3 Reasons to Live in Florianópolis, Brazil

Florianopolis beach

The first places we generally consider when moving to Brazil are usually São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Sure, they are cities with a lot to offer and well known, though how would you like some insider info today about somewhere way better (in my opinion).

Enter Florianópolis, Brazil: a city unlike any in this world, rated as the friendliest place to live, voted as having some of the world’s best beaches, full of unparalleled beauty, some of Brazil’s best infrastructure, amazing foods and restaurants, wonderful schools and overall just a great island to live on!

Today, I will give you the 3 main reasons that fueled my decision to live in Florianópolis over Brazil’s numerous other cities. Then on Friday, you’ll get a breakdown of the different areas of the island and what the different areas are like to live in.

1. The Active Lifestyle you Get

If you have ever been to Florianópolis, one thing you will notice is how active and attractive the people are. It’s a place where people are very conscious of being healthy and their lifestyles reflect this.

In Floripa (as it’s locally referred), you can basically participate in any sport you want – Brazilian or foreign!

The most common activities are obviously of the island type:

Sandsurfing: mostly a day activity for tourists, it is still on the plate of options.

Photo courtesy of Otto at Otkesta Photography

Surfing: Floripa has a HUGE surfing community and some of the world’s greatest surfing conditions. There are yearly pro-surfing competitions at praia mole and joaquina where the biggest stars such as shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton amongst others participate.

Surfer at praia mole

Nature: you’ve got everything from the Parque Ecológical to backpacking to beaches and more. Floripa is definately and outdoorsy place with some cool stuff to do (try hiking over the dunes to Praia Joaquina sometime!).

 

Boating: another popular thing to do is to enjoy yourself out on the amazing Lagoa da Conceição lake and go up to the Costa da Lagoa, hang out, eat some fresh seafood, maybe canoe a bit.

There are also numerous other outdoor oriented activities such as playing sports (even American football!), walks, going to the numerous “feiras” around.

2. The Awesome Quality of Life

When talking about “quality of life”, these are things that weigh high for our daily lives.

In other words: how is the infrastructure? How about banking? What about government facitilies? Schools? Healthcare? etc

Let me break these down for you:

Infrastructure: When talking about Florianópolis, people who don’t live there many times won’t call it a true part of Brazil. This is owed to the fact that Floripa is a quite afluent island rivaling some 1st world cities (even better in some areas like Jurerê). Though with that in mind, we must keep in mind that we are still in Brazil and ruled by bureaucracy…

The roads are pretty good, most of them with really fresh asphalt (not always the case in Brazil – usually full of potholes), sidewalks – there are even bike lines in the city center!

There are freeways connecting the north to south of the island, a really wide highway along the coast towards the city center. There is still a lot of road projects to be finished, where they need to expand capacity in areas like Lagoa da Conceição (beach traffic can be terrible – especially in the tourist season), Campeche and so on.

Internet, power and other facilities are really good in my opinion. TIM is the best best cell phone provider, the electricity system is great, water grid fine and sewage good to amazing (depending on where you are). Internet is stable and fast for the most part with state-of-the-art fibre-optics around most of the island.

Banking: Banks in and around Floripa seem to function pretty well, I haven’t had really any issues. The nice thing about banks in floripa is that they are accustomed to foreigners and therefore their ATMS pretty much all function with foreign cards (not always the case in Brazil), all shops take international cards, banking is pretty efficient and the service is good.

Government Facilities: here we are diving into something directly connected to the Brazilian government, something that usually makes people cringe… Though, I’ve never had huge issues with Government offerings.

The tax authority Receita Federal, is large, modern and the staff are surprisingly friendly! I even brought a pregnant foreign couple going to give birth in Brazil there and they smiled and welcomed them and the baby to their country! Try getting that in the USA 😉

Government run hospitals and posto de saudes are “ok”, but when I say “ok” I mean “great” for Brazilian standards. The staff is competent, friendly and you usually don’t have to worry about capacity issues like in the bigger cities’ public hospitals or posto de saudades. In fact, many of the private doctors and nurses (good quality) will usually serve on staff at public hospitals in Florianópolis.

