Monday, April 11, 2011

Rio de Janeiro Beats Outs Paris and London

So what is the cost of quality of life? Pretty damn expensive in Rio de Janeiro.  This proud little beach city has jumped from number 141 to 19 on the ECA International list of the most expensive urban centers.

I have to say, I can see it! Just the other night some friends and I were talking about rising beer prices. Yes, that is where we noticed it first. Hello, we're in Brazil.

Anyway, when I got here some years back I could buy a 900ml bottle of beer for R$2.30 (US$1.46).  Now it costs around R$4.50 (US$2.85).  Not much of a difference but a definite increase.  Let's not forget milk going up from R$1.70 to R$2.85, bus fare from R$1.70 to R$2.80, cigarettes from R$2.30 to R$4.50, and Coconut water from R$1.50 to R$3.50.

And these are little things that are from here.  Let's look at Revista Globo's examples of the cost of things that are in both Brazil and abroad.

Cupcakes, those tasty fancy little bastards that kill everyone's attempt at a diet: In the US they are US$2.75 (R$4.43) and in Rio de Janeiro they are US$4.14 (R$6.50)

Another diet killer, the chocolate croissant: The best in France costs 1.50 euros (R$3.44) and in Rio de Janeiro it's 2.20 euros (R$5.00). In the R$5 Croissant's defense, it's supposed to be just like the French version. I figure it's worth the dough because if you go cheap on a chocolate croissant in Rio you'll basically get bread with a piece of sticky Hersey's chocolate in the middle.

Onsies, that great little baby basic: In the US it's like 35 cents for a pack of 6 and in Brazil R$20 for a super crappy version that you'll put on your child once. Ok, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but seriously the difference in kids stuff is AMAZING! It costs a small fortune to own anything we consider basic in the US. I brought all my stuff from the home. For those interested in actual numbers, in the US for a Gerber Newborn girly pack of 6 onsies costs US$9.99 (R$15.76) and in Brazil for one onsie from Babe Basico $20.30 (R$32). It's hard to believe that one good quality onsie would cost that much...

I could continue this comparison forever. The article goes on to cover gym memberships, concert tickets, beauty salons, Moleskine notebooks, and chino pants.

We get it, things cost more here.

Now look at the minimum wage. It's something like R$545 (US$345.64) a month. It comes as no surprise that rice and beans stay the staple food down here. At R$2.89 (US$1.83) for 1 kilo of a good brand of rice and R$2.79 (US$1.77) a kilo for a good brand of black beans, it's affordable.

That and they are damn tasty! Talk about making something so simple so good. It's just like what the Cariocas did with the butt.

Anyway, why do you think Rio de Janeiro's cost of living is so high in comparison to the rest of the world?


  1. I always thought it was due to how much they tax everything down there?

    How do people make it? I'm finding it hard to survive up HERE, and I don't even get a freaking beach to sit on and justify the crap I have to put up with or the dysfunctional relative's I have to deal on a daily basis.

  2. Not to be a pain, but...

  3. I have no idea but I have no idea how you all do it. We are barely scraping by here in the US. It's a horrible time economic wise right now everywhere I believe. :(

  4. Rio is so beautiful that the all rich Brazilians want to live here (Eike, Klabin, etc.) as well as rich foreginers and rich retired foreigners.

    Plus, the fact that interest rates here are sky high and the economy is growing really quickly is drawing tons of investment from abroad.

    I think Rio is the capital of people earning in dollars (and Euros) and spending in reais.

    Add that to the fact that cariocas always seem to equate more money with "better" and its easy (but no less painful) to see why everything is so expensive.

    If you offered gerber packs for the same price as in the US no one would buy them. Tripple the price and all of a sudden they become an interesting way to show everyone you CAN spend that much.

  5. In that case, I think I'll move my photography business down there and let the "rich Brazilians" show off how much they spent on their portraits with me.
    I am a high priced boutique studio here and the economy has hit my industry hard. I'd move in a heart beat if I knew I could make it easier somewhere else.

  6. My husband and I have always found this to be very interesting. To stay alive, just basic needs, Brazil is so much cheaper. Rent, basic food (beans, rice, veggies). But then anything beyond that, WOW. Clothes... way more. Entertainment, gas, travel (and tolls!), so much more! And don't even dare to look at the electronics :P In the US it is the opposite. Rent and food -- killer. Entertainment, "stuff", travel, so much cheaper. Maybe that is why the Brazilians have a much easier time just being with each other, instead of needing to be entertained all the time... which is a lesson we all could learn.

  7. I think Rio is the perfect storm for high prices, someone mentioned above that many foreigners live in the city and spend in Euros or Dollars, that helps to shoot the prices up.
    Plus, Rio has a ton of WEALTH Brazilian military and civilian retirees, rich retired politicians who make absurd salaries.
    High executives also make great salaries, even higher than in the US or Europe, all that helps prices be higher for goods considered luxuries...
    Combine all that with the Brazilian radical left government mentality that the rich have to pay to pay higher taxes and you have products that middle class and upper class consumes costing a small fortune.


  8. Tiffany, this is an interesting perspective!

    It's so true. Americans have a hard time just tolerating each other w/o some form of entertainment involved. And don't get me started on the kids. I have two of my own and I'm constantly telling them to use their imagination in finding something to do. They just don't have it because they aren't required to use it anymore. It's all too easy for kids here.
    And the adults are any better at it. Try to get a group of women to forget about their laundry and let the hubby watch the kids to meet you downtown for coffee or to hang out for an hour or so and it's impossible!
    God forbid should the hubby complain that he has to watch his own children so mom can have an hour to herself. Why? Because he's probably busy playing the Xbox himself or washing his sports car that he can't be bothered.
    That's what I loved about Rio...people were genuinely happy just to hang out and talk and enjoy each other. I miss it!

  9. Guys I just went to the store and it's expensive there too! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.

    Who needs a real block of cheese anyway??

  10. Well Rachel I'd like to know where you found a block of cheese! lol
    I needed a block of sharp cheddar to make a recipe when I was there and we went to the market in Leon's neighborhood and the only cheddar they had was slices like you make a sandwich with and they were like the singles you find here either.
    I used them but the recipe did not taste like it does here at home due to this. Had I known, I would have brought a block of cheese and the canned pineapple tidbits with me. The ones there were expensive and not even sweet like here.

  11. I've stopped attempting to use cheddar in my recipes. You can find it in the supermarkets Pao de Acucar and Zona sul but it's $$$. I just can't bring myself to throw R$35 cheddar into a junk casserole. lol.

  12. Yes, you can cheddar cheese in Rio as well as throughout Brazil, from the inexpensive locally produced kind to the more expensive imported kind, but can you find catupiry cheese in the US? Come on people get real and stop crying on a full stomach! Enjoy where you live whether it's in the US, Europe or Brazil and if it doesn't suit you go back to where you can find the inexpensive cheddar cheese you can't live with...