Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why we left Rio de Janeiro

Peter was born and raised in Sao Paulo (to American parents) and always wanted to move back to Brazil someday.  As we were preparing to get married, we had no jobs lined up, no place to live, and no money.  But we were open to moving pretty much anywhere.  We were even considering teaching English in Korea.  When we got offered the jobs in Rio, we were thrilled.  I have traveled a lot and the thought of living in Brazil didn't bother me at all.  In fact, I was excited about it.  I was excited about learning Portuguese and living in Rio.  Plus, I've always loved the jungle.

After the first couple of weeks in Rio, we realized that we would not be staying past that one school year.  Here is why:

The Job
Many things were miscommunicated and we felt misled in many ways.  I don't want to give too many details, since I don't think this blog is an appropriate place to bash former employers... (I will say that a lot of our issues stemmed from disorganization, lack of communication, messed-up finances... and much more...)  We did not want to be associated with that situation any longer.

The Visa
Peter is a Brazilian citizen, so he didn't need to worry about a visa.  I, however, needed a work visa.  And it was a nightmare.  Because I am married to a Brazilian citizen, everyone assumed the process of getting a work visa would be easy.  It was not.  And we had absolutely zero help from anyone.  The school refused to help us in any way (with finances, transportation, translation, etc), I wasn't able to get my visa in time, therefore I didn't end up working for the school... it was all very disappointing.

The Unexpected Expenses
We were not expecting the extremely high cost of living in Rio.  Peter's parents live in Sao Paulo and tried to give us a good example of what to expect, but the cost of living in Rio is even higher than Sao Paulo.  Here's how I like to describe it... imagine dollar store quality at Nordstrom prices.  For everything - silverware, tupperware, pots and pans, pillows, blankets, clothes, toothbrushes, hand soap, etc.  We had to use a lot of our wedding money to pay for flights, apartment stuff, etc.  Because I wasn't able to get my visa in time, I wasn't able to work, which means we were living on one very small salary in a city with a very high cost of living...  We also didn't have a car, which meant we had to use buses or taxis every day.  I had to defer my student loan payments, and we weren't able to save anything.  What a great way to start a marriage, eh?
The Housing
We were promised furnished housing.  This is what our apartment looked like when we moved in.  'Nough said?  (Also it should be noted that our cost of rent was increased by $400/month from what they originally told us before we moved... see above, "The Unexpected Expenses")

Did this come straight from a meth lab?!
Not pictured: The cat hair that was everywhere, even though a cat hadn't lived there for at least 2 years...

Overall we are glad we moved there and had that experience and we don't regret our decision to leave.  I am so glad that I was able to start learning Portuguese.  We both agree that we would LOVE to move back to Rio de Janeiro some day, if we got different jobs and a better place to live.  We might even consider going as missionaries some day.  It is a beautiful, fun, amazing city.  We loved the city, we loved our neighborhood, we loved the Cariocas.  We had a great time exploring the beaches, the architecture, the other historic cities in the state of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  (You can find links to most of our adventures here.)  

We arrived in Rio excited, with hopes high, and expecting to stay for a long time.  We were very disappointed that we had to leave, but we are also excited for the new adventures that await us.

Should YOU move to Brazil?  My answer is, "YES!"  But make sure you have a great job (contact me to find out which school you shouldn't work at), a safe place to live, and enough money to cover your basic necessities.

Thanks for reading, I know it was a long post!



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