Brasilia, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Brasilia, Brazil

Brasilia, Brazil 05/18/20

Background:

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

No, this is my 6th tour. I've also lived in EUR, WHA, EAP and NEA.

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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?

Travel from DC is long as there are no direct flights to Brasilia. You either fly via Houston to Sao Paulo and then on to Brasilia, or via Miami to Brasilia. Flight time is about 14 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Diplomatic Mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Singles and couples with no children usually live in apartments often in Asa Norte or Asa Sul. The apartments are near grocery stores and are very conveniently located. My apartment has 3 bedrooms and is a decent size though I don't care for the layout at all. I have no balcony which is disappointing. The commute to work is about 10-15 minutes if it is not rush hour. During rush hour it might take 20-25 minutes. The roads are generally good and clear with very few traffic lights. I can also cycle to work, or even walk - 3 miles.

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

Nearly everything is available. However, products come and go misteriously from the store and then reappear weeks later. It is hard to change brands when you can't find what you want. The Facebook group in Brasilia will often help out if you are looking for a certain product - someone is bound to have seen it somewhere. The prices for fruit and vegetables is reasonable, though some imported products can be more expensive.

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

Cereal - packets here are small and expensive.

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

iFood and Ubereats are very popular. The restaurant scene here is very good.

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

Not in the apartments, but I've heard the houses in Lago Sul can have ants, mosquitoes and sometimes the odd scorpion.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO.

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

Household help is readily available and affordable. You can hire either a "diarista" - for daily work - or else a full time nanny. Costs are about $40 for half a day for a diarista.

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

Yoga and pilates studios are very common. Gyms are also available but I have not checked one out. From the advertising, the gyms seemed reasonable. The US Embassy has a small pool and small gym. My apartment has a small pool and a few pieces of exercise equipment.

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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?

Credit cards are VERY widely accepted. Certain ATMs are recommended.

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

I think you need the local language for a successful tour - for shopping, taking Uber, travel etc. Local classes are available and the locals are very forgiving if you mangle their language. It is one of the best countires I have been in for learning a language.

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

In places yes. The sidewalks are not designed very well.

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Transportation:

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

We are allowed to take taxis or uber but not buses or other local transportation. Uber is ubiquitous and very affordable.

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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 have a sedan which works very well in the city. For trips into the countryside, I wish I had a car with higher clearance.

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Phone & Internet:

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

CLARO is quite affordable. The US Embassy will set it up before arrival as it is very slow to arrange otherwise. They offer three price levels of service and programs. Some people also use another company.

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Health & Safety:

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

The security concerns are about the same as living in the US. In addition, there have been occasional burlaries and one car-jacking during my time.

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2. 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?

Air quality is good at post.

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

The weather is mostly hot and humid, 80s and 90s. July and August are the cooler months.

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Expat Life:

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

Brasilia is best for families and couples. Not so great for singles. This is not a city with a great nightlife in my experience.

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

I've only taken a few trips - Foz do Iguacu, Rio, the Pantanal and some local trips to see the waterfall. I've loved them all. Travel is one of the highlights of living in Brazil. It is best to book flights early to get the best prices. And hotel rooms are frequently booked out early on local holidays.

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

If you like quiet locations and decent traffic this is the city for you. There are also lots of parks for weekend exercise and relaxation.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, so long as I could continue to travel.

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

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Swimsuit, tennis racket, bike, sunglasses for the dry season, and umbrella for the rainy season.

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Brasilia, Brazil 05/18/17

Background:

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

No. I have lived in Russia and the United Kingdom.

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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?

Seattle. 8 hours to Miami, then another 5 hours from there.

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3. How long have you lived here?

4 years.

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

U.S. embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The housing is very nice. We are a couple with no kids and live in a very nice apartment in Asa Norte. I bike to work everyday and it usually takes me about 30-40 minutes. Driving it takes about 15 minutes. I often joke that no matter where you are or where you're going in the city it takes 20 minutes to get there.



Our apartment is large, airy and comfortable. We have 4 bedrooms. The master suite is well sized, but the other rooms are very small. They are good for short-term guests and small children. The building has a "cobertura" or roof top, with a small pool and gym and there is underground secure parking.

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

Groceries are more expensive than in the U.S. and produce is usually not of the quality we expect there. Its common to find bugs in your broccoli or lettuce, or get the occasional rotten egg. The nice thing is all the exotic fruit here. I'd encourage anyone coming here to try as much as they can. You can get all your regular supplies here if you aren't too fussy on brands. The dish and laundry soaps leave something to be desired, but its fine.

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

We can use Amazon, so most stuff from the States is easy to get, but I wish we'd shipped more laundry detergent. But that's mostly because I like a specific brand.

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

Everyone loves picanha (Brazilian steaks) and that's very popular. We bring guests to Brazilian steakhouses for the experience (unending waves of meat), but its way too much food for a normal dinner. There are a lot of different restaurants here, but in my opinion, they aren't very good, just... meh. Also, the service and quality can vary visit to visit. You might try one restaurant and love it, only to go back and have it be horrible the next time.

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

There are lots of bugs. Some are really interesting. Its a tropical climate so you will get ants, roaches, mosquitoes and the occasional lizard in your house. But Brasilia is on a plateau, so its not as bad as other tropical climates.

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Daily Life:

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

USG diplomatic pouch mail.

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

We have someone come once a week to do a thorough cleaning. She's very good and we pay her somewhere around US $175 per month. We don't have kids, but I know a lot of families have full time or part time nannies and are very satisfied with the quality of care.

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

Brazilians love to exercise. There are gyms all over, including Pilates studios. There is a gym at the US embassy and our building has a small gym (two treadmills and weights) on the roof. Additionally, there are bike path all over the city for biking and running. On Sundays and holidays, the main road through the city closes to all car traffic so people can bike, rollerblade, skateboard, walk, run, walk dogs, etc. It's pretty nice.

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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?

Credit cards can be used in most places. Never let the card out of your sight though. If you're at a restaurant, they will bring the card reader to you at the table. Be careful at ATMs. If it looks shady, it probably is. I use the one at the U.S. embassy, or in a bank or airport.

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

You need Portuguese to survive here. t's especially important for spouses, as they can feel isolated without it. If you work for the USG, I would press your agency for language training for your spouse as well, even a short course. Most people don't speak English in Brasilia. Tutors and classes are available here, though its better to learn some before you get here.

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

A wheelchair would be difficult (not impossible), as the handicap access is usually an afterthought. At restaurants, bathrooms are usually located either on the second floor or in the basement. Overall, though, I think once you figured out what works for you, it would be easier than other cities. Also, Brazilians are extremely helpful, so if you need help, just ask.

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Transportation:

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

The Regional Security Officer doesn't permit the use of public transport, but the city is really easy to get around. We use Uber, as its safe, affordable, and reliable.

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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?

We have a large American car and its been fine, though we sometimes wish we had a higher clearance. If you plan on leaving the city for hiking (there is some great hiking around), I'd suggest a higher clearance SUV. For getting around the city, any car will do. Parking garages and lots can be very tight, so if you have a big American car like us, you get used to parking far away where there is enough space, then walking.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. It takes a few days, but it works okay. Sometimes it will go down, but it usually runs pretty well. You have to pay for the larger package though.

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

I have a work phone and my husband uses a pay as you go card, which works really well. Everyone here uses WhatsApp. Its the main form of communication.

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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?

Yes, our vet even makes house calls. We got our dog here, so I don't know about quarantine requirements. This is a great place for pets. We have a big dog and live in an apartment, but there is lots of green space for her to play fetch and run around. She even has a trainer that she works with twice a week. There are places to take her for fun as well - she loves to swim in the lake and go to friends houses.

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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?

I know spouses that work at the US embassy, telework, teach, and don't work. My husband taught English to business professionals and coached softball at the American school here. There are opportunities, but I think you have to find them yourself

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

The dress code at the US embassy is between business and business casual. Men usually wear ties, but no jacket. Women were blouses or dresses. Brazilians are a little more casual in the workplace. Meeting with the government are definitely suit occasions. There are a lot of receptions here and, as a woman, I needed far more formal wear than I ever thought. On trips back to the States I would go to consignment shops to get "new" gowns for various functions. My husband bought a tuxedo from a tux rental place, so he's set. We probably attend 3-4 black tie events per year, with about a half a dozen receptions.

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Health & Safety:

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

It may seem safe, but always be vigilant.

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

The Zika emergency has ended, but there's still a small risk of other tropical diseases. Wear bug spray when you're out a night. I have had a range of medical care here, from dangerous bad to extremely good. If you're with the USG, always check with the US embassy medical unit before you go to a local doctor.

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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?

The air, and the weather in general here is very good. There is a very high quality of life here. During the dry season (June-Sept) the air can be brutally dry and you need to use a humidifier, but mostly its very pleasant.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Some people have had allergies here, but I don't know much about it.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

No, it's sunny and 75 degrees all year round.

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

Perfect with a rainy season and a dry season. The sunrises and sunsets are incredibly beautiful all year round. The sky is the best thing about Brasilia. It's truly spectacular.

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Schools & Children:

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

We don't have kids, but I know there is an American School (where my husband coached) and an International School called the School of Nations.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a very large diplomatic community and the morale is very good. A lot of our friends are with other embassies here. Because the quality of life is so good (nice weather, friendly people, lots of exercise opportunities, easy commutes, etc), people really don't really seem to get too down. But, I would say the you have to accept Brasilia for Brasilia. It's not Rio, and its not Sao Paulo and if you compare them, you could get a little blue.

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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?

I recommend the Hash House Harriers. We met a lot of friends of all nationalities that way when we first arrived. People typically socialize at each others houses or restaurants. There isn't a great deal of nightlife, but I suppose you could find something if you wanted to. I don't know of many night clubs, or places that have live music, but they are occasional concerts at the stadium or on the Esplanada.

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

I think its a good city for everyone. Families will love the houses, schools and clean air - and Brazilians love kids. Couples (like my husband and I) love the green spaces, opportunities for exercise and our friends. Singles (I would think) would find anything they're interested in. One of my good friends met her husband here and lots of American men and women date Brazilians (and each other). I guess the only downside would be the lack of a popular night-life scene.

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

Yes. Brazilians are very open and tolerant.

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

Brazil has a "machismo" culture and women can be relegated to certain roles. Some Brazilian men have very strong opinions about women holding leadership roles. For example, only 22% of Brazil's diplomats are women. There are racism issues here, and I'd recommend learning about Brazil's history to understand the nuances. "Brazil on the Rise" is a good book, but a little dated.

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

I travel a lot throughout Brazil for my job, so I've gotten to see more than most Americans. It's a huge and diverse country, so its hard to pick favorites, as everything is interesting in its own right. Brazil 101 -Rio, Sao Paulo, Foz de Igauco. Around Brasilia, you must got to Chapadas and Pirenopolis. My favorite city in Brazil is Curitiba due to its unique urban planning and European feel. I really enjoyed a vacation to the Amazon. Each region has its own special culture and vibe. You won't be able to see it all, but try to make it to each region at least once.

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

Enjoy the Savannah biome in Brasilia. The birds, plants, flowers, and little monkeys are great.

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

The TV Tower has all your handicraft needs.

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

Direct flights to most other cities in Brazil. The sky is gorgeous. The people are friendly.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Read more about the history.

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

Yes.

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

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and bug spray

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

Brazil on the Rise


City of God


Brazilian music (Cateno Veloso, Chico Buraque, Gilberto Gil, Marissa Monte, etc.)

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Brasilia, Brazil 05/08/17

Background:

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

I have lived abroad before in Heidelberg, Germany and Vienna, Austria as a student.

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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?

West Virginia, USA. The trip takes about 13-20 hours, depending on connections. The main flights out of Brasilia go to Miami, but often you are routed through Sao Paulo first.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We have a very spacious apartment (5 bedrooms/5 bath) in Asa Sul. We are located very centrally and have a 5-7 minute commute to the embassy with our car. Most families live in either Asa Norte, Asa Sul or in Lago Sul. The apartments in the Asas are very large, some even split level with balconies, BBQ areas, and small rooftop pools. The houses in Lago Sul are very nice and generally have large yards and pools.

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

It depends on where you buy your groceries. Carrefour and Pão de Açucar are larger chain grocery stores and they tend to be a bit cheaper than Oba. But when buying meat, I generally always go to Oba because the quality is better. The cost of groceries is comparable to the States; I would even say it is cheaper here. You can also buy fresh produce from the farmer's market at Ceasa every Saturday morning and save a great deal of money. Their products are very good quality and very cheap.

