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11 BEST Places to Live in Brazil [2020 Guide!]

Brazil is awesome. Beautiful beaches, delicious food, a chilled lifestyle, crazy partying. We’re all for it!

It’s a multicultural location that’s ethnically diverse, with incredible nature and landscapes. It’s home to the crazy big Amazon rainforest, after all, and is a megadiverse country in terms of flora and fauna.

This emerging power comes with many cities to live in. Choosing the right one for you can mean a big difference in lifestyle.

Whether you want to live by the sea or prefer your cities inland, we’ve created this EPIC guide on where to live in Brazil to make it super easy for you to choose.

Without further ado, let’s see what this incredible country has to offer!

Staying Safe in the Brazil

Brazil is a big, beautiful country. But with that beauty, there’s a bit of danger, too.
It’s not everywhere, of course, but in some areas of certain cities, there’ll be some petty – as well as more serious – crime. That said, for the most part, it’s not likely you’ll be stepping into sketchy places out of choice.

It depends on the city. Some are safer than others, especially after dark – that’s just how it goes. In other places, you’ll have to use your street smarts; that means not being overly flashy, having valuables on show, or walking around with a swish smartphone in hand in some spots—that sort of thing.

Other than that, despite the relatively high crime rate, any well-travelled nomad will know the score here when it comes to avoiding street crime. Trust your gut.

The language barrier will probably affect you more than anything, so picking up some Portuguese will be the biggest way to stay safe – and sane – along the way.

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#1 São Paulo

São Paulo

“The big, vibrant financial centre of Brazil that’s grown into a global city.”

Monthly cost of living in São Paulo

$802/ month 

cost of rent
in São Paulo

$398/month

The fourth-largest city in the world, São Paulo is pretty much a megacity. It’s home to the tallest skyscrapers in Brazil and has some strong political, economic and cultural influence on the South American nation. Here is where you’ll find incredible parks, a huge range of museums, international events, and more.

This is a true melting pot of a city, home to people from many different backgrounds – from Arab and Italian to Japanese; there are some super interesting neighbourhoods to explore as a result. And yes, in case you were wondering, the food scene is amazing.

Pros of São Paulo

  • Big multi-national city
  • Lots of culture and entertainment options
  • Large mix of people from various backgrounds

Cons of São Paulo

  • The traffic can be really hectic in the city
  • There's a whole lot of people
  • The heat can get pretty intense

São Paulo’s neighbourhoods are as diverse as its population. If you’re looking for fashionable bars, art galleries and street art, go to Vila Madalena. It’s got markets, cool restaurants, and an all-round good vibe.

For something a little more pricey and upscale, you may want to hit up Itaim Bibi – it’s stylish and sophisticated, a fashionable area to live with a price tag to match.

Liberdade is where you’ll find the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, also home to Chinese New Year celebrations, Thai, and Korean establishments.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Aptly named Coworking São Paulo is a great place for office space in the city – a professional outfit with plenty of space. Elsewhere, there’s the more kooky and boho Pixels Coworking, complete with guitars and hammocks.

#2 Fortaleza

Fortaleza

“Affordable city living with all the perks of palm-lined beaches.”

Monthly cost of living in Fortaleza

$513/ month 

cost of rent in Fortaleza

$210/month

The capital of Ceara, Fortaleza, is a big, sprawling city – the fifth largest, in fact. It’s a hub of industry for Brazil, but with its coastal location, party atmosphere, and big, beautiful beaches, it draws in a surprising amount of domestic and international visitors.

From here it’s easy to jump off to explore the pretty towns, fishing villages, and nature of what is a fairly isolated region relative to the rest of the country. That’s if you can pull yourself away from the magnetic buzz of the city and its colourful heritage.

Pros of Fortaleza

  • Lots of Brazilian culture to experience
  • Beautiful beaches to spend time chilling out on
  • Large community of ex-pats living in the city

Cons of Fortaleza

  • It's necessary to speak Portuguese to get by
  • Crime and poverty are an issue
  • Big and busy city

Dragao do Mar is the cultural heart of Fortaleza. Here you’ll find plenty of bars, places to eat, events to attend, and a load of museums and galleries to hit up.

