Can I Retire In Brazil? What You Really Must Know


aerial view of the city rio de janeiro

If you are looking to retire in Brazil there are a number of things you must know. Brazil is a large country with different climates, foods, cultures and lifestyles. So knowing which one suits you is very important.

You can retire in Brazil with a permanent viper visa with proof of funds and retirement. With the visa comes a national health care system but private health is advisable.  Monthly bills expected less than $1000 per month depending on lifestyle.  It is safe in most areas if you do normal personal security.

What to consider when retiring to Brazil:

  • Language
  • Cost of Living
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Visa Requirements
  • Safety
  • Lifestyle and Culture
  • Weather
  • Location
  • Where to Live in Brazil?
  • Health Care

NOTE: All the costs in this article are in USD 

Now that you know everything you need to know, it is time to dig a little deeper into each of these points and discover if Brazil is the perfect destination for you.

Language

The national language of Brazil is Portugese but you will find that since the country is surrounded by Spanish countries and the languages are so similar they normally speak both or at least a little Spanish.  The younger generation is learning English and so in most major cities they all speak a little English and with apps like Duolingo they are all learning some.

Duolingo actually teaches Brazilian Portuguese which is great if you are wanting to start learning prior to visiting.  Once you are there you can attend a local language school.  Below is a simple search I did on Google Maps to show Portuguese Language Schools in Sao Paulo and you can do the same search for any other town.

https://goo.gl/maps/CMyT3Yfbhhd1T4tG6

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Brazil compared to the US is roughly 60% cheaper as per Numbeo but this purely depends on which city you live in. Brazil is the most expensive country in South America to live in but this still works out to be much cheaper for people from most other countries. Sao Paulo is the most expensive city to live in but there are many coastal towns that are way cheaper.

Before you choose to retire to Brazil you will most likely want to visit a few times first so all the key information you will need is on the Brazil tourism website below.

LINK: https://www.visitbrasil.com/key-information/

Accomodation

Renting Property In Brazil

Entry level costs for accommodation can start at $400/Month for a one bedroom apartment and $860/month for a 3 bedroom apartment. Obviously, prices will change depending on the quality and either inner city and rural locations as well as close to the beach. They will also change depending on the size of the city you choose to live in with Sao Paulo being the most expensive.

Buying Property In Brazil

Property purchase prices start at a low $13,500 for a 50m2 for a 1 bedroom unit in Sao Paulo, the most expensive town in Brazil (Zap below, 2021). Depending on quality and location the prices will go up from there. If you pick a smaller town you will obviously get cheaper prices and more so if you go rural. There are restrictions on buying property close to the beach or Brazil’s borders to other countries you would want to look into if before purchase.

Alternative Living Arrangements in Brazil

There are also other types of share accommodation you can get that are way cheaper and here are some of the other options. This is similar to shared accommodation in most other places in the world and is a great option for those on a very strict budget.

Examples Of Alternate Living:

  • Airbnb – up to 50% discount for stays over 28 days
  • Facebook Marketplace 
    • Room in someone else’s house or unit
    • Own room with shared amenities

Real Estate Websites

You can look at buying or renting accommodation all over Brazil on these websites and it is a great place to start to see the price and quality differences in each town and state (province).

Top Real Estates To Look At In Brazil:

  • VivaReal – 22 million visits a month, open in Chrome browser and use translate
  • Zap – 13 million visits a month, open in Chrome browser and use translate 
  • iMovelWeb – 12 million visits a month, open in Chrome browser and use translate

NOTE: Traffic above is all based on similar web data

Food

The gastronomy of Brazil is considered very diverse having influences from European, African, and 305 tribes of indigenous peoples cuisine. As a result, the national dish of Brazil is feijoada. This dish may have certain variations from city to city, but it consists of a stew of black beans with pork that is served with rice, cassava flour, and orange. 

One of the major reasons I am an avid traveler and like visiting and staying in other countries are the array of beautiful foods on offer. In this section on food let’s look at what you can get in the supermarket, street food, fast food, and restaurants.  

Supermarkets in Brazil

While the ability to eat out is so cheap in Brazil you may want to make the occasional meal at home and that means going to a supermarket or grocery store. When searching on google maps look for the following phrases: mecardo, supermercado, hipermercado. The difference is the size of the store where the mercado is the small local store or mini supermarket and going up from there.  

