renting a house in sao paulo, our experience

After four months of solid searching we finally found our dream house here in sunny Sao Paulo. From looking at our blog stats, searches, emails and comments it appears that lots of people seem interested in information on the house rental process here in Sao Paulo, so this blog will cover what we encountered, learned and discovered during our search for a rental house.

Please don’t think that we are house hunting experts, or that our experience was in anyway “normal”, I don’t know what is normal here for house hunting, I can only write about our experience, and I hope that it helps someone.

Types of houses:

We knew we wanted to live near Parque Ibirapuera (the biggest park close to the centre of Sao Paulo), so we only looked in this area of the city, but even in our relatively small area we saw some a whole range of places, from amazing condominiums, cute secure streets and lots of nice houses out on regular streets.

Condominiums are secure and gated housing developments, they are the most secure (and most expensive) type of house that we saw, but most of them were well out of our budget (and hard to find vacant too), which was sad as some were really modern and funky.

Secure streets have a barrier at the entrance and exit of the street and a guard looking after the street, there are some nice secure streets around the edge of the park, and a couple that actually back onto the park.

Houses on regular streets can still have a security guard service; groups of houses chip in to pay the wages for a twenty four hours security service (which is what we have near our place).

Real Estate Agents

They are much the same as they are back in NZ or England, and that’s all I need to say!

We used all of the agencies near the park to maximise our chances of finding a place. In the end we found our house with VNC:

http://www.vnc.com.br/hm/

We also used Coehlo Da Fonseca:

http://www.coelhodafonseca.com.br/

And Anglo American:

http://www.angloaa.com/

All three had some people who could speak at least some English, which was a great help to us with our beginners Portuguese.

Another website that friends have used is:

http://www.zap.com.br/

The three agents would regularly email or phone as new houses became available, and we could see them online usually before deciding to view them.

Because where we wanted to live was an area of high demand, houses came and went really quickly, so we were lucky that Greg had a pretty flexible schedule so was able to visit houses as soon as the agent got the keys. The agents showed us houses around the range that we requested, but would also try and get us to view houses that were way out of our budget, which was both annoying and fascinating at the same time. The range of houses around our area goes from R4,000 to over R25,000 per month, and some of the houses at the top of the range are worth a look, just to see how the other half live!

The agents would pick us up from our place, or if it was easier we would meet them at the property or at their office. We never saw more than three houses in a day and we could never work out if this was deliberate or just coincidence.

The renting process

Once we found a house that we liked, we put in a written offer to the landlord via the agent, it seemed that the landlord can only be presented one offer at a time, and we narrowly missed one nice house as another offer got put in just 10 minutes before our offer did.

Once the landlord agrees to the offer, a contract is drawn up; this is where the process became a lot slower and more convoluted than the process in the UK or Nz/Oz.

There appeared to be no standard lease document, and our lease was 23 pages long and needed to be prepared by a lawyer – as if renting isn’t stressful enough on its own!

You don’t pay a bond, instead someone acts as a Fiador and guarantees your rental, this could be your company, or a person who lives in the state of Sao Paulo, and owns their own property, I don’t know if you could get a lease signed without this guarantee though.

The first place we applied for went fine until the landlord realised we were gringos, when he put the rent up by 25%, but the other landlords we encountered where pretty good and the agents were as shocked as we were by the landlords behaviour, so I don’t think this is normal behaviour!

The standard lease appears to be 36 months, but you can add a break clause in with a few weeks’ notice which we did, so the length of the lease didn’t really worry us, if the lease was broken early we would have to pay the lawyers fees – I am not sure what that would be though!

The real estate agent gets one months’ rent – but this paid to them by the landlord and you also need to pay the landlords insurer one month’s rent per year which is effectively landlords insurance.

A couple of friends of ours had leases that stated they needed to completely repaint the property when they ended the lease, this isn’t massively expensive, but it is another cost you may want to consider adding into your costs.

