Brazil for Digital Nomads
Facts about Brazil
Brazil is a great country for digital nomads and long-term travelers. On the one hand, there is so much to see here that you are really busy for a long time if you want to get to know the country properly. On the other hand, the infrastructure and the price-performance ratio are quite good by Latin American standards. Nevertheless, Brazil is not yet flooded with tourists (tourism accounts for only 0.5 percent of the gross national product), so you can still enjoy the many breathtaking places without crowds.
The country has 200 million inhabitants and an area of over 8 million square kilometers. It is the fifth largest country in the world (both in terms of area and population density). With the exception of Chile and Ecuador, it has a border with every country in South America and occupies almost 50 percent of the entire continent.
It is the only country in the region where Portuguese is the national language. However, Brazilian Portuguese differs from European Portuguese in pronunciation, grammar and spelling. Although there are almost 200 languages in Brazil, Portuguese is the only official language.
Much of the country is covered with rainforest, the beating heart of which is the Amazon, which has the greatest biodiversity in the world. However, most people live along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean.
Information About Entry and Departure
German citizens can simply enter Brazil with a passport valid for at least six months and stay in the country for up to three months.
Before arrival, an immigration card must be completed, which can be obtained on board of the means of entry (plane, ship, bus). This card must be kept for the duration of the stay and returned on departure. If you lose your card, you will be fined. If you are staying for more than three months, you must apply for a visa.
In general, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends the standard vaccinations according to the vaccination calendar of the Robert Koch Institute. Yellow fever vaccinations are not required if you are coming from Germany, but may be required by third countries if you have entered yellow fever areas (especially around the Amazon) during your stay in Brazil.
Safety in Brazil
Brazil is by far not as safe as Western Europe. Crime is particularly high in the large cities of Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza, and especially in the favelas, the slums, there are frequent attacks and assaults. That does not mean that it is dangerous everywhere! There are even favelas that are safe to enter. In Rio, my hostel was in a slum and I didn’t even notice it. However, increased vigilance is appropriate throughout Brazil – this is also recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – and you should try not to have all your valuables with you or not to show them. So you should avoid walking around with your mobile phone in your hand.
Money and Currency in Brazil
The currency is the Brazilian Real (BRL). In December 2015, 1 euro was worth 4.3 real. The current exchange rate can be easily checked online. I use an app called XE Currency.
The best bank to withdraw money from is Banco do Brasil. It accepts all major credit cards. However, it is advisable to have credit cards from different providers in Brazil, as not every bank accepts every card. I often had problems withdrawing money with VISA and had to use my Mastercard.
I won’t lie to you: The WiFi speed in Brazil is very patchy! If you have projects where you have large uploads or downloads, you should be prepared to create a hotspot with your mobile phone. In Recife, I stayed at a friend’s house where at least the download speed was acceptable. In hotels, hostels and other places you can’t necessarily assume that. If you find a place where you can work well, I advise you: Stay there! At the next place it can be quite different again…
The mobile network in Brazil is organized by state. So if you arrive in Salvador like me on my second trip, then you travel on to Recife, you are in another state and there are always extra charges for calls and SMS. If you only need your SIM card for data volume, this does not apply to you.
There are different networks. The best known providers are Oí, Vivo and Tim (note: the Brazilian pronunciation is „Chim“). The easiest way to get a SIM card is to go to a shop in a shopping mall. If you’re lucky, it works just like that. However, if you are unlucky, you will be asked for the so-called CPF. This is the Brazilian tax number that only Brazilians and foreigners with a visa have. However, they are very open about it here and a polite request with a nice smile can actually lead to a Brazilian – even if you don’t know him or her – giving you his CPF number.
Normally, the SIM card including one gigabyte of data volume should not cost you more than 50 BRL, so depending on the exchange rate a maximum of 12 euros.
Another possibility for mobile internet access is a MiFi device, which creates a WiFi network for you. I have tested the GlocalMe device and think it’s a really useful addition of my travel equipment. You can either use it as an ordinary wireless router with up to two SIM cards (very useful if you work with mobile TANs, you want to be available on your local number or if you want to use the social networks with a 2-factor authentication) but you can also use it without a physical SIM card but with the built in cloudSIM technology (which is of course more expensive) in over 100 countries worldwide. Apart from that it’s also a 6000 mAh powerbank, which is never bad to have with you.
Living in Brazil as a Digital Nomad
Airbnb*, Hostels* and Hotels* are all great options for short term stays. Prices vary based on amenities and location. You can get a hostel dorm bed, even in places like Rio de Janeiro for less than 10 Euro.
In general, I think Brazil is a great place of you’re looking for a perfect work-life-balance. It offers you the possibility to enjoy the beach and do watersports every day, go hiking in breathtaking nature escapes as often as you want, explore remote areas like the Amazon, and still have communities of other nomads around you so you get work done.
20 Useful Words / Phrases in Portuguese
Obrigado (Men)/Obrigada (Women)
|Where is …?||
Onde é ….?
|My name is …?||
O meu nome é ….?
|I don’t speak Portuguese||Eu (não) falo português.|
|Do you speak English?||Você fala inglês?|
|I’m from Germany.||Sou da Alemanha.|
|Could you help me?||
Você pode me ajudar.
|I need …||Eu preciso ….|
|How much is this?||
Quanto é isso? / Qual é o preço? / Quanto custa?
|Shopping mall||O shopping|
|100||cem / cento|