There's no escaping the fact that Brazil can be big, bad, and dangerous to know. Petty crime, robberies, and gang violence are rife, while the homicide rate is one of the worst in the world. But behind the news headlines lies a country of enormous beauty and charm.
Packed with stunning beaches, historic colonial cities, and breathtaking landscapes, Brazil can unquestionably make a great place to live...providing you know where to look. If you've decided to make your next visit to the country the permanent kind, here are the 20 best places to live in Brazil.
If you're a nature lover, you're going to adore Jundiai. Just to the south of the city is Serra do Japi, a state park with a natural reserve that packs in stunning landscapes and countless opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure. The city itself is quiet, slightly genteel, and surrounded by wineries and fruit farms. For the best the city has to offer, opt for the Jundiahy neighborhood, a historic, affluent neighborhood packed with gorgeous houses, pretty gardens, and small community-run businesses.
19. Sao Jose Dos Campos
If you've kids, Sao Jose Dos Campos makes an excellent base. The vibrant university town is full of excellent schools and colleges, many of which offer exceptional extracurricular programs. Along with education, the city is also renowned for its sports facilities. If you have a budding soccer or tennis star in the family, this is where they'll get to achieve their full potential.
18. Sao Luis
For a brief period in the 1600s, Sao Luis was a French colony. Now, the city is as Brazilian as they come. Its center may have seen better days in parts, but it still oozes charm - so much so, in fact, it's earned the honor of being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Packed with museums, churches, craft stores, and galleries, its cobbled streets are heaven for culture seekers.
On top of that, it offers a lively music scene, great food, and an excellent lineup of events and festivals. Housing is plentiful and affordable. On the flip side, English isn't widely spoken, so it's worth brushing up on your Portuguese skills if you want to integrate into the community.
17. Porto Alegre
As aetnainternational.com notes, the major port city of Porto Alegre is hugely popular with expat families thanks to its reputation as an education hub. In addition to being home to one of the largest and most respected international schools in the country, it also boasts two universities: the Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.
Its economy is strong, offering plenty of job opportunities in the industrial sector. The public transport system is excellent, ensuring easy commuting around the city. Factor in a reasonable cost of living and a vibrant community, and it's easy to see why it's considered one of Brazil's best places to live.
16. Belo Horizonte
As the capital city of Brazil’s fourth-largest state, Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte is a huge, modern city of around 2.5 million people. Although expats tend to favor beachside communities, there's a lot to be said for this inland gem, including over 12,000 bars and nightspots, a thriving food scene, and cultural activities galore. In fairness, not all of its neighborhoods are that salubrious, but if you avoid the most infamous areas and stick to districts like Savassi, Funcionarios and Lourdes, you'll find it a great place to call home.
Inside Tale has ranked Manaus as one of the best cities to live in Brazil. It's easy to see what's caught their attention. Blessed with a unique culture, a vibrant, active community, and a very affordable cost of living, it's an attractive option for families, retirees, and singles alike. As an added advantage, it's the perfect gateway for trips and explorations into the Amazon Rainforest.
14. Campo Grande
If you want to live in a vibrant city that offers as many natural delights as urban ones, you might want to consider Campo Grande. The Pantanal (the world's largest wetlands area) is located on the city's doorstep, giving both residents and tourists plenty of opportunities to indulge in some outdoor recreation. If you'd rather stick to the city, you'll find plenty of shops, bars, and cultural venues to enjoy.
The price of living is low, and although the weather can get a little too hot and sticky for comfort at times, there's plenty of parks and green areas to cool off in. With four universities and some great schools to its name, the city makes a particularly great base for families.
Natal might lack the glitz and glamor of some of Brazil's bigger resorts, but there's still plenty to love about this calm little oasis. With year-round sunshine, pristine white sand beaches, and endless sand dunes, it's a paradise for beach lovers. Although it might be on the small side, there are still enough shops, restaurants, and cultural venues in the city to keep you entertained. On the downside, unemployment is high and job opportunities are few and far between. For digital nomads, this won't present a problem. Those seeking employment, on the other hand, might prefer to stick to bigger cities.
Recife is the capital city and largest community of Pernambuco. With a history that dates all the way back to 1537, it's blessed with a gorgeous array of historic, exceptionally well-preserved colonial buildings. With its pretty streets and scores of rivers and canals, it's managed to earn the nickname of the Venice of Brazil. The community is diverse and friendly; the cost of living is more than reasonable, and there's always something to do and somewhere to go. Street crime is a problem, as you'd expect of such a large city, but providing you apply common sense and avoid the worst neighborhoods, you shouldn't face too many issues.
11. Foz Do Iguaçu
Blessed with natural beauty, a charming center, and a friendly community, Foz Do Iguaçu regularly ranks as one of the best tourist destinations in Brazil. Thanks to its easy-going lifestyle and abundance of recreational opportunities, it's also one of the best places to turn a fleeting vacation into something more permanent.
