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Accommodation in Brazil

Expats shouldn't struggle to find accommodation in Brazil. There is generally a wide variety of options, including apartments, condominiums and houses. Prices vary throughout the country, as larger cities tend to be much more expensive than smaller coastal ones.

Types of accommodation in Brazil

Expats in larger cities, such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, typically live in apartments, condominiums or houses in gated communities. Gated communities are especially popular as they offer security and many shared amenities such as swimming pools. Some apartment complexes and gated communities will have a doorman, making them more secure. 

Detached homes are not a commonality in major cities and are often found in smaller towns and cities and rural areas. Expats considering single-family homes should be aware that these houses typically do not have central heating or insulation, making them more vulnerable to the elements. 

Young and single expats may benefit from sharing an apartment in the larger cities. Not only will this decrease their cost of living, it will also allow them to build their social circle. 

Furnished or unfurnished

Furnished accommodation for long-term rent in Brazil is very rare. Most apartments and houses are rented unfurnished. They may even exclude light fittings and kitchen appliances. Typically, electricity and other services will also have been disconnected.

Although furnished long-term rentals are few and far between, these will typically come equipped with big ticket furniture items such as sofas, a bed and television. There will also be appliances available, expats will only need to bring linen in some cases. While this is convenient for expats who are only in Brazil for the short term, furnished accommodation is usually pricier but will often include utilities in the rental price as well. 

Short lets

Brazil offers a fair few short-term accommodation options, including hotels, motels, pousadas (bed and breakfasts) and hostels. These options all range in comfort and expense levels, with hotels typically being the priciest and hostels the most affordable and least comfortable. Short lets can be fantastic for new arrivals to Brazil who want to get a sense of an area before making a long-term commitment or those who will only be in the country for a few months. AirBnB is one of the most popular platforms for finding short lets, and it is frequently more affordable than hotels. 

Finding accommodation in Brazil

Some good ways to search for properties in Brazil include local newspapers, online property portals, and even word of mouth. There are many websites that are useful, though to get better prices, it's best to use Portuguese sites rather than English ones aimed at foreigners.

Some expats find that hiring an experienced agent instead of going it alone can be immensely helpful. However, expats should be warned that the fees for their services can be high. Many rental agencies and landlords are unlikely to speak English, so when searching for an apartment it’s worth taking someone who can speak Portuguese to assist with translation and interpretation.

Expats should never commit to a rental or pay any money without viewing the property in person first to avoid falling victim to a scam. 

Useful links

Zap imóveis

Renting accommodation in Brazil

To sign a lease, foreigners require a Brazilian Identity Card (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas or CPF), which can take several months to finalise. Many expats on a corporate assignment, therefore, live in a hotel or temporary accommodation until their residency papers are finalised.


The duration of a lease is normally two to three years, though short-term rentals are often available in coastal towns. Many properties there are owned by foreigners or wealthy Brazilians who only use them for a few months of the year.

The rental contract (Contrato de Locação de Imóvel) is signed by the landlord and the lessee. Rental agreements are usually written in Portuguese, so it is recommended that expats who do not understand Portuguese have the contract translated or explained to them by a friend, co-worker or independent translation company before signing anything.

References and background checks

Expats renting in Brazil for the first time will need to prove they have a strong work history in the country. Otherwise, they will need one or two fiadors (guarantors) to sign the lease with them. Newcomers will also need to produce proof of income and proof of possession of the deposit. Additionally, some landlords may require tenants to provide a police clearance certificate. 


Renting property in Brazil can be expensive, although rental prices are often negotiable. A deposit equivalent to one to three months’ rent is normally expected. By law, landlords should put the deposit into a separate savings account. Any interest earned on the deposit is the renter’s to keep once the contract has been terminated.


Most apartments will not allow pets but can negotiate with their landlord to bring their furry friends with them. Landlords who will allow pets will usually require a pet deposit to ensure that any damage that may occur is covered. 

Termination of the lease

Tenants can their landlord at least 30 days notice should they wish to terminate the lease early. However, they must be prepared to forfeit their deposit as charges and taxes to the landlord. Should the landlord wish for the lease agreement to be terminated at the end of its duration, they will need to give the tenant three months' notice. Expats are required to submit written notice to the landlord. 

Upon vacating the property, expats are encouraged to get it professionally cleaned to ensure they leave it in the same condition they found it in. It is also essential to go through the inventory with the landlord to certify everything is in order and avoid incurring unjust deductions from the deposit. 

Utilities in Brazil

Electricity, water and any other utilities are usually excluded from the rental price. These need to be paid on top of the monthly rental. Expats may also need to pay property tax and condominium charges, if stipulated in the rental agreement, over and above rental fees and utilities. 

Electricity and gas

The electricity supply in Brazil is controlled on a state level and each state has a privately-run company that provides it with power. As Brazil electricity market is free, ANEEL, a federal watchdog, regulates the market. AMPLA serves most of Rio de Janeiro while São Paulo has four main providers, including AES Eletropaulo

Brazil uses a combination of 110V and 220V systems, most states use 110V but fortunately, most electrical appliances have a conversion switch. This makes it easier to travel between different regions. Some parts of Brazil have been known to have unstable power supply, which makes electrical surges common in these areas. Expats are encouraged to purchase and install a voltage regulator. 

It's not typical for gas to run through a main line in Brazil, it is rather sold in a tank and distributed by private companies. The biggest gas distributors in Brazil are Liquigás and Ultragaz, these companies usually send trucks that play a jingle through Brazil's neighbourhood streets to inform residents that they can exchange their empty gas tanks for full ones. 


Similarly to electricity, water in Brazil is supplied by regional private and state-run companies. Brasília and São Paulo receive their water supply from state-owned Sabesp and the water bill will often be included as part of the monthly condominium charge. 

Upon moving in, expats can arrange with their building supervisor to have the water connected. Those who are moving into a detached home can call their regional water provider to arrange a new account under their name.  

Telephone and internet

Expats will have a multitude of telephone and internet suppliers to choose from in Brazil. The most common and affordable way of accessing the internet in the country is through a fixed phone line. Broadband and ADSL are also growing in Brazil and this is another option expats can use. Well-known suppliers, include Telefonica Brasil, Terra and UOL

Check out Keeping in Touch in Brazil for more information on communication and media in the country. 

Bins and recycling

Waste removal and recycling differ in each state, with some states providing two waste collection trucks – one for food waste and non-recyclable waste and the other for glass, paper, cans and plastics. There are also people who collect recyclable materials, known as catadores, to sell to recycling companies that extract the raw materials from them. Expats are encouraged to visit the websites of their respective states and municipalities to learn more about waste collection and recycling. 

Useful links

See Accommodation in São Paulo and Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro for more specifics. 

Safety in Brazil

Despite the country’s natural beauty and friendly people, Brazil continues to experience challenges with social inequality and poverty. An unfortunate consequence of this has been the country's continuously high crime rates. Safety and security in Brazil is, therefore, a concern for many expats contemplating a move there and a reality that cannot be ignored.

Crime in Brazil

Crime levels are high in Brazilian cities. This is especially true in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. These cities experience regular incidents of pickpocketing, robbery, assault, burglary and murder. Crime rates are slightly lower in other cities, such as Brasília and Recife.

Mobile street gangs and organised criminal groups generally operate from within densely packed and typically low-income parts of the city known as favelas. Foreigners have traditionally been advised not to enter, but with an increasing police presence and improvements in general safety, it isn't uncommon for expats to visit or even live in a favela.

Most crimes are opportunistic, taking place in popular tourist areas and on crowded public transport. Hotspots for these crimes include beaches, hotels, bars and nightclubs. Expats should keep their valuables out of sight when driving, as incidents of smash-and-grabs and carjackings are also common. 