For some nature, the Parque Ecologico do Coco is a good place to go. Away from the beaches, this park boasts mangroves and is all about preserving the local ecology.

You may find yourself at the Mercado Central quite a bit. This is a huge shopping complex where you can find all sorts of hidden gems, from produce to handbags

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Looking for a coworking space in Fortaleza? Then maybe you should try out Elephant Coworking. This cool and sociable space boasts activities to get involved with, as well as a cafe and a library as added bonuses.

#3 Belem

Belem

“Belem is the charming gateway to the eastern Amazon region”

Monthly cost of living in Belem

$676/ month 

cost of rent
in Belem

$185/month

Belem is a beautiful city, in its own way. The capital of Para state in the north, Belem has pastel-coloured buildings faded by years of sunshine, interesting museums, bustling markets, and is a fantastic base to head off exploring around the area (which includes the mighty Amazon rainforest).

Known as “City of Mangrove Trees,” because of how many mangroves are in the city itself, Belem also boasts a lot of natural credentials. The giant lily pads at Museo Paraense Emilio Goeldi, a natural history museum, are enough to wow every time you see them.

Pros of Belem

  • Well connected for exploring other places by boat
  • Warm weather
  • Rich in culture, food, and music

Cons of Belem

  • Petty crime on the street is common
  • Public transport is not very well developed
  • Traffic and commuting can be bad

For some history, you may want to swing by Forte do Presepio. Built in 1616 by Portuguese colonialists to protect against French encroachments, it’s now a museum that focuses on indigenous communities.

The Mangal das Garcas is a beautiful city park that goes a long way in showing off the natural beauty of the area. It’s a great place to stroll and soak up the greenery.

The old Complex Ver-O-Peso is a public market that’s been hawking wares and selling produce since 1901. Come down and join in for fresh food and local life.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

BelOffice Coworking is a good spot if you’re looking for a desk to work at for the day in Belem. It’s new, modern and the perfect place for professionals. There’s also Casa Sete: compact, funky, a bit low-key, but very friendly.

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#4 Salvador

Salvador

“Tropical beaches and cobbled streets await in UNESCO-recognised Salvador”

Monthly cost of living in Salvador

$676/ month 

cost of rent in Salvador

$302/month

Salvador is the capital of Bahia, a city that’s famous for its tropical coastline, Afro-Brazilian cultural, and colonial architecture. In fact, it was the first capital of Brazil. Founded in 1549 by the Portuguese, it ranks as one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas.

As a result, the old Upper Town of the city – its former heart – is awash with historical architecture and has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. 

As one of the first slave ports in the Americas, today, it is the centre of Afro-Brazilian culture, reflected in its people, music, carnival, public art, and food.

Pros of Salvador

  • Large international student community
  • Super easy to travel to nearby towns for exploring
  • Delicious food to tuck into

Cons of Salvador

  • Can be difficult to navigate for new arrivals
  • Petty street crime can be a hassle
  • English is not common

For some beautiful cityscapes – and some important history – in Pelourinho, you’ll find cobbled streets, pastel-coloured buildings, and a quiet atmosphere. It’s UNESCO-recognised, after all.

The beautiful Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Pretos is an 18th-century church with a history that is part of the UNESCO credentials of the city. It’s where, historically, the Afro-Brazilian population would worship.

If history isn’t on your to-do list, Porto do Barra Beach is one the city’s most famous beaches. Set alongside the old fort, it’s possible to swim here, and the atmosphere is vibrant. The sunsets are beautiful, too.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Coworking Salvador is one of just a handful of coworking spaces in the city. It has everything you need and offers up a professional environment to get work done. A Casa Coworking is a more homely, well-located option.

#5 Natal

Natal

“Natal is a fun tourist destination and a safe bet for nomads”

Monthly cost of living in Natal

$410/ month 

cost of rent
in Natal

$143/month

Known as a destination for package tourism, Natal is clean, calm and – maybe for some – lacking in the excitement of other Brazilian cities. But if you’re into big, beautiful white beaches, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider basing yourself here.

