TRUE COST OF LIVING IN BRAZIL
(2020 UPDATED PRICES)


Brazil is an outstanding country to visit, and it can offer you unbelievable experiences. However, if you have plans to come here, it is important to see the cost of living in Brazil, and calculate if it fits in your pocket.

Here, I have a table with the cost of living in different cities in Brazil compared to two cities in the USA, one cheap and one expensive city. Well, probably the numbers will surprise you…

Cost of living in Brazil vs the USA (2020 Updated Prices)

Maceió (BR)Rio de Janeiro (BR)New York City (USA)Oklahoma City (USA)
Daily minimum food costs (1 person)$3$4$15$12
Monthly minimum food costs (1 person)$108$131$476$384
Monthly Rent 45 m² (480 sqft)$177$305$1,953$630
Utilities 1 month*$68$61$109$127
Monthly tickets (Public Transport)$34$41$125$42
Healthcare**$7$11$190$117
Total (Monthly)$394$549$2,853$1,301
* The prices of Maceió utilities are inaccurate in my price source. So, in this sheet, I included the price of an 85 m² (915 sqft) studio instead of the 45 m² (480 sqft) studio costs, which is closer to the reality.
** These Healthcare prices (antibiotics + cold medicine + short visit to doctor) are very low in Brazil because everybody, even foreigners, can use the public health system (SUS) for free, and need not pay a private doctor during the healthcare process.
Sources: Numbeo, Expatistan, CustoDeVida, SPTrans, and Otimiza

The cost of living in Brazil can be very different considering the place where you will stay. If you choose Rio de Janeiro, it’ll be more expensive, but, if you go to a different place, especially in the North and Northeast of the country, such as Maceió City, your costs will decrease a lot.

My name is Claudio Pereira, I’m a 22 years old Brazilian passionate photographer enthusiast, and I’m here to help you save money when you go to Brazil.

Here in this post, I compared side by side the cost of living in one expensive city, and in one cheap city from Brazil and the USA for 4 different aspects (Food, rent, transport, and healthcare). Look down below and enjoy it, my friend!

Contents

1. What is the cost of food in Brazil?
1.1. Cost of food in Brazil compared to the USA
2. What is the cost of rent in Brazil?
2.1. Cost of studio rent in Brazil vs USA
2.2. Cost of furnished apartment rent in Brazil vs USA
3. How much does public transportation cost in Brazil
3.1. Public transportation costs in Brazil vs USA
4. How much does healthcare cost in Brazil?
4.1. Health insurance plans in Brazil (Average price in US Dollars)
5. Should you move to Brazil?
Conclusion

1. What is the cost of food in Brazil per month?

Well, first you need to know the city where you will visit because the prices of food in Brazil vary a lot. Going to a more expensive city as Rio de Janeiro Will cost you nearly $130 per month on food.

Nevertheless, if you visit a cheaper city, such as Natal or Maceió, you’ll spend about $108 per month there. In both cases, the prices are cheaper than in the United States.

How much is the food in Brazil? The price of fruits and veggies are cheaper in Brazil than in developed countries.

For example, it cost $0.30 for White Rice (1 lb = 0.45 kg), $0.61 for Apples (1 lb = 0.45 kg) and $0.30 for Onions (1 lb = 0.45 kg) in a cheaper city of Brazil (Maceio-AL), and $0.35, $0.71 and $0.44 for the same products respectively in an expensive city like Rio.

Also, the price of meals in Brazilian restaurants can vary a lot depending on your budget and on the city you’re traveling. I put in this pricing table for you to look:

Cost of food in Brazil compared to the USA (2020 Updated prices)

Maceió (BR)Rio de Janeiro (BR)New York City (USA)Oklahoma City (USA)
Milk (regular), 1 gallon (3.79 L)$2.85$2.74$4.46$3.25
Loaf of White Bread 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.69$1.08$3.41$2.46
Rice (white), 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.29$0.35$2.78$1.49
Eggs (regular) (12)$0.96$1.42$3.49$1.89
Local Cheese 1 lb (0.45 kg)$1.76$2.81$7.03$6.21
Chicken Fillets 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.95$1.05$6.39$5.53
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)$2.60$2.45$6.70$7.00
Apples 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.61$0.71$2.74$2.66
Banana 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.37$0.45$1.40$0.71
Oranges 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.17$0.40$2.47$1.93
Tomato 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.50$0.53$2.54$1.86
Potato 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.46$0.45$1.82$1.10
Onion 1 lb (0.45 kg)$0.30$0.44$1.62$1.00
Lettuce (1 head)$0.33$0.55$2.19$1.70
Daily minimum food costs (1 person)$3.47$4.24$15.4$12.4
Monthly minimum food costs (1 person)$108$131$476$384
Source: Numbeo