For safety reasons, many expats in Brazil’s larger cities live in apartments or houses in secure closed compounds that have 24/7 security. 

Kidnappings in Brazil

Incidents of kidnapping have been known to occur in Brazil, particularly 'express kidnappings'. This type of crime involves the victim being held at gunpoint for a short period and taken to an ATM to withdraw cash or to shops to use their credit cards. A variant of express kidnappings that has more recently emerged is 'flash kidnapping', where criminals force an individual to use a common cash transfer app to send them a large amount of money. The best tactic to avoid becoming a victim is to be aware of one's surroundings and only use ATMs in well-populated places during daylight hours. 

Road and transport safety in Brazil

Brazil has an extensive road network. Road conditions are generally excellent, though road markings and lighting are variable across the country.

Brazilian drivers are notorious for driving aggressively, however. Expats driving in Brazil should do so with caution and drive defensively. Due to the safety concerns and driving conditions, expats may want to reconsider their need to drive, and rather make use of the public transport system if possible, or hire a local driver better acquainted with the surroundings.

Using the Brazilian public transport system is generally safe, but expats should still be aware of the risk of pickpocketing at crowded transport hubs and on buses and trains.

Safety tips for Brazil

Here are a few basic safety tips to help expats stay safe in Brazil:

  • Expensive jewellery and equipment should be kept out of view. These items make a person an attractive target for criminals.

  • Avoid ATMs in isolated areas, especially at night. It’s best to choose an ATM in a hotel or convenience store.

  • Avoid walking alone at night. If travelling at night, rather use a taxi over other forms of public transport.

  • Be careful when leaving and arriving home. Before leaving, expats should make sure there is no one outside who could pose a threat, and when arriving home they should make sure that no one has followed them.

  • Avoid using mobile phones in the street and keep cameras out of sight when they are not in use

  • When stuck in traffic or stopped at traffic lights, be vigilant as carjackings and hold-ups may occur at intersections

Moving to Brazil

From the Amazon basin to the beautiful beaches along its northern and eastern shores, South America's largest country holds much for expats to explore and discover. Whether heading to glamorous Rio de Janeiro or bustling São Paulo, expats moving to Brazil are in for an exciting experience.

Living in Brazil as an expat

Brazil is home to an ever-expanding expat population. With a resource-rich economy and booming mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, there is an extensive range of job opportunities for expats moving to Brazil. Unfortunately, Brazil also has a somewhat unequal income distribution and this can be seen throughout the country. Despite these issues, this relatively young democracy has become South America’s leading economic power.

Most expats moving to Brazil head to São Paulo, the country's largest city. With a population of more than 22 million, the city exudes a vibrant energy matched by none other. Brazil's finance, technology and services industries are centred in São Paulo, drawing in expats from all over the globe.

The result is a truly international city made up of a diverse population. Rio de Janeiro is another major expat hub, and abounds with natural wonders to explore, from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to gushing rivers and towering mountains.

Speaking at least basic Portuguese will be vital for expats who want to settle in the country. Without it, they might get frustrated when trying to conduct business and taking care of everyday affairs.

Cost of living in Brazil

In comparison to many popular expat destinations around the world, the cost of living in Brazil is largely inexpensive, especially if earning in a foreign currency such as the US Dollar. Conversely, those earning in the local currency will find they have far less purchasing power and might have a harder time budgeting.

With free healthcare and education, expats may be able to reduce their living expenses. Naturally, living in Brazil's major cities will lead to a higher cost of living while smaller towns will incur lower fees. 

Expat families and children in Brazil

Brazil is a wonderful place to raise a family. The basics are covered: all of Brazil's major cities have numerous international schools, and the country has an extensive network of both public and private healthcare options available.

When it comes to being out and about with the family, there's no shortage of fun things to do to keep the little ones engaged. Beach days, forest hikes and festivals are just a few of the many outings families can look forward to.

Climate in Brazil

Brazil has five main climatic zones, making the weather throughout the vast country fairly varied. Coastal regions boast a warmer climate while cities such as Brasília and São Paulo experience mild average temperatures. With high levels of humidity throughout the year, the Amazon Basin's weather is wet and warm all year.  

For the adventurous expat, Brazil holds a world of wonders. New arrivals moving to Brazil will soon settle into the rhythm of this vibrant South American country. 

Fast facts

Population: More than 216 million

Capital city: Brasília

Neighbouring countries: Brazil is bordered by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana to the north; Colombia to the northwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; and Uruguay to the south.

Geography: Brazil occupies about half of South America with a long coastal region to the east. It has a vast and complex network of rivers, including the famous Amazon River. About two-thirds of the massive Amazon rainforest is within Brazil's borders. The rest of the country has a diverse landscape ranging from plateaus and plains to mountains, hills and highlands.

Political system: Federal presidential constitutional republic

Major religions: Roman Catholicism and Protestantism 

Main language: Portuguese

Money: The Brazilian Real (BRL) is divided into 100 centavos. Expats will need a residence visa to open a bank account. ATMs are widely available, although some only operate during certain hours for safety reasons.

Tipping: Standard 10 percent

Time: Brazil has four time zones: GMT-2, GMT-3, GMT-4 and GMT-5.

Electricity: 110V/220V, 60Hz. Plugs with two or three round pins are generally used.

Internet domain: .br

International dialling code: +55

Emergency contacts: 190 (police), 192 (ambulance), 193 (fire)

Transport and driving: Motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road. The types and extent of public transport services available vary widely from city to city.

Transport and Driving in Brazil

Getting around in Brazil is not always easy owing to its vast geographic size. Location makes a big difference in the available transport options. Major cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have taxis, buses and metro systems in addition to international and domestic airports. However, in smaller cities, the options are more limited. Travel between cities may require planes, buses or boats.

Public transport in Brazil


Buses are by far the most common and flexible form of public transport in Brazil. All major cities have a public bus system, as well as a central bus station that provides options for travelling to other cities. Cost and safety will vary based on location, but city bus fares are usually inexpensive. Inter-city bus fare can be more expensive, but buses are reliable and cost less than flying – although, due to the size of Brazil, it's not always practical to cross the country by bus.


Brazil has metro systems in a handful of cities, but their usefulness varies. In Rio de Janeiro, the metro is clean and safe. In São Paulo, the metro can be a good option, but is usually packed. Smaller cities are making improvements over time, which should make the metro a more useful option for residents and visitors in future.


Although there are a few notable tourist-oriented routes, passenger trains are few and far between in Brazil. Most railways used for cargo transport only.

Taxis in Brazil

Brazil’s major cities have large taxi fleets that run on meters. Taxis typically congregate in designated pontos throughout the city. Taxi fares are not terribly expensive, but expats need to beware of being 'taken for a ride' in unfamiliar places. When in a new city, hiring a radio taxi (with a prepaid fare) can be a good option. For expats who don’t have a car and rely on taxis, taxi drivers can usually offer cards with their number for future calls. They appreciate a regular customer and may be willing to give discounts for standing appointments or longer trips.

There are also ride-hailing applications such as Uber and Taxi.Rio, an app developed by Rio de Janeiro's government to connect passengers with traditional taxis, are also available in most of Brazil's major cities. 

Driving in Brazil

Brazil’s road system is woefully inadequate. While there are paved highways between major cities, they're frequently in disrepair and can be dangerous. This leads to a high number of road fatalities in Brazil every year. Traffic within and between major cities can be congested. 

