By Alison McGowan
April 19, 2011

It was a balmy night with a full moon as I walked back to my bungalow at the Vila dos Orixas, but it was actually the sweet smell of frangipani like flowers as I passed the blue blue pool that swung it for me. This place is gorgeous.

Rarely do you find total luxury like this – a combination of superb location and excellent taste. Situated right on the Praia do Encanto, the 5th beach of the island of Tinhar/ Morro de São Paulo, the Vila dos Orixas has 10 super spacious and super spread out bungalows with high ceilings, flat screen TV and mosquito netted beds with high grade linen. In the bathroom there is a wonderful power shower and designer beauty products, whilst the jacuzzi takes pride of place in the main bedroom looking out over the gardens.

Whilst I was here the TV took on a life of its own, changing channels at will and turning itself on when I had turned it off. I took that as a sign. This is not a place to watch TV – this is a place you come to appreciate the tranquility of beach, pool or hammock, to eat superb food in the pousada restaurant and to appreciate the natural beauty of a more off the beaten track part of Bahia.

The Vila dos Orixas Boutique hotel puts its address as Morro de São Paulo as that is where you will almost certainly arrive – be it by boat or plane. However the pousada is actually a 25 minute drive away down on the 5th beach of the island of Tinhar, Praia do Encanto, and it is light years away from the bustle and nightlife for which the town of Morro de São Paulo is known.

To get here the easiest way is either by plane or catamaran from Salvador. If you take the former option the pousada will arrange a transfer; if it is the latter you will be dropped at the port of Morro where boys with wheelbarrows will be waiting to escort you through town to the “receptivo” reception point on the 2nd beach where (if you tell the pousada which boat you are taking) transport will be waiting for you.

Tinhar is one of 3 islands in an archipelago which also includes Boipeba and Cair and it is also the biggest with over 40 kilometres of sandy beaches and natural swimming pools formed by the reefs offshore. There is no traffic on the island except for a few essential vehicles like the 4x4s which run a shuttle service to outlying pousadas, internet is precarious and mobile phones don’t work outside of town. For anyone searching for peace, tranquility and beauty whilst still being within easy reach of town when necessary, this is a perfect option.

* Beautiful, well appointed high-ceilinged bungalows with jacuzzi
* Location – right on the deserted Praia do Encanto
* Large pool
* Peace and tranquility

Try a different place if…
… if you want to be where the action is or if you want to meet other solo travellers (this is best for couples)

Alison is a British writer, musician, and marketing consultant, based in Rio de Janeiro. She can be contacted on Visit her site at

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa da Carmen e do Fernando, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Lagoa das Cores, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Naturalia, Ilha Grande (Abraao), Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ilha de Toque Toque Boutique Hotel, São Sebastiao, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Eco-Rio Lodge, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Amazon Tupana Lodge, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Luar do Rosario, Milho Verde, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Chal Oasis, Galinhos, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijo do Vento, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Artjungle Eco Lodge & Spa, Itacare, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada 0031, Cumbuco, Cear
Brazil: Maguire’s Guesthouse, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel Casa do Amarelindo, Salvador, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel BeloAlter, Alter do Chão, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Fazenda Santa Marina, Santana dos Montes, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casarão da Amaznia, Soure, Ilha de Marajo, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Mila, nr. Ubatuba, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Beleza, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Bambu Bamboo Pousada and Spa, Parati, Rio de Janeiro
Random Ramblings on the Weather in Brazil
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijamar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel 7 Colinas, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada dos Quatro Cantos, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Estrela do Mar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Vivenda, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Terra, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Mirante de Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada do Caju, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Amendoeira, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Estalagem Caiuia, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Lagoa do Cassange, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ponta do Muta, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Santa Clara, Boipeba, Bahia

April 15, 2011

Meet William Stewart who first visited Brazil 5 years ago. Read the following interview in which he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

I am an early-60s (age) Americano originally from Florida. I also lived in Atlanta, San Diego and – most recently – Las Vegas. I was formally trained as a Civil Engineer. But, I also had careers as an Air Traffic Controller and a myriad of positions in the computer industry. A disability forced my early retirement in 1993, and I have been an investor since. Currently… I am investing in a Brazilian business to import/distribute an all-natural sugar substitute. There are no chemicals used in the processing… so… this product (Just Like Sugar) will be the first totally natural sweetener in Brazil.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

