Let’s be honest here. Not too long ago the only Brazilian cities you knew about were São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. If you were really on top of things you knew that the capital is Brasília.
While Brazilians often get frustrated by foreigners’ lack of knowledge about their cities, we can’t really be blamed for our ignorance. Brazil is a huge country and each of its cities has enough to offer to keep you busy for years. Once you spend some time here, your wish list of cities to visit starts to grow larger and larger.
One of the most common recommendations that Brazilians give for foreigners to visit is Florianópolis, or more commonly known as Floripa.
In this post we’re going to take a look at what life in Floripa is all about. By the end of this post hopefully you’ll have a better idea of what would your day-to-day life would look like in Floripa. If I’ve done my job well you’ll be changing your Brazil plans to come experience why the island city has such a strong reputation as a must visit city in Brazil.
Getting Connected in Florianópolis
Floripa is a city that truly does not hold up to the reputation that Brazil is a dangerous country. While crime exits, as it does everywhere, you will definitely feel less vigilant when you are here. Floripa is said to be the Brazilian city with the highest quality of life and capital with the lowest homicide rate.
Gringos in Floripa and Floripa Expat Community are the two Facebook groups filled with helpful members that will answer questions, give you suggestions, and maybe invite you over for dinner (this actually happened to me).
If you are just passing through, check out this Facebook group for backpackers and exchange students.
Another way to find foreigners is to check out the nightlife around Lagoa. As the main tourist area on the island, there are always some fellow gringos lingering at John Bull, The Black Swan, or Casa de Noca.
Finding Accommodations in Florianópolis
Finding an apartment in Brazil can be a lot of work, but if you put in the effort you will get what you deserve. Floripa can be tricky because, as a growing international destination, some of the would-be-cheap houses stay off the market during slow season so the owners can hike up the price during the busy season.
Don’t let that discourage you, because there are still plenty of apartments and houses to grab.
OLX is a site that has been described here at Brazilian Gringo before. It functions similar to Craigslist, and you can get the Floripa portal by clicking here.
If you are looking for long term stay, VivaLocal, VivaReal, and Zap are good places to start if you are ready negotiate with rental companies. Some properties are rented directly by owners, but it is much more common for property managers to relieve them of this duty.
If you are only interested in a short term place and basic amenities, look for a place on Pousadas de Floripa. Tucano and Geckos are in Centrinho, while Share House and BBC are two great options in Barra da Lagoa. However, if budget permits, you may just opt to get a private place through Airbnb.
Lastly, if you are looking for shared housing, it doesn’t hurt to check out Classificados UFSC, but I recommend to post in Portuguese. The site also has a Facebook page that makes it easy to access people with offerings.
Overview of Neighborhoods in Florianópolis
Centro – As the central downtown area of the city, you will find everything you need here. It is a grab bag of all things metropolitan. You can find cheap apartments, and chic, expensive condos. However, you’ll also find more homelessness and opportunistic crime.
Agronômica and Beira Mar – These are some if the nicest and most expensive neighborhoods near the central downtown area. Beira Mar is essentially a strip that faces the bay, filled with high modern condos and expensive restaurants.
Morro da Cruz – Morro da Cruz is the mountain that divides the downtown from the federal university and the neighborhoods next to it. It has some great houses, but it also has some sprawling favelas.
Pantanal, Carvoeira, Serrinha and Trindade – All four of these neighborhoods are next to the federal university, so they have good average prices, and not coincidently a good bar scene. However, since demand is constant, prices creep up when the semesters are starting in March and August.
Córrego Grande, Santa Mônica, Itacorubi – Some of the best neighborhoods of the island. The houses are a bit older, while the condos are nice and new. These are safe areas that have a lot of families.
Lagoa de Conceição and Barra de Lagoa – These are the laid-back areas that are highly sought out, attracting people from around the world to rent houses, apartments, pousadas, and beds in hostels to stay near the seemingly twenty-four hour action during summer months. Prices here are a wide range, but it’s well worth the work to hunt for a place if you intend to stick around for a bit.
Rio Tavares and Campeche – A little removed, but a great option if you like being a little off the beaten path and are planning to do a lot of surfing. There are great prices in these areas.
You can click here for a full breakdown on the neighborhoods of the island, from the eminent northern tip, down to the secluded south.
Where to Get Work Done in Florianópolis
The largest industry in Floripa is IT, which plays in the favor of anyone wanting to work remotely while they are in the area. The co-working space scene is strong here, and seems to be growing still. Let’s check out some of the best coworking spaces that Floripa has to offer.
S7 Coworking is my pick if you are in and around Centro. It has great facilities, packages, community, and the owner is a super cool guy.
If you are over in the Lagoa area, check out Co-Habitat, which faces the picturesque Lagoa de Conceição. This is the home office of container architecture firm Ferraro Habitat, but in the nature of co-working, it’s open to anyone that needs a place to get work done.
Impact Hub is a global coworking company that you probably have heard of. The bonus for heading out there is a free first day, assuming you aren’t a member.
If you want to find coworking spaces on the continent or in other areas of the island, Coworking Brazil has more listed by state.
Where to Study Portuguese in Florianópolis
Floripa isn’t as big of an international hub like the bigger, more well known Brazilian cities, so the contact with English is a little low. Having waiters, sales clerks and even grocery clerks hear a gringo accent and seize the opportunity to practice a little English isn’t uncommon, but you’d be pressed to get by on English alone.
If you want to study Portuguese and get a student visa – UniSul and The Language Club are the best options. You can’t get a student visa letter from UFSC unless enrolled as a full-time exchange student, but you can enroll in the classes if you have a student visa.
Taking an extra class at UFSC is a great way to meet other foreigners and Brazilians because of the infinitely more robust university community. Also, remember that the universities won’t enroll you with a tourist visa.
Things to Do Around Florianópolis
Floripa is know for the large number of beaches it has, as well as the trails that lead you to the more secluded and tranquil of those locations. Also, there are the sand dunes at Joaquina, where some say is the origin of sandboarding. No matter where you go, the combination of natural beauty and good vibes has landed Floripa in the number one spot of 10 Best Places to Visit in Brazil Before You Die.
This is a city that is full of people engaged in all types of fitness and recreation. Water sports are king in summer, and the gym culture is just as you would expect it to be in Brazil. Many alternative gyms, like crossfit, jiu jitsu and muay thai are readily available here as well. There is also a good rock climbing community that gravitates around Ekos Boulder.
For nightlife, Centro and Lagoa are the most popular, where you can sip and socialize until the wee hours of madrugada.
If you are looking for events in Floripa, check out Calendário Floripa, which lists a great variety from farmers markets to free movies and art exhibitions. Another place to look is the agenda page at Guia Floripa.
Whether you are looking to visit or relocate, Floripa is a city that will accept you with open arms in true Brazilian fashion. The safety and access to recreation will ensure that your quality of life while here is a balance of tranquil and productive. For digital nomads and English teachers alike, the city offers growing industries that, if you aren’t expecting the easy route, you are sure to find success in. Healthy eating options, active communities, and access to a wide array of fitness will balance your work hours well.
For those whose Portuguese isn’t strong, learning and adapting here is comfortable, as the people are patient to understand you and eager to practice their English. With a bit of traffic tolerance, none of which compares to the bigger cities of Brazil, you may have found your next Brazilian destination.
If you have any questions or concerns about Floripa, feel free to shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you and help ease any uncertainty you might have.
Do you have any experience in Floripa? Write in the comments below about your experience. Be sure to tell us when you were here and how your experience compares to what you’ve read above.