Brazil: Romantic, Exotic and Diverse
Despite Brazil’s size and growing prominence in the world today, it remains uncharted territory for many people. The name “Brazil” likely conjures up images of Rio’s beaches, Carnival, or perhaps the Amazon rainforest. And while Brazil is all these things, it is also much more...
Brazil is exotic, romantic, and incredibly diverse. Almost certainly Brazil has something to offer you, regardless of your tastes.
And while this largest of all Latin countries has seen rapid development in recent years, there are still good investment opportunities to be had in some very desirable areas.
A Large, Tropical Paradise
Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country—larger, in fact, than the continental U.S. It comprises more than half of South America, bordering every country except Chile and Ecuador.
The capital of Brazil is Brasilia, with a population of 2.5 million. Its largest city is São Paulo, with over 11 million. Rio de Janeiro, the country’s second-largest city, has an official population of 6.5 million. Brazil has modern cities such as Curitiba and Porto Alegre, and is peppered with lovely colonial towns such as Paraty and Ouro Preto.
Brazil is blessed with almost 5,000 miles of sandy beaches, warm Atlantic waters, a fantastic climate, and mountains with spring-fresh weather. And don’t forget the Amazon Basin, or the Pantanal, the world’s largest seasonal wetlands.
Brazil’s weather is definitely part of its appeal. The climate is mostly tropical (Brazil has the world’s longest tropical coast), but with temperate climates in the southern part of the country. Temperatures are warm and balmy all year in the tropical areas, but much of the coast enjoys a pleasant onshore breeze, which makes for comfortable weather and clean, healthy air.
What Brazil does not have are earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes!
Brazil’s culture is one of the richest and most fascinating on earth, having added the cultural influences of Europe, Africa, and Asia to its indigenous roots. These roots have together produced a wonderfully rich panorama which ranges from samba to capoeira, and from the festas juninas of the North to the churrascos and mate of the South.
And despite the current economic climate, Brazil’s future remains bright. The country is energy-independent, commodity-rich, has plenty of fresh water and rich arable land, and is largely self-sufficient; one of the few countries that is adequately equipped to withstand a major global economic turmoil.
It’s no surprise that many IL readers have taken advantage of the opportunity to retire, own a second home, or invest in Latin America’s largest nation.
Brazilians: The Best Part of Brazil
The Brazilian people are animated, receptive, and irrepressibly upbeat. And although the country has developed and modernized rapidly in the last 15 years or so, it has to its credit managed to retain a relationship-centered culture. Family and friends are still the central focus for most.
And yet, Brazilians are amazingly receptive of outsiders—as was noted by virtually everyone who visited Brazil during the 2014 World Cup games. Brazilians take pride in helping others. You will not encounter a “Yankee go home” attitude here, but instead warmth and curiosity.
There are certainly pronounced regional differences. The North and Northeast are known for being laidback; the Cariocas of Rio have their own distinctive flair; Paulistas hustle and have a reputation for business savvy; while the Gauchos of the South have much in common with their neighbors in Argentina and Uruguay. And yet there are traits which unite all the regions, including warmth and a positive outlook.
Expats are Coming to Brazil Like Never Before
The word is slowly spreading. Brazil is starting to draw North American expats like never before. And not just expats, but second-home buyers and property investors are also coming down in record numbers. Brazil is certainly not “undiscovered” to the European buyer, but it is still virgin territory to the North American.
People are drawn by the thousands of miles of beautiful, white-sand beaches and the warm, tropical weather. But more than that, the Brazilian culture, music, and language are unfamiliar, exotic, and romantic to North Americans. They’re buying beachfront properties and investing in lucrative pre-construction developments—while enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle.
Although Brazil is not as cheap as it was a few years ago, in most locations the cost of living is still low by North American standards. Inexpensive properties, incredible natural beauty, and agreeable weather combine to add up to a tremendous value.
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- Population: 201,009,622
- Capital City: Brasilia
- Climate: Mostly tropical, but temperate in south
- Time Zone: GMT-3
- Language: Portuguese
- Country Code: 55
- Coastline: 7,491 km
- Boundaries: Brazil is the largest country in South America and shares common boundaries with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador
Conjure up images of Thailand and you probably think of white-sand beaches and golden temples. Buthead into the countryside surrounding the northern city of Chiang Mai and you will find lakes stocked with the Mekong giant catfish waiting for your line and bait. The largest catch recorded in Thailand in the wild weighed in at 646 pounds.
Even if your coffers are bare, you can take a six-month trip if you save $10 a day for two years, or save $13 a day for three years to globetrot for a full year. You may have a healthy savings account already, but there are always ways to cut your expenses and make some extra cash. And it doesn’t have to be difficult, either.
