How to be a Local Celebrity in Brazil

Maringá Hollywood Looking for a way out of the mundane and into something extraordinary?

Today, I’m going to tell you a story of how an average Joe took his boring life and transformed it into something amazing.

It all started years ago back in a mundane 9–8 job in the USA, where our man “Jeff” was working 60 hours a week serving the lifestyle he had learned was “the right way to live”.

The truth is that it wasn’t Jeff’s cup of tea and he was ready to move from an ordinary, stress-full lifestyle into a life full of love and acceptance.

You see, Jeff valued personal relationships over tasks and pure routine – what would await him in the little city of Maringá, Paraná would shock and surprise him forever…

Jeff’s Rise to Local Celebrity Status

After arriving in this little city of Maringa in the middle of the state of Paraná, he was awe-struken by how open and accepting people were towards him.

Maringa Brazil location

Maringá is located in land around 8 hours from São Paulo.

It seemed that people would go out of their way to make an effort to get to know him, greet him, exchange contact information and open doors for him wherever he went.

He couldn’t walk down the street without being greeted by random people, shop owners and friends from all corners. Going to the downtown city was not just for practical reasons, it was a blast!

He even became friends with the immigration agent in the city (Polícia Federal) who was happy to help him with his visa status.

It was as if he had a personal fanclub automatically falling into place – but why?

1. He picked a small city

Jeff had accidentaly picked a small city that wasn’t used to having a lot of foreigners around. And since he was one of the few in the city, it made it really exciting for local Brazilians to get to know him or help him out.

Maringa city center

Maringá, Paraná from above

Think about 100,000 very warm and hospitable Brazilians competing of welcomeing someone new into the city, it’s was almost brutal at times 😉

2. Foreigners are looked at as celebrities

Think about it for a moment, if you watched foreign movies, programs and documentaries daily coming from the USA (and sometimes Europe), wouldn’t it be exciting to meet someone who is just like the people on the TV?

Sounds a bit silly but it’s true, just because you look and talk like the people on the TV or websites, it makes them feel like they are directly connected to the big celebrities out there.

This obviously isn’t so much the case for cities that are used to having foreigners around like São Paulo or Rio though very much for small cities.  I personally get called “Kevin Bacon”, “Harry Potter”, “Kevin Costner” constantly…

3. Jeff spoke Portuguese

Before leaving to Brazil, Jeff had been smart to .

This was at his great advantage because very few of the general population in Brazil speak English and this is especially the case in the smaller cities.

By speaking Portuguese, he was able to strike up conversations with people, build relationships and easily live day-to-day.  This opened the floodgates of amazing conversation and allowed him to really enjoy the company of other Brazilians around rather than the awkward “I don’t know what to say” silence from both sides.

If you’re interested in my FREE Portuguese crash course, then sign up here:

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After Some Time This…

Fast forward many months and Jeff was already welcomed into tight circles, had a great source of income filming weddings and events and was loving his life.

Nothing could stand in the way of this awesome lifestyle and the forward momentum that had been built up.

It was as if this life had been meant for him and that he finally discovered his place in this world!

A Confession…

Ok, a confession here, Jeff is a shameless cover for myself…

Living the time I did in Maringá was really a wonderful experience. Sure, I bombed in the beginning due to the lack of wisdom I freely share with you today, though after some time this little magnificent city with very decent infrastructure, low crime and plenty of opportunities turned out to be an amazing fit.

Leaving my mundane life behind to encounter such an exciting and fulfilling lifestyle was the best choice I ever made… And I would like to encourage you today to consider looking past some of these bigger cities and to consider starting somewhere smaller.

The cost of living is low and quality of life is very high, you can easily get a job teaching English at many of the schools dying to get their hands on native or highly proficient English speakers and really enjoy your life.

And Finaly

If you want to hear another weird and crazy story about a foreigner’s start in Brazil plus a breakdown on how to live successfully in Brazil, then sign up for my free video series below – you won’t regret it.

