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Moving to Brazil

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Mar 06, 2024

Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to Brazil for its vibrant culture, stunning beaches, and diverse landscapes. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in Brazil are Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Florianopolis. People looking for a place to live in Brazil can search online for rental listings, contact real estate agents, or look for postings on expat forums. Additionally, many expats and digital nomads find housing through word of mouth or by networking with other expats in the area.

What do I need to know before moving to Brazil?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Brazil, they said:

"The south of Brazil is completely different. I lived in Balneário camboriu for one year and I loved it so much that I decided not to live in Europe and I will live down the south of Brazil. We might live in Balneário camboriu or Floripa or another city. We work online so we can move around until we decide. I can go for walks on my own at night at 9pm, 10pm, 11pm and there's lots of people around. Santa Cararina in general is an amazing place. A lot cheaper than Europe and the US and the conversion rate is better for us right now," explained one expat living in Brazil.

"I am sorry to say that after 14 years in Brazil my advise would be don't move, please reconsider. As my dentist (Brazilian) recently said, "Sao Paulo is a cruel city". I hear his comments with a heavy heart. I have grown to love Brazil but the prices, lack of infrastructure, noise, traffic and now protests and violence have taken their toll," said one expat in Sao Paulo.

"Do lots of research as it is available on line. Include in your research a local attorney who speaks English and is a member of either Briton's legal Bar Association or the ABA in the States. It is always nice when the local attorney is licensed in one of those countries because unethical practices could get them barred. With their membership in one of the Bar Associations there should be available info on whether any complaints have been filed against them in the past. These local attorneys act very much like the Title companies in the States. They do all the research to ensure free and clear property and titles. Make sure that you visit the area and the home to ensure it is what you hoped it to be. I would also recommend staying at least 2 weeks and spend time knowing the area. THE MOVE: Moving from the UK or USA is probably not a big deal. However, to get your household goods into Brazil.....well that's another matter. For instance, the USA moving company needs a 3rd party in Brazil to facilitate receiving your container and moving it to your new home. They will need paperwork that to us seems highly unusual and bureaucratic. Brazil is after all a highly bureaucratic place to live and if you haven't lived here then your in for a surprise. One of the documents that I needed was my original boarding pass from the airline that I flew from Miami to Recife. The 3rd party Brazilian company stated that without the boarding pass to prove how I arrived in Brazil then the container could not be received in Brazil (my federally stamped passport and my federally stamped Entry Card does not count). The boarding pass along with a number of other paperwork had to be notarized at one of the local Cartarios and returned to the 3rd party company. It will require several hours of standing in line to get 5 minutes of work completed. If your moving to Brazil this is how they do things and all the complaining from me or you will not change it. With all this said, I will say now that after all the standing in line waiting, jumping through hoops and getting mad, after returning home to our villa and seeing the sunset from our roof top........PRICELESS," said one expat who made the move to Praia de Pipa.

"Brazil is a very big country, with many beautiful places, all having their advantages and disadvantage. Violence and lack of infrastructure are very common in many big cities. If you are looking for someone safe and well developed, move to Santa Catarina. Florianópolis, Camboriu, Itapema, Porto Belo for example are fantastic places to live. They feel more European, it's safe to live there and the infrastructure is good. Get in contact if I can do more to help," explained one expat living in Brazil.

"Most expats should expect to learn at least some of the language, as Portuguese is the most common language spoken in Brazil. Cultural norms and etiquette vary considerably from place to place, so it's important to familiarize oneself with what is generally accepted in the part of the country they intend to move to. It's important to get vaccinated against some of the common diseases found in Brazil, such as yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria, as these are all present in certain areas. Crime levels vary significantly and can be higher in some parts of Brazil, so it's important to research the local area to gain an understanding of any potential risks that may be involved. Depending on one's type of visa, healthcare may not be readily available, so it's essential to purchase appropriate health insurance. Opening a bank account is a good idea, as this will make transferring and receiving money easier. Finally, securing housing before arriving is usually easier than trying to find accommodation upon arriving in Brazil," said one in Brazil.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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