The Pros And Cons Of Living In The US Vs. Brazil


Researching before you move to another country is obviously something you need to do, but what type of research you do is important. You need to know as much as humanly possible before moving to a new country. You should have an extensive list of pros and cons that you can easily look at to make decisions. 

Living in Brazil absolutely has more Pros than Cons, but the cons mean you may have to change your expectations and way of living in a larger aspect than you realized. Brazil is a wonderful place to live, but it does come with some sacrifices you have to manage. 

The great thing about wanting to move to a country like Brazil is that you can go and visit anytime you want to help accustom yourself, or completely immerse yourself in the culture and be accepted just the same. Brazil is one of the few countries that make it easy to fit into daily life without knowing a ton about their culture. 

Cost Of Living US Vs. Brazil

Looking through the positives and negatives of living in Brazil vs. the US tends to trend towards Brazil more than the US when it comes to overall life. Specifically, Brazil certainly takes the cake when referring to the cost of living. 

Generally, their income is much lower than the average in the US, but their cost of living is so low that people in Brazil are usually better off than those in the US with higher incomes. The general thought process and teaching practices in Brazil differ from that of the US. 

In the state, bigger is better, you always need more, and you can’t get enough. Those who live in Brazil have less waste, less convenience, and far more purpose behind their purchases. The US has more of a wasteful mindset due to the ability to have such conveniences at every turn. 

Costs of Necessities

If you are simply looking at costs that are necessities, things that you have to purchase monthly to survive, you would only be looking at 5-6 line items depending on your personal uses. 

Overall, Brazil is significantly cheaper to live with bare necessities than the US. You can generally get a decent-sized apartment pay for food and utilities with a minimal income in Brazil, whereas trying to do so in the US would be a struggle. 

To see perspective, you could feed yourself and your family, pay for all necessities, and have money for personal use with even half of the average income in the US. Healthcare, a high cost in the US, is not a huge worry or concern in Brazil. Most of the time, you see a Dr, buy medicine, or pay for healthcare every month without seeing an issue with the rest of your income. 

Through SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde – Brazil’s free healthcare system), millions of citizens are benefited from having free and easy access to medication, regular doctor appointments and vaccines – Credit: Dreamstime | Rafael Henrique

It is worth noting though, that your income and expenses greatly vary across different parts of Brazil. You can usually live in a cheaper part of the country and work in a more expensive city for a higher salary, but living in a busy city may not pay off with the lower income you will receive. 

In reality, in Brazil, most of the time, if you don’t have healthcare, you usually end up getting more flexibility with doctors and appointment times, but you will pay more for the appointments and such. So Healthcare isn’t a necessity to be able to afford to be healthy in Brazil. 

Service or ProductCost in the USCost in Brazil
Apartment 3BR/Studio per month$1785/$1160$1141/$241
Monthly Minimum food Costs$430$119
Utilities per month$160$86
Healthcare – Small Dr visit$112$43.30
Healthcare – Monthly $452$173.50
Personal Hygiene Items

Costs of Transportation

Living in Brazil, public transportation is usually your best option with getting from point A to point B. Brazil has quite a few options for public transportation, depending on where you live. While a car may seem great for most parts of the US, that just isn’t feasible for most of Brazil. 

You would end up using public transportation more often than your own car, so most locals see it as a waste or an extra cost they could avoid. In addition, it’s often quicker and more efficient to use public transportation due to the normalcy of biking or walking through the streets. Most of the time, you’d be waiting on someone crossing or stuck behind a bike.

In the US, you definitely have certain cities where buses, subways, and trains will be better for you, but you need a personal car to travel effectively for most of the country. Overall, for public transportation prices, you would be looking at an increase of an average of 152.66% of all prices in the United States as opposed to Brazil. 

Everything from bus tickets to taxi fares is incredibly marked up in the US. However, due to the lower accessibility in Brazil, purchasing a car or buying gasoline is averaged 22.07% higher than in the US. 

Buses

Buses will be your most effective and budget budget-friendly get in Brazil from one point to another. All of the cities in Brazil have effective and active bus systems within the city and bus stations that allow for travel to other cities. 