That said, many expats in Brazil choose to own a car for the flexibility it provides. Some expat employment packages provide drivers and others will support the process of getting a car and licence. Car ownership is expensive, with car and petrol prices quite high. Expats should be aware that it is illegal to drive in Brazil after consuming any amount of alcohol, this could lead to imprisonment at worst and a steep fine at best. 

Expats will be allowed to drive in Brazil with their licence from their home country along with their passport for an initial six months. Thereafter, expats will need a Brazilian driving licence if they intend to live in the country for a while. New arrivals must have a valid temporary or permanent residence visa to qualify for a Brazilian driving licence. 

Newcomers who are from countries that have reciprocal agreements with Brazil, such as South Africa, the US and Australia, can simply exchange their full driving licence from their home countries for a Brazilian licence. Those from countries without ratified agreements with Brazil will need to take a four-part test, provide a range of paperwork and pay the related fees to secure their Brazilian driving licence. 

Cycling in Brazil

Cycling is popular in many of Brazil's main cities. Extensive bicycle-rental schemes are often available. Dedicated bicycle lanes and paths are also available in some parts of Brazil. Cyclists should, however, avoid cycling late at night for safety reasons. Cyclists may find themselves having to cycle in the road or on sidewalks, and in this case, they should be aware of pedestrians and unruly drivers. 

Ferries and boats in Brazil

In some parts of Brazil, mainly Amazonia, water travel is the only form of transport. Although travelling through the Amazon River by boat can be slow, it's a unique once in a lifetime experience. Some larger boats will have classes with different comfort levels. Expats should ensure they take plenty of food and water as trips can take anywhere from four to six days, depending on where they will be travelling from and to. 

Air travel in Brazil

For domestic travel, unless one has days and weeks of time to spend on buses, a flight will be the best option. Flying can be expensive, but making an advance purchase can help offset the cost. Every major city has an airport and expats should expect long queues. Parents, pregnant women and senior citizens get priority access and therefore do not have to worry about the snaking queues at airports. 

Banking, Money and Taxes in Brazil

With an efficient and well-developed banking system, it's fairly simple for expats to manage banking, money and taxes in Brazil. However, as is commonly the case with financial matters, a fair amount of documentation and bureaucracy is required. 

Currency in Brazil

The Brazilian currency is the real (BRL), which is divided into 100 centavos.

  • Notes: 2 BRL, 5 BRL, 10 BRL, 20 BRL, 50 BRL and 100 BRL 

  • Coins: 5 centavos, 10 centavos, 25 centavos, 50 centavos and 1 BRL 

Banking in Brazil

Expats in Brazil have a variety of options and services available when it comes to managing their finances. Banking in Brazil can be costly as banks charge users a percentage for every transaction. Expats are advised to shop around to find out which bank will offer them the best deal for their needs. 

Online banking is popular in Brazil. It's possible to pay certain utility bills online. However, expats should note that many online services are only available in Portuguese. Banking hours in Brazil are generally Monday to Friday, from 10am to 4pm.

Opening a bank account in Brazil

Opening a bank account in Brazil is straightforward. That said, foreigners will need a residence visa to open an account. Other documents required for opening a Brazilian bank account usually include a valid identity document, a taxpayer’s number (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas, or CPF), proof of domicile and proof of residence. The documents necessary may differ depending on the bank and type of account in question.

ATMs and credit cards in Brazil

ATMs are widely available in Brazil. Customers are able to withdraw cash as well as make bill payments at ATMs.

Some parts of Brazil are largely cash-based economies, so it's wise to always carry sufficient cash on hand. Still, international debit and credit cards are widely accepted in larger metropolitan areas.

Taxes in Brazil

Brazil has a pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) tax system whereby income tax is based on worldwide income and is generally paid monthly. Residents who pay income tax in Brazil are also required to file an annual income tax return. The Brazilian tax year is from January to December. 

The rate at which expats pay tax in Brazil depends on their tax residency status. For tax purposes, a person is deemed a resident of Brazil if they hold a permanent visa, or if they hold a temporary visa and stay in Brazil for more than 183 days within a 12-month period.

Residents are required to pay tax on their income worldwide, although Brazil does have treaties in place with several countries to avoid double taxation.

Given the complexity of expat taxation, new arrivals can benefit from consulting with a tax professional who is familiar with the tax system in Brazil.

Doing Business in Brazil

Despite overall growth stagnating in the country in recent years, Brazil is still one of the biggest economies in South America. The country's latest policy changes have resulted in a solid foundation for it to remain competitive in the future, despite rising global inflation and a reduced GDP growth outlook in the short-term. 

As part of these changes, the state has especially focused on technological advancement, industrial development and creating a friendlier environment for expats doing business in Brazil.

Fast facts

Business hours

Business hours are usually from 8.30am to 5.30pm, though executive staff tend to work from 9am or 10am until after 5.30pm. Most businesses close during holidays and festivities, especially Carnival.

Business language

The business language in Brazil is Portuguese. It is worth noting that Brazilian Portuguese can differ significantly from the Portuguese spoken in Portugal.


Business attire in Brazil is generally formal and elegant. Appearances are important and are seen to convey a person’s self-worth, as well as how much respect one has for others. Overdressing is preferable to being too casual.


When invited to a colleague’s home, expats should bring flowers or a small gift for the hostess. Purple and black gifts should be avoided as they are traditionally mourning colours. Good quality alcohol is a safe bet, especially for dinners. Gifts are usually opened when they are received.

Gender equality

Traditional gender roles are still very prominent in Brazilian culture. Machismo is something that expat women will have to get used to, whether in a social or work environment. Women are under-represented in executive positions. Once in the position, they are typically treated with respect but they will often have to work harder to maintain this with their colleagues and business associates.


A firm handshake and eye contact. Women should extend their hand first when wanting to shake hands with a man. Women generally air kiss when greeting each other, starting on the left. 

Business culture in Brazil

Unsurprisingly, given its size, there are significant regional differences in Brazilian business culture that expats should be aware of. The business environment in São Paulo is known for being formal, for example. Businesspeople from the region value objectivity, honesty and technical skills. In some ways, Rio de Janeiro is known for being more relaxed, especially when it comes to punctuality.

People from the city tend to be more image-conscious and focused on short-term results. These differences are somewhat muted at multinational companies which are more similar to European business environments. 


Expats who want to get ahead in the Brazilian business world should make an effort to learn how to communicate at the level of locals. The language of business is Portuguese, which is spoken by most of the population. Non-verbal communication also plays an important role. Interactions are often full of gestures and can be very physical, accompanied by long, firm handshakes, air-kissing and slapping on the back. Personal space is not especially sacred. People who are overly reserved are likely to be seen as aloof or odd.

The physical nature of interactions in the Brazilian workplace has a lot to do with the emphasis on personal relationships in the national culture. A lot of value is placed on the traditional family structure and friendships, which has various effects on the business world.

It follows that Brazilian people usually prefer face-to-face meetings to phone calls and written communication. The emphasis on personal relationships, even in the business environment, also means business is typically conducted through personal connections. As such, nepotism is an accepted reality that many expats will have to contend with. 

Hierarchical structure

Brazilian business tends to be hierarchical, with age, experience and etiquette all being highly respected. Expats would do well to avoid criticising others (especially senior figures) at meetings, which would cause them to lose face. Given that it is a culture that puts a high value on social groups, an expat’s outsider status is likely to come into sharp focus in conflict situations.

In contrast, building relationships and friendly communication are very important. People take precedence over appointments. This is not a licence to be late, but it does mean that expats should greet their associates properly, be willing to engage in banter and allow their hosts to initiate talking business.