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

Paper and plastic products such as garbage bags, Ziploc bags, aluminum foil, Saran wrap and Tupperware containers. They are very poor quality here. We also order all of our diapers and wipes from the States through Amazon.

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

Brasilia isn't exactly known for its culinary scene, but there are some good places in town to eat. For upscale restaurants specializing in steak, I would suggest, El Negro, Corrientes 348 or Rubaiyat. For brunch: Dylan's is popular (owned by a couple who spent many years in Australia), Ernesto's and Daniel Briand. For Italian food, we can recommend Cantina Da Massa and for sushi I'd say New Koto is the favorite pick among expats. Finally, Pauliceia is hands down the best place for churrasco.

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

Again, one needs to be cautious of mosquitoes. Other than that, we have had few infestations aside from moths and small ants.

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Daily Life:

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

We do this through the embassy.

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

We pay our "diarista" (cleaning lady who comes 1 day/week) 175 Reais each day, which is a bit more than average. Other families with children often hire
For families living in Lago Sul, it is typical to hire a gardener, as well.

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

We tend to use the facilities at the embassy. On Sundays and holidays, the main highway in the city is closed to traffic and many people enjoy exercising there (e.g. biking, inline skating, running, etc.).

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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, credit cards are used most everywhere; restaurants, grocery stores, etc. sometimes are low on change. We tend to use the ATM at the embassy, so we have little experience using them elsewhere in the city.

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

I am not familiar with the English-language services available; we attend mass at Dom Bosco.

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

One should have a basic working knowledge of Portuguese. While most expats speak English, you will be hard pressed to find vendors, wait staff or store clerks who speak English. There are several classes and tutors available. Tutors run about 80 or 90 Reais/hour.

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

The city would not be easy to navigate in a wheelchair due to the poor quality of side walks.

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Transportation:

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

We typically use Uber and have found it a safe and affordable mode of transportation.

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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?

We have two cars at post: a Mini Cooper, which is great for the city (esp. in navigating the tiny parking lots) and an SUV. The SUV has been the perfect vehicle when we took trips outside of the city and the roads are mainly dirt. We have not had issues with carjacking, but we do have a private parking garage in our apartment that has a security guard.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, it is. It did not take excessively long to install after arrival.

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

We used a local provider, Vivo. In general, it was rather complicated and involved to get a cell phone account set up here.

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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?

We don't have pets.

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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?

It is very difficult for spouses to work here due to language barriers. That being said, several have found employment in education or at the embassy. One can expect to earn 2-3 times less than on the US economy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are several opportunities, such as teaching and volunteering at a woman's shelter.

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

Brazilians tend to dress up for daily life--women in dresses and heels, men in suits or at least dress shirt and pants. Formal dress is necessary for certain embassy events. Otherwise, I find the attire similar to urban attire in the States.

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Health & Safety:

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

Nothing beyond the general caution you should exercise in any city. Petty crimes do occur, of course. In all honesty, driving here poses perhaps the largest threat to personal security. Accidents are extremely common and you have to drive very defensively.

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

The quality of medical care is very good in Brasilia. I gave birth here and was very pleased with the care I received. We have a local pediatrician and have also seen various specialists and have been very happy with their care, as well. Some women do choose to medically evacuate to give birth back home and there was a concern about Zika, of course.

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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?

The air quality is quite good. There is a dry and a wet season in Brasilia. I would say that the dry season has a stronger impact on health--you have to be careful to drink enough water, use humidifiers at home, etc.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Nope, not that I know of. The weather here is gorgeous!

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

The wet seasons runs generally from October to April and the dry season from May until September. The temperature never really dips below 60 degrees. The dry season averages mid-70s during the day and 60s at night. The wet season is a bit hotter. The climate here is extremely pleasant.

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Schools & Children:

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

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2. 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, there are many to choose from. Our son attends daycare half day (Parque Encantado in Lago Sul). We are extremely pleased with it. Daycare is very affordable here in comparison to the U.S.

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

Orange Tree Studio offers lovely art classes for children. Beyond this, I don't know since we have a toddler.

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Expat Life:

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

The size of the expat community is rather large, since this is the national capital. I would say the morale is rather good for families with children; less so among singles or young couples looking for more exciting nightlife. Sometimes people complain about the lack of activities in Brasilia and the general strangeness of the city--but I truly think it is what you make of it. We have had a very positive experience here.

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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?

There is an expat group called Brasilia Connection that meets monthly. There is a Living Brasilia Forum on Facebook that can connect you with a lot of expats, as well.

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

As mentioned above, the city is best for families. It is relative safe and Brazil is extremely child-friendly. It is not a very exciting city for single people.

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

Though I cannot speak from a personal perspective, I have several gay friends who seem very happy here in Brasilia. The city is very accepting of LGBTQs and there are also a few gay bars in the city. I get the impression it is a rather gay-friendly place.

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

Not that I am aware of. Brazil still has a rather male-dominated culture though.

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

We love traveling to Chapada dos Veadeiros, north of the city. We have spent a great deal of time exploring, hiking, and swimming in waterfalls there. We also have enjoyed traveling to Pirenopolis.

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

Vagafogo is a "pousada" right outside of Pirenopolis. They have an amazing brunch on Sundays; all of their food is entirely homemade and harvested on their farm. Their whole property is a nature reserve and you can also take a nice leisurely walk through the forest and dip in the river.

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

No, not really. Once or twice a year there are artisan fairs (international and local) where you can do decent shopping.

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

Lack of major traffic, climate, child-friendly environment, cost of living.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Brazilian bureaucracy is a nightmare to navigate. Offices also tend to be rather inefficient and often get things wrong (e.g. on receipts). Always double-check everything.

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

Yes, absolutely.

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

Winter coats!

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4. But don't forget your:

Swim suits, hiking boots, bikes--outdoor gear in general!

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

"The Accidental President of Brazil" by Cardoso.

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Brasilia, Brazil 03/15/17

Background:

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

Yes, my first post, but my husband has been in FS for almost 20 years and stationed in Helsinki, Rabot, Nairobi, Pretoria, DC, and Fort Lauderdale.

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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?

DC. About 15 hours. Usually São Paulo and/or Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Six months.

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

Foreign Service post for my husband at the US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Singles and couples are usually in apartments in either Asa Sul, Asa Norte or Sodoestre. The Asa's are closer to the embassy and typically have easy access to restaurants, grocery and shopping. We are in Asa Norte and I walk everywhere. Families are typically housed in Lago Sul and will need two cars as it is not easy to get around. Even in apartments, you will need at least one car to go to specialty shops.



Brasilia is not like the US where there are lots of one-stop shopping places. Here, grocery stores are mainly groceries. If you need a lightbulb, you will have to go to a hardware or a lighting store.



Traffic in Brasilia is pretty good, can be busy around normal rush hour times, but you can get to most places in 15-20 minutes most times of the day.



Houses are usually gated with nice yards, and pools. Apartments have a "pool" but they are only slightly bigger than a bathtub. Apartment styles vary quite a bit, even in the same building, but all that I have seen are nice.



Apartments have very little storage, so keep this in mind.

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

Goods are similarly priced to DC area, but you will pay a lot more for imported items. I would highly recommend if you are coming from the States to stock up on liquids (laundry soap, dishwasher soap. Dawn, etc) and bring in your HHE, especially if there is anything specific your family requires or needs.

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

Dawn dishwashing liquid, vegetable broth, 2-3 humidifiers, colorful blankets, quilts, pillow covers, lampshades, rugs, pictures, etc. EVERYTHING is beige here, do your mental outlook a favor and bring lots of color in your suitcases, UAB and HHE.



Bring your own vacuum cleaning and wrapping paper/ gift bags (raid a dollar store). Bring bug spray for your body. Bring patio furniture (smaller size if in an apartment, but we have 3 balconies, and no furniture). I would also have brought an outdoor storage unit to put on one of the balconies for extra storage space)

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

Restaurants are primarily churrasco, or grilled meat. Very few options for variety. There are a couple of Indian places, but Brazilians do not prefer spicy food, so most dishes are fairly mild. There are a couple of apps for food delivery (ifood and PedidosYa).



Be prepared for limited hours of most restaurants. Some are only open for lunch, some open for lunch, close around 3pm, and open back up for dinner. In addition, Brasilians typically eat dinner later than Americans, so if you show up right at opening time, they are likely just setting up, and you will have the place to yourself - no reservation needed. Very few serve all 3 meals and stay open consistently during the day. Also, a number are closed on Mondays. I always check Google as it typically has the most up to date information.



Brazil is just starting to get into a healthier food mindset and they do have a few vegetarian/vegan restaurants. Even if you aren't vegetarian, these can be good choices as they typically offer a larger variety of food when you get tired of the meat (and yes, you will get tired of meat, beans, and rice).

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

Yes, but we haven't had any issues as of yet. Work with the embassy, but the houses have most of the issues. Keep food packages that are open in airtight containers.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO. There is also diplomatic pouch, but it goes through Rio so it is not the preferred method. Be prepared for delays though. From the warehouse in Dulles, it goes to Portugal, then to São Paulo, then to Brasilia. Then you have customs, and mailroom sort (which they do fairly quickly). It can take as little as a week, or as long as 6 weeks. Especially around Christmas. If packages aren't ordered and shipped by first week of November, you may not get it by Christmas as there is a significant delay.

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

Cost of services is fairly inexpensive. Many have a diarista (maid) that comes 1 or 2x a week and families also have an empragada (nanny). Please speak with the embassy before hiring someone to ensure you fully understand the labor laws in Brazil. Depending on the number of days they come and the number of hours they work, you may be required to have an official contract.

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

There are gyms, but are expensive. But there is a small gym at the US Embassy that is free. There are also tennis courts, basketball courts, a small pool, and a small soccer area. In addition, there are currently EFMs that offer hip hop dance classes, pilates, and yoga. Most classes run about $R20 (which is between $6 and $7 USD).

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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, make sure you tell your credit card company so it isn't rejected. If you use your debit card, do it as "credito," not "debito." Use the same precautions as you would anywhere. For ATMs, use only machines that are Citibank or at the embassy.

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

Not sure, but probably not many, as few people outside the embassies speak English.

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

You need the language. The embassy has free classes 1x a week, but this will be slow progress. Sign up for the directed study classes online at the embassy and look for classes at NEPPE, they run about $R700 ($220 USD) for a 6 week course, but are worth it. There are also lots of tutors that you can find on the aforementioned FB pages.

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

They do have wheelchair ramps and elevators, but they are not standard or required in all buildings.

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Transportation:

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

Use Uber if possible. Only use buses, trams, trains if you speak to RSO - follow their recommendations.

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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 would recommend a small SUV or crossover, lots of BIG potholes. Avoid too big, especially if in an apartment as you may not be able to fit into your parking spot. Street parking is hard too find

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. Some areas of the city have difficulty with the service. The embassy coordinated the install when we moved in, and we had it same day. As soon as you are at post and have your move-in date, start working to get the install date coordinated

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

We kept our provider and phones from the US. Sprint offers a Global plan at no additional cost. The only downside is we both each only get 1GB of free data a month. However, we haven't exceeded at all in 6 months. We didn't get out car until we had been at post for 3.5 months, so we were Ubering everywhere and didn't exceed our usage.



A lot of restaurants have free Wi-Fi and will give you the password if you ask. We have had a few minor hiccups (I broke my phone and had to have my sister get me another in the states so it could be activated and then sent to me) but other than that we have been really happy with it. Especially since we didn't have to change phone #'s, or have two phones like some here do as well. WhatsApp is extremely popular here for communication, highly encourage you download and get familiar with it. Very helpful versus calling.

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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?

Yes, but we don't have any pets, so recommend you subscribe to the following FB pages so you can ask specific questions: Trailing Houses, Living in Brasilia.

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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 the embassy, there are a number that work from home or offer speciality classes (i.e. pilates, yoga, sewing, cooking, etc) and a few work locally, mainly teaching English.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Typical dress is business casual. I am more laid back, so very obvious that I am not Brazilian. Women typically wear makeup, jewelry (decorative, not expensive), dresses, or jeans /slacks with a nice blouse. Workout clothes are for the gym (another tell tell sign, love my yoga pants), and shorts are for the beach. Shoes - you see a lot of ballet flat type shoes and heels. Sandals as well (flip-flops are usually for downtime).