Though with that said, there are some bureaucracy issues involved when going public.

Private Healthcare: If you are able to go with private healthcare, then you won’t be disappointed in Floripa.

Many of the hospitals around the island rival the quality of some of the top hospitals in the USA (though at a fraction of the cost), and the health insurance is pretty affordable ranging from R$150+ per person per month.

My biggest surprise was when my wife gave birth, she was able to do a home birth with a clinic called Hanami – something only usually found in western countries. This just reflects how advanced their healthcare is.

Dentistry and the like is also really great and modern. When I first arrived in Floripa, I had a mouth full of cavities (neglected due to high dentist prices in the USA!) and had ALL 12 FIXED for only R$450! (that’s about $200).

You can get lasic surgery done, implants or whatever tickles your fancy for a great price too.

Schools: if you have children or are a university student looking at studying some Portuguese (for example) in Floripa, it’s important to know how the schools are.

Being a father to 3 small children, this is one of my top concerns about a place to live. My oldest is just about to start in school (February) and this has been something that I’ve been spending a lot of time studying about.

One of the biggest things you’ll hear from any foreigner or Brazilian, is to avoid a Brazilian school like the plague… They are overburdened, under-salaried and generally a bad environment for children to study (unfortunately – though this is starting to change!).

Public schools in Floripa are pretty decent to be honest when comparing with the rest of Brazil, I have friends who have put their children into public schools and said that it was just fine.

Though if you are able to go private, then the choices are immeasurable! You’ve got everything from charter schools to bilingual academies to an American school!

I’m seriously looking to the Waldorf charter school in Florianópolis as it appears to be an amazing school and it adheres to the international Steiner philosophies of learning through playing.

3. The Best Selection of Foods

One of the most difficult things about “switching cultures” is dealing with the difference in food cultures

For most Brazilian cities, your food selection looks something like this: rice, beans, vegetables, some exotic fruits, cookies (lots of them), bad coffee, terrible cheeses and sugary bread.

And then you step into Florianópolis, where there is an amazing fusion of cultures and cuisines that are unparallel anywhere else in the world! I can hand-to-heart tell you that there is no food I miss from back home when on “a ilha da mágia” (the magical island).

Would you miss bread if you could go to a store ran by second generation germans with their great baking abilities? Dutch quality cheeses, belgian quality beers, Brazilian quality coffee (that hasn’t been exported)?

Or how about walking into a huge building armed with a shopping cart that can be filled to the brim with fresh tropical and sub-tropical fruits and veggies for about $30 (we’re talking 130 or so lbs! – 70 kilos)? We’re talking fresh “platinum” bananas, mangos, apples, pineapple, guava, potatoes, giant papayas, watermelon, oranges and so on – That in itself is unbelievable.

sacolao in Florianopolis

Fruits and veggies for R$1,20 per KILO! (25 US cents per pound)

What a small haul looks like from the sacolão!

 

raw cake lagoa da conceição

a tasty raw cake with fresh, local ingredients.

And after filling your shopping cart, you can walk out to a little shop and get cheap quinoa, whole grains, oats, dried apples and german breads, fresh cheeses/butter and other creature comforts not normally available around Brazil.

Or you can go to the “Feira órganica” on Saturdays in Lagoa da Conceição and get yourself heaps of organic goodies for next to nothing..

Oh yeah, there are restaurants too!

Ever heard of an all you can eat sushi buffet, where the quality of sushi is really good? Yep, in Floripa.

Or how about an organic restaurant with a great variety of foods? Check.

Then there is of course the American-run restaurant “Café Cultura” (culture café) with cheesecakes, great coffee, high quality foods and beers to make your evening great. You can hear an interview I did with owner Josh Stevens here

Café cultura

Josh from Café Cultura at his new coffee shop

Cafe Cultura

Café Cultura, one of the best Florianópolis has to offer!

