Cost of Living in Brazil

Expats might be surprised to learn that the cost of living in Brazil is relatively high. The dream of lying on a beach sipping water from a coconut without a care in the world is quickly replaced by the reality of high prices. Expats will find it less expensive to live in rural areas than in the cities, but some costs will still be high and access to goods and services will be limited. 

Expenses vary widely across categories. In general, accommodation, transportation and manufactured goods are expensive; food costs are variable based on whether one eats out or cooks at home, and services are relatively inexpensive because labour costs are low.

Brazil has made significant strides in moving people out of extreme poverty over the past decade and in decreasing income inequality. However, there are still vast disparities in wealth between the richest and the poorest. Expats making an international salary will be among the wealthy, and even those making a local salary will likely find that they are firmly upper middle class. While Brazil remains well behind the US and Western Europe in terms of overall development, living in a city and earning a good salary, expats have access to most of the conveniences they can expect to find anywhere in the world.


Cost of accommodation in Brazil

Rental accommodation is expensive and will likely be an expat’s biggest expense. Expats on assignment from international companies may have a housing allowance to help offset the high cost. Expats can save on accommodation by living in a less central location, although they may find that transportation costs increase as a result.


Cost of eating out in Brazil

Food costs in Brazil vary. Restaurant meals are fairly expensive, but basic groceries are more moderately priced. Expats who choose to eat at home can manage food costs more easily. Major cities have upscale grocery stores that carry a wide range of imported items.

Shopping at local markets for basics, like bread, grains, produce and meat, yields the lowest grocery prices. Another thing to keep in mind is that locally produced food is almost always less expensive – in cities on the coast, seafood will be less expensive, while beef and pork will cost less in inland farming regions.

Brazilians are well-known lovers of beer and cachaça, the national liquor made from sugar cane. Both are readily available, as are a wide selection of wines and liquors. Prices for beer and wine are very reasonable, but imported liquors are expensive. Expats can save money by purchasing some at duty-free on their way into the country.


Cost of transportation in Brazil

Transportation expenses in Brazil are high. Cars cost much more in Brazil than in many other countries. Parking and insurance are also rather expensive. 

Expats can save on transportation by making use of the extensive bus and metro systems in Brazil's major cities. 


Cost of education and schools in Brazil

Expats with children will find that education costs in Brazil will rival, if not exceed, their rental expenses. Public schools in Brazil have a bad reputation, and Brazilians with the resources to do so almost always send their children to private schools. Expats seeking to enrol their children in the highly regarded international schools, however, will find them very expensive.


Cost of living in Brazil chart 

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices for São Paulo in May 2018.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Furnished one-bedroom apartment

 1,940 BRL

Unfurnished one-bedroom apartment

 1,395 BRL

Groceries

Milk (1 litre)

 3.30 BRL

Dozen eggs

 6.60 BRL

Loaf of white bread

 6.15 BRL

Rice (1kg)

 3.90 BRL

Pack of chicken breasts (1kg)

 12.90 BRL

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

 9 BRL

Eating out

Big Mac meal

 25 BRL

Cappuccino

 5.90 BRL

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant 

 65 BRL

Utilities

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) 

 1.40 BRL

Internet (uncapped – average per month) 

 112 BRL

Utilities (average per month for small household)

 235 BRL

Transport

City centre bus fare

 4 BRL

Taxi (rate per km)

 2.75 BRL

Petrol (per litre) 

 3.9 BRL