Men - business casual outside of the embassy. Dressier shorts, polos, t-shirts.

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Health & Safety:

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

I feel safe, and haven't had any issues, but follow RSO directions. Also, if traveling, ask RSO about the area before you go, if there is s consulate in the area, reach out to them as well. Also, ask questions on the above FB pages about road conditions, hotels, etc before you go.

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

Pretty good. The embassy helps with setting up appointments. Talk to the PA or Regional Dr before having any tests or procedures just to make sure that the one recommended is the right thing for you.

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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?

Good. It gets really hot and dry between May and December, bring a couple of humidifiers.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Lots of soy options (milk, tofu), but almond milk is extremely expensive. Most restaurants will not have substitutions, so be prepared to cook. Really recommend you bring a 90 day supple of any special ingredients or dietary substitutions so you have time to find out what you can get here and what you need to order. If it is a liquid item that is NOT packaged in a can (liquids in cans can come DPO, with no liquid restriction), then buy in bulk and ship in HHE, as much as you can. These items are typically very expensive here. Almond milk, cashew milk will run you $10 USD per 32 oz.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Hmmmmm.....from what I have heard, it is a typical post. Lots of frustration with delays from contractors, fac, housing, etc. Again this is my first post, but I have really appreciated the openness from the EFM group. If you say you are feeling down, someone will invite you over, or for lunch. We have all gone through this.



I think the hardest part is the isolation if you don't speak Portuguese. VERY VERY VERY few people in Brasilia speak English. So it can feel frustrating when simple tasks take a long time. It can be emotionally tiresome. But, the Brazilians are friendly, and patient. They will try to help you find the correct words and get you what you need.



I would encourage people new to post to join groups quickly so you start to meet people. Don't let the embassy be your only source of interaction. There are sewing classes, painting classes, book clubs, running clubs, etc. Join and start building a network. There are also lots of local clubs along the lake, that some have found to be a great way to meet Brazilians.

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

Hot, sunny. During rainy season (September - March), it rains, but not usually all day.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

It is fairly large. Attend events at other embassies so you meet people outside of the US embassy. There are also several FB pages for expats in Brazil. The expatriate community in Brasilia is fairly positive, but there are some who are not happy with the lack of metropolitan options in Brasilia.

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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?

All kinds of groups, they are pretty well advertised FB, events at other embassies. CLO has a list of available groups/ clubs.

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

Better for families. Not much of a bar scene, and getting out of Brazil for travel is limited with the options or prices.

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

We have a pretty strong LGBTQ group at the US Embassy, but Brazil, as a country, is fairly conservative with their idea of man / woman relationships. But I personally have not seen any discrimination in Brasilia and there are a couple of gay clubes.

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

Very traditional culture, fairly religious.

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

So far, we have beem to Rio, Porto Allegre, and Recife. We have enjoyed all three. Plan on doing a lot more travel

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

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Brasilia, Brazil 05/30/16

Background:

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

No: Barcelona, Albertville, Moscow.

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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?

Washington D.C. Between 14- 18 hours. Given Brazil's falling currency (Real), Delta is closing, TAM/Gol have fewer flights, etc. All that is left are American Airlines flights that are cheap and uncomfortable. They connect through Sao Paulo to get to the US. Without Delta, everything is changing and is more difficult.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have lived here three years with one more year to go.

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

We are posted with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Families have houses with yard and pool in the suburbs (Lago Sul generally). They must have a car. Couples are in town in the "Asas" where they can generally walk to a commercial area. We are by the JK bridge and can get to the Embassy in less then 10 minutes and to the school in 8 minutes. When there is a traffic accident, you will be stuck for a while (especially if it is on the bridge) but generally there is little traffic beyond the usual rush hour.

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

The fruits and vegetables are higher quality and less expensive than the states. Except for the imports (canteloupe, blueberries, raspberries) which cost a fortune. There are plenty of Saturday markets where you can buy from the farmer and get good prices and even some farms like Fazenda Malunga that have organic products and will deliver to your home.

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

Liquids. Since the currency has dropped, this place has gotten a lot more affordable. Initially everyone said bring tires--but now the price is better here than in the US. I would also bring good quality beer.;)

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

There are lots of buffets with churrasco (grilled meats). These are generally good quality, healthy and well-priced.

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

There are a lot of bugs--tiny ants, big biting ants, biting flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches--they, too, have a season. The biting flies were in April, the biting ants are in May, the rest are year round. A basic housekeeping plan keeps it manageable. Those little ants are everywhere despite our efforts. I am sure we have all eaten some.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic Post Office (DPO).

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

Plentiful and cheap.

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

The are available and expensive. The U.S. Embassy has a small gym and pool, tennis courts and a soccer pitch--and it is free.

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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?

We use them everywhere and "skimmers" are everywhere. Even the ATM at the U.S. embassy has had issues. Always make them bring the machine to the table, and always watch both hands to make sure there is no hanky-panky and know that you will be copied a few times. Make sure your bank is a good one. We have the app that texts us every purchase and our banks are on it.

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

Our family speaks Portuguese--the kids fluently--and that makes life here very good. In Brasilia a growing number of people speak English, but on the road you will need Portuguese.

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

Yes. There are few side walks and fewer ramps, nothing for the visually impaired, narrow doorways into shops and often steps. The few sidewalks are narrow and adjacent to the street. This place would be VERY DIFFICULT for those with physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

There is Uber and a metro that is really about bringing folks from the satellite cities into town. The buses are used by our domestic staff but I don't think Embassy staff can use them. A car makes life a lot easier.

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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?

Smaller as parking in town is not for the big U.S. car; and if you like to travel get some clearance on your car. The roads can be rough outside the city and you will be grateful for that clearance. Also, get good tires, the rainy season will come.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes--it keeps getting cheaper with the falling Real. I think we pay $80/month for NET and we have an upper level plan.

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

Get one.

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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?

Nope, and there are lots of veterinarians.

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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?

No. I work for a US company (my husband at the Embassy) and this is really a problem. I host a teleworkers group and there are very very few of us that have managed work and that is because we came with work. Getting a job here is nearly impossible.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, plentiful and enormously rewarding.

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

Brazilians are very dressed-up for work and sometimes will shock you in less formal settings--there is very little cloth in some shorts, shirts and bathing suits.

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Health & Safety:

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

We haven't had issues, but I have heard of bikes being stolen and housebreak ins, etc. Don't leave bikes/shoes/scooters, etc. visible from the street.

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

Zika and dengue are an ongoing concern. There are reasonably good hospitals, doctors and dentists available.

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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?

Normally excellent. Brasilia is a quiet place. During the dry season there are fires that can send ash in the air. Other than that, no problems.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring your allergy meds and in the dry seasons, you may want humidifiers and eye drops.

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

There isn't a more perfect place for weather--it is never too hot or cold. Winter can mean long sleeves in the morning, summers from 2-4 PM can get hot, but it is never intolerable. Even the rain is great. Brasilia is situated on an elevated plateau which protects it from the high heats of Rio.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are three international schools here--EAB, EdN and BIS. Each has unique strengths and challenges.



Escuela Americano de Brasilia (EAB) is the American School and the one most attended by Embassy families. It is about 50% Brasilian, 20% American, 30% Other (generally European/South American) and has all the amenities you would expect. It is located in Asa Sul.



Escola das Nações EdN) is a bilingual school with an English-language curriculum following U.S. Standards and Common Core. It is 85-90% Brazilian, 3% American, 7-10% other, and also has excellent art, good after school, and poor music programs.



The Brasilia International School (BIS) is a Christian School with U.S./African/Brazilian communities. Not sure what the exact percentages are, but it is far more international than EdN.



My kids attend EdN. It has been an magnificent experience for our sons (grades K-5) who are fluent and integrated Portuguese speakers. It is a workable challenge for our daughter in middle school who has also integrated linguistically--but at a higher grade and therefore higher level of difficulty. I highly recommend EdN if your kids will be in 5th grade and below. It will be a challenge for families coming into the high school and middle school where the real challenge is in the Portuguese curriculum--which your child won't understand until they have a high fluency.



EAB has more in the way of special needs resources, etc.



It is important to note that with the falling currency, all the schools are finding it a challenge to recruit international staff with students paying in US dollars, but salary in Brazilian Reals. This will negatively affect EAB and BIS more as they have a higher concentration of international teachers.

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

EAB is more developed in this area with a part-time school psychologist, a special education coordinator, etc. That said, they are losing star-quality staff.



EdN is just learning in this area. They are very willing to work with you, and you wield a lot of influence (as there are few international families and they need us), but it is developing. You have to be a strong advocate for your child and be willing to supplement a lot.

I don't know about BIS.

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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--lots. I don't know the costs.

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

Yes: lots of soccer with every club having teams, tennis, horseback riding, swimming, etc. We started baseball (which has ended now). But you can find a willing baseball community at the Japanese Club. There is also the start of American football.

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Expat Life:

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

The US Embassy is big and morale is high.

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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?

We go to the countryside to see and enjoy the land.

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

It is a tranquil city. There are good restaurants, fairs, exhibitions and TONS of outdoor activities. If clubbing is your scene, then spend the weekend in Rio.

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

I think so and certainly within our Embassy community. Brazilians are starting to improve in this area.

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

Not that I know of.

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

We enjoy Brasilia and the country enormously. Travel options abound and are inexpensive. Very often there is a working fazenda (working farm) or a pousada (B&B) to stay that is nice, rustic, and safe on the road. We take a lot of road trips, enjoy the countryside and the night sky, the kids ride horses, cliff jump and play football. We know and like our neighbors--it is a perfect place for a family.

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

This land is a true delight to the outdoorsy. You can't find a stone that has been untouched in the US--but you can here. There are still towns where people ride horses as a means of transport--it is like stepping back in time. Near Brasilia you have Chapada Veadeiros, Salto Corumba, Terra Ronca--waterfalls, caves, swimming, biking--all of the outdoor sports you can imagine.

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

Wood products are nice and you can have them custom-made. There are also ceramics.

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

The weather is remarkable all year round. Because Brasilia is on a plateau, it never gets too hot during the summer. 70's to 80's (Fahrenheit) year round with wet and dry seasons that are easy to tolerate.

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10. Can you save money?

Yep.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had known more about the quality of the roads outside of town--you really need vehicle clearance.

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

In a heartbeat.

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

Winter clothes, shoes, ski equipment. Leave your tents (pousadas are cheaper, more comfy and have running water).

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4. But don't forget your:

Outdoorsy stuff: back pack, camelback, hiking shoes, sunscreen, bug repellent, bathing suits, medical kit.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Overall, our only challenge has been schooling--especially for our eldest child.

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Brasilia, Brazil 08/18/15

Background:

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

5th post: Tunis, Tegucigalpa, Buenos Aires, Cairo and Brasilia

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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?

New York City. Haven't gone home in two years, but travel time would be most of a day or all night, depending on connecting flights. It requires at least two flights. The only direct flights from Brasilia to US are to Atlanta and Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years, with one more to go.

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

Government direct hire at U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Either houses across the lake, or apartments in the "wings" of the city. We live in Asa Norte, and it's a 25-minute bike ride or a 15 minute car ride to the embassy.

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

We don't buy anything imported because of the cost. We came with all the basics and just buy spices, fruits, vegetables and meats on the local market. Brazilian food is not expensive, and since we do our shopping at the Saturday markets and cook all our meals. it's cheap for us.

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

i prepared well since this is our 5th post, but bring all the liquids you might want or need.

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

I don't know because we don't eat out, and don't do fast food, except meat on a stick ($1.25 each) or acai (yummy!). We do occasionally go to a by-the-kilo place with food from Minas Gerais ($11 the kilo).

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

i hear people in Lago Sul complaining of insects and animals, but in our apartment it's tiny ants only. My husband claims to have been bitten by mosquitoes, but in two years i have not had a bite.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch takes three weeks, more or less.

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

I don't know since we haven't hired anyone, but I see plenty of ads, so lots of choices.

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

Tons, all over the city, from tiny to very large, mostly frequented by Brazilians. I don't know the costs because the embassy is like a country club with tennis courts, basketball court, volleyball court and soccer field, a pool, a gym, etc.

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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?

We use credit cards at the super markets. ATM at the embassy only.

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

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

A lot! Very few people speak English, so speaking Portuguese is a must if you want to get out and about.

