|For a personal
account of Jim and Debbie's adventures in buying in Brazil, read their
story at: http://www.escapeartist.com/OREQ5/Real_Estate_Brazil.html
exaggerating. Teresopolis was idyllic and he and Debbie had purchased a
gorgeous estate for the price of a tool shed back home. But after a week,
I pulled out the map and began to plan my next destination. The same rarified
air that makes for scenic mountain life in Teresopolis, makes it cold and
damp much of the year. Jim and Debbie love it (maybe because they’re Texans?),
but if I'm clear about anything, it's that I want to live in a tropical
or at least temperate climate near the sea.
RIO DE JANEIRO
is not a contender in my search for a place to live, how does one go to
Brazil without at least visiting The City of God? One doesn’t.
I found a room for rent in a large home in the charming hilly neighborhood
called Santa Teresa. I never did find a local willing to risk his
life to take me out on the town after dark. My hosts, two guys who ran
a circus, didn't go out much, saying that it was safer to entertain at
home. And so I swam laps in their pool with the sounds of live Chopin being
played on the piano, while simultaneously being guarded by two Rotweillers
in the yard.
Nice as that
was, I'd heard that there was a nightlife in Rio and being a single woman,
I wanted to see it, but not particularly on my own. (I don’t suggest seeing
the movie “City of God” before you visit Rio). I asked the founder
of camaecafe.com, a recent college graduate whom I will call "John”, to
take me out to hear some live music. John suggested that we meet at his
friend's apartment from whence we would head out later. Nightlife
begins late in Rio. But it turned out that John’s friend's apartment was
really his apartment – as well as the home of his parents and two sisters.
We sat on the veranda overlooking Flamengo Beach politely sipping drinks
and making conversation, while his sisters and parents snuck out of their
bedrooms where apparently they’d been banished for the evening, to peek
at us. When 1 AM came and went, I called it a night. John agreed and accompanied
me downstairs to hail a taxi. But on the way out, he showed me his bedroom
where the bottom of his bunk bed doubled as a bright red fort, and the
walls were covered with magic marker sayings and signatures.
"I would be
honored if you'd sign my wall," he said, handing me a marker. "Why sure,”
I said stifling a laugh and adding my signature to the wall. Outside of
the high-rise apartment, we flagged down a taxi, but when John said to
the driver, "Take her to Santa Teresa", the driver shook his forefinger
back in forth in that Brazilian way that means No, and then he stepped
on the gas and roared off. Three more taxis peeled away rather than chance
driving across The City of God after midnight. It was almost 2 AM
when the fifth taxi pulled up. The driver said to get in, and then he ran
every red light getting me home.
Do I want
to live in a civil war zone? No.
of LifestylesBrazil.com is one of several who disagree with me on the merits
of life in Rio de Janeiro. He has dedicated his website to assisting foreigners
move to Rio. Boris says that Rio's hot neighborhoods at the moment are
Ipanema, Leblon, São Conrado, Lagoa, Jardim Botanico, Gãvea,
Barra, and Recreio. But he says that investors are starting to look at
other up and coming areas. Flamengo, Botafogo, and Copacabana for instance.
Check out www.lifestylesbrazil.com for the latest.
is another expatriate sold on Rio as a hot real estate market and a desireable
place to live. Recently, after receiving a large inheritance, the American
found escapeartist.com online and began his search in Costa Rica. He visited
Brazil for the first time a year ago, and immediately knew it was what
he’d been looking for. One year later, Anthony owns 16 lots and four oceanfront
homes in a bedroom community 35 miles from Copacabana. The custom
3-bedroom homes he builds feature pools and backyards on the beach – and
begin at $150,000. He and a fellow investor are also selling new
townhouses beginning at $49,000, lots at $19,000, and oceanfront lots for
fishing village three hours north of Rio located on a fist-shaped peninsula
jutting into the Atlantic, is renowned world wide as an international beach
resort. Each of its 23 spectacular beaches has its own character. The city
of 25,000 (mostly Argentines) swells to100,000 during high season (January
There are building
regulations in Buzios that limit height and land coverage so that the city
should retain its charming architectural downtown. However, what I discovered
in the course of six weeks in Buzios was a real estate market that is probably
one of the most inflated in Brazil. In February I was shown a slice of
land overlooking Ferradura Beach for $45,000. When I returned three months
later, the price had doubled. Every house I saw with an ocean view
and at three bedrooms and a pool were mostly over $200,000. I was
told that a small group of foreigners showed up last year, fell in love
with a house and offered the owner a million and a half euros on the spot,
no questions asked. Ever since, Buzios property owners share a common dream
called “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Dozens and dozens of houses suddenly
appeared on the market - at a price. Still, two-bedroom condos on the ocean
(Geriba Beach for example) can be had for as little as $150,000.
Expensive for Brazil, inexpensive if you are European or American.
I asked Carlos,
a local architect in Buzios, why prices were so high in Buzios compared
to Teresopolis. He said, "This is Buzios. A $30,000 house in Teresopolis
in five years will maybe be worth $50,000. A $150,000 investment in Buzios
now will appreciate to $500,000 in five years. Teresopolis is for locals.
Buzios is international."
I might add,
that although Carlos was probably right, Buzios is not a community. It
is a tourist town.
I took a six-hour
bus ride to Parati located on the Green Coast halfway between Rio de Janeiro
and Sao Paulo. Parati is a well-preserved Portuguese port unlike anything
I've seen before or since. And the surrounding land and remote beaches
are hauntingly beautiful. But it's not called the Green Coast for nothing.
It rains in the rainforest.
it was in Parati where I was shown my first (and only, thus far) private
island for sale. Dona Maria, the owner of the pousada in which I rented
a room, heard I was looking for property. "Come with me," she said
on my last morning in Parati. With that we took off walking the uneven
stone streets headed for the harbor. Maria stopped to talk to each and
every person we saw along the way, so that the five-minute walk to the
pier took thirty. When we arrived, a bathtub toy boat waited at the pier
along with three of Maria’s elderly friends to shuttle us out to her private
island. You'd never know that 80-year old Maria, wearer of sassy hats,
lover of caipirinhas, and knower of everyone and all that takes place in
Parati, owns half of the town thanks to her ancestors. Apparently Maria
needed cash for a daughter's medical expenses and so she was considering
selling a small chunk of her holdings. We motored past island after island
until thirty minutes later, we beached on a tiny sliver of sand and waded
ashore. There was a ramshackle caretaker house, an open bar, cisterns to
collect water, and an old toothless man who has been the caretaker for
years. Together with Maria, I scrambled over boulders, circumvented thorny
bushes, and stood in the shade of palm trees to gaze out to sea. Maria
pointed out the spot where I could build a house. Hard to picture as it
wasn't exactly flat. But when I squinted my eyes, yes, I could see it.
Me Ginger, on Gilligan's island.
I asked. "$300,000. Cash," Maria said.
OF THE BEAST
later, I returned to Brazil to add Bahia, the soul of Brazil to my search.
The city of Salvador pulsated with energy, music, dance, colors, food,
art, beautiful beaches, and old architecture. I knew I'd love it, I just
hadn’t known how much.
Join me in
the next issue of the Offshore Real Estate Quarterly for a tour of this
most fascinating region of Northeast Brazil, and I'll show you not only
a lakeside resort for sale for $200,000, but also a $35,000 oceanfront
home with a view of Salvador, and much, much more.
estate in Brazil and in other areas of South America check out the International
Real Estate Marketplace -