Guarujá Brazil

Guarujá, Brazil: A Laid-Back Beach Town With Relaxed Property Prices

A Tale Of Two Cities, Part 2: Guarujá

Last week we visited Santos on the coast of the state of São Paulo in Brazil.

Just across the estuary from Santos lies Guarujá. Though only four minutes from Santos by balsa (ferry), Guarujá is quite different in many respects.

Whereas Santos bustles, Guarujá is more of a laid-back beach town. In fact, a quick search online of the top things to do in Guarujá will present a list of beaches, more beaches, and still more beaches. Oh, and the Acqua Mundo aquarium, with its sharks and penguins.

Guarujá is full of vacationing paulistanos (residents of São Paulo city) during the summer months (December to February), and again during the July holidays. Throughout the rest of the year, it lies largely dormant.

Which makes it very attractive to me.

More and more as the years pass, I value tranquility, which can be Continue reading

Brazil, Santos

Santos: Brazil’s Bustling Island City With Gardens Galore

A Tale of Two Cities, Part 1: Santos

Likely you’ve never heard of Santos. Almost certainly you’ve never heard of her sister city across the estuary, Guarujá. But every Brazilian has.

These cities lie about one hour southeast of the city of São Paulo. Each is situated on a large coastal island, and though each boasts lovely beaches, they are quite different in most other respects. This week, we’ll get to know Santos. Next week, we’ll take the ferry across to Guarujá and go exploring there.

One Of The Best Cities In Brazil—But Don’t Take My Word For It

Santos is a bustling city of about 420,000. It is, in fact, generally conceded to be the busiest port in all of South America, servicing both container and cruise ships. But Santos isn’t the grimy blue-collar town you might imagine. Around 2010, with the discovery of oil and gas reserves offshore, there was a sudden inrush of white-collar jobs. Also, many of the locals are well-paid professionals who actually work in the city of São Paulo, but who make the commute daily because they prefer to live in Santos.

Santos, in fact, regularly appears on lists of the top cities in Brazil in which to live. In 2016, Santos ranked #6 among the best cities in Brazil as determined by the United Nations, considering factors such as average level of education, life expectancy, and income. Santos was rated earlier this year as the best city in all of Brazil for those 60 and over. In a country where people are given to complaining about the government and services, everyone here speaks highly and proudly of Santos, of its superior services, safety, and high quality of life.

Santos is attractive as well. Nature has blessed her. Here, as in so many cities in Continue reading

An Urban Setting With Plenty Of Green Space

Cali, Colombia: An Urban Setting With Plenty Of Green Space

Cali: Great Lifestyle, Low Price Tag
My workout over, I wipe my brow and walk over to chat with Sergio.

Sergio comes to Parque El Ingenio almost every day to sell agua de panela—water flavored with brown cane sugar and lime—to the folks who exercise at what I have come to call “The Flintstones Gym.” The equipment here is homemade. Barbells and dumbbells sport blocks of concrete rather than steel plates, but the equipment is well maintained and this is a popular spot in the mornings. The men who come here are serious about working out, but also friendly, and they welcome me with smiles and nods.

Sergio pours me a generous cup of agua de panela, and I fish a sweaty 1,000-peso bill—about 35 cents—from my pocket. I hand it over and we begin another of Continue reading

Curitiba, Brazil: Low Cost, High-Quality Life

Curitiba, Brazil: Low Cost, High-Quality Life In The “Other Brazil”

Curitiba: High Culture At Low Cost

If you are planning to move when you retire, likely you’ll strive to balance a high quality of life with a reasonable cost of living—which is not always an easy task.A city which offers both—though you may never have heard of it—is Curitiba, in southern Brazil.People from the south of Brazil often refer to this region as “The Other Brazil,” and, indeed, the region is more developed than the rest of Brazil, excepting São Paulo state. Curitiba, the largest city in the region at about two million inhabitants, has a great deal going for it, and scores high on the United Nations’ Human Development Index. The capital of the state of Paraná, Curitiba officially dates from 1693, although indigenous peoples lived in the area long before that. The name in Tupi means “pine nut land,” a reference to the area’s many pine trees and the food staple it yielded. Curitiba grew first on the cattle trade, then logging. Today it possesses a diverse economy based predominantly on services, and many international as well as domestic companies have facilities here.

