Living in Brazil – The Complete Guide to São Paulo – 2020

Living in Brazil – São Paulo


Living in Brazil – Is São Paulo a good option? Upon first glance, São Paulo is an eyesore, and from what you’ve heard back home, it seems like it’s got nothing going for it. Images of violent crime, pollution, high-rise buildings as far as the eye can see as well as lack of nature and beaches don’t make it a top candidate on many expats list of best places to live in brazil. So is it just a concrete jungle where people go to experience the “rat race” lifestyle or is it worth considering when moving to Brazil? 

Life in Brazil –  São Paulo – My Experience after 1 Year

After getting set on moving to Brazil, there was one place where I vowed that i would never move to – São Paulo. It just seemed so unattractive, dull and unexotic. However, after living in Brazil for nearly 2 years, there’s honestly no other place i would rather live.

São Paulo – Best Places to Live in Brazil

Most likely to its perceived “ugliness”, São Paulo isn’t a city that receives many foreigners for its size, meaning that it has still managed to maintain a very authentic vibe and hasn’t become “internationalized.” Whilst I feel that some European Cities such as Prague, Berlin and Barcelona have become so international that they have lost much of their authenticity, you’ll find that São Paulo is 100% Brazil, but just ramped up on steroids.

Living in São Paulo is the perfect choice if you have a “work hard, play hard” mentality, and if you’re looking to set up a business and surround yourself with entrepreneurs, then São Paulo is the go to place. But it’s not all about business – the nightlife is arguably the best in Latin America (only that of Buenos Aires can rival it), the food is phenomenal and the people are great fun. Something indescribable about the city is the raw energy and intensity that you feel when you come here, and because of it you’ll find the city surprisingly addictive, as you know that they’ll always be some new experience just waiting around the corner. If you don’t believe me, come and stay here for a month and see for yourself.

Here is your guide to everything you need to know to about São Paulo if you if you’re trying to figure out the best place for you when it comes to living in brazil.

Living in Sao Paulo – Where?

Jardins – A nice, upscale and leafy neighbourhood located right next to the central hub of Avenida Paulista, Jardins is a great choice for anyone moving to São Paulo and is looking to be right next to where things are happening, whilst not feelings overwhelmed by noise, traffic and chaos.


Bela Vista – Similar to Jardins but with an edgier vibe, Bela Vista offers many nice apartments at a lower price than Jardins, and is just on the other side of Avenida Paulista.

Vila Madalena/Pinheiros – Vila Madalena and Pinheiros are two trendy neighbourhoods around 15 mins away from Avenida Paulista by bus or metro and are right in the centre of two of São Paulo’s best nightlife spots.

Vila Olímpia/Moema/Itaim Bibi – These areas have a similar feel to Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro with a more “americanized” vibe. Here you’re right in the centre of the best night clubs, bars and shopping centres.

Vila Mariana/Aclimação – Nice and chilled out residential neighbourhood located south-east of Avenida Paulista with lots of trees and greenspace.

Higienópolis – Similar to Vila Mariana but located just north of Avenida Paulista

Centro – Expect cheaper prices and a more rough and ready vibe (if that’s your kind of thing)

Life in Brazil – Meeting People in São Paulo

Despite what other Brazilians say (especially Cariocas) about Paulistas being cold and always in a rush, I’ve found that the people here are extremely friendly (even more so than in Rio from my experience), easy to talk to and are curious about foreigners. As São Paulo is an immigrant hub for people from all corners of Brazil as a place to work and study, you’ll find less cliques and that people will tend to be open towards making friends with you.

However, as in the case of anywhere when living in brazil, having a strong command of the Portuguese Language is absolutely essential if you’re wanting to have choice and freedom when it comes to your social life when living in sao paulo and is the key to making the most out of life in brazil on a whole.

Safety and Security

Generally speaking, São Paulo is quite a bit safer than Rio de Janeiro and cities in the North-East of Brazil, and violence tends to be concentrated in the “periferia” (near the favelas located on the edges of the city). That being said, you’ll need to have common sense to avoid being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Areas that are generally safe 24 hours are Jardins & Vila Olimpia, whilst it’s worth paying particular attention at night in places such as Centro, Republica, Luz and Sé, as these areas can attract a few odd characters.


Don’t expect wall to wall sun when living in São Paulo, it rains a lot and there is cloud cover a significant amount of the time. However, you’ll also see a decent about of Sunshine, and the seasons aren’t very pronounced at all meaning that it never really gets cold (Anything below 15 degrees is considered as freezing). It also doesn’t get too hot, with temperatures typically maxing at around 31 degrees on your typical summer’s day. A typical day in São Paulo will consist of sunshine for a few hours, followed by the sky clouding over and a downpour around 4-5 pm (in summertime).


Cost of Living in Brazil – São Paulo

Prices in São Paulo are similar to Rio, with the cost of rent being anywhere between R1300 to R$1700 for a room in a shared apartment, and around R $3000 for your own place. Prices tend to be higher in places close to Avenida Paulista, especially in Jardins, and in neighbourhoods such as Vila Olímpia and Moema.

In terms of food, fresh produce in supermarkets is cheap, and expect anything between R20 – 50 when it comes to eating out. Surprisingly, nightlife can be more expensive than in Europe with entrance fees being typically between R$60-100 per entry to a club (but from my experience this is often worth the fee.)

Finding Work when Moving to Brazil

Just like in the case of Rio, finding work in Brazil is no easy task, not only due to the current political and economical crisis, but also due to visa restrictions and the language barrier. However, as the business hub of Brazil, your chances of finding something in São Paulo are higher than in other cities. I’ll write a detailed article regarding the different options you have when it comes to finding work here, so drop me an email in the meantime if you have any questions.


In terms of Nightlife, São Paulo is a far better than Rio de Janeiro, and there’s hundreds of bars and clubs scattered around the city meaning that it’s almost impossible to get bored.

The main centres of nightlife are in 3 areas:

Rua Augusta – Similar to the Lapa Area in Rio de Janeiro, I personally find Rua Augusta to be overrated and a little bit sketchy, although it can be a fun night out occasionally. Most of the clubs here play “Funk” and Electronic music, and tend to attract a more alternative/LGBT community. Rua Augusta is also the main Red Light District Area of São Paulo.

Vila Madalena/Pinheiros – Having a trendy and slightly hipster vibe, Vila Madalena and Pinheiros are great areas when it comes to nightlife. The area is full of botecos, bars, small nightclubs and is full of people drinking in the street, meaning that you can still enjoy this area on a budget.  Areas that i particularly like are Rua Aspicuelta and Rua Guaicui (Pitico)


Vila Olimpia – Vila Olímpia is the are home to higher end bars and clubs, and attracts more of “playboy” crowd, meaning that prices tend to be higher. Most of the clubs play Sertanejo and often require a better dress code, but the nights out here are first rate. Great bars/clubs at the point of writing this blog post are Toco do Tatu, Tatubola, Vila Mix, Galleria and Dukke

The Verdict

São Paulo is undoubtedly my favourite city when it comes to living in Brazil. Although it took me a while for the city to grow on me, I wouldn’t even consider living anywhere else in the country these days. The city’s ”work hard play hard” vibe and a pulsing rhythm make it the perfect place to work on business/personal growth whilst also having a plethora of options when it comes to nightlife and socialising. Whereas the novelty of the beaches of Rio de Janeiro or the small time vibe of living in Belo Horizonte may wear off after a few months, you’ll find that you’ll get more and more hooked on São Paulo with each day that you spend here.

6 thoughts on “Living in Brazil – The Complete Guide to São Paulo – 2020

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