So here is a list of the biggest chains in Brazil:

  • Dia – Cheap and great club Dia points program
  • Carrefour – French upmarket chain
  • Mambo – Does deliveries
  • Big – Like Walmart in the USA selling everything from groceries to washing machines
  • Pao de Acucar – Cheap and members club with good discounts

TIP: While you can get your fruit and vegetables from your local mercado you will find on most city blocks a small fruit and veg shop that will often have just as good quality but at better prices.  If you search around these local shops you will find one with a lot of local customers and a roaring trade.

Here is an example table of prices for some staples:

ItemPerPrice
Milk1 Litre$0.80 USD
BreadLoaf$1.15 USD
Eggs20$2.65 USD
Butter500 grams$1.42 USD
Beef Mince500 grams$4.53 USD
Chicken Breast1 kg$1.42 USD
Beer6 pack$2.87 USD
Scotch1 Liter$17.78 USD

NOTE: these where only valid at the making of this article and check the websites above for current pricing.

Street Food

Brazilian street food arises from the multi-cultural society throughout Brazil. You can find them not only in street stalls but also in small stores, especially in downtown areas of each city and near the beaches.

These are the most popular street foods in Brazil:

  • Coxinha – Fried flour mix stuffed with chicken
  • Acaraje -Fried bread made with white beans. It is filled with shrimp cream, spices and sauces
  • Cheese bread
  • Pamonha – Similar to Mexican tamale
  • Kibe – Similar to falafel
  • Bolinho de Aipim – Similar to Coxinha but made with cassava flour and meat
  • Tapioca (A kind of stuffed crepe in the shape of a taco, can be sweet or salty)
  • Popcorn

Fast Food

Like with most of the countries in the world there are the common fast food chains and some local ones as well. One thing to keep in mind in south america all the chains have phone apps with special deals and physical vouchers as well. My go to fast food around the world for value and a healthy meal has to be Subway.

Here are some of the well known chains you will find in Brazil:

  • McDonalds – $4.26 meal
  • KFC – $9.41 bucket of chicken
  • Subway – $2.84 15cms sub (basically 6 inch)
  • Pizza Hut – $11.36 medium pizza

NOTE: These are menu prices and you can get them cheaper on the apps or with vouchers.

Restaurant Food

Being a largely multicultural society in Brazil you will find foods from all over Latin America and the rest of the world.  With such an array of different types of food you will be spoilt for choice.

Types of food in Brazil:

  • Japanese
  • African
  • Brazillian
  • Arabic
  • Chinese

Specifically the Brazillian foods you will find in restaurants are:

  • Acarajé –  black-eyed bean patty with prawns inside
  • Farofa – fried tapioca flour mixed with fried bacon and served with rice and beans
  • Quindim – a flan with coconut flakes
  • Brigadeiro – truffles balls made with condensed milk and covered in chocolate sprinkles

Visa Requirements

If you are a foreign retiree with a monthly income of more than $3,500 USD, you are entitled to a permanent visa in Brazil. You can also receive a visa for two dependents if you can demonstrate an additional income of at least $1,500 USD for each.

You must request this visa at the Brazilian embassy or consulate by presenting a statement from the organization responsible for your pension and another from the bank that shows monthly income of at least $ 3,500 USD. You can also read more information about the requirements and procedures for applying for a retiree visa there. 

As you will see from the rest of this article the price of living is way cheaper than that and you definitely won’t use this money they just want proof of income.  If this is too much for you then you could always just use a tourist visa and spend your time between two countries like Argentina and Brazil for 6 months out of every year.

LINK: Permanent Visa: Retired Persons, Researchers, Foreign Investors and Senior Executives.

Safety

Let’s face it Brazil has a high crime rate and this is worse in the poorer parts of the country especially “favelas” which are basically shanty towns.  If you are going to retire to Brazil this is a real concern and you should pick where you live in a safer neighbourhood and be mindful of your personal security.

Bigger towns like Sao Paulo and Rio do have areas you will want to know about to avoid and you need to follow the basic rules you follow in all countries.  When we talk post covid there are more people out of work and while this will get better I would check your local country website for up to date recommendations.

USA Travel Advisory for Brazil

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/brazil-travel-advisory.html

Australian Travel Advisory for Brazil

https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/americas/brazil

UK Travel Advisory for Brazil

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil

The emergency numbers are 190 for state law enforcement and 192 for ambulances.