There's no escaping the fact that Brazil can be dangerous. Street crime is a huge problem in many of its cities, and the homicide rate is one of the worst in the world. But not everywhere is as bad as the stats suggest. According to Expat Kings, Palmas ranks as one of the safest cities in Brazil, with a homicide rate of just 25 per 100,000 residents (that may sound high, but compared to cities like Rio or São Paulo, it's practically negligible). If you're looking for a safe, peaceful place to raise a family, it makes a great choice.
If you take the prison violence and street crime out of the equation, Salvador ranks as one of the most beautiful spots in Brazil. Its picturesque cobbled streets are awash with cultural landmarks and historical architecture - it didn't get named a UNESCO World Heritage site for nothing, after all. Its large international student community ensues a lively, vibrant atmosphere, while the ease of travel into nearby towns is great for would-be explorers. Large, lively, and brimming with possibilities, it's a great place to live. Just be sure to steer as far away from the prison as possible.
Affordable, blessed with stunning palm-lined beaches, and with the kind of party atmosphere that draws huge crowds to its door every year, Fortaleza is Fun with a capital F. A decent sized 1 bedroom apartment can be rented for as little as $210, while $513 should be more than enough to keep you living like royalty. The shopping opportunities are endless (head to Mercado Central for every type of grocery and garment you'll ever need), as are the opportunities to indulge in some wining and dining.
The historic port city of Vitória is lively, blessed with some great beaches, a friendly, welcoming community, and, as befits one of the oldest capital cities in Brazil, some stunning colonial architecture. Its center is compact, easy to navigate, and brimming with bars, restaurants, and shops. Providing you speak at least a little Portuguese and can tolerate the humidity, you'll find it a very friendly place to call home.
If you dream of living somewhere where you can escape to the Amazon on a regular basis, look no further than the charming city of Belem. Located on the eastern edge of the Amazon, it's the ideal gateway to rainforest adventures. Its cost of living is low enough for you to get by on less than $700 a month without breaking a sweat. There's also an abundance of markets, museums, and gorgeous pastel-colored buildings to enjoy. Nowhere is perfect, of course, and petty crime can be a problem. But let's face facts, petty crime is a problem in many places in Brazil, and at least here, you get the compensation of glorious weather and an equally glorious cultural scene.
Prior to 1960, Brasilia was a deserted desert wasteland. Now, it's home to around 3 million people and one of the most prosperous cities in Latin America. With 124 embassies and the headquarters of numerous multinationals to its name, its economy and job market are booming. Its universities, schools, and colleges are among the best in the country and its infrastructure is well developed and modern. The cost of living may be on the high side, but the great standard of living more than compensates.
4. Rio de Janeiro
If you dream of escaping the rat race and living in some peaceful little backwater, Rio de Janeiro isn't for you. If, on the other hand, you want bright lights and 24/7 action, it most definitely is. As one of the biggest cities in Latin America, Rio has all the urban delights you could imagine. On top of that, it's also got some world-class historic and cultural attractions, and, of course, plenty of amazing beaches. On the downside, the cost of living is eye-watering and certain neighborhoods are best avoided if you value your safety. That said, providing you have the money and enough common sense to pick your neighborhood wisely, you'll find it an outstanding place to live.
Named by Sharemoney Blog as one of the very best places to live in Brazil, the island city of Florianopolis boasts some of the highest living standards in Brazil, some of the best scenery, and some of the most profitable job opportunities. Pristine beaches, museums, galleries, bars, restaurants... however and wherever you like to spend your free time, you won't be short of options. As an added advantage, the large expat community means you won't need to be fluent in Portuguese to get by.
2. São Paulo
Ranked as one of the best places to live in Brazil by Nomads Nation, São Paulo is a huge, sprawling metropolis that offers a little something for everyone. The economy is strong, the infrastructure is well developed, and the cultural and entertainment options are almost endless. Thanks to the diversity of its community, English is widely spoken, meaning you won't be left high and dry if your Portuguese is on the rusty side. It's not for everyone, of course - if traffic and people aren't your kinds of things, the crowds and congestion will soon start to grate. However, if you're looking for a lively, multi-cultural city, you're going to love it.
Curitiba regularly ranks highly on every 'best of' list concerning Brazil, and for very good reason. For anyone concerned with environmentalism, it's a particularly great choice - thanks to its waste management programs, natural spaces, and genius initiatives that include recycling old buses into mobile classrooms, it's widely considered the sustainability capital of Brazil.
Its mild ocean climate stands in stark contrast to the muggy humidity of some of Brazil's other major cities. Parks are almost everywhere you look, guaranteeing plenty of green spaces for recreation and relaxation. The huge Botanical Gardens of Curitiba and the delightfully leafy Portugal Park are just two of the natural attractions you won't want to miss. The infrastructure is well developed and modern, and thanks to the compact nature of the center, getting around is easy.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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