Accommodation in Brazil

Accommodation in Brazil
Updated 2022-03-25 10:48

Brazil is a vast and diverse country, so it should come as no surprise that there are a variety of lodging options here. In some areas, it's easy to find decent, reasonably priced accommodation, but in others, you'll need money and patience. The good news: There are more options available today than ever before. In this introduction to accommodation in Brazil, we look at several of these and at the common types of rental contracts.

Short-term accommodation in Brazil

If you're just visiting Brazil to go on vacation or to scout an area, you'll want short-term accommodation. Below are some options available to you.


Larger, full-service hotels are available in cities and resort areas. In general, rates compare favorably to those found in Europe and the US, although they'll vary. Note that in Brazil, a full breakfast (buffet style) is typically included in the quoted rate, as are taxes. An optional 10% charge for service may be added or declined at checkout.


These are smaller hotels, like inns or B&Bs, which typically have 5-20 rooms and often are family-owned and operated. They're also considered aparthotels. A full Brazilian breakfast is almost always included. Pousadas are an excellent way to experience Brazilian hospitality and to meet other travelers.


You probably won't want to stay in a motel in Brazil, as here (and throughout much of Latin America), a motel is not a place to stay overnight, but to go just for a romantic tryst. While some can be quite luxurious, you wouldn't book a week in one.


Hostels (often called albergues in Brazil) are an inexpensive option for younger travelers, although it's certainly not limited to just the younger crowd. Hostels are particularly common in the more touristy locales. They can be a great way to economize and also to meet fellow travelers.

If you anticipate staying in hostels frequently, you may wish to pick up a membership with Hostelling International, which should pay for itself in discounted stays.


Airbnb has grown rapidly in Brazil. In cities large and small, you can now rent a room in a private home. This is an economical way to travel and to see how Brazilians live.

This is also a good way to get a furnished place to live, as it's not common to find furnished long-term accommodations (more on this later). However, it can get pretty pricey if you live in an Airbnb long-term, so we'd recommend only using it as a short-term solution.

Long-term accommodation in Brazil

In cities throughout Brazil, most people live in apartment blocks or gated communities. These are typically the best option for expats as well, for a couple of reasons. Most have a doorman, known as a porteiro, which makes them more secure than detached houses, and often, they'll have amenities such as a swimming pool, game room, covered parking, etc.

Detached homes are found in smaller cities and towns, as well as in rural areas. Security can be an issue, so think carefully before buying or renting such a home.

Homes in Brazil, even those built today, are rarely weatherproof. Even in the South, where winter months (June-August) are quite chilly, many homes have no insulation and no form of heating. Central heating is unheard of in Brazil. Rooms may have an AC/heating unit, or portable electric room heaters called estufas.

Many older homes, apartments, or detached homes have a bedroom with a tiny private bathroom off of the kitchen, which was for the live-in maid. These quarters are less common in newer homes but are still found. Often, the maid's quarters are used for storage, but sometimes will be rented out. This can be a cozy spot for one person to stay cheaply.

You might also consider sharing an apartment or renting a room. These arrangements are easier to enter into, and to end, and can also be a better choice if the duration of your stay is open-ended. In cities such as Rio where lodging is expensive and apartments hard to find, an apartment share may be the most expedient option. And if you find a host who speaks English, you'll have a ready-made guide! To find these deals, check local newspapers and the online service EasyQuarto.

Things to know

If you're used to renting accommodations that are furnished, then be prepared when you go to Brazil. Here, it's very rare to find furnished apartments and houses for rent. In fact, not only are these properties unfurnished, but it's common to find them completely bare. This means you won't have things like kitchen appliances and light fixtures. Even the electricity and other necessary services will be disconnected, so you need to be prepared to source these things and get the services up and running on your own.

Finding accommodation in Brazil

While it can be difficult to find accommodations in Brazil, it should be a little easier when you know how to go about it. Here are some ways to get yourself a place to stay on a long-term basis.

Online property portals

Today, there are several websites that list available properties for sale or rent in all of Brazil's major cities. Links are provided below.

If you're fluent in Portuguese, it's better to use sites in that language rather than ones in English. The English websites are geared towards foreigners, which means there's usually an “expat tax”, meaning the prices are higher.

Note that Brazil doesn't, however, have a multiple listing service. Rather, each real estate agent will have their listings, but communication between agents is rare. Therefore, when searching for a property, you'd be wise to consult with more than one agent.

Make sure you never pay any money or sign a contract without first visiting the property. Unfortunately, there are lots of scammers out there, so you want to make sure that the property you're signing for is actually there and what's described.

