The first places we generally consider when moving to Brazil are usually São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Sure, they are cities with a lot to offer and well known, though how would you like some insider info today about somewhere way better (in my opinion).
Enter Florianópolis, Brazil: a city unlike any in this world, rated as the friendliest place to live, voted as having some of the world’s best beaches, full of unparalleled beauty, some of Brazil’s best infrastructure, amazing foods and restaurants, wonderful schools and overall just a great island to live on!
Today, I will give you the 3 main reasons that fueled my decision to live in Florianópolis over Brazil’s numerous other cities. Then on Friday, you’ll get a breakdown of the different areas of the island and what the different areas are like to live in.
1. The Active Lifestyle you Get
If you have ever been to Florianópolis, one thing you will notice is how active and attractive the people are. It’s a place where people are very conscious of being healthy and their lifestyles reflect this.
In Floripa (as it’s locally referred), you can basically participate in any sport you want – Brazilian or foreign!
The most common activities are obviously of the island type:
Sandsurfing: mostly a day activity for tourists, it is still on the plate of options.
Surfing: Floripa has a HUGE surfing community and some of the world’s greatest surfing conditions. There are yearly pro-surfing competitions at praia mole and joaquina where the biggest stars such as shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton amongst others participate.
Nature: you’ve got everything from the Parque Ecológical to backpacking to beaches and more. Floripa is definately and outdoorsy place with some cool stuff to do (try hiking over the dunes to Praia Joaquina sometime!).
Boating: another popular thing to do is to enjoy yourself out on the amazing Lagoa da Conceição lake and go up to the Costa da Lagoa, hang out, eat some fresh seafood, maybe canoe a bit.
There are also numerous other outdoor oriented activities such as playing sports (even American football!), walks, going to the numerous “feiras” around.
2. The Awesome Quality of Life
When talking about “quality of life”, these are things that weigh high for our daily lives.
In other words: how is the infrastructure? How about banking? What about government facitilies? Schools? Healthcare? etc
Let me break these down for you:
Infrastructure: When talking about Florianópolis, people who don’t live there many times won’t call it a true part of Brazil. This is owed to the fact that Floripa is a quite afluent island rivaling some 1st world cities (even better in some areas like Jurerê). Though with that in mind, we must keep in mind that we are still in Brazil and ruled by bureaucracy…
The roads are pretty good, most of them with really fresh asphalt (not always the case in Brazil – usually full of potholes), sidewalks – there are even bike lines in the city center!
There are freeways connecting the north to south of the island, a really wide highway along the coast towards the city center. There is still a lot of road projects to be finished, where they need to expand capacity in areas like Lagoa da Conceição (beach traffic can be terrible – especially in the tourist season), Campeche and so on.
Internet, power and other facilities are really good in my opinion. TIM is the best best cell phone provider, the electricity system is great, water grid fine and sewage good to amazing (depending on where you are). Internet is stable and fast for the most part with state-of-the-art fibre-optics around most of the island.
Banking: Banks in and around Floripa seem to function pretty well, I haven’t had really any issues. The nice thing about banks in floripa is that they are accustomed to foreigners and therefore their ATMS pretty much all function with foreign cards (not always the case in Brazil), all shops take international cards, banking is pretty efficient and the service is good.
Government Facilities: here we are diving into something directly connected to the Brazilian government, something that usually makes people cringe… Though, I’ve never had huge issues with Government offerings.
The tax authority Receita Federal, is large, modern and the staff are surprisingly friendly! I even brought a pregnant foreign couple going to give birth in Brazil there and they smiled and welcomed them and the baby to their country! Try getting that in the USA 😉
Government run hospitals and posto de saudes are “ok”, but when I say “ok” I mean “great” for Brazilian standards. The staff is competent, friendly and you usually don’t have to worry about capacity issues like in the bigger cities’ public hospitals or posto de saudades. In fact, many of the private doctors and nurses (good quality) will usually serve on staff at public hospitals in Florianópolis.
Though with that said, there are some bureaucracy issues involved when going public.
