People "back home" often don't get it. They think we expats sit around eating bon bons, working on sunning our bundas while barking orders at our maids and making lunch plans at the Copacabana palace. Every experience is what you make of it and you could make the above your reality if you wished but the truth is there are challenges to living in any city, whether you are an expat or a "lifer"... I think the trick is to try and find the beauty in whatever place you live in. Anyway! I asked Rio's expats what they think the biggest misconceptions are about what it is like to live in Rio, and here is what they had to say:
- It is not as dangerous as everyone makes it out to be.
- one misconception I had was that there would be a lot of mosquitos and if you even go outside without repellent, you will certainly be bitten, get Dengue fever and die.
- that zona sul is as dangerous as zona norte
- We live in fear and have to duck the gunfire
- That it's nonstop crime and samba
- The violence. It generally occurs in the suburbs.
- That it's scary.
- That the crimes are every where and you have to be alert all the time
- Not everyone gets shot at/stabbed/robbed and left naked on the street if you follow common sense, avoid known bad areas, don't carry valuables or otherwise stand out from the crowd looking like a tourist.
- People think there is a criminal with a machine gun on every corner
- That the city is paralysed by violence. People were very concerned when I said we were moving to Rio. While I accept there is a problem, in Zona Sul life goes on as normal.
- Crime is over exagerated (mostly limited to the flavela's)
- That it is too dangerous to walk the city. One must be careful about the time and location of ones walk.
- It is constant danger.
- That it is so dangerous. I felt very safe.
- Crime exageration
- the real impact of the crime on the daily life... peoplethink you can not walk in the streets normally,not mentioning carring your handback with you
- The majority of violent crime is usually in the suburbs and favelas and drug related. Things do happen, but not like what people imagine. When my mother first came here, she was shocked to see people walking on the streets, because she assumed that we all lived in fortresses. Especially in Leblon, I feel extremely safe and comfortable to walk pretty much anywhere at anytime.
- That is is always sunny and that it is very dangerous. Neither, in my experience, is true!
- That it is dangerous all of the time. You can't let yourself be so frightened that you miss out on experiences.
On Development and Amenities:
- That it is a normal First-World city
- People think life here is more glamorous than what it really is. People think Rio is more "up-to-date".
- Glamorous and easy being an expat; beautiful weather all the time.
- That it is an internatonal city that caters well to tourists. It is neither of those things.
On the Cost of Living:
- People think it will be cheaper than back home -- not on the local economy!
- its cheap
- That it is cheap to live here
- that it is cheap
- That it is cheap and that it is an easy place to live.
- The large colonial property, surrounded by lush green tropical gardens are most likely not where you will be living. Chances are it will be an appartment.
On the Brazen Brazilian Beach Party Culture:
- That women sun bathe naked on the beach.
- Pictures make it look like all the people here do is go to the beach everyday. People back home think this is all fun and games.
- women go topless on the beach
- life here is a big party....itsn't really..
- Rio is not only carnival, samba, soccer and Copacabana where everybody is the same but it has great very strict classes and hierarchies (not only rich and poor).
- It's not all sun and sand. Living day to day can be a huge headache. Workmen don't turn up and generally processes "take time".
- That it would be all sun, beach and beautiful views.
- That the sun is always shining and all carneval dancers are naked.
- That we are on vacation all the time
- That it's one big party. NOT!
- People think women go topless on Ipanema beach.
- Women don't go around topless.
- party, party, party
- Party 24/7 or something along the lines of what you watch in "City of God".
- Most people think this is a big never ending party place and is nothing but fun day and night with no worries at all.
- There is more rain than you would ever expect.
- How wonderful it is.
You need to learn to love this place, it does not just happen.
- A must to speak the language
- People work as hard as anywhere else in the world.
- I'm always suprised when people ask me how my Spanish is after living in Rio for three years. Really, my Spanish!