Digital Nomad Trip Report: Florianópolis, Brazil

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About Florianópolis, Brazil

Florianópolis, Brazil (also known as ‘Floripa’). It’s the capital city of the State of Santa Catarina and is also a 33-mile-long island that is attached to the mainland by a bridge.

About Me

I’m originally from Australia but I live in Toronto, Canada now, when I’m not traveling. At the time of my stay in Florianópolis I was working as a lawyer remotely, with clients all around the world. I was self-employed, working on a contract basis, so my income would vary based on how much work I had. But generally, it would range anywhere from 50,000-80,000 USD per year. I travel with my partner who was also working remotely as a software engineer.

My travel style is comfort on a budget! My goal is always to spend similar (or less) than I would do at home. This sees me staying in Airbnb’s or private rooms in hostels, and being able to eat out a lot more than I would at home. Canada is expensive for rent and food, so spending similar (or less) when traveling, and getting more for your money is easy to do, especially in places like South America.

+ Pros for Digital Nomads in

  1. A big community of digital nomads
  2. Beautiful natural surroundings for outdoor activities
  3. It’s very affordable

– Cons for Digital Nomads in

  1. It can be hard to get by without speaking some basic Portuguese (not many of the locals speak any English)
  2. Traffic can be bad on the island so it can take some time to get around during peak hours
  3. It can be difficult to find suitable co-working spaces

What Was Your Overall Impression of Being a Digital Nomad in ?

Overall, Florianópolis is a digital nomad paradise. It has a solid expat and digital nomad community, it’s affordable and offers a lifestyle for every type of traveler. Plus, it has a growing tech industry, two reputable universities, and attracts a lot of remote workers in the tech space, which has led to it being compared to Silicone Valley.

In Floripa there’s the option of living the city life downtown, staying somewhere quieter and more remote, or living by the beach and surfing every day! Out of all the places I have spent time as a digital nomad, Floripa is where I would recommend the most to other nomads.

What Was the Cost of Living as a Digital Nomad in Florianópolis, Brazil?

For 2 people we spent around $900 – $1000 USD per week in Florianópolis. This breaks down to around $500 USD per week on Airbnbs, $130 USD per week for car rental and gas (we walked or drove everywhere), $60-$80 USD for groceries (mostly basic foods for breakfast and lunch like bread, eggs, oats, yogurt, and fruit), and $230-$300 USD for eating out (we ate out almost every night). We aren’t big drinkers but would often have 1 or 2 drinks with a meal, which is included in the eating-out budget.

Generally, we would eat out at cheaper local places, where two large plates of meat or fish with rice, beans, chips, and salad would come to around $20 USD in total ($10 per person). Mid-range restaurants for something like pizza or sushi would cost around $30-35 USD for 2 people (including a couple of drinks). And at higher-end restaurants, we would spend around $75-100 USD for 2-3 courses and a couple of drinks for 2 people.

It is worth noting that the cost of accommodation can actually be much less than what we spent. We were paying tourist prices to rent Airbnbs. However, if you’re planning to stay in Floripa longer term (6-12 months) you should be able to rent a room or an apartment for much cheaper (anywhere from $300-$1000 USD per month, depending on location and number of rooms).

What Can You Share About the Culture in Florianópolis, Brazil?

The culture in Florianópolis is quite diverse, as it is a tourist destination, so there are a lot of international people here. In particular, there are a lot of Argentinian tourists who vacation here in the summer months, which influences the culture.

Generally, the whole island has a relaxed beach vibe, since there are over 40 different beaches. Surfing is a popular activity here and both locals and visitors love relaxing on the beach all day. It’s normal to set up for the day with umbrellas and chairs and enjoy food and drinks on the beach.

You will find some volleyball in Floripa, but the more popular sports here are footvolley and beach tennis. You will also find lots of locals doing keep-ups and kicking soccer balls around on the beach.

There is a focus on seafood in Floripa (in particular shrimp), so it’s not as big of a meat-eating destination as other places in Brazil (although you can still get some delicious Brazilian BBQ here as well)!

