Sao Paulo, Brazil: The Expense Report!

This is the price of life in Sao Paulo, Brazil! Leave a detailed list of your cities expenses in the comments because there is someone, somewhere, who wants to live the ExPat life, and needs your information!

I’ll go into detail on each expense at the bottom of the page, and I rounded everything up so that you will have a small cushion in your budget. So you can see how much more affordable things are, I listed the expenses this way:

Monthly Expense, Description = Price in US Dollars ($) / Price in Brazilian Real (R$)

Rent, 30 Square Meters / 322 Square foot apartment = $360 / $R1,400

Maid = $70 / $R280

Cell Phone = $50 / $R200

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables = $50 / $R200

Meat = $40 / $R150

Gas Bill = $8 / $R30

Electricity = $24 / $R90

Internet Wifi = $25 / $R100

Gym = $22 / $R70

Transportation = $40 / R$150

Laundry = $50 / $R200

Movies = $40 / $R160

Snacks = $50 / $R400

Monthly Total Expenses = $867 US Dollars /  $R3,540 Brazilian Real 

~Rent, 30 Square Meters / 322 Square foot apartment = $360 / $R1,400 ($224 / $R950 for the Landlord & $50 / $R400 for the Building Fees.)

I live in an excellent location.  A safe neighborhood where I have access to three weightlifting gyms, two Kickboxing Academies, two butchers, three cafes/delis, and restaurants, three major bus/train/subway transportation hubs, all within 5-10 minutes walk from my front door.

I could live in a cheaper area, but I have no problem spending a bit more for my middle-class apartment building.  I have a 24-hour doorman and mail service. Included with my simple bachelor’s apartment with a small kitchen, small bedroom, small living room, and an excellent view.

~Maid = $70 / $R280. every other Saturday.  5 hours =  $60 /$240 + $10 / $R40 Tip

What I save on not living in a big, lavish apartment I spend on small luxuries. I have a maid who cleans my apartment with speed and efficiency, twice a month.

~Cell Phone = $50 / $R200

While the price of cell phones here in Brazil is expensive, the service isn’t.  I have a simple plan that allows me enough data to never go over my limit.  That’s because almost every single restaurant and business gives free Wifi.  WhatsApp is the single most prevalent form of communication because it provides free calls/texts when on Wifi.

~Fresh Fruits & Vegetables = $50 / $R200

~Meat from the butcher = $40 / $R150

I buy meat every few days.  Most weeks I buy one or two chickens and steaks, big ones.  You may spend less because I eat a considerable amount more than you do.

~Gas Bill = $8 / $R30

I cook 1.5 meals a day.  My gas bill is very, very low because I eat a lot of fresh fruit!

~Electricity = $24 / $R90

I use LED Bulbs because the light is softer, I have one lamp, and a tiny space heater for the 2 weeks a year when Sao Paulo gets cold enough for it.  I can’t ever remember an electricity bill higher than $R90.

~Internet Wifi = $25 / $R100

I have yet to hit my limit with my plan.  I download every movie and TV Series I have even a cursory interest in.  No penalties, fees, or fines.  Its one of my few vices, despite being warned about how it hurts entertainers.

~Gyms = $70 / $R280.  Weightlifting = $20 / $R80.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu $50 / $R200.

I bought a one-year membership at my weightlifting gym for $80 / $R360.  To be clear, that lowers the price to $8 / $R30 per month!

~Transportation: Bus/train/subway pass needed to visit clients. = $40 / $150

Sao Paulo is rated as the 4th largest city in the world, with a population measured at 21,066,245 and a size measured at 587 mi²!

I travel all over the city and Taxis, in many cases, are much slower than buses or trains because they have protected lanes.  I hope they integrate Taxi service into the Subway/Bus/Train pass the way the city of Shanghai, China did because it makes everything hyper-efficient!

~Laundry: washed, dried, & folded.= $50 / $R200

I drop off my laundry at the launderette on the corner and its done within 24 hours!

~Two movies per month = $40 / $R160

I go to one or two movies a month.  They don’t have Dollar Movies here but that’s OK because generally, I can get discounts from my cell phone company.

A huge advantage in Brazil is that when you buy your tickets (online, on your cell, or in person) you can choose your seats right then!  Even if you are late, there are no arguments because the seats are yours.

~Weekend snacks with friends = $100 / $R400

Monthly Total Expenses = $867 US Dollars /  $R3,540 Brazilian Real 

“I thought I needed to be a millionaire to live “overseas”. Thought all my ducks had to be in a row. Thought if I didn’t have a 6-figure business, I wouldn’t feel safe or I’d have to live in poverty in another country.”

                                                                                   ~Natisha Willis,

Remember, my ExPat lifestyle and expenses may be quite different.  Feel free to add or subtract expenses from this list.  Let me know the living expenses where you are, in the comments.

If what I wrote helps, send $5 in BitCoin to this address.

It’ll buy me coffee to fuel my mind while I write!





YusefWateef (at) Gmail (dot) com


  1. Anonymous

    I have two questions: Does the average apartment come with a stove and bathtub? How “thin” are the walls, and are there apartments stacked right on top of each other? Meaning, is everything crowded? Also, are the buildings actually occupied or just shells that never get finished?

    I’m trying to compare them to the ones here in China.



    • YusefWateef

      There is no such thing as “average apartment” here. It’s best if you sketch out the budget you can afford to spend on your apt. and choose the best from there. Having said that, I have never seen an apartment that does not have a stove or space for you to buy the stove/refrigerator you want and have it installed.

