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From the Amazon basin to the beautiful beaches along its northern and eastern shores, Brazil is South America's largest country and holds much for expats to explore and discover. Whether heading to glamorous Rio de Janeiro or bustling São Paulo, expats are in for an exciting experience.
Living in Brazil as an expat
Brazil is home to an ever-expanding expat population. With a resource-rich economy and booming mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, there is an extensive range of job opportunities for expats moving to Brazil. Sadly, Brazil also has a somewhat unequal income distribution and this can be seen throughout the country. Despite these issues, this relatively young democracy has become South America’s leading economic power.
Most expats moving to Brazil head to São Paulo, the country's largest city. With a population numbering over 12 million, the city exudes a vibrant energy matched by none other. Brazil's finance, technology and services industries are centred in São Paulo, drawing in expats from all over the globe. The result is a truly international city made up of a diverse population. Rio de Janeiro is another major expat hub, and abounds with natural wonders to explore, from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to gushing rivers and towering mountains.
Speaking at least basic Portuguese will be vital for expats who want to settle in the country. Without it, they might get frustrated when conducting business and taking care of everyday affairs.
Cost of living in Brazil
In comparison to many popular expat destinations around the world, the cost of living in Brazil is inexpensive, especially if earning in a foreign currency such as the US Dollar. Coversely, those earning in the local currency will find they have far less purchasing power and might have a harder time budgeting.
Expat families and children
Brazil is a wonderful place to raise a family. The basics are covered: all of Brazil's major cities have numerous international schools, and the country has an extensive network of both public and private healthcare options available. When it comes to being out and about with the family, there's no shortage of fun things to do to keep the little ones engaged. Beach days, forest hikes and festivals are just a few of the many outings families can look forward to.
For the adventurous expat, Brazil holds a world of wonders. New arrivals will soon settle into the rhythm of this vibrant South American country.
Population: 212 million
Capital city: Brasília
Neighbouring countries: Brazil is bordered by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana to the north; Colombia to the northwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; and Uruguay to the south.
Geography: Brazil occupies about half of South America with a long coastal region to the east. It has a vast and complex network of rivers, including the famous Amazon River. About two-thirds of the massive Amazon rainforest is within Brazil's borders. The rest of the country has a diverse landscape ranging from plateaus and plains to mountains, hills and highlands.
Political system: Federal presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Roman Catholicism with
Main language: Portuguese
Money: The Brazilian Real (BRL) is divided into 100 centavos. Expats will need a residence visa to open a bank account. ATMs are widely available, although some only operate during certain hours for safety reasons.
Tipping: Standard 10 percent
Time: Brazil has four time zones: GMT-2, GMT-3, GMT-4 and GMT-5.
Electricity: 110V/220V, 60Hz. Plugs with two or three round pins are generally used.
Internet domain: .br
International dialling code: +55
Emergency contacts: 190 (police), 192 (ambulance), 193 (fire)
Transport and driving: Motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road. The types and extent of public transport services available vary widely from city to city.
►Read Culture Shock in Brazil to learn more about what to expect of day-to-day life
"When I first arrived in Belo Horizonte, I encountered a lot of very patient people who were willing to let me muddle through conversations in broken Portuguese!" Read more about American expat Jennifer's experiences in Brazil.
"I moved because Rio is the most beautiful big city in the world and to start my travel business here." Read more about US expat Elliot's views on Brazil.
Are you an expat living in Brazil?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Brazil. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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