What Languages are Primarily Spoken in Florianópolis, Brazil?

Portuguese is the official language of Brazil. Given the country’s proximity to Argentina, and the number of Argentinians who vacation in Florianópolis, a lot of the Floripa locals will also speak some Spanish. However, surprisingly hardly anyone speaks any English here. Therefore, you do need to learn some basic Portuguese phrases to get by more easily here. Luckily the locals are also very friendly and patient. So, when we did need more time to translate what we were trying to say, they were understanding and were always kind when communicating with us.

What was your experience finding, booking, and staying in accommodationin Florianópolis, Brazil?

Florianópolis is a 33-mile long island with various neighbourhoods and beach towns. Before we arrived we weren’t sure where on the island we wanted to stay, so after doing some research, I initially booked a hotel for 3 nights while we explored and decided where to base ourselves longer term. Then, once we arrived, we drove around and visited different parts of the island, before booking an Airbnb to stay in one spot for a couple of weeks.

We ended up spending the entire two months in the middle of the island, as this is where a lot of the younger people and nomadic community is based (there are great beaches here and lots of bars and restaurants). However, we changed Airbnb every couple of weeks to spend time near different beaches and points of interest.

It was easy to find and book accommodation, as there were always plenty of Airbnbs available to book last minute. However, booking Airbnbs or hotels is much more expensive than renting longer-term accommodation. If you want to rent long-term, this can be a bit more time-consuming to find during the peak season (December to February). Although I always see a lot of availability advertised throughout the rest of the year. The best places to find long-term rentals as a digital nomad is through expat and community groups on Facebook, or finding a local realtor to work with. If you want to stay long-term, I would recommend renting an Airbnb for the first few weeks at least, while you search for a long-term rental.

What Working Spaces Are Available to Digital Nomads in Florianópolis, Brazil?

There are lots of different workspaces available in Florianópolis. Most of the island has excellent Wi-Fi connections, so you can easily work from cafes, restaurants, and even beachside bars! There are several co-working spaces on the island too, but they are mostly located downtown. If you aren’t staying in the city, then this will be quite a trek to get to each day. A great co-working option is actually the Selina Hostel at Mole Beach. This can be a bit on the pricier end, but Selina has an on-site co-working space that you can reserve, as well as co-living options if you want to stay at the hostel.

Throughout most of our stay, we ended up just working from our Airbnbs. Most of the time we booked houses, where we had space to work. Plus the Wi-Fi was always good, so we were able to easily get out work done before heading out to enjoy the beaches and explore the island.

What is the Food Like in Florianópolis, Brazil?

The food was great in Florianópolis, and overall very reasonably priced. The restaurants have a big focus on fish and shrimp, so you will find a lot of seafood specialties available. The one downside I did find was that there was a lot of fried food, which is delicious, but I don’t want to eat it every day. There also aren’t as many vegetable or salad options available as you might be used to eating.

The supermarkets were well-stocked, but fresh meat is best to buy from a butcher (the supermarkets don’t sell many meat items). There was always an abundance of fresh tropical fruits to choose from which we loved. In particular the bananas, papayas and mangoes were excellent!

For eating out there are restaurants to suit any budget. There are plenty of no-frills local restaurants where you can get a hearty plate of food for very cheap. The staple meals here, known as ‘executive plates’ are a piece of meat or fish served with rice, beans, salad and fries. And for lunch or breakfast you can find Brazilian staples like Açaí bowls, fresh baked goods and fruit.

There are also several ‘upmarket’ food courts in Floripa, which are great places to eat out. These venues have a range of different take-out restaurants selling varied food options (everything from sushi, Mexican and pizza, to crepes and desserts!), as well as onsite bars where you can get drinks. They also often have live music playing so dining here is a really fun evening out.

For street food, most of the beaches have little huts or beachside restaurants selling snacks, fried fish and shrimp, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Plus there are drinks carts on the beach selling Caipirinhas made with fresh fruit (although be careful not to drink too many, as they are very strong!).

