Leblon, Rio, Brazil

An Exclusive Enclave

Iyna Bort Caruso

Among the string of exclusive neighborhoods that was once described as Rio de Janeiro’s “money belt,” Leblon still manages to stand out and stand above.

The tony district is in the South Zone on the same stretch of beach as its famous neighbor, Ipanema. A narrow canal and park, Jardim de Alah, separate the two areas. Once fairly remote and inaccessible, Leblon’s fortunes changed when a streetcar connected it to the rest of the city.

On Leblon’s western fringe is a famous natural landmark, a pair of hills known as Dois Irmaos, or two brothers.  A century-old scenic road, Avenida Niemeyer, traverses dramatic landscapes In many ways, Leblon is a low-key version of Ipanema with quieter beaches and greater privacy, though it still boasts a lively restaurant scene and an impressive concentration of high end shops in Lower Leblon section. Upper Leblon is primarily residential.

Real estate in Leblon is among the most expensive, not only in Brazil but in Latin America. Among the cariocas who live here—the name given to locals—are a healthy showing of celebrities and politicians. Leblon is also home to international buyers, many of whom gravitate to pieds-a-terre in buildings with private security. There are no restrictions on property purchases by international buyers.

Prices correspond to a property’s proximity to the beach. Homes with ocean views are at the top of the range. Those ocean views include the symbol of the city, Corcovado Mountain, rising 700 meters above sea level with the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue at its peak.

Historic architecture sits among modern apartments and condominiums. Single-family homes are rare commodities here.  With little opportunity for new construction due to the scarcity of open land, the limited supply keeps home values high.