And one of my favorite places to eat is “Casa do Pastel”, where you get monster-sized pastels that are stuffed with your heart’s desires!

casa do pastel

A GIANT pastel from Casa do Pastel mmmm…

Then there is (of course) the famous Brazilian steakhouses, though here you get them with sushi, pizza, imported meats and more.

There are even many vegan/vegetarian places to eat if you are like my wife and prefer that route 😉

Final Words

Did this post wet your tastebuds a bit? I sure did wet mine and we haven’t even touched on what it’s like to live on the different parts of the island – look forward to that post on Friday as it will be really detailed.

Your opinion: what do you think the best area to live in Brazil is?

Até sexta-feira! (until Friday).
Kevin

PS: if you want to get notified for future posts, just click here 🙂

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  • I spent six weeks in Floripa last year and it is great! Friendly people,and great quality of life. It does have two drawbacks that are worth mentioning though:

    1) It is a big island. While you can certainly taxi or bus places, it’s not the most walkable city. Praia Mole is 5km from Lagoa and downtown/Jurere are definitely a drive from everywhere else.

    2) It is slow in the low season. It is totally a different world than high season. Parties are smaller and usually limited to weekends. Beaches are mostly empty during the week. If you’re into tranquility, it’s great, but if you’re looking for the festa you might want to wait til Nov-Feb

    • Nice! And great observations.

      I find that the most lively part of the island is Lagoa and I do enjoy the tranquility at times 😉

      I had a friend (God rest his sole) from Colorado that always told me “If I had a jet ski, I could get everywhere fast!”

      • Agreed on the jetski… I have a bicycle but it kills me to bike even to the adjacent neighborhoods – I live in Canasvieiras and have to go up and down 4 hills to get to Jurere! It would be so nice to have a jet ski but apparently here you need a license (take a test, and pay a lot) to even drive one.

  • Florianopolis sounds like a place I would ultimately like to live. I love the similar climate to Southern California (Venice, Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, San Diego, etc) coastal cities at a much more affordable rate.

    What would you say are your average rental prices in Florianopolis?

    • It’s a cool mix of everything in my opinion. and rental prices really vary depending on your location (but have gone down due to the devaluation of the real). some areas are extremely competitive to rent while others aren’t so much.

      I’ll be writing a post on Friday giving a kind of virtual tour of the island, explaining the areas, rental prices etc – stay tuned!

      • Thanks KP, looking forward to it. I just got a price alert from Kayak and the price to fly into SP has come down to $971 from LAX, but that pales to the $671 it was back in May…

          • Actually I have. I’ve checks after Thanksgiving/Christmas which is what I am targeting now, its still around $1,000. Seems its lowest in your spring (March-May) or is that winter? I forget…

            I wish I could get one of those $65 fares Josh was talking about, but my credit isn’t so hot so saving is really my only option.

  • Everything sounds amazing. My only question about Floripa is about the crime rate? From everything I read, seems as it would be much lower compared to the rest of Brazil?

    • I’ll hit on that in detail on Friday, but yeah, it is lower than the metropolitan areas for sure! I can walk out at night and take a stroll down the street without having to worry – it’s a great vibe.

      • It’s the safest city in Brazil followed by Curitiba in Paraná… and safer than, like, half of the American cities with over 250k inhabitants. It’s a pretty awesome place to be in. I hope to move there later on.

  • i just maried a brazilian and we have a son now we don’t live in brazil but ive been thinking about moving to brazil an ive been looking around and florianopolis seems like a great place to move to,i don’t speak portugese but i’m learning..i just want to know whats your advice should we check this place out?

    • 2 best places to move in Brazil, Florianopolis and Curitiba, the first one if you like beaches, the second if you like more city life but still want good quality of life.

  • Hey Kevin thanks for the post, I just got back to the states after a week stay in Florianopolis and loved it there. I was wondering what the job prospects for are like for english teachers on the island. I will be graduating from college in may and am hoping to teach english in Brazil, ideally Florianopolis.

