Sao Paulo, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there - 01/17/12
Personal Experiences from Sao Paulo, Brazil
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
no, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Panama City
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?
Atlanta, 9 hours
3. How long have you lived here?
4. 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?
All kinds. Mostly apartments, some houses for families. Apartments can be large for families--best are some compounds with playgrounds, tennis, pools. Commute time varies from 10-15 minutes to 40 minutes.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
All available but all expensive--we do get a COLA that helps, but that is the shocking thing about the monthly budget
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Children's clothes, peanut butter, chocolate chips, books
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc., more expensive than the US
5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?
Many people order things online. There is definitely some of this available.
6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
nothing too bad
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Pretty expensive--about $600 or more a month for full-time help.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
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?
Most use ATM card everywhere, or cash, or credit--
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Yes--Calvary International in English has a website--Catholic English available at Chapel School on Sundays--Catholic mass in Portuguese--large Jewish community
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
TV yes--NET is expensive per month--prepare yourself--a package with internet is $200 a month
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Helps a lot--definitely learn this as it will make your stay so much better
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
It is a Latin American city with limitations
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Taxis called by phone are safe--a bit expensive
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 car would work
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Easy to figure out--can bring a universal type phone from US and buy the chip here
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
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?
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
work is stylish and business at the same timepublic is pretty open to whatever
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
must stay alert, vigilant when leaving home in car or walking--crime is an issue that should always be in the back of your mind
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Excellent medical care.
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?
unhealthy but during dry season mostly
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Never gets too cold, but there is a winter June-August. Really nice summer, spring, fall
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Overall very good reports--Graded is competitive but very rich in resources.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Some great accommodations have been made for some of my friends' children at the preschool level.
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?
My kids went to preschool--lots of options both in English and Portuguese.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Yes--Brazilians love kids and there are lots of opportunities for them
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
pretty high--you have to have a good attitude and look for the beauty in the city--it is not always apparent at first glance, but there is a great deal of culture
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?
picnics, parties at homes, movies, restaurants
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes, all. We love it here--not all do, but you have to dive in and make a Brazilian friend. Once you find a way to link with Brazilians, you will love their culture and warmth.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
strong sense of community with Brazilians not found in other posts
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Beaches not far from Sao Paulo--1-3 hours gets you to a great beach.
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
11. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
YES. I have loved this post.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
carb-free diet---you will live on pao de queijo!
3. But don't forget your:
Portuguese--it will help you make Brazilian friends and that is all you need here
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:
6. Do you have any other comments?
Just give Sao Paulo a chance. Once you get into the city and get to know some people, you will see how wonderful it is.