I first set foot in Brazil as a visitor. It was early 2006, and I was quickly smitten by the friendly people and beautiful beaches. I came here with 3 friends, mostly because – as a child – I remembered how intrigued I was with my best friend’s Brasileira mother. It only took me 50-something years to put my own eyes on the land from whence this beautiful woman originated. Of course, just like so many other stories I have read in this column, I quickly met someone. But, this time, there’s a twist. I’m gay, and the person I met was a man. I had two long-term relationships in the United States, but I also romanticized about finding a Brazilian man that was my type.” I found him on that first trip, but it was not until mid-2007 before I could return to see if he was worth my full attention. Unfortunately, that relationship only lasted for 6 months; but, my love for Brazilian men and the beauty of this country remained… remained enough that I returned in 2008… virtually on a permanent basis (at least as permanent as tourist and student visas will get you).

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

Since my first landing was in São Paulo… I quickly thought: New York City of the 1960s combined with the land mass of Los Angeles. Big… tall… needs lots of infrastructure work… don’t need a car.

4. What do you miss most about home?

Most? How could I possibly restrict this to just one item? For a while, it was peanut butter. But, I now bring that (and M&Ms and Dunken Doughnuts ground coffee) with me in my suitcase. Unfortunately, I cannot bring back New York-style pizza.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

In a word: bureaucracy. But, hey… I was a writer at one time, and you should bet on red (it is impossible for me to answer anything in one word). Maybe another good word is: counterproductive. Everywhere I turn… I find people that are just looking for a way to slide by (get a job with the Federal Government, so they can be “set” for life). Pay does not seem to be based on productivity. And, I never get the full story about anything… have to make many trips to complete even simple tasks. Oh… a third word: TIM (the cell phone company). Can you believe I ordered a fixed phone and two cell phones for my business back in mid-November, and this company still has not completed the order. It’s a long story, but the short version is that TIM outsourced sales, service and logistics… has little to no control over anything. So… all their contractors finger point instead of trying to figure out how to deliver. I am even getting faturas from them, when the service is not complete. Amazing. I know some of you are now saying: “so if he’s that frustrated, why is he here?” See the last few sentences of question 2.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Foz. Breathtaking. If you haven’t been… go!

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

The challenge of learning a new language and culture. Having retired in 1993… my life in Las Vegas was everything but exciting. Everyone thinks of Las Vegas as exciting, and it is if you are wanting the fancy lights, expensive entertainment and casinos on the strip. But, as a resident… BORING! Now… everything is a challenge.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

Finding places to go has been difficult for me. I don’t consider myself a “hang out” kind of guy. I have a partner (1 year now) and we enjoy being at home with each other. But, I have finally found a sushi place that I like. You see… I like Korean sushi (yes… there is a difference). In Las Vegas… there was a sushi restaurant that I use to go to about once a week. If you’re in Vegas… go to I Love Sushi. I guarantee you will be satisfied. My sushi place, here? Nope… not going to tell you… don’t want the competition for a table. :-)

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

Probably the craziest thing I did was to actually drive from Recife to São Paulo – last year – when I decided to move. I do not think I have ever seen so many curves, lombadas, and turned over trucks on wet roads. But, hey… I can now say that I’ve done it.

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

Drivers and “rules of the road.” I actually have a copy of the Brazilian driver handbook, and it seems like no one has read the document. Or, if they have… they don’t give a damn. To survive, I learned a little trick: give a little; take a little. But, even that doesn’t work in cross-walks. Has even one, single Brazilian ever wondered why they paint the dashed white/black stripe across the roads at a lot of intersections? Hey… if you’re Brazilian and are reading this… it means: yield to the pedestrian, unless there is a cross-walk signal to the contrary. And… in the absence of a cross-walk signal… the regular traffic signal works for the pedestrian too. Once, I had a guy actually hit me in the cross-walk. The way he hit me… it spun me around and my guarda chuva broke his back window. He was pissed, but it served him right for not yielding to me in the cross-walk.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

I have learned enough Portuguese to graduate from “um pouquinho” to “um pouco.” As for pronunciation: any words that come from the indigenous people of Brazil. I think I’ve finally mastered Ibirapuera. But, forget about Anhangaba.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Stay calm… you’ll learn to deal with it. Everyone does… sooner or later.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Get out of town and mingle with the natives. Sure… Rio is nice to visit… especially the beach areas. But, it’s only when you see the chicken crossing the road that you know an authentic Brazilian meal is sure to be found close by.

