São Paulo, like many urban centres, has a north-south divide.
Traditionally, the areas south of Paulista Avenue, the main thoroughfare that bisects this city of about 20m residents, are more affluent. Wide boulevards lined with lush rubber trees meant these neighbourhoods became the natural home for the city’s best restaurants and boutiques.
House prices in São Paulo rose roughly 200 per cent between 2008 and 2014, largely driven by the wealthier suburbs. In 2016, despite Brazil ’s worst recession in more than a century, prices across the city increased for the eighth consecutive month in October, according to the São Paulo Housing Union.
North of Paulista lies the seedier old downtown. An area categorised by its abandoned train stations, crumbling shopfronts and a complicated, often dangerous, highway system.
But pockets of the northern district are starting to look more hipster than hobo. Huge renovation projects that began in 2011 to preserve historical buildings are helping to make the old part of the city a more liveable and desirable destination. Most notably a 1920s electricity substation on Bandeira Square has been transformed into a five-storey creative arts space , and a disused cinema and former conservatory of music in Anhangabaú is now a spectacular concert hall and exhibition complex, Praça das Artes .
For those looking for a home, Moóca, 7km north-east of Paulista Avenue and a few metro stops from Praça das Artes, is on a similar trajectory of gentrification as New York’s Williamsburg or Hackney in east London.
The fact that construction across this historically industrial suburb — whose name means “to build houses” — is outpacing many other districts in São Paulo has not been overlooked by investors.
Back in 1910, two out of three residents here were Italian. The majority worked in vast warehouses to produce textiles and construction materials. These warehouses, later abandoned like those in New York’s Brooklyn borough, are increasingly being renovated to form lofty apartments, stylish office buildings and commercial spaces surrounded by the original Italian ice-cream parlours and coffee shops.
In keeping with the area’s heritage, there are more than 100 pizzerias in Moóca, brimming with high-flyers at lunchtime. There is even a new shopping mall, the Moóca Plaza .
Excellent transport links and proximity to popular southern neighbourhoods make this area worth considering if space and location are priorities.
Photographs: Lucas Viani/Alamy; Andre M Chang/Arduopress/Alamy; Rebeca Mello/ Moment Editorial/Getty Images; View Pictures/Alamy; Dreamstime
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