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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 03, 2023

Summary: The approximate population of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is 6.7 million people. People often describe Rio de Janeiro as a vibrant, colorful, and lively city. Expats love the city's stunning beaches, lively nightlife, and its unique culture. The weather in Rio de Janeiro is generally warm and humid. The average temperature in the summer months (December to February) is around 80°F (27°C), while the average temperature in the winter months (June to August) is around 70°F (21°C). The average cost of living in Rio de Janeiro for an expat is around $1,500 to $2,500 per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $800 to $1,200 per month, while the cost of a two bedroom apartment is around $1,200 to $2,000 per month.

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

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

"Before retiring in Rio de Janeiro, it is important to understand the local language, Portuguese, in order to maximize one's ability to interact with the locals. It is also important to research the various neighborhoods in Rio to determine the most appropriate place of residence from a safety and cultural perspective. Additionally, it is important to understand the laws and regulations related to taxes and residency in Brazil, so that one is able to comply with all the necessary paperwork. Furthermore, it is important to become familiar with the healthcare system in Brazil, in order to understand how to access medical care if needed. Lastly, one should register with the Brazilian consulate in their home country before moving to Rio de Janeiro for retirement, so that the consulate can assist if any issues arise," remarked another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

"Before retiring in Rio de Janeiro, it is important to be aware of the cost of living, safety and security, healthcare, visa and residency regulations, culture, language and climate. Cost of living in Rio de Janeiro is generally higher than other parts of Brazil because of its status as one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Safety and security are a concern in Rio, with high crime rates and a reputation for muggings and pick pocketing. Healthcare in Brazil is generally of a very high standard, though there are varying levels of access across the country. It is important to obtain a visa and residency regulations prior to retiring in Rio de Janeiro. Knowing a little about the culture, language and climate of the city is also helpful. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, and the climate is tropical," explained one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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What do I need to know before moving to Rio de Janeiro?

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

"Before moving to Rio de Janeiro it is important to research the city and its neighbourhoods and decide which one best suits your needs and lifestyle. It is vital to familiarise yourself with the language and local customs as well as to research the cost of living, safety and the infrastructure of the city. It is advisable to find a reliable and professional moving company to handle the transportation of your belongings. Additionally, make sure to register with the local authorities, open a Brazilian bank account, transfer money from your home country, and secure health insurance coverage. Make sure to get all the necessary paperwork in order and familiarize yourself with local laws as to avoid unnecessary issues. Finally, ask around to find out what are locals’ favorite spots in Rio de Janeiro, it is the best way to get to know the city and feel part of the community," explained one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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How do I find a place to live in Rio de Janeiro?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"Rio de Janeiro has a wide variety of housing options for all budgets, from expensive high rises to cheap sublets. Depending on your availability and needs, you can look for both short-term and long-term housing options. You can start by looking for apartment rentals in websites such as Airbnb, Flipkey and Homeaway. Additionally, you can search for apartments in newspaper classifieds, or contact a local housing agency, which can be found on the internet with just a few clicks. Additionally, websites such as OLX, ALUGUEL RJ and ALUGUEL.COM are ideal to find rentals in Rio de Janeiro. Finally, if you plan on staying in Rio de Janeiro for an extended period of time, you can contact the local real estate agents to find a suitable residence," said another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

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

"Expat homes and apartments in Rio de Janeiro tend to be spacious and comfortable with plenty of natural light. Most commonly, these apartments feature modern appliances, air conditioning units and high-speed internet. Expats can also look forward to large living rooms, generous balconies with gorgeous views, and often full kitchens with all the necessary equipment to accommodate the local cuisine. Many residences also come with private terraces, swimming pools and gardens, offering a great opportunity to relax in the sun and take in the stunningly beautiful views of Rio," commented one expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

"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.

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

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:

"The average cost of housing in Rio de Janeiro varies depending on the type of housing and area, but the general range is between R$ 800 and R$ 5000 per month," remarked another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

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

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How do I meet people in Rio de Janeiro?

