How about a little samba, caipirinha, and sandy beach! Have you ever dreamed of living in Brazil? Brazil is a great destination for digital nomads, as the cost of life is often lower than in North America or in Europe, so you can have a quality life in an amazing environment. Here’s all you need to know before setting off as a digital nomad in Brazil.
In such a huge country though (slightly bigger than Australia!), climates, cultures and safety vary from one corner to the other and it can be interesting to move around and experience different versions of the Brazilian dream.
We’ll cover all that, but let’s start right away with the fundamentals:
Why choose Brazil as a digital nomad?
Here are the top factors to consider when making the decision whether to work remotely in Brazil or not.
- It’s a huge country with a lot of different landscapes and cultures to discover
- Destinations range for different expectations and budgets: chilled beach towns with cheap lifestyle, or big cities with a lot of events and cultural possibilities
- In big cities, there’s a sizable digital nomad and expat community
- Services for digital nomads (like co-working spaces) exist and are growing; as we write, Brazil has started catering for digital nomads, for example Rio has started an incentive program to attract remote workers, and more and more opportunities are expected to pop up
- Locals are incredibly friendly and helpful, even if you don’t speak Portuguese (they will teach you)
- There’s eternal summer: most of the country enjoys a warm tropical climate
- In big cities, safety is a palpable topic that needs to be considered
- English is not widely spoken, however Brazilians are nice and patient enough for you to pick up Portuguese quickly
- In case you want to explore the country, the huge travel distances aren’t easy to cover without planes
You can find some travel inspiration in this Brazil itinerary for 2 or 3 weeks on the road
Brazil as a digital nomad destination
Brazil’s top metropolises are nothing to joke about in terms of size, counting 12 million inhabitants in São Paulo, 6 million in Rio de Janeiro, or even 2 million in a medium-sized city like Belo Horizonte.
However, if you feel better in a smaller place, don’t get disheartened yet; Brazil offers many safe, smaller towns with enough beach or nature around. Life can be very relaxing here, and in a way, you’ll learn something different about the Brazilian culture than if you stayed in one of the top cities.
Portuguese is the official language, but in a version that is quite different from European Portuguese. English is spoken in bigger cities, especially among the younger generation, but you’ll need to learn a bit of Portuguese to get by in everyday situations, like in supermarkets, informal eateries or non-touristy bars. Good news is that Brazilians are so friendly, so relaxed, and they speak naturally so slowly, that it’s easy to pick up the language. A good way to learn Portuguese is to go to a language course or to join one of the many language exchange meetups.
In this huge country, climates differ from north to south. In the north (nearer the Equator), the weather is rather tropical, with very hot and humid summer and warm winter. The further south we go, the weather turns more continental. In Porto Alegre, which is very near the southern border with Uruguay, you’ll find the 4 seasons. Cities like Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, being reasonably central, offer a nice middleway.
Keep in mind when planning your trip: being in the southern hemisphere, the summer months are December – February, and winter is June – August.
Diversity of cultures
Big Brazilian cities are often a melting pot of cultures where many different ethnicities live together. Alongside Brazilians, who are a beautiful mix of white, black and indigenous, there are other groups with different backgrounds or nationalities. You’ll obviously find other South American nations represented (like Bolivia or Paraguay) but also many people who have immigrated from as far as Japan, Poland or Germany. With so many nationalities, no wonder there’s a colourful palette of festivals, cuisine and events!
In Brazil, there’s a lot of life happening on the streets. Open-air markets, festivals, concerts are pretty common. There are very interesting museums and the art scene is fantastic.
Check out our guide to Brazil to get a taste of what’s awaiting you in this wonderland of diversity
Safety (not only for women) in Brazil
Staying safe is an important aspect to mention when talking about living or traveling in Brazil. Safety largely depends on the size of the city you are in, where you go and at what time.
In bigger cities, like Rio de Janeiro or Salvador de Bahia, some areas are best avoided altogether, especially after dark. On the other hand, it’s also possible to find cities where safety is not so much of a problem, like Curitiba.
Tips for staying safe in Brazil:
- Ask locals or your host, right upon arrival, which areas you should avoid. Locals always know and will give you the best recommendations.
- Always take a taxi home after dark, e.g. if you’re coming home from a night out
- Don’t show valuables on the street, i.e. don’t walk while talking on your mobile phone, or open your wallet with loads of money inside
- Rather avoid empty streets that give you a bad feeling
- As a woman, try not to go out alone
Digital nomad hubs, networking
Unsurprisingly, you’ll find the biggest digital nomad communities in big, modern cities. Some of those can reasonably be dubbed ‘digital nomad hubs’: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte. Some neighbourhoods have great co-working spaces – you’ll find them on Coworking Brazil or Coworker.
Regarding after-work events in these cities, a few of them aim at connecting digital nomads. For a start, we advise you to check out this Facebook page for Digital nomads in Brazil and the Digital nomads United group on Meetup.
Another great type of event are language practice meetups, where you can meet locals and other expats and practice your Portuguese. Finally, our all-time favourite source of friends in Brasil: Couchsurfing. This travellers’ community organise regular and irregular meetups for locals, expats and travellers to meet.
