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Moving to Rio de Janeiro


    Rio de Janeiro, referred to across the world simply as “Rio,” is a sprawling, busy and culturally vibrant city that is the heart of Brazil. Roughly 12 million people call this bustling city home, and the locals refer to themselves as Cariocas. Rio de Janeiro natives tend to enjoy a relaxed and slower approach to life, enjoying the simple moments and the festivities that make the local culture so colourful and exciting.

    While Rio is a place to live that is never dull, there is still plenty you’ll need to learn and be aware of before you move there. Carry on reading for all the information you need to know about moving to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

    The city in detail

    Rio de Janeiro was previously the capital city of Brazil, but its reign ended in 1960 when Brasília was named the new capital.

    Rio has a mixed reputation, for while the city is undeniably beautiful with sea views, plenty of excitement and gorgeous mountains ringing the area, crime is a problem. The city has a high crime rate, and in fact, on the crime rate index, Rio de Janeiro is rated over 77 out of a scale of 100. Parts of the city are highly impoverished, like the favelas or slums, which affects the high crime in the area. This is important to know when living in the area, as it will have a huge impact on your decision of where to live in Rio de Janeiro.

    But the city of Rio is more than meets the eye. It is the home to Brazil’s insurance industry and site of the Brazilian stock exchange. The city is also divided into two sections – zona sul and the zona norte. Zona sul is considered the more desirable half, with the most popular beaches and sought after properties in this area.

    When it comes to Rio’s beaches, they’re tough to beat. People come from all over the world to worship the sun along the city’s famed coast. Some of Rio De Janeiro’s most famous beaches can be found at Ipanema, Flemengo, Botafogo and Leme-Copacabana.

    Aerial view of the city and coastline of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, looking out onto the sea and islands

    Housing in Rio de Janeiro

    Searching for property in Rio de Janeiro will require some help and knowledge, so it’s best to work with a trusted estate agent. Location is key in Rio due to some areas being less than desirable, and most expats living in the area prefer to be in Zona Sul, or the southern zone of Rio de Janeiro. This is because it is where the best shopping areas, airports, international clubs and organisations, restaurants and beaches can be found.

    If you want to live near the beaches, bear in mind that this will skyrocket your budget and limit the available properties, as beachfront property in Rio de Janeiro is highly sought after.

    People surfing at the beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with mountains in the background

    Is Living in Rio de Janeiro Expensive?

    Living in Rio de Janeiro is not expensive compared to most western cities and is much more affordable than some of the most populated cities in the world. It is estimated that living costs in Rio are 67% lower than costs in New York. Rental is even cheaper with costs on average 88% lower than they are in New York.


    There are plenty of options for schooling in Rio de Janeiro if you are moving there with your family. You can always choose to send your child to local schools, however they are likely to be met with language barrier struggles.

    There is a good variety of International Schools within the city though, and many choose this approach for their child’s education once they arrive in Rio de Janeiro.

    The British School

    The American School of Rio de Janeiro – Gávea

    German School Corcovado

    Lycée Moliére

    Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Public Transport

    Public transportation is available in Rio, though it is more limited than in some other major cities. The bus system is most widely used and offers a huge number of busses and stops. Air-conditioned busses have more expensive fares than those without, and during the day the safety is usually good, though the situation can change at night.

    Metro Rio, the subway train system, is the best and safest form of transport. Though not as widely dispersed as the city’s bus system,  with 35 stations you can still get to most areas of the city with ease.

    Interested in information on another country? Take a look at our other International Relocation guides.

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