As a developing country, you’d think Brazil would be a relatively cheap place to live.

It was, 10 years ago. Now it is one of the most expensive places in the world.

This recent study of the world’s most expensive cities made São Paulo the most expensive place in the entire Western Hemisphere, more expensive than even New York or Los Angeles.

The report said:

“Cities in Brazil are amongst the most expensive locations in the Americas with Sao Paulo (21) ranked as the most expensive city in both North and South America, as a result of the strengthening of the Brazilian Real against the US Dollar. In South America, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro (29) is the second most expensive city followed by Havana (45) in Cuba, Colombia’s Bogota (66) and Brazil’s capital, Brasilia (70). Buenos Aires ranks 161. Nicaragua’s Managua (212), Bolivia’s La Paz (211) and Asuncion (204) in Paraguay were the least expensive cities in South America.”

Having lived in both Rio and SP, I can tell you that property and rents in Rio are much more expensive than in SP. But most other things – such as taxis and restaurants and going out – are more expensive in SP.

Rio also has the advantage of the beach, where you can spend entire days for free. It’s one big open air playground and it’s gratis. When you go out in SP, it tends to be to restaurants or malls, and that implies spending money.

I say all this after reading this study in Exame about the most expensive neighbourhoods in Brazil to live in. Eight are in Rio or SP. Only two, one in Brasilia and another in Salvador, make the list.

The most expensive place to live in Brazil? No prizes if you guessed Ipanema and Leblon.