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

"There are a variety of ways to meet people in Rio de Janeiro. One way is simply to join the local expat scene – there are many language exchanges, expat meet-up groups, and other social activities especially for expats. You can also take a walking tour or go to a local café and strike up conversations with people. Another great way to meet people and experience the culture of Rio is to take a cooking class, salsa dancing class, or Capoeira class, as they are excellent ways to get to know people with similar interests. Additionally, joining a sport, such as beach volleyball or soccer, can introduce you to a new circle of friends. Finally, attending music, theater, and cultural events can be a great way to connect with other people," added another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

"One way to meet people in Rio de Janeiro is to join a local sports team or club such as a running club, volleyball team, or soccer. Another way is to join meetups or events organized by expat groups or other local charities or organizations. There are plenty of options to get involved in and make connections with people who share your interests. Additionally, you can take classes or attend events, such as live music or literature conferences. Lastly, you can simply spend time in social spots such as bars and clubs, as well as community events like public markets or local festivals," remarked another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

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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.

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What should I bring when moving to Rio de Janeiro?

People living in Rio de Janeiro were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"Clothing for all seasons, good walking shoes, an umbrella, sun protection, mosquito repellent, a first aid kit, medications, toiletries, water bottles, aBrazilian plug adapter, cash, credit cards, and passport," added another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Rio de Janeiro?

We asked expats in Rio de Janeiro what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"There are numerous banks in Rio de Janeiro that offer services to open a bank account. You can contact the local branches of international banks such as Banco Itau, Bradesco, HSBC, Santander, and Banco do Brasil. Alternatively, there are also various local banks like Banco Rendimento, Banco da Cidade, and Banco BMG, which have branches in Rio de Janeiro and offer services to open a bank account," remarked another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

"There are many different banks to choose from when setting up an account in Rio de Janeiro. Popular banking options include Banco do Brasil, HSBC, Bradesco, Itaú, Santander, and Caixa Econômica Federal. Most banks require a valid ID, proof of address, and minimum opening deposit. Additional documents may also be needed depending on the bank. Some banks may also require Portuguese documents or translations if the account holder is a foreigner," explained one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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

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

"Rio de Janeiro has a vibrant job market, with a variety of job opportunities available in different sectors and industries. The city is home to a vast number of global companies as well as plenty of local businesses, making it a great place to look for job opportunities. With the increasing demand for skilled professionals in the Rio de Janeiro region, there is also a wealth of employment available for expats looking to work in the city. Depending on your skillset and qualifications you should be able to find something suitable for your career," remarked another expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"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," added another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

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What is life like in Rio de Janeiro?

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

"Living as an expat in this area provides a plethora of opportunities to make the most of one's life. There is an array of different cultural experiences available, along with an abundance of natural beauty, activities and wealth of cultural attractions. It offers an excellent standard of living for those who are looking for an exciting and fulfilling lifestyle. The local people are friendly and welcoming towards expats, creating a sense of community where people can feel connected and at home. There are plenty of quality schools, businesses, healthcare and entertainment options available, making it a great place to raise children as well as to pursue a career. The cost of living is also accessible, making it easy to accommodate different levels of income. It is a safe and secure place to live, meaning that expats can rest assured that they and their families can enjoy a high standard of living without fear," added another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

"Living as an expat in the area can be an exciting and rewarding experience. There is a wide variety of cultures and lifestyles to explore, and the friendly locals are always happy to help introduce you to new places and experiences. Local amenities such as supermarkets, restaurants, cultural sites and entertainment are easily accessible and great for learning more about the area. Crime is also relatively low, making it a safe place to live. Depending on the area, there may be language barriers, though a lot of people do speak at least some English, while local expat communities make it easy to find support and meet new friends. Living as an expat in the area offers something for everyone," explained one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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

"Expats in Rio de Janeiro appreciate the fun and laid-back atmosphere, amazing beaches, the lushness of the tropical landscape, the vibrant music and amazing art scene, the delicious food, and the inclusive spirit of the people. They also appreciate the diversity of the city, from its mix of cultural influences stemming from European and African roots to its unique architecture, art, and festivals," added another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

