- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Rio de Janeiro Guide (PDF)
Rio de Janeiro is by far the most glamorous of Brazil’s cities and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. The city's beautiful beaches and natural beauty, as well as its lively culture and annual festivities, attract millions of visitors annually.
Rio is also an important commercial hub of Brazil. Major oil, textile, shipbuilding, pharmaceutical, media and communications companies have a presence in the city, as well as a number of important educational institutions. This diversified economy attracts many foreign workers to Rio’s shores every year, making it a popular expat destination. However, competition for employment is high. The majority of expats moving to Rio de Janeiro for work have been transferred there as part of a relocation package with their current employer.
Expats moving to Rio with children need not stress about education. There are several international schools in the city. It’s also essential for expats living in Rio to be covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan. Public healthcare in Rio is underdeveloped. Most expats prefer private facilities which offer high-quality healthcare but at a high price.
As with most Brazilian cities, the extremes of wealth and poverty are obvious. Rio is densely populated and space is limited. Around a fifth of the city’s population lives in high-density, lower-income neighbourhoods known as favelas. Another major social issue in Rio is its high crime rate. Local authorities have been working hard to deal with these problems, particularly through police initiatives.
With its stunning beaches and favourable year-round climate Rio enjoys a far more relaxed lifestyle than other major Brazilian cities such as São Paulo or Brasília. As residents of one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Cariocas (as the locals are referred to) are used to having foreigners in their city and they are generally open and welcoming towards newcomers. However, expats wanting to fully integrate into life in Rio will do well to learn Portuguese.
"The culture is relaxed, amicable, and fun-loving compared to most work-centric Western cultures. From an interpersonal relationship perspective, it’s easy to make friends here. Moreover, the natural setting is unparalleled - bustling beaches amidst lush forests and vertical, rocky peaks. It also never gets cold!" Eliot Rosenberg is an American expat who moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. He shares his advice for embracing a new city in his interview with Expat Arrivals.
"Try and embrace the differences you encounter here in Rio rather than opposing them. I think it is very common for expats to arrive in a new country and, after the initial honeymoon period, to focus on all of the differences between the new country and your native country. Such differences are generally experienced as negative. My advice is to try and accept them for what they are, simply different." Niamh, an Irish expat, moved to Rio with her Brazillian husband. Read more about her expat life in Brazil.
Are you an expat living in Rio de Janeiro?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rio de Janeiro. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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