Brasilia, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there - 10/01/21
Personal Experiences from Brasilia, Brazil
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, we have also lived in African, European, and South/East Asian posts.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
USA. The American flight is now back, after some time without it, that has direct connection to Miami. Otherwise, your connections tend to be via Sao Paulo or Panama. It is easy to travel within Brazil and there are several regional airlines with good prices. Driving outside Brasilia is decent, but not practical to drive distant cities as this is a rather large country
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
We have a large house in Lago Sul with a pool, a "churrasco" grill area and nice backyard with Mango trees. Most of our families with kids tend to be assigned in Lago Sul. Couples or singles tend to live in Asa Sul or Asa Norte which is mostly apartments within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Most of our families are pretty happy with their house arrangement.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Local groceries are good and cheap. The fruits and vegetable are great and also cheap, with a wide variety of tropical fruits. Many neighborhoods have a smaller grocery store for quick trips and if you need a larger one there is always Carrefour hypermarket and Sam's.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
The typical "American staples" are not as good here such as peanut butter, cereals and certain baking materials. otherwise, it is easy to get most things here.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
We use iFood for delivery which is great and cheap/fast. Restaurants are varied, and we've found some good Italian, Mexican, Korean and Indian ones. Steak houses are great, particularly the Rodisio Churrasqueria style.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Not more than what you expect at a tropical location. Having lived in many like that, we don't get too worked up with that.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We use the embassy pouch/DPO. Thee is also Fedex and the internal version of Fedex as well.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Wide variety at decent prices. many employ "diaristas" that come part-time, and some get nannies.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Wide variety at fair prices.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Yes, pretty much everywhere. We use our US cards for the past two years everywhere and without one incident/problem
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You do need some survival Portuguese or be fluent in Spanish which will help you fill in the gaps when someone is talking. We have been surprised how little English is spoken here.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Overall in Lago Sul, it is not bad. Lots of sidewalks with ramps most of the time and most parking areas do have a handicapped section.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
We do not use buses, but taxis and particularly Uber is easy and super cheap.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Any type. We have a SUV which is helpful when in the countryside outside Brasilia, but not necessary to have a SUV for daily living in the city.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, actually pretty good. Claro and Vivo are the two major ones. You do need to first have a "CPF" which is their identification system in Brazil, but the embassy helps you get that ahead of time prior to arrival
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Overall plans are not expensive and good. we have Claro and happy with it.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
We have two dogs and they've had good care here. no special quarantines from host country. Overall Brazilians love their pets and you see them walking them frequently and in the parks
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Our spouses from the embassy tend to either work at the embassy or do some type of home-based work.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Informal, except for work.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Common sense is all you need. We have not had any problems with crime in the two years we have been here, but we are not careless about checking our surroundings and avoiding certain areas. Same as living in any major city in the US.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Overall the hospitals and the medical care here is pretty good.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Excellent air quality with clear blues skies most of the year and awesome temperate weather. It does get pretty dry for several months and it affects some people with dry eyes/throat.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Almost perfect: 70s to low 80s most of year and lots of sun. rainy season makes everything green again after the long dry (but not too hot) season
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
We are very happy with EAB, the major International school used by our embassy families. IB for high school and good academics overall.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Morale is good and people enjoy the outdoors and restaurant/social lifestyle here.
2. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Brazilians are extremely friendly. It is hard to find a warmer culture.
3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
We have enjoyed the wonderful weather in Brasilia and relaxed lifestyle. Trips to Rio, the Amazon and Iguazu falls are amazing memories.
4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Many waterfalls 1-3 hours out of Brasilia with varying types of hikes/activities.
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
No, not really. Rio is better when you go there.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
You need a little more Portuguese!
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes! We love it here.
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Thoughts that crime is everywhere. That may be the case in Rio for example, but Brasilia is pretty good.
4. But don't forget your:
Hats for the sunny weather.
5. Do you have any other comments?
Sometimes people think that Rio or Sao Paulo are more glamorous, but they do have their own pitfalls such as crime or traffic congestion. Brasilia is great for those with kids/families that enjoy a good walk with perfect weather, and get an ice cream at the local shop.