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

Personal Experiences from Recife, Brazil

Recife, Brazil 08/10/20

Background:

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

Prior to this, I have lived overseas in the Azores; Seoul, South Korea; Abuja, Nigeria; and Vienna, Austria.

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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 is DC. The typical flight route is DC direct to Sao Paulo, with a 4-hour layover where you need all of that time to check in to your domestic flight (it's a pain), then direct to Recife. Under normal circumstances, there are tons of flights connecting through SP or Rio to many destinations. There are a couple of Brazilian carriers who flight direct to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando (the Disney pilgrimage is very real).

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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.)?

US Consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Beach front apartments are the norm. There are some other nice areas to live, but for those who have kids in the American School or CIEC (more on both of these later), the commute balance makes the most sense from Boa Viagem.

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

Overall readily available and very cheap. The range and quality of fresh fruits is pretty darn spectacular.

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

Protein bars, diapers, and carpet shampoo.

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

You can use iFood or Rappi to order a wide variety of food types and even groceries. There are lots of very good restaurants, only a couple of great ones. No surprise, the vast majority of restaurants are Brazilian. Recife is known for its excellent seafood, although some Brazilians will tell me that churrasco is better in the south. Good Italian, good sushi, decent Peruvian, passable Mexican (sometimes), and passable Chinese are readily available. There have been a growing number of vegan options (I'm not an expert on the quality), including ice cream (which is pretty good).

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

Sometimes you can get these little annoying insects in your pantry in anything boxed or sometimes in bags. You have to be vigilant to make sure they don't get into everything else (just check once a week to see if you have any). Dengue fever is in Brazil, but I personally haven't noticed too many mosquitoes.

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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 & DPO - the former is faster than the latter, typically taking about two weeks.

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

Very cheap in general, though if you employ someone full time, you have to be compliant with local labor law on certain benefits.

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

Plenty available and of decent quality - they are typically very popular with Brazilians.

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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 commonly used; even delivery guys come with their card reader. You generally want to use an ATM associated with a known bank, and ATMs inside gas stations are generally OK if they're tied to a known bank. If you don't recognize the bank, don't use it.

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

I'm not aware of any.

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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?

It is essential. Additionally, the Pernambucan dialect can be nearly incomprehensible. I once went to a mechanic and I could not even tell what language he was speaking. I went to another one: I understood every word he said. Some of our Consular officers develop a real knack for Pernambucano.

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

Probably as not much seems ADA compliant.

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Transportation:

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

I have only taken taxis and Ubers, and they are generally very safe. Uber is shockingly cheap.

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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?

Something with a high clearance but not too big would be ideal. During rainy season, flooding can happen maybe 2-3 times where it's about 1-2 feet deep. CR-V/RAV4 size tends to be ideal, though there are plenty of SUVs that are more of the Honda Pilot/Toyota Forerunner size. Parts are generally available for the usual suspects. There is a Jeep plant in the area.

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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. If you have your CPF (Brazilian national ID) before you come to Brazil, you can have someone set up your home internet and local cell phone service via the Web and be at your place to have it set up before you arrive. Both are pretty cheap: I think I pay maybe about $65 total per 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?

The least bad service is Claro/Net, but their customer service can be awful if you have to deal with a human being. The best customer service is Vivo (which I have), but I think the cell phone coverage and WiFi is a little lesser than what you get with Claro. Don't even think of the other providers (Oi, 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?

Veterinary care here is excellent. That said, transport of any animal that can't go in cabin with you is incredibly expensive. If you have a snub-nose dog, do not be surprised if you have to fly your dog from the US to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Rio or SP, then to Recife. That said, plenty of people (including myself) have done it and made it work.

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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?

If you're going to work in Brazil, you have to have the right kind of visa that allows you to work. With the Consulate, there are a handful of jobs for family members, but there usually doesn't seem to be much demand (though I have seen that this can flex at times). Several spouses telework to the US without any problems.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of opportunities, if you speak Portuguese.

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

Generally business casual in all settings except for official government interactions.

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Health & Safety:

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

I think that these have been grossly overstated by some in the past, and I've seen the crime stats to support it. When I first arrived, I was under the impression that I couldn't even walk outside much in my neighborhood, but I have not felt threatened at all since I've been here. That said, you should still follow the general advice in Brazil to never go outside with visible jewelry and lots of valuables. I usually go out with a 20 real bill in my pocket just in case.

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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 is quite good here and very inexpensive. Although not all doctors speak English, there are quite a few who do.

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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 very good, though allergies (pollen) have been a seasonal issue for me here.

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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)?

What's winter?

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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 average high tends to range 82-87, with the average low about 72-77. There's a rainy season, but even then, we still get lots of sunshine. One thing that is weird is how early the sun comes up. For some crazy reason, this huge country is on one time zone: since we are the eastern most point of the country, we tend to see sunrise regularly before 5am.

