A Complete Guide for Moving to Brazil

So, you’re thinking about making the big move south of the equator to Brazil’s lively and vibrant country. While this is a huge decision, it’s worthwhile. Brazil is a cultural hub filled with fantastic food, a substantial football following, and extensive history, resulting in endless opportunities for ex-pats to seize and explore. But uprooting your current life to move to Brazil is no simple feat, so you want to ensure you’re fully prepared before officially making this transition.

Moving to Brazil requires much research and planning, such as learning the national language, saving up financially to cover all moving costs, and choosing the right location that best suits your interests. However, this is just the tip of the planning iceberg; you’ll also need to consider the cost of living, what moving company to hire, and more.

This guide will provide all of the information you could need to move to Brazil confidently. You’ll learn how much you should have saved before the move, the nation’s average cost of living, and how you can move your move easier and smoother. By the end of this article, you’ll be confident in your ability to take the next step towards being an official Brazilian. 

Things to Know Before Moving to Brazil

Moving to a new country is a significant life change, and it can be challenging. You will need to find a place to live, but you’ll also have to acquire some form of steady income once you’re there, along with hammering down several other essential factors. 

However, before you purchase your new Brazilian home and start packing your bags, there are some things about Brazil we think you should know. 

It’s always important to do your research before moving to a new nation, and, in the case of Brazil, we highly recommend ex-pats look into the nation’s social attitudes and customs, primary language, healthcare policies, as well as its political stances, and issues before finalizing any significant decisions.

Let’s look into each of these topics in more detail to know exactly what they entail, what to expect, and how to prepare for them before you step off the plane or out of the car and into Brazil. 

Brazilians Speak Portuguese (With a Twist)

Learning the mother language of the nation you intend to move to is paramount, and the sooner you get started, the better. 

Although English reigns supreme in most nations, only about 3% of Brazilians can confidently speak the language fluently. If you think you have a decent handle on Spanish, and this should serve you well in a South American country, think again. 

Like English, Spanish is taught as a second language in Brazil, so many inhabitants can understand it due to its proximity to other Spanish-speaking countries, but only a minuscule percentage of the population speaks it fluently. 

In Brazil, 1.9% of inhabitants speak indigenous languages like Ticuna, Kaingang, and Kaiwá Guarani, 1.9% speak German due to a significant population of German immigrants in the 1940s. The remaining 97.9% of Brazilians speak Portuguese.

If you want to make it in Brazil, then you better brush up on your Brazilian Portuguese skills! – Credit: Dreamstime | Kadettmann

Therefore, Portuguese is the language you need to brush up on before moving. It will help the transition insurmountably to have a decent grasp of the Brazilian mother language under your belt when you first start navigating life there. 

This will help you seem more like a resident and less like a tourist, but it will help you make genuine connections with other Brazilians and ensure the nation feels less alien and more like home. 

Just make sure you learn Brazilian Portuguese rather than European Portuguese. Although the languages are the same, Brazilians will have different pronunciations, inflections, and slang you’ll want to learn to better understand them and blend in.

The Economy is Steadily Growing

A nation’s economy is always an essential element to consider when you intend to be subject and contribute to it upon moving. Luckily Brazil has been consistently ranked as one of the top ten nations with the largest economies and has been ranked 9th on this scale since 2013. 

Additionally, Brazil has the largest economy in South America, so this is a fine choice if your goal is to move to any South American country. The nation boasts a GDP of $1.84 trillion, a GDP per capita of $8,717, and 211 million as of 2019. 

The majority of Brazil’s economy relies on:

  • Aircraft and automotive production
  • Mineral and energy resource extraction
  • Exportation of coffee beans, soybeans, and various fruits
  • Tourism

Despite a severe recession in 2017, Brazil has been steadily improving the nation politically and economically by instituting reforms to reduce public spending and debt, increase investments in energy infrastructure, promote foreign investment, and improve labor market conditions.

However, despite its economic revival, poverty is a significant issue in Brazil, as its current poverty rate is 12.83% post-COVID-19. Therefore, you’ll want to be well-prepared financially before moving here (a point we will discuss later). 

Brazilians Are Expressive

Brazil can be a culture shock for some people, especially if you come from a nation where social interaction is stiffer and more reserved. 

