Within recent memory, Brazil has emerged as a new and significant global player, both economically and politically. Although Brazil had enjoyed a period of perpetual economic growth, which, combined with its laidback lifestyle and favorable climate, have caused ever increasing numbers of expat from various fields to consider a move to Brazil, this could be in the process of changing. In 2014, Brazil experienced an economic contraction for two consecutive quarters, marking the first technical recession in five years. However, despite the third quarter ending the recession with a minuscule growth of 0.1%, both governmental and independent economists have decreased projections for growth in the upcoming years.
Although this turbulence in the economy shouldn’t worry expats too much, it is important to realize that settling down in Brazil and finding a job there has always required a considerable amount of dedication and perseverance, not to mention a bit of good luck. Nevertheless, many who now enjoy their lives in a bustling metropolis or a scenic coastal city say that getting a visa and moving to Brazil was well worth the effort.
Brazil boasts the dynamic business climate of one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Despite recent contraction, Brazil remains the 7th largest economy on the globe, becoming such in early 2012. Although economists believed the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 would provide further stimulus to the booming economy, this expectation has since come under review. The former is thought to have had a negative impact on the economy, as municipal holidays during local games and staff truancy from work to watch the competition decreased production rates and played a role in the aforementioned technical recession. The results of the Olympic Games on the Brazilian economy have yet to be seen.
Nevertheless, Brazil’s reputation as a growing economy continues to be a magnet for both foreign investment and skilled workers from abroad temporarily moving to Brazil. For foreign experts, the country’s pioneering fields of ethanol production – recently flagging, but still firmly supported by the government – and deep water oil research offer attractive career opportunities.
One of the other reasons why moving to Brazil is popular among expats is its reliable political situation. After the abolishment of military rule in 1985, the state has gradually established a stable democratic system. As those moving to Brazil may know, the Brazilians elected their first ever female president in January 2011: Dilma Rousseff, former chief of staff of retiring ex-president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. After facing intense criticism and eruptions of protest concerning accusations of corruption and poor public services in the face of the FIFA World Cup, Rousseff narrowly won reelection in 2015, with just 51.6% of the vote.
You will soon notice the highly unequal distribution of income. While over the past few decades there has been significant upwards social mobility, creating a new middleclass, poverty remains one of the country’s major socio-political problems. The crime rate, feared by many who consider a move to Brazil, is relatively high. Although, according to reports, crime has been decreasing in urban areas like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, expatriates should still be careful. Some expats moving to Brazil, however, report that it is less noticeable in their daily life, provided they adhere to some basic safety rules, e.g. be vigilant at night, rent accommodation in safe compounds, and never try to resist any thief, mugger, or robber. Furthermore, corruption, despite efforts of the government to tackle it, is still considered one of the country’s biggest issues, both by locals and expats moving to Brazil.
São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, is by far the most popular expat destination in the state. Apart from its sheer size – São Paulo’s metropolitan area is home to nearly 20 million people – it is also Brazil’s economic and financial center, housing the São Paulo Stock Exchange. In 2011, it was estimated to have generated over 17% of the country’s GDP. Plenty of multinational headquarters are located there, and expatriates moving to Brazil will find that São Paulo has more to offer than any other place in the country.
Brazil’s most famous and notorious metropolis of Rio de Janeiro is lagging slightly behind São Paulo in terms of expat popularity. However, this is definitely not due to a lack of attractiveness – Rio holds the title for the most visited city in the Southern Hemisphere – but rather the lower number of employment opportunities for foreigners. Most commonly, expats moving to Brazil to work in Rio are employed as specialists in Brazil’s petrochemical sector and other important industries, or they scrape a living by teaching English.
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