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Coworking spaces in Rio de Janeiro: which neighborhood to choose?

There are many people who decide to look for an office or a coworking space when they come to Rio de Janeiro. Some don’t even come by themselves but are looking for a place to open up their Brazilian branch from a distance. Some are willing to start a company, some are staying for a while, some are digital nomads some think about staying for longer. Every case is a little different but everyone is looking for a place to work, to hang out, to meet people or just to register a company. The number of coworking spaces in Rio de Janeiro has exploded over the past years. Especially the years before the FIFA World Cup (2014) and the Olympic Games (2016) have created an international attention for the city and this was reflected also in the number of coworkings. There is a large concentration of coworkings in the business center and in the classical tourist areas, mostly in the south of the city (Zona Sul). 

The city of Rio de Janeiro plus neighboring municipalities in the North, a region called Baixada Fluminense.

These are the areas most visitors go to first since a lot of information is available about them, also in English and other languages. These neighborhoods like Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, Botafogo, Flamengo etc have a touristic infrastructure, they are close to the tourist beaches and some of them are just famous as well (however, there are of course many more beach areas than just in Zona Sul). Also, there are restaurants, hotels, hostels and small apartments which foreigners can rent without too much of bureaucratic procedures compared to more residential neighborhoods. On the other side, Zona Sul does not necessarily reflect the real and traditional Rio de Janeiro which you find more in the Northern and in some of the (North-)Western parts of town (Zona Norte, Zona Oeste).

The city of Rio de Janeiro and its larger regions: Zona Oeste (green), Zona Norte (blue), Centro (red), Zona Sul (yellow).

Over the years, Zona Sul has become crowded with visitors, especially in the summertime from December to March, and also street traffic has increased a lot. Much different than for example in areas like Tijuca (this is Tijuca, but not Barra da Tijuca), Vila Isabel, Grajaú or Meier which are some of the beautiful mostly residential areas in Zona Norte with much less traffic, no tourism, original Rio de Janeiro lifestyle and also offices and coworking spaces. Some of the neighborhoods mentioned are part of the Grande Tijuca area, a number of neighborhoods all around Tijuca which is one of the best neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. The only thing missing there is a beach. While some people believe, Zona Sul is a better place to stay than Zona Norte they do not take into consideration that Tijuca, for example, offers a much higher quality of life than many of the small and stuffed Southern regions like Botafogo, Laranjeiras, Catete, Gloria etc.

Prices in Zona Norte are much more affordable for everything, from food to rent. Nevertheless, very few foreign visitors find their way to these areas. The reasons for that are manifold. The main reason is the reputation of Rio de Janeiro as a beach and party location for tourists (and yes, the locals do party as well). And this is what is happening in Zona Sul, mostly Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon, a little less also in Botafogo, Flamengo and then of course in Lapa and other central regions. Also, people go to Barra da Tijuca (this is not Tijuca) for some beach sports and nightclubs, a.k.a “boates”. Very differently, you won’t find the same kind of locations in Zona Norte. At least not that obvious and not in the same quantity. Neighborhoods in Zona Norte, and here again I am referring mostly to the Grande Tijuca area (but others are actually very similar) have a lot of bars, live music, a few clubs (mostly smaller ones) but many traditional samba places.

And then you have the Western part of Rio, known as Zona Oeste, which especially in Barra da Tijuca and Recreio is offering coworking spaces and also offices plus beach, but hardly any interesting areas to live, walk through and enjoy since everything was built for cars. Barra da Tijuca is a modern urban mostly privatized neighborhood that differs a lot from the other parts of Rio de Janeiro. However, it has a lot of offices and coworking spaces to rent as well and is a great option for just registering a company. Barra da Tijuca, therefore, is a great solution for companies looking for a reputable address to register their branch in Brazil without being present themselves.

The city of Rio de Janeiro and its neighborhoods.


Summing it up

In the Southern parts and also in the central parts of Rio de Janeiro you will find many coworking spaces plus touristic infrastructure, party places and the beach.

In Zona Norte, for example, the Grande Tijuca area, you will also find coworkings and offices plus restaurants and everything else for better prices, plus countless bars to hang out, live music, samba and a few clubs, but no beach.

In Zona Oeste, you will find coworkings mostly in Barra da Tijuca and Recreio. It is a more pricey corporate environment (comparable to Zona Sul), a few hotels at the beach and nightclubs but no street life. It is a reputable address if you like to register your Brazilian company or branch from a distance.

And again: Tijuca and Barra da Tijuca are not the same neighborhood. They are not even close to each other. Whoever tells you about Tijuca is talking about Tijuca. Whoever tells you about Barra is talking about Barra da Tijuca.

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