What is the Visa Situation for Digital Nomads in Florianópolis, Brazil?

Brazil introduced a new digital nomad visa in 2022, which is valid for up to 1 year and can be extended for another year. It is for both self-employed individuals and remote workers who work for a company outside of Brazil. If you want to work for a Brazilian company you would need to obtain work rights in Brazil.

If you aren’t looking to spend that long in Brazil, then you can stay for up to 90 days as a tourist (in most cases), although this is capped at 180 days in a 12-month period. Many countries, including the USA and Canada, don’t require a visa to travel to Brazil.

What’s the Connectivity Like in Florianópolis, Brazil?

The connectivity in Florianópolis is great, which is largely why it has become such a popular destination for digital nomads. There is good Wifi across most of the island, so you should’t have any issues getting online at your accommodation or in co-working spaces. Most cafes, bars and restaurants also have Wifi which you can connect to. The average internet speed in Floripa is 53.3Mbps, but I found it was faster than this in most places we were connected.

Because we could connect to Wifi in most places, we decided not to get a local SIM card. The two big phone providers are Claro and Vivo. But, from what I heard, it can be difficult to get a local SIM card in Brazil as you normally need to show Brazilian ID. Therefore, I would personally recommend getting an an e-sim card before you travel.

What is There to Do for Fun in Florianópolis, Brazil?

Florianópolis is full of fun outdoor activities. As an island, the top thing to do here is go to the beach! Surfing is also a really popular activity here, as well as a range of other water sports like fishing, boating and snorkelling. You can even take a day trip by boat to visit some of the other smaller nearby islands. One of the most popular tours is to Campeche Island, which has calm crystal clear water and bright white sand, similar to the Caribbean.

The island is also full of beautiful forests and small mountains so there are lots of hiking trails to explore. Other activities which you can do in Floripa include sand boarding, paragliding, playing ball sports like soccer, footvolley, netball and beach tennis. There are also lots of unique neighbourhoods on the island. So it’s really fun to just travel around by car or bike to explore different parts of the island.

What is the social scene like in Florianópolis, Brazil?

Florianópolis is a very social place. The best place to meet people is at the beach – people are very friendly and often looking for likeminded people to connect with. And there are also lots of bars and restaurants in Floripa where it’s easy to chat to people to make new friends. Plus, there’s a big online community of digital nomads and expats in Floripa. The best way to connect with them is through various Facebook groups, such as Gringos in Floripa. They will even arrange meetups from time to time so you can easily meet new people on the island.

What’s the Weather Like in Florianópolis, Brazil?

The climate in Florianópolis is subtropical, getting very hot in summer, with highs around 30°C / 86°F from December to February. The winters are cooler, but it never gets very cold in Floripa, with highs around 20°C / 68°F and lows of 13°C / 59°F. While you will get a lot of sunny days, Floripa is actually overcast a lot of the time. However, this is great for enjoying the beach, as you’re not constantly exposed to the full force of the sun. The summer is also the rainy season, so expect quite a few days of rain. I was a little worried about this before we went to Floripa, but overall I didn’t find it to be too much rain, and I always enjoy a thunderstorm in the summer anyway.

Can you share something about using money here?

The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real. Although almost everywhere in Florianópolis accepts payments by card, and you can often select to pay using your home currency when paying by card. Even the vendors on the beach accept card payments, so you don’t have to worry about carrying cash on you.

However, we did have some issues paying with our foreign cards. Often it would take many tries before the payment would go through (which is apparently a common issue in Floripa), and sometimes they just didn’t work at all. Therefore, I would recommend notifying your bank of your travel plans and even getting a backup card to use in case your regular cards stop working. It’s also a good idea to have some Brazilian Reals to have as a backup form of payment.

What else should people know about the destination? 

Florianópolis is actually a great destination to visit in February to celebrate Carnival, if you want to avoid the big city destinations like Rio de Janeiro. The city puts on a lot of Carnival events downtown, and there are also various beach parties held around the island. The week of Carnival is one of the more expensive times to visit Floripa, but with good reason!

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