While most bus routes are safe and convenient, you may have trouble in a few areas; however, the fares are inexpensive and far less than flying between cities. Most of the buses will be comfortable and worth your time to save your budget. 

Trains

Most of the trains in Brazil are cargo transport only, but you can find a handful of passenger trains that will take you farther distances than buses, but those are extremely rare. You stand a better chance of planning out your bus routes than taking a train. 

Subway

The US has several cities that thrive off of subway systems for passenger transportation; these are most often convenient, relatively safe, and cost-effective if you don’t have a car. However, in Brazil, subways are not always convenient, as they still have ways to improve a lot.

Although Brazil has long ways to go in order to have better public transportation, the São Paulo subway can pretty much take you anywhere in the city, while you can still connect with other trains and buses from it. – Credit: Dreamstime |

Most cities don’t even have the infrastructure to accommodate subway systems and the ones that do haven’t updated their tunnels enough for them to be safe and effective. It is worth saying that big cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have really effective and practical subway lines.

Boats

Some cities in the US have ferry systems to get across rivers or lakes, but it is not common to need boats for frequent travel in the US. However, Brazil has several islands along the coast that you can only reach by boat. 

In specific regions where you need boats, prices can fluctuate greatly, but when it is the only way to get to a location, it seems plausible to pay what is needed to get where you need to go. 

(Source: Statista, Expat Arrivals)

Taxi’s

Both the US and Brazil have large taxi services throughout the largest and second largest cities. Taxi’s in both areas run off of meters that measure distance and charge per mile. Unfortunately, taxis are notoriously expensive no matter where you go, so while they are a good option for getting you places, budget-wise, they are not friendly. 

If you want to learn more about how every way of transportation works in Brazil, take a look at our guide for transportation in the country, you’ll find everything you need to know here!

Cost of Entertainment

Just like most things, the US has much higher costs when it comes to entertainment. Now, entertainment can be many things such as:

  • Outdoor thrill activities
  • Restaurants and Movies
  • Street performers
  • Carnivals
  • Festivals
  • Night Clubs

Unfortunately, because of the wide range of options for entertainment and the large fluctuation in prices all over both countries, you can’t get a feel for an average price for anything. However, Brazil is always cheaper in every aspect of entertainment. 

Brazil has a different standard for safety and effectiveness in entertainment. Hence, it would be best if you definitely did your research before choosing an activity, but you won’t ever have to worry about paying too much or more than you would in the US. 

Culture Differences In Brazil

When looking at moving to Brazil, you need to understand that it is a complete culture shift, and it’s extremely likely, almost guaranteed, that you will be the odd one out in most social situations. However, if you enjoy flying by the seat of your pants and figuring out the culture in a trial by error kind of way, Brazil may be a good place for you. 

In the US, it’s pretty expected to be somewhere on time, exactly when you tell someone you will be there. However, in Brazil, you can spend a lot of time waiting on the local citizens to arrive for an appointment. It is not the custom culture to be on time, and it’s honestly not expected that anyone would be on time. 

The start time of any appointment for a couple of people is merely a suggestion. Of course, it’s a great thing to have an appointment time, but you could spend up to a half-hour waiting on one appointment to start. 

Even the act of gift-giving can have major cultural differences as we noted on this post, so if you don’t want to give out the wrong impression by getting someone a really inappropriate gift, take a look!

Overall, Brazil falls in the top 50% of countries classified as some of the easiest places to settle, even for an outsider. This is usually thanks to Brazilians’ positive attitude and accepting nature for foreigners. It is very rare for Brazilians to have any ill feelings or issues with outsiders. 

Quality Of Life In Brazil Vs USA

Like any country comparison, you will deal with a different quality of life in one over the other. This can include things such as:

  • Life expectancy
  • Health
  • Safety
  • Enjoyment of life

While these things may not be topics that make or break the move for you, they are definitely things worth considering. If you are going to live anywhere, your safety has to be important, as does your health and such. 

Now, you can always do personal things to change a few of these statistics or assumptions, but you can only do as much as the country or your bank account allows. So don’t move to a country hoping it won’t be the same for you because if something is a general expectancy, chances are you will have to deal with it as well. 