Way before I ever make a recommendation for a foreign real estate buy, I know exactly what the market is doing—and how certain real estate trends are likely to play out. Identifying and understanding market trends is key to smart real estate investment overseas. It’s the difference between buying a nice and low-priced property that will stay at the same price point for years to come…and buying a property that’s set to rise quickly in value over the coming years.
Investors in emerging markets usually look to the Big Three: international companies, consumer companies, and commodities. These are the bread-and-butter investment opportunities that come with a very large upswing in growth. But when global growth gets shaky, investing in growth markets—or even former growth markets, for that matter— gets trickier. Nowadays you can’t just throw a dart at a board and pick a winner.
Living overseas has its benefits…even if you’re not ready to retire yet.
The daily commute becomes a cycle to work along a beach path in Portugal…marking essays is not so tedious while sipping mango juice in a bustling cafe in Brazil…the weekly shop for groceries is spiced up immeasurably by a trip to Mercado Central in La Vega, Santiago.
South America is well known for its strong Catholic heritage, but on February 2, one of the continent’s more obscure religions has its special day. The Umbanda religion, practiced in Brazil and neighboring Uruguay, fuses Catholic traditions with the beliefs of native Africans brought over as slaves in the 1800s. One of those beliefs is in Yemanjá, the Queen of the Sea and patron saint of fishermen. And on February 2, locals of Montevideo gather on the beach at Playa Ramírez to celebrate Yemanjá Day. After sundown the festivities begin in earnest. Worshippers in full-white dresses dance and twirl on the sand to a rapid drumbeat, before offerings of flowers and perfume are put in small boats and set sail.
A recent trip to Brazil’s Northeast coast was where I fell in love with this country. Culture…food…music…art…dance…beautiful weather, and beautiful people—it has it all. And I discovered two of my favorite Brazilian towns—Pôrto De Galinhas and Olinda. The towns are a 90-minute drive from one another, with the city of Recife (the capital of the state of Pernambuco) nestled between the two.
I ﬁrst visited Northeast Brazil in April 2008…speciﬁcally the beach town of Cumbuco. I made a bold prediction about this sleepy little spot… I predicted that it was set to embark on a big, upward trajectory. It did, and for folks who got in then, it’s proved proﬁtable. Now a special situation has created another buying moment here, right in the middle of Northeast Brazil’s great growth route.
Despite the U.S. stock market’s high profile, its long-term performance has seriously lagged behind some really surprising foreign stock markets. This fact is an important reminder that the most obvious investment choices are not necessarily the best ones. Every year, Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse produces the Global Investment Returns Yearbook in association with the London Business School.
“Rio de Janeiro.” The name alone conjures up images of broad beaches populated by impossibly beautiful people. But while everyone has heard of Rio, far fewer know that “The Marvelous City” lies in the state of the same name. Rio de Janeiro state, though small in size, is geographically quite diverse.
In this issue of the Lifetime Society Communiqué, we’ll introduce you to three of the best retirement towns in that beautiful state.
The news out of Brazil is bad. Really bad. I’m excited. I’m excited because, while the media’s stories imply that the whole nation is a mess, I know that’s not the case. But most people don’t know that. And for you that opens a window of opportunity. You see, Brazil’s media is centered in, and dominated by, Rio and São Paolo. What reaches us as “Brazil news” is essentially just Rio/São Paolo news. And yes, there are troubles in Brazil’s economy, no question. But I’ve been focusing my attention south of Fortaleza in the northeast, and I’ve come across some great opportunities.
Silver gets no love. Most investors despise the stuff. But while everyone is happy to grind silver into dust, a funny thing is happening. Silver bottomed back in December. It’s been building a base for its next move. And this next move could be explosive. The last time silver had a big correction—back in 2008—the next three years saw a rally of 400%. This time, the sky’s the limit.
Ever wonder what it would be like to work with elephants for a day in the jungles of northern Thailand? At the Patara Elephant Camp, you can. Not all elephant camps are created equal but this is one of the highest on the list when it comes to ethics and dedicated mahouts (elephant handlers).
A new era of relative peace has allowed Colombia to prosper. In the past decade, annual GDP growth has typically been in the 4% to 6% range. In U.S. dollar terms, Colombian stocks have tanked. The local currency, the Colombian peso, has fallen hard against the U.S. dollar. The reason? Collapsing price of oil. Brent crude oil is down 50% since June 2014.
Although best known for samba, carnival, and success on the soccer ﬁeld, these are not the only achievements Brazil has to its name. This country also has high-quality and highly affordable healthcare, as I have found over the course of my six-plus years living as an expat here.
My Grandpa Clites retired at 65 from U.S. Steel. Soon after, he took Grandma on the obligatory one-week packaged tour to Hawaii. After returning home, they moved to a retirement village. Grandpa took up painting by the numbers. He died at 69. Grandpa had a short and, if I’m blunt, pretty empty retirement. Unfortunately, his story was common for his generation. He did what everyone else did. He probably never even realized that other options were available.