    Thanks for the help!

  • Good idea in term of marketing to aim at the frustrated average american chimp who almost never made it out of his country, and make him believe that somewhere in this world is a better place, where everything is cheap and easy.
    Than we both know that florianopolis (if it is that you’ve ever been there) is very far from the paradise you describe, as your blurry answers to the any questions asked indicates. ( yes real estate is expensive and no, in May you re not in the summer month, summer is 4 month from december to march and it s raining A LOT in florianopolis all year long.)
    Hope you get plenty of hits on your website in order to help you believe in this fantasy of you living off the internet fuss, doing nothing, while the confort and security of daddy and mummy’s house is waiting for you back in the States, just in case…
    See you in wal mart, guys.

  • I’m curious what you’ve decided regarding a school for your oldest child. What kind of information can you share regarding the price, variety, and quality of the schools available? We are seriously considering a move to Floripa, and will have a school age child within the next year. I appreciate any experiences you are willing to share.

  • As a local, I can surely say Floripa is one of the best places to be in Brazil. The crime rate in general is not so low, but fortunately the murder rate is and is getting lower each year! 🙂
    In my opinion the most amazing thing of this city is that you can see more beautiful girls per m² than anywhere in the world! Despite this and the beautiful beaches, the rest is just like other parts of Brazil, beaurocracy, corruption, terrible traffic, etc.
    Foreigners are very welcomed here and will generally feel comfortable in social activities, however people from other regions of Brazil unfortunately may suffer some prejudice.

  • Hey Kevin! Love your posts, I am also American from New York, and moved to Florianopolis for a couple months starting this January partly because I read your blog 🙂 I just noticed that you said here that there is good sushi buffet here in Floripa… Where?? I am dying for some good Asian food!

  • Hello. My wife and I are arriving Dec 25-30. we booked a place to stay in Campeche(quieter than most areas) and then drive around with a rent a car. But it was brought to my attention that it can be suicide trying t drive a car during that time and it may be better to rent a scooter. Do you agree? Also this is the only place I could find that rents and their prices are $10 off of what I could get a car for. http://www.scooterisland.net/#!tabelapreco/c230d you know any other rental places near the airport or Campeche? Thanks

  • Hi Kevin,

    I’m interested in moving to Brazil. I’ve been to Floripa. How are job opportunities? And, can you provide housing prices in USD?

    Thanks
    Steve

  • Can you enlighten us to the name of the sushi restaurant you mentioned and the supermarket you show in the picture above? Thanks.

  • Hey I am from India and I wish to move to this happening city with my
    wife and a lovely baby.Currently I am working with one of the indian IT
    mnc.
    May i get the job suitable to my profile?
    I am working as
    Function Automation Test Engineer and I am familier with Selenium
    webdriver , java , GIT, eclipse, automation framework development.
    My work experience relevent to above is 5+ yrs.
    Looking forward to your reply.

    thanks,
    Venkatesh D.

  • Hi Kevin, thanks for this great site, it’s really helpful. I’m looking into a student visa and want to take portuguese and another class or so that is in English to study for my real estate license. Do you know of any colleges in Florianpolis that teach in English? How many classes do I need to be enrolled in to stay on a student visa?

    • Hey Cherie, You should get in touch with UFSC directly. Student visa rules change a lot, so it’s best to check with the Brazilian Consulate.

  • Hi! Thank you for this article. I am college student and was thinking of going to Florianopolis next spring to do my semester abroad there. I am Italian therefore I think I could easily pick up the language, but I’m also scared of being there alone especially because Brazil’s high crime rate.

  • Is anybody interest in come to florianópolis with kids
    and stay for a month free so that my daughter can practice her english conversation

  • Hi

    I need your help for florpa b razil my wife will give birth max at august 2017 send me an e mail bozdagd at yahoo com or your whatsup telephone

    thanks
    deha

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