The idea of living in eternal summer surrounded by caring people who want to live life to its fullest sounds nice right?
Though we all know that dropping everything we know and making the switch to living in Brazil required more then just “wanting to do so”. Arriving in Brazil without a place to stay, source of income, solid visa or could be the proverbial “stick in our spokes” that sends us flying.
What if you could keep that stick from entering your spokes and be able to cruise in peace and happiness, would you take those actions?
Based on the 1000’s of e-mails I’ve received since starting this site, I’m going to answer the top 3 problems that we face in this community and give you solutions so that you can sleep soundly at night 🙂
1. Making Money in Brazil
By far the most asked questions and most visited pages on this site have to do with making money in Brazil. This is something obvious as without money you can only live on the graces of others and that gets tiring fast – both for you and your host.
Let’s break down the most viable options for making a living in order of most likely to most difficult:
You as a foreigner have something that Brazilians want badly: English.
Only about 5% of Brazilians speak English and the other 95% want to! This is a HUGE market and the demand for English teachers is only growing and insatiable – especially with the World Cup, Olympics and other huge events that will attract foreigners by the masses.
The reality is that the current English schools in Brazil are very poor quality (for the most part) and don’t get Brazilians fluent. Many realize this and look for foreigners to teach them by either asking for private lessons or the schools themselves will hire you to give lessons.
Now, the word on the street is that most foreigners teaching English in Brazil are doing it under the table and without a valid “work visa” (which can be tough to get). I don’t condone working illegally but as a little FYI, about 60% of Brazilians work under the table – it’s basically a huge cat and mouse game “grey area”.
If you don’t know where to get started, then I’d suggest that you take a look at this series I wrote on teaching English and definitely go take a look at – he has his ear to the ground more than I do in that area.
Working for Yourself
If you are an entrepreneurial person, then consider opening a business online or physically in Brazil.
The First Option is to open some kind of online store, digital business or just work a satellite job in order to pay for your lifestyle in Brazil.
The obvious advantage of this is that you will be making your earnings abroad at a higher rate then in Brazil, you can open your business outside Brazil and avoid the insane bureaucracy involved.
This is a great option if you are unable to get a work visa for some reason as it allows you to stay legally and earn a legal living too!
The second option is to open a physical business like a restaurant or the like. I know of several people who have done this and done really well.
If you are considering this, then you will want to check out the podcast interview I did with successful business owner Josh Stevens about his story in opening Café Cultura in Florianópolis.
Just be aware that if you are considering going down this route, that there can be a lot of tricky bureaucratic things that pop up so plan for the worst and hope for the best!
Getting a Job with a Company
If you have a solid skill set, good education or just great connections, then you could look at getting hired on with a company in Brazil.
When going down this route, you need to be aware that the company will have to sponsor your visa and offer you a solid contract.
Now, if the company has never been down this route before and hired a foreigner, then it’s best to take the employment opportunity with a grain of salt. This is due to the fact that a work visa can take anywhere from 1–2 months to get approved and costs about r$3000 for them to hire a company to take care of it all.
So never come down on a job promise, always wait until the visa is in place before coming. I say this because there are so many members of our community that have been wronged and lost everything due to empty promises, though the other side of the coin is that there are tons of others who have had great success.
2. Getting a Visa
The second most commonly asked question has to do with the best way to gain residence in Brazil.
Here are the 3 easiest visa types ranked by easiness:
Brazilian Family (or Having a Baby in Brazil)
If you are married into a Brazilian family, the it’s only a matter of going down to the consulate or Polícia Federal and arranging for your permanent visa. This visa will allow you to legally work and live in Brazil as if you were a Brazilian.
Though if you don’t have any Brazilian family and are looking at having a baby in the near future, then read further…
Many of you have heard the story of how I came to Brazil on a volunteer visa, met a foreign wife WHILE in Brazil (what are the odds?) and had no idea how we would be able to live and stay permanently.
The solution was to have a child in Brazil as this child get’s instant citizenship and you get instant residency! And trust me, this isn’t viewed in the same way as the USA, Brazilians and Brazilian authorities love and welcome the idea of you doing this!
They are truly open and warm-hearted people that also realize what we foreigners bring to the table: money, educations, experience and a link to the outside world that Brazil so desperately needs.
You will want to read my step-by-step guidance in the Giving Birth in Brazil Series if you are considering this option.
The student visa is what author Joe Naab refers to as the “secret permanent visa” in his book Brazil for Life – if you haven’t had a chance to purchase his book, it’s a must read!
Here’s how it functions in a nutshell: you find a private language school to take Portuguese lessons at, they will then send you the required paperwork about enrollment that you will need in order to apply for your student visa in your home country (you will have to leave Brazil and come back if you are wanting to switch status).
After approval of the visa, you can come back and stay for 6 months. Now, these courses usually don’t last longer than this (I know of a school that only has a few week’s intensive program that will give you a 6 month visa – contact me for more info), though after the 6 months are up, it’s pretty easy to extend it as much as you like.
After learning Portuguese within those 6 months, you can “continue” your part time education by enrolling at a local University at a very reasonable price and then continue renewing your visa for as long as you are enrolled!
There are a couple of other visa options that are pretty easy to get but this will depend on your situation and what you want to get out of living in Brazil.
If you have some money to invest then you can go the investor visa route and get permanence that way. This will allow you to work and live in Brazil for 3 years and then extend it again after that. Though be warned that this visa process from start to finish usually takes about 6 months!
If you wouldn’t mind volunteering, then a great route is the Volunteer visa as this gives you the right to live in Brazil for up to 2 years. This is the route I originally went with and a great option. Though be aware that this visa can take up to 4–5 months to get (even though they state 2–3) and you must apply for it from your home country.
3. Learning to Speak Portuguese (How necessary and where to start)
The third most common question I get is in regards to speaking Portuguese and it usually goes something like this: can I get by speaking English and how do I learn fluently?
First off, it is VITAL for your success to learn Portuguese. Brazil isn’t like many of the European countries, where they commonly speak English as a second language. You can get around a bit in the touristed areas on your English though the minute you decide to integrate into the Brazilian society, you’ll be left behind.
Brazil is an unexplored gold-mine for foreigners that have something to bring to the table and whether you realize it or not, you have plenty to offer!
On top of that, everything is in Portuguese: online banking, supermarkets, anything governmental, manuals, stores etc. So just getting around day-to-day either requires that you live at the mercies of translational help or that you take the bull by the horns and learn to speak Portuguese.
Though what program is best? To be honest, this is something that has been an unanswerable question for this community for a while now. Current Portuguese programs will only give you vocab and grammar drills, allowing you to have a basic “dry” structure – most of which will have to be thrown out the window when you realize that 40% of the grammar you learn is unnecessary in speaking.
Though, I owe my fluency to a method that is unlike any others around and do to the community’s request, I’ve created a video series to guide you through what works to get fluent: . It’s a series of videos focused on unlocking your Portuguese so you can be speaking right from the get-go.
There is obviously a lot more to a successful life in Brazil than the above, though it should at least eliminate some of the biggest roadblocks standing in your way!
How can you use the above to overcome anything blocking you from living in paradise?
Thanks for sticking with me and may your journey to paradise be a great one.
P.S. know of anyone that can benefit from this? Be kind and share 🙂