Living in Rio: How much does it cost in USD?


Many people wish to live in Rio, but it is usually hard to know how much you are going to spend on a monthly basis, especially if you are not used to the local currency.  

           

Living in Rio de Janeiro can cost between USD 1K to 2,5K a month, including bills, transportation, food, and rental. We consolidated the below table to help you understand the costs of living in Rio.

CategorySingleCoupleFamily
Rent360620895
Groceries140180240
Utility Bills110155250
Health Insurance337675850
Transportation5070100
Leisure75150250
TOTAL1K1,8K2,5K
Amounts are in USD. Exchange rate of August 2020

I’m going to break down that monthly estimate in topics, so make sure to read to the end of the post, as I’ll put in some inside information that should be useful if you’re looking more into moving to Rio.

Prices throughout this article were converted using the Aug 12th, 2020 exchange rate, where USD 1 converts to BRL 5,44.

How To Rent or Buy Real Estate in Rio de Janeiro

            Since we have so much to go over, I thought it’d make things easier to divide this topic by region and expand a bit on the pros and cons of each one of them.

            Renting a place in Rio (or in Brazil in general) for a non-Brazilian can be a very bureaucratic and complicated process, but there are a few ways you can go about it.

Renting through a Real Estate Agency / Directly with the Landlord

If you decide to rent a house or apartment with a Real Estate Agency or to deal directly with the landlord, you’ll need the following documentation to be up to date:

  • Income statements
  • Current address in your home country
  • Updated Passport
  • Updated Work Visa
  • A local Brazilian citizen to be the guarantor

This way, the tenant will be able to sign a guaranteed contract with the real state agency, which will take full responsibility for any/every damage that may be caused to the tenant/apartment.

Having a guarantor is indispensable if you want to rent with a real state agency, but if you try to negotiate directly with the landlord, some may not require it.

Renting through Rental Apps (such as Quinto Andar or Zap Imóveis)

If you’re looking for a practical option to rent your place even before you get to Rio, there are a few apps that can help you while looking for the perfect apartment.

Unlike dealing with a Real Estate Agency, these apps do not require a guarantor to proceed with a rental, which can make things easier.

You’ll need the following documentation for renting a house or apartment through an app:

  • Income statements for the last three months
  • Updated Work Visa
  • RNE (National Foreign Registration)

All documentation is sent through the app itself, and after your registration gets approved, you’ll be able to apply for rentals compatible with your income and sign your contract.

Any problems can be reported directly to the app, and they will deal directly with the landlord.

Buying through a Real Estate Agency / Directly with the Landlord

If you’re looking to buy your own place, you’ll need the following updated documents:

  • CPF (local Brazilian Social Security number)

If you’re outside Brazil and wish to apply for a local CPF, you can go on Brazil’s IRS website, and it will provide you with the form you’ll need to fill out.

  • Birth or Marriage Certificate
  • Passport/RNE
  • Proof of Address

Even though we didn’t include IPTU (Brazilian Annual Property tax) building maintenance (condo fees) in the rental calculations below, in Brazil the payment of these fees is a responsibility of the tenant, so make sure you consider it in your budget.

South Zone – Ipanema / Leblon / Copacabana / Flamengo / Botafogo

Home of some of Rio’s most famous beaches, these south zone districts also houses some of the most expensive realty in the city.

Due to being so close to the beach and also for being a notorious tourist spot, the cost of living here is not only higher in regards to accommodations, but also concerning supermarkets and general leisure.

Rental Averages:

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Rent*USD 500USD 825USD 1255
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
 *IPTU, which is the Brazilian property tax, and the condo fees – building staff, maintenance, repairs in common areas are not included in these numbers

Buying Averages:

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Price*USD 173KUSD 222KUSD 577K
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
*average IPTU (annual) – USD 3K (which can be paid in installments throughout the year)

            With realties considerably less expensive in comparison to the ones in the south zone of Rio, the districts located in the north portion of the city also house some great choices if you want to save a bit on accommodations and don’t mind taking a bit longer to get to the beach.

Since there are a lot of old buildings here, you’ll have a more challenging time finding anything under 755ft², making this an excellent choice if you’re moving in with a partner or your family.

Pros: close to the beach, subway stations and bus stops, safer than other parts of the city

Cons: cost of living is much higher than other parts of the city

North Zone – Tijuca, Maracanã, Vila Isabel, Grajaú

Rental Averages:

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Rent*USD 350USD 450USD 600
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
*IPTU and condo fees – building staff, maintenance, repairs in common areas – are not included on these numbers

Buying Averages:

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Price*USD 65KUSD 110KUSD 170K
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
*average IPTU (annual) – USD 1,2K (which can be paid in installments throughout the year)

Pros: close to subway stations and bus stops, less expensive living cost, close to big supermarkets

Cons: not as safe as the districts in the south zone of Rio, can be noisy depending on the area

Downtown – Lapa, Santa Teresa, Catete

Downtown Rio can be best described as a mixed bag. While you’ll find some pretty small apartments that may require some restoration, you can also rent or buy spacious places, so having a closer look is advised here.