      Also, thin or thick walls are relative. Be sure to spend time looking at good neighborhoods that aren’t loud places. In a good neighborhood, the walls always seem thick because people aren’t making noise.

      The buildings here are “real”, but I can understand your concern after living in China. It was the single most crowded place I have ever lived! Sao Paulo, Brazil is nothing like that. I was in Shanghai for two years.->


  2. Anonymous

    Here’s a small rundown of cost of living here in Shanghai, China. Now, my numers may be a bit off because I don’t live downtown anymore, but on average it’s close.

    Rent – I lived in a serviced apartement when I first got here and ended up moving to be closer to my job. I had a 55 square metered apartment for 7500RMB/1100USD. It had a lot of perks and a gorgeous view of the pearl right in front of my bed but the price was ridiclious considering it was so small.

    I now live in a 60 Square Metere place for 4500RMB/655USD about 40min-1hr from downtown if you go from outside my door to pretty much any destination downtown.

    Utilities – Here, we pay our utilities every 3 months. On average (depending on how often you run your AC/Heater during summer and winter, I pay about 300RMB-500RMB/43/75USD. Divide that number by 3.

    My water and gas bill are relatively low every 3 months – 50RMB-100RMB/7-15USD. I’m not home much, so…

    Grabbing a taxi will start off at 14RMB/2USD when you first get in and a trip downtown from my place will run about 40RMB/6USD one way during the day and up to 100RMB/15USD one way during the evening hours after 8pm and/or on weekends. You’ll also get ripped off with the meters so…

    If you call DiDi (same as Uber) you can get a private car but the price will be higher. Recently the app shut down due to 2 women being raped/killed by their drivers. You have to make sure the license plate matches when whoever it is calls you to let you know they are there to pick you up. Supposeddly, now the safety features have been amped up but….

    Food – Western food can be a bit pricey, but Chinese food is fairly cheap. You can get a full meal for about 45RMB/7USD and even cheaper than that if you are not downtown. My favorite dumpling soup is 16RMB/2USD per order and I’m pretty full most of the day off of that alone.

    Gym – Memberships can be crazy out here, but like 99% of everything, if you’re a good haggler, you can get a decent price. My one year membership was 1800RMB/262USD but (what they won’t tell you) is you don’t have access to the entire gym. I can hit the weights (all I care about really) and the treadmill room. Everythiing else in the two story gym is off limits and the doors are locked to even the most basic of rooms that have row machines, or tarp for stretching, etc….you have to pay for a trainer to access these rooms. Ridiclious.

    Groceries – If you shop online from a Western market, everthing is marked up for convenience, so most of your groceries will need to be bought at a Chinese grocer. They are much cheaper, but everything will be in Chinese (obviously) and the “foreign food” department will be quite small and also priced 2-3x’s the amount you’d normally pay. You need to be careful in the meat/fish department because sanitation is not a priority, or at least regulated in the Chinese markets, big or small.

    A night out – Not including the taxi fair, if you are going out for drinks downtown, be prepared to pay anywhere from 45RMB/6USD for a beer/cocktail to 75RMB/10USD for a beer/cocktail. You can buy the same beer at the corner store for about 10RMB/1.50 USD. Some places will charge you a cover to come inside and some won’t. If you are a fan of liquor, you need to be specific because you will get a well Chinese liquor that will guarantee you a hangover the next day even if you drink under 3 drinks. Oh….and most of the “brand name” liquor is fake, so chances are you will be hungover regardless.

    Healtcare – If you don’t speak Chinese, you’ll need to bring someone with you who does. Most local hospitals are cheap for medical care but again, hygeine and privacy are not guaranteed. Ladies, if you are there for any type of gyno checkups, your “privates” will for sure be on display for any other women who happen to come into or walk by your room. They do not care about things like that. Personally, I had a lady come into my area while my legs were wide open and sit in the chair opposite me, waiting for her turn to see the doctor next.
    If you choose a international hospital, be prepared to pay 4x’s the amount of a Chinese one. It’s just how it is. Insurance will help greatly with the cost, so if you can get your hands on some before you arrive, so do so. Buying Chinese health insurance will have you frustrated at checkout when you discover most of what you were there for is not covered.

    I think that about covers it? In short; depending on how much you make, the cost of living is manageable, but can be really expensive because you will get nickle and dimed for 99% of every service here (including having to buy your own tissie wipes to use a pulic restroom since that is not provided in them) ESPECIALLY if you are a foreigner, or a foreigner of color. You’ll pay 3x’s the amount of most things in shops because you don’t know any better.


  3. Mwohania

    Santiago de Cali, Colombia

    • Rent (studio apartment with gas, electricity, water, and WiFi included)
    780.000COP ~ $259.96
    • Cell Phone (International calling plan)
    109.000COP ~ $36.33
    • Spanish Classes (Public University)
    125.000COP ~ $41.66
    • Gym (Salsa Lessons)
    77.000COP ~ $25.67
    • Transportation (MIO, Uber, and Taxis)
    100.000COP ~ $33.33
    • Health Insurance (SURA GLOBAL Coverage)
    166.666COP ~ $55.66

    MONTHLY TOTAL = $410.95

    ~ Mwohania


  4. Pingback: Brazil, Violence, & Danger- Where You Are! | Actionable Adventures!

I want to know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s