Lifestyle and Culture

The official language of Brazil is Portuguese and is spoken by its entire population. Within Brazil there are different dialects which all come from the same language, although the Portuguese of Brazil is a little different from that of Portugal. A good part of Brazil speaks languages ​​like English and Spanish, especially in upper and middle class people. 

The lifestyle and culture of Brazil is a multicultural mix based on Asian, African and Middle Eastern cultures. Men shake hands to greet while women greet each other with kisses on both cheeks. Something that is worth mentioning is that they do not worry about punctuality. In fact it can be normal to be between twenty and forty minutes late, although this also applies to the rest of Latin America.

Music is an important part of Brazil. By combining different styles from different origins, Brazil has been able to create a unique sound that is known throughout the world. Although having a predominant African influence that is appreciated in the Brazilian drum music called Samba, which is a mixture of rhythms and drum beats. Also, the folk music of the indigenous peoples is mixed with more modern rhythms to create Brazilian pop music.

Dancing is a very important part of the culture of Brazil. They have many styles of dance and the most prominent is Afriacan inspired Capoeira brought across with the slave trade.Slaves were not allowed to learn how to fight as their owners were concerned it would lead to revolt, so they created a way to make their fights look like a dance. 

The basic rules of this dance were that they could not use their hands but they were allowed to use their feet, head, legs and even incorporate cartwheels or handstands. The next most popular style of dance  is the Samba which also has african roots. Samba arises when slaves were forced to practice Christianity and punished for observing other religions. So they created this dance as a way to secretly honor their religious beliefs.

When we look at popular sports in Brazil the most followed is Soccer and they are feverish in their devotion to the game. No matter where you are in Brazil you are always going to see a soccer game whether organized or impromptu. The people of Brazil identify with and are very proud of their national soccer team and children learn to play it from an early age.

Another of the things that Brazil is well known for is its impressive and spectacular carnivals. Colors and sounds that blend to create an energetic and vibrant atmosphere that can last for days. Carnivals are a way for people to escape from their everyday life and to celebrate life.

A very surprising fact of Brazil is that it has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Most of them are located in Liberdade, which is a district in the central area of ​​Sao Paulo located near the historic center of Sao Paulo and Avenida Paulista.  This has influenced the foods of Sao Paulo and allows you to get more authentic Japanese foods there.

Weather

Brazil is characterized by having a mostly warm climate because around 90% of the country is in the tropical zone. Being such a large country though it varies between the equatorial in the north east to temperate zones south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Brazil has six climatic regions: equatorial, tropical, semi-arid, highland tropical, temperate, and subtropical.

Temperatures along the equator are high averaging above 25° C. It can reach temperatures above 35° C in summer and cool depending on the south winds and rains. In the bottom third of the country it can  be somewhat cold temperatures south of the Tropic of Capricorn during winter (June to August).

Temperatures in cities like Belo Horizonte and Brasilia are moderate and usually between 15  to 30 degC due to its elevation of approximately 1000 meters above sea level. Cities like Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Salvador on the coast have hot climates with an average temperature between 23 to 27 deg C. Cities such as São Paulo, Curitiba, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre have a subtropical climate similar to that of the southern US and Europe, so temperatures can drop to almost 0° C in early winter mornings.

The rainy season occurs between the months of December and April with the frequency and intensity of rainfall varying widely. Most of Brazil has moderate monsoon-type rains. It is possible that landslides and flash floods could occur in some parts of Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Belo Horizonte.

Location

Brazil is the third largest country in the Americas and the fifth largest in the world. It is bordered to the south with the countries of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. To the east the Atlantic Ocean. To the north with Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana and to the west with Peru and Bolivia.

Where to Live in Brazil?

Fortaleza

Fortaleza Beach Walking Tour

Temperate – 20 to 32 deg C / 68 to 89.6 F
Population – 2.6 million

Fortaleza is a large and very popular city for its beaches being a popular tourist destination in Brazil. On the Atlantic Ocean and located in the northeast of Brazil it has a tropical climate. Its cuisine is based on fish, shellfish and tropical fruits. Although it is not one of the most dangerous cities in Brazil, crime is still present especially at night and in dark places with little traffic such as in the favelas.

