This weekend I headed with some friends to a suburb of Rio called Jacarepagua, this is the neighborhood after Barra de Tijuca and a few years ago was mostly leveled but now is one big real estate development. This is also where the olympic games in 2016 are going to take place. Some of you may have heard of the crazy real estate boom around here. Most of Zona Sul which is the best part of Rio, close to the beach is all built up and old, and so the city is expanding westward in a crazy pace. Everyone wants a big shiny new apartment close to the beach and the construction companies are giving them just that.
There are also a lot of investment and speculation going on as house prices rise like 20-40% a year on new construction and financing cash is readily available. Everyone can say a ‘bubble’ at this point but it does seem like there is a shortage of housing that is being bridged.
I visited a particular apartment complex, called the Peninsula, and was incredibly impressed. Ex-pats that don’t care about living in the center of Rio, this is your paradise. I think it had something like 15 apartment buildings, half of them with exclusively duplex apartments. The complex encompasses a natural reserve (45 thousand!! square meters) for hiking and biking, swimming pools, tennis courts, playgrounds, gardens, restaurant, event halls, etc, etc. I think the prices for 3 BD apartments go for something like 1 million reais ($600k..). Not too shabby… (and this is something like 2 hours commute from the city center, with average traffic). The apartment complex also had its own visitor center, with model apartments, viewing halls, coffee shop and whatnot. Utterly impressive.
After this short glance into modern civilization, we drove back via Barra, where we encountered the real “povo”, the people, of Brazil, spending their Sunday drinking beer, eating heavy feijoada, and listening to Samba / Forro music. We stopped over at a Mexican restaurant (which was of course completely empty) since I was having strong longing for variety. I gulped down my frozen Margarita and ate all of my nachos, while wearing a sombrero and listening to Samba music. Cultural syncretism at its best. I also ate what they called Tapas, which was mini tortillas (pronounced TORTILAS by our waiter) with tomato sauce and sour cream. I ordered it just for the sour cream which is impossible to find around here. Of course it tasted nothing like sour cream and so I put some tabasco sauce on it to make myself feel better (the margarita effect was helpful for this as well).
I also discovered a new business idea – a Barberia -> a place where for R$20 men can enjoy a haircut accompanied by beer. Brilliant! Maybe I can open the women equivalent one – haircut with Caipirinhas (price tag of $R100 at least). I have seen nail salons with drinks before, but never hair. This can be much more lucrative since hair takes so much longer to do..