Visitors Assitants, a relocation company in Brazil, has provided a list of some of the main concerns voiced by some of its clients, and also some general information about community habits in Brazil.
Brazilian breakfast is the least important meal and it is quickly eaten at home. It consists of hot coffee and milk, bread, butter, cheese, jelly and fruit. The largest meal is lunch, and some people still go home for it. It often consists of some kind of meat (beef, chicken, pork or more rarely fish), rice and beans, salad, vegetables and dessert followed by cafezinho - strong, black coffee served in a small cup. The evening meal is usually lighter at home, but it is also the meal people dine out for (restaurants don't open for dinner before 7:30 pm). Tipping is not necessary because it is usually included in the bill (10%). Call the waiter raising your arm discreetly and you can turn down the couvert by saying No, thanks/Nao, obrigada. During meals Brazilians always drink fruit juice or carbonated water from glasses (never from bottles or cans). Coffee and milk are not served during meals.
Gestures, Greetings and Etiquette
Gestures are widely used and it is advisable to learn their meaning to avoid unpleasant situations. One of the most common gestures is to mean approval/good luck - thumb or thumbs up. The American gesture for "OK" has an obscene meaning and is considered very rude.
Brazilians are generally punctual on business commitments but frequently late for social ones.
The host/hostess opens the door to say goodbye to their guests, and stays at the door until they take the elevator or leave.
Hello/farewell greeting kisses: one kiss on each cheek from left to right.
Looking for Housing
There is plenty of unfurnished housing, but high quality furnished availability is rare. Nowadays, the preferences go to townhouses or apartment buildings with 24-hour security and other facilities. When renting a house you are responsible for the rent, condo fee (maintenance) and IPTU (city taxes). Real estate agencies will require a guarantor to also sign the contract.
Utility installation can be done by the concierge or a hired technician, but when it is a new product it has to be installed by a registered service in order to deserve the guaranty. Phone lines, cable TV and cable modem are readily available.
Hired help like maids and drivers have more moderate prices than in Europe or in the US but always check references very carefully!! A maid's monthly fee varies from 2 to 3 minimun incomes (a minimun income as of Feb. 2003 is R $200) for this amount she works for 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. However we also have to pay them transportation, 13th. salary (like a Christmans bonus), social security (20% of their salary, paid at the bank) and a month vacation after working for a year. Cleaning ladies generally charge R $60 for an 8 hour work day. [Editors Note: the Brazilian currency is the Real.]
Banking and Credit Cards
To be able to open a bank account we need a CPF number that can be obtained at the Federal Revenue/Ministerio da Fazenda and the banking hours are from Mondays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There are, however, money machines everywhere. Credit cards are not accepted everywhere so always check first.
Medical Assistance and Hospitals
Medical care and hospitals are of excellent quality and some of our hospitals (www.santacasa.tche.br) are as modern and well equipped as the best ones abroad.
Come and enjoy your stay!! Brazilians are very friendly and helpful and our state, Rio Grande do Sul., Land of Gauchos, is one of the best places to live in terms of education, security, pollution and health.
Visitors Assistants is a relocation company concerned with cost effective and caring solutions to support newcomers in Brazil. Our main concern is to minimize cross-cultural shock and to promote a pleasant and productive adaptation to our country.