"Expats in Rio de Janeiro often appreciate the city's relaxed atmosphere, beautiful scenery, vibrant culture, and passionate people. The city is renowned for its wide variety of outdoor activities like surfing, hang gliding, and hiking, as well as its colorful festivals and exciting nightlife. Expats also appreciate Rio de Janeiro's world-renowned cuisine featuring a variety of regional flavors, as well as the city's rich cultural diversity," explained one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expats often find it difficult to adjust to the cultural and linguistic differences in a new country. It can be a challenge to make new friends, find acceptable accommodation, and get used to navigating a foreign legal system. Other common challenges include understanding the different norms and customs of the host country, learning how to use public transportation and how to shop for food, and finding employment. Expats also often struggle with feelings of homesickness and loneliness," added another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

"Expats can find many things challenging, such as language barriers, cultural differences, homesickness, finding employment, homesickness, adapting to a different lifestyle, a sense of feeling isolated and different, navigating through unfamiliar systems and paperwork, and making and maintaining new relationships," explained one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Is there a lot of crime in Rio de Janeiro?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Yes, there is a considerable amount of crime in Rio de Janeiro. Conditions in certain neighborhoods can be especially dangerous, which often leads to episodes of violent crime. Drug trafficking, muggings, armed robbery, and carjacking are all issues that the city has dealt with to various degrees," added another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

"Yes, Rio de Janeiro has a high rate of crime. The city has long been plagued by drug trafficking, gangs, and street crime. In recent years, violence has risen significantly, with some of Brazil's most dangerous neighborhoods located in Rio de Janeiro. The city has also seen a rise in robberies and muggings, as well as a recent escalation in homicides. Despite increased police presence, the dangers facing residents and travelers to Rio de Janeiro are still very real," remarked another expat who made the move to Rio de Janeiro.

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

"Rio de Janeiro is known for its vibrant and diverse population, with people of all backgrounds, nationalities and religions living together in harmony. Due to its size, there are several different neighbourhoods, each with its own unique cultural makeup. People of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and faiths are generally accepted and respected in Rio de Janeiro. The city is a hub of creative minds and progressive thinkers, embracing the diverse range of cultures and lifestyles which coexist within its borders," remarked another expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"Rio de Janeiro is a large and diverse city, boasting an impressive range of cultures, backgrounds, and lifestyles. As a result,the city is welcoming of differences and diversity. The city's people are open-minded and tolerant of different beliefs, ethnicities, and lifestyles, creating a positive atmosphere for diversity. Despite the challenges that come with many large cities, Rio de Janeiro has created an inclusive atmosphere, which allows all its citizens to coexist peacefully," added another expat in Rio de Janeiro.

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What are the schools in Rio de Janeiro like?

"Schools in Rio de Janeiro are highly competitive, with students performing well on national tests. Additionally, Rio de Janeiro schools have been rated highly by the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report. The schools are divided into municipal, state, and private, each offering a unique educational experience for students. Municipal schools are heavily subsidized by the city of Rio de Janeiro and focus on preparing students for college or the workforce. State schools are also funded by the city, with a heavier emphasis on student choice and excellence. Meanwhile, private schools are often seen as offering high-quality teaching and a more exclusive educational experience," commented one expat when asked about in Rio de Janeiro.

"Rio de Janeiro has an education system with both public and private schools, ranging from kindergarten to higher education. Public schools tend to have a large student body and a limited number of resources. Private schools focus primarily on bilingual education and have a range of curriculums from Brazilian public school programs to International Baccalaureate programs. Students receive exposure to art, culture, and sport in addition to traditional academia. Literacy rates in Rio de Janeiro remain higher than the national average despite the disparities in resources between public and private schools," remarked another expat living in Rio de Janeiro with children attending .

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

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," commented one expat living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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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.
William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance in Brazil

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

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 one expat living in Rio de Janeiro.

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"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," remarked another expat living in Rio de Janeiro.

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

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

"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," mentioned an expat living 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," said an expat in Rio de Janeiro.

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What are medical services in Rio de Janeiro like?

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," said an expat in Rio de Janeiro.

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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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