You can contact Wiliam via

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Meredith Noll – USA
Mike Smith – UK
Jan Hillen – Belgium
Arne Rasmussen – Denmark
Don Fenstermaker – USA
Ken Van Zyl – South Africa
Angus Graham – UK
Anne Morddel – USA
Jessica Mullins – Switzerland
Evan Soroka – USA
Mary de Camargo – USA
Brendan Fryer – UK
Aaron Sundquist – USA
Jay Bauman – USA
Alan Williams – USA
Derek Booth – UK
Jim Shattuck – USA
Ruby Souza – Hawaii
Stephan Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
Louis van der Wiele – Holland
Drew Glaser – USA
Barry Elliott – Canada
Joel Barsky – USA
David Drummond – Canada
Liam Porisse – France
Jim Kelley – USA
Max Ray – USA
Jeremy Clark – Canada
Don Fredrick – USA
Jase Ramsey – USA
Ben Pearce – UK
Nitai Panchmatia – India
Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O’Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

By Jim Shattuck
April 15, 2011

Let me start out by saying that I am neither an economist nor a human resources professional. I’m sharing here some information I have learned from mining the depths of Google, trying to stitch it all together into a coherent post. Learning about the comparative realities of living here or in the USA (I’m sticking to just one country for simplicity’s sake) is both fun for the expat (I knew I wasn’t crazy – that shit is expensive!”) and cautionary for the lovebirds contemplating a move figuring it will all work out somehow (goddess bless them!).

The first thing to understand is that economies are different on many different levels: the price of things, the salaries people can earn, the taxes one pays, the non-cash (and deferred cash) benefits people earn over time, how value depreciates over time, how the banking and credit systems operate, what services are provided by the government, etc. In the case of Brazil and the USA – believe me – they are two different worlds that do not easily equate/translate.

Most travelers think in terms of the currency exchange rate: “Oh Brazil will be an affordable vacation destination; the exchange rate is in our favor, unlike London (for example).” Which may well be true, but moving here to live, work and retire is another matter altogether.

For the new resident, the impulse is to do a quick calculation in your head converting currencies to decide if something is expensive or not. But currency exchange rates give misleading comparisons because they do not reflect salary purchasing power differences.

To try and sort this all out (OK, not all of it, but enough to wrap your head around it) let’s look at three different ideas: cost of living, salary purchasing power parity, and comparative salaries across borders. This is a vastly simplified view, but as I came to discover online, this notion of understanding how one’s life will change financially when moving abroad is insanely complex and has birthed a whole industry of companies willing to sell you “calculators” and personalized reports to help you see into your future.

Cost of Living
To help me understand this topic I relied heavily on the website Expat American Living in Brazil and a post he posted some time ago.

So the salaries are a bit old (2001 – 2004), which could mean the numbers cited are low-balling it. Actually, given the boom in the economy in Brazil of late (and governmental increases in the minimum salary), chances are the salaries are now a bit higher in Brazil. But given the serious economic realities in the US of late, the salaries listed may not be all too off. In any case, I am trying to compare apples to apples – even if they are slightly old.

I’ve taken just 6 typical jobs across the spectrum for comparison. Go “Qualidade de Vida.”

Readers Comments:

I guess I can’t really agree with the analysis.

I am semi-retired and own my own home in the state of Rio. I spend the summer months (Dec-Mar) there and usually return to the USA a richer man on account of the lower expenses in Brazil.

The advantages of living in Brazil:

I don’t need or want a car. I can walk everywhere or take a bus for free (as a senior). That represents a tremendous savings.

My property taxes in Brazil amount to $800 per year. Here in Texas I pay over $5000 per year for a much smaller property. My place in Brazil has a game room, gazebo, swimming pool, parking lot, garage, fenced ball court, 2 separate houses and a suite. In the USA, I have a 3 Br house with typical garage and yard.

A cheap bottle of cachaa costs $3 in Brazil. A cheap bottle of vodka costs $12 in Texas.

In Brazil, I pay a housekeeper $30 for a 5-hour day, during which she cleans the house and prepares me food (cassaroles, bolos, salads) for a week using my food.