Imagine a place of rich, earthy smells, dappled light, soaring tropical hardwoods, and thick underbrush…the dawn calls of birds and the nighttime chirps and whistles of insects. From your terrace it’s as though you have Eden on the doorstep—a thousand shades of green and nature’s bounty. These days, living in a jungle home, you can have the best of both worlds: the feeling of being set apart, while enjoying conveniences like high-speed internet and air conditioning in your own paradise.
Dyan deNapoli was five years old when her parents took her to an aquarium in Florida. She was so mesmerized by the relationship between the handlers and the dolphins that her parents had to pull her away. Despite fears that she wasn’t “smart enough” to handle the rigorous math and science courses, Dyan took a degree in animal science and was hired by the New England Aquarium in Boston as their Senior Penguin Aquarist. One of the highlights of her career was working as part of a team that rescued 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa.
This is the nicest raw beachfront lot I’ve stepped onto in a long time. Warm breezes clear the scant, broken clouds, opening up a big blue sky. The sea is blue turning turquoise as gentle waves roll in. It’s a picture-perfect vista and setting. The beach stretches as far as the eye can see. Sandy points frame the horizon in both directions. In the distance giant dunes dominate the landscape. This beachfront lot is like a little oasis. Wild-growing palm trees sway. Colorful flowers crawl up walls and sprout from hedgerows.
At my sidewalk table, I smile to myself, and hoist my glass for another sip. Full-bodied German beer, a tidy Mayberry-esque town square across the street…and gauchos in full regalia passing by. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe I’m in Brazil And in fact, the locals proudly refer to their little slice of heaven as Outro Brazil: “Another Brazil.” Stretching east to west across Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state, the Serra Gaucha (“Cowboy Highlands”) is a delightful little enclave reminiscent of the rolling hills of the Great Smoky Mountains of my native North Carolina.
I arrived in Rio in 2008 with just two suitcases and a backpack. While I’ve accumulated a few things since, I still own very little. Interestingly, I don’t miss my old stuff. And I had a lot of stuff. My home was perhaps less cluttered than many American homes with electronics, knickknacks, and the latest must-have gadgets from The Home Shopping Network. Still, I was a single guy with a three-bedroom home, and an SUV parked in the garage. I had stuff.
If you dream about a different life… one lived on a sun-dappled beach… or in a colonial, history-rich town… or some exotic big city abroad… but you need an income to make it happen, sooner rather than later… Then you should know: There are proven, flexible ways you can fund your life overseas… and get paid to do something you genuinely enjoy… So you gain the freedom to pick up and go… travel when you feel like it… live in a place you love… and all the while earn $12,000… $25,000… $40,000… even $85,000 a year or more…
In a handful of noteworthy places on the planet right now, you could own a world-class property for $150,000 and have it throw off $1,000 a month, right from the start. These are what I call “exceptional markets.” Places where you’re looking at as much as an 8% yield… more than double the norm. But you don’t need mounds of cash on hand to get in – often less than $20,000. And these are gains you can pocket with little-to-no effort.
The Serra Gaúcha lies in the northeast part of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul, which borders Argentina and Uruguay. It’s far enough south (29 degrees) and high enough (about 2,800 feet) to have four true seasons. Each winter the thermometer drops to freezing a few days. There is light snow some years. The Serra Gaúcha has three regions: the eastern Gaúcha region, which is largely farmland and villages; the central, German-influenced region; and the Italian region in the west, which—no surprise—is home of the state’s wine industry. Vineyards and wineries cluster around the town of Bento Gonçalves.
“Rio de Janeiro.” The name alone conjures up images of broad beaches populated by impossibly beautiful people. But while everyone has heard of Rio, far fewer know that “The Marvelous City” lies in a state of the same name. Rio de Janeiro state, though small in size, is geographically quite diverse. Mountains parallel the coastline, sometimes veering down into the sea. Broad swaths of the original mata Atlântica (Atlantic forest)—one of the most biodiverse areas in the world—still blanket the hillsides. Scores of lakes and lagoons lie within sight of the shimmering South Atlantic. Majestic beaches stretch literally for miles; others lie sheltered in secluded coves, accessible only by boat. Tantalizing palm-studded islands, most uninhabited, await the more adventurous.
This valley reminds me of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Here, as there, ancient rolling hills are blanketed in a mix of pines and broadleaves. Then the bus I’m on passes a clutch of palm trees. Okay, not quite North Carolina. The Serra Gaúcha region, in southern Brazil, is practically unknown abroad, but it’s very popular with Brazilians. They flock here to enjoy the temperate, highland climate, so different from much of mostly-tropical Brazil. (Serra, in fact, means “highlands.”)
