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What It’s Really Like to Move to Another Country: Brazil

An aerial photo of Brazil.

In today’s tech age, the answer to nearly every question is at your fingertips. You can plan vacations, weddings, and land a job all from your laptop. But there are some perspectives you can only get from another person — like what it’s really like to relocate to another country. 

While you can consult Google on what weather to expect, what to pack, and other “Moving 101” questions, a successful relocation requires an insider’s perspective. That’s why we’re kicking off a new series providing you with cultural insights and need-to-know information on moving to a new country.

With a team full of well-travelled multilinguals from around the world, Mango Languages is a one-stop shop for the full lowdown on relocating the right way. This month, we sat down with Mango’s Technology Manager, Jon, to round up some of the most important things you need to know before moving to Brazil. After living and working in Brazil for three years, we consulted Jon on what he thinks you should know before you make the leap. Whether you’re still in the daydreaming phase or your bags are already packed, don’t miss these key tips on making the move to Brasil.

Learn the language

A stack of books.You’ve probably already heard this piece of advice, but we have some powerful reasons why getting to know the language before your trip is so important. Besides tourist destinations like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, most cities and towns in Brazil don’t have large English-speaking populations. 

Further, Brazil is a very communal culture - your daily conversations could easily lead to a new business opportunity or a great new apartment. If you at least start to learn Brazilian Portuguese, your day-to-day errands and interactions will be that much more pleasant (and fruitful!).

Be friendly 

A smiling person holding a coffee.While friendliness is always an important quality while abroad, Brazilian culture demands it. Brazilians are friendly, polite people both in their communities and in the workplace. Consider the norms of a business transaction in Brazil. In the United States, you could pop in to pick up a check from a client with a quick hello and a handshake, but in Brazilian culture you’re expected to make time for a brief visit. It’s considered good manners to stay for a cup of coffee or tea and catch up on how the person is doing, share a few stories, and discuss business.

The same goes for your daily errands — expect to chat with the person next to you on the bus, strike up a conversation with your butcher, and get to know your neighbors. You won’t even be pumping your own gas in Brazil, so brush up on your Brazilian Portuguese small talk skills! 

Understand the principle of reciprocity

A passport.Brazil observes the principle of reciprocity, meaning they will require that you follow the same visa laws and processes that your country requires of Brazilian citizens. So, your country of citizenship will directly impact what kind of visa you can obtain and what is required to secure it. While not impossible,  getting a visa in Brazil is a complicated and often time-consuming process.

The Brazilian government takes great care to preserve job opportunities for Brazilians over ex-pats, so it’s recommended that you secure a job in Brazil before making a long-term move. Many expats living in Brazil are transferred by multinational corporations or are staying in Brazil on a volunteer visa. Once you’re in Brazil and have landed a job, navigate your paperwork carefully: the system is complex. To avoid making a mistake that could lead to legal trouble, consider enlisting the help of a local attorney, even for a simple trip to the Secretary of State. 

Choose your neighborhood wisely 

An aerial shot of a Brazilian neighborhood.When deciding which city to call home in Brazil, start by listing out what’s most important to you. Don’t like to drive? Opt for a city with good public transportation, like Belo Horizonte or Curitiba. Want to learn Brazilian Portuguese more quickly? Skip São Paulo and find a smaller city with fewer English speakers. You’ll have a better chance of immersing yourself in the local culture and you won’t be tempted to group off with fellow English speakers.

Worried about landing a job? While the Southeast region of Brazil is home to some of the country’s larger, more competitive cities, parts of the Central-West and South of Brazil have plenty to offer newcomers. Enjoy safer neighborhoods, less competition for jobs available to foreigners, and more opportunity to authentically immerse yourself in the local culture and language. Fun fact: Brazil has a massive online presence. Get connected online and you can hunt down leads for jobs, apartments, language groups, and fun local events.

You’ve got your wanderlust, you’ve got your insider’s guide — all that’s left is building your Brazilian Portuguese language skills! With Mango Languages, enjoy conversation-based language courses that teach relevant skills you can actually use. With fully-integrated mobile apps and language learning through foreign films, you can learn Brazilian Portuguese anywhere you go, anywhere you want.


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Jillian Rodriguez

Jillian is a writer and editor out of Detroit, Michigan. She loves connecting people through new ideas, interesting stories, and good conversation. In her free time, Jillian loves to read, write, and listen to podcasts - in Spanish and in English!

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