Friday, November 4, 2011

Rio de Janeiro is Flooded With Foreigners!

I've been talking about how Rio de Janeiro has become bloated with foreigners for years. Brazilians have a selective memory and think that they were already here when I came in 2003. I'm sorry but I was the foreigner of Laranjeiras. I distinctly remember Brazilians of the neighborhood saying that I was. I remember there being one principal hostel in Copacabana and foreigners mainly at News Years and Carnaval. Come July I was the one and only natural blonde cruising Catete.

Now Veja Rio has come out with an article practically confirming what I have always said. Foreigners are the newest import and the big jump came in... wait for it... between 2007 and 2010! From 2007 to 2010 the amount of business visas doubled from 10,088 to 22,371. Of course that doesn't count tourism and such but it gives you an idea.

Rio de Janeiro is the new black. Everyone is trying it on. It makes you feel skinnier and taller. It goes with everything. Hell, you can even pull it off for a daytime wedding if you have enough attitude and the right length.

The article makes a good point though. São Paulo has had an international interest for a while. Rio de Janeiro, on the other hand, has been the hot slutty step-sister that travelers choose to spend a few fun nights with. The key? Then go home.

That is changing now.

So of course Veja Rio interviewed a few "random" foreigners who have moved to Rio de Janeiro (random out of the pool of foreigners that know someone at Veja). They are all in their 20s. Ha! Like that's the population flooding into this city to live. Let's just go with them for a second.

The big complaints are the confusing downtown Zona Sul traffic, bad urban planning, excessive bureaucracy, violence, social inequality, and general services.

The pros: breathtaking scenery, the Carioca Woman, the Small Town Feel in a Big City, The general Carioca Happiness, and The Cultural Diversity.

I can pretty much agree with both sides. They are both correct, as I am an official as to what is correct in this city. Do the pros outweigh the cons? It really depends on the person.

Personally I feel that the pros are amazing. They really are. I would like to add to it that this is a very child friendly culture and that PDAs with couples are not only accepted but encouraged. Love that!

As for the cons, they are also true. I feel though, as a foreigner married to a Carioca, that our choice to start our life here could possibly better the cons, within reason. I am married to a very intelligent Carioca man. He has the opportunity to bring business, technology, and jobs to his city. Bad urban planning? You can't really undo the tower of cards without causing a mess, right?

But I will take a quote from our very own Mr. Rant. Maybe the Olympics won't just bankrupt our city. Maybe they will do for it what it did for Barcelona. At the same time you have to ask the age old egg chicken question. Did the Olympics make Barcelona or did Barcelona let the Olympics make it a chicken? 


  1. As long as the Olympics don't do to Rio what they did to Athens...

  2. Well you just had to go and scare us more ;)

  3. hehehe. Loved the dress metaphor. And the stepsister metaphor.

  4. Rio is the most beautiful city I have ever been to in my life!!

  5. I have read many articles about this. Like others say, I hope it doesn't take away the culture of the city, but at the same time it will make it more cosmopolitan.

    I think that Rio will be filled with (even more) Portuguese, French, Italian and other Europeans. I am not very sure that Americans (en masse) will go to live in Rio though, Americans are less adventurous in this sense.


    1. I think that Rio will be filled with (even more) Portuguese, French, Italian and other Europeans.

      That's already happening because of the crisis (lack of jobs) in their own country. They know that (Southern) Europe is toasted.

      "I am not very sure that Americans (en masse) will go to live in Rio though, Americans are less adventurous in this sense."

      Though you can already see because of the same situation (lack of jobs and debt crises that cannot and will not be paid off, doesn't matter how much money they print from thin air), the people from the US will be the new mexicans. But where will the ones go who can leave is a question I cannot even answer since majority doesn't know a foreign language. That's a fact..not crazy or anti rhetoric.

  6. Barcelona is be-aut-tiiii-fuuul! I hope Rio does get better with the Olympics. Do you like having more foreigners? Or do you wish they would "just-go-away,-you-were-here-before-it-was-cool &popular- I saw it first"?

  7. As always, I love seeing their point of view Rachel =P

    I think like antiuser: As long as the Olympics don't do to Rio what they did to Athens...

    Eu tenho esperança que daqui pra frente as coisas irão melhorar bastante, você verá =)

  8. Small town feel in a big city. That is so true, Rio is the biggest small town on Earth. Where else can you have a conversation standing under a tree in Copacabana, hiding from the rain on New Years Eve, a total stranger, then end up seated next to that same person at one of the free Samba rehearsals at Sapucai two months later? Then, again, run into that same person at a Gilberto Gil show in Lapa six months later? I could relate a dozen such random experiences. And, Rio has nearly the same population as New York City! Try driving from Ipanema to Shopping Norte if you want to realize how big Rio really is. Speaking of which, that is one massive shopping mall! With a restaurant that has all you can eat Mineira style food, R$37 weekdays.

    Zona Sul is really a small town within a big city. It is as if there were gates, people just don't venture out of Zona Sul that much. And, why would you? There was great fear when the plans to extend the Metro were announced, yet I have not seen that much negative effect. The shootout on my street happened before the Metro arrived!

    I agree with Alex, it will be Europeans who are more likely to stay in Brasil, not so much the Americans. For the better, dare I say - and I may since I am American.

    Today in Rio is the sort of day which reminds me why I moved here. Nowhere else I have been on this Planet offers the variety of experiences as Rio, and with great weather. Every time I step out the door, a new adventure begins. I like that. Enjoy the beach!