Safety

Brazil’s crime levels are 23% higher than the US, which is an average of all possible crimes, not just one specific one. However, the US does have some more alarming specific crime rates that may bother you more than Brazil’s.

While crime is high, the location you choose to live in is extremely important in both countries. Do your research about the crime rate of certain cities before you move, so you are aware of what is happening around your expected home. 

The great thing is, you can find almost every single city in either country, and it’s a specific crime rate before you ever step foot into it. Crime rates for The USA are strictly alphabetical, while the crime rate for Brazil is broken down into different classifications. 

There are a wide variety of other types of crimes you can research for and find, but generally, as long as you live in a safe area, there are only a few types of crimes you may have to worry about.

Type Of CrimeBrazil RankingUS
Crime levels78.04% Ranked 10th55.84% Ranked 30th
Annual cannabis use2.6% Ranked 10th13.7% Ranked 1st
Opiates use0.6% Ranked 4th0.57% Ranked 3rd.
Violent Crime/Gun Crime8%Ranked 72nd88.8%Ranked 1st

Life Expectancy and Health

Different countries have largely different health standards and abilities to fix or prevent diseases. Some people may assume that the USA has a better chance of healthy people, but you aren’t entirely correct. The US definitely does some things better, but Brazil absolutely does quite a few things better than the US. 

Brazil

Unlike the US, Brazil’s general go-to procedure for any illnesses or issues are almost always homeopathic first. While some people believe that science has proved that these things don’t work well, or at all, this is just simply not always true. 

If you can get relief or fix an issue by using a homeopathic procedure, then it does work. Usually, homeopathic remedies are cheaper and better in the long run for your body because you usually don’t have to ingest or apply any manufactured chemicals that your body has to work to process. 

Brazil also has a higher rate of prevention for diseases than the US does, usually just by default lifestyle. For example, in Brazil, you are 39% less likely to be obese than in the US due to their eating habits and lifestyle choices that are brought down from traditions and their way of life. 

They also have a lower mental illness rate, most likely due to the prevalence of better diets, more time outside, and physical exertion required by most jobs daily. In 2019 only 3.20% of people experienced some mental illness. 

Unfortunately, Brazil does not do well with childbirth and continuing the population. In Brazil, you are 3.2 times more likely to die in childbirth, and babies are three times more likely to die in infancy. This may be due to a lack of standardized procedures and safety in the health system, or even uneducated people about certain procedures. 

In Brazil, you are 72% less likely to live below the poverty line, which means you can support yourself or your family and have a higher chance of making it to whatever your goals are. 

USA

The USA absolutely has a higher life expectancy and better outcomes in childbirth and infancy, even till the US has issues. The US doesn’t do well with the support of their mothers after birth, nor do they do well with mental illness of any form. 

In 2019 the US reported 20.6% of people having a moderate-severe mental illness. Now, the US doesn’t usually try lifestyle changes first; usually, you have prescribed some medication to try out, and then you go through a year or two of trial and error before figuring out exactly what works for you. 

In the US, the unemployment rate is far less than that of Brazil, so you are 2.9 times more likely to have a job in the US. You will also pay 30.6% more taxes over a year in the US than you would in Brazil, but you would be making 79% less money yearly as well. 

Final Thoughts

Brazil is an amazing place to live due to its history, views, and culture. You may have to navigate or manage some cons, but you can make a great life in Brazil if you can get past those. 

The US is also a fantastic place to live due to various cultures, landscapes, and different living terrain options. The US is one of the best places to really make your dream life a reality, whatever that may look like.

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

Living in Rio: How much does it cost in USD? – Living in one of the most famous cities in the whole world doesn’t come cheap! Or does it? Please take a look and find out how much it costs to live in the city of wonders!

Brazil’s Digital Nomad Visa (VITEM XIV): All You Need To Know – Brazil has a new type of Visa for foreigners who want to live in the country while still working for their homeland. Please take a look and check out all you need to know about it!

Top 6 Places Where Expats Live in Brazil – Brazil is one of the favorite destinations for ex-pats, and if you want to find out why, take a look at our post!

Cover credit: Brazilian and American flags – Credit: Portal da Indústria

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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