Email FacebookTwitterMenu burgerClose thin

How to Retire in Brazil: Costs, Visas and More


Brazil, which has a population of some 216 million, is known for its passionate and fun-loving people, beautiful beaches and pristine rain forests that are home to an array of fauna and flora. Portuguese is the national language, and proficiency in English is rare, especially outside the main cities. Americans will find the cost of living favorable, and in some cases, one’s Social Security check may be enough to live on. A financial advisor can help you plan for your Brazilian retirement as well as help you navigate some of the tax laws and other implications of moving abroad. Here’s what you need to know about South America’s largest nation.

Cost of Living and Housing in Brazil

According to Numbeo, a cost-of-living database, Brazil’s consumer prices are about 50% lower than in the U.S., and rent prices in Brazil are about 81% lower than in the U.S.

The most popular destination for retirees in Brazil is Rio de Janeiro. If you were to rent a one-bedroom apartment in central Rio de Janeiro, you could expect to pay about $394 per month. If you chose to get a three-bedroom apartment in the same area, you could expect to pay about $785 per month. By contrast, in central New York City, a one-bedroom apartment costs about $3,890 per month and a three-bedroom apartment goes for about $7,413 per month.

However, if you didn’t want to live in the city center, housing in Rio is still significantly cheaper than in the U.S. A one-bedroom outside of the city center costs about $254 per month, and a three-bedroom costs about $587 per month. In contrast, a one-bedroom outside of central New York City costs about $2,375 per month, and a three-bedroom in the same area costs about $4,475 per month.

Retire in Brazil – Visas and Residence Permit

Americans can retire to Brazil on a retiree visa. To obtain a retirement visa, you must be over age 60 and have a pension that earns at least $2,000 per month. To apply for the retirement visa, you must apply at least four to eight weeks before arriving in Brazil. You must apply through a consulate general office or the Brazilian embassy and provide several personal documents, including a copy of your birth certificate.

You can find more information on the website of the Brazilian Consulate General.

Retire in Brazil – Healthcare

SmartAsset Guide: How to Retire in Brazil

Brazil runs a universal healthcare system that is administered by cities and states and funded by local, state and federal taxes. Healthcare, including primary, outpatient specialty, mental health and hospital care, as well as prescription drug coverage, is available to anyone who is legally in Brazil, including people living there on retiree visas. Although universal and free, wait times to access care can be very long. And the quality of care is not highly regarded: The World Health Organization ranks the nation’s healthcare system as 125 out of 191 nations.

Private hospitals can be found in all major cities and are significantly less expensive than in the U.S. For example, private insurance costs up to $250 per person and covers physicals, medicine and hospitalization.

Retire in Brazil – Taxes

All Brazilian residents are required to pay taxes. Income taxes on global income are taxed at a progressive rate that maxes out at 27.5%. In the U.S., depending on how much you earn, you may pay up to 37% of taxes. However, pensions are often taxed differently.

Sales tax in Brazil is up to 17%. This is compared with the U.S. tax rate of 7.25%, so sales taxes are significantly higher in Brazil.

All American citizens must file taxes each year. It is wise to work with a tax professional or other financial professional to ensure that your pension earnings are not taxed in both the U.S. and Brazil.

Retire in Brazil – Safety

From petty theft to violent crime, Brazil has a problem with personal safety, especially in the country’s larger cities such as Rio de Janeiro. According to the Gallup Law and Order 2020 Report, Brazil is a country in which people feel least safe walking alone. Likewise, the U.S. Department of State assessed a critical-threat location for crime. It’s crucial to exercise extreme caution in December and January. During the holiday season, Brazil experiences crime increases because of Brazil’s prison furloughs when prisoners are allowed to leave during the holidays.

So, when visiting or living in Brazil, it is wise to travel with a partner. This is especially true at night. It’s also wise to avoid high-risk areas. Brazil’s neighbors, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia and Guyana, are known for having high crime rates. These crimes do cross borders and include illegal drug trade and personal crime. Therefore, it is advised that people avoid border areas.

Bottom Line

SmartAsset Guide: How to Retire in Brazil

Brazil is a beautiful country full of people ready to welcome American retirees. Its people are ranked as the 32nd most happy in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. It is much less expensive than the U.S., which helps explain why it is such a popular place for foreigners to retire in. Violent crime is a problem in the largest cities. It is recommended to visit the nation several times before making a final decision to settle down.

Tips to Help You Afford Retirement

  • A financial advisor can help you understand the finer points of relocating, including the tax implications. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Because Brazil is so inexpensive, you can retire comfortably on a little more than the average Social Security benefit. You can estimate your benefit amount with this Social Security calculator.

Photo credit: ©, ©, ©