  9. The strange thing is that a city like Curitiba is sooo much better than Rio if you consider what the foreigners complained about in the Rio Veja magazine article. I am guessing many expats live in Rio due to their employers and if so companies would be wise to consider a move from Rio to places like Curitiba, Florianopolis, Maringa, Londrina and the likes. The McKinsey Global Institute report, cited in an "The Economist" piece, concluded it would be better for companies to set up shop in these places.

    On a different note I found this map comparing Rio's neighborhoods to European countries. Unfortunately no statistics behind this one, just think it's amusing.

    I personally would like to set up camp in a place like Fernando de Noronha. An island were people can only remain for like 14 days tops ( a rule stipulated by the Brazilian Navy if memory serves me right). See below as I play host to guests to the island, Alex is the co-host whose main task is ringing a welcome bell. This is a temporary position though and he would soon be fowarded to the mainland to hang out with the rest of the non-gritty population.

  10. I am out the door, no one in their right mind (or not bedridden) would stay inside today in Rio, but saw this and it reminded me of yet another reason why I love Rio. That being, there is always something FREE to do that is INTERESTING!

    Evento gratuito neste sábado reúne atrações culturais no Centro do Rio. 'Folia Rio Antigo' apresenta shows, oficina e exposição até as 20h. Palcos estão na Praça Tiradentes, e ruas do Lavradio, Senado, e Resende.

    So, if the beach isn't your thing, there is always the first Saturday of the month fair in Lapa!(though frankly, Lavradio with hotels? The fair that used to be in Lapa has now moved under the viaduct in front of the barcas. A true one stop shopping feira!)

    Gritty, I have had a trip planned to Fernando de Noronha for 8 years, hasn't happened yet but you are correct, the island is actually a National Park, they allow only a fixed number of people on the island, and 3-5 days is the maximum, or was when I looked into going. Hardly enough time to explore even a small part, but a wise way to care for it. A place where running into Gilligan or Dr. Howell would not be a surprise at all!

  11. Yep, it would be nice to run into the whole gang, except the professor, uhh that smug fellow. I never liked him. You can tell he considers himself to be above the Skipper and Gilligan as he pontificates at great lenght over the properties of coconuts, palm trees and whatnot.
    Oh, I know the question will be asked so I'll just reply now: the answer is both, I would choose Ginger and Mary Ann.

  12. It's true, there are WAY more foreigners than before, and before for me is 8 years ago too. It was rare to hear English on the street, it really was! In Leblon, I remember a totally different Leblon...seriously, it's changed A LOT. And it keeps changing, mostly for the better but there are some losses too, it's 100% developed at this point. We just came back from Buzios and the thing about Buzios is that yes it's lovely, you have really nice places, some sort of iffy places, and some crap places, everything is not completely developed, that kind of gives you hope for what it might or might not be, or what it might remain to be actually! It's still unspoiled in parts. Leblon, when I moved here we had 4 gas stations, now the last one is being closed down. To park here is a nightmare. There used to be bars on the beach street, now they are condos. To buy anything here now you need to be a millionaire, when I moved here you could still buy something for under R$200,000. But back to topic, yes, SO many people here from other countries. I never sensed this before a couple of years ago, not in this volume. I like it, but it's funny when people treat me like I've been in Rio for 1 week, and I've lived here for a LONG time! It's funny. And variety here has improved by 1000%. Not that I can afford it, but it has improved like crazy. So I'd say it's mostly good, maybe a tiny bit bad...but we can't hold onto the past, right? Rio needs to go forward.

  13. Curitiba is a great city, very well planned, cleaned and organized.
    The thing with Curitiba is that it's freaking cold all year long. You have like 1 month of lame hot, and 11 of freezing bones. You won't see a line of Brasilians forming eager to move there, ever.
    Plus, people there tend to be more private (some say snobs and unpolite), so there you go, not so friendly and cold? Hell, I'm out!

  14. Barcelona let the Olympics make it a chicken.

    Why? If you understand it's history, in the past Barcelona was a dump. Not many Tourists outside Spain cared to go to Barcelona. What changed and how? People took action and using the Olyimpics in 1992 was the best way to transform the city. It worked and the people became more confident. Now today, because of Spain's budget crisis (over spending), outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and step over to the so called green service jobs and housing bubble (built and they shall come, don't worry, easy credit is here to stay forever) ..sounds familiar?..Barcelona has a problem but the city is still receiving more than ever tourists what they didn't had in the past before the olympics.

    Rio de Janeiro can do the same thing and it's up to the people. It's up to them if the olympics 2016 will be a success. Since many Brazilians are skeptical and have a low self esteem of themself, what is logic if you understand their history (lost decade 70's, 80's untill mid 90's), they just need to do what must be done. I know I talk easy, but that's what the people of Barcelona did...nothing magic. will power and the right mindset..listen to the critics but if they complain about nonsense, ignore (mainly from Chicago..oh boy, they just couldn't stand it when they lost it agains Rio..saw it on Fox news and CNN)

  15. athens was a disaster though a bit better compare to Atlanta...remember that one?

    And remember..Athens is a FIRST world city, acording to the travel "experts" (nevermind the riots of today)

    the Problem of Athens was/is simple. They didn't had the money, borrowed like crazy, cooked the books (with help of Golman Sachs, has been proven and admitted, but none went to jail..geez, and you Brazilians complain about corruption) and do what they had to do..built, and built, everything news. They had a great party..and boom..Argentina style sober.

    Brazil has reserves, plenty of reserves and must invest in infrastructure..long term projects..this is their chance..that's how you can use the olympics.