Martin Gajewski

International Relocation to Brazil
by Martin Gajewski

So if you are about to get in on the property boom in Brazil or are thinking about retiring to Brazil you should do some research on how business is conducted in the area and the local quality of life before you take the plunge.

"Taking the Plunge" sounds like a bad ending. We would like to call this more of an educated decision making process while being fully informed.

We are going to tell you "How it really is" and not how it might be…

There are some aspects you will have to consider first before making a final well-informed decision. Relocating "Offshore" or "Overseas", if you are actually switching continents, is not for everyone. Let's explore differences such as climate, products & services, language & cultural differences, cost of living, distance to friends & family, ability to have freedom of mobility, cuisine, infrastructure & access to health care, etc…

The changes of food are not for the squeamish but you should get used to it within 2-3 weeks. As a matter of fact, today Brazilian Barbecue is famous in most large urban cities in developed countries. There are 1000s of restaurants in Fortaleza City area and 100s of different plates. Many establishments carry international menus and full array of gourmet choices if you opt-out of the native items. Some people do not like coconut water and I love it. You say tomato I say tomatoe.

The climate usually is 300 sunny days annually. Low humidity levels, 30% -40%, with a cooling inland breeze of up to 10km and temps within 25C - 35C. We are sure enjoying the sunny summer weather now!

As far as having your favorite products within your hands reach that might be complicated in most parts of Brazil except mega-cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, etc. But, even if you find them in let us say a specialty shop, you can expect the cost to be quite elevated. It is always nice to have many friends or family members that travel quite often as well as making frequent trips back & forth. E.G. - One of my friends is coming from France next week and he is bringing me a few bottles of Bordeaux. This is what brings me to the next subject.

Air Transportation
Regular direct flights are available from the USA through the Atlanta location. Miami has some access flights as well, but you really have to watch the reliability of them and how many different connecting flights they might put you trough few on overlays.

Services can be a drag. This part of the world is much more laid-back and relaxed and it goes for everything. When scheduling an appointment for services performed at your house and setting it for 7am you can expect people to show up at 8am or even 9am. When planning a dinner with friends or for business at 7pm, once again, do not leave until 7:30pm.

This is cultural and partially because of the hotter climate where there is more night life somewhat comparable to Miami but on a smaller scale, people leave work later and they do not show up until 9am - 10am (most business owners, managers, directors etc…) However frustrating this might sound there are still plenty of professionals that are more punctual than the British or Germans.

Do not try to schedule anything serious between 12 Noon and 2pm, bad idea, just like it would be in Spain during the Siesta Hours. Trying to obtain refunds for certain services or making complaints can become irritable. Even though this sounds cumbersome, after living here for a 6-12 months you will get the hang of what to watch out for, how to negotiate and demand in the local manner. As they say "When in Rome do as the Romans do"!

Then there are the language issues. Thinking Central or South America, are we? I hope you speak one of the Latin rooted languages. Unless, this is a full time relocation, retirement move, then you will be speaking well in approximately 12 months time. Twenty-Four months are required to work and do business full time speaking only Portuguese (or rather Brazilian Portuguese) if you are beginning from ground zero. Portuguese and French are of the more difficult languages of the Romance Era. After four full years, I was writing, fluently I must add, complex business contracts.

A type of person that is patient, dedicated, persistent and not timid to make errors-- which is of utmost importance in the learning process is needed in this situation. Speak incorrectly, but speak is what I say! This will help you along quite a bit and for your sake stay away from facilitating obstacles such as making lots of English speaking friends in the area! You will enjoy yourself much more in the long run and have a fuller understanding of the language and culture.

The punctuality and nocturnal lifestyle was explained earlier. The list goes on but the basics have been mentioned. Also, even though you do not speak Portuguese try to pick up short expressions and local hand gestures. Pick up the body language. This way they will not take you for a fresh tourist.

Cost of Living
Cost of living is not extremely as low as everyone is claiming it to be and this is even more so true today with the US$ Dollar drastically decreasing in value around the World. All products, as mentioned earlier, that you are accustomed to and are imported you will be paying a premium for. Electronics are horrendously more expensive than any other parts of the World.

Quality vehicles are in the same category right along with the electronics. Fortunately, you are allowed by law to import one vehicle per person if you are relocating to this location or retiring thus avoiding the over-protective tax duties imposed for this item by the government. Telephone bills are double of what you are paying now. Savings are on the service sector, construction, home repairs, land, property, food, especially seafood like lobster, shrimp, fish and oysters ( I mean we have found some places where for U$D150 you may eat lunch and dinner all month long of superb quality), light & water bills, private education ( there is a grammar/high school available today in Fortaleza City which teaches full time all subjects in English) is considerably lower, labor costs, clothes & shoes, beauty treatments, plastic surgery, health insurance (R$700 or approx. today U$D375.00 per month for a couple over 55yrs of age ), as a matter of fact all insurance of all types is very affordable.

Take the Plunge--Invest & Relocate to Brazil
At the beginning of this editorial we have mentioned "freedom of remaining mobile". The meaning of this is that if you ever change your mind, anything happens in your life where there is a need to liquidate the property and take off it is not too difficult to accomplish. Property market is growing at an accelerated rate, stable & having high appreciation value and facility to sell will give you the true liberty. As long as you have purchased in a good location, with good legal due diligence there aren't too many better investments in today's global real estate market conditions. Worst case scenario you will sell of your property for more than what you paid for. Just like putting your money in a bank except with a higher interest rate.

Martin Gajewski
Martin Gajewski, a native of Chicago, landed his first job at the Chicago Tribune as a teenager making a few bucks by selling newspaper subscriptions door to door. He also honed his skills and worked for his family's 25 year old construction business as well.

After a couple years, Martin was entrusted with directing and managing his own crews and territories in both businesses. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to the marketing department at the Chicago Tribune.

His opportunity and chance of a lifetime came when he married his Brazilian wife. After years of missing her family, they decided to relocate to Brazil. Having been well educated in the states, Triton College in Chicago, a background in marketing and construction and coupled with his wife's family's 25 year old real estate business in Brazil, he quickly adjusted to real estate investing on the international scene.

Martin Gajewski, works as an Offshore Investment Consultant & International Property Broker and lives in Fortaleza City, Brazil.

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