Dos and don’ts of business in Brazil

  • Do be on time but don’t get impatient with Brazilian associates who happen to run late

  • Do arrange meetings well in advance

  • Do try to speak some Portuguese – it will be well received by local associates

  • Don’t talk about the wealth gap or the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest

  • Do be informal but not overly familiar, especially at first and until trust has been built

  • Don't be frustrated by constant interruptions while talking, as this is acceptable in Brazil 

Healthcare in Brazil

Healthcare in Brazil is available at both public and private institutions. Legal citizens and permanent residents are able to get access to free public healthcare at any of the government hospitals. That said, the quality of service in the public healthcare sector tends to be below the standards expected by most expats. Those who can afford it often choose to procure medical insurance and make use of private medical facilities instead.

Public healthcare in Brazil

Public hospitals in Brazil are decentralised, and their administrative responsibilities are separated at the state and municipal level, with the federal government overseeing general policy. The Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS) provides medical care, including hospitalisation, doctors’ visits, dentistry, maternity care, physical therapy and prescription medicines at no cost to patients. 

However, public hospitals in Brazil are generally overcrowded and underfunded. English-speaking doctors are not always available, especially in hospitals outside the main metropolitan areas. Expats will need a National Health Identification card that is available from any public healthcare facility. Newcomers will simply need to present their identity card, proof of residence and taxpayer's number. 

Private healthcare in Brazil

Although most expats find private healthcare to be of a higher standard than public healthcare, it comes at a cost. Private healthcare in Brazil has earned the reputation of being among the most expensive in Latin America. Expats are encouraged to secure private medical insurance to access private healthcare at a reasonable cost.

Thanks to the shorter waiting times, availability of English-speaking practitioners and excellent facilities as well as medical equipment, private healthcare has gained popularity among expats in Brazil. The range of specialists available in Brazil depends on the city. Larger cities have a variety of private practitioners to choose from, but fees are also higher. On the other hand, smaller towns are cheaper, but there are fewer options.

Health insurance in Brazil

Due to the massive costs associated with private healthcare, health insurance is vital for expats in Brazil. There are a number of international health insurance companies for expats to choose from when looking for a healthcare plan in Brazil. 

The amount expats will pay for their medical insurance will depend on the region they live in, the provider they choose and how comprehensive the coverage is. Some expats are lucky enough to have their health insurance covered by employers, newcomers are encouraged to include an allowance during their contract negotiations. 

Pharmacies in Brazil 

There are many pharmacies in Brazil, particularly in the larger cities and towns. Most general and prescription medicines are available at pharmacies. The government continues to invest large amounts in the production of generic drugs to reduce the impact on consumers' wallets.

Brazilian pharmacists tend to be knowledgeable and helpful. Pharmacies are generally open from early morning to well into the evening. Some pharmacies in the larger cities are open 24 hours a day. 

There are also federal pharmacies, popularly known as the 'People's Pharmacy' (Farmácia Popular), that provide free or low-cost prescription medications for the low-income population. 

Health hazards in Brazil

Mosquito-borne diseases remain a risk in Brazil, particularly in the tropical regions during the rainy season. There are no vaccines available for malaria or dengue fever. Expats should ensure that they take adequate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Outside major urban centres, food safety can also be an issue. Expats should be cautious and make sure that all food has been cooked through. Additionally, it is recommended that expats stick to bottled or filtered water in most areas of the country. 

Vaccinations for Brazil

The following vaccinations are recommended prior to travel to Brazil:

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • Typhoid

  • Rabies

  • Yellow fever

  • Routine MMR and tetanus vaccines

The above list is only a guide. Expats should consult with a medical professional prior to departure for further information on vaccinations for Brazil. 

Emergency services in Brazil

A public ambulance service, SAMU, is available throughout the country. This is available to all residents and can be contacted on 192. Most major private hospitals also have their own ambulance services, which can be called directly in the case of an emergency.

A Brief History of Brazil


  • Ancient indigenous peoples live in Brazil for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.
  • In this era, the Tupi and Guaraní people are among Brazil's largest and most advanced indigenous civilisations.
  • They live in small, semi-nomadic communities and rely on hunting, fishing and agriculture for survival.

Portuguese rule

  • 1500: Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral claims Brazil for Portugal in 1500, despite resistance to colonisation by indigenous Brazilians. Over the next century, violence and disease (mainly smallpox) kill an estimated 90 percent of indigenous Brazilians.
  • 1535: Portuguese settlers begin to establish sugar plantations along the coast. Labour needs are initially filled by the enslavement of indigenous peoples.
  • 1539: Sugar plantations begin to import African slaves, marking the beginning of more than 300 years of the slave trade in Brazil.
  • 1549: The first Jesuit missions are established in the interior of Brazil, aimed at converting indigenous peoples to Christianity and civilising them.
  • 1600s: The Portuguese engage in conflicts with other European powers, including the Dutch and French, over control of Brazil.
  • 1808: The Portuguese royal family flees to Brazil due to the Napoleonic Wars, temporarily establishing Rio de Janeiro as the capital of the Portuguese Empire.


  • 1822: Brazil declares independence from Portugal and becomes an empire, with Dom Pedro I as its first emperor.
  • 1888: Slavery is abolished, leading to mass migration from the countryside to cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
  • 1889: The monarchy is overthrown. A republic is established with a federal constitution and the presidency as the head of government.

20th century

  • 1917: Although Brazil remains neutral during the early years of World War I, Brazil declare war on Germany after unrestricted German submarine activity sinks several Brazilian merchant ships.
  • 1930: Getúlio Vargas comes to power in a coup, leading to the Vargas Era (1930–1945), characterised by a populist government, labour reforms, and an authoritarian regime during the final eight years.
  • 1932: The Constitutionalist Revolution was an armed uprising in São Paulo, Brazil, against President Getúlio Vargas's centralisation of political power and the dissolution of state governments. Although ultimately defeated, the revolution contributes to drafting and implementing a new constitution in 1934, which partially addresses the demands of the Paulistas.
  • 1942: During World War II, Brazil is initially a neutral country but eventually joins the Allies in 1942. Throughout the war, Brazil's economy booms due to increased demand for its agricultural and industrial products.
  • 1958: Brazil wins the FIFA World Cup. It will go on to win four more times: 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002.
  • 1964: A military coup takes place, leading to a dictatorship that lasts several decades. During this time, the government suppresses political opposition, censors the media, and commits human rights abuses. However, the dictatorship also sees significant economic growth, with Brazil becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
  • 1985: Miltary rule ends as Brazil begins to transition to democracy. Since then, Brazil has remained a democratic country, with several presidents from different political parties occupying office. 
  • 1988: Brazil enacts a new constitution that limits presidential powers.
  • 1994: The Plano Real is introduced. This is a set of economic measures aimed at stabilising Brazil's economy and curbing hyperinflation. The plan's success leads to significant economic growth, increased foreign investment and better living standards for millions of Brazilians.

21st century

  • In the early 21st century, Brazil experiences significant economic growth but struggles with income inequality and corruption. The Brazilian economy booms and social programmes are expanded.
  • 2002: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as Lula, wins presidential elections to lead the first left-wing government in over 40 years.
  • 2008: A bid to legalise abortion is rejected in Brazil. 
  • 2010: Brazil formally approves the construction of a controversial hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rainforest, expected to be the world's third largest.
  • 2013: Mass protests erupt nationwide over issues such as poor public services, corruption, and police violence.
  • 2014: The Car Wash investigation, a large-scale anti-corruption probe, uncovers a massive graft scheme involving Brazil's political and business elites, including bribery, kickbacks and money laundering. The investigation leads to the conviction and imprisonment of numerous high-profile figures, including former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and exposes widespread corruption in the Brazilian political system.
  • 2016: Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is convicted of corruption, leading to far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro's rise as president in 2018.
  • 2020: The first Covid-19 case is detected in Brazil. To date, there have been more than 37 million infections of Covid-19 in Brazil and nearly 700,000 Covid-19-related deaths.
  • 2020: Bolsonaro's controversial policies and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic leads to widespread criticism and protests.
  • 2022: Brazilians re-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as president, with 50.9 percent of the vote, in the second round of the presidential elections.