Renovations

It appears quite common here to negotiate with the landlord to spend some months of the rent money renovating the house, it’s a really great idea and lots of houses we saw had the option to spend up to four months’ rent on renovations, of course, the more you could spend on renovations, the shabbier the house was to start with. We negotiated to repaint the inside of our house, install a new kitchen and bathroom and generally tidy up the place up to the cost of three months rent. So the first three months rent we have paid to the contractors to do the renovations rather than the landlord.

What’s in the house?

This was probably one of the biggest areas of difference to the way we were renting back home, the things that are included in the house can vary massively from house to house, some we saw were totally bare – I mean totally bare, you would have to buy your own light fittings, switches, curtain rails, hot water systems etc. Others were more normally empty; you just needed to buy all your white goods (including fridge, oven, washing machine etc). Luckily we found a house in the latter category of empty, so we just had to buy all our white goods and furniture.

As with most things in Brasil, prices are probably higher than we expected (and most other expats too it appears) expected them to be, you can see the prices of all the white goods you need at this company website:

http://www.fastshop.com.br/

From our comparisons and talking to work mates these guys had pretty good prices, and a two day delivery guarantee.

Brasilian houses

The Brasilian houses that we saw had some peculiarities that we had not seen before and might be worth mentioning.

The most obvious difference was the maids’ apartment. At the back of all of the houses that we saw there was a small apartment with a bedroom and bathroom for the maid to use, these were generally pretty small and dark, but could I imagine be used as a spare bedroom if you like us don’t have a live in maid.

Quite a few of the older houses we saw didn’t have hot water in the kitchen; others had small electric hot water systems over the sink supplying hot water. Along similar lines was the electric shower, our house has a couple of these, they use electrical current to heat coldwater right in the shower head, once you get used to electric cables and running water being so close together they are pretty good.

Most of houses we saw also had fire places, its hot most of the year in Sao Paulo, but as the houses are built to catch a breeze rather than hold in hot air, when the weather does get cold, the house can get quite cold, we have a big fireplace in the lounge that fixes that problem there, but there is no heating in the other rooms. It’s not that cold here, so it’s not really a problem, but for people used to turning on the central heating as soon as it got a bit cold in London, we have found our first winter in Sao Paulo a bit of shock to the system!

My favourite bit of Brasilian house design is definitely the hammock hangers, our house has three sets of internal hammock hanging points, I am really looking forward to sleeping in the hallway on a hot summer night, with the breeze blowing through from the hallway door!

Given the grim fascination with safety and security and Sao Paulo, it’s probably also worth mentioning that our house is suitably well secured, we have a big tall fence around the house, topped with an electric fence, we have a motion detecting alarm system, and the core part of the house has all steel frame doors and windows with bars on them and panic buttons to call our security firm if anyone manages the get through all that. With that amount of security we sleep very well at night!

Bills

As well as paying the rent, we also pay for water, electricity, telephone and IPTU (council tax). I don’t know how the IPTU is calculated but for our house it costs us about 10% of our rent each month.

Another bill that we are quite happy to pay is for the security guard who watches over some of the houses on the street, given the fear of security in Sao Paulo, it’s reassuring to have him around the house in the evening, and as he is shared between several houses, the cost is minimal.

That’s about all I can think of our house renting experience at the moment, I hope it helps someone else who is in our situation. If I have made any mistakes or omissions, then please let me know!

Cheers,

Greg

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20 Responses to renting a house in sao paulo, our experience

  1. Eric Hundin says:

    I found your blog on MSN Search. Nice writing. I will check back to read more.

    Eric Hundin

  2. Hector Agent says:

    The main business and nightlife streets are the safest places, but you need to be more careful when venturing into the suburbs. Hector Agent

  3. Jay says:

    Hey Guys, I am a brazilian student from sao paulo. I got friends in USA who are interested in getting some info about sao paulo. So I just came across with your blog.. Nice blog. Gonna recommend to them. If you guys have any questions about sao paulo or something related to Brazil that you guys would like to know, I would be happy to assist you.

