Can You Afford Living in São Paulo?

Probably not.

João Gabriel Zó
Jun 8 · 4 min read

São Paulo is a great city. It has museums, parks, street art, nice views, diversity; everything you can imagine. But as you can imagine, “low-cost” is not a quality of the biggest metropolis in South America.
Like in the picture above, wherever you look in São Paulo the inequality is clear. So I gathered some data and decided to look a little more deep into the apartment prices in the city.

Buying vs Renting

Personally, I don’t think buying a place is a good idea. If you’re gonna pay for something your entire life, at least pay for something you can change whenever you want or need.
The graphs above show 94 different districts in their horizontal axis; the first graphic has the average rent price for each district on it’s vertical axis, and the second has the average selling price.

With a few exceptions, we can see that the pattern doesn’t really change. The apartment prices will be high where the rent prices are high, and vice-versa. But why?
I mean, why some places cost 10 times the price of other places. Is it the name, the location, the view?


Thinking about it, I tried to show on a map exactly where are the apartments located depending on it’s rent price.
In green, you can see every apartment which price is below $1000 (there are only 343).
In red, the top 1000 higher prices.
The size of the dots are equivalent to the apartment size; the average “red apartments” size is 100m², while the green ones are half of it.

Ok, that helps. It’s like São Paulo caught a disease on it’s center and the green dots aren’t going anywhere near it.
By the size of the apartments, we can have an idea of why the prices are so high. Still doesn’t fully explain why the lowest red apartment price is 5 times higher then the highest green.
There is also a phenomenon called Real Estate Speculation; it happens when rich people purchase real estate with the hope that it will become more valuable in the near future. That forces poor people to move away from the center, looking for cheaper places to live.

See the black egg on the little map? This is(not precisely) where most companies are. Every kind of business you can think, it’s there, so of course everybody wants to leave near it.

Last but not least, public transport is a big issue in here (and I think all around the world). In São Paulo, the train service stops every other hour, the roads are falling apart and let’s not talk about the traffic; the subway is definitely the best way to move around the town. At least as far as it reaches.

The whole subway lines covers roughly 90km, while the city has
1.521,11km² and more than 12 millions residents.
Of course it will never cover the whole city, but it’s like a mom choosing the favorite child.


If you are poor and coming to São Paulo the chances are you’re gonna live isolated from society.

The data was gathered from Kaggle and the analysis was made fully on Python.
The notebook, images and interactive map are on GitHub.

João Gabriel Zó

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