What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Singles and couples with no children usually live in apartments often in Asa Norte or Asa Sul. The apartments are near grocery stores and are very conveniently located. My apartment has 3 bedrooms and is a decent size though I don't care for the layout at all. I have no balcony which is disappointing. The commute to work is about 10-15 minutes if it is not rush hour. During rush hour it might take 20-25 minutes. The roads are generally good and clear with very few traffic lights. I can also cycle to work, or even walk - 3 miles. - May 2020
The housing is very nice. We are a couple with no kids and live in a very nice apartment in Asa Norte. I bike to work everyday and it usually takes me about 30-40 minutes. Driving it takes about 15 minutes. I often joke that no matter where you are or where you're going in the city it takes 20 minutes to get there.
Our apartment is large, airy and comfortable. We have 4 bedrooms. The master suite is well sized, but the other rooms are very small. They are good for short-term guests and small children. The building has a "cobertura" or roof top, with a small pool and gym and there is underground secure parking. - May 2017
We have a very spacious apartment (5 bedrooms/5 bath) in Asa Sul. We are located very centrally and have a 5-7 minute commute to the embassy with our car. Most families live in either Asa Norte, Asa Sul or in Lago Sul. The apartments in the Asas are very large, some even split level with balconies, BBQ areas, and small rooftop pools. The houses in Lago Sul are very nice and generally have large yards and pools. - May 2017
Singles and couples are usually in apartments in either Asa Sul, Asa Norte or Sodoestre. The Asa's are closer to the embassy and typically have easy access to restaurants, grocery and shopping. We are in Asa Norte and I walk everywhere. Families are typically housed in Lago Sul and will need two cars as it is not easy to get around. Even in apartments, you will need at least one car to go to specialty shops.
Brasilia is not like the US where there are lots of one-stop shopping places. Here, grocery stores are mainly groceries. If you need a lightbulb, you will have to go to a hardware or a lighting store.
Traffic in Brasilia is pretty good, can be busy around normal rush hour times, but you can get to most places in 15-20 minutes most times of the day.
Houses are usually gated with nice yards, and pools. Apartments have a "pool" but they are only slightly bigger than a bathtub. Apartment styles vary quite a bit, even in the same building, but all that I have seen are nice.
Apartments have very little storage, so keep this in mind. - Mar 2017
Families have houses with yard and pool in the suburbs (Lago Sul generally). They must have a car. Couples are in town in the "Asas" where they can generally walk to a commercial area. We are by the JK bridge and can get to the Embassy in less then 10 minutes and to the school in 8 minutes. When there is a traffic accident, you will be stuck for a while (especially if it is on the bridge) but generally there is little traffic beyond the usual rush hour. - May 2016
Either houses across the lake, or apartments in the "wings" of the city. We live in Asa Norte, and it's a 25-minute bike ride or a 15 minute car ride to the embassy. - Aug 2015
There are apartments in the Asa Sul / Asa Norte area and single family houses in the Lago Sul and Lago Norte area. There is little traffic, so commute is usually no more than 15-20 minutes. - Aug 2015
The Embassy has some really great houses and a few duds. Most houses have pools, and you can request to or not to have one. Many yards have fruit trees, such as mango, avocado, papaya, banana, limes, etc. Families with 3 or more children can expect a house. Apartments are for singles and smaller families. Apartments are all within walking distance to shopping, while houses may not be. Apartments are spread across the west side of the lake (Asa Sul, Asa Norte), and houses are mostly on the east side (Lago Sul, with a couple in Lago Norte). - Aug 2015
All housing tends to be large here - both apartments and houses. Note that I'm speaking here about the housing typically rented/owned by the various diplomatic organizations. Apartments can vary - some are in modern buildings but some are in older, run-down buildings. Some have balconies. The amenities offered in the buildings vary as well - some have gyms and entertainment rooms for building use, others have nothing. The houses vary as well but most have nice outdoor entertaining areas, backyards and pools. Some of the houses are pretty spectacular, especially compared to the apartments. Mostly, the U.S. Embassy puts families in the houses - some smaller, junior level families are placed in the apartments. Couples are typically housed in apartments. Commute times are really pretty good from anywhere. Longest commute to the Embassy is maybe 25 minutes, shortest would be maybe 10 minutes. Traffic is normally pretty good. A few people bike to work. - Jun 2014
Housing is either in lego-block apartments along Brasilia's "wings" or in houses in the Lago Sul or Lago Norte districts. The apartments in the wings are part of their own self-sufficient "Superblock" communities, and you'll only have a 2-3 minute tree-lined walk to your neighborhood bakery, drug store, green grocer and probably a restaurant or two. The housing in the North Lake and South Lake neighborhoods is comfortable and gated. A new neighborhood of apartments is coming along quite nicely in the Sudoeste (Southeast) part of the city, with plans for a Noroeste (Northeast) residential sector to start going up in the next 2-5 years or so. - Sep 2012
Housing is generally pretty good, although many singles and couples are stuck in miserable apartments with no outdoor space at all. - Dec 2011
Housing is great. No issues. I haven't seen a lot of the housing pool, but even the temporary apartment we were in for a week was great. The State Department hates swimming pools at houses, but here they seem to be fine with it. While there may be some bad housing here, I haven't seen it. I hear that there used to be games and inequities regarding the interaction with the housing board. I don't think the current management would tolerate that. Be honest and upfront on your questionnaire and I think you will be fine. Commutes are short and easy. - Aug 2011
The US Embassy provides houses for families in the Lago Sul area and apartments in both Asa Norte and Asa Sul. The houses are usually very big, with big back yards. Most have pools. They have at least 3 bedrooms and as many, or more, bathrooms. Apartments are usually very big (3/4 ample bedrooms) but some are quite dated. Asa Norte apartments are usually nicer, although they are farther from the embassy. We had one of the oldest houses of the embassy pool, but it was nicely updated. It was one of the smallest ones I've seen, and still it was 400 sq meters. The back yard was really nice (800 sq meters) with no pool, but plenty of space for the kids to have fun, and lots of trees (including banana, mango, and almond trees). - Dec 2009
Commute times for Canadian dips are great. The longest is about 20 minutes by car (public transport not an option). Most are in houses that are larger than Canadian homes, with yards and pools. The apartments are less nice, though. Hot water is not standard in Brazil! - Nov 2009
GOV: If you have a family of three or more you are assigned a big house, and most of the houses have a pool and a big yard. Others stay in apartments that are very big, and some of them have pools. The average commute to work is 15 minutes. There is hardly any traffic here in Brasilia. - Jun 2009
Either somewhat mediocre apartments and very nice houses. Unfortunately, this fosters a two-class system. Many incoming employees lie about family members in order to get a house, sad to say. Commutes are generally reasonable. - Aug 2008