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From San Francisco to Rio de Janeiro: Qualidade de Vida

03 October, 2011 09:53  Erin Erin

Qualidade de Vida jim My name is Jim and I moved to Niterói, Rio de Janeiro from San Francisco, California with my husband, Luiz, in January of 2008.

1. Why did you move abroad?
We decided to move to Brazil early in our relationship. We had been visiting every other year, traveling all around the country. I loved the country, and Luiz wished to return to his home. Most importantly, Luiz is an only child, and his parents were aging. It was time to go home.

2. How do you make a living?
Making a livable wage in Brazil is exceptionally difficult. Wages are low and consumer prices are outrageous. Luiz and I thought carefully before relocating. We worked hard in the US and saved every spare dime. This “nest egg” has kept us from having to worry frantically about gainful employment. (We are in our 50’s.) Instead we pursue our interests and make enough money to keep our head above water. But I do caution others that making a good living in Brazil is VERY difficult.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
My family relationships are quite different from the Brazilian standard. That is to say I hardly ever communicate with my family back in the States. I keep in touch with my friends via Facebook. But I have not flown back for a visit since our move here.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Brazil?
Brazil is a breath of fresh air. People focus on the positive. There is joyfulness everywhere. You do not have to have money to be happy. The weather is perfect. Even with the commonly-felt hopelessness that the government is corrupt and things will not improve much any time soon – people look on the bright side and celebrate family and friends – and have fun. There is hopefulness.

And I definitely work less and stress less about everyday things. Definitely.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Brazil?
There is nothing “worse” about living in Brazil. I sometimes wish I could afford an iPad – but who cares…

6. What do you miss most?
Chocolate chips.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I had the good fortune of joining a large social network associated with my husband.  When we moved to his home town, he moved back to his old neighborhood and his long-time friends. We were instantly integrated into a rich network of friends/family.  I have used the blogger network to meet other ex-pats, and that has been rewarding.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The close, close family relationships are foreign to me. When I lived in the US I would speak with my mother (who lived in another state) perhaps 4 times a year by phone. Here, Luiz speaks with his mother AT LEAST once a day. We visit her in person several times a week.  This is very strange to me. Nice, mostly, but definitely strange.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
The biggest myth, in my experience, is that Brazil does not have a problem with racism. This is laughable, but most “middle class” people will insist this. Racism is a HUGE problem both casually and institutionally. – Everything from how do you treat/pay your maid, to who are the movie stars, to who gets elected into government.  It is a big problem.

10. What advice would you give other expats?
Bring more money than you originally thought.  Brazil is STUPID expensive.  Prepare for low wages, unless you are coming here on a cushy agreement with an American/foreign company. Portuguese is a damn hard language to master. Be careful what you jump into.

11. When and why did you start your blog? Qualidade de Vida
I started the blog to keep my friends back home informed about my goings-on without having to write 20 emails a week. Since then it has become a kind of chronicle that I enjoy keeping.

12.  How has the blog been beneficial?
I have met many people via the blog, made many new friends locally. So I am both keeping my friends back home informed, and meeting new friends here in Brazil.  It’s a good thing.

Blog Link


Jim's blog, Qualidade de Vida

Guide for expatriates in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


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