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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 05, 2022

Summary: With a population of over 11 million, digital nomads and younger expats love living in Rio de Janeiro where life revolves around the beach. One expat described this mega city as a place where rich and poor live side by side. Tip: If you're thinking about moving to Rio, come with a job in place and leave your valuables at home.

What do I need to know about living in Rio de Janeiro?

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

"Great place to live; perfect climate; friendly people. Come with a job in view and leave your valuables in your home country. You are going to have the time of your life," commented one expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Rio de Janeiro?

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"I live in an apartment, no I don't think its typical most live in hostels or share with other students," remarked another expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

What is the average cost of housing in Rio de Janeiro?

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If you are thinking about moving to Rio de Janeiro, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Housing costs are expensive, I don't know much about it though, but cheaper than London," said another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

How do I meet people in Rio de Janeiro?

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When we asked people living in Rio de Janeiro about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"International Newcomers, wonderful start if you don't know the language at all. Most nationalities have their own clubs and organizations; huge expat community. Excellent schools. Very busy social diary if that's what you want, otherwise enjoy the best part of Brazil: the Brazilians," remarked another expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

Will I be able to find a job in Rio de Janeiro?

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When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Rio de Janeiro, they reponded:

"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," commented one expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

What is life like in Rio de Janeiro?

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When we asked people living in Rio de Janeiro what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Peoples lives, no joke, revolve around the beach and sports. You will meet many people by just going to the beach or walking on the beach front and around the Lagoa (lagoon). Brazilians are very easy going; they talk to you all the time and everywhere. Some knowledge of the language is essential. Nobody, outside the tourist industry, speaks any English or any other language for that matter, but Portuguese," commented one expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

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AGS Worldwide Movers

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world. Presently the AGS Group has over 141 locations in more than 95 countries and has one of the largest networks in the international removals industry. We relocate 85,000 families every year. Free moving quote!

Learn MoreGet a Quote

What do expats in Rio de Janeiro appreciate most about the local culture?

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"I appreciate the more laid back approach to things. I also enjoy the fact our lifestyles are healthier here compared to London. The geography of Brazil is amazing. I look out of my window and I can see a massive green mountain and the weather is nearly always good (even now its winter). There is plenty to see and do in Rio if your short on money which is cool. Lapa is great for live samba and lively bars. Its a really colorful and interesting place. The beach is so easy to get to and its so nice to go and relax there whenever you feel like. I love being tanned instead of pasty white! I know there is allot to experience here in the future," mentioned another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

"I love how everything is slightly or amazingly different to what I am used to. There's less rules and regulations (or they are routinely flouted) and therefore people seem freer. The sing-song nature of Portuguese is pretty good, even if it is difficult to pronounce! My language seems monotone in comparison," commented one expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

What do expats find most challenging?

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"The service in shops and restaurants here is very bad compared to London. People can come across rude and ignorant sometimes. The difference between rich and poor is very obvious here and it can be quite upsetting to see. I find the food bland and there isnt as much variety. Things are very expensive here. Especially clothes, electrics and food," added another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

"It was so true when I read in other posts that people are suspicious, closed and indifferent to new people. Very cliquey, but luckily I have managed to avoid most of that by having made friends here before I came. And that led to making new friends. Even so, 'friends' can be irritatingly flaky when it comes to arriving at a set time, or even keeping commitments. Lacking conversational Portuguese is a real problem, but the friends I have all speak English so it's generally a 70% Portuguese/30% English mix in a social setting with their other friends," remarked another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Rio de Janeiro accepting of differences?

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"Rich and poor live side by side. Diversity is part of every day life. Brazilians are very tolerant especially in religion, race and culture.The main problem of Rio is the violence. One has to take, just like the Brazilians do, steps to protect one self," said another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What are the schools in Rio de Janeiro like?

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"If you are coming to Brazil for a 2-year stint and then head back to the US, this school may not make sense for you. If you are a foreigner living or coming to live in Brazil, consider this school. Apart from everything that I have said above, I can say that we love it and are completely satisfied with our little girl's experience. She actually asks to put on her uniform and go to school every day. There is a level of care, love and concern at this school that is unique," remarked another expat living in Rio de Janeiro with children attending Escola Bloom.

"I know this is a good school and I know this is a good place where my child will learn many important things and meet many important people. My child is pay for by the company of my husband and I don't know. But I know that also is the British School in Rio de Janeiro that is very cheaper," said another expat in Rio de Janeiro with children at American School of Rio de Janeiro.