Here’s to your success as a fellow future local-celebrity in Brazil 🙂


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  • Dear Kevin,
    Thank you for sharing you wonderful experiences! Your enthusiasm is contagious:)
    I spent 2 months in Brazil @ 10 years ago… – Bahia, Manaus, Roraima, Rio… All wonderful… I’ve been teaching the local Braz popl here in the US ever since.
    I would love to move to Brazil. I lived in Africa for a few years in my 20
    s and 30’s and loved the closeness of the people and the closeness to nature… a very good rhythm of life. Clearly Brazil has this and a lot more… the culture is so very rich.
    I wonder how old you were when you up and moved? Are you married to a Brazilian? This seems essential. I’m wondering too about the real deal in terms of earning potential. I have 2 sons who could use my help. I have a Masters in Global Public Health and experience teaching oral skills in English: speaking/listening/oral grammar/pronunciation (not much writing).
    I would love to move to a town in Northern Brazil if I felt I had a chance of getting any traction in terms of real earnings.
    I hear that in Brazil someone in the 40’s or 50’s is considered very old… and that work is all but impossible. What are your observations and thoughts about all this?

    Anxiously awaiting your ‘low-down’:)

    • Hey Elle!

      Yeah, can totally feel ya on that one!

      I moved for the first time to Brazil when I was 22 and met my wife in Brazil though she isn’t Brazilian. We had a child in Brazil which gave us the option of permanent residence.

      Not sure about the 40-50’s work perception though you have the gringo advantage so I wouldn’t worry about it!

      I hope that helps!


      • Hi Kevin,

        Thanks for being in touch!
        What is the earning potential there? There a many many Brazilians here in Boston from M.G. who are super homesick but don’t go back to Brazil due to the poor job or pay situation. What kind of work are you doing? May I ask what you’re earning? What kinds of work might be open to a ‘Gringo’ in small towns? … at what compensation? Is one able to earn enough to send money home and save … pay a mortgage? You are so very happy…perhaps none of this is that important to you:)
        Nonetheless, I really appreciate your candor.

        • Hey Elle,

          It’s ok from a Brazilian perspective. I am in digital marketing now but have previously had corporate jobs and freelance work.

          A gringo in small towns would do well teaching English, this would give him a decent middle class lifestyle. Mortgages are another story though as getting financing in Brazil is expensive.


          • I would also say there’s a bit of a real estate bubble in Latin America, I would rent until that plays itself out.

            My friend Stephen teaches English in Salvador, he’s also married to a Brazilian woman.

  • Kev, you again proved that you don’t have to have monster skills to find employment, but you have to be a self-starter. You can’t be waiting for people to give you a job. You’re experience in a mature economy give you a huge advantage over the majority of the population.

    Some might think that’s harsh but that’s the way it is and a product of the US supporting two bit dictators (even in Brazil) stunting the growth of countries which is why most of them still depend highly on the agro business.

    Anyway, nobody would ever think about working as a wedding photographer and be paid well enough to support a family.

    This is why I keep saying as well as others; that Latin America is where the new middle class is being built. With limited job skills by the local population, forward thinking Americans/Europeans can easily create job opportunities for themselves but also quality employment for the local population.

    If I could somehow get an affordable ticket down I would have left already… It sucks the price is slowly going back up and there won’t be a downturn later in 2014 because of the World Cup.

    Right now $1032 from LAX to SP.

    I may drive down….

    • You are right, it’s all about being brave enough to take the leap and having a bold spirit to keep fighting 😉 And it is the place for skilled foreigners to make it.

      To give you an example: if you advertise a product in the states, it costs about $1.50 per click on Facebook, in Brazil that same click would be $.04!

      Yeah, working as a videographer paid BUCKETloads of money for Brazilian standards. I’d get like R$1,600 for a single event because I’d say “hey, I’ll record it for free if you just let me sell the finished DVD to the parents!”

      Wow, maybe you should do a road trip hehe

      • I wasn’t joking about driving, I’ve wanted to drive the Pan American Highway for a while now, but it would be about triple to drive down but I would at least have a car and yes I would buy a new car to avoid all the hassles with used cars down there.

        I am going to have to think of something because I think the price will get up to around $1,200 before I have enough saved up.

        Buying one way would be risky but I am considering it. I’d save about $400.

        I’ll send you an email because I wanna ask you an opinion on something.

        Thanks again Kevin.

  • Hello Kevin

    Thank you so much for the huge amount of information and life experience you share with us

    great post about this wonderful city Maringa 🙂

    • Well, you are extremely qualified, as i see you have good english and if you learn the portuguese then you gonna have a huge salary here with the experience that you have, but fo that you should chose Blumenau or Florianopolis both are not so big, but this cities are alot better for informatics then Maringá, and the Quality of life of Florianopolis its unbeliviable, and it has half a million population and the cost of life is great. Blumenau is amazing too, Blumenau is the best city for informatics on the country it has the size of Maringá and both Florianopolis and Blumenau you feel like in a first world coutry they are extremely better cities than Sao Paulo or Rio, you can take a look on these cities on street view.