If you’re looking to move on your own, you’ll find tons of options in Downtown Rio as many apartments are designed for just one person.

Rental Averages:

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Rent*USD 250USD 380USD 600
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
*IPTU and condo fees – building staff, maintenance, repairs in common areas – are not included on these numbers

Buying Averages:

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Price*USD 65KUSD 87KUSD 145K
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
*average IPTU (annual) – USD 1,2K (which can be paid in installments throughout the year)

Pros: close to subway stations and bus stops (except for Santa Teresa), less expensive living cost, close to big supermarkets

Cons: not as safe as the districts in the south zone of Rio, can be noisy depending on the location

Barra da Tijuca/ Recreio

           

Barra da Tijuca and Recreio are two districts in Rio that, although a bit more remote in terms of distance to the rest of the city, can also give you some exciting living options.

They are very close to less crowded beaches such as Praia do Pepê and Praia da Macumba, so that’s a plus if you want to live near the water but aren’t a fan of big groups of people.

            The lifestyle in both these districts is very car-centered, so to make the local’s lives more comfortable, a lot of the apartment complexes have facilities like convenience stores, gyms, and recreational centers in their perimeters, which also ends up increasing rental/buying considerably.

Rental Averages

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Rent*USD 340USD 830USD 1125
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
*IPTU and condo fees – building staff, maintenance, repairs in common areas – are not included on these numbers

Buying Averages:

SingleCoupleFamily
Average Price*USD 100KUSD 160KUSD 282K
Average Size (ft²)270 to 755 ft²755 to 1300 ft²1076 to 1615 ft²
*average IPTU (annual) – USD 1,2K (which can be paid in installments throughout the year)

Pros: close to less crowded beaches, luxury bigger apartments

Cons: distant from other parts of the city, having a car is nearly essential

Groceries & Supermarket Expenses

 

Mundial Supermarket, one of the most affordable chains in the city – Wikicommons | Eduardo P

In Brazil, people mostly do their shopping in big supermarket chains, but there are also local mini-stores and street markets in which you can buy your groceries for better prices depending on what you’re looking for.

For example, street farmer’s markets are great for buying fresh fruits, meat cuts, and vegetables for a little less, but you won’t be able to find any personal hygiene products there.

On the other side, some supermarket chains often make big sales on certain commodities, such as cleaning products, for example. So if you’re looking to spend less, it might be a good idea to shop around instead of only going to one place.

Supermarket Weekly Expense

To give you a more accurate estimate of spending values for food and supplies in Rio, I went asking several friends and relatives how much they spent per week in the supermarket.

For this calculation, I took into consideration just essential items such as:

  • General groceries (bread, coffee, butter, milk, eggs, pasta, water, etc.)
  • Meat cuts (cow, chicken, fish)
  • Personal hygiene supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc.)
  • Cleaning supplies (sanitary water, detergent, bleach, washing powder, etc.)

I interviewed different types of households with varying numbers of family members and asked for this information to compare their final weekly expenses. Below is the result I got:

SingleCoupleFamily
USD 35USD 45USD 60

One thing that can alter the final price of your grocery list is which supermarket chain you choose to do your shopping. To give you a better look in which ones are more or less expensive than the others, I made the following list

Wholesale Dispensers

If you live in a big place and have some storage room, you can also buy in bulk on specified wholesale local stores, which can save you some money in the long run. Here’s a list of a few of them in Rio:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Birmingham_Wholesale_Markets.jpg

Street Farmer’s Markets

As I stated before, street farmers’ markets in Brazil are exclusively a place to buy fresh food such as fruits, vegetables, and meat cuts.

Usually, people bring their shopping carts or bags with them, as these street markets typically take up a whole street, so you can only imagine the variety of products you can find.

Fresh fruit and vegetables can be bought on the street fairs – Personal Archive | Bruno Reguffe

Weekly, considering a shopping list consisting of all the groups mentioned above, you’ll probably spend around USD 40 per month in these markets.

They usually happen once a week in specified streets throughout Rio’s districts, so make sure you have your grocery list always ready!

You can check the addresses and working hours on the Rio de Janeiro townhall website here.

Utility Bills

Concerning monthly utility bills, I also asked the same households on how much they spend on water, gas, electricity, and some other additional expenses you may have (cable, streaming services, internet).

Here’s what I was able to gather:

 1 Person2 People3 People
ElectricityUSD 30USD 45USD 75
WaterUSD 25USD 30USD 40
GasUSD 5USD 18USD 30
CableUSD 25USD 40USD 60
InternetUSD 15USD 15USD 30
Streaming ServicesUSD 5USD 5USD 7

Keep in mind that these calculations can vary depending on the season, as in most people’s energy bills goes up a lot during Summer due to fans and air conditioners being used more often (summertime is Rio can be cruel!).  

