So You Wanna Move to Brazil? - Interview with Jason Hall

By 09:08 , , ,

Hey Kids!

As promised, I'm going to start my, "So You Wanna Move to Brazil?" series with foreigners and Brazilians alike. Our first guest, is Jason Hall, who's kind of a big deal in the online marketing business, so it was an honor for me to have him take precious time to talk to me about his reasons for moving to Brazil, advice he can give to other Americans who move to Brazil, etc.

Jason's particular case is a love story AND career move.

The interview is totally worth the read! Enjoy :-)


When did you first become interested in Brazil?
I had a good friend in college who was from Brazil. We always had a good time together, so when he asked me if I'd like to come to Brazil during the big millenium New Year's celebration of 2000, I couldn't resist! I went to Santa Catarina (we stayed mainly in a town near Joinville, Camboriú, and Florianópolis) for 3 weeks and loved every minute of it!

What were your reasons for moving to Brazil?
Several years later, when I was living in Los Angeles, several blocks from the beach, I met a cute Brazilian girl who lived just around the corner from me. We went out and hit it off immediately; 8 months later we were married! My job (I used to work at a large comparison shopping website in the US) took us to London, where we had 2 kids. We always knew that London was not the place that we wanted to raise a family, so during the middle of 2009 we started to evaluate our options. The majority of the "developed" world was in the bitter aftermath of the financial crisis, but Brazil remained strong and teeming with opportunities. So we decided to move here to be closer to her family. Since my first trip in 1999, I always wanted to keep coming back, so the opportunity to live here permanently (and finally learn Portuguese!) was something I approached with enthusiasm! We moved here at the beginning of 2010 with the idea to take about 6 months off as a "sabbatical"; time that I used to learn Portuguese, to look around at the various types of opportunities and to spend time with kids.

Where did you first "settle" here?
My wife's family live in Porto Alegre, so we moved here. I really enjoy the gaucho culture, from the chimarrão in mornings/at sunset, to a stroll near the gasometro, to the day-long churrascos on Sundays!

What were some challenges you faced when you got here?
The language was a big challenge for me at the beginning. I had some basics and could get through a newspaper with lots of help from a dictionary, but I found it very difficult to communicate with people at first. So I found a Portuguese teacher and used the opportunity to explore the centro and speak with as many people as I could. And I hate to admit it, but the novella Viver a Vida was critical to my Portuguese comprehension. Since I could read a little bit but had trouble listening to people speak Portuguese, I would watch Viver a Vida with the subtitles; it is one of the few TV shows that has subtitles that appear at the same time as people speak (on the news the subtitles are about 5-10 seconds delayed). And so after a few months of intensely studying the show, I was finally able to understand what people were saying to me!

Any pleasant surprises?
Obviously the people and the culture of Brazil are amazingly rich and interesting. I like how you can go to a churrasco on a Sunday and leave with several invitations to other churrascos from your new friends!

I have also started learning capoeira from a good friend. While I'm not the most coordinated person in the world, the history and art of the sport has been absolutely inspiring, even if I don't know what I'm doing most of the time :) It's a great way to get a fantastic workout, meet new friends with common interests, and have an excuse to spin around and kick things once in awhile.

What are some challenges you still face?
Before I arrived in Brazil, I was prepared for the bureaucracy, especially with government things. For example, while it took some time to get together all the documentation necessary for my permanent resident visa, I was expecting it to take a long time; in the end, everything happened with no problem! However, it's the non-governmental bureaucracy that was unexpected and has been frustrating to say the least. I can't tell you how many times I've been to the bank to resolve silly little issues because either a) they don't know how to deal with estrangeiros, or b) they just don't know how to do something and point you to someone else (who also doesn't know how to do it).

What is it you do (for a living) today? What was your experience in looking for work in Brazil?

I work in the internet industry and have a background in internet marketing. I went to a few industry conferences last year in São Paulo and met various Brazilian professionals. Everyone told me that I basically had to be in São Paulo if I wanted to find a good job with good pay. However, after almost 10 years in big cities like Los Angeles and London, I didn't want to move to the bustling, gigantic metropolis; the relative calm of Porto Alegre (not to mention the close family!) was a big draw for me. So I spent a little while looking around Porto Alegre for opportunities. And while there are certainly some interesting companies here in the capital gaucha, in the end I decided to start my own company, a longtime dream of mine. So in September of last year I started eCamaleão Marketing Ltda with some business partners from the Czech Republic.

Our main project right now is an aggregator of the compras coletivas sites here in Brazil. There are currently more than 1,500 compras coletivas sites across Brazil; so to help make sense of it all, we created to organize and divulge the best daily deals in your city. The site recently passed 20,000 daily visitors and we are well on our way to achieve our next goal of 50,000 visitors a day.

Do you have any advice for anyone planning on moving to Brazil?
The most helpful thing I can recommend to anyone moving to Brazil is to come with an open mind to try new things. Depending on where you are coming from, it certainly is a different culture, with different laws and customs, etc. If you come with a closed mind and don't try to meet people (or learn the language!) you will really miss out on what can be an incredibly rich life experience.

Other than that, bring as much as you possibly can fit into your luggage allowances; imported items are expensive here in Brazil! When we arrived in February last year, we had 14 pieces of luggage between the four of us (including 2 baby strollers, a car seat, backpacks, luggage, etc.) It was a bit of an effort to lug it around the airports, but in the end, it was completely vale a pena!


Thanks again Jason for sharing!! Hope you all enjoyed his Brazil Story. Do you all have any questions for him?

Follow him on Twitter! @hall_jason


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