Friday, August 27, 2010
Finding the groove
When I first visited Brazil it was totally different, mostly because the currency exchange rate back in 1999 was 4:1 Real to the Dollar. So every US dollar bought 4 Reais worth of goods/services. We were living large back then, coming to visit with US dollars in our pockets.
The problem these days is two-fold: living here, shit is expensive and wages are stupid low. Plus the exchange rate has cooled to 1.7:1 Real to the Dollar. That is, one dollar only buys 1.7 real’s worth of goods/services. A far cry from the previous spend thrift days.
We are living local. Exchange rates are nearly irrelevant, except when we occasionally transfer funds from the States. For the most part we earn our wages here and pay the cost of living here. And it is not easy. Brazil is an expensive place to live.
Many ex-pats are earning US wages at their local US company office, plus getting perks above and beyond their wages like housing, maid service, nanny service, car and/or driver service, health club membership, travel costs to and from the US several times/year, and on and on. It is another world.
But I’m here to say that you can live here on much less. While travel and entertainment costs can be high, just enjoying a normal life at home is quite affordable. This is where the Brazilian focus on family and friends comes into focus. It does not cost anything to enjoy our friends or to spend time with our family.
Luiz and I definitely took a hit on the income front when we moved here. But we have re-learned the joys of personal relationships as life enhancers. Less (stuff) is more.
Ultimately I would rather work less and spend casual time with my friends than work constantly (like we did before) and focus on brief getaways for respite.
Everyone has their own priorities. We have found ours and are quite happy.