A Complete Guide to Moving to Brazil – Meet the Jewel of South America

Posted Country Guides / May 19, 2017
Gemma Collins

Gemma is an NJ local that has explored all the US states, making her the perfect person to write about moving.

When we think of living a laid-back lifestyle filled with cultural gems and delicious meals, we think of moving to Brazil. If you haven’t considered it so far, you might want to read about the country to learn why it’s so unique and why more and more people choose to live and settle there.

The Beauty and Adventure of Moving to Brazil

When we mention this lovely country, some things that come to mind are beautiful women, soccer, beaches, carnivals, and music. You’ll enjoy hearing that’s what Brazil is most of the time. While traveling abroad during covid-19 may not be fully recommended yet, there are still some coronavirus guides you can follow to relocate safely. It’s more important to learn about the place you want to travel to and possibly live in one day.

Some Basic Tips for Living Abroad

Whether you’re relocating with kids, alone, or doing the long-awaited relocation for love, there are some things you need to pay attention to when trying to move to another country. Relocating overseas is exciting, but have you considered the costs of living and visa options? Have you looked up the essential documents for international relocation? These questions are only some things to consider when you learn how to live in another country.

You also have to be aware of a hurdle that could hinder your experience, and that’s the language barrier. They speak Portuguese in Brazil, and Spanish will not get you far. In fact, expect them to have no clue what you’re talking about if you try speaking Spanish very often. While Spanish-speaking countries surround them, they have such a big territory that it’s possible some indigenous residents don’t speak fluent Portuguese, either. Adjusting to a new country means you should learn a language abroad or at least at home before you move.

Some Known and Unknown Facts About Brazil

The entire area of South America was inhabited by indigenous peoples divided into tribes, which was especially true for the Brazilian territory. As many as seven million people lived in semi-nomadic tribes, which also had their sub-groups. They divided the entire area according to their settlements. In 1500, a Portuguese explorer named Pedro Álvares Cabral stumbled upon the Brazilian lands, and the area remained a colony until the 1800s.

Today, the nation has just over 210 million residents, making it the fifth largest and the sixth most populous in the world. The Brazilian territory occupies a little more than half of the South American continent. You may have heard of Amazon, too. We don’t mean the online retailer where you get your household supplies, but the largest river in the world that flows through the Amazonian rainforest in the heart of the land.

The Nation’s Capital Isn’t What You Think

Many of us may think that the capital is Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, but, in fact, it’s a city in the central-western region of the nation called Brasilia. While it’s not the largest city there, it’s the nation’s federal government seat. The largest city is Sao Paulo, which is considered the most populous city in the Western and Southern hemispheres and the Americas.

Some more interesting facts about Brazilians and their nation are:

  • The Brazilian currency is called the Real ($1 is around 4R$)
  • The name is believed to come from brazilwood, a tree native to the region,
  • Their motto is “Ordem e Progresso,” meaning “Order and Progress,”
  • The national dish is feijoada, and the national drink is the caipirinha,
  • Brazilians export the most coffee in the world,
  • They were the first to accept women into the armed forces,
  • Voting is compulsory for Brazilian citizens,
  • Their national day is on September 7th,
  • The national sport is soccer, and it has an enormous fan base. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, people were able to get time off work or watch soccer matches in their offices because of the large time difference,
  • Some of the most famous Brazilians are Pele (a renowned soccer player,) Paulo Coelho (a writer and novelist known for the book The Alchemist,) Gisele Bundchen (a model, maybe more known for being Tom Brady’s better half,) Wagner Moura (famous actor, known for playing Pablo Escobar in the series Narcos,) and Adriana Lima (a famous model,) among so many others.

Is It Safe to Move to Brazil and Where Should You Move to Become an Expat

If you ask any Brazilian is Brazil a good place to live, you’ll come up with a mixed bag of feelings even from the native residents. You may have heard on the news that their situation isn’t always rosy, but everyone goes through turmoil once in a while. According to the OECD Better Life Index, the nation ranks above average on social connections and civic engagement, and people tend to be very engaged in political matters, especially voting.