Natal is the capital of the Rio Grande do Norte. It’s got a lot to offer in terms of activities. With sand dunes to explore, beaches to lay on, almost year-round sunshine, and plenty of ways to stay fed, watered and entertained, it’s a comprehensive coastal city.

Pros of Natal

  • Feels a little safer than other cities in the region
  • A smaller, more compact city
  • Lots of historical buildings

Cons of Natal

  • Less vibrant nightlife
  • High unemployment rate
  • Older community

Most of the activity in town happens around the beach, as you might expect. If beachside living and getting around in nature is your thing, you’ll love it.

Duanas de Genipabu is an eco-park with undulating dunes. People ride buggies around and have a ball here.

More activities exist in the way of sand boarding and ziplining. If you’re into adrenaline rushes and keeping active – all with the sea at your fingertips, then why not base yourself in Natal?

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

For coworking, Natal Virtual Office offers a range of different spaces to work in, while Natal Coworking is more of a compact space for hotdesking in the city. Mesa Anexa is another compact but colourful space to try out.

#6 Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

“Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s most famous city – it’s basically the place to be”

Monthly cost of living in Rio de Janeiro

$1064/ month 

cost of rent
in Rio de Janeiro

$663/month

Rio de Janeiro is so famous that if you were to simply talk about Rio, anybody would know where you meant. Rio is a frenetic city with an incredibly famous carnival, two of the world’s household-name beaches – Ipanema and Copacobana – and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.

It’s fair to say that Rio de Janeiro is a big, cold city that was the capital of independent imperial, and then republican, Brazil from 1822 all the way to 1960. A place of inspiration, with cool neighbourhoods to explore, beautiful scenery (Sugarloaf Mountain is a wonder in itself), and a lively atmosphere, it makes for a great base.

Pros of Rio de Janeiro

  • Lots of culture and activities to get involved with
  • Public transport is modern and developed
  • People are friendly

Cons of Rio de Janeiro

  • Cost of living is expensive compared to other Brazilian cities
  • It can also get very, very busy in the city
  • Street crime can be a problem

No coastal location anywhere in the world is perhaps more well-known, at least by name, than Copacobana; it’s easy to simply hang out here all day.

There are more upcoming, cool neighbourhoods that you can check out. Botafogo, for example, is hot stuff. Here you’ll find everything from gastropubs to cool cafes for hipster-friendly vibes.

Every year in February, Rio goes absolutely crazy for carnival, hosting the biggest version of this Catholic event anywhere in the world. Think floats, dancers, parades, and a whole lot of drinking and dancing.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

WeWork Rio de Janeiro is a top option if you’re looking for a coworking space in this famous city. However, EDX Co-Working, located downtown, may be better for you. Like things cool? Try Collective, housed in a colonial mansion.

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#7 Recife

Recife

“Recife is the waterway-laden Brazilian Venice – a place of beaches, history and carnival”

Monthly cost of living in Recife

$612/ month 

cost of rent
in Recife

$343/month

The capital city of Pernambuco – and its largest city – Recife has a whole lot of history to offer. It was founded way back in 1537 and has a ton of heritage buildings to match; on the city’s doorstep, you’ll find Olinda – recognised by UNESCO for its amazingly well preserved colonial buildings.

It’s the setting of Recife that draws in the visitors. Strewn with rivers and waterways, there are more than 50 bridges in the city, which has earned it the accolade of being known as the Brazilian Venice. 

In fact, it plays host to Mangrove Park; right at the city’s heart, this swampy wetlands area is the largest urban mangrove swamp in the Americas.

Pros of Recife

  • People are friendly and open
  • A mix of all different types of people
  • Prices are affordable

Cons of Recife

  • The traffic can be awful
  • High humidity all year round
  • Street crime can be an issue

If you’re in Brazil for beaches, you won’t be disappointed if you choose to base yourself in Recife.