With 4,655 miles of coastline, Brazil boasts scores of lovely beach towns. One of my favorites is the small city of Cabo Frio (pop. 200,000), which lies in the Região dos Lagos (Lakes Region) northeast of Rio de Janeiro. Cabo is a popular getaway for residents of Rio, which is quite a recommendation. Cabo is located two hours by good roads from Rio and Galeão International Airport. Sandwiched between the South Atlantic and Araruama Lagoon, Cabo offers a range of water activities, from laid-back to exhilarating. The principle beach is Praia do Forte, or Fort Beach, named for Fort São Mateus at its extreme eastern end, built between 1616 and 1620 to safeguard these waters from the French and other interlopers. Praia do Forte sprawls wide and unbroken for more than four miles.
Right now, you could buy your own piece of property right off the beach in Brazil…in a location where millionaires are putting their vacation homes…and all it will cost you is a few hundred dollars a month. The beaches here are spectacular—brilliant-white sand stretches for miles. Along that long stretch of coastline, multi-million-dollar homes are dotted. Over the past decade this part of Brazil has enjoyed an economic transformation. Very little has happened here—but now we’re seeing an opportunity.
In the 2014 Fast-Track Your Retirement Overseas Package we’ll introduce you to more than a dozen beautiful places in the world where you can live a caviar lifestyle on a hot dog budget.
Perhaps you long for your own cottage on a quiet beach… a grand apartment in a city vibrant with concerts and cafes… a mountain villa where the air is crisp… or even your own vineyard amid gently rolling hills…
When many people think of “Brazil,” they immediately picture Rio de Janeiro. But Brazil is a huge country—the fifth largest in the world in area—and quite diverse in weather, geography, and culture. This truly is a country which has something for everyone. While Brazil is not as cheap as many other Latin American countries, in most areas it isn’t expensive by North American standards either.
“So why did you move to Brazil?” Without a doubt, this is the question I hear most these days, whether from Brazilians, foreigners here in Rio, or Americans when I visit back home.My love affair with Brazil dates back to 1993, when I first visited here. I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina. One day at my gym I met my now good friend Junior Botelho.
Natchi and her husband own the biggest guesthouse in town and business is booming. Wind energy is a big deal in this part of Brazil. When I stayed in their place—midweek during off-season—the place was packed to the rafters with 45 wind-energy workers. This is Icaraí (pronounced ick-areye), the closest town to the nearby wind farms. But sheltered in lush vegetation and right on the empty beach…this certainly doesn’t feel like a frontier energy town. It’s a tropical paradise.
The largest arts festival in the world takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland, from August 1 to 25. If you haven’t experienced the Fringe Festival before, it turns almost every corner of the city into a performance space for comedians, musicians, actors, and theater groups.
Europeans came to Icaraí and fell for the stunning curve of beach and a charming little fishing village—now it offers us cheap, beautiful beachfront opportunities. Plus, in this special edition: where you can combine profit potential and real estate for personal use in the Algarve…questions to ask before doing a deal on productive land…short-term rental markets and the local laws you should be aware of…and more.
If you’re a regular IL reader—or you’ve been following the World Cup hoopla—then you’ve likely heard of the cities of Fortaleza, Natal, and Recife. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re all state capitals in the tropical northeast of Brazil. All are popular tourist destinations for Europeans, although North Americans have been slow to catch on to their delights. All are hosting World Cup games.
InternationalLiving.com’s Brazil correspondent, John Clites, an American who has been living in the country since 2008, reveals his top insider picks for what to see and do in Rio de Janeiro during the FIFA World Cup. Visitors from all over the world will descend on Brazil for the event, which starts on June 12. Most will visit Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, but Clites offers advice on activities not typically published in guidebooks.
Imagine your own floating home, one that takes you from port to port as you island-hop the Caribbean or delve into the history and culture of the Mediterranean… A yachting retirement is surprisingly affordable and for an increasing number of adventuresome folks it’s more than just an idle dream. In fact, in the right places it often costs a lot less than “traditional” retirement back home.
Do you like the idea of a life at sea…but only in short doses? Sunset cruises, fishing excursions, day trips, and the occasional long weekend jaunts to anchor off a remote island…? The ocean can be your playground.
You’re going to the World Cup in Brazil. Yay! But you won’t be watching matches at Maracanã stadium the entire time. What else should you do? Sure, you’ll want to visit Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. But Rio de Janeiro has so much more to offer, and many activities are inexpensive or even free.
Five months ago I spent two weeks scouting through Thailand—most of that was spent in Chiang Mai, for that is where the opportunity lies. This is a complicated market, as I explain in a special edition of Real Estate Trend Alert—ready to download here.
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