As in many of the countries where you can take your year abroad, Rio has no student halls so private accommodation is pretty much your only option.
- Decide what you want! This is very important. Rio is all about beach life and seaside living and water sports. However, our host university, PUC, is in a neighbourhood where beach access is a 20 minute walk away. Make sure you have a clear price range as you will be priced out of certain neighbourhoods- We decided that we want a place which was close to uni, but wanted to live by the seaside so we chose to live in the Ipanema/Leblon border. These are , generally, the safest in Rio, as well as being a 25/30 minute walk from uni (and the 2 minute walk to the beach doesn’t hurt either).
- Start Early! Most common mistake– a lot of people wait to get to Rio in order to find a place to live. There are an increasing number of students coming to Rio and the options for rooms are very limited and usually go quite fast. The most common thing that happens is that students end up living in neighbourhoods which offer neither closeness to seaside living nor proximity to uni.
- Don’t expect to live with other Brazilian students! Most students think that in order to master Portuguese you need to live with other Brazilian students. However, even though in Europe we tend to move around for university this very rarely happens in Brazil. Most people in Brazil can barely afford higher education- and the ones who do, tend to already live in big cities so don’t move out to go to University. Students who insist on this point, tend to end up living with older professionals, which isn’t ideal for the year abroad experience.
- Get a building with a doorman– Most buildings in Brazil have this. However, it is important to stress how much safer this makes a building. Moreover, anytime you have any sort of issues in your flat, this is your point of contact.
- Read your contracts very carefully– Lease agreements in RJ are very one-sided and tend to massively benefit the landlord, sometimes to a ridiculous point. However, Brazilians tend to be flexible in certain cases and if you negotiate with them you will, mostly, be able to alter these clauses. Look for any hidden charges or fines especially as well as any guest/entertaining restrictions.
Written by Pedro Vasques-Milhinhos – PUC, Rio de Janeiro