In Brazil, I pay a gardener $30 per 8-hr day, three days a month to maintain the grass, fruit trees and flowers.

I couldn’t justify employing a regular housekeeper or gardener here in Texas, in spite of the fact that there are Mexicans who will work for $8 per hour.

The advantages of living in Texas:

Everything high-tech costs 1/2 to 1/3 the price charged in Brazil.

Clothing is cheaper and superior, thanks to our Chinese.

Tools are cheaper and far superior, thanks again to our Chinese.

Gasoline is cheaper.

Good used cars are almost free.

Satellite TV, Internet connection and phone cost about the same in Brazil as in Texas.

Airfare is about the same in both countries, but Brazil has by far a superior intercity and interstate bus system. Greyhound sucks big time.

Restaurant food in Texas is superior, owing to the variety not so easily found in Brazil, especially when it comes to Mediterranean, Italian and Mexican offerings.

Meat is cheaper and better in Texas, though the Brazilian compensates with excellent churrasco. A McDonald’s hamburger costs more and is inferior in Brazil.

Fish is cheaper and better in Texas, especially salmon.

Fruits and veggies cost about the same in both places, though Brazil is far better when it comes to variety and freshness of fruit juices. In Brazil I can get about 20+ varieties of fruit juices at a corner bar, while in Texas I’m limited to apple, cranberry, grape, orange and grapefruit, none of which are generally available fresh on the street.

Brazilian wine and beer are awful. A 16-oz can of Guinness that can be found in only one specialty bar in my town there costs $13, while in Dallas you can get a draft pint of Guinness on the street for $6.

Brazilian tools and appliances are awful and nobody can fix anything. Nobody there knows how to sharpen a tool, especially a chainsaw chain, chisel, saw or drill bit. On the other hand, you can hire a Brazilian electrician, plumber or stone mason for $40 a day. In Texas, they charge $100 per hour, though we can always hire excellent Mexicans laborers for much less. If you’re stuck in Massachusetts, though, you’re screwed.

Brazilian cars are cheap and flimsy, lacking a lot of safety features. A decent Japanese car like a Honda or Toyota costs a fortune in Brazil.

Brazilian bread, ice cream, pizzas, pies and cakes are not up to American standards, though their fresh pãozinhos are great.

Public education is worse in Brazil than in the USA – hard to imagine – though healthcare is more available, cheaper and less byzantine.

In Brazil, families are bigger and closer, parties are more numerous, girls are prettier and wear skimpier bikinis, you can drink booze 24/7 anywhere, there are few pesky cops and almost none of the damn Baptists that pollute Texas.

— Jim

“Brazil is not for beginners”, I had never heard this before reading your article but I can see where the thinking comes from. I am, in fact, a beginner, 23, Irish, female and fed up of the job prospects that currently exist for people my age in Ireland and the rest of Europe. Having graduated in 2008, I did three years of soul-destroying, dead-end jobs before I decided to move to Brazil in October 2010 with my Brazilian boyfriend. Luckily, I had the same Idea and saved a load of cash before moving, otherwise I would be in trouble now.

I agree with many of the things you write in your article – consumer goods are incredibly expensive compared to the US or the UK (but I think consumers there are global rarities in that there are such a large number of companies vying for their custom that of course the price is driven down – but look how much debt those countries are in now). Given a decade or so, I think Brazil will be just as competitive and cheap.

But this doesn’t really bother me. What I love since moving to Brazil is that I don’t even have a work permit yet and I’m getting job offers left, right and centre. To me, that is progress. My friends in Europe are all miserable because they’re overqualified for the low-skilled jobs they’re fighting for. I might indeed take a pay cut once I get my first job in Brazil but at least it will have prospects for the future.

— Paula

Most of what you have said holds true for me too. I would say that unless whilst in Brazil you are on the salary you were earning in your home country, assuming you are not from Zimbabwe (ranked the worlds poorest) or have a reasonable income stream from overseas, or a fair amount of cash, you will be POOR in relation to your home country. I have met a number of expats who came out here a number of years ago with little money and they are doing it tough. One English lady who is working as an English teacher here in Florianopolis told me that she had been here a good many years but still was renting and was finding it very difficult to save the cost of a return fare to the UK to visit ageing family. Another couple were relying on the husbands UK aged pension and were finding it tough as they too were renting here.