Working in Brazil

Expats working in Brazil are often attracted by its image as a fast-growing economy with a prosperous future.

The job market doesn't necessarily reflect this, however. Job prospects have diminished while the competition for jobs has increased. This has partially been a result of structural problems, including slow-moving bureaucracy, corruption and weak infrastructure.

The Brazilian economy is expected to recover, though. The government has also put a lot of effort into boosting growth by investing in large-scale infrastructure projects as well as scientific and technological development. This has attracted an increasingly skilled workforce. 

Job market in Brazil

The majority of foreigners who find jobs in Brazil are highly skilled expats who work in industries with skills shortages. These include IT, engineering, pharmaceutical, automotive, construction, oil and gas. Qualified expats working as software engineers, programmers and database managers are highly sought-after. Jobs in finance and engineering are highly competitive. . 

The majority of expats working in Brazil are usually based in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. São Paulo is the home of Brazil’s stock exchange and many multinational companies, while Rio hosts a fair few thriving oil companies. 

Teaching English is also another option for expats moving to Brazil, especially those who want to get some initial work experience in the country. Expats should however be aware that teaching jobs are typically not high paying. 

Finding a job in Brazil

Expats wanting to live and work in Brazil can use a number of resources in their job search. Local publications are good for researching various industries and contain job listings in a range of sectors, though expats may need to enlist the help of someone fluent in Portuguese.

The most secure, and probably best-paying, option for employment in Brazil would be to get transferred to the country through an international company. 

Online job postings on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Indeed are also a good place to look, although expats should be wary of possible scammers. 

Work culture in Brazil

The Brazilian work environment is known for appearing very formal on the surface with a much more casual atmosphere when it comes to personal interactions. Relationships are very important to Brazilians when doing business. Expats will have to put a lot of effort into networking if they want to be successful.

There are no set business hours in Brazil, though most businesses are open sometime between 8am and 6pm. Many businesses open from 8.30am to 5.30pm, while executives will often start and finish working later. Lunch is usually taken between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

While it is common for Brazilians to arrive late for social gatherings, it is essential for expats to ensure they arrive on time for meetings. The meeting proceedings are frequently informal, with everyone allowed to voice their opinion, although the final decision lies with the most senior person at the table. 

Diversity and inclusion in Brazil

With exotic rainforests, picturesque beaches and world-class football teams, Brazil continues to attract expats the world over. Brazil boasts one of the world's most ethnically diverse populations and is home to many nationalities.

Below is some useful information about diversity and inclusion in Brazil.

Accessibility in Brazil

As is the case with many developing countries, Brazil has a long way to go in terms of expanding its accessibility infrastructure. Still, the country is continuously striving to make progress. In 1988, Brazil's Constitution was amended to guarantee the rights of people living with disabilities.

The government also passed the Disabled Persons Inclusion Act in 2015, which stated that a certain percentage of homes built with government resources and public spaces, such as hotels, must have accessibility accommodations. 

With more than 45 million people living with disabilities in Brazil, public transport accessibility in the country's major cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, is largely inadequate, but the government is constantly making improvements. Sao Paulo is home to accessible subways and buses, while Rio de Janeiro has both visual and motor accessibility resources in the form of subway and bus lifts as well as tactile floors for visually impaired passengers.

The rural areas of Brazil, particularly in the Amazon Basin, are largely inaccessible. Fortunately, private companies specialising in transporting people with special mobility needs are available. Some of the museums and beaches in Rio de Janeiro are equipped with ramps, making it possible for people living with disabilities to explore some of Brazil's exquisite cultural and lifestyle offerings.

Useful resources

Accessible Transport
Latin American Network of Organisations of People with Disabilities and their Families

LGBTQ+ in Brazil 

Brazil is known for having some of the best LGBTQ+ legal protections in the world. Same-sex marriage and adoption have been legal for more than a decade, while conversion therapy is banned in the country. As Brazil is home to the highest concentration of Roman Catholics in the world, social acceptance of people who identify as LGBTQ+ in the country lags far behind its legal protections.

For several years running, Brazil has been the trans murder capital of the world, with 125 anti-trans homicides reported in Brazil out of 375 worldwide. This can be attributed to systemic homophobia. A 2021 report by the Brazilian Institute of Transmasculinities (Ibrat) and the UN Race and Equality Institute and Trans Magazine found that almost 86 percent of respondents felt that the public system harboured transphobic attitudes towards them.

While progress in the acceptance of LGBTQ+ people may be slow, it is still there. In October 2022, Brazil elected its first two transgender women to its National Congress, signifying that the Brazilian people's attitudes towards people who identify as LGBTQ+ are changing. 

As a country with a large geographic mass, Brazil is diverse, and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals vary throughout the country. LGBTQ+ individuals moving inland and to small towns should avoid public displays of affection, as this may lead to some unwanted attention from locals. Still, the east coast of the country boasts a lively LGBT+ social scene, while Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro host annual pride celebrations and have many LGBT-friendly spots sprinkled throughout the cities.

Useful resources

National LGBTI Alliance

Gender equality in Brazil 

Equality between women and men was enshrined in Brazil's Constitution in 1988, with women receiving universal suffrage much earlier in 1934. According to UN Women, almost 90 percent of women of reproductive age in Brazil have access to family planning services. The country also has protections for violence against women.

Brazil ranked 78th out of 144 countries evaluated in the 2022 Equal Measures 2030 (EM2030) SDG Gender Index, putting the country in the bottom half for gender equality worldwide. Additionally, Brazil has the fifth highest number of child marriages in the world, while teenage pregnancy is also rife. This in turn affects the employment of women, as many of them have to bear childcare and housework duties.

In the workplace, things are not much better for Brazilian women. The country has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the world at 22 percent, while many women also face the threat of sexual harassment and assault at work. Expectant mothers who have been employed for three months or longer are entitled to four months of maternity leave, and this can be extended by two weeks on doctor's orders. Fathers are permitted five paid days of parental leave following the birth of a child, leaving much of the child-rearing to women.

Be that as it may, Brazil's current administration is working towards addressing gender disparities in the country. The newly elected president has re-established the Ministry of Women following its dissolution in the previous administration. The Ministry of Labour enacted a law in 2023 mandating annual training to prevent sexual harassment at all hierarchical levels in workplaces. The government also proposed a bill to reduce the gender pay gap on International Women's Day in 2023.

Useful resources

Serenas – Women's Rghts Organisation
Ministry of Women Brazil

Women in leadership in Brazil

While Brazil may have been one of the few Latin American countries to elect a female president in its history, the representation of women in leadership positions in Brazil is lacking. As of the 2022 national elections, women represent only 18 percent of Brazil's Congress, occupying 91 seats out of a possible 513. According to the Brazilian Institute of Corporate Governance's (IBGC) 2022 study, women held 15.2 percent of board and executive positions in 389 of Brazil's listed companies.

Of the 389 companies surveyed, 17.5 percent had no women listed on their board of directors, signalling a severe lack of diversity in Brazil's company boards. Although Brazil currently has no mandates or legislation to increase the representation of women in board leadership positions, electoral law states that a minimum of 30 percent of candidates should be women for the lower house and sub-national levels.

