Ever wonder what the most important things are to consider when figuring out where to settle down in Brazil?
Well today we have a special guest blog post from Joe Naab, where he is going to give us the top 5 tips we should know for a scouting trip to Brazil.
Joe is probably one of the most active and successful members of the foreign community in Brazil, and I mention Joe and his expertise quite a bit on this site – he is really worth listening to. (you can see his contact info at the end of this post)
So without further ado, here are the 5 tips:
1. Think Like a Resident, Not a Tourist
Time is a limited resource. The more time you spend in the mindset of a tourist the less time you have to explore the city for it’s appropriateness as a place to start your new life. Often, these two mindsets are mutually exclusive. As a tourist we often stay in the neighborhood full of hotels and pousadas. We go to the beaches that are rated as the best by the travel books and websites. We pay for day trips to visit the city’s landmarks, be they museums, sand dunes, aquatic parks, jungle excursions, the old city, etc., and in doing so fall into a rutted path worn in by the millions of tourists who visit Brazil each year.
A Brazilian resident will go to the beaches free of tourists. In doing so these beaches are often free of vendors, crime and prostitution. The prices are lower. A resident will want to live outside of the tourist zone with loud clubs, noisy traffic and the risk of street assault.
Explore each stop from the mindset of a long-term resident. You may even find you have more fun this way.
2. Know What You are Looking for Before You Arrive, then Look for It
Each person has a different set of needs and it’s critically important to know your own set of needs and their priorities relative to each other before you arrive.
- Are you single and is dating a high priority?
- What will be your monthly living budget, as the cost of living can change from city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood?
- Do you like big cities or small cities? Often this effects whether you are surrounded by or very near nature, as opposed to concrete, asphalt and a high density of tall edifices.
Here’s a short list of other considerations:
- Is fitness a priority and how will you meet it’s needs if it is? Do you need a quality gym or will any gym do? Do you need a martial arts school, maybe a yoga or Pilates studio?
- Do you make meals at home or eat most meals out? If you make meals at home you can live in a neighborhood with few restaurants, and you’ll want to be near a good produce market and supermarket.
- Is nightlife important to you? If so, what type? Partner dancing? Electronic music? Live Brazilian music? How far do you want to be from your favorite places?
- Do you want to walk or drive most of the time? Among my highest priorities was that I wanted to be within walking distance of most everything I did. On my first day in any city I would ask ten people, Where’s the best neighborhood to live where you can walk to everything, such as gyms, cafés, restaurants, clubs, banks, etc.? I always got great answers and could immediately focus my time well.
3. Slowly Walk Each Candidate Neighborhood, Ask Questions, Take Notes
Start with a good map. Walk up and down every street, north/south and east/west. Take notes on the map and have a notepad with you, too, to note all points of interest. If you visit several cities it’s easy to forget things for later comparison.
If you see a gym walk in and take the tour. If you see a café, stop in for an espresso or juice. Enter and explore the produce markets and supermarkets, check the prices of things. Take note of the traffic, the cleanliness and safety of the streets, and the nature of the people you see.
Note the quality of the houses and apartment buildings. Spend a day or two with a realtor getting into some buildings to see what your money can buy or rent. Ask detailed questions and take detailed notes.
Ask questions like, where’s the best place to have lunch in this neighborhood? Which is the best gym? Is there a dance school where I can learn to partner dance? and so on.
4. Practice Living in the Neighborhood You Like
This will depend on the time you have. Some may have to make a return visit. I spent three years traveling out of a suitcase searching for a new place to call home. If I found city I liked and then a neighborhood within the city I liked, I would stay one to three months there.
If you have even a few weeks, practice living in the neighborhood you like. Rent a furnished apartment there. Build routines as if you already lived there. Join a gym for a month. Take some dance classes. Explore the nightlife and visit the different beaches to find the one that suits you best. Note the strengths and weaknesses of the neighborhood. What might it be missing that you can or can’t live without?
Make friends. Flirt. Shop. Party. Could you call this place your home?
5. Visit More than One City
Essentially, repeat the above four steps in more than one city, time permitting. If you arrive in a city that falls short of what you’ve already found in another city, there’s no reason to stay there. Go visit yet another city.
One thing I noticed during my exploration is that my own list of what was important in life began to change. For example, I always assumed I would live in a large city. However, I began to develop a distaste for long distances, traffic, noise, concrete, asphalt and density of tall, man-made structures. The pace of life was too fast in big cities and the people were noticeably more agitated, and I wanted to get away from that, even though the big cities offered the greatest variety in food, entertainment and so on.
And, of course, remember that you can start a life in one city that meets your needs at that time in your life, and then move to another city when you are ready for something else. After ten years here I find myself drawn to the countryside big, open spaces, beautiful landscapes, self-sustainability and silence. I don’t need the beach anymore. It won’t be far away. I don’t drink or party anymore. I’m mostly vegan now and rarely eat out, whereas I ate almost every meal out when I got here.
Good luck to you in your exploration. If you put in the time, Brazil will produce for you a great place to start your new life.
Joe Naab has been a great example to me and others of how to be successful in Brazil. He is the author of Brazil for Life!, a how-to living guide for those who want to start a new life or have a second home in Brazil. If you liked this blog post, then make sure and check his book out here (Affiliate link).
He is presently working on a outside the city of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. He can be found at and reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Youtube channel is called
Thanks again Joe for your contribution and give this post a thumbs up if you enjoyed it!