Britannia Movers

What to expect from moving to Brazil

After the FIFA World Cup was held in Brazil last year and the impending Olympics next year, all eyes are on Brazil and have been for the past couple of years. This developing country has seen a boom in tourism, but also forced people to consider it for a permanent move.

With the fast-moving economy, more jobs are becoming available and an increasing number of people are heading off for sunnier climes. A move to Brazil is not to be taken lightly though; there are a few things you need to consider and knowing what to expect will make the transition that much easier.

Cost of living

It’s easy to forget that the cost of living may be different abroad than what you’re used to in the UK, but it can make for some very interesting reading. While Brazil is still generally considered to be a developing country – rather than developed like the USA or the UK – the cost of living isn’t cheap. Property rental costs rival those in central London, so you might be in for a nasty shock if you were expecting to save a fortune on accommodation costs.

Rio de Janeiro tops the list for accommodation costs in the big cities, but Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte aren’t far behind. However, as an expat, you can pretty much bank on getting a good salary to make the rent affordable. Labour is cheap, so services won’t cost you much, but food can be costly if you eat out, while clothing and goods are particularly expensive.


The national language of Brazil in Portuguese and you’ll need to start your lessons early. There are some Brazilians who speak Spanish as well, but Portuguese is most definitely the language to learn. While some countries are fluent in English as well as their mother tongue, this is not the case in Brazil, so if you don’t speak the language, you may find yourself somewhat stuck.

You will find that the expat community speaks English, but signposts and general information won’t be in alternative languages. It’s not easy to learn another language, but many people who have made the move recommend getting stuck in and talking to local people, rather than relying on books and exams. It’s not about getting your tenses right, but about being able to hold a conversation if you want to become fluent. The best learning tip is to just get talking and reading; it’ll be easier than you think.


Owning a car in Brazil is not cheap, so you’ll want to get to know the public transport systems. Buses, aeroplanes, metro, trolleybus and train are all commonly found across the big cities, so you should be able to get by without a car. If you do want one, expect to pay considerably higher prices than the UK. You may do well to have your own car shipped over instead. Bear in mind that fuel is expensive, as is insurance and general upkeep, so many locals don’t bother with their own vehicles.

If you’re outside of the cities, a car may be more of a necessity, but for the most part, the public transport systems will easily suffice. There are cross-country shuttle services that are popular with the expats, should you need to head to meetings in other cities, but for the most part, people emigrating to Brazil head to the larger, busier cities anyway.

Healthcare and schooling

We are so used to the NHS in Britain, that we often forget the healthcare standards are not the same across the globe. However, Brazil does in fact have its own government-funded healthcare system – the Sistema Unico de Saude (SUS) programme. Healthcare is free, but there is no registration process and the hospitals are often overcrowded, resulting in long waits. The private systems offer a good quality of care, but you should expect to pay a premium for it. Get yourself some private health insurance, or ensure your company is offering it if you’re moving to Brazil for work. You won’t want to use it but it’ll make a big difference if you do ever need to.

There are international schools across Brazil that tend to follow either an American or British curriculum, which are ideal for expats. The international schools are overcrowded and the waiting lists are long, so you’ll need to get on a list early. Private schooling is a popular option and these schools are often the preferred choice for affluent Brazilians as well. However, you’ll need to bear in mind that the majority of classes are taught in Portuguese, so if your children are not fluent in the language, the international schools are usually the best option. Brazil is a deeply religious country, so you can expect to find plenty of Christian schools as well.

Stay ahead of the game

Moving to Brazil is a big transition from the UK, so the more prepared you are, the easier it will be in the long run. If you are moving for work, your employer will help you to sort out getting the correct visas. It’s a lengthy process though, so if you’re going of your own accord, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to sort everything out. As has been mentioned, the cost of living is steep, so shipping over as many of your own personal belongings and furniture as possible is likely to be the cheapest option for you.

For more information on moving to Brazil, check out our Ultimate Guide. It’ll tell you absolutely everything you need to know about living in Brazil including customs, transporting pets and average costs of a variety of items. If you’d like to find out about having your belongings sent over for an impending move, please contact Britannia Movers or check out our Quotes page to get an idea of costs for moving to Brazil.