When one thinks of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro comes to mind along with Carnival, Ipanema beach, the samba, fresh fruit, vibrant hotels and fabulous shopping. Brazil, however, is a large and dynamic country filled with great cities. From Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo (and the largest city in the southern hemisphere) to the north east city of Salvador, known as Brazil’s capital of happiness due to its easygoing population and countless popular outdoor parties, to the southern city of Porto Alegre (Happy Harbour), one of the top cultural, political and economic centers of the country, to quote U.S. President Bush after being shown a map of Brazil: “Wow! Brazil is big”.
Recognized as a fast-emerging economy, there is much to consider when choosing to work or live in Brazil. Visitors from the U.S.A. and Canada require a visitors permit, the UK and other countries do not. All visitors to Brazil are allowed to stay for 6 months out of every year. Upon arrival in the country, with employment or family ties (including common law), one can began the task of applying for residency, which often takes up to two years to obtain. A lawyer or help from an employer is highly recommended. It is also recommended that you learn the national language, Portuguese, quickly, as the locals often choose not to speak English in preference to their native language.
As for the cost of living in Brazil, it is more expensive for an expat to rent or buy property on their own, so engaging the help of a local friend can be beneficial. A nice apartment may go for the equivalent of $300 U.S. a month to a local, where an expat would sign a lease for triple this. Appliances, furniture and household amenities are very expensive and not of the best quality. Food, however, is very inexpensive and available everywhere in a diverse array and of the freshest quality.
A beautiful, laid-back country filled with friendly and gregarious people that love to socialize, Brazil is an easy place to live if one doesn’t mind doing everything, including business, at a slower pace. While this may prove frustrating to North American sensibilities at times, the trade-off is worth it, for Brazil, as the locals say, is Lindo maravilhoso! (Translation: beautiful, marvelous)!