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  • I moved to Ourinhos right on the other side of the river about 3 hours away from Maringa and learning the language has been slow going mostly because I chose the audio course by Pimsleur and I’m a visual learner, so then I got the classic “Brazilian Portuguese for Dummies” and within days I noticed a marked improvement in my communication, but now that I see your program it’s what made the most sense to me, learn through what you can relate to and love. I’m excited and have started going through your videos, you ever been to the represa by Ribeirao Claro, Chavantes? There’s a nice place called Tayaya that I like to go with my fiancee, cheers and thank you again for your work!

  • I am Brazilian/American, born in the town of Curitiba, Paraná (southernmost part of BR).
    My husband is american, and we live in Tacoma, Washington State. We left everything here to try life in Brazil, close to my family a few years ago.
    Note here, that even with me being a Brazilian things were extremely difficult.
    My husband is an artist, doing drawings, sculpting and painting and we struggled to make ends meet. Our savings lasted no longer than a year.
    You can not find a decent apartment or house to live in my town for less than $1200 reals. Minimum wage in Brazil is currently $788 reals or $276 dollars MONTHLY (something around $1.26/hr). Note that in Brazil the minimum wage is universal, or the same, in all states unlike in US when some states are different.
    I appreciate your work , but I have to say there is A LOT to be said about living in Brazil and unless you are extremely qualified and have a solid profession you will find extremely difficult to find a job.
    Simple things like opening a bank account are very hard and there is a huge bureaucracy involving it. Building your credit is also difficult and renting a place if you don’t have credit or a bank account is nearly impossible.
    People in Brazil are very friendly but you will find that if you don’t have a job, a car, a house, the friends will go away very quick. Your ~celebrity~ status wont be of much help for you then.
    Good luck to those who are willing to give it a try.
    Remember to keep an open mind.
    It is not Paradise. Paradise is wherever your heart is.

    • Did you go back to Curitiba? That’s an expensive-ass city regardless. It’s not Rio, but it’s up there. Big college town, not a lot of farmers etc. in the city. I think what Kevin was trying to say is something along the lines of “Choose a small town”. I lived like a King in Natal, RN when I was 17. Came back to Canada, married a Brazilian etc.. Western life, in the financial sector specifically, just wore me out. My wife started up a couple of businesses in Brazil and we’re planning on moving to the far North – Roraima! this year!!

  • I learned to speak Portuguese fluently in 2.5 months after arriving in Brazil. Here’s what I knew how to say when I got there. It’s just 2 questions. 2 questions and be able to point at the thing/situation or whatever. You ready? Okay here’s the biggest secret to learning Portuguese fluently and this is no BS:
    “O quê que você está fazendo?” – “What are you doing?”; AND
    “O que é isso/isto?” – “What is this/that?”
    That’s all I knew. 2.5 months later I could converse about any topic, not perfectly of course, but it certainly didn’t feel like there were any limits to the subject matter we could talk about. After 8 months of total immersion, I could travel the entire country and no one would figure I was a gringo unless I showed them my ID.

  • When I, a Chicagoan, first read this post, shortly after you wrote it, I’d only just heard of Maringa, as my Brazileiro boyfriend at the time called it home. Your post was a godsend, obrigada! Flash forward to today – that guy is no longer my boyfriend because he is now my husband! We were married in Maringa (what a journey; no one but me spoke English – thankfully, like you, I learned Portuguese) and it is with great joy that I write to you now as the Gringa Em Maringa! Thanks again for the helpful info!

  • I lived in Maringa for almost 6 years. Like most Gringos, I easily got a job teaching English which was a trial in itself relearning grammar in order to teach it. Maringa is an absolutely wonderful city. I’ll admit that teaching English did not bring me riches in any way shape or form, but I did have the chance to learn what real “freedom” was. I probably took longer than most to learn Portuguese just because I had lots of English speaking acquaintances. After acquiring fluency I was able to move about and really get to know the people. I met my wife there and we decided to move back to the US at the beginning of 2015 due to the declining economy. Still not sure if it was the greatest idea. After experiencing life in Brazil it is very difficult to readjust to life in the US. My advice to anyone thinking about moving to Brazil would be, GO!!!!! And if you’re really smart, don’t ever leave lol. The only way to really understand the word “Saudades” is to experience it for yourself. Morro de saudade do Brasil.


    • Really nice to hear your story! Hope you return to Brazil some day! It sounds like the Brazilian chapter of your life is not yet finished!

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