In the last few years Brazil has appeared on the international stage as a popular destination for foreigners looking to work abroad. Those who are willing to make the move will find that taking a job in Brazil can be a rewarding and life changing experience.
Not all is perfect in paradise though. There are some serious challenges facing those who seek jobs in Brazil. Brazil is unlike the United States and Europe in many regards and it is important that you understand the cultural differences between these places. If you take a job in Brazil, there are several issues that you will face, which will be covered in this post.
The biggest challenge that you as a foreigner will face is getting the right visa in order to work legally. Getting a tourist visa is a pretty straightforward process without too many complicated steps, but the process for getting a student visa, work visa, marriage visa or investor visa is anything but easy.
Getting all of the right paperwork in order can be tricky, as the slightest discrepancy can often derail the entire process. When applying for visas, documents need to be translated and notarized in Brazil, then you have to travel to your home country in order to apply for the visa at the Brazilian embassy there. If for some reason they don’t accept your documents, you have to go all the way back to Brazil and return to your home country with the new documents.
When dealing with the Brazilian government, make sure to add several months of buffer room to whatever it is that you’re doing. You may have to make several trips between Brazil and your home country before you get everything right. Be aware of this possibility and don’t take out your frustration on the office workers, as this will only delay the procedure.
Getting any kind of visa beyond a tourist visa without professional help is not recommended. Even if you speak fluent Portuguese and feel you are capable of doing it yourself, it is much better to hire a specialist who is familiar with the process and has frequent interactions with the bureaucrats who control your fate. The Brazil Business and Brazil Law Blog are two resources that specialize in helping foreigners who want to do business in Brazil.
Cost of Living in Brazil
Another negative aspect about working in Brazil is the high cost of living which comes as a result of Brazil’s bureaucracy and tax system. The cost of living is not so high everywhere in Brazil, especially if you live in cheaper cities like Salvador. You will likely be surprised by just how expensive Brazil is, especially if you’ve traveled to other countries in South America.
The cost of living is highest in Brazil’s two biggest cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. To rent an apartment in the nice areas of these cities will cost an arm and a leg, and that is if you can even find a place to rent. As a foreigner you may be called upon to pay 6 months of rent in advance in order to secure the contract.
If you want to have a car in Brazil, expect to pay twice as much as you would in the US for the same car. The Brazilian is very protectionist and seemingly does everything it can to discourage the purchase of foreign products. On top of the initial cost of purchasing the car, there are numerous taxes and fees, which after around 5 years will equal what you originally paid for the car. Its 1 for the price of 4!
Anything imported is going to be expensive. Make sure you buy your electronics and clothes before you come to Brazil
Is Brazil Safe?
Safety is usually the top issue that Americans have on their mind when they contemplate moving to Brazil. Looking on from the outside it may appear that Brazil is a dangerous country, especially if you only focus on crime statistics and are hyper sensitive to the news.
When you actually come to Brazil though, you will realize that there is a lot of hype about how dangerous Brazil is. You will learn that most of the violence in Brazil is contained to certain areas and that most of the places you go you wont have to worry about crime. The more you learn about Brazil and the better you speak Portuguese the more secure you will feel walking around in Brazil.
That’s not to say that there is no risk involved. Crime does exist, and you do have to take precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Don’t be flashy with your money, avoid walking home at night, and especially don’t walk around bad neighborhoods at night loudly speaking English.
Everyone’s experience in Brazil is different, and you will find people who swear that Brazil is the most dangerous country in the world, but you will also find people who feel that it is a pretty safe country. Personally I feel safer walking around the streets of Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro than I do walking around Los Angeles.
Whatever you do, don’t let safety become an issue that prevents you from taking a job in Brazil. Come down for a short time to get to know the place first and you will see that the hype is overblown.
Lack of Information and Resources
If you are fortunate enough to have been offered a job in Brazil then you likely have some kind of support with getting a visa and relocating. Consider yourself very lucky. Having such a service is invaluable and will save you from many headaches.
For everyone else, the biggest difficulty you face when moving to Brazil is not knowing how things work and not having the language ability or cultural understanding to be able to figure things out on your own. Though it is possible to come here and figure things out by yourself, you are making your life a lot more difficult than it needs to be by not reaching out for help.
There are a few online resources available for foreigners who wish to live and work in Brazil. You will find an active forum of Brazil expats over at Gringoes.com; any question you have has probably already been answered there. There are also sites like AngloInfo which provide information about expat living in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
For professional networking in Brazil one of the best resources out there is Internations. Internations is a worldwide organization that connects expats through networking events and online discussions. It’s recommended that you sign up and connect with people through that network before you move to Brazil.
There are also individuals who have websites that are dedicated to helping foreigners come to Brazil. Kevin of LiveinBrazil.org specializes in helping families move to Brazil and have children in Brazil. His website is packed with good information about life in Brazil and is a must read resource for anyone serious about moving to Brazil.
Joe Noab also stands out for his commitment to helping foreigners who wish to live and own property in Brazil. He has a must read book about living in Brazil that is the authority resource on the subject. He also occasionally updates his blog with interesting material about living in Brazil.
You can always ask any Brazilian you meet for help. Brazilians are the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve met, and are generally more than happy to help out a foreigner who is having trouble in their country.
And of course I’m here to help you in any way I can. Feel free to ask a question in the comments below, send me an email, or ask me a question on Facebook and I’ll do my best to help you out.