The Brazilian prices decreased a lot in the past years for foreign visitors, because the Brazilian coin Real was devalued so much. Right now US$1 can buy 5 Reais, and it results in greater purchasing power especially for foreigners from the USA and Europe.

2. What is the cost of rent in Brazil?

The cost of rent also varies depending on the place you will stay in. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are expensive and cost more than other cities in Brazil.

If you’re going to do business, these cities can be a good idea, however, if you would do tourism and want to save more money, maybe it is a better idea to try other places. There are better and cheaper options available in Brazil instead of São Paulo and Rio, and I have this post better talking about that.

At first, let’s compare the prices of a 45 m² (480 sqft) studio in different cities of Brazil and the United States, as you can see Down below:

Cost of studio rent in Brazil in comparison to the USA cities (2020 Updated prices)

Maceió (BR)Rio de Janeiro (BR)New York City (USA)Oklahoma City (USA)
Rent 45m² (480 sqft) studio (Normal area)$177$305$1,953$630
Rent 45m² (480 sqft) studio (Expensive area)$271$532$3,049$833
Utilities 1 month*$68$61$109$127
Total (normal area)$245$366$2,062$757
Total (expensive area)$339$593$3,158$960
Sources: Expatistan and CustoDeVida

If you go to a cheaper city in Brazil like Maceió, It’ll cost you nearly $245 per month, while in a cheap city in the United States like Oklahoma these costs are about $760. It’s more than triple just on rent costs! On the other hand, if you go to Rio, you’ll spend almost $370 on average living in a normal area.

Even if you live in an expensive area in Rio de Janeiro, you must pay $600 on average for a 45 m² (480 sqft) studio, which is cheaper than the monthly $2,000 rent prices for the same size studio in a normal area of New York City.

If you want more space to live, maybe you can go for an 85 m² (900 sqft) apartment. The cost of rent in a big city like Rio de Janeiro for one furnished apartment like that is around $460, while the utilities cost on average near to $135. In Maceió, the rent cost for a same-size apartment is around $304, and $68 for utilities.

Cost of apartment rent in Brazil in comparison to the USA cities (2020 Updated prices)

Maceió (BR)Rio de Janeiro (BR)New York City (USA)Oklahoma City (USA)
Rent 85m2 (900 sqft) furnished apartment (Normal area)$304$460$2,816$955
Rent 85m2 (900 sqft) furnished apartment (Expensive area)$471$832$4,013$1,309
Utilities 2 people*$68$135$166$223
Total (normal area)$372$595$2,982$1,178
Total (expensive area)$539$967$4,179$1,532
Source: Expatistan and CustoDeVida

3. How much does public transportation cost in Brazil?

The metro rail network of the Brazilian cities is usually smaller than the ones in the big cities from the United States and Europe. However, the people in Brazil have a lot of bus lines To move inside their cities, which are not as fast as the Subways, but they fulfill their functions of transporting you.

São Paulo has the largest subway network in Brazil, and the monthly tickets for public transport cost R$213.8 (almost $40) — Subway only. On the other hand, the monthly ticket in Maceió will cost you $34.00, and in Rio, it’ll cost $41.

In comparison with New York City, its monthly ticket costs nearly $125.00, while in Oklahoma City, the price of the transport is close to Brazil, costing $42 per month.

Public transportation costs in Brazil compared to the USA cities (2020 Updated Prices)

Maceió (BR)Rio de Janeiro (BR)São Paulo (BR)New York City (USA)Oklahoma City (USA)
Monthly tickets (Public Transport)$34$41$41$125$42
Sources: Expatistan, SPTrans, and Otimiza

4. How much does healthcare cost in Brazil?

Brazil has a Public Health system, and if you visit the country, you also need not pay to see a doctor in the hospital and receive a Medic treatment. The Brazilian Health system is called SUS, and it’s for free for everybody. The system has its problems, however, for most of the treatments, it’s worth it.

