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Cost of Living

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5/29/2009 12:19 EST

Hello, I've never been to Brazil before but my husband, myself and our four young children might be moving there. We will know more in a few months. I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the cost of living, clothing, entertainment, fuel, cars?
Thank you

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5/29/2009 14:15 EST

Hello Kate,

I was born and live in Brazil.

In general manufactured and imported goods are more expensive here than in the US/Europe because of the high burden imposed by taxes.

On the other hand labor intensive goods or services are way cheaper here because of the very low average salaries. Not as low as China for example, but very low compared to the US/Europe.

For instance a non-specialized worker on a 50hs/week job makes something around R$500-R$1500/month (=US$250-US$750/month) in São Paulo which is the most expensive city in the country. Much less elsewhere.

So having a maid at home for instance it's very common, most of the mid to upper class have one, or two or more. You'll see families that are not extremely rich, just upper class, that have two maids, one driver, one nanny, etc... Something unthinkable on developed countries!

The extreme disparity in income distribution makes for a very wealthy high income class which means all sorts of sophisticated goods, services, restaurants, touristic resorts, etc are available here (though at a price the average population would never afford), and a huge low income class working at very cheap salaries.

Good luck relocating!


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5/31/2009 05:55 EST

hi kateb

the answer from gustavo is misleading.

to do a reasonable cost of living comparison one would need to know the city of your origin and the city of destination in brazil.

for example i live within 25 miles of washington dc where the cost of living is higher than in oklahoma city ok, greensboro nc, lansing mi, or baltimore md. i googled to obtain this comparison.

comparing my location with the cities of sao paulo or rio de janeiro the cost of living is almost the same, maybe as much as 15% less. note, sao paulo is a little more expensive than rio.

i lived in sao paulo for 5 years and return to brasil 1 or 2 times a year to vacation and visit friends for the last 20 years. i was last there in march 2009 for 2 weeks.

gustavo is correct about service providers, they are cheaper.

cd's, cell phones, tv's, stoves, refrigs, clothes, shoes all cost about the same as here in the usa if you were to shop at a mall.

hope this helps

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5/31/2009 06:17 EST

hi kateb

the price of gas/ethanol for cars is between $4 and $6 a gallon. much higher than anywheres in the usa. most cars are 4 cylinders so they get excellent gas milage.

the price of electricity is about the same.

if u rent a 4 bedr home in either rio or sao paulo the cost will be at least $2000 $US a month, or more. monthly rental costs always include the rent payment to the owner, real estate tax, and a condominium fee.

brazil has the equivalent of dish network/direct tv called sky tv and the price is about the same as in the usa.

hope this helps

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5/31/2009 07:20 EST

hi again,

i read that you have 4 children.

if they attend the american schools in either rio (earj) or sao paulo (egsp) they cost about $2000 US a month per child, 12 months a year even though there is no school during the summer and winter vacation months. the monthly cost does vary somewhat depending upon whether the child is in elementary, middle or high school.

also, for the 2nd, 3rd etc child you will get a discount.

normally, the company that you work for usually pays for this cost.

i attended egsp and graduated there.

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From: Brazil
6/8/2009 16:05 EST

You can check prices of some basic household goods yourself 24 hours a day at these sites:

Current exchange rate is about R$1.95=US$1.00

These sites won't shio overseas nor accept international credits cards even if you live in Brazil.

Hope that helps.


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6/8/2009 18:13 EST

Hi carioca... how could I be misleading if I was not trying to lead anywhere :-)

I think you will agree with me this time: if you want to spend the absolutely lowest possible, cost of living in Brazil is an order of magnitude lower than in developed countries, but than we're talking about a sub-human standard, though that's how millions of people actually live here.

As you go up the scale you start to close the gap and somewhere near the upper class (which is where most expatriates from large companies are) it's actually more expensive to live in Brazil than in the US or Europe.

What I said about being affordable to have a house staff here is something that appeals a lot to foreigners since it's very expensive to have this kind of help at home in their home countries.

As for what brastras wrote, to check for food price try this supermarket's virtual store: (link corrected... tks brastras!)

