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For those facing the exciting prospect of moving to São Paulo, one of the biggest and most daunting challenges will be finding accommodation. Regardless of whether expats intend on renting or buying property in São Paulo, it is definitely worth becoming familiar with the property market in the city. Expats are likely to find that there are considerable differences to what they are used to in their home country.
Types of accommodation in São Paulo
Most expats moving to São Paulo choose to rent rather than buy accommodation. While the majority of rental accommodation in São Paulo is unfurnished, the demand for safe, comfortable and fully furnished accommodation has increased in recent years and real-estate agents have started catering to the needs of the international community. In general, the standard of accommodation in São Paulo is high, especially in newly built properties. There are several types of accommodation options that are popular among expats in São Paulo.
One option for expats who prefer to live near the city centre is known as a prédio. These are 10- to 30-storey buildings which are found in central areas of São Paulo and are full of furnished apartments. Space is limited, but these complexes have good facilities and security. Prédios are particularly popular among young professionals who are looking for comfortable accommodation that is centrally located.
Another accommodation option available to expats is to live in one of the city's many condomínios. These are fenced-off housing blocks that come equipped with shared facilities such as a communal swimming pool, gym and outdoor area. They are usually found in upper- and middle-class parts of São Paulo and are popular with expat families who prioritise safety and space for their children.
Expats can also look for standalone family homes, but these are a rarity in central São Paulo and can usually only be found in the suburbs. These houses often have their own swimming pool and barbeque area. They tend to be popular with expats who have decided to settle in Brazil on a more long-term basis and buy property.
Finding accommodation in São Paulo
The cost of living in São Paulo is high and expats often struggle to find suitable accommodation at a reasonable price. Some companies arrange housing for their workers, which makes the relocation process far more straightforward. São Paulo has a good supply of holiday and short-term rental properties, which is useful as temporary accommodation while expats look for more permanent accommodation.
Expats relocating to São Paulo can use the internet to familiarise themselves with the type of accommodation available and the city’s neighbourhoods, but should be aware that rental prices on English sites are likely to be higher than a similar listing would be on a Portuguese site. The classified sections of local newspapers can also be a good source of information. Expats often find that their best bet is usually to work with a real estate agent to find the ideal home.
Estate agents in São Paulo usually have extensive knowledge about the areas and suburbs of the city and are better placed to source suitable housing. Real-estate agents often also have knowledge about potential properties before they even make it onto the market. It may also be worthwhile to ask around at work or among acquaintances, as many of the best deals travel by word of mouth.
Renting accommodation in São Paulo
To rent property in São Paulo expats will need to provide a number of certified documents including proof of income and copies of their passport and work permit. Those without a formal or sufficient income, such as retirees or students, will need to find someone to act as a guarantor or fiador.
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.
Unless renting a fully furnished and serviced apartment in São Paulo, it is likely that the tenant will be responsible for contacting utility suppliers to have their services connected. Expats who have enlisted the help of a real estate agent will find that they usually have the expertise to assist with this. In some cases, the administration department of a particular apartment building or housing complex will help new tenants get connected.
►See Cost of Living in Brazil to learn more about the price of expat life in the country
Are you an expat living in Sao Paulo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sao Paulo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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