North vs. South Brazil for Expat Living
Date posted: Sep, 16, 2023
North of Brazil is a good bit cheaper.
Sunnier in the North, and warmer.
Dating is better, especially for men older than 40 years old.
Culture of north Brazil is slower, friendlier and less "modern" and politically correct.
Which is safer? I'm not quite decided on that. Probably the north, if you stay out of the poor areas.
Cost of Living
(NOTE: my comparisons on this page are mainly based on my experience living in both Fortaleza, Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in 2022 and 2023). There is no question that the north of Brazil is a good bit cheaper than the South. My Uber rides in Fortaleza were always a good 30% less than when in Rio. My apartment in Fortaleza was a two bedroom and had everything (neighborhood, pool below, secure, big TV, netflix, the whole deal), it was $800 USD per month or so. Whereas a slightly smaller place in Rio was $1300 USD. Restaurants in Rio are also a bit more expensive.
The girls in the South of Brazil care much more about dating a man that is closer to their age. I was in Fortaleza (and the suburbs and cities in and around Fortaleza, and a bit in Recife) for six months in 2022. During that time I dated a number of girls who were in their twenties while I'm in my early fifties. That simply did not happen in Rio. There just were no takers on Badoo, Bumble and BrazilCupid.com. Older western men will do better with women in Fortaleza and the north of Brazil.
Push, push, go, go. The culture of Rio de Janeiro is quite hustle-bustle. I'm not thrilled with it anymore. When I was in my early thirties I lived there (mainly in 2001 and 2002), and it was a different time then. And I was a different and younger man. Sao Paulo has the same characteristics, and may be even worse. The place is terribly crowded.
Cities like Fortaleza and Recife in the north are much more spread out. The people speak slower and don't continually interrupt you. They let you finish your sentences in the north. People are not in a rush there.
Obvioulsy, I think the north of Brazil beats the big cities of the south hands down.
I think you are more likely to have conflicts (which could escalate) among the non-criminal locals of the south than in the north. I think if you stay out of the poor areas in the north you will probably be safer there. I'm not absolutely certain however. So, I should probably pass on this one.
Anything you can buy in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, you can find in Fortaleza. In fact, I had an interesting and informative experience trying to buy a monitor in Rio. There is some weird situation with the industry in the Rio area, such that you really can only get the good monitors by ordering them online. Go figure. It was strange. This was especially so given the fact that just the year prior I had had no problem just going into physical retail electronics stores in Fortaleza, and finding a plethora of choices when it came to computer monitors.
I probably should have listed this one first, as it is perhaps the most important to me. Or at least tied with the dating aspect's importance. Fortaleza is pretty much the sunshine capital of Brazil. The weather in the north of Brazil absolutely puts the south of Brazil to shame.