 2013

Almost exclusively apartments. These are generally of medium to low-range quality. This is a function of the ridiculous increases in rent over the past three years, and the general trend to build poorly and to do as little maintenance as possible. It is said Rio looks like it was built in the 70s and in a hurry. That said, if you can put up with delays in maintenance, most apartments are in Leblon, Ipanema and Flamengo. The first two neighborhoods are great for walking around. Walk to the store, to shopping malls, to cafes and restaurants...walk everywhere. It is great. The latter is a close commute to work and those apartments generally have panoramic balcony views of pao de acucar. - Jun 2011

Housing continues to be one of the major morale issues in Rio de Janeiro. Buildings, especially in upper-class Zona Sul, are literally right on top of each other with no space in between. Many consulate employees end up with sub-par, appalling housing. Officers have been known to be left for months without hot water, with various maintenance problems, ranging from non-functioning air conditioners when it's over 100F outside, to being unable to get washers/dryers, to water leaks, to electrical hazards. Historically, officers spend too much time of their workdays dealing with the management section, which usually leads to a very high degree of frustration. This is due partially to the lack of funding and partially to management's unwillingness and inability to deal with the problems. - Jul 2010

Almost all apartments, but there are some very very expensive homes in Alto Leblon, Gavea and far away in Barra. Construction quality and maintenance is a problem in all Consulate housing. Most apts have severe issues, including A/C, which you really really need in summer. Bedroom sizes (and possibility of getting an apartment comfortably big enough for a family of more than 4 people) are generally very, very small in Ipanema and Leblon - less so in Flamengo and Botafogo or way out in Barra.(Barra is not an option for the Consulate community.)Most people at the Consulate (regardless of family size) get a 3 or 4 bedroom apt and they usually have a very small maids room. There are some parks through the city for kids but in Rio there are very few apartment complex playgrounds that I found a godsend in other big cities. Some buildings designate one floor as the "Play" floor, which is essentially an empty floor where kids can run around and use their own toys. To entertain their kids locals often join sports/social clubs (Flamengo is within the budget for Consulate people but rich locals prefer the Jockey Club, Caicaras, and others).One other option is the Estacao de Corpo gym (which is pricey compared to others) but also offers free swim time on weekends in their nice clean pools and has a few kid classes. There are several gyms for grownups, which are a little pricey - but under $250.Traffic from/to Barra from the rest of the city is atrocious since it all passes through a couple chokepoints (but is not so bad on a weekend) and my kids' friends' parents who live in the near end of Barra report 2-3 hr commutes on the really bad days (rainy Fri pm).Before or after rush hour 20 min from Ipanema to Centro, 30-40 min from the far end of Leblon to Centro, 5-10 min from Flamengo or Botafogo to Centro. During rush hour or rainy Friday afternoons can jump to 30-60 min Centro-Ipanema, 45-90 min Centro - Leblon, and 15-30 min - Centro - Flamengo. Leblon is the fanciest of the neighborhoods - lots of fantastic restaurants/shops/pharmacies, etc. nearby, Ipanema has more of the same though is less tony, Copacabana (not an option for Consulate families) has some very expensive apts and closeby grocery stores/pharmacies, but is a bit seedier, especially along the beach at night. Lagoa is a very nice expensive neighborhood, too, bigger apartments (though expensive) and without the restaurants/shopping/drug store options that Leblon and Ipanema have. Flamengo/Botafogo are more middle-class but still lots of restaurants/shopping/conveniences nearby, and Barra is like living in the U.S. suburbs with shopping malls a short drive away, U.S. sized grocery stores, and none of the Rio flavor. All apartments in Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, and Flamengo (and parts of Botafogo) are within a short walk of a beach, though you won't end up going as often as you think. The beach side of Lagoa is about a 15 min walk away. Ipanema and Leblon beaches are the prettiest, but you do not really want to swim regularly in any of them.(One newspaper article here last year reported that Ipanema sand had the high fecal matter content of all of them.)I'm not squeamish and still let my kids go to the beach and in the water, but most people here - American and Brazilian - go out to more pristine locations in Barra and beyond when they want to "go to the beach." - Jun 2010

Apartments, some very nice with mountain or ocean views, some less nice but still generally acceptable. - Nov 2009

Apartments in either Ipanema or Leblon, which are two of the most upscale neighborhoods in the city. However, the housing pool and the management section's attitude was appalling while I was there. Several officers were without hot water for extended periods of time - gas leaks, ceilings caving in, broken air conditioners, lighting wiring held together with electrical tape such that only GSO staff could change light bulbs - all common place. And to make it worse, while I was there, the attitude was "well, the landlord won't fix it and we have no money so just live with it". OK for a broken door handle or something but not for major health and safety related concerns. Everytime there was a problem in anyone's apartment, the resident would get a sinking feeling in anticipation of having to go to war with the management section. - Jan 2009

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