Some of my living costs in Brazil

People have asked me about the living costs in Oliven├ža in Brazil, in a typical beach town, so I wrote this in reply to this comment:

Hi Mike,

I really hope it works out for you. Here are the costs I spend on living here, a small town in the Coast:

Note that all values are in Brazilian Reals:

1) Rent: 600 for a big house, 5 rooms, it’s very relative, you have to look hard but you can find at this price.
2) Electricity: 80, using energy saving lights.
3) Water: 40
4) Food: A couple, plus three kids of 5, 3 and 1, we spend maybe 1000 reais. Great fruits and vegetables, decent meat.
5) Bus: 2.2
6) Internet + fixed telephone + satellite TV: 120
7) School: private, 120 per kid
8) Furniture, electronics, clothes, I would maybe say are more expensive here than in the USA or Europe where you can find discount stores but even that I am not sure, for furniture and clothes I have my doubts, definitely electronics, computers and cars are much more expensive here.
9) Beer, 1 litter: 2.8 reais
10) Restaurants: Basic popular dish for one person 7-11 reais, quite good actually (rice with beans and a bit of fish or meat), more elaborate dishes can go up to 50-60 per person, or even more.
11) Coca-cola, 1.5 litters: 2.5 reais

Those values depend a lot on where you live, we live in a small city in the beach if you go to big cities you will have to pay much more for rent and transportation and private schools, but food, telephone and internet will be even cheaper. The advantage of big cities is that there is a lot of work, problem is that it’s more stressing to live there. It all depends on what you really want. I have heard that Rio is great, but can be dangerous. All Brazil is dangerous, but violent crimes are more often in big cities, where we live, it happens less but small crime such as robberies are frequent. Lima I know it and find it ugly but my brother lives there and says it’s quite nice. I love Buenos Aires, it’s safe, pretty, not expensive, certainly cheaper than Rio and is very European-like, it has a Mediterranean feeling like Barcelona and the best meat in the world. In any case in Lima, Buenos Aires or Rio there is a lot of work and specially if you speak English, you can always end up giving English lessons and do quite well, not rich, but decent. My wife gives English lessons here and loves it. Even in a small Brazilian town people want to learn English.


About jrv

I was born in Spain and lived in Belgium, Chile, France, USA, Argentina among other places. Currently I am trying to settle down in a wild place. I am "retired", even though now I dedicate more hours "working" for my investments than I ever worked in the real labor market where I used to work in IT and Banking. I am a family man, I have a lovely wife, several sons and one step daughter. I have humble tastes, I like to stay home and read about companies and investments. I started investing at 25 before the internet bubble exploded. I did not know much about investing and liked technical analysis so my results were pretty bad. Fortunately I did not have much to lose. Some years later in 2006 bored of doing only real state investments and with quite a lot of money saved I opened an account in a cheap and excellent online broker and started again. This time I did not want to commit the same mistake, so I decided to follow a model. I heard that Warren Buffett was the best at making money via stocks so I started by reading a lot about him, all of his shareholders letters and several of the books that he recommended. I learned a lot, started applying his investing principles and reading a lot of 10K's. Digested news from lots of different sources. Basically I started buying very good and cheap companies and holding them for ever if possible and if nothing changed fundamentally. When the housing crisis started I was more than 75% cash. At that time I identified good companies at incredibly cheap prices so I invested most of my savings in stocks. In less than I year I doubled. By the second semester of 2009 I turned my software company into an investment vehicle and dedicated myself full time to it. My wife and I decided to change our lifestyle and moved from Belgium to the beach in a wild country. The goal was to keep fixed costs low in order to be able to live with a minimum 6-8% yearly return but specially to move away from the inhuman life of civilization and to have finally some peace and sunny weather to concentrate better on investing. Now I can think and study about companies 60 hours a week and I am doing great. I can finally do what I want full time and can proudly say that I have never been so happy, specially also with my just born 4th son, my other great kids and my sweet wife who supports me fully while I study most of the day and patiently wait for the opportunity to make a swing ! You can learn a bit more about my portfolio by viewing it at or you may learn more about me and my family by following the link "Author's site" from the menu above.
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5 Responses to Some of my living costs in Brazil

  1. Mike says:

    Hi jrv,

    Thanks so much- this is some very helpful information!

  2. Hi jrv, thanks for the post. I spend a lot of time travelling and staying in Rio, Vitoria and Bela Horizonte – Rio is a beautiful city but as you said it is very expensive to live in – even for Canadian standards ! The safe areas (Ipanema, Leblon and parts of Copa) have outrageous rents and food costs. Baja is a good option if you need to live in Rio. I find Vitoria very charming, smaller town and the people are great – great food as well. However being a smaller port town, work is limited (Vale is the largest employer here). Bela is the wild west just like Calgary or Texas :)
    I would agree with you that the Bahia area where you live is a great spot to live, it is on my list of places to visit with my wife for a vacation and someday go snorkelling in the islands. Obrigado

  3. jrv says:

    Hi Aninda,

    I appreciate your point of view and experience. I have heard that Belo Horizonte is a rich (for Brazilian standards) and important city due to the mining activity. I also heard the Vitoria do Espiritu Santo is a great place with nice neighborhoods and is in the sea coast so actually I like the idea of visiting it looking for a better place to live. But it will be hard to find something better than what we have now given the right balance of price quality that I look for.

    Nice to see that you confirm a good experience of Vitoria, please share more about it if you do not mind!

    If you ever come around where I am let me know!

  4. Hey Jose!!!
    This is Alex. I just wanted to get your quick opinion. I have made five percent today on shorting vxx. Should I hold half or all the position or should i get out. With a regular stock I would probably get out because a stock that gained five percent in one day would probably go down the next day. But vxx does not perform like a regular stock.

  5. jrv says:

    Congrats Alex !

    I don really know, it all depends on your time frame. If you are long term oriented then you can for sure hold and it will be lower, but if not there is no way of knowing what will happen. It could very well be that in the weekend there are bad news and the VXX opens 5% higher. But it also could be that the volatility remains low and with the current level of contango the VXX is losing half a percentage point per day !!

    But then again I cant really say, I am not selling my short positions, because I am a permanent short basically very long term, but not all are the same.

    It also depends on the amount you shorted, if it’s a lot then closing part of it is not a bad idea.


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