Reasons Not To Live In Brazil: A Local Weighs In

Usually, in this blog, I write about the great things of Brazil. Interesting facts or food recipes and travel tips and amazing destinations of my beloved country. Unfortunately, there is a bad size of Brazil as well. The country is far from being perfect and there are some reasons not to live in Brazil. That’s what this article is about.

The Privileged Politicians

This is one of the worst things in Brazil: our privileged political class. A congressman in Brazil has a salary of R$ 33763,00 (6500 USD). This may not sound as much, but in the economic reality of Brazil, this is an income of the top 0,1% elite. But this is not the problem itself.

Do you think it’s fair for a person that is already receiving a salary that’s way higher than the average, actually higher than 99% of the population, to receive housing assistance from the government? Well, it happens here.

All congressman in Brazil has the legal right (no wonder why they’ve never changed this law) to receive housing assistance in the value of R$ 4253,00 (825 USD). The value of their housing assistance voucher itself is more than 92% of the population’s monthly salary. That’s insane! This is just one of the thousands of examples that shows how privileged is the political class in Brazil.

The Size of The State

Brazil spends about 13,4% of its GDP paying salaries (and privileges) to public agents (active and retired). That’s a gigantic number. Putting in scale, Brazil is the 7th country in the world that most spend money with public servants. It would not be a problem if the services provided were all great, but it’s quite the opposite.

With this large amount of money being dumped in salaries every year, it’s hard to invest money in important areas for society, such as health, science, education, and technology. To have a better idea of how much money it represents, let’s take a look at the costs of the Brazilian politicians only.

This is a good connexion with the topic of Privileged Politicians. Each Brazilian congressman costs the society R$ 179000,00 (35000 USD) per month. That’s way more than the biggest part of the population makes a year! Considering that there is 513 congressman in Brazil, only their salaries costs R$ 1,132 billion (U$ 226 million) every year. Considering politicians from states and municipalities, Brazil spends more than R$ 10,2 billion per year in salaries and privileges.

The Impunity

Another problem that is on the list of reasons not to live in Brazil is impunity. If you’re rich or a politician is almost impossible for you to be arrested around here. A good example of that is the prison of the former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and other famous politicians in a great task force called “Lava Jato”. This operation investigated and prosecuted some of the biggest figures in the political game in Brazil, including an ex-president.

But being arrested is not enough, you need to stay in jail, and that’s almost impossible if you indicated 7 of 11 members of the Supreme Court. Virtually all of the politicians and businessmen that were arrested during the operation are now free, including the former president.

In a decision that made the population sick, the Supreme Court changed the law in favor of Lula. Supreme Court ruled defendants could only be imprisoned after all appeals to higher courts had been exhausted, paving the way for Lula and another 5000 prisoners to be freed. Not surprisingly, the former President was released from jail on the same day. (This decision motivated me to leave Brazil).


Corruption is by far the worst thing in Brazil. With a giant state (as I explained before), is hard to control where the money is going with so many state-owned companies, public servants, and other governmental bureaucracy. But one thing is for sure: a piece of the cake is always going to the plate of a corrupt politician or businessmen aligned with a political party.

In the Corruption Perception Index (IPC), released by Transparency International, Brazil is going from bad to worse. The index is the oldest and most comprehensive tool in the world for monitoring the perception of corruption. The index adopts a scale that ranges from 0 (country perceived as very corrupt) to 100 (very healthy). In the last edition, Brazil scored 35. Brazil fell one position about the other countries and territories evaluated: it is currently in 106th position, tied with Albania, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, and Egypt.

The Tax Burden

Each year, 5 months of the work of each Brazilian is destined only to pay taxes to the federal, state, and municipal governments, as pointed out by a study by the Brazilian Institute of Planning and Taxation (IBPT). It takes an average of 153 working days to pay the entire tax burden every year!

Making a connection with the previous topic, according to the study, the cost of corruption is embedded in the account. Of the 153 days of income that go to the public coffers, 29 served to finance losses due to diversion and misuse of funds. This is really terrifying. Each year, more than 41% of all Brazilians’ income is destined to pay taxes (and the secret costs of corruption).

What Is The Biggest Problem in Brazil?

If you only watch TV news you probably think that the worst problem in Brazil is violence. That’s a problem for sure, but the truth is that in most cities if you use common sense and don’t walk alone at advanced hours you’ll be avoiding most of the safety issues.

The biggest problem in Brazil is corruption, which has several causes. With an inflated state and a gigantic number of state-owned companies, someone is always embezzling money from the people. Impunity is a booster of corruption and freed criminals give the impression that in Brazil crime pays off.

Brazil is 106th in the Corruption Perception Index (IPC), which shows that the country has serious problems in that manner. The index goes from 0 (country perceived as very corrupt) to 100 (very healthy). Brazil scored 35, tied with Albania, Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, and Egypt.

Is Brazil A Bad Place To Live?

Brazil has problems and usually, that’s all that people know about the country because TV news and websites are always looking for negative headlines to get attention. But it’s not like this.

As a general rule, Brazil is a great place to live. There are serious problems, such as corruption, but the culture and the people balance the bad parts. A lot of people worry about the safety in the country, but overall, using common sense and not visiting dangerous areas will avoid most of the problems.

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What’s up! I’m André, a Brazilian born and bred living in the South of Brazil in a little city called Guarapuava. I’m passionate about traveling and knowing different cultures and that’s why I love to share useful information about the Food, Travel, Facts, and Culture of my beloved country, Brazil.

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