A Guide to São Paulo, Brazil: A City of the World

As the largest city in Brazil and the Southern Hemisphere, São Paulo is a thriving metropolis which has long piqued the interest of travellers, expats, and investors from across the globe. In this guide, we explore what makes São Paulo a star in South America.

The Appeal of São Paulo

São Paulo is the financial centre of Brazil and the capital of the country’s wealthiest state. Often dubbed the “Locomotive of Brazil”, São Paulo is responsible for 40% of the country’s GDP and 55% of Venture Capital Firms in Brazil are located in the city.

Home to 20 million people, it is also one of the most populous cities in the world with a vibrant mix of nationalities and cultures. Large Portuguese, Italian and Arab communities call the city their home, as does the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.

More and more expatriates are choosing to settle in the city thanks to its warm climate, strong infrastructure, and affordable prices.

The cost of living per person in Brazil is 3 times lower than it is in the U.S. Because of this, many buyers head here in search of a high quality of life for a lower cost. And São Paulo can certainly offer this. Consumer prices are around 160% higher in Miami and London—yet, in Brazil’s wealthiest city, high-quality amenities are never far away.

As a major city, São Paulo has a well-developed healthcare system, and foreigners are entitled to free public healthcare. There are also many private hospitals in the city offering high-quality services. In terms of education, São Paulo has one of the largest school systems in Latin America, with a range of excellent international schools to choose from.

A Unique Destination for Travellers

Naturally, the multiculturalism of São Paulo flows through its thriving music, art, and culinary scenes. The city boasts many of Brazil’s best chefs and most fascinating museums, along with beautiful parks, theatres, festivals, and other attractions.

With endless things to see and do, it is unsurprising that São Paulo is one of the most visited cities in the country, with tourist spending totalling an immense $99 billion in 2022.

Each experience of this vast and varied city is unique, meaning traditional tourists must forget what they know. You won’t spend your time here touring landmarks and iconic sites, but instead must dive into the diverse depths of São Paulo—navigating an amalgam of high-rises and Neo-Gothic architecture, uncovering local hangouts, meeting paulistanos, spying street art, and falling upon the best places to eat in the city.

São Paulo is highly accessible thanks to Guarulhos International Airport, which lies around 25 kilometres from central São Paulo and offers flights to a vast number of international destinations. Guarulhos is the busiest airport in the country, registering around 40 million passengers annually, and 23 million passengers in the first half of 2023.

Opportunities for Investors

Being one of the most visited cities in Brazil, there is a strong year-round demand for holiday lets, making it a popular location for property investment. Further, the city’s affordable prices open doors to attractive rental yields. The average price of an apartment in the U.S. is nearly three times more expensive than in Brazil. This remains the case in São Paulo despite it being one of the country’s most expensive markets.

Brazil entered 2023 with the largest year-on-year increases in house price growth since 2014. Additionally, home prices were up 28% in March compared to last year according to Redfin. In the year to November 2022, São Paulo home prices increased at almost twice the rate of those in other major cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

It quickly becomes clear, then, why São Paulo is such a popular place to live, work and invest. Whether you’re looking to fall in love with a new city, or identify a prime spot for property investment, São Paulo just might be the place you’ve been searching for.

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