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

This is a tough city for that. Sidewalks disappear, bike trails are disjointed, public transportation is not very user friendly.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe but expensive. The local subway is cheap, but is only in one section of the city. Uber started up recently, and I hear people raving about their service. Buses, IMHO, are safe and affordable, but RSO says no. A woman who lives with us uses them daily, and it's a cheap and easy way to get around.

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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 will do, and bikes are handy. Parts for cars are expensive, so bring new tires and spare parts.

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Phone & Internet:

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

It is available but I'm not sure of the cost.

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

There are many choices, relatively inexpensive. We have Vivo.

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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?

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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?

No! The job situation is very frustrating, from what I have heard.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?


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

Business casual at work. Brazilians dress nicely, but it's casual in Brasilia when they are out and about.

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Health & Safety:

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

We have heard of houses being broken into, and in our apartment areas one hears stories, but I feel no danger. I bike a lot and hear stories of bikes being stolen, but usually that is out in the satellite cities.

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

None that i know of. I have been seen for lots of medical stuff here, and the quality is good for both doctors and imaging work being done.

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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 find the air quality excellent, but that's comparing it to Cairo.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

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

Beautiful year round. It's either rainy season or not. 70s to 80s temperature, low humidity, brilliant sunshine.

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Schools & Children:

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

Our son goes to EAB, and he's not fond of it. He much preferred his Cairo high school. There's a full IB program, but with limited classes. I'm not sure about other schools.

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

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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?

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

Yes, plenty. My son has done varsity volleyball and soccer, but there are many other options.

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Expat Life:

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

Seems to be big, and morale seems good.

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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?

There are concerts, and lots of parties, but I am not too plugged into that stuff.

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

It depends on what you want to do. There are lots of clubs and restaurants, but I find that most people don't speak much English. So if you can learn Portuguese, there's lots of socializing to do. If you are more of an introvert, like me, there's yoga and meditation, lots of biking groups, running and hiking groups, and lake sports activities.

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

I think so. Brazilians are pretty open minded.

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

Living with two people of color, one of whom is Muslim, we haven't noticed any prejudices. But we are foreigners, and Brazilians are generally very friendly with foreigners. Not sure what it is like for the Brazilians. There's a mosque and a synagogue, lots of churches of all kinds, a Buddhist temple, and many spiritual places.

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

Outdoor activities. We hike, bike, swim, dance, and do yoga. After living six years in the Muslim world, I love being outdoors and having no one paying attention to what I'm wearing.

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

We love going to Pirenopolis and to other areas in the Cerrado. Lots of water falls, camping, hiking, mountain biking (ok, technically, hill biking).

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

Nothing.

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

The weather, saving money, the outdoors, the weather...did I mention the weather?

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10. Can you save money?

Absolutely, if you shop at CEASA and cook your own food, don't eat out, and don't buy anything imported.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Not much.

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

Absolutely.

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

winter clothing.

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4. But don't forget your:

umbrella, rain gear, bike, and roller blades.

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

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

The spousal employment situation is very very bad, and there are a lot of discontented people on that account. My husband dealt with it by becoming an avid golfer, but it's VERY frustrating for many.

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Brasilia, Brazil 08/03/15

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

Washington, DC. 13-14 hours of travel, including a layover in either Miami or Atlanta before a red-eye directly into Brasilia.

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3. How long have you lived here?

13 months

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

Spouse was assigned to Brasilia for an Embassy-related position

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are apartments in the Asa Sul / Asa Norte area and single family houses in the Lago Sul and Lago Norte area. There is little traffic, so commute is usually no more than 15-20 minutes.

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

A grocery-store run for a week for a family of four is usually between R$150, depending on what you buy. Fruits and vegetables, especially those in season are incredibly cheap. For example, a small package of strawberries on sale was R$2. Farmer's markets on the weekends are a great deal and have a lot more selection that the groceries. Meat is cheap, especially if you go to a butcher. Packaged and processed foods, especially if they are imported are expensive. I once paid R$27 (about US$10 at the time) for a jar of peanut butter.

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

Patio/yard furniture. Playground or trampoline for the kids.

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

There's McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, Quiznos, and a Dunkin Donuts just recently opened. There are also Brazilian fast food available and Chinese/Japanese fast food - but they come with a Brazilian twist. There are plenty of Brazilian restaurants, Japanese restaurants, French, and Italian restaurants. Decent foods from other countries are lacking, but there is a good Indian (vegetarian restaurant), a couple of Mexican restaurants, one good Chinese restaurant, and an OK Korean restaurant (only open for lunch). Dinner at a nice Brazilian restaurant for two adults and two kids is usually around R$200-R$300. The drinks drive up the bill a lot since everyone here drinks bottled water or juices.

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

There are a few different kinds of mosquitoes (or bugs that bite) here I've been told. There's one in particular that leaves you swollen for days. We've tried to be vigilant in wearing bug spray, but we've not be perfect and have fallen victim to it. Unfortunately my family's gotten some really ugly scars from the bites.

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Daily Life:

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

We use diplomatic pouch and packages come in about 2-4 weeks after they reach the pouch facility in the States. Sending a letter or package from here to the U.S. takes a lot longer though - at least a month or two. Plan on bringing stamps.

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

Diaristas, which are part-time (two days a week) maids, cost around R$120 - R$150 (about US$50 or less). Gardeners are around R$120-R150 per day and they tend to your yard, clean your patio and churrasco area (and wash your car if you want them to). Pool guys run between R$140-R$170 a month.

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

There are gyms, called "Academias" available around. Many of them are located in the Asas, and options in Lago Sul or Lago Norte are a bit more limited. The costs vary - it depends on the type of membership or classes you take.

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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?

Try to get a credit card with a chip. If you use the credit card that just swipes, it's easier to clone and doesn't always work. We've had our credit cards compromised three different times in less than 6 months until we switched to a chip card. ATMs - only use the ones in an an actual bank branch (usually behind glass doors with plenty of cameras). In Brasilia, I've only used the ATM inside our Embassy's compound.

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

There is one Baptist church here in English. The Catholic churches are all on Portuguese.

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

A lot. It is rare to find people that speak English here. Some of them can't even recognize it. Someone asked me if I was speaking Japanese, another person (on another day) asked me if I was speaking Spanish. Learn as much Portuguese as you can. Luckily the locals are pretty good and patient with understanding broken Portuguese and between that and pointing and signing, you can get your message across.

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

I've noticed a lot of the curbs are high and the ramps are steep, so yes, there would be many circumstances where a physically disabled person might have difficulties.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe, buses I've heard are safe, but are not air-conditioned, are cramped, and occasionally has random drunk people riding it and day drinking. The metro is safe, but its route is very limited.

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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 lot of BMWs are targetd for car jackings and car theft. An SUV with a high-clearance is a good vehicle to have, especially if you plan on exploring outside the city. Hondas, Fords, and Fiats are common here, so it's easy to get parts. If you're on the fence between buying here and bringing one, I would recommend you bring one as cars manufactured here do have the same quality (in terms of build) as those from the states or elsewhere.

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Phone & Internet:

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

There are internet packages available, depending on the speed and the amount of data you want per month. Phone, internet (we have one of the fastest speeds available), and cable + HBO, is about R$350/month (US$110)

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

Do not get TIM if you want something reliable. Use Vivo or maybe Claro. Bring your own cell phone that will work overseas because all electronics here are expensive.

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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?

No quarantine, generally a good place for pets. There are services that even come to your house and groom your pet. There's a few English speaking vets around as well.

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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?

Getting a job on the local economy is hard as you need to be practically fluent in Portuguese. You also need a work permit, which can take some time. There are jobs available at the Embassy for spouses, but they are few, far between, and require a high level of Portuguese (around 4 or 3).

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There is a group of expats that organized a charity effort for impoverished children. There are also volunteer opportunities at the schools and church.

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

Suits and ties at work in the embassy. In public, Brazilians tend to dress up more than Americans, especially the women, so expect to get weird looks if you go out in sweats.

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Health & Safety:

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

We've been told there is a risk for houses getting broken into, but we have not personally heard of this experience happening to anyone we know while here. There have been some robberies we've heard of around town. Although it's generally safe, precaution should be taken, as with any city.

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

No health concerns that we've come across. Medical care depends on who you find, I guess. We don't have any chronic illnesses in our family, so we've had minimal experience with the health care system.

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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?

Generally really good, unless there's a controlled burn going on in your area, or your neighbor decides to burn leaves, trash, whatnot in your backyard.

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

Winter is typically low 60s F in the early morning to upper 70s and low 80s in the afternoon. Winter is really dry and so you should drink plenty of water. Summer gets a lot of rain, usually, although there are bouts of dryness as well, and gets from 70-90s. It's humid, but not unbearably so. The only problem are the insects.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are about a handful of international schools - including an American school, a Swiss school, a Canadian school, and two international schools. While the schools are accommodating and our kids love their school, I've found the academics very behind. Some schools are better at "differentiating" than others, while other schools are better at getting your child to speaking Portuguese within a year. I haven't heard of a school that does both very well. We've had to supplement lessons at home because we've felt the English and Math curriculum were way below our child's level and not much was done until the very end of the year to accommodate for it.

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

I think it depends on the school. We have no experience with this but have heard other friends note that some schools are better than others at accommodating special needs kids.

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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, there are great preschools around the area - the teachers are very patient with the children and we really feel like they care for the kids. Full-time daycare or preschool is not as common, but it also depends on how far you're willing to drive (5-15 mins vs. 20-25 mins). The cost depends on the preschool and the length of time they are in school. Half day preschool ranges from R$850 - R$1200, while full day (those up to 3pm or 5pm) ranges from R$1,000 - R$3500.

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

Yes, many. Soccer, Judo, Capoeira, Jiu-Jitsu, Ballet, etc. There is ONE taekwondo dojo in Asa Sul as well.

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Expat Life:

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

There's a large expat community as there's lots of embassies around. They are expat groups for book clubs, running, bible studies etc.

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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?

Go out to dinner, watch movies (in English), go hiking somewhere nearby, visit the monuments, biking, kayaking. Go do dinner parties, have people over for a pool day, etc.

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

The city is great for families - there are lots of family friend things to do, and lots of lessons and clubs available for kids (soccer, judo, jiu jitsu, art, music, horseback riding). I think it' so-so for couples, and OK for singles. It's a quiet city, so don't expect Rio or Sao Paulo-level excitement.

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

There is a subtle racial problem that I think is partly tied to the locals' views on socio-economic status. Generally, most of those in the service industry are darker skinned, while those with white/lighter skinned tend to be in the white collar industry. If you pay attention, you notice the difference in how the lighter skinned/whites are more respected than those with darker skinned. I've heard of people mention that they because they're darker skinned, they tend to dress up a bit more so as not to be treated like or mistaken for a maid. Basically if you're white, you're good to go, but if you're brown or of any other race, dress well for respect.

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

Traveling around Brazil and South America. Flights within Brazil are reasonable, although flights to outside of Brazil can be long (no direct flights from BSB) and not as cheap.

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

Cachaca, hammocks, havaianas, and super comfortable women's heels.

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

Weather is amazing; services are cheaper than they would be if you were in the U.S.; affordable household help; lots of outdoor activities to do; it's great for families.

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8. Can you save money?

You definitely can unless you plan on traveling a lot!

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Wouldn't be thrilled about it, but sure why not.

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

Winter gear. Also your expectations that (1) things will be done in a timely manner and (2) your notion of "safety standards" on the road and everywhere else.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bug spray, sunscreen, and portuguese skills!

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Brasilia, Brazil 08/02/15

Background:

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

First expat experience

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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?

United States - connect through Atlanta, then have an 8 hour flight on Delta overnight, crammed in economy with cats meowing all night.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year

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

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The Embassy has some really great houses and a few duds. Most houses have pools, and you can request to or not to have one. Many yards have fruit trees, such as mango, avocado, papaya, banana, limes, etc. Families with 3 or more children can expect a house. Apartments are for singles and smaller families. Apartments are all within walking distance to shopping, while houses may not be. Apartments are spread across the west side of the lake (Asa Sul, Asa Norte), and houses are mostly on the east side (Lago Sul, with a couple in Lago Norte).

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

Produce is cheaper than in the U.S. Milk products are more expensive. Fresh milk is available, but costs a ton and might be spoiled. Meat is about the same price. When we arrived, household supplies were expensive, but many are better prices now since the exchange rate went in our favor. Imports, especially electronics, are heavily taxed, though.

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

Peanut butter, bug spray, sunscreen and aluminum foil.