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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 is an American School here (Escola Americana do Recife) that historically, from what I can tell, hasn't been great. That said, the most recent superintendent seems to have made lots of improvements, and it appears to be continuing under the new superintendent.

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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. EAR offers preschool, but CIEC offers what appears to be a better program for half the price. Most of the Consulate parents send their toddlers to CIEC for preschool.

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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 small; morale generally seems to be pretty good. Within the Consulate, it is clear there were issues with morale in the past. We now have a very good crew, and morale has improved dramatically. Having quality people here is imperative.

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

My impression is that it's a good place for everyone. If you have kids, you will instantly become friends with all of the parents in your kids' classes. For singles, this also appears to be pretty good, whether you're male or female, straight or gay. Several people have come here single and left here married.

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

I think it is in general, though homophobia is still an issue in many parts of Brazil. My impression is that it's better in the big cities overall.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Brazilians are very friendly, but you definitely need the Portuguese to communicate.

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

I've enjoyed visiting different part of Brazil and seeing several of the excellent beaches in the area.

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

Lots of beaches. In normal times, one can fly to Fernando de Noronha very easily from here; it's often considered to have the best beach in the world. Then there's this thing called Carnaval - not sure if you've heard of it... ;) Recife is reputed to have one of the best Carnaval experience in Brazil, along with Rio and Salvador.

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

There are some neat items available.

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

If you have low Vitamin D, this place will take care of it for you. Brazilians are lovely, the weather is spectacular, and the beaches are great.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How small it would feel to me. I've gotten used to living in big, cosmopolitan cities. This city is pretty big, but it feels like a small town.

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

I'm glad I've lived here, but the world is a big place and I'm itching to see more. Most people do love it here.

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

Winter clothes, toxic workplace attitude.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, towel, and patience with driving.

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Recife, Brazil 06/22/14

Background:

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

No, previously lived in Mexico City.

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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?

From here to Washington D.C., there is a direct flight to Miami, then connecting on to D.C., takes about 12 hours. To other points in the U.S. (such as for R&R) it can take considerably longer due to the fact that the only direct flight to the U.S. goes through Miami.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years, 2012-2014.

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

U.S. 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?

Consulate housing is all apartments, along Boa Viagem beach. Apartments are generally spacious, but bedrooms are small, and kitchens generally have little counter space, so just not always the best use of space. Most of us, but not all, have beach views. From the north end of the beach, the commute is 15-30 minutes most days. Many people live on the south end, and their commute is a bit longer. Traffic can be a problem, and if you leave the office at the wrong time, be prepared to sit for a while trying to get home. Consulate hours are different than the rest of the mission to let employees out ahead of the worst traffic.

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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 about the same price if not a bit more expensive than in D.C. You can find most things, but don't expect to find lots of American brands (and the ones you do are expensive). Produce selection is inconsistent - lots of great fruits to try, but less vegetable variety. I personally don't like the taste of most cheeses here. You might bring some of your own spices - we brought dried chilies, salsas, curry pastes, etc.

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

Mosquitoes, and dengue is a problem.

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Daily Life:

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

Plenty of gyms to choose from, but they are expensive, at around US$90-120/month.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Any international credit card should work, we haven't had any problems. Cloning can be an issue, but no more so than anywhere else I have been.

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

Learn Portuguese if you can - there are not many English speakers, and you will also make more friends if you speak the language.

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

Mobility would be a problem for someone with a physical disability - sidewalks are inadequate, etc.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable, we are discouraged from using public transport.

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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 CR-V and were very happy with it. Low clearance vehicles can be a problem on the few days it floods during the year. Parking garages are small, so I wouldn't advise a large SUV.

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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 really. It is hard to find employment on the local economy for a variety of reasons. Getting a work permit is not that hard, but finding a job as a foreigner is more difficult.

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

Business casual attire at work most of the time (too hot for suits!) and casual around town.

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Health & Safety:

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

Street crime and crimes of opportunity are common. Crime in Recife has improved over the past several years, and it's not anything that will keep you from enjoying your favorite activities - just use common sense and don't walk around carrying valuables you aren't willing to lose.

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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?

Health care is actually pretty good. Recife is a hub for the medical industry in Brazil, so it has decent facilities.

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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 - there is always a nice breeze off the sea. The sewer system is inadequate though, so sometimes you can really smell the sewage just walking around the city. People with mold allergies might have problems.

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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?

Hot, humid, but not uncomfortably hot most of the time - rarely gets above 90 or below 75/80 degrees (F). During rainy season it can rain a lot, from about May-July. But even then it doesn't rain every day, or all day most of the time.

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Expat Life:

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

Small - the U.S. consulate is the largest in town. Others include the British, Argentine, Italian, Japanese, a Chinese consulate is just now opening, and a few others, but it is a very small expat community. Morale at the consulate is mixed, but pretty good. My husband and I are very happy here.

