Over the last few years the change in the outlook for the Brazilian economy has been nothing short of remarkable. The country was for many years regarded as something of a basket case in South America due to high inflation, high borrowing and the fact that the country teethed on the brink of bankruptcy on more than one occasion. However in the late 1990s we saw a major shift in power in the country and the introduction of a number of serious changes to the economy, regulations and political scene.
These changes have helped to put Brazil back on the map and with more and more property investors looking to the region many are asking if it is time to have a “crack” at the Brazilian property market?
There are a number of areas of Brazil which have caught the interest of property investors but one which seems to be on the up is Natal which is in the north eastern state of Rio Grande do Norte. This is an area which is undergoing a major change in its landscape and local economy. So what do we know about the Natal?
Basic facts about Natal
Natal is the capital City of the state of Rio Grande do Norte with a population in the region of 800,000 although this rises to new 1.3 million if you take in the surrounding areas. Over the years there have been some major changes in the city and while much of Brazil is dogged by rumours of crime and unlawful behaviour the facts suggest that Natal is actually the safest city in the whole of Brazil, something which has not gone unnoticed by overseas investors.
The area itself has a tropical climate although the cool winds off the Atlantic Ocean ensure that the heat is not excessive and very attractive to the tourist sector. Temperatures range from 20° in August up to 31° in January although area is susceptible to heavy rainfall outside of the dry season between September and January.
The name Natal is actually Portuguese for Christmas and confirms the heavy Portuguese interest and influence over the region.
The development of Natal
If there is one development in the history of the City which epitomises the change in fortunes it is the building of the coastal highway in the 1980s. This is an 8 km stretch of road which goes by the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, ensuring that Natal is able to receive more than its fair share of visitors. Many people believe that this project was the catalyst for the ever increasing number of tourist to the region which has opened up a very lucrative property market.
As the visitor numbers continued to rise we saw a non-stop increase in the number of hotels, restaurants and general tourist attractions in the city which has gone from strength to strength. As well as offering a very modern arena taking in some of the latest technology in the world, Natal has also managed to keep much of its surrounding beauty and original landscape with the state government determined to retain the area’s heritage.
The location of Natal
The area around Natal has been much mentioned in history as it is the closest point to Europe on the Latin American continent. As such it was historically a very popular stopping off point for European discoverers with Portuguese visitors arriving on the shores since the early 1500. Historically there have been a number of French visitors to the area but the influence of the Portuguese is still very much in evidence.
The city itself offers everything which both business and tourist visitors could wish to see with modern buildings, an ever improving infrastructure, sandy beaches, sun and perhaps the highest concentration of tourist attractions in Brazil. It is this useful mix of business and tourism which has attracted more and more property investors to the region and recently saw David Beckham announced plans for his first soccer school and UK gold medal cyclist Chris Hoy announce that he had acquired a property in the region.
Economy of Natal
It will come as no surprise to learn that the local economy is dominated by the ever expanding tourist industry although Natal has also become something of a magnet to the business world (the location in relation to Europe is probably one of the main reasons). Other industries which are prominent in Natal include oil, fishing and the export of tropical fruit.
While the Brazilian party capital of Rio de Janeiro grabs much of the attention for its famous carnivals, Natal also has its fair share of entertainment as well as an ever expanding portfolio of tourist attractions to visit. However, Natal has benefited greatly from the introduction of its own international airport which has the capacity to receive over 1 million passengers per year. There are plans to expand the airport to support forecasts of more and more visitors to the area and this is a vital element for the future of the city.
Historically the infrastructure of Brazil has been very suspect at best but over the last 10 years there has been a massive increase in internal investment in the region and Natal is now more connected to other areas of the country than ever before. This as well as the airport has given the city a new lease of life as more and more investors see the potential for modern day Natal and all that it has to offer.
Natal is just one of the up-and-coming areas of Brazil which have caught the eye of the international property investors. The change in the country as a whole has been remarkable over the last decade and the ever improving infrastructure of the country is bringing more and more cities such as Natal to the attention of the masses. While there is a need to retain the heritage and culture of such cities, there is also a need to modernise local facilities, local services and local infrastructure, something which the Brazilian authorities have carried out in style.
While there are hotspots in and around Natal there are also new localised property markets coming into play which should ensure a constant supply of new developments and new opportunities for many years to come. If one city outside of Rio de Janeiro demonstrates the success of “new” Brazil then it has to be Natal.