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

McDonalds', Burger King and Dunkin Donuts are here. Malls have food courts with many options. A fast food meal costs around US$7-$8. There are all kinds of restaurants. I love Coco Bamboo (seafood) and El Negro (steak Argentine style). You can find really cheap Brazilian food or more costly food at more American prices. Cheap Brazilian food is salty, burnt and is served with rice and beans, lettuce, and unripe tomatoes.

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

Ants, lizards, mosquitoes, cockroaches and beetles are around. Malaria isn't a problem here, but there are some cases of Dengue. Ants get in the house a little. There are the kind that come after food, and the kind that like living in electronics. There are also grass cutters that will eat houseplants. I spray with water infused with peppermint oil and it keeps most away, although I don't think it is possible to completely eradicate them. Cockroaches are sometimes seen in my outside laundry area, but whatever they spray seems to keep them out of the house.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch post. There is APO, but you aren't supposed to use it except for letters and if there is a special reason.

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

It is available at about US$40/day.

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

The Embassy has a gym, and there are a lot of private gyms for reasonable prices.

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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?

I use a credit card with a chip all the time. Watch out for skimmers at ATMs. The Embassy has an ATM, but it is frequently out of money or (more rarely) doesn't give you money and the bank at the Embassy tells you to work it out with your own bank.

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

LDS has a family ward with sacrament meeting in Portuguese with English translation, and Primary and Youth have classes in English or translated, depending on needs. There are also types of Baptist or Protestant congregation with English services.

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

They don't speak English here. Learn as much Portuguese as you can.

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

Apartments have elevators, and some sidewalks and stores are accessible, although not everything.

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Transportation:

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

We are allowed to ride the metro train, but not buses. Taxis are safe, but knowing Portuguese is important unless you have an app, like Easy Taxi. The rates aren't bad, but not super cheap. About a 15 minute ride is US$10.

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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?

It is certainly easier to park a smaller vehicle but big ones are great for trips outside the city, and we seem to find parking spots no matter where we go, even with our van, as long as we don't mind walking across a parking lot or down a block.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. Internet and cable package starts at aboutUS $60/month (it was $90 when the exchange rate was worse). It can get slow on cold days when everyone is cooped up in their houses, but most days streaming video works great on multiple devices at the same time.

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

Vivo or Claro, not Tim. The embassy uses TIM for BBs but the service is awful. Vivo works great and has really cheap plans. I have heard Claro is just as good.

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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 with the schools, but not much else.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots - find out through CLO or a school.

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

At the Embassy, officers wear suits or dresses/skirts and blouses. Other employees are business casual. Family members wear jeans or athletic clothing. In public, you can be really casual or dress up really fancy for a night out.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. Keep an eye out for pockpockets and stay in groups at night - safer than NOVA or DC, I'd say.

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

Medical care and dental can be good. Get a referral from a friend. There are mosquito-carried illnesses, but no prophylaxis is needed. Just be cautious during the rainy season.

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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?

Great air quality.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring your own allergy medicine. If you use pseudoephederine, bring it. You can't buy it online or here, so bring a year's supply. There are gluten-free foods available here.

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

There is a wet season (Sep. - Mar.) and a dry season (Apr. - Aug.). The wet season will have some rain every day except for December, but it is normally just in the afternoon. It may rain continually for a couple of days, but not for the whole season. The dry season gets increasingly dry until there isn't a drop of rain for a couple of months. September is the hottest month of the year, with highs in the upper 80sF. Overnight lows are in the upper 60s. The rest of the rainy season has highs in the upper 70s to low 80s. The dry season has highs in the upper 70s and lows ovenght can get down to about 58F, but we mostly see temps between 65-75F.

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Schools & Children:

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

EAB, the sponsored school, is as good as an American public school, and has the IB program and many extracurriculars for all ages. They have a good band program and theater program. They have their own particular dysfunctions, but we have been mostly happy there. BIS is a Christian international school, and is really small. I know people there who like it, but bussing can be really long from Lago Sul. Most families with high schoolers don't send their kids there due to fewer extracurriculars and course options. EDN is kind of an immersion school, but not totally...I have heard that older kids especially have a hard time there.

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

BIS has the best reputation for helping kids with special needs.

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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 I don't know the cost. EAB and EDN have preschool for sure, as well as some music school, I can't think of the name...no idea about costs.

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

Through school and through gyms, yes.

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Expat Life:

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

This is a large embassy community with a few other American expats here with corporations. There are tons of expats from other countries, as well. Lots to do at/with other embassies. EFMs here have a hard time getting jobs, as nearly every job requred a 4/4 in Portuguese (although we get the impression that isn't an FSI 4/4, but more like a 2+/3). But that is still harder for a spouse if language classes aren't available at the FSI, which is the case a lot of the time, other than FAST. People either love it or hate it here. Stay-at-home moms who learn the language and are in a good house love it.

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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?

Have other families over for dinner/pool parties. Be on the embassy softball team and compete against the high shool team. Play volleyball. Happy hour at the Embassy. Go see a movie (most are available in English). Go shopping.

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

Families love it. Singles at the Embassy have lots of activities to make up for the lack of stuff to do here. There are regular sports, like volleyball, and dance classes and other stuff.

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

I think so. They seem very open here from what I can see.

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

I haven't seen any. The locals come in all colors. The lighter the skin, the more likely a person is well-to-do, but I don't see outright racism.

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

Fruit trees in my yard are wonderful. Again, the temperature is always pretty perfect. I enjoy learning languages, so the part where noone speaks English has een good for me to learn faster. The people are very welcoming and kind.

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

The zoo is quaint. The Jaguar sanctuary is an amusing tour for a day. Crystal hunting in Crystalina is a fun time if you like dirt. There is plenty of mall-style shopping.

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

Hammocks

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

The weather is awesome year around. The dry season does get really dry, but it is managable with humidifiers in bedrooms. You might be able to save some money here, since there is very little to do, other than go to movies and restaurants.

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10. Can you save money?

It is possible if you don't eat out too much or really like cheap Brazilian food.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Things aren't as expensive as people told me. There are super-sized supermarkets. You can find what you need if you ask around and are adventurous.

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

Absolutely!

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

Winter outdoor clothing

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4. But don't forget your:

Swimsuit and sunscreen

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Brasilia, Brazil 06/18/14

Background:

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

I have lived in Beijing, Buenos Aires, Pretoria, and Paris.

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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?

We don't really have a home base in the USA but most often we fly to Florida or DC. Normal routes are via Miami or Atlanta. There are direct flights to those cities from Brasilia. They are overnight flights, around 8 to 9 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have been here for roughly 2.5 years and have around 2 years remaining at post.

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

Government - in the middle of a 4 year tour.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

All housing tends to be large here - both apartments and houses. Note that I'm speaking here about the housing typically rented/owned by the various diplomatic organizations. Apartments can vary - some are in modern buildings but some are in older, run-down buildings. Some have balconies. The amenities offered in the buildings vary as well - some have gyms and entertainment rooms for building use, others have nothing.

The houses vary as well but most have nice outdoor entertaining areas, backyards and pools. Some of the houses are pretty spectacular, especially compared to the apartments. Mostly, the U.S. Embassy puts families in the houses - some smaller, junior level families are placed in the apartments. Couples are typically housed in apartments. Commute times are really pretty good from anywhere. Longest commute to the Embassy is maybe 25 minutes, shortest would be maybe 10 minutes. Traffic is normally pretty good. A few people bike to work.

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

Any imported products are very expensive - double or triple what it would cost in the USA. Availability is pretty good, except for a few food items that are just not eaten here as much - berries, mushrooms, greek yogurt without sugar added, cheddar cheese, sour cream, certain vegetables. If you are used to certain brands from your home country, you may not find them here. Cleaning products aren't so bad.

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

The welcome kit of dishes, sheets, towels, etc... provided by the Embassy is OK, but considering that we don't get our shipments for up to 4 or 5 months, I should have sent more of my favorite cooking things in advance by mail - i.e. baking stuff, nice knives, additional cutting boards.

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

Yes, plenty of good restaurants and sufficient fast food is available. Costs really vary. Better restaurants will cost nearly double what a similar meal in the USA would cost. What's really missing here is good ethnic food choices. Brazilians, in general, don't like spicy food. There are no Thai or Indian restaurants here. Yes, NONE. There is one place that does a good Indian buffet once a month and it is very popular with the dip community. There are a few Mexican places but they aren't great. Japanese food is common and is good.

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

Mosquitoes are common, as well as lots of other flying bugs, many that bite. We go through lots of bug spray. We are lucky to have few bugs in our apartment but I know of others who have major ant problems or difficulties with other crawling bugs.

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Daily Life:

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

We are able to use the U.S. Diplomatic Pouch. It is slow - 2-4 weeks to get anything, sometimes longer.

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

Part-time help (2 days a week or less) is pretty easy to find - cost is around R$100 per day. Full-time helpers are a bit harder to find and there are more regulations regarding salary and leave. Salary is somewhere around $R1000 to R$2000 per month. Most folks are able to find good help.

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

The gym at the U.S. Embassy is free but has limited equipment. Some neighborhood gyms are fairly reasonable (comparable or just above costs in the USA), but the larger gyms which offer more classes and cater to rich Brazilians are crazy expensive (i.e. US$400 month). There are many personal trainers/clubs who offer all sorts of fitness classes from Yoga to Muay Thai to Jui Jitsu.

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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?

Cloning of credit cards is pretty common. One must take care with your cards and check accounts often. Using cash is safer but you may not wish to carry too much cash. Some ATMs do not work well with American ATM cards. Using machines inside of banks or in more secure areas is always best.

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

There are couple different English language churches - mainly Protestant or Interdenominational.

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

To enjoy your daily living, I'd say quite a bit. Brazilians are very forgiving of poorly spoken Portuguese and will try to help you, but very few speak anything except Portuguese even in a government city like Brasilia. If you speak Spanish, it will help you to understand them, but most will not understand you very well if you speak Spanish to them. Really try to learn at least some basics before arrival.

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

Yes, depending on the disability. One has to drive everywhere here - public transport is not safe, and/or it doesn't go to all of the places one is likely to go to. It was not designed as a walkable city - and in certain areas, sidewalks are very uneven/rough or non-existent.

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Transportation:

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

Metro is safe during the day and is affordable, but doesn't go many places. Buses are not safe. Taxis are generally safe but not cheap. Probably about the same price as in the USA or a little more.

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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?

Pretty much all makes of cars can be found here. SUVs are nice if you plan to travel outside of Brasilia especially into some of the parks. But, you can get by with a sedan in most places. Parts can be a problem for more unusual cars. I think Hondas, Toyotas, Fords, Fiats, BMWs are probably the most common. People tend to bring extra tires, filters, wipers, etc... Windshield washing fluid is not available here for some reason.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. Cost and quality of service varies widely. We have a cable TV/Internet package with 10MB speed and it costs around US$110/month. For us, it is quite reliable, but I have heard of others who have had major problems with outages and crappy speed. Sometimes we have trouble watching Netflix or Amazon Prime videos, but usually it is OK. Much higher data packages are available too.

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

Electronics are crazy expensive here. Try to bring an unblocked phone although you can get a blocked phone unlocked here. There are a wide variety of packages available depending on your needs.

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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?

No pet quarantine and yes, there are many highly qualified vets. Kennels are not plentiful but they exist. It's also generally not hard to find someone to watch your pet for you when you are away.

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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?

Not so great, no. Fluent Portuguese is required for most jobs on the local economy and competition is tough.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are lots of groups doing some very good work here. Project Teach is a group that works with a specific school in an outlying community - they provide fresh veg and meat, tutor, provide supplies, etc... Some people work with various English teaching centers in town. The schools always need volunteers as well as the CLO at the Embassy.

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

Depends on your line of work. For work and in public, in general, Brazilians tend to dress smartly. Those involved in diplomatic meetings or business affairs would wear suits or business dresses. Women do not wear flip flops on a regular basis - they are really for beside the pool or on the beach. Men dress sort of similarly in most situations to American men, minus the ball caps and khakis. For going out, sexy dresses or jeans/tops and high heels are the norm for young folks. High heels are somewhat the norm for more mature ladies too. Even when exercising, Brazilian women tend to be rather more well-dressed than Americans would be. Brilliantly colored spandex leggings and white knee high socks are quite in fashion here.

