Why does everyone say it's so expensive here?

Since my first post here on I've seen many people saying (complaining) that it's terribly expensive here in Brazil. Other than a very few things, mostly imported food products, I don't see that. Sure, my Coke Zero costs at least twice what it would in the US. But my wife and I have a nice 1 bedroom house/apartment that costs less than half of what I would be paying for a room with bathroom and kitchen privileges in the US. There I'd most likely also be paying for water and electricity and that's included in my rent.

I can get a kilo of boneless/skinless chicken breasts for about the same or less than I can everywhere I've lived in the US.  Gas is more expensive, but I don't drive, so that's not an issue for me and when it does become an issue, I'm a certified mechanic so, except for "big things/repairs" I won't have to worry about that, either.

By and and large, I don't really see a difference in clothing prices, either. Logo'd clothing, such as 'Seleção' shirts cost just as much here (about R$150-R$200) as an official NFL jersey or NASCAR shirt.  Same thing with shoes: I bought my last pair for about R$30. I can do the same thing at "Shoe Source" or "Payless Shoes" in the US. But, if I was one of those people who thought the name on a piece of clothing was important, I could also spend foolish amounts of money on shoes and other clothing articles.

My wife's son is acting as a middle man for a large property owner here in Bertioga. He's got 5 X 20 lots that are selling for about R$50k-R$80K, depending on how close to the beach and/or "city" center they are. They'd be going for the equivalent of that in most areas of the US, quite a bit more in California if they were still available.

Hi Mike,

I know what you mean and, yes, if one compares prices here directly to what they would pay in the US it really doesn't seem so bad.  The only exceptions are things like "WaterPiks"; the things that blast water between teeth: In the US they sell for about US $40; here I often see them priced at between R$ 360 and R$ 400.  But in general I think prices here are about 40% less than a similar product in the US.

The main issue is for people whose income is tied exclusively to the Brazilian economy.  When I moved here, my income decreased by about 70%.  So, things are 40% cheaper here but even though I am highly qualified and experienced in my field--and I have very few competitors--my relative income here is still well below what I was earning in the US.  So, even though I really like living here and would never willingly leave, my cost-adjusted relative income is about (1-.70)/(1-.40) = .30 / .60 = .50 or 50% of what I had in the US.  (Example: My 70 square meter apartment in SP is about the same monthly payment as my 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home in the US midwest.)

Cheers, JMc

Maybe that's it JMc.

My income went up when I came here. In 2012 when I arrived, I had been a freelance writer for 5 years and was making about R$1200 a month, give or take. My girlfriend at the time didn't think that being a writer was actually a job, so she helped arrange a job as a teacher at a small ESL school a few blocks from where I was living. My income went up an average of about  R$1300-R$1400 a month from that. Now, depending on how much effort I put into it, I'm making about R$2500 a month. My clients are all US and UK-based.

I forgot to mention cigarettes. I was paying about $5US a pack in the US for Marlboro Reds. Before I switched to the cheap brands, I was paying R$7 a pack, or about $2 US a pack, or about half of what I was paying in the US, whether that be Arizona, Kansas, Virginia, or California. The only bummer there is that Brazil has never heard of chewing tobacco/snuff.

Thank you for the information posted in your posting

You're welcome.

It just depends on how someone wants to live.  We do quite well on our pensions.


Do you have any advice because I'm moving to Ho Chi Minh City and I'm getting myself established there and I'm waiting on my Visa right now I'm going to purchase a plane ticket as soon as I get my Visa and I'm going to be getting settled would you have any advice to offer

This is about Brazil . We don`t have any  advice about Vietnam.


It was not, but its getting that way

I dunno, that might be your experience coming from the States to Brazil but I tend to agree this country is pretty damn expensive.

My first salary here was probably about a third of what I was earning back in Australia (not even working in a very prestigious job), and nowadays I probably earn about 60-65% (working pretty long hours) of what I was earning back in the old country. Brazil is cheaper than Australia in real terms for many things, but often not by that much. It's probably about 20-25% cheaper on average.

However, some things here are ridiculously overpriced. A cheap car here costs about the same as what you would pay for a cheap car in Australia, only that Brazilian 'cheap' is much lower quality than Australian 'cheap'. Furthermore, electronics are generally more expensive than they would be in Australia - a particular laptop I bought back there for the equivalent of about 4500 reais costs 7000 in Brazil. Travelling costs are also crazily expensive here in my opinion.