Curitiba sits near the coast, but on a plateau 3,000 feet above sea level. While Brazilians sometimes comment on how “cold” the city is, the weather in Curitiba is generally moderate. Even in winter (June to August here), the average daily lows are still in the high 40s (F), and daily highs in the 60s.

Curitiba has a lot to offer. Topping the list would be its diverse ethnic roots, which have created a culturally rich city. Consider this partial list of municipal parks: Portugal Woods, Italian Woods, German Woods, and Japan Square. All of these ethnic groups, plus Poles and Ukrainians, contributed significantly to the makeup of Curitiba today.

Curitiba hosts an array of cultural events each year. These include FeiArte, a large arts and crafts fair which each year highlights a different country. For foodies, there’s Continue reading

Valencia, Spain: Food, History, And Affordable Property

Valencia, Spain: Food, History, And Affordable Property

Exploring Valencia, Spain

Spain has long been a popular destination for casual visitors and retirees alike. A convivial culture, generally agreeable climate, reasonable cost of living, and superb food are just a few of the reasons for Spain’s perpetual popularity.

But Spain is quite diverse—really more a loosely-knit group of largely autonomous and disparate comunidades more so than a single country. Faced with such diversity, where should you begin your explorations?

One of my favorite cities is Valencia. Although it is Spain’s third largest city, with a population of around 800,000 (double that in the metro area), Valencia feels smaller. It has a more relaxed ambience than either Madrid or Barcelona, and it’s considerably cheaper than those larger cities, as well. But don’t imagine that you have to give up a lot just because Valencia comes with a lower price tag. Not at all.

Valencia lies on the Mediterranean on a stretch known as the Costa del Azahar, or Orange Blossom Coast. It is easily reached either by direct flight, or Continue reading

Beautiful Beaches And Property Bargains In Cabo Frio, Brazil

Beautiful Beaches And Property Bargains In Cabo Frio, Brazil

Cabo Frio: Your Place In The Brazilian Sun

Brazil has approximately 4,700 miles of coastline. As you might imagine, it has quite a few nice beach towns. For my money, Cabo Frio is among the very best.Cabo Frio, which means “Cold Cape,” lies less than 100 miles up the coast from Rio de Janeiro. Cabo, at around 175,000 permanent residents, is the largest town in what is known as The Lakes Region (Região dos Lagos in Portuguese). Here a string of freshwater “finger” lakes and brackish lagoons lies just inland from the South Atlantic shore.

The region’s topography means two things: lots of seafood, and lots of water activities. Accordingly, Cabo is a popular vacation spot, and in the summertime (December to February), tourists flock in not only from Rio but from as far away as Continue reading

Domingos Martins is a lovely mountain town could be a wonderful spot to winter and to recharge.

Brazil’s Best Bargain Investments Are In Domingos Martins

Shop Now For Bargains In This Mountain Enclave
Plus: Real Estate In Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point)
Squatter’s Rights Around The World

As my bus pulled out of the terminal in Vitoria, I thought once again about how much this city—the capital of the diminutive state of Espiritu Santo—resembles Rio de Janeiro, albeit smaller. It’s evident in everything… from the beaches to the architecture, and from the food to the faces and accents.

But then, as I stepped off the bus an hour and 15 minutes later in Domingos Martins, I felt like Dorothy opening the door in Oz… because Domingos Martins, a small town nestled in the coastal mountain range, is a world apart from the state capital of Vitoria. Founded in 1847 by immigrants from Pomerania (which today lies on the border of Germany and Poland), it’s an enclave distinct from the areas surrounding it.

It’s immediately evident why Domingos Martins is such a popular weekend and seasonal destination. It is simply charming. The population of the metro area numbers about 37,000, with perhaps half that living in the town itself. It has a warm and genuine small-town feel. Hills blanketed in evergreens and broadleaves surround Domingos Martins on three sides, lending a sense of community and Continue reading