- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Rio de Janeiro Guide (PDF)
Rio de Janeiro is certainly an exciting place to call home, the most glamorous of Brazil's cities and one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Expats moving to Rio de Janeiro will have access to stunning beaches and natural beauty while enjoying its lively culture and annual festivities.
Living in Rio de Janeiro as an expat
Rio is an important commercial hub of Brazil. Major oil, textile, shipbuilding, pharmaceutical, media and communications companies have a presence in the city, while it also boasts a number of key educational institutions.
This diversified economy attracts many foreign workers to Rio's shores every year, making it a popular expat destination. That said, competition for employment is also high. The majority of expats moving to Rio de Janeiro for work have been transferred here as part of a relocation package with their current employer.
As is the case in most of Brazil's major cities, traffic congestion in Rio can be unbearable and make getting around by car an impractical choice. The city boasts an extensive and largely efficient metro with a bus network to boot. Expats should avoid buses at night and rather stick to licensed taxis for their safety.
The lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most attractive parts of moving to the city. Shopaholics, foodies, revellers and fitness enthusiasts will all be catered for in Rio, thanks to the abundance of pristine natural landscapes, diverse cuisines and nightlife options in the city.
Cost of living in Rio de Janeiro
For expats earning in a foreign currency, the cost of living in Rio de Janeiro is reasonable and well below that of major expat destinations in Western Europe and North America. Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey ranked Rio de Janeiro 171st out of 227 cities surveyed. São Paulo, Brazil's priciest city, was ranked 152nd.
As with most Brazilian cities, the extremes of wealth and poverty are visible in Rio. Expats being paid in the local currency will likely feel the pinch and should budget adequately to ensure all costs are covered.
Expat families and children in Rio de Janeiro
Expats moving to Rio with children need not stress about education. There are several international schools in the city. It's also essential for expats living in Rio to be covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan. Public healthcare in Rio is underdeveloped, with long waiting times for basic and specialist healthcare. Most expats prefer private facilities which offer excellent healthcare but at a high price.
Climate in Rio de Janeiro
With its stunning beaches and favourable year-round climate, Rio enjoys a far more relaxed lifestyle than other major Brazilian cities such as São Paulo or Brasília. Warm, sunny days are frequent.
As residents of one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Cariocas (as the locals are referred to) are used to having foreigners in their city. They are generally open and welcoming towards newcomers, especially if they try to speak Portuguese. With a little time and effort, expats moving to Rio de Janeiro are sure to settle into their new life in this vibrant city.
►Have a look at the Pros and Cons of Moving to Rio de Janeiro for more on planning your move
►Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro provides information on searching for housing in your new city
"The culture is relaxed, amicable, and fun-loving compared to most work-centric Western cultures. From an interpersonal relationship perspective, it's easy to make friends here. Moreover, the natural setting is unparalleled – bustling beaches amidst lush forests and vertical, rocky peaks. It also never gets cold!" Elliot shares his advice for embracing a new city in his interview with Expat Arrivals.
"Try and embrace the differences you encounter here in Rio rather than opposing them. I think it is very common for expats to arrive in a new country and, after the initial honeymoon period, to focus on all of the differences between the new country and your native country. Such differences are generally experienced as negative. My advice is to try and accept them for what they are, simply different." Niamh, an Irish expat, moved to Rio with her Brazillian husband. Read more about her expat life in Brazil.
Are you an expat living in Rio de Janeiro?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rio de Janeiro. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
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