- Download our Moving to São Paulo Guide (PDF)
Expats moving to São Paulo may initially find the sprawling, crowded and extremely metropolitan city challenging to settle in. That said, most expats find that the city's diversity of ethnicities and cultures helps to ease their transition into life in Brazil.
Living in São Paulo as an expat
As an important commercial and industrial centre, the city is home to almost every major Brazilian industry. Job opportunities in São Paulo have attracted immigrants and expats from all around the globe. The city, therefore, has a distinctly international feel to it. Japanese, Arab, European and American immigrants have all added their unique flavours to the cultural melting pot in this Brazilian city and have contributed to the welcoming environment it offers expats.
The city's large expat population has also added to its uniquely wonderful lifestyle opportunities. São Paulo boasts one of the most diverse culinary scenes in Brazil. While it may not be the country's party capital, São Paulo's nightlife holds its own with an exciting range of nightclubs and bars. It is also a cultural hub with many museums and art galleries for art and architecture buffs to enjoy.
São Paulo is known for severe traffic congestion and aggressive and impatient drivers, but fortunately the city is also home to a largely efficient and comprehensive public transport network. Getting around in São Paulo is fairly easy, and expats can even cycle thanks to the city's growing cycling infrastructure.
Cost of living in São Paulo
The cost of living in the city is high by local standards but more affordable than most expat destinations, particularly if earning in a foreign currency such as the US dollar. In Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2023, São Paulo was the highest-ranked city in Brazil, ranking 152nd out of 227 cities surveyed. Other Brazilian cities in the survey include Rio de Janeiro (171st) and Brasília (188th).
Expat families and children in São Paulo
The majority of expats choose to send their children to one of the many exclusive international schools scattered around the city. These schools are often located in expensive areas, so expats will have to plan their accommodation accordingly. Although there is a lack of adequate government healthcare, those with private health insurance can enjoy the excellent level of care offered by the city’s many private healthcare centres.
Expats living in São Paulo will be perfectly situated to enjoy the best that life in Brazil has to offer. Just outside the city lie mountains and rainforests that are perfect for hiking and weekend getaways, while the magnificent beaches and picturesque seaside towns of the coast are only a few hours’ drive away.
Climate in São Paulo
Classified as a humid subtropical region, São Paulo's climate is enjoyably mild. Summers are long and humid though still pleasant, while winters are short and cool with partial cloud cover. Rainfall occurs throughout the year, so expats should be sure to bring their raincoats and boots.
►Planning your move? Check out Pros and Cons of Moving to São Paulo
►Getting Around in São Paulo covers transport options in the city
"Although huge, noisy and very busy, São Paulo has its charm. I enjoy the endless options of pastimes, culture and restaurants. I have built my life here around my neighbourhood and that is definitely the way to maintain a good quality of life." Read more about Dona's experiences in São Paulo in her interview with Expat Arrivals.
Are you an expat living in Sao Paulo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sao Paulo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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