In the end, the main thing is that relative to what most people are capable of earning here, Brazil is indeed a very expensive country.

I didn't take a pay cut at all when I came here. I actually got an increase after coming here. However, I'm a freelance writer and the increase came from finding a new client that paid better, for less work and fobbing the lower-paying client off on someone else.

I agree about cars and travel. From what I've seen, they are more expensive than the US. It doesn't matter if you're using a US-based airline or not, either, which is strange considering the price of oil there is so low right now. You'd expect airfares to be lower as well, but they aren't.

Toyota of South America told me the cars they build here are built to the same specifications as cars they build anywhere else and would not require any retooling or rehab work to be legal for sale in the US.  I haven't been able to speak with anyone from other manufacturers on the subject yet, but I'm working on that.

I bought a Nokia Lumia a couple of years ago. Dual SIM, 4 band. Unlocked. I paid just under R$700 for it. I would have paid close to $500US for it with only a single SIM in the US. I've been gone for 5 years now, but I'm pretty sure that dual SIM phones are not available there yet.

The author of this article failed to understand the main reason why things are so expensive here. If you just got off the plane with a bag full of dollars, everything is cheap here. However, if you live here, as an expat does, you don't make dollars. You make reais. That puts you on level ground with Brazilians. If you work here and live here you find that it's extremely difficult to make money. And even when you do, the money has little value. If you work as a pizza delivery boy in the US, you make approximately the equivalent of $10 an hour ($7 an hour plus tips). Well in Brazil that is equivalent to R$34 an hour, which here, a Doctor doesn't even make. The prices are similar to the US for clothing, food, shoes etc. but electrics such as cell phone, computers, gasoline, cars are much higher here. I have lived here since 2009, roughly 8 years. My wife and I have a hostel and we of course depend on Brazilians to spend a night or two here and that's how we survive. The only problem is that most Brazilians have no money. In the last two years, we have seen our business decline 80% since the beginning of the recession. The new Governments answer of course is to support the investor class and to hell with regular working middle class people, who are actually the engine of the economy. Here if you're a banker or a politician, chances are you're doing great, but everyone else is suffering. Things are very expensive here in Brazil for the majority of us

Sorry Marty, incorrect. I didn't step off the plane with a bag of dollars. I stepped off the plane with a freelancer gig and a PayPal account. I am an ex-pat. I'm a US citizen and a legal resident of Brazil. I'm paid in US dollars and Pounds Sterling, depending on the client. I'm somewhat comfortable, although since my main client decided to stop paying a couple of months ago, I'm finding it difficult to come up with the final $450US I need for my wife (Brazilian) and I to visit my parents in time for my dad's 80th birthday at the end of the month.

I looked into "regular work" in the field I worked in in the US before moving here. I found that as an electrician, I could make close to R$200 a day, and as a tile layer/brickmason, about the same. That's about R$25 an hour.

Politicians, whether here or US Republicans, don't give a damn about the middle class. We don't have millions apiece to give them for voting for legislation to help us.

R$25 an hour is equivalent to $7.50 an hour my friend. I have electricians here where I live who will give me a whole day for R$80. In fact my electrician Seu Jorge just brought 3 phase to my guest house. The 10mm wire was R$400...he was R$80 and he worked about 9 hours. Masons here are R$50 for the day. It's funny you should say that your main client has stopped paying you. We were averaging 20 reservations a month at our hostel through for the last 5 years New Years and Carnaval we were booked. Last Carnaval the mayor here cancelled Carnaval because she claimed she needed the money to open the local hospital. No Carnaval.......and guess what? 4 months later...still no hospital Last month? 4 reservations. When we got here in 2009 the economy was on fire. Now.....not so much. People here don't have money and it doesn't seem as if the government is coming up with many solutions. My wife and I are trying to get back to NYC for about a month and we are reviewing prices of airlines....How about R$6000 reais round trip. My electric bill here is R$200 a month. My water bill is R$400 but in January we got a water bill for R$2400 for that one single month. That comes out to R$80 a day for water. We have a lawyer fighting it out for us in court...He's R$1500 +. I hope and pray that you are happy here and that you are doing well, but my wife and I are wits end trying to figure out how to make ends meet. We lived in Brooklyn NYC for 18 years and while things there were also very expensive, at least there, we made money...Here, even when you make money, it doesn't amount to least not enough to pay the bills.