Around 60 kilometres to the south of the city, you’ll find Porto de Galinhas. Known for its delicious turquoise seas and amazingly white beaches, it’s often touted as the best beach in Brazil.

Away from beaches, carnival in Recife is when the city comes alive. Paired with the carnival in Olinda, it’s known for being one of the hotspots for carnival in Brazil.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Want somewhere to get your work on in Recife? Try Workspot Coworking. It’s clean, well organised, and the staff are friendly. For more of a cafe vibe, you may want to hit up somewhere like City Working Recife, which is pretty cool.

#8 Curitiba

Curitiba

“Raise your eco credentials in Curitiba – Brazil’s most sustainable city”

Monthly cost of living in Curitiba

$367/ month 

cost of rent in Curitiba

$243/month

Away from Brazil’s sultry coastal cities, inland Curitiba may come as a surprise. The eighth-largest city in Brazil, Curitiba is known as Brazil’s most sustainable city.

Thanks to its natural spaces, waste management schemes, and other cool stuff like recycling old buses into mobile classrooms, it’s become a poster city for going green.

Parks abound in Curitiba. There’s the sprawling Botanical Gardens of Curitiba and the very leafy Portugal Park, making this a great place to be for those who like to step out and discover natural spaces in their urban surroundings.

Pros of Curitiba

  • Compact size that doesn't feel overcrowded
  • Cooler than other places in Brazil
  • There are lots of big parks in the city

Cons of Curitiba

  • People are a little less open than other cities in Brazil
  • Lots of construction all of the time
  • High unemployment rate

Curitiba is a fairly multicultural city. There are many spots dotted around pointing to the different cultures and nationalities that have come to call this city home over the years.

There’s an old Polish residence in what’s known as Pope’s Park; there are traditional wooden buildings at the Ukrainian memorial in Tingui Park, and there’s Japanese architecture in manicured Japan Square.

Often called the green lung of the city, Bom Retiro with its neat houses, a smattering of restaurants, tree-lined streets and historical sights, may just be the best place to live.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Brains Coworking offers a professional, smart environment to get your work done. HUS Coworking is cooler, more open-plan, and social, while Impact Hub – complete with green gardens – may make for a more laid-back spot to work.

#9 Vitória

vitoria

“The island city of Vitoria is a Rio lookalike with none of the cost”

Monthly cost of living in Vitória

$718/ month 

cost of rent
in Vitória

$439/month

Vitoria may be an industrial port city, but that means \ it actually has a fairly decent economy. Founded in 1551 and set on an island, its mountainous backdrop could fool you into thinking you’re in Rio de Janeiro. 

In fact, with its beaches, universities, bars, and restaurants, it’s not a bad runner up. (Plus, it’s more affordable).

The people of Vitoria – the capital of Espirito Santo – are warm and welcoming, the city is fairly compact, the craggy coastline setting and greenery is attractive, and there are a few historic hidden gems to discover on your travels around the city. After all, it’s the third-oldest capital city of Brazil.

Pros of Vitória

  • Modern port city
  • Lots of beautiful beaches
  • Fun, vibrant nightlife

Cons of Vitória

  • Hot and sticky weather
  • It can get very busy in the city
  • Need to learn Portuguese to get by

If you’re looking for places to eat out, you may quickly find that Praia do Canto is your favourite place to be. It’s filled with tons of restaurants, bars and even things like museums and galleries.

As with many coastal city’s in Brazil, beaches are a way of life in Vitoria.

Curva da Jurema is a greenery lined stretch of sand backed by skyscrapers, while Praia de Camburi is where it’s at think boardwalks, surfing, and a whole load of amenities along a stretch of gleaming sand.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

For coworking, the artsy GUAVA lab may be the one for you if your projects are more creative than just emails and Skype calls. If you want something more professional, NaCapital Escritórios & Coworking is a smart operation.

