If you’re considering moving to Brazil, there are a few things you should know first.


If you’ve worked a full twelve months at your company before Christmas, you’ll receive a thirteenth month of salary payment in December. This is a national law that obligates all employers to pay a bonus at the end of the year. If you’ve worked part of the year up until Christmas, you’ll get your thirteenth salary pro-rata. Happy days!

Beach wear

Every adult female wears a bikini on the beach in Brazil, regardless of age or shape. And men – all men – wear either teeny tiny Speedos or surf shorts if they’re actually surfing. Covering up isn’t an option, though topless sunbathing is actively discouraged and a massive faux pas.


Brazilians speak Brazilian Portuguese, which differs quite a bit from European Portuguese, and few natives speak English. So don’t arrive in Brazil and expect to get by while you learn the language. Get your lessons in now. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America but (pub quiz fact coming up…) more people speak Portuguese in South America than Spanish. Why? Brazil is HUGE. Nearly bigger than the rest of South America put together, and 350 times bigger than the UK.


Comparing the cost of living to the UK is tricky where Brazil is concerned. Wine and champagne are prohibitively expensive, especially big names like Veuve Cliquot and Moet. Want to buy a bottle of champagne for a special occasion? You’ll not see much change from £100. But big brand spirits like Smirnoff and Bombay Sapphire are super super cheap to buy in supermarkets. Approximately a third of UK prices. So get your champers in duty free, but not your spirits. Furnishing a new place can be eye wateringly pricey – sometimes three times the price of UK furniture – so ship as much of your own stuff as you can. Buying a car can be very expensive too, so see whether you can get by on public transport in your new home. Sao Paulo has a great metro system. Rio’s leaves a little to be desired, however…

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Sat-nav safety

Beware that favelas (townships / slums) in Brazil are more often than not being wiped off Google maps and Sat-nav. On one hand, this means you’re unlikely to take a wrong turn and find yourself somewhere dangerous. On the other hand, if you do find yourself driving through a favela, Sat-nav won’t register your location and you’ll have to find your own way out. Do not underestimate how dangerous this could be.

Time zone

Believe it or not, Brazil is only two hours behind GMT, so fly overnight and you’ll arrive fresh as a daisy with no jet lag to speak of. Don’t believe us? Grab an atlas and let your mind be boggled by how far into the Atlantic Ocean Rio de Janeiro juts out. It’s practically touching the west coast of Africa. Well, sort of.


Taxis have two meter rates: 1 and 2. Two is used after midnight, and throughout December. A taxi that’s in use will have its roof light off, and the taxi driver may make a pinching gesture at you. They’re not being rude, it’s just their way of saying ‘sorry, I’m busy.’