Sao Paulo, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there - 01/06/17
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, I have more than ten years of overseas experience.
Previous cities include: Baghdad, Kathmandu, Dar es Salaam (garden spots)
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?
My home city/state is Houston, Texas.
Direct flights are available between Sao Paulo and Houston. Travel time is about 9 hours.
3. How long have you lived here?
2 1/2 years.
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?
Housing is hit and miss. Everyone lives in apartments. Apartments in quiet neighborhoods are typically spacious (Campo Belo, Brooklyn, Campo Grande, etc.) and apartments within metropolitan areas are typically small.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Groceries are affordable.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are typically cheap. Boxed and canned food as well as house hold items are about the same price of what you would pay in DC.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
You can find a large variety of grocery items. Anything that you cannot find you can have shipped via Amazon (wait time is 1 1/2 to 2 weeks).
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Pizza restaurants are everywhere!
Lots of price-per-kilo and buffet-style cafes.
WARNING: Bread and Cake shops are highly addictive!
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I receive/ship letters to the US through the consulate. However the Brazilian postal service is adequate for in-country mail.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Lots of exercise facilities are available within Sao Paulo (gyms, cross-fit, karate, dance, etc.)
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?
International debit and credit cards are widely accepted. However you must be watchful for electronic schemes - check your bank statements regularly... Also ensure that you bank has some type of return policy for fraudulent charges.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Arabic, English and Portuguese.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You can "get-by" with English in tourist areas. You need Portuguese to indulge in the conversation and culture.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, however the issues are manageable.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Uber and Easy Taxi are widely used. Buses, subways and taxis are 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?
I recommend that you bring a vehicle that withstand abuse...there are lots of pot-holes, fender benders, etc. There may be issues with acquiring spare parts for hybrid vehicles.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. The installation can be hectic, but once installed, high-speed internet is readily available.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Lots of mobile phone carriers are available with in-country and international options.
WhatsApp is popular in Brazil... It is used to make local and international calls on the internet. I highly recommend 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?
Pet shops and veterinarians are widely available.
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?
There are numerous employment opportunities within the consulate and local market (usually involving teaching). Spouses can work in Brazil but it is important to manage your expectations (low salaries).
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Work and public attire is similar to what you would find within an metropolitan city in the US.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Sao Paulo is rated critical for crime. It is vital that you and your family practice security awareness at all times. Crime occurs based upon opportunity!
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Affordable and modern health care is available within Brazil.
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?
Moderate within Sao Paolo. Reinvigorating outside of the city.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
The weather patterns are the exact opposite of the US. The climate is similar to Florida--lots of rain and sun, chilly at times but no snow.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
Graded School (most popular), Chapel School and British College are used by most expats.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Many of the international schools have accommodations.
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?
Lots of options.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Most of the international schools have comprehensive activity/sports programs.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Very large. Sao Paulo has numerous US companies operated by American expats.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Participation within the American Society of Sao Paulo.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
YES! There are great social opportunities for all types of people.
4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes! See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A3o_Paulo_Gay_Pride_Parade
5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
No. Sao Paulo is a huge mesh of individuals from different cultures, religions, sects, etc.
6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Visiting Iguacu Falls. Learning about the historical similarities between Brazil and the US.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
You name it, you can find it in Brazil. Exploring, swimming, hiking, shopping, sky diving, etc.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Yes. for paintings, artifacts, and antiques. Regarding electronics, I recommend that you order what ever you need from the US.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
The ease of travel (city, country, South America).
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
YES! YES! YES!
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
If you are considering moving or travelling to Brazil, DO NOT WATCH: "Turista" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82vCpAgBpoc
5. Do you have any other comments?
This has been my best tour! The work is rewarding, the schools are fantastic, the people are lovely, and the travel opportunities are AWESOME. I will leave this Sao Paulo kicking and screaming.