Accommodation in Brazil
- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Brazil Guide (PDF)
Expats shouldn't struggle to find accommodation in Brazil. There is generally a wide variety of options, including apartments, condominiums and houses. Prices vary throughout the country. Larger cities tend to be much more expensive than smaller coastal ones.
Extra expenses like utilities and property tax payments can make renting accommodation in Brazil more expensive than one may expect.
Types of accommodation in Brazil
Expats in larger cities, such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, tend to live in apartments, condominiums or houses in gated communities. Gated communities are especially popular as they offer security and many shared amenities such as swimming pools.
Furnished accommodation for long-term rent in Brazil are very rare. Most apartments and houses are rented unfurnished. They may even exclude light fittings, showerheads and kitchen appliances. Typically, electricity and other services will also have been disconnected.
Finding accommodation in Brazil
Some good ways to search for properties in Brazil include local newspapers, online property portals, and even word of mouth. There are many websites that are useful. However, rentals are often easiest to find by looking offline.
"For Rent" signs usually hang from apartment windows or are attached to the front gate of a house. They commonly bear the word "Alugo". Expats can then contact the owners or landlords of these properties directly. This requires a basic knowledge of Portuguese though.
Some expats find that hiring an experienced agent instead of going it alone can be immensely helpful. However, expats should be warned that the fees for their services can be high. Most rental agencies and landlords are unlikely to speak English, so when searching for an apartment it’s worth taking a friend or colleague who can speak Portuguese to assist with translation.
Expats should never commit to a rental or pay any money without visiting the property in person first.
Renting accommodation in Brazil
To sign a lease, foreigners require a Brazilian Identity Card (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas or CPF), which can take several months to finalise. Many expats on a corporate assignment, therefore, live in a hotel or temporary accommodation until their residency papers are finalised.
The duration of a lease is normally two to three years, though short-term rentals are often available in coastal towns. Many properties there are owned by foreigners or wealthy Brazilians who only use them for a few months of the year.
The rental contract (Contrato de Locação de Imóvel) is signed by the landlord and the lessee. Each signature is then notarised at the Cartorio (Local Registry Office). This is done by the landlord or rental agent. Rental agreements are usually written in Portuguese. So, it is recommended that expats who do not understand Portuguese have the contract translated or explained to them by a friend, co-worker or independent translation company before signing anything.
Renting property in Brazil can be expensive, although rental prices are often negotiable. A deposit equivalent to one to three months’ rent is normally expected. By law, landlords should put the deposit into a separate savings account. Any interest earned on the deposit is the renter’s to keep once the contract has been terminated.
Electricity, water and any other utilities are usually excluded in the rental price. These need to be paid on top of the monthly rental.
Another expense to consider is IPTU (property tax). These payments can be made by the owner or the tenant and is something one would have to negotiate. Most property advertisements will have the IPTU monthly payment mentioned next to the monthly rent. If the owner pays the tax, expats can expect the monthly rent to be higher.