Useful resources

Asta – Women Empowerment Programmes in Brazil
Grupo Mulheres do Brasil – Women's Leadership

Mental health awareness in Brazil 

Owing to the unfamiliarity and loneliness that can sometimes come with moving to a new country, expats are at a higher risk for mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. The World Population Review ranked Brazil as the country with the 5th highest prevalence of depression. Expats moving to Brazil should ensure they familiarise themselves with their local mental healthcare services.

One of the contributing factors to the country's dire mental health situation is the fact there is a stigma against seeking help for mental health disorders. Brazilians value seeking medical treatment for physical ailments rather than mental health issues. Workplaces in the country also reward overwork, particularly in major metropolises such as Sao Paulo, where competition for jobs is fierce. This can often lead to one spending less time with family and friends, resulting in a decline in mental health.

The Brazilian government has made strides in improving access to mental health services. In the late 1990s, Brazil set out to reform its mental healthcare from a centralised psychiatric system to community-based services. The country has since then halved the number of psychiatric facility beds available and increased funding to community-based services that allow patients to engage in therapeutic workshops, family assistance and sports activities.

There are also non-profit and federal organisations like the Center for Valuing Life (CVV) that offer resources for those in crisis and those needing general mental health resources.

Useful resources

Mental Health Map
Centro de Valorização da Vida (CVV) – Mental Health Support Line

Unconscious bias training in Brazil

Stoked by the former far-right president, racial tensions in Brazil remain high, with black Brazilians still facing issues created by colonial-era discrimination. With this in mind, unconscious bias training becomes critical for those looking to work and live in Brazil.

The concept of unconscious bias is an implicit set of social stereotypes an individual carries about groups of people different to themselves. These stereotypes are not purposefully adopted but rather develop subtly over time, and people tend to hold these unconscious biases about groups they never or rarely come into contact with. As a result, they're frequently inaccurate and based on assumptions.

Brazil is home to the largest population of black people outside of Africa, yet Afro-Brazilians occupy only 26 percent of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Afro-Brazilians also earn 75.7 percent less than white Brazilians, as found by a 2021 study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.

Therefore, it's important to note that unconscious bias can greatly affect workplace dynamics and have an impact on the opportunities available to certain groups of people, which could affect a company's talent acquisition and turnover rates.

Some companies, especially multinational corporations, have started offering unconscious bias training to assist their employees with recognising and ultimately overcoming their biases. There are also online resources that can be used to improve one's recognition of unconscious bias in themselves and others.

Useful resources

Project Implicit 
Unconscious Bias Training

Diversification in the workplace in Brazil

Brazilian society is one of the most diverse, with strong indigenous roots tied together by African and Portuguese traditions. From the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches to the Amazon Basin, Brazil is a country with striking natural landscapes that have served to attract many an expat, with 1.3 million calling the country home.

The workplace in Brazil is highly diversified, and many local as well as multinational companies employ people of many nationalities. Brazilians are generally receptive and welcoming of expats, but non-white foreigners and those from African countries may experience some discrimination.

While systemic racism and exclusion remain widespread in Brazil, some companies in the country are beginning to prioritise diversity. More than 90 companies signed an open letter addressed to the 2022 presidential candidates to advocate for including LGBTQI+ individuals in the workplace. The new president has also signed several affirmative action decrees to increase the representation of marginalised groups in Congress, universities and companies.

Safety in Brazil 

The 2023 Global Peace Index ranked Brazil 132nd out of 163 countries, with a peace score of 2.46 out of a possible 5. New arrivals to Brazil will need to be cautious and keep their valuables out of sight as pickpocketing, muggings, robberies and kidnappings are common. 

As a country with extreme levels of income inequality, Brazil has a high crime rate and violent crimes such as homicides are unfortunately fairly common. This is primarily concentrated in the favelas but can happen anywhere in the country. Fortunately, Brazil's favelas are undergoing rehabilitation, and there is an increased focus on security. 

Another potential safety hazard new arrivals should be cautious of is driving in Brazil. Drivers in the country are known for being aggressive, which could be jarring for expats from some countries. Expats can use public transport in Brazil's major cities, as this is a much safer and more convenient option.

Calendar initiatives in Brazil

January – Mental Health Awareness Month
4 February – World Cancer Day
8 March – International Women's Day
24 March – World TB Day
2 April – World Autism Awareness Day
19 April – Indigenous Peoples Day
19 May – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
June – Pride Month
10 September – World Suicide Prevention Day
October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month
8 October –World Mental Health Day
20 November – History of Black Consciousness Day
1 December – World AIDS Day

Work Permits for Brazil

Expats intending to work in Brazil will need to apply for a work visa and have a temporary or permanent residence permit. As with many large countries, Brazil has its fair share of bureaucracy, particularly when dealing with government institutions. Obtaining a work permit for Brazil can be a lengthy process. 

Work permit process in Brazil

It is necessary for an expat to first find a job in Brazil, either with a Brazilian company or a company based in Brazil, before applying for a work permit. The company then acts as a sponsor and is required to get approval to hire a foreign worker from the Ministry of Labour. Once permission has been granted, the applicant can apply for a work visa and work permit at a Brazilian embassy or consulate in their home country.

Several documents including application forms, bank statements, qualifications and police clearance are required to apply for a Brazilian work permit. Documents may need to be translated into Portuguese and certified, so jobseekers should check this with their potential employer. Applicants will also usually have to undergo a medical examination.

Work permit applications for Brazil can take six to eight days to process, although it can take longer due to bureaucratic delays. Once approved, work permits are generally valid for two years and can be renewed once. After four years of living in Brazil, more permanent residence options become available to expats.

Expats will need a work permit in conjunction with a work visa (VITEM V). To qualify for a work visa, expats must have two years of relevant professional experience or a university degree and one year of experience or a postgraduate degree. 

*Work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Culture Shock in Brazil

Expats can expect culture shock in Brazil to come in a number of stages. Most find that the initial honeymoon stage lasts quite a while, making the later stages of culture shock more difficult. 

Brazilian locals are incredibly welcoming and friendly, and expats who have a positive attitude and are keen to learn about the local culture will have a smoother transition into life in Brazil.

Meeting and greeting in Brazil

Expats should be prepared for lots of physical contact in Brazil. Brazilians will often greet with a kiss or a hug. It is also common for both men and women to either pat someone on the shoulder or place their hand on one's hand or arm to make a point. Even in crowds, Brazilians maintain much less physical distance than expats from Europe and North America normally find comfortable.

Learning the correct way to greet and address people is vital to living in Brazil. A stereotypical Brazilian greeting is the 'air kiss' – a kiss hello on each cheek. While this is a fun way to greet people, be sure to learn the appropriate contexts.

Brazilians are very appearance-conscious. As such, expats may be on the receiving end of what seems like overly forward or brutally honest comments about topics such as their health, weight and even hairstyle. This shouldn't be taken personally.

Inequality in Brazil

Perhaps the biggest factor contributing to culture shock in Brazil is social inequality. Brazil may be a world economic powerhouse, but the disparity between rich and poor is blatantly obvious. Huge slums, or favelas, are visible in most large cities.

Expats in Brazil can generally afford to live comfortably. Domestic help is easily obtained, and overseas and regional trips are the norm. Private healthcare is easily accessible for expats, as are private schools. That said, this is not the case for a large percentage of Brazil’s population.

Language barrier in Brazil

Learning basic Portuguese before leaving for Brazil will ease a new arrival's transition. Limited English is spoken in larger cities, but those living in rural areas are far less likely to encounter locals who speak English. As Brazil has so many enclaves filled with expats from a multitude of cultures, Portuguese also often becomes the easiest way to communicate in a social setting.

