Updated 10 months ago

Recife is the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco. With a population of  1.6 million (more than double of that in the metropolitan area), Recife is the fourth-largest city in Brazil. It presents possibly the best opportunity for expats who would like to live in Brazil's sunny Northeast.

Recife has for many years been the economic hub of Brazil's Northeast. With a large international airport and two large ports, and being closer to Europe than any other Brazilian city, Recife serves as a focus of shipping. Recife is the principal industrial centre for the region. Tourism is also contributing to the city’s economy. And in recent years, with government support, information technology has grown to become a major sector. There are jobs, but you'll need to have the requisite skills – including some Portuguese. If you'd like to work in Recife, you are advised to begin your search for a job from abroad. You can begin by reviewing Expat.com's general guidelines for working in Brazil.

The economy of Recife

Brazil is currently emerging from a recession. Recife has fared better than some other cities due to its diversified economy, and to its sheer size and importance in the region.

Many large Brazilian and international companies are represented in Recife. A few of the larger and better-known companies include Accenture, Motorola, Samsung, Dell, and Sun Microsystems.

Recife sits on the extreme eastern point of Brazil, making it the largest Brazilian city near Africa and Europe. Recife is an important shipping and trans-shipping hub.

The industry is also paramount in Recife. A wide variety of products are produced here, from ethanol to electronics to oil platforms. Many of these are for domestic consumption, but others are shipped to foreign markets.

Tourism is also boosting Recife’s economy. Recife's principle draw is its beaches. Neighbouring Olinda, whose historic city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also draws many tourists to the area, as does Porto de Galinhas to the south.

Recife, like many other cities in Brazil, is investing heavily in the information technology area.

Recife is also Brazil's second-largest medical hub (after São Paulo) with many hospitals and clinics in and around the city.

Sectors with potential

Those with a background in logistics may be able to find work in Recife. The amount of international shipping means that English skills will often be valuable. However, Portuguese is still needed, both in the workplace and to function day to day.

Information technology/software also represents an opportunity, as the sector is large and growing with government and private investment. An area of Recife near the port has been dubbed “Porto Digital” (Digital Port) and is now home to dozens of tech companies which generate thousands of jobs. Tech skills and English are valuable assets — add in Portuguese and you may be able to land a good job.

Tourism is another sector in which English is a very desirable skill, although it will probably not be sufficient to secure you a position. But if you have some Portuguese and experience in the business, tourism could be your way in.

Although there are over 400 hospitals and clinics in Recife and the surrounding area, the medical sector may not be the best sector for job hunters. You'll need some Portuguese, and salaries will likely be lower than those available in more developed countries – although living expenses likely will also be lower.

There are two international schools in Recife, The American School of Recife and ABA Maple Bear Canadian School. Certified teachers or education administrators may find work with one of these.

Living in Recife

Recife lies in the tropics. The weather is warm and humid throughout the year, but the best time is from September to March — from April to August, it often rains, sometimes heavily.

Recife has a rich history. The city was actually founded by the Dutch, and you'll find both Dutch and Portuguese colonial architecture here. Neighboring Olinda is known for its many well-preserved churches.

Of course, there are the beaches. Some of the better ones include Coroa do Aviao and Boa Viagem. Porto de Galinhas, a couple of hours south of the city, is consistently rated one of Brazil's top beaches.

Important: There are sometimes sharks off the coast of Recife, so ask and be alert!

Recife hosts its own large Carnival, different from Rio's. Olinda also celebrates Carnival, in a more traditional way, with the parades being more religious in theme.

As a large city, Recife has its good and bad areas, so choose carefully. Nicer areas include Boa Viagem, Casa Forte, and Derby. You'll also likely find more expats in these areas than most others.

As for entertainment, you'll find a wide variety of restaurants and clubs in all price ranges. And the beaches are free!

 Useful links:

Brazil Jobs
Professional positions
Go Abroad
International schools: American School of Recife and Maple Bear Canadian School 
Cost of living

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