#10 Campo Grande

“Campo Grande is the metropolitan gateway to the epic Pantanal”

Monthly cost of living in Campo Grande

$476/ month 

cost of rent
in Campo Grande

$173/month

Campo Grande, capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, has the Pantanal on its doorstep: this is the world’s largest wetlands area, and if exploring it is something you’re interested in, you may want to use this sprawling city as a base to do so. That doesn’t mean the city doesn’t have a lot going for it in other areas, though.

Another of Brazil’s inland cities, and with a background in raising cattle and farming (the name means “Great Field”), Campo Grandy is surprisingly multicultural. 

People from all walks of life have made their home here over the years, resulting in a distinct feel to the city.

Pros of Campo Grande

  • Affordable low price of living
  • Diverse culture to enjoy
  • Easy to travel to nearby local towns in the area

Cons of Campo Grande

  • Weather can get hot and sticky
  • Big city that might seem overwhelming
  • Less shared spaces to work compared to other cities

You’ll have a lot of food choices in your future if you choose to live for a while in Campo Grande. There are some great spots, from old-school Italian at Cantina Romana to the incredible churrascaria (Brazilian BBQ) at Gaúcho Gastão.

There’s more than just food: hanks to its four universities, the city’s student population have created a vibrant nightlife – take your pick of bars and enjoy!

For nature, there’s a taste of the Pantanal in the form of the beautiful Parque das Nações Indígenas, an urban park with greenery and waterways galore.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

Colourful and spacious, CoCriativo Coworking e Escritório Virtual is a great place for coworking in Campo Grande. Elsewhere, inOffice Coworking is swish and modern, while CONECTIVO has loads of options for meeting rooms.

#11 Sao Luis

Sao Luis

“The historic streets of Sao Luis are almost always set to charm.”

Monthly cost of living in Sao Luis

$531/ month 

cost of rent
in Sao Luis

$253/month

The capital of Maranhão, Sao Luis began as a French colony in 1612 – but only until 1615. Since then (well, unless you count the Dutch occupation from 1641-44) it’s been Brazilian through and through, and home to some of the best-kept secrets in terms of historical architecture that Brazil has to offer.

The historic centre here, equal parts crumbling and charming, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the buildings are covered in tiles, making it somewhat unique in terms of colonial architecture in Brazil. 

Among all this, you’ll find art galleries, museums, and craft stores galore, making it a cultural gem of the Northeast.

Pros of Sao Luis

  • Lots of history to enjoy
  • Fun, lively music scene
  • Local food is delicious

Cons of Sao Luis

  • There isn't a sizeable foreign community
  • Learning Portuguese will help
  • Poverty is a problem in the area

It’s fair to say that history abounds in Sao Luis. The historic centre is awash with buildings, churches, and cobbled streets that make it feel as though it could be 100 years or more in the past.

You could even catch a live performance at the beautiful Teatro Arthur Azevedo. It’s a sight in itself, even before you sit down to watch a cultural wonder.

For a more vivid cultural performance, make sure you’re around in June. That’s when the Sao Luis’s colourful São João & Bumba Meu Boi festivals come into their own.

Nomads Nation - Digital Nomad Tip

For coworking in Sao Luis, you should try Waka, which has a friendly environment. Black Swan, on the other hand, is a much more creative, very innovative space, with large, well thought out interiors and a welcoming atmosphere.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in All of Brazil

That’s all, folks! Brazil, as you have just read, is as bold and beautiful as you might imagine.

There are so many big cities to choose from in Brazil. Each of them is exciting, has its own flair, atmosphere and specialities. There are so many chances to use where you live as a jumping-off point to explore the best of Brazil’s nature and truly enjoy that nomad life, laptop in tow.

You may want to go full-on Brazil and opt to live Rio de Janeiro or join the very multicultural masses of Sao Paulo. We think the sustainable gem that is Curitiba may be worth a look – a cultural centre perfect for a nomad. For a Rio-esque experience that’s easier on the wallet, try Vitoria.

Or you could just, ya know, jump between all these amazing places – a month here, a month there… that’s what nomads do best, right?

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Written by Aaron Radcliffe

City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of Nomads Nation. Connect with Aaron Radcliffe -
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