Accommodation in Brazil for digital nomads
Housing services specifically for digital nomads have already set foot in Brazil. For example, Nomad Stays has houses in São Paulo and Selina has opened a digital nomad hostel in Rio de Janeiro. Otherwise, Airbnb remains a good option.
Related to the topic of housing, a tip that I often come across with: ask for an internet speed test from your accommodation host before booking the place. Internet is not great everywhere, even when the landlord swears he’s got the best in town.
Quality of internet
Let’s talk a bit more about the internet.
Brazil ranks at the 49th place in the world regarding internet speed, according to a report by Speedtest. Perhaps this doesn’t sound too promising, but during our stay in 2019, we never had any issue with internet speed anywhere in the country. Since then (during the COVID-19 pandemic), both wifi and mobile internet speed have increased, and 5G will soon be introduced to the country.
The best cities for internet speed are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. The fastest broadband is from Vivo; the mobile internet is the one from the phone operator Claro.
What to do at the weekend
Life as a digital nomad isn’t only work work work, so now comes the best part: how to enjoy the Brazilian life! (We promised you samba, caipirinha, sandy beach – remember?) Top local activities (in our humble opinion) are:
- Dancing forró or samba; both of these dances are national favourites. The best is to either look for a dance school to take some lessons, or just hit a forró / samba social party – they usually have a mini-lesson before the party so you can get up to speed
- Attend a bossa-nova concert: it’s almost obligatory for music fans to enjoy the most famous Brazilian music style right at its birthplace!
- Enjoy beach-life with a caipirinha in your hand; they’re often sold directly on the beach. Coconut water is our favourite non-alc alternative.
- Go surfing
- Explore the amazing nature around your city; here’s a little helper with our post about the best hikes in Brazil
- Understand Brazil through its many museums; my personal favourite is the Fine Art museum in Rio de Janeiro
Best cities in Brazil for working remotely and their cost/month
Depending on the kind of life you dream to live in Brazil, there are many places to choose from. Approx. cost of life in these places are taken from Digital Nomad Hub in 2021.
Best for that big-city life:
Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte
Among these, Rio de Janeiro is the one seaside city mixing beaches with a lot of cultural activities. they all have a sizable expat and digital nomad community, with co-working spaces, speedy internet. The downsides are the safety questions, as in most big cities in Brazil, and prices are a bit higher than elsewhere in the country.
Approx. cost of life: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo – 500 USD / week; Belo Horizonte – 300 USD / week
Best for a chilled, budget-friendly beach life:
João Pessoa, Ubatuba, Maragogi
These smaller towns on the seaside mean probably the biggest secrets of Brazilian digital nomadism. Although a few highrises still pierce the skyline, the main activity there is more like beach-going and lying under the palm trees, pretending to be an iguana. They are popular with Brazilian digital nomads, so don’t expect a big expat community. Life is definitely cheaper here compared to the bigger cities we mentioned before.
Approx. cost of life: N/A
Best for surfing:
Florianopolis (or Floripa as locals call it) is the Brazilian holiday town with a Hawaiian feeling, where affluent Brazilians spend their holidays. There are many beautiful beaches with white sand and of course, surfing is huge! It’s said to have the most consistent waves, and many beaches are excellent for surfing. You can either stay in the main town or in one of the many lively towns scattered throughout the island of Santa Catarina.
Approx. cost of life: 350 USD / week
Best for feeling safe:
Curitiba is not the usual digital nomad destination in Brazil, but that’s where we felt the safest. We also found expats there, and although the cultural possibilities are certainly lower compared to Rio or São Paulo, life is definitely not boring! Curitiba is a sustainable city dubbed the ‘Model City’ with cutting-edge green living solutions. Also, the varied European backgrounds of its population make this city rich in culture.
Approx. cost of life: 300 USD / week
Visa to Brazil
Brazil doesn’t have a specific digital nomad program. Unless you are planning to stay longer than a couple of months, US and EU citizens don’t need to arrange a Visa beforehand. Brazil allows a 3-month stay in the territory with a regular tourist passport, which can be extended afterward. At the border you simply get an entry stamp with the date of arrival. Check the specific entry requirements on your embassy’s website.
Note that you’ll need to present an exit ticket when onboarding your plane/crossing the border into Brazil. A cheap bus ticket will do, some of which can even be fully refunded when you cancel.
Digital nomad insurance
I really advise you to get an insurance before you start traveling. Hospital or simple emergency treatment costs can be steep, and thefts can happen everywhere in the world. Worldnomads and Safetywings are the biggest names when it comes to digital nomad insurance.
Brazilian electrical socket
Brazilian sockets may have 2 holes like in Europe, these are somewhat narrower. My European laptop plug was too “fat” and I had to buy a simple, cheap adaptor in a small, local electrical shop. So if you have an adaptor, bring it, if not, you can easily get it there.
Not convinced that Brazil is for you? Check out our post about the best-rated South American digital nomad destinations!
Are you planning to travel to Brazil as a digital nomad?
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