Finding accommodations in Brazil is one of the most important things you need to plan for. The quality of your stay in Brazil will depend greatly on where you live and who you share space with.
In order to ensure that you have the best possible stay in Brazil let’s take a look at the different options you have available for where to stay.
1. Staying With Friends in Brazil
This is by far the best option for accommodations in Brazil. The whole reason you’re going to Brazil anyway is to get a deeper cultural experience and what better way to do that than by experiencing Brazil through the eyes of your friends. Your friends can show you around, introduce you to people and give you insights into the culture that would take you months to figure out on your own.
You’ll hit the ground running faster if you have friends that you can stay with. If you don’t have friends in Brazil that you can stay with, now is the time to start making them.
There are a number of different Facebook groups that you can join around your interests and hobbies. Search in Portuguese for “your hobby” + “city” and see what comes up.
Language exchange groups are also a good way to meet people. Before you come to Brazil you should connect with Brazilians who want to learn English and will help you learn Portuguese. Many Brazilians would gladly host you since they’d be able to practice their English with you. You can see a list of places to find conversation partners here.
You can also make professional connections on Linkedin and through groups like Internations. Assuming that you’re going to Brazil to find work or do some kind of professional activity this would be a good approach to take.
The best case scenario is that you’ll have a friend who has an extra room that they’ll let you stay in or rent out to you at a friendly rate. If you happen to be so lucky to have a friend who lets you stay with them you should sigh a huge sigh of relief as you’ve solved one of the biggest problems you’ll face on your initial journey to Brazil.
2. Couchsurfing in Brazil
The next best thing if you don’t already have friends that you can stay with is to make friends on Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a site that connects globally minded locals with travelers who need a place to stay for a few nights.
Make sure you spend some time to completely fill out your profile and let people know who you are. The more effort that you put into your profile the more willing people will be to host you. This will also result in you having better conversations with your hosts, as they’ll know what your interests and language abilities are.
When sending out requests be sure to give at least 2 weeks advanced notice, and to let them know specifically why you want to stay with them. You’ll probably end up sending a lot of requests before you find someone who will host you if you’re in a bigger city like Rio de Janeiro. It’s important though to take the time to send personalized messages. Remember that there is a human on the other side of the screen who has little information with which to decide whether they want to let a stranger into their home.
Couchsurfing has varying success rates depending on where in the world you try to use it, but it works out pretty well in Brazil. Brazilians in general make great hosts and love sharing their culture with foreigners. Definitely look into this option before you consider staying at a hostel.
Even if you don’t find accommodation through Couchsurfing you can still use it to make local friends and meet up for a beer with people.
3. Hostels in Brazil
Hostels are great for first time travelers who want an easy place to stay and are traveling on a budget. Every city that you’re likely to visit in Brazil has hostels and you’ll have no trouble finding one to stay in. Use hostel review sites like hostelworld.com or hostelz.com in order to check out what other travelers have said about that place.
While hostels make a great choice when you need a place to stay and have no other options, understand that you’re going to be sharing space with a lot of other backpackers. This means that while you’ll meet a lot of cool people from all over the world, you’ll have a hard time meeting locals. You’ll end up going with the flow of people at the hostel and may find it hard to think and act like a local.
If your goal is to see all of the touristic attractions of a city, hostels are a great choice. The English speaking staff at the hostels will provide you with the information you need and help you to find where you need to go. The other travelers at the hostel will also likely share their stories and give you hints about the city as well.
If your goal is to find a cheap place to stay while you find more long term accommodations, you might want to look into the next option.
4. AirBNB in Brazil
AirBNB is now a major player in the short term rental market in Brazil. More and more Brazilians are learning that they can make extra money by renting out their extra rooms and apartments to travelers and tourists who need a place to stay.
The people who list their apartments on AirBNB range from clueless about the value of their apartment to downright delusional about how much their space is worth on the market. If you get lucky you’ll find a first time host who underprices and gives you a good deal.
The level of English varies between hosts so communication may be an issue. You should be able to sort out the major details online using translate, but don’t be surprised if something isn’t what you expected if you book a room and don’t ask any questions. At a bare minimum you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting your own bed in a private room if it wasn’t made clear from the photos. You’ll also want to know if you get your own key and if they have a curfew.
If your goal is to stay long term, often times you can rent a place for a few days through AirBNB then negotiate with the owner outside of the system to get a better price. Until you actually see the place you should refrain from booking a longer stay.
Finding a place to stay initially when you move to Brazil is an important step that you should plan for in advance. The more that you can rely on the support of Brazilians and foreigner friends who are already in that city, the more successful you’ll be.
There are many options available to you. Do your research, get clear about what kind of experience you want and find a place that matches your preferences.
Once you’ve gotten all of this taken care of you’ll be in a good place to learn Portuguese, find a job and enjoy your new life in Brazil.