Guaranteed prices for International Moving. No hidden fees or surprises! GET A QUOTE

The Best Cities in the Country, Where You Get Plenty of Opportunities

As far as safety goes, Brasilia is the safest city to live in, especially its central area. The best part about it is that it’s far less humid than any other city in the area and has a warm climate year-round. Not only is it safe, but Brasilia is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique street plans and layouts. The aerial view of Brazil’s capital shows the city resembles an airplane shape. It’s worth getting a visa for this place.

Sao Paulo is the country’s largest city and the most diverse and international, too. If you’re looking for a metropolitan lifestyle and feel, relocating to a big city like this is for you. Just understand that safety and economy work differently in a city like Sao Paulo compared to Brasilia. While it has bustling, sometimes very annoying traffic, it’s a cheaper metropolis than any other. If you’ve been living in LA so far, then traffic will be no issue for you. Another good thing about this city is you can use English quite often, but don’t get used to it.

The city we all think of when we talk about Brazil’s culture and reach is Rio de Janeiro. If you intend to live here, you’ll need to be armed with a lot of casual attitude and patience since punctuality isn’t that important, and the lifestyle is incredibly laid-back. It’s interesting, then, that the job market is extremely competitive there, emphasizing industrial occupations. Mountains and rainforests surround it on one side, and beaches and the ocean on the other, and if you decide to live here, you’ll be named a Carioca, which is the nickname for all residents of Rio de Janeiro.

An unexpected town called Curitiba should also be on your list of potential residences. Curitiba has a very positive nickname – “The Model City.” While it’s a town of 1.8 million residents, which is low compared to the most famous cities, it boasts the highest-ranking quality of life, income, education, and health. If you’re looking to live in the nation of order and progress, look no further than Curitiba, and arm yourself with a bit more than only speaking English. You can look up some tips for learning a new language to speed up the process of speaking Portuguese.

You can watch the video below, a guide by a native Brazilian on the most beautiful cities.

How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in Brazil?

The average monthly income is lower compared to the USA, but the expenses are different, too. An average upper middle-class family gets 10,000R$ per month, which would amount to about $1,900 in American dollars. In this case, deciding where and when to move is entirely up to you. If you have money saved, that’ll save you lots of relocation stress, but if you plan on starting over, try getting a job there before deciding to live overseas without any security. You could live very comfortably if you prepare well, and that starts by getting a visa or a working permit.

As an American moving to Brazil, being aware of the socio-economic differences between the two matters the most. Native Brazilians in the lower classes tend to have a hard time, and they make up around half of the population. While Brazil’s employment rate is higher than the USA’s, their monthly income is three to four times lower. You’d likely experience a big culture shock a bit after relocating, but it’s nothing that can’t be solved with the help of some expat communities and adjustment. You can speak English with expats, too.

The Essential Documentation For Relocating to Brazil

All foreigners who wish to come and live in Brazil’s cities are required to submit certain documentation. You’ll be needing a valid passport,  a visa, and a work permit. There are different types of visas for different purposes, and you can apply for one through the nation’s embassy. Since you plan on living there, you’ll likely require one of these visas:

  • Technical visa – issued for up to 1 year and renewable for the same period; this is for employees of a non-Brazilian company who provide technical help or technology through contracted cooperation with a native business,
  • Work permit – a Brazilian employer must sponsor applicants for this visa. It’s granted for a period of 2 years and has the option of switching to a resident visa,
  • Professional exchange – this is granted to people employed by a company that has a seat in both the applicant’s homeland and Brazil. The purpose of this type of document is a business exchange in the same economic group. It’s issued for a 2-year period.

