My first piece for The State; an origin tale :)
Now, the real estate market is booming in these favelas. Middle-class Brazilians have discovered the slums as a cheap housing alternative. They are also accompanied by an influx of foreigners, most of whom come from the crisis-ridden countries of Southern Europe. Many of the newcomers head to Rio to build an entirely new life for themselves.
Cantagalo is now home to Spaniards, Italians, Argentineans and an Australian. In the neighboring favela of Pavão-Pavãozinho, a prominent immigrant from Germany has also found a place to live: the former senator of the interior in the city-state of Hamburg, Ronald Schill, who was once called “Judge Merciless” for his harsh rulings. Until recently, he was living in an apartment on the Copacabana. Now, he has purchased a small house in the favela.
“Rents and purchasing prices are lower here than down below,” he says as he points to the asphalt jungle at his feet. It’s primarily the favelas in the southern zone of the city that attract the gringos. These areas are usually only minutes from the beach and offer some of the best views of Rio’s stunning urban landscape.
Standing on his terrace, Baronio gazes at the Atlantic. It takes him only 15 minutes to get to the beach. “In Europe the rich would live here,” he says in amazement.