In Brazil, it is extremely common for locals to be friendly, enthusiastic, and expressive to the point where they will frequently enter your personal space for a hug and multiple kisses on the cheeks. Outright demonstrations of affection and emotion are expected and encouraged here, so you might be left a little uncomfortable if this isn’t typical for you.

In these situations, the best thing to do is to see it through their eyes as the Brazilians accept you into the community where you’re one of them, and everyone looks out for one another. 

Invest in Private Healthcare

One of the first things you should do upon moving to a new nation is switch over to their healthcare, so you are mentally and physically protected in illness, injury, or a mental health emergency.

Although Brazil has offered universal healthcare as a constitutional right since 1988, the harsh reality is that most government-run healthcare systems and companies are woefully underfunded, which can negatively affect you as a benefactor. 

It isn’t uncommon for individuals using government healthcare to be subjected to long waiting lists or serviced in an understaffed medical facility with limited resources. They might even travel significant distances for specialized equipment at a separate facility that aligns with their free coverage. 

Brazil’s SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde) is goes to greath lenghts in order to help the citizens, but without proper governmental funding and help, it often falls short in providing healthcare. – Credit: Dreamstime | Rafael Henrique

Therefore, most people recommend Brazilians use private healthcare for its improved service and reduced irritants and obstacles. Even though it isn’t free like the public option, you’d be surprised how affordable private healthcare can be here, so we highly recommend finding a plan that suits you.

Consider Avoiding the Most Populated Cities

Moving to a new country isn’t like going on vacation. Once you’re there, you’re subject to all of its pros and cons, including Brazil’s politics and most significant social issues. 

Despite Brazil’s slowly improving economy and the emergence of a more stable middle-class, crime is still a point of fear and wariness for tourists and ex-pats alike. Violent crimes such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, assault, and kidnapping aren’t uncommon, particularly in the most populated cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Pickpocketing and purse/phone-snatching are particularly frequent amongst the most tourist-heavy locations as natives take advantage of unsuspecting outsiders. Many appoint the nation’s high crime rate to the profound income inequality, and as the government has slowly improved on this issue, crime has gradually reduced. 

Of course, crime is an unfortunate presence in every nation and will logically have higher rates in more populated areas. This isn’t intended to deter you from moving to Brazil altogether but rather to provide you with all of the information necessary to make a safe and informed decision about where you intend to label home once you’re there. 

As for myself, I have lived in Rio de Janeiro all my life, and I have unfortunately been through some not-so-great situations. As a local, you learn how to get by, where to go, and not to go, but as someone moving to the city for the first time, I’d advise being careful while in Rio.

Currently, highly populated cities like the two previously mentioned have consistently high crime rates, while Feira de Santana and Fortaleza lead the nation as the cities with the highest homicide rates in Brazil in 2020.

However, many Brazilians and ex-pats agree that crime isn’t overtly noticeable to them in their daily lives as long as they are conscious of their surroundings and follow basic safety rules, such as learning the best routes to their locations, traveling in groups, and being vigilant at night. 

By the way, if you want to know what are the top places where ex-pats like to live in Brazil, take a look at this post!

How Much Money Do I Need to Move to Brazil?

Arguably the best way to ensure you’ve set yourself up for a thriving life in Brazil is to be financially prepared and secure before you leave your current residence. 

In order to safely and comfortably move to Brazil, we recommend having enough money to pay for shipping costs of your vehicle and all of your belongings, travel fees for all family members to get into the country and at least three months’ worth of living expenses. 

Combining these costs and more can amass quite a sum, especially if you are moving a family of three or more rather than just yourself. Odds are, you’ll need well over $5,000-$10,000, but this is just a bare bone estimate after considering the absolute lowest average cost of most expenditures combined.


Expenditures to Consider Before Moving to Brazil

Although we’d like to give you a solid amount of money you should have before moving to Brazil, the figure ultimately depends on too many factors. You need to consider:

  • How much are you shipping to the country?
  • What distance are you and your belongings traveling?
  • How many people are moving?
  • How much does it cost to move each person?
  • Are you shipping a vehicle(s)?
  • Are you shipping a pet(s)?
  • What is your monthly cost of living?
  • Are you purchasing mover’s insurance?
  • Are you hiring a crew to move and unpack your belongings?
  • Do you need to store any belongings before or after the move?
  • Will some of your belongings be subject to customs charges?
  • Do you need a Visa and, if so, what does it cost? How many do you need?
  • Do you need to hire a lawyer for your Visa(s)?

