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Moving to Brazil > Tips for Moving to Brazil

Moving to Brazil

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: If you're thinking about moving to Brazil, expats there have a lot to share about moving to Brazil - deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in Brazil and more.

A View of a City Beach in Recife, Brazil
A View of a City Beach in Recife, Brazil

If you're planning a move to Brazil, expats there offer advice about what they wish they had know before moving to Brazil - topics covered include deciding where to live, what to bring, housing, banking, healthcare in Brazil and more.

Deciding Where to Live in Brazil

When we asked expats living in Brazil to offer newcomers advice about choosing a neighborhood and finding a home, they replied:

"We started in 2006 researching the internet for property to the north of Natal in Rio Grande do Norte State. After finding some villa's just completed and for sale located to the north of Natal we then made contact with the real estate agent in Natal and made dates to visit. While there we heard of Praia de Pipa, Brazil and did more internet research at the hotel and made contact with the company building Pipa Beleza Resort. After driving down and visiting the resort we bought the last villa available for sale in 2007," said one expat who moved to Praia de Pipa, Brazil.

"I choose Jardins because it is one of the few places where you can walk to the pharmacy, supermarket ect. The downside is that I spend 3 yes three hours a day to and from the office (7 km each way).. My office is in a commercial area and living there would be depressing," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Brazil.

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What to Bring When Moving to Brazil (and what to leave behind)

When we asked expats living in Brazil what they wish they had brought when moving to Brazil and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"We were pretty careful after living overseas to ensure the critical things needed were being shipped and non-critical things were not placed into the shipment. We were more careful this time as we were paying for the move ourselves. A couple things: electricity in the USA is 120v. So knowing that some things will not convert to 240 (North 1/3 of Brazil is 240, the middle 1/3 is 127v and the bottom 1/3 of Brazil is 240), we purchased 2 large power converters to step down 240 to 120v. We also ensured that the converters were able to manage several electrical components at the same time. The one thing we did not bring........Phillips tooth brush heads for our Sonic tooth brushes. And no, we can't find them here," said one expat who moved to Praia de Pipa, Brazil.

"1. Bring Everything you can from undies to electronics. Everything is crazy expensive. 2. Bring some winter clothing, ski holidays to Chile are a great escape. 3. Bring Electric Mattress pads, blankets and heaters. There is no heating in Brazilian homes and it gets very cold in the winter. All buildings are cement and the winter is cold and humid. 1. Leave Nothing," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Brazil.

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Advice for People Moving to Brazil

"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 moved to Praia de Pipa, 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," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Brazil.

Typical Housing for Expats

When we asked expats in Brazil about the type of home or apartment they life in and whether that is typical for expats, they replied:

"There are 41 units within the resort, mostly owned by foreigners. There are a few owned by Brazilians but the others are mostly from Europe or UK. Each of the units vary in size but 150m2 is about average for the villas with 2 stories. Ours has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and a roof veranda that includes a Jacuzzi. Pipa Beleza Resort is one of the leading and most modern resort in the area and several more have or are being built as we speak," said one expat who moved to Praia de Pipa, Brazil.

"I live in an apartment. I cannot recommend a house due to security concerns. None of my Brazilian coworkers live in single family homes and my employeer recommends against it. Almost all apartments are built for families not for singles," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Brazil.

"I live in an apartment, no I don't think its typical most live in hostels or share with other students," commented one expat who made the move to Brazil.

Housing Costs in Brazil

"In the USA buying property of any type on or very near the ocean is way out of our price range. We bought this one to include a complete furnishing package and its built against a State park where future construction is limited due to the park. So the villa was much cheaper than in the States for a house of the same size. Because we bought our in 2007 I keep looking on the net for houses in the area and for pricing. $150k to 200k (USD) for a similar villa is the average cost as of this week. Electricity costs are high as they are everywhere in Brazil due to the lack of infrastructure," said one expat who moved to Praia de Pipa, Brazil.

"If moving to Sao Paulo know that prices are out of control and that there are lots of hidden costs to renting. I am from Chicago, where I lived in Lincoln Park. 1. Rent, a 2 bedroom apt in Jardins(200 sq meters) will run about BRL 8000/mo. 2. The Next biggest cost is the Condo fee which everyone must pay, about BRL 2000/mo. 3. Next there is the IPTU or the property tax in Jardins expect to pay BRL 600/mo. 4. Then of course you need insurance, expect to pay BRL 250/mo," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Brazil.

"Housing costs are expensive, I don't know much about it though, but cheaper than London," commented one expat who made the move to Brazil.

Finding a Job in Brazil

If you're searching for a job in Brazil, expats talk about popular industries and how expats find employment.

"This is a problem in Rio. Most banks/finance and insurance companies have now moved to Sao Paulo. Left are oil industry (very large), some shipping, tourism. Jobs mostly to be found through personal contacts. Life in Rio is not very cheap, as most foreigners tend to believe," said one expat who moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Health Insurance in Brazil

"For us, medical insurance in Brazil is cheaper than medical insurance in the USA. I have no deductibles and my insurance cost is about 1/2 of what it would cost me for insurance in the USA. We are in our early 60's and pay about $1,400 per month (for both of us) compared to a similar plan (higher end plan) in the USA at $2,400 per month for both of us. This Brazilian plan has paid in full our complete annual physicals and lab tests and we have had several other visits where the insurance paid 100% with no problems with the insurance company," said one expat who moved to Natal, Brazil.

For more information about healthcare, read our article, Healthcare in Brazil.

Expat Health Insurance in Brazil

Expats living in Brazil interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Join our Brazil Expat Forum

Visit our Brazil Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Brazil.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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First Published: May 23, 2019

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