I spent two months in Rio de Janeiro. One of my first questions, before to travel to Rio, was where should I live in this large city?
I think the answer depends on how long you will stay in the city. If you are there only for a few days, stay near the beach. If you are here longer there are some less expensive neighbourhood well located to allow you to go everywhere.
Best Rio neighbourhood for 3-5 days
For a short time, I would definitely tell you to stay near the beach Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon. Leblon is the most expensive area with nicer hotels, followed by Ipanema.
Long term stay in Rio, think smarter
When you stay for more than two weeks in the city you might not want to only go to the beach every day.
I was staying in Botafogo, cheaper, more affordable and not badly located to access the different part of the city. A short taxi ride will bring you to the beach or to the city centre. Uber is an easy way to move around.
Same for Flamengo (very residential). Those are areas people cross to go to other points. Santa Teresa is very pretty but a bit difficult to access due to the roads.
It’s worth checking your budget, the prices and where you might go the most.
Avoid the north
Sadly the north side is a poor area and there is not much to see, to be honest. Also because of the favelas, it’s a bit less “secure” than the south.