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Health & Safety:

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

House break-ins or attempts are frequent (3-5 per year just within our community). Normally it happens when the occupants are not at home, so they are not typically violent. Apartment break-ins are very rare. Normal big city pickpocketing type crime is common at large events. There are areas we are not allowed to go to after dark, in the satellite cities.

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

Not really any specific concerns. For routine issues, quality medical care is available and there are health practitioners who are multi-lingual. Certain more serious issues would probably require a medevac to Sao Paolo or the USA (or another country).

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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?

Good air quality nearly always. In the dry season, there can be fires which cause some smoke but these are not too frequent.

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Schools & Children:

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

I do not have kids in school here but know families in each of the three major international schools. I'm also a former international school teacher so I have some basis by which to judge these three. I wouldn't say any of them are top rate. They are solidly "good" schools, and most of the kids love them. The School of Nations is truly a bilingual school and has the most Brazilians (95 % or so). The Christian school, Brasilia International School, is tiny (around 100 total) and is probably the most international as far as the mix of kids - they have very few Brazilian kids. The American School is around half Brazilians and the other half is a huge mix of international kids. In general, people seem to think that the American School offers the strongest academic program of the three, but this is very subjective and depends on each families' preferences and educational priorities.

None are particularly large schools and thus they aren't able to offer as wide a range of courses and activities as other international (and USA) schools I've worked. Many parents supplement what is offered at the schools with activities at local clubs or other activities. This is what Brazilian parents do as well - schools in Brazil don't tend to cater to the "whole" child - to some extent, parents are expected to organize sports, music and other activities outside of the school day. All three of the schools have issues with parental communication.

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

This really varies. The School of Nations accepts very few special needs children and has little to no staff to work with them. Both EAB and BIS have learning resource teachers who can provide assistance for mild special needs. EAB and BIS will also allow parents to hire learning assistants who help the children in the classroom. There have been quite a few parents who have not been satisfied with either EAB or BIS in this area - in my opinion, the schools just aren't large enough to be able to have adequately trained staff in this area - at least to handle certain needs.

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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 good options here. Costs can be high for both pre-schools and nannies.

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

Yes, some via the schools and lots via the social clubs.

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Expat Life:

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

Medium size expat community with pretty good morale. There is lots of interaction within the dip community.

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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?

Backyard BBQs, team sports, watching soccer games, kid's birthday parties, school events, parties at various embassies, Hashing, dinner parties and dinners out. Dancing/Nightclubbing, too (but I have no experience with this!!).

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

Yes, definitely for families. For some singles, it is great, others don't like it. Most couples like it but it really depends on what you make of it.

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

Major sporting events - World Cup is on right now and is great fun. We've had some good times visiting waterfalls and hiking areas in the Brasilia region - we love the outdoors. We visited Rio, which was lovely.

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

There are some really beautiful parks for hiking and visiting waterfalls nearby, or within a 1-4 hour drive.

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

The weather in Brasilia is fantastic. The rainy season is October-May but it is really not that extreme. Dry season can be very, very dry but the temperature is almost always pleasant. The lifestyle in Brasilia is also very chill and, in general, housing is nice. Outdoor living and outdoor activities are very common here and enjoyable.

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7. Can you save money?

It is not easy to save money here because prices are high, travel is expensive, and household help is not particularly cheap. The COLA was raised recently which is helpful. We are saving money but only because we have two incomes here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Wristwatch. Just give in to the Brazilian understanding of time right away and you'll be much happier.

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2. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, bug repellent, flexible attitude.

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Brasilia, Brazil 09/04/12

Background:

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

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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?

Home base is Washington, DC. Flights take 12 hours with one connection in Sao Paulo, or 10 hours with one connection in Atlanta.

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Embassy and recently completed a two-year posting to Brasilia, a fourth expat experience.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is either in lego-block apartments along Brasilia's "wings" or in houses in the Lago Sul or Lago Norte districts. The apartments in the wings are part of their own self-sufficient "Superblock" communities, and you'll only have a 2-3 minute tree-lined walk to your neighborhood bakery, drug store, green grocer and probably a restaurant or two. The housing in the North Lake and South Lake neighborhoods is comfortable and gated. A new neighborhood of apartments is coming along quite nicely in the Sudoeste (Southeast) part of the city, with plans for a Noroeste (Northeast) residential sector to start going up in the next 2-5 years or so.

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

Big-box grocery stores are in just about every residential Superblock in Brasilia's "wings." (Big Box is, in fact, the name of one of the chains.) Grocery selection is good, but you'll pay about 1.5 times the price you'd pay in the U.S., even for things like dairy and meats that are produced nationally.

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

A bicycle and helmet.

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

American fast-food chains are all over Brasilia, but at about double the price of what you'd pay in the U.S. Decent---and even exceptional---restaurants abound at a wide range of prices, serving food from nearly all ethnic backgrounds (Thai being an unfortunate exception). Quality restaurants are one of the best parts of living in Brasilia, making it great for couples who like to escape on a date-night or friends who want to celebrate a special occasion (and there's plenty to celebrate in Brazil).

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

Nothing problematic. Some mosquitoes come out in the rainy season, although nothing that a citronella candle or long sleeves can't fix. In the dry season, you won't see an insect of any kind, except for maybe ants (that can get in the house) and termites (which seem to be happy staying put in their termite castles). Every year, right after October's first rain, a new generation of cicadas hatches out and makes an infernal racket that will leave you begging for mercy, but luckily, they do their thing and die within six weeks, at which point peace and quiet are restored.

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Daily Life:

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

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

Available for about R$6-10/hour, plus cost of transportation to and from the workplace, and several other labor law requirements if your employee works over a certain number of hours/week.

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

Yes. A great gym called SmartFit is opening at locations throughout the city, and for about R$70/month you can have access to state-of-the-art equipment in a comfortable setting---just be prepared to stand in line for a machine. Really nice gyms like BodyTech are available, too, but be prepared to stand in line at your bank; membership fees can exceed R$400/month. An enjoyable (and free) feature in Brasilia is the Parque da Cidade, a great place for running, walking, working out, rollerblading, and people-watching in general. Also, on Sundays the city's main thoroughfare, the Eixao Rodoviario, is closed to traffic and is a fun place to bike or jog, stopping for an occasional coconut water served up by the roadside vendors.

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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?

They are available at all banks and at gas stations and grocery stores that have machines that accept cards from multiple banks (machines called "Banco 24 horas"). You'll incur fees if you're not at your bank, and beware of credit card readers installed on the machine or thieves waiting to mug you on your way out. Just like in any big city anywhere in the world.

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

There's a church for Catholics and just about every Protestant denomination, as well as places of worship for Jews and Muslims. There's also a big community of people who follow Allan Kardec's Spiritism in Brasilia.

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

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

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

You need a car to get around in Brasilia, so someone with a disability (or even an able-bodied person, for that matter) needs to make sure they have to have access to a vehicle. The Metro is wheelchair accessible, but it only goes to a few places. I don't remember buses being wheelchair accessible. Within the apartment block communities of the north and south wings, sidewalks are wheelchair friendly, and an individual could find just about anything they need and enjoy the outdoors by circulating around their Superblock, but they wouldn't be able to leave it because Brasilia's sidewalks don't connect one Superblock to the next (remember how I mentioned there were flaws in the city's design?)

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Transportation:

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

Within the city, yes. In the suburbs, less so. Brasilia's Metro is clean, regular, and safe, but it doesn't service much more than one fourth of the city and a few surrounding suburbs. A taxi ride from the airport to the hotel sector will cost you about R$35.

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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 is fine in the city and on major highways, but if you plan on regional sightseeing, a crossover or SUV is nice because you'll have a little more clearance when you hit one of the ubiquitous potholes that characterize the regional roads.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, and it's expensive. An Internet/Cable package from NET, for example, runs about R$280/month.

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

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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?

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

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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?

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

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Health & Safety:

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

By mid-2012, crime statistics had steadily been on the rise in Brasilia, including some "quick-nappings" and muggings. It appears as though Brasilia's long-standing reputation as a peaceful and safe city might be coming to an end, but it still hadn't reached crime-wave proportions. There was also a growing population of crack addicts near the downtown bus station and a slight resurgence in the presence of landless peasants squatting in a few of Brasilia's wooded public lots.

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

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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?

Clean. There's traffic pollution in the suburbs, and old buses that belch diesel fumes on Brasilia's main thoroughfares, but nothing approaching the levels of most cities of comparable size. Some people are affected by the extreme dryness typical of June - September.

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

The climate is one of the best things about Brasilia. There are two seasons: dry (roughly May - October) with a hot sun, warm days and cool nights when it simply does not rain, making camping trips and afternoon BBQs completely worry-free; and rainy (November - April) when a tropical afternoon rain storm is common most days, and a 2-day, non-stop rain storm flares up every 2-3 weeks.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two: the American School of Brasilia (EAB), and the School of the Nations. I don't have experience with either, but both have websites. I visited EAB's campus a few times and it seemed to have nice infrastructure.

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

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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?

No experience, although many colleagues hired full-time nannies (but probably paid prices that would be on the high-end relative to other Latin American countries).

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

Yes. Brazilians are sporty, and so are their kids. Martial arts schools and soccer or swimming at local clubs are obvious options. You can also give your kids a real cultural gift and enroll them in capoeira classes---they're almost guaranteed to love it.

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Expat Life:

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

Considerable, but it is harder to identify or locate than you'd expect. Lots of diplomats (mostly American, but also some sort of representation from just about everywhere) and a smattering of business people or convention goers that are usually holed up in the hotel sector.

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2. Morale among expats:

Excellent. If you enjoy nice weather, have an adventurous spirit, and can converse in Portuguese, you'll love Brasilia. If you need a place where the fun comes to you, or haven't had a chance to study Portuguese, you might not be as happy.

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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?

There are tons of options for eating out, enjoying lake-side revelry, cafe socializing, afternoon samba sessions, outdoor sports and recreation, and all-day BBQ's. Just remember that none of this will be visible at first glance---you have to peek around some corners and dig a little, but once you've found it, you'll realize you've struck the mother load.

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

The city is excellent for families and fun for young couples. Singles can also have a good time, with the caveat that they must be somewhat adventurous, have a car, and speak Portuguese.

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

Brasilia has a solid and consistent array of venues for LGBT nightlife, and a gay or lesbian couple probably won't be treated any differently than a heterosexual couple in just about all social settings (evangelical churches excluded). I feel Brasilienses have a tendency to tolerate and/or ignore most strangers around them, regardless of what those strangers are doing or talking about. Because the LGBT scene (or "GLS," as it is known in Brazil) is smaller in Brasilia than in most Brazilian cities, many otherwise straight bars and nightclubs operate a "GLS night" one night a week, so at least one option is always available. On the weekends, there are dance clubs (boates) that seem to open and then go out of business on a 6-month rotation in either the industrial sector (setor de oficinas) or club sector of the city. There's also a pretty big bohemian cafe scene, and classic cafes like Beirut, Cafe Savana, and Cafe Balaio are always LGBT friendly, and regularly LGBT dominated. Because the "S" (sympathizers) in the "GLS" abbreviation is quite a significant population in Brasilia, you are bound to find that about 10-20% of the public at any LGBT venue are straight (including both women and men), which creates a welcoming and truly diverse atmosphere, but could eventually end in disappointment.

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

They are very rarely explicit, but certainly structural. Most Brazilians truly are colorblind and can't figure out why Americans spend so much time thinking about skin color, but the occasional upper-class Brazilian might have problems with their son or daughter dating someone of a darker skin tone or poorer social class. There is also a latent disrespect for people from the northeast or of indigenous descent that creeps into popular folklore and barstool humor, and tragically, becomes an occasional hate crime. The current government is taking strides to increase access to services by the poorer social classes through measures like quotas at state universities; these will benefit darker-skinned Brazilians and are widely-supported, but don't be surprised to hear affirmative action being criticized as "racist" by those who believe in a strictly merit-based selection mechanism.

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

Brasilia has a lot of fun architecture and monuments hidden throughout, and the city itself is a lesson in 1960's urban planning. Living there makes you feel like you are part of a bizarre and audacious social experiment, one that works quite well in fact, though not without flaws. If you stay in Brasilia long enough, you will come to decipher its logical yet complicated address system of cardinal directions and numbered Superblocks, and you will feel like you are some kind of code-breaking genius. Brasilia is surrounded by a fascinating natural biome called the "cerrado" where interesting plant and animal life abound, and small colonial towns like Pirenopolis and Cidade de Goias make for fun weekend getaways.