Health Insurance

One of the main concerns of people coming to live outside their home country is how to go about getting Health Insurance.

Rio de Janeiro has a lot of health plans you can get, but I would advise Unimed if you’re also looking to travel outside of Rio de Janeiro during your time in Brazil, as it has the best coverage throughout the country.

How To Get Health Insurance in Rio?

If you’re coming to live in Brazil for work reasons, your company is the one responsible for the arrangements for the Health Plan.

Otherwise, you can get in contact with any of the insurance companies based in Rio, and they’ll be able to sign you up.

Here’s a list of Brazil’s major health insurance companies:

  • Unimed
  • Golden Cross
  • Assim
  • Bradesco
  • Sulamérica
  • Amil

How does Health Insurance work, and how much does it cost?

Health Insurance for foreigners works very similarly to locals. You can pick whatever category fits you best based on what you can afford and what services are most important to you.

You can also choose the for how long your Health Insurance will be in effect if you have an established date to leave the country.

So, for example, if you’re staying for six months, you can opt to maintain your health plan just for that period.

To give you a better idea on public transportation and uber/yellow cab fares, I made the following table:

CategorySingle Trip Fare
Bus FareUSD 0.80
Subway FareUSD 1.00
Uber Fare (based on an average of different trips to different parts of the city)USD 5.60

The primary documentation for you to apply for Health Insurance in Rio is the following:

  • Local Residence Address
  • CPF (local Brazilian Social Security number)

Again, if you’re outside Brazil and wish to apply for a local CPF, you can go on Brazil’s IRS website and fill out the form.

I checked with a few of the Health Insurance companies in Rio to give you a better idea on prices, and this is what I was able to gather:

Age RangeAverage Price*
0 – 18USD 50 to 125
30 – 40USD 95 to 222
40 – 50USD 99 to 580
*Prices per month and for one person. The estimates vary according to the specification of your health plan, like services, private rooms, covered specialties, etc.

Transportation

For moving around the city, there are many options you can choose from. Most locals use the bus lines and subway daily, but if you’re not familiar with Rio de Janeiro, I would advise not to take buses, as they are less safe than the subway.

The subway lines are somewhat limited, but will probably be able to take you to your destination, or at least, very close to it.

The city also counts with a surface train system, which can take you to other counties in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

            If you’re looking to drive around the city, I was also able to get some information on rental vehicles as well as used and new cars for purchase. I’ve researched the model Gol by Volkswagen, which is a popular model in the country:

CategorySingle Trip Fare
New Volkswagen Gol 2020USD 12k
Used Volkswagen Gold 2015USD 7k
Rental Car / per dayUSD 15.40

The gasoline price in the city is currently around USD 0.99 per liter (around USD 4.50 per gallon).

Leisure

It’s also important to have an idea of how much it costs to have fun and enjoy the city. Since there are so many things to do, I decided to make a list of different activities in you do around the city with an estimate on prices:

  • Movies – USD 7.00
  • Theater – USD 8.00 to 25.00
  • Average Admittance Fee in closed bars and clubs – USD 10.00
  • Museums – USD 5.00
  • Zoo – USD 3.00
  • Aquarium – USD 15.00
  • Cableway ride to the Cristo Redentor monument – USD 20.00
  • Corcovado Entrance Fee – USD 17.00
  • Jardim Botanico Entrance Fee – USD 3.00

And for foods and drinks:

Beer (600ml bottle)USD 3.00
Assorted drinks (single)USD 4.00 to 6.00
Water bottle (200ml)USD 1.00
Iced TeaUSD 1.20
Assorted Soft DrinksUSD 1.00
Big MacUSD 4.00
Subway SandwichUSD 2.00 to 4.00

 

The rent estimate was calculated based on the district prices average, depending on where you decide to live, prices might be higher or lower.

Here’s what I was able to gather.

Final Math

To give a general estimate on the monthly cost to live in Rio de Janeiro, I made some assumptions regarding the categories we’ve discussed.

I’ve considered people between ages 30 to 45 (for Single and Couple categories), with kids between ages 5 to 15 (for the Family column), who use public transportation four times a week and uber rides once in a while, go out twice a month and order food services also twice a month.

I hope I was able to cover most basis in regards to expenses in Rio de Janeiro and clear some of your questions. If you’re looking to moving into the city, check this post about what music Brazilian people listen to, turn up the radio and start getting in the mood of our local culture!

Also, if you want to explore other places to live in Brazil, check our post about living in Curitiba, considered for many years the best city in Brazil to live in!

Ana

Hi, I am Ana, the creator of this blog. I am Brazilian and currently live outside of Brazil. I love traveling, eating and learning about new cultures. I hope the contents of my blog can help you with those things as well!

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