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From: Brazil
6/8/2009 20:16 EST

Hi gustavoe,
No comment about your political speech, but you mispelled the site address and THAT WAS MISLEADING... (^_^)
The correct one is
Now, i you want to have a rough idea about food an other prices in the South, from Paraná through Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, one of the sites is:

The same can be done with Real Estate Agencies (imobiliárias), car dealers (agências de automóveis), etc.

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6/9/2009 12:05 EST

My two cents:

Food is slightly less than in the US, but you can find bargains. I find eating out much cheaper if you don't want the fancy stuff-just good food.
Electronics in Brazil are about two to three times more expensive than the US. Cars about twice as much.
When you hire help, you are required to pay them a minimum wage, pay thirteen months, and give them set amount of vacation-even housekeepers and maids.
Clothes, in general are more expensive in Brazil, quality is slightly less.

Just my opinion....

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12/30/2009 11:12 EST

I am from spain originally and speak decent brazilian portuguese having been there 11 times since 2000......I will advise you to plan and seek advice as much as possible beforehand....My experience from my fiancee there in Belo Horizonte and my numerous friends in brazil is that housing, food and clothing are cheap...Transportation is not!.....The price of a car is 50% taxes and believe me the government does not spend that to maintain nor build roads!.... A honda there is 30,000 us$ and only 20,000 s$ here in new york where I live now (I am preparing to move permanently there soon)...Imported goods especially electronics are obscenely taxed so bring your laptops!.......One must understand that brazil has hardly any middle class and the 5% rich control 85% of the wealth......Lula despite his big mouth has done virtually nothing to improve the lot of the people , has an incredibly scandal-ridden administration....Brazil exports oil and meat but the poor get none of it!.....Boa Sorte.........God Bless!

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1/2/2010 12:35 EST

Let's see, where to begin. First off, ethanol is about US$3.25/gallon. Gasoline is closer to US$5.00. The ethanol cars get terrible mileage unless you buy the tiny 2door hatchbacks with a rubberband powered engine.

Some food is cheap. Other things, like ham, cheese, bacon, walnuts, honey, plums, apricots, peaches, etc. are very expensive. Other things don't even exist here in Brazil. Peanut butter, iceberg lettuce, and hundreds of other vegetables you are accustomed to having available in the U.S. Most Brazilians live on a diet of mostly rice, beans, lots of bread and baked goods, meat, fruit, and few vegetables.

Cars are way more expensive than you are being told. I bought a new F150 last year in the U.S. for $12,000. They don't sell F150s here, but an F250 with a tiny diesel engine is about US56,000. The cheapest Honda with a tiny 1.5 engine is about US32,000.

Computers and other electronics are about 3 times the price of the U.S., and digital services are much worse. For instance, a color laser copy where I live costs almost US$2.

School supplies are so high, I am glad I don't have any kids in school. Simple spiral notebooks go anywhere from US$4 to as much as US$15.

I could go on and on, but this should give you an idea. Housing is very cheap, food is reasonable as long as you don't try to eat the way you would in the U.S., and transportation is way up there, I'd say overall transportation costs are at least double that of the U.S.

All of these things may vary depending on what part of the country yu live on. I live in a medium sized city in the interior, and the prices of many things in the larger coastal cities might be a lot cheaper. I couldn't say about that.

Having said all of that, I must also say, what is the price of true adventure. You and your children, in my opinion will gain a world of knowledge, adventure, and experience in Brazil. The life here is so much different from what you are accustomed to. What is the price of living an adventure? I wouldn't trade it for any amount of money.

Good luck, and enjoy Brazil.

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1/5/2010 21:15 EST

That's a real eyeopener about the cost of cars there!...I read your earlier post mentioning your friend paid 10,000 us for a 9 yearold Gol with 150,000 kms..That's beyond absurd!.....But I must say that I bought a used car in Minas, 5 years old with 60,000 kms chevy, for 10,000 us and it runs well .....An important thing to note in discussing cost of living there is that it is much like the US in that it depends on where one lives.....One can not lose sight of the fact that Brazil is bigger than the US without Alaska so costs vary greatly!.....Can you tell me what city you live in because I am believing that the inland areas are cheaper like Belo Horizonte where I am headed soon?...I would love to live near a beach (like most brazil lovers and it is horrifying to learn that so many brazilians have never been to the beach nor seen the ocean!)


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