Vacation Apartments in Rio – What to Expect?

Lately I have been receiving dozens of emails regarding apartment rentals in Rio de Janeiro. People have sent me many questions and concerns, asking what are the average prices of apartments in Rio, their average prices, best locations, best deals, established companies, what should be included in the vacation apartments and so forth. This is when I decided to write a basic guide on renting apartments in Rio, Brazil. Some down to earth tips might save you some monies and avoid headaches.

The first thing you need to know when renting a vacation apartment in Rio is that it’s a legal well established business within the tourist industry in Brazil. Many Brazilians and even foreigners buy apartments in Rio exactly for this purpose. Investors commonly buy used apartments and renovate them to offer the best comfort as beach rentals. Let’s now discuss the main points you should be note when selecting an apartment.

Prices: prices in vacation apartments in Rio can vary significantly. Generally the more luxurious, the more expensive are the apartment prices. Beachfront apartments also carry a premium in their prices. Another rule is obvious, the greater number of rooms, the pricier it gets. If you travel with a group of friends, price per room can decrease substancially. Renting apartments with more than 3 rooms can be a wise option.) Prices are normally charged by number of nights. That is, if an apartment costs US$ 100.00 p/day, 10 nights will be US$ 1000.00. Discounts can be considered above 30 days rentals. Prices per day can decrease for longer periods, since a longer stay will be booked. How much per day? Usually fair apartments can be found starting at US$ 90,00 a day. Two bedrooms apartments in Ipanema, Lagoa and Leblon, all beach neighborhoods can vary from US$ 150 to US$ 300 a night, on average. If the apartments are located in high floors, if they have private pools and/ or hydro massage bath tubs, prices can rise significantly.

Locations/ Neighborhoods: Like any other major city in the world, prices vary by per different neighborhoods and zones. Most expensive apartments are all found on the South Zone (called “Zona Sul” in Portuguese), specifically in the following neighborhoods: Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, Copacabana, Flamengo and Botafogo. Barra da Tijuca, once a separate beach neighborhood, also offers some very luxurious flats and residence services, but you need to have a car to drive around since public transportation is limited there. Ipanema, Lagoa and Flamengo have been considered the safest neighborhoods, since prostitution is heavily combated in those areas. Copacabana is a universe on its own, with a many apartments to choose from. Copacabana is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Rio, with night-clubs, beach and lot´s of culture. Need some one liner neighborhood highlights? Here they are: Ipanema: Fashion shops, trendy restaurants, and gorgeous beach. Leblon: upscale shopping mall, excellent restaurants and bookstores. Lagoa: nice park, tranquil night kiosks around lagoon; Copacabana: wide apartment selection, public transport, eclectic environment. Flamengo: family type neighborhood, Flamengo Park, famous street bars. Barra: beautiful beach, Miami hype constructions.

Rental Agencies: The most popular way to find a rental agency is through the web. The are innumerous rental agencies to choose from in the wonderful city. The great majority of vacation rentals in Rio are serious in their business, delivering what they claim. Most of them display a list of apartments they own or represent, either by neighborhoods or by number of rooms. They present up to 10 pictures of the rentals and a small description of the amenities and apartment surroundings, so you can familiarize with the region. When you are choosing the apartment, first try to identify yourself with the neighborhood you are staying in, as well as your budget. This will save you time and help in the selection process. Once you know what where you want to stay and how much you can afford, browse through the apartments list and see if there is anything you like.

Once you see something you like, send an e-mail to the company stating which apartment you have in mind, and a second or third option, case that apartment is taken. (Many rentals offer an on-line bookings calendar view, which may save you time as well.). To find a list of rentals agencies in Rio, type in Google “Vacation Apartment Rio” and check the results. You will find more than 10 agencies only in page 1 of your search.

How are Payments made: Most Rental agencies in Rio take Pay-Pal, money wires, credit cards and cash. A reservation deposit is necessary to secure your apartment reservation. Companies have different reservation deposits policies. These deposits can vary from 30% up to 50% of the total stay amount. After the agency acknowledges the initial payment, the balance due is normally paid on entrance and key delivery of the vacation apartment. Most companies however do not return reservation deposit for Carnival and New Years holidays, due to great demand. Check the cancellation policy in company’s website or via e-mail.

Amenities: Vacation apartments in Rio also vary a lot in terms of their included amenities. Most of them offer by default a complete kitchen, cable TV, Internet access, air conditioner in the rooms and linens/towels. This would be the minimum acceptable. One level above, rentals can provide CD/DVD player, clothing washing machine, coffee machine, and safe. Luxury apartments in Rio and residence service flats additionally can offer hot-tubs, private pools, and even gourmet kitchen utensils.

Do’s and Don’ts: Be very careful during the reservation process since you need to understand all of the apartments requirements. Once you have decided for the rentals agency and the apartment in mind make sure you have all your questions and concerns promptly answered. It is the agency’s obligation to make sure you feel comfortable with your choice. Your rentals contacts should be courteous and receptive. If during the reservation process you are not satisfied or comfortable with your rentals contact, be sure to change your agency. If you have any friend in Rio de Janeiro, ask him/her to visit the apartment. This procedure is pretty common. Another tip would be to try to plan ahead. As soon as you have your travel dates secured, start your “apartment hunting”. Be sure to ask for a contract as well, and read all of the buildings do´s and don’ts.

Apartments for vacationers are numerous but even so, Rio is famous for having the most exotic beached in the world and thousands flock here every year. So it’s wise to remember that the best vacation apartments get filled up very quickly especially in during New Years holidays and Carnival. I truly believe Rio is a city full of wonders and hosts the friendliest people on earth. Buy the latest fashion trend bikinis and flip-flops, but remember that the best vacation apartments in Rio get filled up very quickly especially during New Years and Carnival. So make sure you book well in advance.

Copyright (c) 2008 Andre Skowronski