Expat Travel Blog, Recife, Brazil
Expat Travel Blog, Recife, Brazil

Brazil vs. Colombia for Expats


Date posted: Jun, 08, 2023

Key Takeaways:

Brazilians have a better culture, which most prefer.

Slightly more red tape in Brazilian society generally

Costs in Colombia about 15% less

Brazilian society will accept you as an individual more than in Colombia

Both are great for dating (toss up, slight advantage to Colombia over Brazil)

Brazilians are More Honest and Have Better Morals

Colombians are always trying to deceive one another, and that includes you as a foreigner. They tend to equate "smartness" directly with trickery.  In Brazil, I feel like they will take me as I am: like or dislike me on my merits. When a Brazilian views or meets me for the first time I don't believe they are considering so much that I'm a foreigner and they are Brazilian (more on this below).  It is far seldom that I encounter a Brazilian trying to con me with some cheap trick in search of an extra 50 cents to put in their pocket. They have more pride and self-respect than that. And I like that, a lot. 

Before You Open Your Mouth: Brazilians Don't Know For Sure that You're a Foreigner

My girlfriend reminded me of this. She said: Robert, you know, they don't REALLY know that you aren't Brazilian before you open your mouth. There are more people in Brazil who physically resemble Americans. Especially in the south of Brazil. So, when you're anywhere in Brazil (and including the far north), Brazilians have seen enough of their own people on TV and in news broadcasts that they just really are not sure who I am before I start speaking to them in my non-native Portuguese. That's a benefit to you as a foreigner and expat/expatriate.

Colombia is More Dangerous than Brazil (for foreigners at least)

There are more people in Colombia who will prey on foreigners. Assuming you don't try to live a Brazilian ghetto/favela, you're mainly left alone in Brazil. Both places are not particularly safe, however you'll never 9or almost never) hear about foreigners who have been drugged with scopolamine and robbed. 

Costs in Colombia
about 15% less, but it depends greatly on your location in both countries.

If you live up in the northeastern Brazilian cities like Fortaleza or Recife, it is still plenty cheap by American standards. Both Sao Paulo and Bogota are both much more expensive than medium-sized cities in both countries. Colombia wins slightly on this point.

Most American Guys Get Slightly More Chicks in Colombia

Perhaps it is because Brazilians in general tend to be physically larger and huskier than Colombians, that we tend to stack up less favorably to our Brazilian male counterparts as compared to guys in Colombia. Maybe it is the economics: Brazilians are slightly wealthier than Colombians, and it is hard to deny that economic success can influence dating. Either way, I don't care that much because Brazil is still a great place for expats and digital nomads to date.

It is Easier and More Convenient to Get the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa (as of 2023)

Colombia wins on this one: you can apply for their visa while within the country, and you don't have to wait around near a consulate in your own country while you cross your fingers waiting for the visa. Brazil's digital nomad visa has roughly the same requirements, but they have a longer list of documents that need special translation and apostille requirements.

Have a Child in Brazil? If Yes, then You're 100% Home Free

Colombia does not have this clear rule, Brazil does. Many people don't know that if you have a child in Brazil you can not be deported. Before jumping to any conclusions, here me out on this. Why is it important you think? I'm not worried about being deported? So, here are the reasons. When you start submitting your visa applications the authorities will have to allow you to remain in Brazil while processing it. Further, if something goes wrong with the paperwork, you can politely resumbit it, all the while understanding that they can NOT force or ask you to leave. The Brazilian supreme court has ruled on this very clearly and decisively. This is important because there are quite a number of people who have even been married to a Brazilian and been hung up and not given their status in Brazil purely due to paperwork deficiencies and the Brazilian bureaucracy's unwillingness to make the process flexible enough to accomodate an otherwise reasonable situation on your part. This happens when you have an application that has genuine substantive merit, but has some small technical deficiency.

Having a child in Brazil is one of the strongest and surest ways to streamline your application process.

Rob in Brazil Expat Blog Copacabana Rio, Brazil 22011-040