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

Go hiking at any of the many waterfalls within a 2-hour drive of Brasilia and recreate your own Tarzan-Jane moment.

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

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

The biggest advantage of being in Brasilia is that you are just one non-stop flight away from anywhere in Brazil. The Brasilia airport is easy to navigate and close to the city, and the airfare is affordable if bought in advance---although it very rarely reaches "discount" airfare prices. The weather in Brasilia is also a big plus---it feels like living in Palm Springs most of the year, with a four-month rainy season that leaves you feeling like you live in Miami.

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11. Can you save money?

Only by staying in during the week and not traveling on weekends, but where's the fun in that?

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a heartbeat.

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

GPS

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3. But don't forget your:

SPF 60

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Brasilia, Brazil 12/11/11

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

Washington, DC. One connecting flight in Atlanta or Florida, about fourteen hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months

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

US Embassy spouse

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is generally pretty good, although many singles and couples are stuck in miserable apartments with no outdoor space at all.

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

Sooo expensive. Everything here is pricey. A Barbie costs $50 (R$90). We go to CEASA(a farmer's market) on Saturdays for beautiful, reasonably-priced produce, but basically buy everything we can through the DPO.

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

We brought a trampoline and are happy we did. Anything you bring (especially outdoor furniture, bbq, etc) can be resold for what you paid for it or more.

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

None. There is a McDonalds, but no such thing as a "drive-thru". A big Mac costs R$15, about $10. This is find with us, as we never went to fast food in the states.

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

Moderate. Most stores have organic sections, but it's pricey. Haven't seen meat substitutes, but a vegetarian could do well here, despite the fact that Brazilians LOVE meat. There are plenty of grains and beans.

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

Ants, ants, ants. When the dry season switches to the rainy season, there is a plague of insects for several weeks. The occasional massive cockroach.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch

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

Maid, about R$85 ($50us) per day, gardener, r$90 (60 us per day. Very available, and we've been lucky with great household help

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

Yes, expensive.

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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?

We don't use ATMs, and try to use cash only. Occasionally we use debit cards at certain grocery stores.

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

Catholic, mormon

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

Cable is about what you pay in the us, a little more maybe

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

No one speaks English. We came with no portuguese, and it has been really hard in every way.

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

Not many sidewalks, and even hotels have very limited wheelchair access.

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Transportation:

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

We were advised not to use public transportation by the RSO

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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?

We brought a giant SUV, which is great for going out of town with the terrible roads, but miserable for city driving. Parking is very limited and the spaces are tiny.

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Phone & Internet:

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

In some areas, and it's sporadic. Similar to us prices

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

TIM

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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?

No, but customs is a nightmare.

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

Yes, both vets and kennels

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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?

Nope, and without portuguese, you're out of luck in the embassy, too. EFM jobs are scarce.

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

Work is business attire, public less so, but most Brazilians don't wear shorts, except for the kids. Brazilian women usually wear high heels.

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Health & Safety:

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

Robberies, home invasions, credit card theft, although we have never had a problem. We follow the RSO's guidelines and are very careful.

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

It seems okay, we have had limited experience. Dengue, sand fly bites which become infected easily. Lots of mosquitos.

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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?

The air quality is generally pretty good, except for in August/Sept. when it's so dry that fires are easily started and spread.

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

Rainy season and dry season. The dry season gets pretty miserable toward the end, when humidity levels can drop to 10%.

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Schools & Children:

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

My children attend EAB (American School of Brasilia). We have had a mixed experience with them, largely dependent on the teachers. Some are great, others are terrible. Communication between home and school is sporadic and terrible. That being said, our kids are really happy and have made some wonderful international friends.

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

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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, people seem happy with the preschools here.

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

Soccer, anyone? The American school has a variety of programs as well.

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty big. Brasilia is where all the embassies of the world for Brazil are located. We've met some wonderful expats here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good, depending on your outlook.

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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?

Lots of BBQs, and home parties

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

Very good for young families. For teenagers, there is not a lot to do here but go to parties, and Brazilians tend to hire bartenders to serve the kids alcohol. There is a LOT of teenaged drinking. I was told that Brazilians at EAB were very clicky, and that seems to be true in the younger grades, but the teenagers seem to all get along. My younger children have made no Brazilian friends, but many international ones.

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

I have a few gay friends here who seem pretty happy, but aren't into the club scene, so I can't comment on that.

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

It hasn't been my experience.

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

The weather, meeting new people, travel outside of Brasilia.

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

Leave town. Caldas Novas, a hot water resort town about four hours away, Pierenopolis, a quaint town with beautiful waterfalls, and a few other places within driving distance, but Brasilia has very few things to do here.

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

Hammocks

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

The weather is perfect. Rarely too hot, rarely cold at all. Low 70s to mid 80s usually. In the rainy season, it's more humid, but the rains cool everything down and don't usually last long.

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11. Can you save money?

No way.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, we love it here, despite not knowing the language yet(language has been the biggest obstacle). Brazilians love children and this is a wonderful family post.

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

Warm clothes and big car

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience and portuguese. Waiting in line is a national pasttime. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are a must. There is quite the birthday party circuit for kids, and gifts are expensive. I keep a stocked gift closet from the states.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Customs here is a nightmare. We did not get our UAB for three months and our HHE for four months. And that is considered average to good.

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Brasilia, Brazil 08/17/11

Background:

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

Tel Aviv, Sofia, Warsaw.

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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?

Washington. 15 hours to several days depending on the airline. There are real issues with the Delta city-pair. Avoid it if you can.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 months.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is great. No issues. I haven't seen a lot of the housing pool, but even the temporary apartment we were in for a week was great. The State Department hates swimming pools at houses, but here they seem to be fine with it. While there may be some bad housing here, I haven't seen it. I hear that there used to be games and inequities regarding the interaction with the housing board. I don't think the current management would tolerate that. Be honest and upfront on your questionnaire and I think you will be fine. Commutes are short and easy.

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

Expensive. You can find anything (except for sour cream), but it will cost you...dearly.

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

Anything with any significant cost you will want to ship or order from the US once you arrive. I cannot stress that enough. If it is imported into Brazil, do not buy it here. Local goods and services are reasonable.

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

The best fast food here comes from the food-by-the-kilo places. It is excellent and somewhat moderately priced. Also, they have all the McDonald's, Pizza Huts, Giraffas, etc. But, well, things are very expensive here and when you are spending real money on a meal, why would you go to them?

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

No issues. Specialty foods are widely available and well-marked.

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

Ants, but not so many that even a can or two of insecticide can't handle. Ask me again in the rainy season, as it may be different.

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Daily Life:

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

Both DPO and pouch. No issues. There were dreadful problems in the past getting mail cleared, but they have been fixed.

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

Moderate. Affordable. Easy to find.

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

Everywhere.

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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?

They will ding you on the foreign transfer charges, but that is worldwide. There is a Citibank at the embassy. Consider getting an account there.

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

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

Again, easy. Cable TV with news and entertainment in English (and local channels as well). I get my news on-line, but there are well-stocked newsstands around as well. Not an issue.

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

This is an interesting one. You need it, but it is one of the easiest languages in the world to learn. Your gardener, pool guy, many of your local staff, and almost all of your service providers will not speak English. Do a FAST course or Rosetta Stone if you don't get language training. I cannot imagine how much you would miss here without it. I did 14 weeks of classes, and found what I learned to be sufficient for non-professional discourse. If you hate language training (like I do) Portuguese is the language to learn!

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

Mixed. Non quite up to ADA standards, but ramps and such are most everywhere I visit.

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Transportation:

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

No.

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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?

Cars take a long time to get here. Any slight mistake on your paperwork gets multiplied exponentially by the Brazilian bureaucracy. Any car is a good car if you can actually get it back into your possession. Do note that gas is expensive here. There is a gas pump at the embassy, also expensive. Suspend reality and fill 'er up. A car is a must here. Rent one when you arrive.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Fast. Around the price in the US. The embassy helps you set it up. I bought the 5-meg package and benchmark 10-meg! It was set up in days, and they swung it from the temp apartment to the house in a day.

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

Easy. The embassy will help you, or just go to one of the many stores that sell SIM cards.

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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?

No.

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

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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?

Perhaps. Language would be a must.

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

A bit sharper than elsewhere, but just a bit. We see both suits and flip-flops worn at the embassy. I suspect the locals look aghast at how our people dress (sweat pants!) while we do the same to them (the dude was jogging in a Speedo!). Pack suits in your luggage, though. You'll need them right away for official events.

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Health & Safety:

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

None that I have seen.

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

We have a good MED unit, and we have good local hospitals.

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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?

Fine. People complain of dryness in the dry season, and wetness in the wet season. There is no industrial or car pollution whatsoever.

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

We have been here for a part of the Southern Hemisphere's winter. 80s everyday, no rain, brilliant blue skies. Paradise.

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Schools & Children:

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

Several, so you'll have choices. I don't use them, but I have heard no real complaints.

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

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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?

Montessori-type facilities or nannies, take your pick. There are enough options here that everyone should be delighted.

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

It may take some looking to find a fit, but you'll find what you are looking for.

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Expat Life:

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

Large. This is a government town.

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2. Morale among expats:

At our embassy, it is good. There were serious issues here before, but they have been addressed. You may hear those who have been here a while echo the past complaints, but things are trending positively.

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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?

Great restaurants and housing built for entertaining. Your calendar will be full.

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

Brasilia is always talked about as a great family post, and I would agree. For singles, I would suggest that you reach out to others at post and see what they say. All of the singles I know are delighted here.

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

I am not sure. I know the mission is very supportive (for example, winning major battles recently in getting same-sex partners on LES insurance).

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

I haven't seen them. That doesn't mean they are not there.

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

We have not been here too long. Rio is great. Haven't seen too much else as we have been enjoying Brasilia so much. Air travel is horridly expensive at the last minute, but cheap if you shop in advance.

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

My house is a resort. Patio, pool, etc. I haven't been out too much, as being home is so fun.

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

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

It is pleasant here...easy. Suburban bliss, even in the "city". Brasilia is foreign enough to be interesting, but "normal" enough to keep things drama-free.

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11. Can you save money?

Oddly, yes. Just don't buy expensive stuff on impulse (i.e., on the economy) and you'll be fine. Anything you want right away (TV, airline tickets, consumables), you will pay dearly for.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

perception that South America is inexpensive.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen and pool toys.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Brasilia is a great post. It has overcome the issues that you may have heard about in the past. That said, do be aware that it is expensive, and that the bureaucracy here takes a good deal of tolerance. So far, it seems worth it.

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Brasilia, Brazil 12/29/09

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

There are non-stop flights to DC from Sao Paulo and Rio, but not from Brasilia. It takes around 14 hours (with one stop) to get from Brasilia to DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years August 2007 to August 2009

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

spouse of State department officer

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The US Embassy provides houses for families in the Lago Sul area and apartments in both Asa Norte and Asa Sul. The houses are usually very big, with big back yards. Most have pools. They have at least 3 bedrooms and as many, or more, bathrooms. Apartments are usually very big (3/4 ample bedrooms) but some are quite dated. Asa Norte apartments are usually nicer, although they are farther from the embassy. We had one of the oldest houses of the embassy pool, but it was nicely updated. It was one of the smallest ones I've seen, and still it was 400 sq meters. The back yard was really nice (800 sq meters) with no pool, but plenty of space for the kids to have fun, and lots of trees (including banana, mango, and almond trees).

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

Supermarkets, such as Carrefour and Pao de Acucar, are well stocked and available in Lago Sul. For more items and some international items I'd go to Walmart in Asa Sul. Groceries, except for fruits, veggies, and meat, are much more expensive than in the US.

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

Baby/toddler/preschooler items (from diapers to toys -- particularly oversized toys that can't be shipped there) marinades, and Mexican food.

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

International fast food chains: McDonald's, Burger King, Dominos and Pizza Hut. Local fast food: Giraffas (burgers, grilled items, rice and beans), Habib's (arab food), Bob's (burgers). Prices are slightly higher than in the US. There are a lot of nice restaurants in town. I'd recommend Trattoria da Rosario (italian).

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

Ants, ants, ants. We didn't have them inside the house, but outside they were everywhere. They come in all sizes, and some of them can really bite!

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Daily Life:

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

The post has a DPO address (it had an APO until a few months ago). Things take longer to be delivered, but they do make it there. I lost only one package in 2 years.

