We spent Saturday of our first weekend in Rio out in Barra de Tijuca (in Portuguese, R's are pronounced like H's), a community about 15 minutes from where we are staying in Ipanema near Leblon (which is about 25 minutes from my husband's office).
Barra is "the Miami of Rio" - very modern (even has a Wal-Mart) by Brazilian standards, many shopping malls including South America's largest which has its own statue of liberty, family oriented, etc. Depending on the source you talk to - safer than Ipanema/Leblon where we are staying right now, less densely populated. 30 km of beautiful beach. But it would mean my husband would commute a minimum of an hour and a half a day (and up to 3 hrs a day on a regular basis) to and from work, something we are not accustomed to. Although he would have a driver so could potentially do a bit of work in the car via blackberry.
Other downsides: during severe rainstorms, the road to Barra can be inaccessible. Rocinha (South America's largest favela) is located along the road to Barra as well.
Upside: Living like kings - you can get a great apartment for about half of what it would cost in Ipanema/Leblon/Lagoa. Real estate is not cheap in those areas.
There are many pro's and con's to weigh and our decision will depend on where we can find a fantastic apartment... some photos of this one for you to check out in the meantime to see what the apartamentos look like. Barra is a bit away from the action, which we see as both a positive and negative, depending on what exactly that action is...