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.
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.
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.
Start your November on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, where—from October 23 to November 9—you’ll find enormous and elaborate sand sculptures filling the beach as part of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. As many as 100 sculptures, by artists from around the world, are expected to turn the mile-plus coastal walk into an outdoor museum. In a far more formal setting, Cairo Opera House is home to the Arabic Music Festival from November 1 to 10, as some of the finest Arabic singers, instrumentalists, and ensembles in the world converge on the Egyptian capital.
Douz, in south Tunisia, hosts the International Festival of the Sahara on October 1. Taking place at the gateway to the great desert, the event was founded as a camelracing festival in 1910. But you can expect horse races, poetry contests, and Bedouin weddings, as well.
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.
I spend up to two weeks a month scouting out the best real estate opportunities for Pathfinder. It’s part of my job. And I enjoy every minute of it. Because I spend so much time on the road, I’m a huge fan of vacation rentals. I get more space than a hotel room and a lot more privacy. And I get to experience life as a local, buying groceries and eating at cafés and restaurants close by.
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.
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.
A week ago I told you about pre-release lots at the Fazenda Imperial community to the west of Fortaleza in Northeast Brazil. You can buy a limited number of lots with as little $3,470 down plus 120 monthly payments of just $212.
Last October, I told you about the opportunity to buy a pre-release lot in the Fazenda Imperial gated community. This project is being designed with the growing middle classes of Northeast Brazil in mind. As a reader of these alerts you’ll know that I’m bullish on the new middle class play in this part of the country.
Interest in Brazil is at an all-time high. This month the world’s most famous carnival hits the streets of Rio, and this year’s soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games are being held here. These are great reasons to plan a visit, but there are reasons to stay longer, too…white-sand beaches, pleasant weather, incredible natural beauty, a vibrant culture, diverse and healthy food, and warm and receptive people.
Home to 420,000 people, Florianopolis is often referred to by its residents as “the other Brazil.” For one thing, there is the evident prosperity, from brand-name jeans to the latest-model cars. The streets and sidewalks are clean. Unemployment is low, as is the crime rate. There are parks and pedestrian plazas. And the city is large enough to offer most services that you might need, without the problems of a bigger metropolis.
At Real Estate Trend Alert my beat is to find places where real estate is undervalued and where something is set to happen that means values will increase. I call this “the trigger event.” This trigger event could be a fast-growing, new, middle class or new infrastructure projects that will bring improved accessibility.
Brazil’s national volleyball team trains in Saquarema. You can see some world-class players practicing and competing. Beach volleyball is also extremely popular with amateurs. The most popular tourist stop is the Nossa Senhora de Nazareth church, located atop a hill with sweeping views of both the ocean and the lagoon. It’s a great place to watch the sunsets.
Cariocas, the laid-back residents of sensuous Rio de Janeiro, welcome 1.5-million vacationers a year. But when it’s time for their own vacations, many of them head to the Região dos Lagos, or “Lakes Region,” also known as the Costa do Sul (Southern Coast).
Although GDP slowed to a crawl of just 0.9% last year (hardly too enticing), it is difficult to find a Brazilian who even notices. More Brazilians have jobs than ever before. Wages are rising.
The best beaches in the world are in Brazil. Ask a Brazilian and he will tell you Brazil’s best beaches are in the northeast, centered on Fortaleza. Miles of wide and deep white-sand beaches connect little fishing villages and kite surfing outposts.
West of Fortaleza on Brazil’s northeast coast, wide white-sand beaches stretch to the horizon. You can drive for hours along these beaches. Charming fishing villages with cobbled streets and well-maintained town centers sit just off the sand.
What may surprise you is that when most Brazilians vacation at the beach, they don’t go to Rio. Instead, they head to the state of Ceara on Brazil’s northeast coast. It’s Brazil’s top domestic tourist destination.
I’ve been recommending opportunities in Fortaleza in Brazil for the past three years. I’ll tell you about the current real estate opportunity in a moment. First, some background.
The short-term rental market in Fortaleza, Brazil is strong right now. For example, in one recently completed building in the Iracema Beach area (where I’ve visited several times), condos rent for $100 per night.
We’ve been discussing Brazil’s new middle-class status for a long time in International Living. Today I’m going to share a way we can profit from this trend…and it’s probably not something you’re expecting.
Some things in life are simple. For instance, I do almost all my clothes shopping when stores are running their winter or summer sales. You get exactly the same stuff…only cheaper. If you’re a dedicated fashion follower, this won’t work.
There’s special art to drinking beer in Brazil. One of my favorite haunts is Bar Filial in the Vila Madalena neighborhood of São Paulo.
One story the mainstream has missed is the recent rise in crude oil prices. As I type this, crude-oil futures contracts in New York are selling for $99 a barrel.
São Paulo – what a monster of a city! This was my first impression when I touched down in Guarulhos International Airport in April. This place makes the likes of L.A., Chicago and Toronto look small.