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How do you survive

So Sao Paulo is one of the most expensive places to live, more than New York but less than Tokyo.  We lived in LA for a bit, which is also up there, but not as up there as Sao Paulo, and I have to say it’s not so bad.  But then again, I nor my husband are paid Sao Paulo wages.  I think that’s the big difference here from Tokyo, at least in Tokyo people are paid pretty well too.  In Brasil, the wage discrepancy is pretty big.


We are doing pretty well here (but like I said, US wages).  However, if we had an older kid, or even more kids, different story.  I often wonder how it is that Brasilians survive. On top of the price of rent, food, and insanely crazy gas prices, I’d also have to pay for school tuition (and they start young here, like pre age 3 in school), dance classes, instruments, athletic supplies, and the list goes on and on.  So if you look around Brasil and wonder why you only see a few kids in families, even though it’s a highly catholic society, I think you’ll know why. .. the avg is 1.9 kids as of 07.  I’m sure has declined further since then, as it was 2.1 in 2004.  Per 2010 stats in the US the average per family is .84.

Even still, with just a few kids per family, Brasil is still one of the most child friendly countries, so when people tell me that all the friendliness is because people in Brasil have kids, I find it interesting, because in such a tight economy as this, you’d think kids would be viewed as a burden, but they are not, they’re viewed as a wonderful gift, and hopefully that is what will keep Brasil from turning into Europe, where the birthrate is almost non-existent.


About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

5 responses »

  1. Maybe you should address those questions to our congressmen that made an average of 10k per month plus benefits and 3 extra salaries per year. They’re the only that dont strugle to survive. Nice post. Good luck in Brasil.

    • Yeah, the class disparity here is insane. Even at my husband’s company the top level people here compared to the same level people in the US make so much more. So if the top people here made a little less, then maybe the middle and bottom could make a more reasonable wage. But then how would they afford drivers, maids, cooks, nannys, and their designer clothing.

  2. I’ve often wondered that too – particularly for families who are surviving on the minimum wage. R$545 doesn’t even cover our rent… and our rent is mid-range, not on the high end at all!

    One of my biggest complaints is the lack of advancement opportunities. If someone starts at the minimum wage, they have literally NO hope for any sort of raise (not counting the annual inflation adjustments) unless they either graduate from college (and private colleges start at around R$250/month) or take a technical training or professionalization month (which could be R$500/month). So how the heck are you supposed to advance??

    When I worked in NYC – for a non-profit, at that – I started at 24K per year (on the low end for New York) and at the end of 3 years I was making 33K. But it seems like merit raises just don’t exist here. Maybe in big companies like Petrobras… I’m not sure. But for most “low-end” professions, there just isn’t anywhere to advance to.

  3. Scrubgrub,

    One HUGE factor that I have noticed that helps most middle class Brazilians is that most people don’t have mortgages. They somehow pay their homes fast, the most mortgage terms are 15 years, many people find a way to pay off their properties in 5 or 10 years.
    Now, just imagine how far your salary could go if you had no rent or mortgage to worry about?
    Americans usually become slaves of Banks with 30 year mortgages and that pretty much defines most people’s life styles.
    Plus, thanks to President Reagan, Bush father and son, the US is starting to look more and more like a 3rd world country. Where the wealthy always getting wealthier and the middle class and poor are seeing it’s biggest reduction in standards of living since the cost of living started being measured 50 years ago. Sadly, we just watched that on the news today.
    Americans are loosing purchasing power by the minute. Gasoline is 3 to 4 times more expensive than it was 5 years ago. There are less and less jobs available and the remaining jobs are paying less.
    Kids are getting out of College with huge debt and no perspective for work.
    No wonder we are seeing the “Occupy Wall Street” movement spreading all over the place. People are feed up with the government helping the wealthy under the influence of the Lobbyists while the middle class keeps getting kicked out of jobs and having their houses foreclosed on.
    If you ask me. Republicans and freaking tea party idiots should be outlawed. 🙂


    • I’m not going to get into the politics of it all in the US. But it’s not just the lack of mortgages. Land and property was once cheap in the US, and people owned their homes, then people got richer and started paying more and more and pop…and you know what, it kind of feels like that way here. Real Estate speculation happens here, except there is no zillo, so people aren’t as informed, and prices are increasing, so if Brasil isn’t careful they’ll end up just like the US, except the wage disparity will be even worse!


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