How We Got Here




We knew for a long time that we wanted to move to Brazil for a period of time. We felt that it was important for our children to know their Brazilian relatives and the Brazilian half of their heritage. After all, they are first generation Americans on their father's side and only third generation Americans on mine (my mother is a first generation American). We had saved money for a long time. We purchased, renovated, and rented out a home. With his mother, we purchased and renovated a building in a developing business area. In this place we carved out a store, an apartment for ourselves, and an apartment for his mother. I threw every extra penny I had toward my student loans in an effort to move to Brazil debt free, whenever the day would come. $52,000 and five years after graduating, my student loans were completely paid off. 

We planned to move to Brazil in December of 2015. But as they say, "God laughs when man makes plans." In July 2015 my mother-in-law was frequently complaining of back pain. We thought it was because, ever the tough lady, she was moving a lot of bags of concrete and other building supplies on her own. When the pain wouldn't go away, she went to the doctors where she discovered she had ovarian cancer. I got the news from my sister-in-law on my lunch break at work. I remember feeling like the world dropped away from me. I felt my body hyperventilating, but it was almost like viewing myself from the outside. I felt removed from it somehow. I called my husband immediately, frantically. He was taking it much better than I thought and I suspect he was also in shock. A month later we found out it was stage four. Two weeks later, in September 2015, we were boarding a plane for Brazil. 

This sounds incredibly selfless, but the reality is that it came from a place of great fear. My husband had not seen his mother in almost 11 years. I felt guilty for keeping him in a country far, far away from her. I felt guilty for obligating him with two children and a wife and a house. My husband wanted to wait until December to leave as we had originally planned. I refused. I couldn't handle the guilt if his mother passed away and he was unable to spend the last of her days with her. Living in Brazil is not easy. Some days it's like living in a tropical paradise. Most of the time it's difficult and tedious and hot and full of bugs. But my husband has been reunited with his family, my children have met their grandmother, and coming here is a decision that I will never regret. 

2 comments:

  1. Hi I don't understand your sequence of events, your husband hadn't seen his mother for 11 years as you wrote, but she worked alongside you to build a house and then complained of pain. Then you moved end of 2015. You saved for five years to pay off your student loans, how did you earn money doing that living and building. What happened to your mother in law, you don't say anything more, I'm sorry but, I can't understand your time line. Would you be kind enough to explain it a bit clearer. Thank you

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    1. Sure! We lived in the States all up until September 2015 - my husband came to the States at the end of 2004. I had never met his mother in person before that time because her tourist visa was repeatedly denied (it's actually very difficult to get one, it's not like you can just apply and be approved). We didn't work physically alongside her - we picked the materials out online and transferred money to our Banco do Brasil account when we needed to pay for things. My MIL is a signer on the account, so she was able to use the money we put in it to purchase the properties and materials and pay our contractors. She wasn't doing any of the construction, but she was moving a lot of materials and it was around that time that her back pain started. I wrote an update about her cancer here: https://casademelobrazil.blogspot.com.br/2016/06/lets-talk-about-it.html

      The exchange rate and the cost of living in Brazil made it very easy for us to purchase properties and renovate them. I would say the average exchange rate during this time was $1 = R$3.50. So if we sent down $1000, we would have R$3,500 in the bank. If you're spending US dollars in Brazil, life is very cheap. After all, the average Brazilian salary is $678.90/month. (If you're earning R$ and spending R$, life is difficult). We purchased our first property for $6,000. It was a shell of a house and the couple was divorcing, so we got a good deal. We finished construction on the house and rented it out. Overall the cost of the property/materials/contractors was $15,000. We did the same thing with the home we currently live in. The property was in a great location, but the building was in terrible condition. With my MIL, we purchased the property for just under $40,000. We DO have a mortgage on this property, but part of the building is rented out to a business which covers the cost of the mortgage and then some. Construction on this property began in 2014 and ended in the summer of 2015, right around my MIL's cancer diagnosis. We planned on moving in during December 2015, but pushed the date up to September 2015 when we got the news about the cancer being Stage Four.

      "You saved for five years to pay off your student loans, how did you earn money doing that living and building." Like I said, we got very good deals on the properties. We also made very good money while we were living in the States. We hustled. I had two jobs and only six days off a month; Farley had four. We left for work at 6am, I returned at 5:30pm and Farley returned at 8pm. AND we lived very cheaply. We continued to live like broke college students while investing in these properties and paying off our student loans. Although kind of helped that my husband WANTED rice and beans for every meal. ;)

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