Sao Paulo, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there - 01/03/12

Personal Experiences from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil 01/03/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Nurnberg, Frankfurt, and Seoul.

View All Answers


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?

Wash, DC. The flight was 8 hours, direct, from Washington/Dulles airport.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Consulate employee.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Typically high-rise apartments, which are all nice and vary in size, depending on the neighborhood. Jardins is a safer area, but apartments there are smaller than in the south or west part of the city. Traffic is almost always heavy.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive, and limited, compared to the US. Farmers' markets have fresh veggies, fruits, and fish at reasonable prices. Cost of beef is reasonable, and better in taste than what we had in the US. Shrimp is expensive. The variety of some foods, such as cereal, is very limited. Remember, Brazil is a socialist country.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Bring EVERYTHING possible: electronics, clothes, dry goods of all sorts; paper products (napkins); school supplies; laundry detergent.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Restaurants are very expensive. American restaurants in the city are Applebees and Chilis. Fast food is mainly McDonald's and "por kilo" (pay by weight) cafes.

View All Answers


5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Limited.

View All Answers


6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None in Sao Paulo, but the beaches and interior have mosquito problems that can be quite a bit more difficult to deal with than in the US.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO and Unclas Pouch.

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very reasonable, but most people have had problems with theft. If it is full-time employment, you will pay for limited benefits also.

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but they are typically around $175/month.

View All Answers


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?

Use the banks and be wary of your surroundings. Availability is good, but more limited than in the US, particularly in the interior. But virtually every place takes a debit card, but don't let it leave your sight.

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, previously mentioned.

View All Answers


6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

English language magazines are expensive, but cost 2 to 3 times more than in the US. Cable and SAT TV are available, but English-language programming is limited.

View All Answers


7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Important. Store employees and most cafe employees do not know English.

View All Answers


8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Lots. The 'sidewalks' are horrible even for someone with no walking disabilities. Elevators are limited in stores.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Metro and taxis are safe. I use both regularly, and have had no problems.

View All Answers


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?

A small SUV, for its compact size and ground clearance. Roads are fair in Sao Paulo, but they do have pot holes. Parking is VERY limited, so you tend to pay for a parking space. Carjackings occur, but more so for high-end vehicles, such as Mercedes.

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Cost is about $75/month.

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Service is good, but expensive. Best to bring an unlocked phone, and use it as a pay-as-you-go phone. Chips can be purchased here for about $10.

View All Answers


Pets:

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?

View All Answers


2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

View All Answers


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?

You have to know Portuguese.

View All Answers


2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business casual to Business.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes, crime is high, and it tends to be violent. Lots of poor people here, so they form gangs, and they will not hesitate to enter restaurants to rob the patrons, mainly at night.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Superb health and dental care, but very expensive. The doctors don't take foreign insurances, so you have to pay up front, typically $275 - $325 per visit. Einstein hospital is EXCELLENT. Dentists are cheaper than in the US, but no foreign insurance is accepted.

View All Answers


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?

Horrible! You'll gasp when driving in traffic.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Generally warm, but a little cool for some during the winter season. The summer can be humid. No snow or frost.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Graded is the American school. Chapel is a Catholic school. There are British schools. Most Americans attend Graded. Bullying is a problem, and the staff of most schools, even though American, prefer to have the rich Brazilian students attend. Graded uses google docs exclusively; Students in grades 6 and up need a laptop.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The public schools are of very poor quality. The international schools don't make considerations for special needs.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, but the language is Portuguese. I have no children in pre-school.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, obviously soccer. Many apartment complexes have a soccer court and a swimming pool.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Fair, but I heard that it is less than in the past as many businesses have pulled out of Brazil.

View All Answers


2. Morale among expats:

Good.

View All Answers


3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Clubs; corner bars; theatre.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Not for families, but for couples or singles it can be o.k. Knowing Portuguese is a must.

View All Answers


5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

View All Answers


6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No. There are two non-denominational Christian churches in English; one Catholic church in English.

View All Answers


7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Waiting for my trip to the deep Amazon.

View All Answers


8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Martial arts; movie cinemas have first run, English language movies; Plays, if you understand Portuguese. Beaches are about 2 - 3 hours away.

View All Answers


9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Artwork.

View All Answers


10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Weather is generally nice; no winter, but a rainy period. It is VERY expensive here, due to high import taxes, including food.

View All Answers


11. Can you save money?

Possibly, but limited.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Heavy winter clothes.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

De-humidifiers and umbrellas.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you have any other comments?

View All Answers


}

Subscribe to our newsletter


New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More