A Freelancer Moving to Brazil

Updated on August 22, 2014

So here I am – just 6 days away from relocating to exotic Rio de Janeiro for 6 months. I have to admit I am looking forward to swapping out cold Copenhagen with Ipanema. I mean who wouldn’t be?

So Why am I Moving

Besides the obvious reasons such as the samba, sun and caipirinhas, the temporary relocation is actually credited to my girlfriend. As part of her masters degree she wanted to do an internship abroad and landed one with the UN in Rio – hence the move. Since I am a freelance web designer I am pretty mobile and having been to Brazil before I wouldn’t miss the chance of living out every freelancers dream. Lets admit it – haven’t we all been sitting at a 9-5 job somewhere wishing we could just drop everything and catch the next flight out of here? Well it turns out things are only as complicated as you make them.

Ipanema beach

My new neighborhood just 200 meters from the front door - no really.

Setting up the Network for the Move

One of the first things I did when I started freelancing was to determine how I would like to run my business. Early on I came to the conclusion that I wanted to focus on selling my services as a freelancer to larger agencies. First of all this helps me minimize the time I need to generate leads and do sales work with end clients – the jobs from agencies often come to me with specs and all. Also I establish professional relationships and trust that over time allows me to do getaways like this. Once you have done a project or two with a company they know your work ethics and methods well enough to not care where you are located. This is not a must – that is just they way I have decided to do things.

With a dedicated Skype number in hand and a 3-hour time difference I could actually just have left without telling anyone. 80% of my clients wouldn’t know, but I want to operate in a transparent manner with my clients.

Finding a Place to Stay in Rio de Janeiro

Besides setting up my business network I started to immerse myself in the Brazilian culture and started learning the language (trying at least). With my 6”5, blue eyes and pink Scandinavian tan I will forever be a gringo in Brazil, but knowing a bit of Portuguese and staying clear of the “expat traps” will give us a more authentic stay.

The whole prep phase has been pretty intense. I ended up googling for days before I finally found an apartment for us – located in good old Ipanema. Not bad huh? Once the tickets, apartment and vaccinations got settled everything came into place and all of a sudden it all became very real.

A quick note on finding a place to stay – don’t get scared of prices on vacation rentals. Depending on how long you are looking to stay a furnished vacation rental might be just what you need. Just make sure you cut a deal with the landlord. Tell him that you need to work out a good price as he will be getting a steady tenant for a prolonged period of time and he wont need to deal with the hassle of people checking in and out every other day. You will be surprised how much you can work down the prices.

Finding out where to stay in Rio can be a bit complicated to start of with. It all depends on your temper and the experience you are looking for. First of all we wanted to live in Zona Sul as it is safer and well connected via the metro. The price range can vary a lot depending on what you are looking for. Generally Leblon, Lagoa and Ipanema are the more expensive neighborhoods followed by Leme, Copacabana and Botafogo. Copacabana is where most tourists stay so we wanted to stay clear of that – again we are looking for a more authentic stay although we will never become true Cariocas (Rio natives).

Getting Practical

Since we are talking about a short time relocation I wont be bringing all of my belongings for the trip. Apart from the liters of sunscreen I will be needing the heaviest thing in my backpack will be my laptop and photo gear. I just sold my MacBook Air and upgraded to a 15” MacBook Pro – I can’t wait to work on it. I think it will be a good stand in for my favorite iMac that I will be leaving behind.

When it comes to organizing nothing beats Dropbox. I have all my clients work organized in a nice folder structure and setting up my new work computer was such a breeze. Apart from Dropbox I also set up Backblaze for the Macbook – better safe than sorry.

Last Week in Denmark

Time is closing in and I have an awful lot of checkmarks on my to-do list. This last week will be focused on packing, cleaning up the apartment for the sublet tenant we found and other practical things before the final move.

Tune in now and then to read more about the freelancing in Brazil and feel free to ask any questions you might have.