  4. maita gomez says:

    Hey we’re moving into Rio;nice that I got some few tips here. I would want to rent a nice luxury penthouse, but I went over the real estate sites you’ve given and there’s less number of listings and I’ve got few to choose from.

  5. […] > Couple living in Sao Paulo have more info on renting an apartment […]

  6. expatbrazil says:

    Hello Sampa,

    Just put a link in from ExpatBrazil to this blog entry. Very good. Saved me a lot of work. 🙂

    Cheers,

    ExpatBrazil

  7. Hannah says:

    Hey. Sounds like it would be a wonderful experience. Thanks for the information about buying houses in the city because I am doing a project about living in the city.

  8. Rambo Fernandes says:

    very informative for all those who are planning to move to SP beautifully written giving relevent datails some indication of rent Range would have helped
    Rambo

  9. Jay says:

    I am planning to move to Sao Paulo in the second half of the year 2012. I am living in New York for last 23 years. I am not a rich person but I would like to rent a reasonable 2 bedrooms apartments which could be about 10 Kilometers or little more away from down town Sao Paulo in the suburbs. Of course area should be clean and secured. I would also prefer that any international or American Medium Elementary school to be close to that place. Does any body knows where its the best place according to my requirement and a budget with apx. 7-800 u.s. dollars monthly rent.

    • Marcelo says:

      Hello everyone, I have a Townhouse in condominium security 24 hours 13 km from Congonhas airport and 10 km from the center of Sao Paulo, an area very beautiful and peaceful, the house has 2 bedrooms, two floors with fireplace, pool heated garden next to the mall and the American school, quiet and safe street, and I want to rent full furnished.
      Contact Marcelo 55+11 99887 3001
      Barbara 55+11 98383 3386
      marcelo.fly@gmail.com

  10. Jay says:

    Earlier I posted for rental of an Apartment but at this point I am looking for an International or American Medium Elementary school which the fee should be quite reasonable. I wonder the school fee for such kind of schools are very expensive in Brazil as compared with USA. Does any body knows or can be a help to me regarding this matter. Thanks..

    • Egbert says:

      Hi Jay,
      Have you already found a place in Sao Paulo?
      I am a broker renting properties both in Sao Paulo and Amsterdam/Nederland.I might have a lot of options in SP at this very moment!
      Regards,
      Egbert

  11. Clarisse says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience Greg that was very helpful. We are also thinking about renting a house but still had a lot of questions in mind about it.

  12. Beatriz says:

    Hi Guys!
    I´m moving to S. Paulo next month and your blog it´s just the job!! thanks a lot for your advices and lots of descriptions, very useful!!!

    • Egbert says:

      Hi Greg!
      Welcome to SP!
      I am a Real Estate Agent,if you need a place just let me know.
      Regards,
      Egbert

      • Dickson says:

        Hi Egbert. I am currently looking for a place to rent in SP Jun 20-30 this coming summer (2014). We have 3 adult males in my party and would be happy to hear of any properties you could find. Please write me at your earliest convenience. Thanks! Dickson.lau@rogers.com

  13. Madeleine says:

    I am French, working at Graziella dos imóveis Real Estate and I would be pleased to assist you in finding the very home you are looking for. Visit our Website http://www.grazielladosimoveis.com.br and do not hesitate to contact me =55(11)9 9209-7073

  14. Robert says:

    I am a gringo looking to rent my apartment in Jardins. If anyone is looking for an apartment near Paulista send me an email.

    Robert
    teacher.robert@homail.com

  15. Marcelo says:

    Hello everyone, I have a Townhouse in condominium security 24 hours 13 km from Congonhas airport and 10 km from the center of Sao Paulo, an area very beautiful and peaceful, the house has 2 bedrooms, two floors with fireplace, pool heated garden next to the mall and the American school, quiet and safe street, and I want to rent full furnished.
    Contact Marcelo 55+11 99887 3001
    Barbara 55+11 98383 3386
    marcelo.fly@gmail.com

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