What are the pros and cons of living in Rio de Janeiro?

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Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in Rio de Janeiro responded:

"It is absolutely not useful for anyone to compare Brazil to the United States so I won't. I like living here and am in a very lucky situation. Although there are distinct disadvantages to living here mostly related to convenience, life here is excellent. It's a beautiful place. It's easy to travel by car or air when there is no pandemic. I love photography so it's a paradise in some ways. I'd love to build a homestead but I'm afraid the wife is a city girl so that's probably not in the cards. Maybe a weekend place where I could do a garden? On the downside, it can be uncomfortable to confront certain types of ignorance that are, for the most part, no fault of the ignorant ones. You have to understand where you are and that you have not had to live through what these folks have had to live through. They are conditioned just like anybody gets conditioned by their upbringing. They're mostly good hearted so if you want a laundry list of complaints, I'm not going to give it. If you want to find good here, they have it in spades. If you want to gritch and gripe, you'll have plenty of fodder for that as well. I keep reminding myself how extraordinary it is to have this opportunity. I would like to be able to talk with more people who like woodworking, people who are classical musicians and people who are "makers" but that's splitting hairs and I feel like that will come in time when we can talk to each other without the unreasonable fear we are under in the present moment," said one expat living in Rio de Janeiro.

What type of social life can someone expect in Rio de Janeiro?

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When we asked expats and global nomads about their social experiences in Rio de Janeiro, they replied:

"I'm married so an "N/A" on the dating options would have been appropriate. On the whole, if you have a stable financial situation, social options are great. Obviously, everything social right now is abysmal but in normal times, things are great," said an expat in Rio de Janeiro.

"It is important to be friends with other people from your native country as long as they aren't jackasses. That is true for anyone you want to be friends with no matter where they're from," said an expat in Rio de Janeiro.

"If you have money and can live the expat lifestyle you can have expat friends. Cost of living is high," remarked another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

What advice to expats in Rio de Janeiro have about housing?

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"I am in an excellent position as my wife owns a condominium in a great part of the city. I've never had to look for housing but it seems to me to be as terrible a situation as New York, Chicago or San Francisco. You pay way too much and get microboxes and wretched infrastructure. I would be afraid to purchase anything but an efficiency here," said an expat in Rio de Janeiro.

"Rentals are 30 month minimum in most cases and require proof of income or an insurance policy to guarantee against loss if you end the rental early or don't pay," remarked another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

What are medical services in Rio de Janeiro like?

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When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Rio de Janeiro, they replied:

"I don't know how to characterize my health insurance plan. It is from Brazil but it is not a public plan. It is a private, Brazilian plan (Unimed Rio). And it is good. The medical care is excellent and although the plan is about what I'd pay in the States, I can get more for the money," commented one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats Rio de JaneiroExpats in Rio de Janeiro

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil Index Rio de Janeiro Index
An index of all of our site's Rio de Janeiro information.

Brazil Forum Brazil Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Brazil on our Brazil forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Brazil Network Contribute
Help others in Brazil by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Brazil.

Expat Healthcare Advice in BrazilHealthcare & Health Insurance in Brazil

Expats in Brazil offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Brazil.

Pros Cons of Living in BrazilPros & Cons of Living in Brazil

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Brazil.

Healthcare-in-BrazilHealthcare in Brazil

Expats in Brazil are able to get excellent health care in and many of the larger cities in Brazil. There is national health care available, but expats still strongly recommend private health insurance while living in Brazil.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Expats Rio de JaneiroExpats in Rio de Janeiro

Expats, digital nomads & retirees talk about what it's like living in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil Index Rio de Janeiro Index
An index of all of our site's Rio de Janeiro information.

Brazil Forum Brazil Forum
Talk with other digital nomads and expats in Brazil on our Brazil forum - meet people, get advice and help others.

Contribute to Brazil Network Contribute
Help others in Brazil by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Brazil.

Expat Healthcare Advice in BrazilHealthcare & Health Insurance in Brazil

Expats in Brazil offer advice about healthcare, hospital visits, emergency rooms visits, finding a doctor and buying health insurance in Brazil.

Pros Cons of Living in BrazilPros & Cons of Living in Brazil

Take off your rose-colored glasses and learn what digital nomads & expats have to say about the biggest challenges and the greatest rewards of living in Brazil.

Healthcare-in-BrazilHealthcare in Brazil

Expats in Brazil are able to get excellent health care in and many of the larger cities in Brazil. There is national health care available, but expats still strongly recommend private health insurance while living in Brazil.

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