Time in Brazil

As with many other South American destinations, locals in Brazil take a particularly relaxed attitude towards time. It's not unusual for Brazilians to show up anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes late to social events. At the same time, while being late for social occasions is fairly common, punctuality is expected in formal situations. Taking time out to enjoy a siesta or spending hours at a social dinner are also important aspects of life in Brazil. 

Religion in Brazil

Brazil is home to one of the largest Roman Catholic communities in the world. Many locals combine their Catholic faith with the spiritual practices of local Amerindian origin. As such, expats may find themselves unfamiliar with specific aspects of local religion and have trouble adapting. Taking time to learn about these unique customs will benefit expats.

Despite Brazil's sizeable Catholic community, the country is also home to a range of other faiths, and everyone is free to practice whichever religion they choose. 

Women in Brazil

Many male expats have reported that Brazil is a very easy country to adjust to, while female expats often find it considerably more difficult.

Like many Latin American countries, Brazil is dominated by a 'machismo' culture. The patriarchal values inherent in Catholicism also play an important social and cultural role. These factors tend to dictate that women take on quite traditional roles within society and even in business situations. That said, things are changing, and gender equality at home and in the workplace is becoming a more prominent value among locals.

Bureaucracy in Brazil

Another aspect of life in Brazil that may initially take some getting used to is the many levels of bureaucracy in government institutions. Most expats will find that this is particularly evident when applying for a residency visa.

Brazilians try to maintain a balance in their social relations and general day-to-day activities. Business meetings are important, but so is football and family time. Many expats will be impressed by the Brazilian people’s resilience, resourcefulness and ability to stay positive and greet life with a smile – which comes in handy when dealing with bureaucratic red tape.

Cost of Living in Brazil

In comparison to most major European or North American destinations, the cost of living in Brazil is decidedly low. Out of 227 destinations worldwide, São Paulo ranked 152nd and Rio de Janeiro 171st in the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey. In actuality, many expats are surprised to learn that, relative to salaries, the cost of living in these cities is actually pretty high. 

The dream of lying on a Brazilian beach sipping drinks from a coconut without a care in the world is quickly replaced by the reality of high prices – especially for expats not earning in a foreign currency. Of course, living in rural areas is significantly cheaper than living in the large cities.

Expenses vary widely across categories. In general, accommodation, transportation and manufactured goods are pricey. Food costs depend largely on whether expats decide to eat out or cook at home. Services are relatively inexpensive because labour costs are low throughout the country.

Brazil has made significant strides in moving people out of extreme poverty over the past decade and in increasing income inequality. However, there are still vast disparities in wealth between the richest and the poorest. Expats earning an international salary will be among the wealthy, and even expats getting a local salary will still likely find that they are firmly upper-middle class.

Cost of accommodation in Brazil

Renting accommodation in Brazil is pricey and will likely be an expat’s biggest expense. Expats on an assignment from international companies may have a housing allowance to help offset the steep costs of housing. One way to save on accommodation is to live in a less central location, although transportation costs generally increase as a result.

Cost of groceries in Brazil

Food costs in Brazil vary. Restaurant meals are fairly expensive, while basic groceries are moderately priced. Expats who choose to eat at home can manage food costs more easily. Major cities have upscale grocery stores that carry a wide range of imported items.

Shopping at local markets for basics, such as bread, grains, produce and meat, yields the lowest grocery prices. Locally produced food is almost always more affordable. So, in cities on the coast, seafood will be more economical, while beef and pork will cost less in inland farming regions.

Cost of entertainment in Brazil

Entertainment in Brazil can be relatively expensive for expats compared to some countries in South America, but it's still generally less expensive than in the US or Western Europe. As for entertainment, Brazil offers a variety of options, ranging from cultural events such as music and dance performances to outdoor activities and sports.

Nightlife is also an important aspect of Brazilian culture, with many bars and clubs offering live music, drinks and dancing. Outdoor festivals and events are also common and offer a lively and vibrant atmosphere for expats to experience.

Brazilians are lovers of beer and cachaça, the national liquor made from sugar cane. Both are readily available, as are a wide selection of wines and liquors. Prices for beer and wine are very reasonable, but imported liquors are costly. Expats can save money by purchasing some duty-free on their way into Brazil.

Cost of transport in Brazil

Transport expenses in Brazil are high. Cars cost much more in Brazil than in many other countries. Parking and insurance are also rather expensive. Expats can save on transport costs by making use of the extensive bus and metro systems in Brazil's major cities. 

Cost of education in Brazil

Expats with children will find that education costs in Brazil will rival, if not exceed, their rental expenses. Public schools in Brazil generally have a bad reputation, so expats and Brazilians with the resources to do so almost always send their children to private schools.

International schools, most often found in large cities such as Rio de Janeiro, typically charge high fees. Most expat parents feel that the cost is well justified by excellent facilities, high teaching standards and a familiar, globally recognised curriculum.

Cost of healthcare in Brazil

Brazil offers free healthcare for all permanent residents and legal citizens. Still, most expats elect to use private healthcare in Brazil as the country's public health system is underfunded and crowded. To do so, private medical insurance is highly recommended, although it can be fairly costly in Brazil. Those moving to the country on a work assignment are encouraged to negotiate a health insurance allowance as part of their contract. 

Cost of living in Brazil chart 

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices for São Paulo in April 2023. 

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

BRL 5,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

BRL 3,700

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

BRL 3,000

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

BRL 1,800

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

BRL 12.15

Milk (1 litre)

BRL 6.40

Rice (1kg)

BRL 6.49

Loaf of white bread


Chicken breasts (1kg)

BRL 24

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

BRL 12

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

BRL 200

Big Mac meal

BRL 35

Coca-Cola (330ml)

BRL 6.42


BRL 8.89

Bottle of beer (local)

BRL 12


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

BRL 1.57

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

BRL 111

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

BRL 352


Taxi rate/km


City-centre public transport fare

BRL 4.50

Gasoline (per litre)

BRL 5.47

Weather in Brazil

The weather and climate in Brazil are quite varied due to its large size. The country has five main climatic zones. While some areas are typically hot all year round, others are more subject to seasonal variations.

São Paulo and Brasília are situated on a plateau, enjoying mild weather and average temperatures that are in the 76°F (24.5°C) range. Coastal regions and cities, like Rio de Janeiro, have warmer climates. Temperatures in Rio are often around 86°F (30°C) in summer. Expats should stay hydrated and indoors on especially hot days. The yearly average is a pleasant 80°F (26°C).  

The subtropical climate in the south means that summers are hot and winters can get slightly chilly. Temperatures from July to August can drop below freezing. Expats may occasionally find themselves waking up to morning frost.

The Amazon Basin experiences warm and wet weather all year round. It is known for incredibly high levels of humidity and the temperature tends to hover around 77°F (25°C). The Equatorial Amazon gets a lot of rain from November to May, while June and October are the best times to travel to this region, as they are the driest months.


Frequently Asked Questions about Brazil

Expats considering moving to Brazil often have questions about the bureaucratic processes involved and the quality of life they can expect. Read on for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about moving to Brazil.

Is Brazil a good destination for expats with kids?

Expats with children will find that Brazil is a wonderful place for kids to learn about different cultures as well as the vast amounts of fauna and flora the planet has to offer. Brazil is a fun place for children and certainly an exciting move.

As expat parents tend to opt for private rather than public education, costs remain high in Brazil. Expats travelling with children will have to factor high school fees into their monthly budget. Some expats are able to organise a subsidy from their companies, especially those with more than one child of schoolgoing age.

Which city is the best one to live and work in?

São Paulo is the premier destination for business expats moving to Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is also highly popular and has many oil industry jobs. Brasília has a significant diplomatic community. Many of the coastal cities such as Fortaleza, Recife and Porto Alegre also have large expat communities.