The Documents That’ll Make You a Permanent Resident

You can apply for a residence visa immediately if you have a legally recognized partner (including a same-sex partner) who is Brazilian or if you have a Brazilian child. This type of visa is issued for a period of 9 years. However you plan on becoming a permanent resident, upon arrival, you and your family will have to get the following:

  • RNE (Registro Nacional de Estrangero) – A Brazilian Foreigner ID Card (the essential document for doing anything)
  • CPF (Cadastro de Pessoa Física) – Taxpayer ID (you get this from the Receita Federal, Brazil’s Tax Office. It’s vital for opening a bank account there, getting rent accommodation, signing contracts, and doing basically anything)
  • Work Card and Social Security Booklet (Carteira de Trabalho e Previdência Social – CTPS) – no one can legally hire you if you don’t have these documents, and they’re obtained from the regional office of the Ministry of Labor.

Additionally, you can get citizenship by naturalization after residing in the nation for 4 years straight (this can reduce to 1 year if you have a child or marriage with a citizen before the period expires,) can communicate fluently in Portuguese, and don’t have criminal convictions or are rehabilitated. The naturalization process lasts between 3 to 6 months, depending mostly on the number of cases and the availability of the Federal Police.

How Moving Abroad Can Boost Your Health and Mindset

Whether you’re relocating across the world or next door, it’s important to know the benefits of that. In the land of Cariocas and samba music, those benefits could be higher, too, if you play your cards right. Our relocation tip is to do extensive research but also manage your expectations. Moving overseas is never easy. You have to learn how to stay in touch with friends and fit in, but the upside is a boost in well-being, lifestyle, and experiences once you do.

The Laid Back Lifestyle Can Improve Positive Thinking

Many Americans aren’t entirely comfortable with leading a carefree life without following a tight schedule. While this is more individualistic, you’ll notice a pattern, especially among Rio’s residents. If you’re a strict person, it’s understandable how frustrating waiting and planning can be if no one follows the rules, but that’s how life is for Cariocas. It might be time to drop the planner and go wherever you like, whenever you like.

Their Delicious Food Could Change Your Appetite and Preferences for Good

The benefit of moving internationally is that you get to experience the culture of each nation head-on and get to know it in the best and most representative ways possible, such as cuisine. From the national dish feijoada, a black bean stew with smoked meat, to sweet delights of chocolate truffles called brigadeiros, there’s nothing better than international cuisine to get you excited for a move. You’ll get so used to the food that your taste buds will be reborn.

They Have a Lively Culture that Appreciates Music and Dancing

You may have heard of samba music, which is the nation’s favorite genre and one that could make you shake and shimmy all night long. Not only is it enjoyable to get involved in a street bar’s dancing festival, but as a Carioca, you can experience the Carnival in Rio once a year and learn how to immerse yourself in a lively, vibrant culture. If you don’t like to dance, well, you can still listen and be entertained. The land of the river Amazon is also home to one of the most chill and romantic music genres of all time – bossa nova, which brought us the famous song “Girl from Ipanema.”

Hire an International Moving Company to Help You Make Your Dreams Come True

For everything you have that needs shipping to Brazil, an overseas moving company can easily pack it for you. Whether it’s shipping a car overseas or something more simple, like packing fragile items, you can hire movers to help you with both.

Shipping overseas is typically done by sea, and you can get packing services and additional storage units where you can keep the things you don’t need right away. With the right overseas shipping company, you won’t have a long checklist for relocating abroad. Just worry about getting the correct container for each type of cargo before and how to tip your movers after the move.

Hopefully, you’re now more excited about living and staying in Brazil. When we cast prejudice, expectations, and assumptions aside, there’s a lot of hidden life to reveal itself to us. This doesn’t just make us accept others with a more open heart and mind, but they accept us in the process, too. The best place to call your new home is the one where you can be yourself.

Get a Quote

    Download Moving Abroad Checklist
    Get a Free Estimate 855-443-4200