There can be few more alluring places to go and live than Rio de Janeiro. La cidade de Maravilha (the Marvellous city) is famous for being the party capital of the world and draws more tourism than just about anywhere.
And that’s the problem. There’s so much hype about carnival, the girls on the beach and the national obsession with football that it’s hard to really understand what’s going on. If you’re going to live here you need to get past these clichés and get to grips with the reality of life in Rio de Janeiro.
To begin with, you need to learn Portuguese. This is a good deal easier than Spanish and there are many excellent language schools in Rio. Once you begin to pick up some of the lingo then you’ll be able to hit the nightlife downtown where few people speak English.
It’s also an excellent way of not appearing like the usual gringo in Brazil. When you take on step towards the Brazilians then they will take two steps towards you! To live in Rio you need to think like a local and that means more than just wearing skimpy swim suits to the beach.
To find an apartment, you can either walk around the neighbourhood you want to live in and ask around or else you can check the classifieds in the many Rio newspapers. To live in Ipanema you’ll probably pay around $200-300 a month but only $100-200 in the sleazier Copacabana You can live in downtown Lapa or Flamengo but you will really need your wits about you.
In any case, the most beautiful beaches are all near the south zone of the city. Here the most beautiful bodies in the city come to show off in the sun and it’s the closest thing you’re ever likely to see to Bikini Heaven. The beaches are not so safe at night though and never do you want to leave your belongings without someone taking care of them.
Rio de Janeiro can be a dangerous city as the drug traffickers battle it out with the military police in the favelas. The latter are community slums perched on the hilltops and supply most of the cocaine to be found in the city. They are not safe to enter alone but you may take a favela tour with a professional guide and experience a whole other side to living in Rio de Janeiro.
Most people who come here may have expectations of wild love affairs with the Brazilians who are amongst the most beautiful people in the world. You may well find Love in Brazil but beware no one is taking you for a ride.
Although Rio has a fair deal of wealth there’s also stark contrasts with the poverty and it can be a challenging place to live. If you make the effort to think and live like a local though then it can also be one of the most rewarding.