Real estate agencies

Speaking of real estate agents, many expats find it worth their time to work with a real estate agency, even though they might have to pay a hefty price for their services. This is because not only can the agencies find them accommodations that suit their budgets and needs, but they can also communicate smoothly with the landlords. If you're not fluent in Portuguese, this alone can be worth it. However, you should note that even the real estate agents aren't often able to speak English, so if you can bring some along that is (such as a friend or colleague), you'll have a better time finding accommodation.

Like with online property portals, never pay money or sign a contract without visiting the property first. There are some unscrupulous agencies that'll try to do a bait and switch on you, so you need to be extra careful.

Talk with the Porteiros

If you've found an area where you'd like to live, chat with the porteiros at several buildings. Porteiros are great sources of information, and may know of vacant apartments in the building or of opportunities to rent a room. You never know if one of them will feel like disclosing some information that just might get you a place to live in Brazil.

If moving to Brazil for work, you should request assistance from your employer in locating suitable housing and in negotiating the lease.

Accommodation contracts

In parts of Brazil that see many tourists, por temporada rental contracts are common. These contracts are for up to 90 days and typically include utility charges, condominium fees, etc. However, make sure to verify what's included exactly.

The standard rental contract in Brazil is for 30 months. However, these days, 12-month leases (or shorter) are common, especially in the coastal towns, seeing as the properties there are owned by expats or rich Brazilians who only use their properties for part of the year. These will be written as a standard 30-month contract with a clause added, saying that the renter can exit after 12 months without penalty.

Traditionally, landlords in Brazil have often required a fiador, which is a co-signer who must meet specific requirements. In many cases, they'll require you to have two of them. Expats are unlikely to have a Brazilian fiador. Fortunately, today it's often possible to rent without a fiador, often by placing a deposit of three months' rent in escrow.

When renting, be sure to verify what is and isn't included in the quoted rental amount. In addition to the quoted rent, tenants in Brazil are typically expected to pay the condominio, or condominium fees, and IPTU, which are property taxes. Condominium fees may be quite high in relation to the rent, so be sure to ask about them. In some areas, a pacote (package) is common, in which the quoted monthly amount includes rent, condo fees, and taxes. These are a safer deal, as the renter doesn't have to worry about an increase in the condo fees or a special assessment.

Utilities are generally the renter's responsibility on long-term contracts, although water may be included in the condo fees. Some buildings also provide Wi-Fi service. Gas and electricity are almost always the renter's responsibility.

The rental process in Brazil

When you find a listing you like, you'll then contact the agency or landlord to schedule a viewing. While you're at the viewing, make sure to inspect the property thoroughly to ensure it's up to your standards.

If you'd like to rent a property, then you should inform the landlord or agency as soon as possible. From there, they can draw up a contract, which as we mentioned before, usually spans 30 months, although you can get contracts of 12 months or less. If you're working directly with a landlord for a private rental, you'll usually be able to negotiate the rent price. It'll be harder to do so with an agency or company, but it's not impossible, so it's always worth a try.

Signing the lease

To legally sign the lease, you'll need a Brazilian Identity Card, or Cadastro de Pessoas Fisicas (CPF). You should note that it can take several months to get, so make sure you get the process started right away. If you don't have your CPF yet, then you'll have to turn to short-term accommodation until you have it.

Depending on how long your lease is, you'll usually have to show that you have a strong work history. Otherwise, you'll need a fiador.

The rental contract itself is called the Contrato de Locação de Imóvel. Both you and the landlord will sign this contract. Do note that the contract will be in Portuguese, so if you aren't fluent in the language, you should have it professionally interpreted before you sign anything. Alternatively, you can also have a friend or colleague translate and/or explain the contract to you so you know exactly what you're getting into.

In many cases (such as if you're signing the contract while out of the country), you'll need your contract to be notarized. It must be done in Brazil since most foreign-notarized documents aren't accepted.

The deposit

You should expect to pay anywhere between one to three months' rent for the deposit. By law, the landlord isn't allowed to keep this amount in their own bank account. Instead, it needs to be deposited into a separate savings account that's not their own. And if they've earned interest on it during your stay in their property, they should give you that amount earned plus part (or all) of your deposit back when you leave the property.

If you're signing on for a short-term rental, you won't have to make a deposit. Instead, you'll just pay month to month.

Do note that if you're signing for the property from outside of the country, the landlord can legally ask you for a 50% down payment of the total amount (according to the length of your stay) to reserve the property. This is because by Brazilian law, they can ask for one form of guarantee: either you have a fiador or put down a large deposit.

Useful links:

For short-term:

For long-term:

Long-term housing options





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