Should I stay of should I go?
April 19, 2010 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Please help me decide whether I should move back to my home country

I am a Brazilian who has been living in the UK for about 12 years now. I am the only child of divorced parents, and am increasingly concerned about my father's welfare.

My dad is 58 and lives reasonably comfortably with his two brothers, but he needs my help and incentive to move to a better, less dangerous neighbourhood. Needless to say, he also misses having me around and his health is also deteriorating. That’s one of the reasons why I decided to move back home soon (more of that below).

Since emigrating, I built a successful career in the UK, found a wonderful partner and things seem to be only improving in that sense. However, I really would like to be my boss and have many ideas that could work back home. My Scottish boyfriend, who’s a very successful freelancer, has visited Brazil a couple of times and feels that things could work for him there.

We are very open with each other and are planning to marry so that he can work there legally – and also because we love each other and want to be together, of course!

We are considering Brazil’s benefits: the country has many opportunities, while the mood in the UK is gloomy at the best of times. The weather is a thousand times better. We could build our own business and still work for clients around the world. We could travel cheaply, to amazing places. We could actually own a place outright before we are 70.

Now, I am thing of the downsides: security is an increasing concern (i.e ‘fake kidnapping’ phone –based scams to make you believe that a bunch of thugs has taken someone from your family hostage in order to demand a ransom, is one of the new ‘crime trends’ there) and I am worried that as people in the neighbourhood are widely aware he is a ‘gringo’, we may become targets.

Also, he doesn’t speak Portuguese – though he is willing to learn fast – and that will be an initial barrier; there is also the possibility of a cultural shock once is actually living there and has to cope with all the bureaucratic issues and the corruption that is present everywhere.

Now, what should I do? We can continue living the life we are living at present and plan for the future/think of a long-term future in the UK, but how can I deal with the fact that my dad will soon need me around and that I would like to have a better quality of life, in a better climate in a place that has so much potential as well as problems?

We would also like to start a family in a couple of years, and wouldn’t be able to row back on our decision to move (or to stay). Should we give this a go anyway? Or stick with the relative security and stability that we have at the moment? Your opinions are much appreciated…
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If your partner is on board, I would go for it. It sounds like you really want to go back to Brazil. You say that you're planning on starting a family in a few years, and that you wouldn't be able to move once that happens, but that's not actually true. Kids make moving harder, but not impossible. (Case in point: my godfather uprooted his American/Italian family from Milan to New Jersey when his children were in elementary school. Both kids are totally fine; being bilingual helped.) Kids are resilient when it comes to new situations.

As for your security concerns, you may need to make a safe neighborhood (for your family and for your father) a condition of your return. How common are things like these fake kidnappings? Are they happening to many, many people, or are they just reported on enough that they're in the public consciousness even though they're rare?

If I were you, I would take the chance, and the opportunity. It is a big decision, but not an irreversible one. If it works out, great! If it doesn't, it might take some effort, but you can move back to the UK.

Good luck!
posted by ocherdraco at 12:45 PM on April 19, 2010

The bit that sticks out to me is about your dad - 58 isn't that old, and yet you still think he needs your support to move somewhere safer? How much is he going to start relying on you in future? Or does he even want to do this - what do you mean by "help and incentive"? It almost sounds like you want to chuck him out of a living arrangement he's perfectly happy with!

This, coupled with a partner who doesn't speak the language, sounds like a recipe for family-related disaster (and would do wherever you were moving to).

I have a rather negative view of family dynamics, and it could well work out fine. But there will be a big shift in family dynamics by you moving back with a husband, and you need to think out the possible consequences.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:17 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

My brother moved back to his home country from the UK last year. He had an identical situation to yours except his partner didn't have to learn the language as the country he returned to speaks English.

What made it a lot easier for him was to do it transitionally. So, he took an extended leave from work, still paid rent in the UK and basically maintained a "residence" for about 3 months while he transitioned. This gave them a bit of a stepping stone.

Things worked out great BTW, and his happy phonecalls and tanned photos are no end of envy for myself.
posted by gadha at 1:43 PM on April 19, 2010

Best way to get started would seem to be for your partner to start studying Portuguese.
posted by jacalata at 3:05 PM on April 19, 2010

The U.S. State Department has warned of the very high crime rate against anyone who looks like a tourist.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine who was corporate/engineering security for an international cell phone manufacturer had to travel to Brazil on business. The company hired armed body guards for him 24 hours a day. Also, he was cleared to carry a firearm by the Brazilian government. Not because he was doing anything particularly's just that he's that valuable to the company, and the odds of a 6'4" Nordic blonde being an obvious target were very, very large.

When I went to Brazil in the 90's, it didn't strike me as any more dangerous than many of the large Western countries I'd been to visit, but even my Brazilian friends are hesitant about going back to visit.

I say this not to denigrate Brazil, which I found to be lovely and filled with wonderful people, but just to point out that it seems that things have changed a lot there in the last decade or two.

Have the two of you gone for a visit? That's what I would do first. I've found that if I go spend 3 weeks or so somewhere, I can get a pretty good vibe for how happy I would be to settle there for a while. (For instance, I felt at home instantly in England and Holland, but was never comfortable in France. Adore France...but I was just too intimidated by the French. Heh.)

Were I you, I would practice Portuguese with my significant other, then I would plan an extended vacation. Once there, I would see how if feels once feet hit the ground. I would read newspapers. Check the real estate ads. See what the employment market is like, because that will give you a good feel for the ground-level economics of the country. See what sort of reaction your husband gets walking around, going to the store, generally "living" in the environment.

Until you've actually walked the pavement, breathed the air, and said howdy to the locals, everything is just guesswork.
posted by dejah420 at 5:46 PM on April 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

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