Brazilian tech expats, the research

As I’m writing this, my home country — Brazil — is going through a very difficult time. As the informed reader probably knows, the country is in deep economic recession, violence is reaching record levels, education is lacking, government was impeached and the new government is also being investigated in a gigantic corruption scheme.

But one least known aspect of this scenario is the growing exodus of Brazilian tech professionals. This could be seen both as a consequence of the situation but also as another issue in itself, if these professionals do not plan to bring their knowledge back.

The exodus of brains

Two years ago, realizing this growing trend I decided to get in touch with all the expats I knew and to bring them all together in order to help each other and ease the path for newcomers. This was the birth of the brazil-tech-expats group on Slack.

As of today, hundreds of expats are organized between around 50 channels sharing tips on living abroad, helping newcomers find a job, organizing meetups, and, of course, making their companies slightly less productive 😐.

Curious to understand more about each one of them we’ve conducted a small research.

Where?

Here’s the distribution of the expats per country.

As you can see, they are living in all the continents, except one: South America. The nearer countries don’t seem to have viable markets for tech expatriates.

Below you can see the distribution taking city in consideration.

Heatmap of distribution of Brazilian tech expats worldwide

Is the exodus related to the situation?

To understand if the exodus is somehow related to the situation in the country, we asked a couple of questions.

The first one is the number of years living abroad. It turns out precisely half is on its 1st or 2nd year outside the country. It could be easily explained by the difficulty of living abroad, adapting to a new culture and leaving friends & family behind. But 73% answered negatively in the question of how likely they are to go back and 93% said they are satisfied with the life abroad.

Only 6% answered they will probably move back and less than 2% said they were unsatisfied.

Another topic that could shed some light on this question are the reasons for moving. In a multiple-answer list, the majority picked “to evolve professionally” (76%) and “security” (71%). Only 24% picked the option “to make more money”.

Languages

Almost all speak English at work (96%) and 90% considered their level of English to be either good or fluent. No one had a low level of proficiency.

We also asked if they speak the native language of their country — provided it is not English — with mixed answers: people either do not speak at all, 37%, or speak fluently, 27%, with the rest somewhere in between.

Salaries

Average monthly salaries in the countries with the highest number of expats

As expected, the highest monthly average salaries are in the US (ignoring all countries with very few respondents), with an average of something around $9,850. If we drill down into cities, San Francisco and New York are the highest paying regions in the country, with an average of almost 11 thousand dollars, and all other US cities combined around 8 thousand dollars.

The rest of Europe has lower salaries when compared to North America and England. Other countries that seem to have higher salaries than Europe are Israel and Australia, but the number of respondents isn’t high enough for conclusions.

The average Brazilian tech expat earns almost 26x the Brazilian minimum wage and 12x the Brazilian average*.

It’s important to stress for those looking for a job abroad that the salary is not the only thing that should be taken into account when choosing where to go, since cost of living, quality of life and ease to go by without knowing the official language vary greatly between countries. Here’s a comparison between San Francisco and Berlin using Numbeo to help you out.

Positions

The majority considered themselves to be in senior positions (in high-tech the concept of seniority is probably very different from other industries), with 58%. Only 6% considered themselves juniors. Only approximately 8% of the people surveyed are currently in some sort of management position, such as architect, director or CTO.

Company sizes vary a lot with very evenly distributed answers ranging from 1 to 10 people startups to giant corporations with thousands of people.

Dual citizenship & easiness of visa

While the majority of expats don’t have dual citizenship it seems to be more common for those living in the European Union. This is probably because there are large Italian and German diasporas in Brazil and people can get dual citizenship if they prove their ancestors came from these countries. Portuguese dual citizenships are also not that rare.

Apart from Israel, none of the others working in Asia have dual citizenships. We had answers from the United Emirates, Malaysia, Thailand and China.

The dual citizenship numbers correlate to the answers to the question of how easy it was to get a visa. Those working in the US had an average of 2.1 on a scale from 1 to 5. Denmark, Holland, Sweden and England were considered the easiest ones to get a visa in Europe, with averages higher than 4. Germany was right after with 3.9. Other European countries such as Poland, Spain and Portugal were considered harder, which averages around 3. Israel and Australia were considered easy, while countries like China and Thailand were considered average.

If you want to work abroad

We asked a couple of questions to help those who are looking to work abroad.

The good news is that 59% answered their companies are always hiring more people, and 64% said there are many expats in their place of work (not only from Brazil, of course).

Although these numbers are high, only 25% said the company actively looks for expats and only 36% said their companies helps a lot with relocation.

Companies value the interview and test the most (75%) while academic background doesn’t seem to be so relevant (6%).

The hottest technologies to get a job abroad are scripting languages (Ruby, Perl, PHP & Python) and Javascript. 59% think Javascript MVC frameworks are still in vogue, while 38% think React and other functional approaches are the way to go. Mobile and Java complete the list of most wanted.

On the other side of the list are more traditional languages like C and C++ and Microsoft technologies — only 8.5% would tell you to bet on them.


* As of June 2017, Brazilian minimum wage is 284 USD and the average monthly salary is circa 640 USD according to https://tradingeconomics.com/brazil/wages