One big advantage of being a resident here is that you can get VERY cheap housing loans, below 2% PA and Brazil has the world’s highest interest rates on deposits, over 10%. In fact I am getting more each month here than I get in one year on a UK account.

At present we are planning to spend a few years in the UK as we feel we need to top up our cash reserves, as inflation here in Brazil and the rising value of the Real is a bit of a worry, it’s 4 years before I start getting my pensions. I can earn significantly more in the UK than in Brazil and there is the atraction of seeing a bit of Europe too. Despite the depressed ecconomy there I have more employment prospects than here in Brazil, or surprizingly in Australia, we both have visas for there too.

So in short if you have reasonable amounts of cash or a secure substanstial income stream from overseas (but remeber the rising value of the Real$) you can live a VERY pleasant lifestyle here in Brazil. If not you can still have an enjoyable life, but a simple one.

I think the easiest way for a newbie to get an insight into the way tradespeople operate here is to read “A Year In Provence”.

— Steve

I’d say it all depends. If you are single, not fussy about particulars and make more than the min. wage in Brazil (I once made the min. wage there and it sucks *big time*), it can be a great choice in terms of moving.

I’m not too into electronics, aside from my Macbook Air bought off Craigslist in California, and as for Brazilian clothes, I don’t need them since I have my own here in the States (that I’d bring to Brazil). With even US$1000/month coming in, personally, I could live (what I would deem) well in Rio.

On the flip side, if you are the type of person who is going for the whole sha-bang (house, car, corporate job, etc) and like electronics and clothes, then yes, make sure you come well prepared, otherwise you’ll soon find yourself up the creek without a paddle.

Oh, and knowing Portuguese does wonders.

— Adam

As you said yourself, the salaries cited are outdated. There may be semi-illiterate primary teachers earning R$745 in some poorer states, but I recently read that in São Paulo the minimum wage is approx. R$ 1.200, and that not for a full 40-hour week. As for auto mechanics earning R$649, I doubt very much you’ll find one today working for such a wage – more likely, nearer to R$2.000 in São Paulo.

As for high-level executives, salaries in Brazil today are on par or even higher than in some developed countries, including the USA. (You can check this out with any specialized head-hunter).

Comments to Jim’s comments:

While agreeing with most of what you say (for instance tools and cars), I take issue with two of your comments:

1. Brazilian wine and beer are awful. A 16-oz can of Guinness that can be found in only one specialty bar in my town there costs $13, while in Dallas you can get a draft pint of Guinness on the street for $6.

The better Brazilian wines are comparable to Argentinian, Chilean or South African ones, and cost the same or slightly more (due to our overvalued currency). As for beer, where did you get the notion that it’s “awful”?! We have dozens of brands, from standard stuff like Brahma, Antarctica or Schin, which are very cheap (R$ 0.80-1.20 per 300ml can in supermarkets), to wonderful specialty brands, which also cost much less than $13. As for draft, you can get a decent 300ml “chopp” for R$3 or 4 in any bar or “chopperia”.

2. Brazilian bread, ice cream, pizzas, pies and cakes are not up to American standards, though their fresh pãozinhos are great.

Apart from the ubiquitous “pão francs”, you can today get many variants (whole grain, etc) in better “padarias” in larger cities; Brazilian pizza is often much superior to the stuff sold in many places; ice cream can be lousy if you mean the standard kind (Kibon etc), but you can also find many other better (and more expensive) brands – unfortunately, mostly too sweet for foreign tastes. And only here you get the wonderful tropical fruit ice cream (umbu, maracuj, etc)!


I like the article and the analysis. However, I think that it’s a little too US-centric for comparison since the US isn’t the only country that others are coming from to immigrate to Brazil.

If you actually do the analysis with a lot of other countries, the salaries are actually better in Brazil especially for certain fields. Also, the Financial Times and many other financial publications are stating that financial specialists make easily 15% more (and double with respect to China) than their counterparts in all other countries:

Granted, the lower levels aren’t on par or better than the US as yet but that will change with companies like JP Morgan Chase and others aggressively expanding there: If this is so bad for the white males, how do you think it is for the others? Blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc?

And, when you consider outsourcing, jobs in the US are getting fewer and fewer: 0 Comments/by