The list above is already significant, and it could honestly continue. If you hadn’t realized before this point, the reality of moving to another country is that it is a planning and financial behemoth unless you’re a single person with few belongings who already live in South America. 

Shipping costs alone through an official company can start at $700 and exceed $4,000, depending on shipping, how much you have, and how far it has to travel. Vehicle shipping is also relatively pricey starting at around $1,000 and potentially reaching over $10,000, depending on the vehicle size and, again, distance. If you have two cars, congratulations, you get to double that cost. 

After that, you’ll need to add in plane tickets, checked baggage costs, and other factors listed above. Pets will consistently cost $200+ apiece. A mover’s insurance can be $100-$1,000, so you get the picture. 

While three months of living expenses aren’t necessarily required, we highly recommend it as an emergency fund if unforeseen expenditures arise, you have difficulty finding or starting your job, your new home isn’t ready upon arrival, etc. You’ll feel much better knowing you have some extra cash set aside for just this reason than to arrive in Brazil without a backup plan. 

Ultimately, moving to Brazil is absolutely doable and something to be encouraged, but you’ll want to make sure all of your financial ducks are in a row beforehand, which requires saving a hefty sum to cover all of your expenditures. 

Average Cost of Living in Brazil

One of the best perks of living in Brazil is that its average cost of living is much lower than most European nations and the United States. The poverty rate has a significant effect on this fact. Still, most individuals emigrating from the nations above can live comfortably in Brazil for a fraction of the cost back in their native country. 

Try to roughly calculate your expenses to see if you’ll be able to live confortably in the place you want to live in Brazil – Credit: Chattrawutt Hanjukkam

Without considering rent, the average cost of living for a single person in Brazil is estimated at $465.24 per month and $1,646.16 for a family of four. This renders the nation’s cost of living 82% cheaper than 74 other established countries globally.  As of 2019, the average salary for Brazilians is $32,506 per year, $2,709 per month, and $16 per hour

Rent will always be the most significant contributor to your overall cost of living, and, like most places on earth, the prices will predominantly depend on location and size. The extensive choice to make here is if you want to stay in or outside of the city. 

The average rent in Brazil will range from $195 to $1,500, where a single bedroom apartment outside of the city is $195, and its city counterpart would cost around $285. If you’re trying to find housing for a family, a three-bedroom apartment outside of the city would cost around $400 versus $563 inside the city. Individuals who want a private home or more luxurious apartments would reach that $1,500+ threshold. 

Therefore, if you’re looking to save a decent chunk of change, the best residency choice for you would be outside of the city. 

Best Places in Brazil to Live

Let’s put all of that technical, logistical stuff aside and start pondering where you’re going to purchase your dream home or rent a cozy apartment in Brazil. Every corner of this nation has its own vibrant culture, unique history, and eye-catching perks. However, amidst Brazil’s whopping 8,515,767 square kilometers, these are the places we recommend living in the most.

The best places to live in Brazil include:

  • Curitiba
  • São Paulo
  • Florianopolis
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • Fortaleza
  • Belem

Which location you choose will widely depend on your interests, what climate and environment you prefer, and if city life is your calling or prefers the solitude of rural living. 


This is one of the most interesting, exciting places to live in Brazil. Curitiba has a very low population density and is ranked among Forbes Magazine’s top ten cleanest cities in South America for its small carbon footprint, vast green spaces, lack of noise pollution, and an extensive recycling program that includes composting organic waste from kitchen scraps.

It is an exceptional place to live for individuals interested in sustainability who also enjoy parks and a shockingly cool climate considering its tropical location.

We have made a full post about Curitiba, so take a look if you want to find out more about this beautiful city.

São Paulo

City lovers won’t be able to hold in their excitement when they see the sheer size, vibrancy, and beauty of São Paulo. It is a fantastic city that never sleeps with its busy nightlife, markets where you can find anything from food to clothing on the cheap, and hilly streets lined with buildings so high they block out all sunlight for large portions of the day.

The best part about living in this popular destination is the vast entertainment options and the incredible blend of cultures, including Brazilian, Italian, and Japanese. Even when it’s raining, the city has a lot to offer, which you can check in this post we made about how to spend a rainy day in São Paulo!


For those seeking a tropical paradise filled with sandy beaches as far as the eye can see, Florianopolis is an excellent option. The location’s planning laws prohibit structures from being built within 100 yards of its 40+ beaches, leaving most in pristine natural condition.