Recife

Temperature – 18 to 35 deg C / 64.4 to 95 F
Population – 1.5 million

It is a beautiful city with a particular similarity to Venice which is why it is known as the Venice of Brazil. Being located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean on the northeast of Brazil its climate is considered tropical.. Recife also has many beautiful beaches known for its reefs which gives this city its name. The people of this city are very friendly. There is the usual amount of crime for Brazil and you should follow the same basic rules for personal security.   There have been shark attacks but the practice of water sports is prohibited in the entire coastal area of ​​the city.

Belo Horizonte

Temperature – 11 to 31 deg C / 51.8 to 87.8 F
Population – 2.7 million

Belo Horizonte is an attractive and modern city with a low crime rate. The nightlife of this city is active and it has numerous bars and restaurants that offer very good restaurants. The climate of this city is classified as tropical.

São Paulo

Walking Tour at the most popular avenue in Sao Paulo

Temperature – 11 to 28 deg C / 51.8 to 82.4 F
Population – 12.3 million

São Paulo is the business center of Brazil and has the highest crime in certain areas..This city has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. Traffic in this city can be quite bad at peak times. This city has many cultural and entertainment options as well as great cultural and ethnic diversity.  São Paulo is located in the Tropic of Capricorn so the climate is considered subtropical. 

Brasilia

Temperature – 13 to 27 deg C / 55.4 to 80.6 F
Population – 4.7 million

Brasilia is the federal capital of Brazil, which is considered a governmental center and one of the best-planned cities in the world. This city has a reputation for being a quiet city to live in, especially in the central district area. The climate of this city is considered tropical savanna. 

Brasilia has a great range of restaurants and food choices.

Curitiba

Temperature – 8 to 26 deg C / 46.4 to 78.8 F
Population – 3.7 million

Curitiba is a city with a good public transport service and considered the most sustainable city in Brazil due to its large number of natural spaces and a very good recycling. It is a multicultural city much like Sao Paulo.  Curitiba’s climate is considered humid subtropical with no dry season and with mild summers and cool winters. 

Florianópolis

Temperature – 7 to 31 deg C / 44.6 to 87.8 F
Population – 500,000

Florianópolis is considered by some to be the best city in Brazil. The beaches and the climate of this city are some of the things that stand out the most in this city. Another reason why this city is considered the best in Brazil is because it is one of the safest cities in the country. This makes it a great place for retirees that want to move to Brazil.  The small population gives it a more country town feel.

Salvador

Temperature – 22 to 30 deg C / 71.6 to 86 F
Population – 2.9 million

The tropical beaches, the food and its colonial architecture make this city a good destination to live and considered one of the first Portuguese colonial cities in Brazil. It hosts a good community of international students. The beaches with a pleasant temperature along the Atlantic coast attract many tourists. 

The climate of this city is considered monsoon, with a relatively high humidity level throughout the year. The city does not suffer from extreme temperatures due to the proximity of the ocean and the great ocean breezes.

Rio de Janeiro

Temperature – 18 to 30 deg C / 64.4 to 86 F
Population – 6.7 million

This city is surrounded by mountains, tropical jungles and beaches. Being a cosmopolitan city  you will find many people that speak English and Spanish. This city is very popular for having the largest carnival celebration in the world and for beaches known as Copacabana. The cultural diversity is great and it has one of the most modern public transport systems in Brazil. The climate of this city is considered tropical. 

The main problem in this city is crime which can be somewhat high in crowded places such as beaches and at night in places with too little light. The large number of favelas that are located on the city limits is also very noticeable. You have to be careful to not cross into these shanty towns as they are not safe for foreigners.

Health Care

The Unified Health System is the name of the public health system in Brazil. The states administer it and it is financed by local, state and federal taxes as well as social contributions. It looks after primary medical care, specialized outpatient and hospital care.  It also manages prescription drug coverage.  The system is available to anyone legally in the country including tourists.

While medical care is free there are large wait times for procedures and you are much better to pay the average $120 a month for private medical insurance.  These private medical services are of very high quality and would give you much higher peace of mind.

Post-Covid the private medical care means you jump to the top of the list and while the public system was overcapacity in Brazil during Covid the private hospitals prioritize those with private cover.

Here are some of the biggest national Private Health Care Providers:

NOTE: These are all in Portugese and while some health sites have English versions you can just open them in chrome browser and use the inbuilt translation tool to view them also.

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