Sao Paulo, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there - 01/15/17
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?
Yes. First post.
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?
Pennsylvania, USA (about 13 hours with one connection) or nonstop from Newark. Orlando, FL - can find some non-stop (8-9 hours) and most from Miami are non-stop (8 hours).
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Working at the US Consulate.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Nice apartments. Everyone except for the consul general lives in apartments/condos. They are all pretty nice with pools, gyms, and most have playrooms/playgrounds for the kids. I walk to the consulate from Brooklin (15-25 minute walk). Most people drive and some use bikes. The commute to/from the consulate from most neighborhoods where we live is 15-30 minutes.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Pretty much the same. Some things are really expensive though like diapers and peanut butter, so pack those in your HHE. You can find pretty much everything here... except Cheddar cheese.... we all miss that! And tortilla chips and many spices are hard to find too.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Tortilla chips, more spices (like curry), peanut butter. Anything for babies or kids is super-expensive: diapers, wipes, toys.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
ifood has everything you could imagine. Only problem is most places don't open until after 7pm. You can't get pizza until after 7pm.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
We have 'pony express' at the Consulate but you could use the local Correios mail too -- I've never tried.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
I pay $1000 a month for a nanny and a housekeeper comes once a week for $50 a day (for 8 hours of work).
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Lots of gyms and pools here. There is one at the Consulate. I just use the ones in our apartment and they are really nice.
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?
Lots of places take credit cards but I wouldn't use them in the street. Consulate has ATMs but I always just cash a check to get money at the Citibank at the Consulate. Safer than the ATMs. I would never use an ATM on the street. Very dangerous.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Lots. It is difficult to live if you don't know some Portuguese.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Potentially, the sidewalks are pretty bad.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
I always take taxis but many people take buses. Totally affordable.
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?
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, however, it is really difficult to get installed. Took me 6 months! Some people have been successful getting it in a few weeks. It's about $60 a month.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Like internet, quite difficult.You need a CPF.
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?
Not sure but 1 out of 3 people have dogs here so I think the care is pretty good. Lots of dog walkers 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?
Some work at Consulate, some consult and some are unemployed.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Lots but I haven't been involved.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business and casual business at work. Casual on weekends. Bring your flip-flops!
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Yes, I would suggest talking to RSO. I have not been a victim but I am also super careful. Don't use your phone in public, don't walk after 8pm on streets (especially alone), don't carry lots of money, don't wear jewelry, etc. Lots of robberies.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Dengue and Zika. Private hospitals here are amazing - some of the best in the world - check out Einstein.
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?
I think it's OK but the bus and car exhaust is apparent in the city.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
it is really hot in summer and rains a lot throughout the year with lots of flooding. It can get cold in winter, though (40F).
Schools & Children:
1. 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 3 year old attends day care which I think is pretty good. Around $1000 per month.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Pretty large. American Society and lots of college alumni groups.
2. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Awesome playground at Consulate where my kids love to play. The beach is 2 hours away and that's pretty nice too... but don't expect an amazing beach. It's just so-so.
4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
There's a petting zoo in the city for the kids and the aquarium is good too. Jazz and music clubs. Some of the best in the world!
5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Fruits and veggies at the street fairs are amazing!
6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
There is always something to do. The weather is pretty good and there are lots of great food / restaurants.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How big it is.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Car. Some people say it's necessary but anytime I want to get out of the city, I just rent a car. Uber and 99taxi are both really inexpensive.
4. But don't forget your:
Bathing suit and Amazon Prime account!
5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
CLO has tons at post. Check them out when you arrive.