Is it expensive to live in Brazil?

The cost of living in Brazil is somewhat high, but expats' salaries will be the deciding factor in what kind of lifestyle they're able to maintain. There is a large disparity between the rich and poor in Brazil, but most expats will probably not need to worry too much about paying their bills each month as expat salaries tend to be lucrative.

Keeping in Touch in Brazil

Expats living in Brazil will find that while they can immerse themselves in their adopted home, keeping in touch with everyone back home is also made easy thanks to the country's well-developed telecommunication and internet resources. 

Internet in Brazil

High-speed internet is readily available and fairly reliable in most Brazilian cities. There are several broadband access options available for home use. Service can be fairly expensive depending on the desired download speed. Some providers offer bundles with multiple services, such as internet, cable and/or a phone. This can often work out cheaper than paying for services individually. In rural areas of Brazil, however, the infrastructure is less developed, and it may be difficult to find service.

WiFi availability is constantly increasing in major cities and tourist destinations. A range of locations from coffee shops to public parks offer free WiFi hotspots.

Mobile phones in Brazil

The mobile phone industry in Brazil is struggling to keep up with explosive growth. Service providers and the government continue to invest in improved service, but throughout the country, cellular coverage ranges from excellent to non-existent.

Mobile phone use in Brazil is high. All types of mobile phones, from the most basic to the highest-quality smartphone, are available. But with the government imposing high import taxes on electronic devices manufactured outside Brazil, they tend to be exorbitantly priced. It may be best for expats to rather bring an unlocked phone with them from their home country.

Expats in Brazil can choose from a variety of calling plans, including pay-as-you-go models, with any of the major providers. Plans tend to include some combination of calling, messaging and data.

Postal services in Brazil

Brazil has a well-developed postal service. Post offices are plentiful, and the mailing of letters and packages is relatively simple. The service can be slow but is generally reliable.

Receiving packages can present some challenges for expats, as Brazil has steep import taxes. Packages sent from abroad may be subject to fees of multiple times the value of the contents. Any package stopped by customs will also take longer to arrive than expected. 

Media and news in Brazil

International and local news sources are widely accessible in Brazil. Online sources can be reached from almost anywhere. In cities, newsstands will sell a range of Brazilian newspapers and magazines. Larger stands and bookshops will have foreign titles available as well.

Public Holidays in Brazil




New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Good Friday

7 April

29 March

Tiradentes Day

21 April

21 April

Labour Day

1 May

1 May

Corpus Christi

8 June

30 May

Independence Day

7 September

7 September

Our Lady of Aparecida

12 October

12 October

All Souls' Day

2 November

2 November

Republic Day

15 November

15 November

Christmas Day

25 December

25 December


Embassy Contacts for Brazil

Brazilian embassies

  • Brazilian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 238 2700

  • Brazilian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7747 4500

  • Brazilian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 237 1090

  • Brazilian Embassy, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6273 2372

  • Brazilian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 366 5200

  • Brazilian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 416 1204

  • Brazilian Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 473 3516

Foreign embassies in Brazil

  • United States Embassy, Brasília: +55 61 3312 7000

  • British Embassy, Brasília: +55 61 3329 2300

  • Canadian Embassy, Brasília: +55 61 3424 5400

  • Australian Embassy, Brasília: +55 61 3226 3111

  • South African Embassy, Brasília: +55 61 3312 9500

  • Irish Embassy, Brasília: +55 61 3248 8800

  • New Zealand Embassy, Brasília: +55 61 3248 9900

Education and Schools in Brazil

Despite the country's largely positive economic development in recent years, public education and schooling in Brazil remains underfunded and mired in social and structural problems. This, accompanied by the fact that classes at public schools are taught in Portuguese, means that most expats choose to send their children to private or international schools in Brazil, of which there are many to choose from. 

Public schools in Brazil

The standard of education at Brazilian public schools remains low overall. There are often reports of overcrowding and a lack of materials. 

Parents have the option to enrol children who are under six in educação infantil. Schooling is mandatory for children between the ages of six and 14 (ensino básico). After this, students may optionally attend ensino médio (secondary school) from age 15 to 18.

Due to the demand for space, some Brazilian schools run two or three separate school sessions per day to accommodate the large number of students, with children attending one session per day. 

Private and international schools in Brazil

There are several private and international schools in Brazil. They are largely concentrated in the main cities of Brasília, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro

Most international schools in Brazil follow the British or American curriculum, though there are some that cater to other nationalities, including French, German, Italian and Spanish. Another popular programme is the International Baccalaureate. 

Due to the higher standard of education offered at international schools in Brazil, wealthy Brazilians often choose to educate their children at these institutions. Many international schools have a multicultural student body with children from all over the world.

Brazilian private schools, on the other hand, generally follow the Brazilian local curriculum. Some private schools have a religious foundation or offer bilingual instruction. Some expats prefer to send their children to private schools due to the lower fees compared to international schools.

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Best International Schools in São Paulo
Best International Schools in Rio de Janeiro

Special-needs education in Brazil

While the Brazilian constitution states that children with physical or mental special educational needs should be integrated into the public school system, there are limited state-supplied resources for children with special needs in Brazil. Those that do exist are offered in Portuguese.

Private and international schools may have more support available, though this does vary between schools. Parents are advised to research options thoroughly to ensure their children will be well catered for.

Tutors in Brazil

There are countless tutors and tutor companies to choose from in Brazil. Expats and locals alike can benefit in many ways from hiring a tutor. For example, even those who have some knowledge of European Portuguese may not find it as easy to pick up Brazilian Portuguese as they expected. In these cases, a tutor is an ideal way to bridge the gap.

For students, tutors can help prepare for big exams, adjust to their new curriculum, tackle a problem subject, or maintain fluency in their mother tongue.

Visas for Brazil

The process for obtaining a visa for Brazil has undergone many changes in recent years. Previously, almost all travellers needed a visa to enter the country, but the Brazilian government recently waived the visa requirements for many foreigners. Expats should contact their local Brazilian embassy to make sure which visa rules apply to them.

Expats hoping to make a more permanent move to Brazil should prepare themselves for a long and drawn out visa application process. It is advisable to make use of the services of an immigration lawyer to make the process less stressful.

Tourist and business visas for Brazil

Expats looking to obtain a visit or business visa for Brazil should contact their local embassy. Expats from certain countries don’t need a visa to enter Brazil and can obtain visa-free entry at the border. These countries include the US, UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland.

That said, the list of exempted countries may change without prior notice. It is therefore important to check with a Brazilian embassy when planning a holiday or business trip.

Visa-free travellers and those with visit visas are allowed to stay in Brazil for up to 90 days. Visas may be extended by another 90 days.

Temporary visas for Brazil

Brazil's temporary visas allow holders to stay in the country legally for more than 90 days. There are several types of temporary visas for Brazil, including work visas, student visas and digital nomad visas. First introduced in 2022, the Brazilian digital nomad visa is valid for one year. Student and work visas are valid for the duration of the course or employment contract. 

Newcomers must register with the Brazilian Federal Police (DPF) within 90 days of their arrival to receive their migration registration card (CRNM) for between a year to three years, depending on their specific visa. 

Permanent visas for Brazil

Foreigners wishing to live in Brazil long-term can apply for a permanent visa. There are several types of permanent visas including those for investment, family reunification and retirement. Some of these visas require expats to have sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay in Brazil, these include investment and retirement visas.

The requirements for a permanent visa for Brazil are quite stringent. Expats wishing to apply for this visa should prepare themselves for a long wait filled with bureaucratic processes and much paperwork.

*Visa and work permit requirements are subject to change at short notice and expats are advised to contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.