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

Lots of domestic is help available, and most of them are very qualified and trustworthy. We had a maid/cook/baba (we loved her!) working at our house M-F from 8 to 6, for around US$450/month (including transportation and social security).

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

There are a lot of gyms. Women have branches of international gyms, such as Curves or Contours. The embassy has a pretty nice gym, too.

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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?

You can use credit cards and ATMs at most retailers.

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

Yes, there are some.

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

We had several channels on Direct TV in English (you were able to choose English as a SAP). The only true English-speaking channels were Fox News, CNN International, and BBC World.

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

A LOT! Unless you're going to spend your life inside the embassy and around goverment people, you need to know your Portuguese. Regular people at the grocery store and domestic help don't speak English. Even some people that claim to speak English don't.

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

A LOT! If trying to navigate a few blocks with a stroller is any indication, you'd be in very big trouble. Most sidewalks don't have ramps; many sidewalks have steps; and sometimes there's no sidewalk.

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Transportation:

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

Public transportation is affordable. However, other than taxis, the embassy recommends staying away from them.

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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?

You'll be ok with any US car. However, parking spaces are smaller in Brazil. We had our minivan there and had no problems.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, we had dsl. It was okay, although we went through several routers since they tend to burn due to the electric shocks on the telephone lines. The cost is higher than in the US.

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

Get a cheap pre-paid phone for local calls.

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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?

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

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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?

No.

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

It's a bit more relaxed than your typical K Street attire.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

The city is small and there's no pollution. However the air quality is pretty bad during the worst part of the dry season (July/August).

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

Not many. The houses come equiped with a high fence, bars on the windows and alarm. We also had a security patrol monitoring houses. However, the neighborhood was safe (I felt comfortable driving around and walking around with my kids) and there were few repots of break-ins.

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

Medical care is great. We had a great pediatrician, and the embassy has a great staff at the Health Unit.

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

By far one of the best things of this post is the weather. During the dry season lows are in the 60s while, highs are in the 70s. In the rainy season, lows are in the upper 60s and highs in the mid 80s.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most people from the embassy take their kids to the American School of Brasilia. I heard mixed comments about it, but have no first hand experience, since my kids were too young to attend.

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

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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?

There are several preschool options. Full-day daycare is usually at home with a 'baba'. Our kids attended a preschool, Centro Recreativo Infantil do Lago, CRIL. I can't say enough great things about this place. The teachers are just so caring, and the entire staff knows you and your kids as if you were part of the family. We paid around US$200 per kid (attending M-F 8 to noon). There are other great preschools, such as Maple Bear and Affinity Arts, and a Montessori preschool.

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

Yes, but I don't know much about them.

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Expat Life:

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

The embassy is pretty big, but other than that you don't find many expats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. The embassy organizes a lot of activities.

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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?

Almost none.

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

It's really good for families with very young children. There are not many things to do around town, so if your life is already confined to your house and a nearby playground, and if your life revolves around nap times, you'll be fine here. I wouldn't recomend this city for young couples, much less for single people.

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

Brazilians are very open and accepting, but other than that I can't really say much on the subject.

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

There are no racial tensions. However, the vast majority of rich people are white, while the majority of the poor are mixed.

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

Not a lot. After visiting the monuments and government buildings, there's not much else to do. You can take a weekend trip to Pirenopolis, a nice quiet town a few miles away. And I'm pretty sure it's great for hiking -- I'm just not the hiking type. Although air travel is expensive, I'd recommend visiting some beach towns, such as Rio, Recife (and nearby Porto de Galinhas) or Salvador (and nearby Praia do Forte).

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

Lots of local art and great tropical fruits.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a heartbeat.

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

winter gear (unless you want to visit Argentina or Chile), coffee, and fruit preserves.

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3. But don't forget your:

kids items and toys (they are super-expensive). Mexican condiments.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Before going, browse CVS.com, drugstore.com, and netgrocer.com. If there's something you can't live without and you don't find it there, pack it in your HHE, because it'll be hard to find anywhere else.

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Brasilia, Brazil 11/04/09

Background:

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

No, I also lived in Germany.

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2. How long have you lived here?

From August 2007 to August 2008.

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

Canadian government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From Canada - Toronto to Sao Paolo to Brasilia is the fastest but there's a really long layover in Sao Paulo (think 10 hours) and the flights are not connected as they are not partner airlines.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Commute times for Canadian dips are great. The longest is about 20 minutes by car (public transport not an option). Most are in houses that are larger than Canadian homes, with yards and pools. The apartments are less nice, though. Hot water is not standard in Brazil!

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

I really missed sour cream, as it was available only once in our year there. Luckily I bought extra and froze it for later.

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

Diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, toys, sun screen, electronics, bras (no cup sizes here, and you can't try on white ones before buying), bathing suits (skimpy here).

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

Yes, but there is no ethnic variety.

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

Ants, ants, and more ants. My toddler would drop crumbs on our patio and within minutes the entire patio would have lines of ants criss-crossing it all trying to get the crumbs. Incredible really.

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Daily Life:

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

We used the dip bag which was slow but reliable.

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

Readily available and affordable. They don't speak English, though.

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

Everyone runs around in very skimpy attire (speedo anyone?). The city park is full of runners, joggers, walkers, roller bladers, and so on.

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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?

I was always scared and on alert when I used an ATM, but nothing ever happened to me. Several colleagues at the embassy had credit and/or debit cards cloned while we were there, though.

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

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

We had more English-language stations on TV here than in Germany -- if you can believe it.

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

I knew very little and survived; but surviving is not living. The more you know, the better -- as it reduces anxiety, allows you to make better friends, etc.

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

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Transportation:

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

I used a taxi a few times without problem. I wouldn't use local buses or trains. Our housekeeper came and went via bus and had many stories of the entire bus being robbed and/or those waiting for the bus.

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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?

Car taxes are outrageous (100% of car value!) but dips can import a car duty free. If they sell it during the first 3 years, the tax man comes collecting though (100% tax if sold in first year, 75% in second and under 50% in third). Note this is the car's year, not your year, so if you arrive in August but your car comes in January (like what happened to us) the year isn't up until the following January. That said, if you stay past this 3-year time, you can make money IF your car is foreign (i.e. not Brasilian) but common here (i.e., parts are available).

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. We had a plan for phone, cable TV and internet that was reliable and, if I remember right, cost just over 100$CAD a month.

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

I'd get one, as you feel safer if you can call in a time of need, especially if you don't speak Portuguese (as you may need a translator). However, it also makes you a target for mugging. Keep it out of sight.

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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?

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

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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?

No.

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

Fairly casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

good

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

None on a yearly basis.

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

Yes.

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

Not bad. I was pregnant here and found an English-speaking OBGYN for prenatal care. She was good but used very old technology. Listened to heart rate on a monitor that didn't count the beats so she used her experience to know if it sounded right. I did have 3 ultrasounds, though, and that clinic had more advanced technology -- but not 3D. I would be scared to give birth here, though, as they do over 80% c-sections and so few doctors know how to deliver vaginally. And pain medication (i.e. epidural) is almost not heard of -- never mind available.

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

The dry season is very dry and some have headaches from not drinking enough, but my family was ok. The rainy season sounds worse than it is - it pours for an hour or two a day and that's it.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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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?

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

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Expat Life:

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

Sizable.

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2. Morale among expats:

Decent.

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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?

It is what you make of it. I've heard many horror stories about bars/night clubs, though, so I would stay away from them (muggings when you leave, etc). It is also VERY expensive to travel around Brazil, as the vast distances require you to fly and flights are very expensive. Brasilia is isolated geographically.

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

That depends on your personality more than anything. You need to make friends or you will be very lonely and isolated. The social scene centres around restaurants (all are very child friendly and many will watch your kids while you eat in peace!) and home around the pool and BBQ.

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

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

There is one english-speaking non-denominational church that we attended. I believe it calls itself baptist but so many expats from all donominations attend that it didn't feel baptist. It was a bit crowded as the building was too small for the people. It has a good sunday school program and weekly bible studies. As for prejudices, they exist. Certainly there are classes, and generally whites are in the higher class than blacks.

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

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

Not much. We bought a few good hammocks for cheap.

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9. Can you save money?

We did. But we save everywhere, as we are frugal homebodies

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

watch. Nothing happens fast or on time here.

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3. But don't forget your:

appettite for meat. Brazilians love meat of all kinds and know how to BBQ it. Go to a churrascaria ("le porcao" is the preferred meat) where you sit down and waiters keep bringing skewers/platters of every type of delicacy (beef of all sorts, sausages of all sorts, fish, chicken, pork... )and all of it is succulent.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Brasilia, Brazil 06/19/09

Background:

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

Yes

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2. How long have you lived here?

2007-2009

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

Foriegn Service

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Miami to Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

GOV: If you have a family of three or more you are assigned a big house, and most of the houses have a pool and a big yard. Others stay in apartments that are very big, and some of them have pools. The average commute to work is 15 minutes. There is hardly any traffic here in Brasilia.

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

Okay.

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

Humidifiers for the dry season.

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

McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza, and other Brazilian fast food. The prices are similar to those in the U.S.

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

Ants in the house not a big problem.

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Daily Life:

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

APO

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

Full-time maids get an average of US$350 and up per month.

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

Plenty

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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?

Okay in Brasilia.

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

Brasilia International Baptist is all in english, and a Catholic church here gives Mass once a week in english.

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

English on TV and at movie theaters.

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

Language is necessary. You can get by if you speak spanish.

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

None

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Transportation:

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

Safe and affordable.

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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 kind for the city, but if you take road trips, the roads can get rugged.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. Same as in U.S.

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

No

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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)?

Good

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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?

They are hard to find, and you must speak portuguese.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

Crime in Brasilia is very low compared to Rio, Sao Paulo, and Recife. In the past year we had a couple of homes that were burglarized.

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

No concerns, medical care is good.

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

Like living in South Florida. Two seasons, dry and rainy. Dry season is June - October and rainy season November - May.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most of the kids attend either Brasilia International (BIS) or Brasilia American school (EAB) with about 600 students (about 80 Americans) mostly rich Brazilian kids and other international kids. The school was failing before I arrived, but has made a 180 degree turn around over the past four years. I have kids in pre-K, K, and 5th grade.

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

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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?

The preschool we used was all Portuguese and only half a day. The American school accept kids 3 years and up.

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

Yes

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Expat Life:

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

Medium size.

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2. Morale among expats:

Families: good.

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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?

The kids always have play dates or parties to go to. There nice resturants and clubs here.

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

Very good for families. Some singles here have a hard time.

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

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

No

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

Public parks, a amusement park, camping, waterfalls near-by, a hot springs park in driving distance, etc.

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

Cristals

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9. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, my family doesn't want to leave.

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

coats, but bring your light jackets for dry/winter season.

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3. But don't forget your:

toys for birthday gifts. Toys, shoes, and elctronics are expensive here.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

City of God

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Brasilia, Brazil 08/22/08

Background:

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

In a number of other Latin American cities.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Either somewhat mediocre apartments and very nice houses. Unfortunately, this fosters a two-class system. Many incoming employees lie about family members in order to get a house, sad to say. Commutes are generally reasonable.

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

About 30 percent more than in the U.S. at a 1.6 : 1 exchange rate.

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

Send any liquids you will need with HHE. You can´t get them through the pouch or APO. Things like Listerine are very expensive here.

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

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Daily Life:

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

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

Around US$600 per month full-time, or US$40 per day.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Works well.

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

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

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

Without Portuguese, your life is very limited. Spouses should seriously consider taking the FSI course, if possible. Contrary to what many Hispanic Americans seem to believe, Spanish is less useful than English (and English is not useful).

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

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

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

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3. 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?

Buy a locally produced Civic or Corolla, unless your family is really big. You get to drive a new car and can sell for what you pay 2-3 yrs later. Selling imported cars is possible but this works best if you stay in country for 4 yrs due to tax issues.

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Phone & Internet:

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

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

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

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Pets:

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

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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?

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

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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

There are house burglaries sometimes. The embassy has a good security network.

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

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

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Schools & Children:

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

A so-so American school. It reached a low-point several years ago and has been crawling back to respectability.

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

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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 not much savings over U.S. prices with this exchange rate.

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

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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?

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

Families, yes. Singles should avoid this post like the plague, in my opinion.

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

Brazilians are very tolerant.

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

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

Lots of sports opportunities and there are plenty of restaurants.

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

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9. Can you save money?

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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