|Young Brazilian man working on the infrastructure in Vidigal, Rio in Brazil. Image by Meredith Noll for The NewsGallery.|
By: Meredith Noll
Rio de Janeiro is becoming one of the most expensive cities in the world. The property values in Zona Sul neighborhoods, like Leblon and Ipanema saw as much as a 47% increase within the last year--forcing many potential buyers and renters to look elsewhere for their homes. While the more conservative shoppers are simply moving to the suburbs, some of the more adventurous buyers are investing their time and money in the shantytowns (known as favelas), which in many cases offer the best views in the city, for a fraction of the cost compared to the properties in Zona Sul.
Andreas Wielend, a 33 year-old from Austria, moved to Rio a few years ago. He rented apartments in Leblon and Ipanema, and eventually became frustrated with the cost benefit analysis; he has since purchased property atop a mountain in Vidigal for $21,000, where he's building a three story house, featuring a top-to-bottom glass wall on one side, which overlooks the sea and some of the most amazing views in the entire city (see below). These days, the value of his property has tripled, and is expected to steadily increase. While numbers are clearly in his favor, to supplement his income, Wielend also hosts parties and rents rooms to foreigners who're interested in experiencing life in the favela.
|View from Alex Barwinski's apartment in Rocinha, Rio in Brazil. Image by Meredith Noll for The NewsGallery.|
|Inside Rocihna, Rio Brazil Image by Meredith Noll|
Alex Barwinski, a 29 year old from Southern California, bartends in Ipanema and lives in Rocinha–Rio’s largest and one of the most notoriously violent favelas. He pays R$400 ($239) a month for a one bedroom apartment with a terrace overlooking the hills (see Barwinski's view above). Barwinski claims, "access to 24/7 transport from Rocinha to various spots in the city is seamless," and boasts of great baile funk parties, which are a huge allure for young foreigners.
The appeal of favela life was catapulted by the 2002 film, which was based on a true story, City of God (Cidade de Deus, 2002; see trailer above) and by the popularity of baile funk music and parties, so much so that favela themed restaurants have sprung up in cities such as London, Paris, New York and São Paulo.
|Center of Rocinha in Rio, Brazil. Image by Meredith Noll for The NewsGallery.|
|The streets of Rocinha in Rio, Brazil. Image by Meredith Noll for The NewsGallery|
Meredith Noll is our new Contributor, (an American) based in Brazil. She'll be keeping us in the know and connecting the dots in The NewsGallery style, all the way from São Paulo.