Showing posts with label living in rio de janeiro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label living in rio de janeiro. Show all posts

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Gringoalisation" of Rio as a positive thing?

Q. Rachel, I would be really curious to know: as a long-term resident do you see this "gringoalisation" of Rio as a positive thing? and what about the Cariocas you know? Recently the BBC Uk broadcasted a report on Brazil's economic boom and took Rio as an example, saying that the city's real estate is becoming out of reach for its native/residents. This surely must have something to do with Rio's appeal to international crowds...sorry if sightly off topic... 

A.The first thing that comes to mind is "There goes the neighborhood!"

While development and international status is wonderful for a 3rd world country, there is a charm to my city that seems to get lost in it. The very things that need to be changed in order for Rio de Janeiro to be an international city are the things that make it what it is.

Of course I'm not talking about the streets that need fixed or the sewage that washes up onto the streets each time it rains. These aren't the things that are going to be fixed even though they should.

I'm talking about the coconut vendor who sits in front of Lojas Americanas and the man who sells possibly unsanitary tapioca in Largo do Machado. There are the popcorn and candy vendors who set up outside of schools at the time they let out and the strange smelling jewelry lady whom I buy all my random earrings from. Those some of the things that make this city wonderful, the people without permits just making a living.

What makes this city unique is the impromptu band that plays music on Saturday evenings in the plaza as people with styrofoam boxes of ice and beer sell to the people watching. It's these kind of things that flow with the culture of the people that could die if gringo type legislation takes place. 

While I look forward to having the buildings full of squatters cleaned out and turned into something productive, I loath the idea of the entire city turning into an Ipanema. We already have an Ipanema, do we really need another chic neighborhood full of over-priced shops and foreigners who don't buy there anyway?

I would love Catete to be cleaned up but in a way that brings it back to the glory days of Catete, not just somewhere that would be considered attractive to tourists. 

I worry about my neighborhood that once only had small hotels and is now becoming full of hostels. I don't want to live in the place where young Europeans/North Americans come to drink and sleep around.  And if English becomes the pronounced language in plaça São Salvador, I think I just may cry. Not to mention that I rarely see Capoeira groups practicing in plazas anymore. I wonder if it's a part of the new development or just something that phased out on its own.

And while they say real estate is "running high", that isn't necessarily true. Prices are high, and have been for a little while now, but locals are starting to take a step back. It's over-priced and most middle-class Cariocas don't like to buy homes on credit.

They save and, if need be, they take out a small loan. The banks still don't condone this North American idea of paying an outrageous price for your apartment for the rest of your life. They aren't going to just give Mrs. Maria Eduarda a loan for R$800,000 that she can pay back over 30+ years. The banks actually take into consideration the idea that this may be too much money for someone to not have issues paying it at some time or another. 

Rio de Janeiro is foreign investors' cash cow now but will it always stay that way? Sure, we have some great stuff happening down here, including oil, but what will happen once the World Cup and Olympics pass? Will they keep their stuff here for "investment" but physically go to whichever country becomes the newest cow? What will happen to my Rio then? 

Obviously I get a little pissed off by all this but only because I bought into this cow when it was slightly addicted to drugs and stealing from me. I fell in love with her for her personality! Now that Rio de janeiro is getting all dressed up and has filled out a bit, all you people want in. Look, it's my freaking cow! I loved it when you wouldn't and I will love it when another cow starts producing more milk. So if you are going to to come here for a ride on my cow let me give you a word of advice. Do what is best for her, not your pockets!

Your thoughts and feelings?

Thanks to @drian@ for the question!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stripped in Rio de Janeiro

People want to settle in Rio de Janeiro. They come here with a plan to live a good life and work a fun job. That is entirely possible in this city. I actually have friends with a flexible enough work schedule that they get two half days a week and work until 11pm other days when they like to go out at midnight.

What people don't talk about is the living part. It is not easy to make a home here. While us foreigners mock cultures where people live with their parents until they are 30, we have no idea how it is. That truth came to me the very first tiny apartment Mr. Rant and I looked at. We were looking to buy.

The tiny part wasn't shocking. I was prepared for that. I wasn't prepared for a place that was totally stripped. When I stay stripped I mean not even a place to screw in a light bulb.

You see, stuff is expensive here. People take cabinets, light fixtures, and even outlet covers. Don't even hope to find a place with a oven!

Of course things are changing now. Life is getting a bit easier. People actually now rent with some appliances. By the way, some appliances (aka. a Fridge and oven) classify as a furnished apartment to some rental agencies.

So when you come as a foreigner and feel totally ripped off with your place in Ipanema realize that you were only somewhat ripped off. It is not even worth bothering to try to "save" some of that money unless you are here long enough to use that fridge you bought and make some friends who are willing to buy it when you leave.

All that being said, I've been here for over 5 years now and have amassed enough crap to over-fill my place. Rio de Janeiro seems to come down to grit, staying power, and determination. If you have any of those you are golden!