Private Healthcare: If you are able to go with private healthcare, then you won’t be disappointed in Floripa.
Many of the hospitals around the island rival the quality of some of the top hospitals in the USA (though at a fraction of the cost), and the health insurance is pretty affordable ranging from R$150+ per person per month.
My biggest surprise was when my wife gave birth, she was able to do a home birth with a clinic called Hanami – something only usually found in western countries. This just reflects how advanced their healthcare is.
Dentistry and the like is also really great and modern. When I first arrived in Floripa, I had a mouth full of cavities (neglected due to high dentist prices in the USA!) and had ALL 12 FIXED for only R$450! (that’s about $200).
You can get lasic surgery done, implants or whatever tickles your fancy for a great price too.
Schools: if you have children or are a university student looking at studying some Portuguese (for example) in Floripa, it’s important to know how the schools are.
Being a father to 3 small children, this is one of my top concerns about a place to live. My oldest is just about to start in school (February) and this has been something that I’ve been spending a lot of time studying about.
One of the biggest things you’ll hear from any foreigner or Brazilian, is to avoid a Brazilian school like the plague… They are overburdened, under-salaried and generally a bad environment for children to study (unfortunately – though this is starting to change!).
Public schools in Floripa are pretty decent to be honest when comparing with the rest of Brazil, I have friends who have put their children into public schools and said that it was just fine.
Though if you are able to go private, then the choices are immeasurable! You’ve got everything from charter schools to bilingual academies to an American school!
I’m seriously looking to the Waldorf charter school in Florianópolis as it appears to be an amazing school and it adheres to the international Steiner philosophies of learning through playing.
3. The Best Selection of Foods
One of the most difficult things about “switching cultures” is dealing with the difference in food cultures…
For most Brazilian cities, your food selection looks something like this: rice, beans, vegetables, some exotic fruits, cookies (lots of them), bad coffee, terrible cheeses and sugary bread.
And then you step into Florianópolis, where there is an amazing fusion of cultures and cuisines that are unparallel anywhere else in the world! I can hand-to-heart tell you that there is no food I miss from back home when on “a ilha da mágia” (the magical island).
Would you miss bread if you could go to a store ran by second generation germans with their great baking abilities? Dutch quality cheeses, belgian quality beers, Brazilian quality coffee (that hasn’t been exported)?
Or how about walking into a huge building armed with a shopping cart that can be filled to the brim with fresh tropical and sub-tropical fruits and veggies for about $30 (we’re talking 130 or so lbs! – 70 kilos)? We’re talking fresh “platinum” bananas, mangos, apples, pineapple, guava, potatoes, giant papayas, watermelon, oranges and so on – That in itself is unbelievable.
And after filling your shopping cart, you can walk out to a little shop and get cheap quinoa, whole grains, oats, dried apples and german breads, fresh cheeses/butter and other creature comforts not normally available around Brazil.
Or you can go to the “Feira órganica” on Saturdays in Lagoa da Conceição and get yourself heaps of organic goodies for next to nothing..
Oh yeah, there are restaurants too!
Ever heard of an all you can eat sushi buffet, where the quality of sushi is really good? Yep, in Floripa.
Or how about an organic restaurant with a great variety of foods? Check.
Then there is of course the American-run restaurant “Café Cultura” (culture café) with cheesecakes, great coffee, high quality foods and beers to make your evening great. You can hear an interview I did with owner Josh Stevens here
And one of my favorite places to eat is “Casa do Pastel”, where you get monster-sized pastels that are stuffed with your heart’s desires!
Then there is (of course) the famous Brazilian steakhouses, though here you get them with sushi, pizza, imported meats and more.
There are even many vegan/vegetarian places to eat if you are like my wife and prefer that route 😉
Did this post wet your tastebuds a bit? I sure did wet mine and we haven’t even touched on what it’s like to live on the different parts of the island – look forward to that post on Friday as it will be really detailed.
Your opinion: what do you think the best area to live in Brazil is?
Até sexta-feira! (until Friday).
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