Expat leaves everything to start a new life in Brazil

Expat interviews
  • Laurence in Brazil
Published on 2022-04-22 at 10:00 by Nelly Jacques
It's been 3 years since Laurence settled in a small village in the northeast of Brazil, where she owns a beach house. After 13 years as sales and administrative manager for a perfume designer in France, a great disappointment made her want to leave everything and move to the other side of the world. She thus embarked on a new life-changing adventure. Here's her story.

Can you tell us about your life before coming to Brazil?

I am from Cannes, in the south of France, where I have spent most of my life. After 13 years as sales and administrative manager for a perfume designer, a job that also allowed me to travel a lot, except in Brazil, where I had never been before, I realized that it didn't suit me more (too much stress, constraints). So I decided to embark on a new adventure and to give myself some time.

What made you want to leave France and relocate to Brazil?

A year earlier, I had bought land in Brazil in a small village in Nordeste on a whim. After seeing a TV report on the region, we did some research with a friend (this part of the country is developing quickly, being a popular spot for kitesurfing), and we decided to invest here. I ended up doing it on my own and had not even come to see my new acquisition until a few months later. I have no regrets at all! The area is fantastic, so I made up my mind to exploit this parcel of land.

So your dream of building a Bed & Breakfast came true. Tell us more about the project.

For professional and family reasons, I carried out most of my project remotely (which is strongly not recommended). I sought help from a local agency for all the "paperwork" and the construction: I had drawn the plans and chosen the materials, and the agency monitored the work. The house was built quite quickly and was ready when I arrived. However, it was only ready on paper; the quality did not meet my expectations, and it took me 3 months to convince the builder to resume work and get 3 more for the workers to make the guesthouse livable.

Did you face any difficulties when you arrived in Brazil?

It was quite stressful since the project didn't go as smoothly as I expected. I had to rent accommodation for 3 months (which was not planned), so that meant additional expenses (a lot, which were not planned either). I started wondering what I was doing here, why I had left my family, friends, job and apartment.

But things started improving little by little, and I met many people who were ready to help me or support me. Within 6 months after my arrival, I already felt like I belong here.

Can you tell us about your city, the region, the way of life, the atmosphere, etc.?

Pontal do Maceio, the village where I live, is located in the State of Céara, a region of Fortaleza. The State is mainly known for its beautiful kitesurfing spots (the season begins in July and ends at the end of January), and its natural beauties that are not so popular with international tourists.

The people are kind, smiling all the time, and the atmosphere is family-friendly.

What does your B&B look like today? Tell us about your everyday life, your new job, etc.

For now, Villa Isola Bella, comprises 4 bedrooms (2 doubles, 2 triples) around a swimming pool and a garden, but I hope to extend it soon. I receive people with ease, I prepare nice breakfasts and, very often, I accompany my clients on walks. I help them discover the area and its little secrets.

In most cases, the language barrier in Brazil is significant, so it's a plus to be accompanied by someone who speaks the same language. I also receive a lot of female solo travellers who feel safer when they are accompanied. I also help my clients plan their trips to Brazil because the country is so big that you can quickly feel lost.

Do you meet a lot of expats? Where are your clients from usually, and why do they choose to visit that side of Brazil?

Yes, there are many French expats in Brazil, and there is a large expat community in my village. It allows you to recreate that family feeling abroad. This has a lot of benefits, but also certain drawbacks.

I mainly receive French and European travellers through networking. This had helped me in getting known. It's also a plus for them to deal with a host who speaks the same language.

As I mentioned previously, the region is famous for its kitesurfing spots, so it attracts a lot of people who love that kind of activity.

Besides, since I am in contact with a lot of globetrotters, I try to convince them to come and see me, and it works well.

Do you see yourself staying in the long run? What are your plans for the future?

For the moment, yes, and I don't think I will be leaving in the next few years, but you never know what can happen. I want to expand my business and be able to share my love for this region even more by offering other activities.

Is there anything that you miss from France? What about an aspect of life in Brazil that you don't want to lose?

Of course, I miss my family and friends back in France, but, fortunately, since we're almost out of the health crisis, so this allows for more visits.

I also miss the good food and cheese, but I manage to get some little treats since I have a lot of visits.

I think it would really be hard if I had to do without the kindness of the people here, the smile on their faces and the pleasant lifestyle. I would also miss the climate. Here, we have more than 320 days of sunshine a year with an average temperature of 30 degrees.

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