BTW...who in  Brazil has dollars and pounds sterling to pay? I've been here for the last 8+ years and I've never seen a Brazilian with dollars and pounds sterling. If I were you, I would tie that guy to my bedpost and never let him go.

Freelance writer Marty.  PayPal. American and British clients, as I said. If I were you, I'd look into it as your skillset of travel and hospitality is in great demand from American and British clients (Aussies too, if I recall correctly).  I'm busy as hell for the rest of the week, but if you want, we can chat (somehow, my phone is....well....Microsoft) this weekend and I can help you locate some sites that you can apply to.

When I first got here in June of 2012, the school I was teaching at was adding two classrooms and they had an electrician in to pull the wires (they didn't know me, so didn't trust me to do electrical). He charged them R$200 for the day, not including materials. After I moved here to Bertioga with my then fiance, our landlord wanted some electrical work done on her house. I told her what I thought the easiest way to do it was and how much I would charge her. She then called someone she knew, a "handyman" (who proceeded to borrow tools from me) and he quoted her more. And said almost the same thing I did about how to get it done.

Right now, people in Brazil do not have money.....plain and simple. When I go to the supermarket I see people studying the prices very carefully. They put an item in their cart but by the time they get to the cashier 5 out of ten items are usually laid to the side because people decide they can't afford it.  My electrician here is the best I've seen and he's R$80 for the day. I once paid R$100 to a guy who worked on my pool. We had a leaky pipe under the pool and he had to break open the pool veranda to access the pipe. He busted his ass for that R$100 in the burning sun. We charge R$125 for a suite for the night including breakfasting I can't tell you how many times we've heard people say to us "Muito Caro". And we're the cheapest around. I would be interested in learning more about writing freelance. We've had 1 Brit stay here in the last 8 years, 2 french, 1 polish, 1 Israeli, 1 Lithuanian, 2 German and never an American or an Australian. Here where we live is a terrible place too with no pavement, no drainage, nothing to really attract people other than the giant lake 300 meters from our home. When you go into the centre of town all you see is stores for rent. People are going out of business here everyday.

Oh and btw....I have a paypal account

Yeah. I'm in Bertioga. Beach community. About 5 months of the year we've got wealthy and rich people here. Neymar owns a house a few minutes' drive from my house. The street I'm on is mud 99.99% of the time and our bairro doesn't have drainage either. From what my wife's son is telling me this area was only somewhat recently "developed." By developed I mean the city (or someone) cut roads and people walled off sections of property and started building.  The "city" of Bertioga itself has the drainage and stuff. Most of it's even paved. There are some empty storefronts here and there throughout the area but not many.

I think what you are describing is commonly known here in Brazil as a condominium. It's a big peace of land that's partitioned off and people build their houses. Where we live is also poeira, lama and burracos or dust, mud and potholes. The town we live in is called Araruama which is about 100 miles from Rio. The centre of our city is also paved with better drainage. It is mostly kept clean while the section we live in is totally neglected. I've thought about getting into the drop shipping business with oberlo. It doesn't require an enormous investment, just a website and ongoing maintenance and upgrades.

Nooooo, those are huge parcels of land. We'd just call them a neighborhood or "planned" community/development in the US. A republica is just a good-sized house that has been reconfigured with smaller rooms to fit more people. Most likely had one or two bathrooms remodeled for "group" use and maybe one added.   The pousadas I've seen are somewhat similar, but the houses are larger as are the rooms, but most have multiple beds. Some might call these a hostel, I guess.

I remember doing one of those drop-shipping things on ebay for awhile back in 2004 and 2005. Went great then died.

That's because eBay died. I did eBay between 1998 until 2009. When eBay first started you could ell a $20 timex watch for $200. After a few years you couldn't sell it for anything. Bay evolved into a fascist state and where they initially allowed the market to roll along on its own based on the market. Then they changed. I've sold over 10,000 items on eBay and I've sold items for over $5000. Today eBay is on its last legs....My brother still does it and rarely even sells.

Ahhh. That explains it.

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