If you’re just going to visit Brazil for some days or months, you need not pay for Healthcare, because the Public System can serve you well for whatever you need.

However, if you’re planning to live here, you can also consider health insurance, because the specialized doctors of SUS usually have long queues, and the emergency hospitals sometimes have a gap in the service quality when compared to the private ones.

You don’t need to pay for health insurance in Brazil, however, if you want more flexibility in scheduling medical appointments, the best quality hospitals, and you have money to use, it’s good to consider having one.

In Brazil, the prices of health insurance can vary depending on your plan. Individual plans are more expensive per person than the familiar ones, and the employees’ insurance is also cheaper than the self-made ones.

If you’re moving to work in a Brazilian company, it’s good to ask them for Health Insurance plans, because it can save you some good amount of money. Otherwise, you can also buy a self-employed plan, and I’ll show you these costs simulated in the sheets below.

Health insurance plans in Brazil (Average price in US Dollars)

BradescoAmilUnimedHapvida
<18 years old$69$99$56$63
19-23 years old$82$116$71$83
24-28 years old$99$142$76$96
29-33 years old$119$170$78$107
34-38 years old$135$179$85$112
39-43 years old$139$196$98$127
44-48 years old$170$246$137$155
49-53 years old$200$270$183$214
54-58 years old$238$338$205$289
>59 years old$416$591$335$376
*These prices are just simulations, and you need to analyze the actual costs with the Health insurance companies.
Source: Anubis Seguros

These specs seem impressive! Should you move to Brazil?

Well, it’s good to remember that the workers in Brazil receive way less than in developed countries. So, if you are planning to work here, probably you’ll receive not much money when compared to the United States (unless if you’re going to work in a great position in a multinational).

The average monthly income in Brazil is nearly $450 (R$2340), while in the USA it’s around $3.800 (R$ 19600). This is a huge difference! It’s good to consider that if you plan to move here.

Though, if you’re retired planning to live in a paradisiacal place or if you just want to do tourism and exchange in another culture, it’s an awesome idea to go here. It’s because you’ll have a lot of consuming power in Brazil, and you can live an exceptional time without spending too much money.

Conclusion

As you can see, the cost of living in Brazil depends on the city you will visit. If you want to save more money going here, it’s an amazing idea to try some cities in the northeast of Brazil.

They have incredible beaches, for all tastes, such as Ponta Verde, Frances beach and Maragogi, which are near to Maceió city, or Pipa and Genipabu near to Natal city.

Also, even in the expensive cities of Brazil, like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, you can still spend way less money than you would spend in a city from a developed country. In Brazil, the costs of food, transportation, rent, utilities, and healthcare are lower than in the USA, which can reduce your costs a lot.

However, it’s good to remember that electronics and imported stuff are much more expensive in Brazil than in other countries. Because of that, if your work depends too much on imported gears, maybe it’s better considering another place to live.

Otherwise, if you are just planning to visit here or to retire in a paradisiacal place, Brazil can be a superb option for you.

The Northeast of Brazil has the most beautiful beaches in the country, and it’s the favorite place of travel for domestic tourists because of that. If you go to Brazil, include these beaches in your itinerary, and I promise you’ll love the experience.

If you have a bigger budget, it is also an amazing idea to go to Fernando de Noronha island. This Island is in the Northeast of Brazil, and TripAdvisor and other tourism companies consider its beaches year by year the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Thus, Brazil is a giant country, and you can find beautiful places wherever you go. The cost of living is not too expensive for foreigners, and even the most expensive cities can fit in your pocket. If you want to save way more money, there are tons of options for you here.


I hope you had enjoyed the post, and I’m here to help you save money by going to Brazil!

If you have any question, ask me in the comment sections down below, and I promise you to respond as soon as possible.

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Claudio Pereira

Author

He is a brazilian writing in english, a student of Medical School, and a Photographer during the free time. His passion for photography started in 2012 . After discover it, he never stopped.

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