In this skyview picture of Florianópolis, you can see the bridge that connects the mainland to the Santa Catarina island. – Credit: Dreamstime | Diego Grandi

The municipality is split between the mainland and the island of Santa Catarina, allowing for outdoor activities such as surfing, fishing, swimming, boating, and more.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second-largest city and probably its most well-known location, especially following the 2016 Summer Olympics. With the famous “Christ the Redeemer” statue looking down upon the city, you can’t help but feel fortunate walking these bustling streets filled with friendly locals and a modern public transportation system.

Just beyond all of that is the most astounding beaches, although you’ll have to pay a pretty penny in the overall cost of living if you want to enjoy the city but avoid its infamous favelas (slums).  


If you’re looking for a place that perfectly blends affordability with beauty, it’ll be in Fortaleza. As the capital of Ceará, Fortaleza is another significantly sized city, but its relatively isolated location gives it a much different vibe from Rio de Janeiro.

Here, inhabitants love to party, enjoy the coast and explore the nearby natural wonders. The city is certainly busy, but there is also a significant ex-pat community here that will help you feel welcome and ease the transition to the Brazilian lifestyle.



Those of you seeking a lovely in-between of city life and nature should start packing your bags now for Belém. With the Amazon practically at your fingertips, the city of Belém is known for its thriving markets, charming pastel-colored buildings, and insightful museums.

The cost of living here is usually less than $700 a month, making the region affordable and a prime location for cultural and natural explorers. We have written the Ultimate Guide to Belém, so take a look at our post if you’re interested in learning more about it.

Best Companies to Make Your Move Easier

Having the right help can make all the difference in a smooth, stress-free transition from your native country to Brazil. The last thing you want is to employ a company that postpones your move, loses your precious items, or misdelivers them upon arrival.

Therefore, we highly recommend choosing one of these companies we’ve listed below to help you make this monumental move successful. These are the best companies to hire if you move to Brazil based on rates and customer reviews:

  • Allied Van Lines
  • United Van Lines
  • North American Van Lines
  • Mayflower International Moving
  • Arpin Van Lines
  • Atlas Van Lines
  • Bekins
  • Graebel Van Lines
  • Aires
  • Sirva

The first security line with these companies is that most are “Van Lines,” which means they are large, multi-state networks of moving companies, each operating in conjunction with one another and ultimately established under well-known brand names.

Van Line employees are well-trained and specialize in packing and crating a person’s valuables, transporting them, and driving commercial vehicles of various types. They will use cutting-edge technology to ensure everything is safe and accounted for and give you peace of mind of knowing where your belongings are every step of the way. 

Many of these companies will also offer additional services and resources, particularly to international movers, such as international compensation support services, cross-cultural and language training, and a moving plan complete with the essentials necessary 90 days before an international move. 

Rest assured, you’ll be in good hands with any of these companies, but be sure to do your research and decide which one feels right to you. 

Final Thoughts

Brazil has been ranked #9 in the Mover’s ranking, and it’s not hard to see why. Before you buy your plane ticket and start living the Brazilian lifestyle, ensure you’ve utilized our guide and thoroughly prepared for the move ahead of time. 

Learn the nation’s language, save a decent sum for all moving expenditures, and hire a reliable international moving company. Once you’ve done all of this and chosen your future hometown or city, you’ll be well on your way to a fresh start in South America’s largest country. 

While you’re here, I think we might interest you with these:

Living in Rio: How much does it cost in USD? – Thinking about moving to the city of wonders? Take a look and find out how much you’ll need!

The Pros And Cons Of Living In The US Vs. Brazil – Brazil the USA are both amazing places to live in different ways, but which of them is actually better? Take a look at our post and find out the major pros and cons!

11 Great Reasons To Move to Brazil – Still not convinced that Brazil might be the place for you? Then let us give you 11 reasons on why you should most definitely move here!

Cover Photo: woman packing and moving boxes – Credit: ID 27039374 © Arne9001 | Dreamstime.com

Bruno Reguffe

What's up, everyone! I'm Bruno, and I'm a nutritionist living in Rio de Janeiro. I've been a longtime friend of Ana's, and I'm excited to help her expand on all things Brazilian with y'all, as well as sharing some of our culture and a few personal experiences while living in the country!

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