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

Great for families (Brazilians love kids and they can go just about anywhere!) and couples (my case). I came here with my husband, and we both love it. It seems more difficult for singles. It is a lot of fun living here once you have a group of friends, but it can be slow to establish that group, and Brazilians can be very clique-ish, so in the mean time it can be a hard adjustment for singles. The northeast is still a very traditional culture, and dating can be surprisingly difficult for an outsider.

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

Yes, while some harassment exists, in general, the culture is very tolerant and open.

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

Subtle racism exists, and there are many who still have traditional views on gender roles. That said, Brazil is a very diverse country and does better than many other cultures at accepting different races/religions. Women generally work, similar to in the U.S.

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

We were fortunate to be here during the World Cup, so that was a special experience. Other highlights have been checking out the different carnival celebrations, which vary by city, and just exploring the coastline.

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

Take your car out and go exploring! There are lots of fun places, just drive up or down the coast. Porto de Galinhas is the famous beach town nearby, but we find it overcrowded and not worth the hype. We prefer other quieter spots like Carneiros and Muro Alto for something nearby. Olinda is close and worth checking out, as is Gravata. Farther out, we've had great times in Natal/Pipa, Fortaleza and the area around it, Fernando de Noronha (and island, so you have to fly), etc.

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

Just the vastness of the country. It would take much longer than two years to truly explore Brazil. There are many, many fabulous beaches, but also interesting trips to places in the interior. The people are also warm and friendly - great hosts. The weather is generally good - rainy season can be a drag, and it floods in the city, but most of the time the weather is pleasant, and not too hot.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, definitely. I would also go back to Brazil, but next time to a different post to explore a different region...it's such a huge country you can't see it all, and we just really focused on the northeast.

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

Expectations that this is Rio or Sao Paulo - Recife has a small town feel and attitude.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

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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?

The Seamstress: A Novel and

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey.

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Recife, Brazil 01/04/11

Background:

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

No, have lived in Mozambique with US Government.

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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. 2 1/2 hours to Miami then 8 hours to Salvador, then 1 hour to Recife.

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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 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?

Mostly high-rise apartments. The US Government mostly leases 4-5 bedroom apartments in southern Boa Viagem right across from the beach. The apartments have terraces with ocean view, a small gym, a children's playground, and a pool. There are a few apartments in Pina as well. The Boa Viagem commute is 15-20 minutes in the morning and 30-60 in the afternoon. From Pina it's 10 minutes in the morning and 15-20 in the afternoon.

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

There are two grocery stores within walking distance and a few others within a 5-10 minute drive. The quality of fruits and vegetables is inconsistent, milk is the long-life boxed kind, cheese selection is small, and yogurt is runny. Other than that, you can mostly find what you need. We spend at least what we did (and often more) per month than we did in Washington DC.

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

You can find pretty much anything you need, but we definitely miss certain ethnic foods (Mexican, Thai, Indian).

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

US fast food includes McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Subway, and Applebee's. There are lots of places that are self-service where you pay by the pound that are quite good and within $10. A few other Brazilian fast food places like Habib's (Arabic) and Bob's (Hamburgers) are cheap and not bad.

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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?

Some of the bigger stores (including Sam's club) have a larger selection of these items, although they tend to be more pricy.

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

Mosquitoes are an issue - some carry dengue.

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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 comes once a week (sometimes it slips to two) and takes 2-3 weeks to send and receive 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?

Available, but can be suprisingly difficult to find good help. Minimum wage is 510 reais, but most families pay several hundred more per month for full-time help (approximately $300-500). You will also pay a 13th month at the end of the year and make contributions to social security if you hire full-time.

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

There are small gyms in the Boa Viagem apartments, and I've seen larger gyms throughout the city.

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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?

Banco de Brasil and HSBC seem to work fine. Most restaurants and stores take international credit cards as well. There have been some cases of consulate workers having numbers stolen.

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

I am unaware of any English-language services, but there is a wide variety of denominations. All major Christian religions are here: Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, and Evangelical as well as a Jewish temple.

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

English newspapers and magazines are hard to find outside of airports. However, cable-tv packages do offer English channels. We have Sky and it comes with some 10 English channels (including 1 for children). We pay $80/month.

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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?

There is very little English here, so even a basic understanding of Portuguese will be beneficial.

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

Aside from the sidewalk along the beach, most sidewalks in the city are not pedestrian friendly and would create difficulties for someone with physical disabilities. I have also not seen many buildings with wheelchair access.

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Transportation:

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

US Government personnel are not permitted to take public transport; however, taxis are permitted, plentiful, and fairly cheap. From the Boa Viagem apartments to the Consulate is roughly $15 one-way.

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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 cars tend to dominate and are preferable for several reasons: gas prices are high and parking places are small. That said, you would not be out of place in an SUV or minivan. There are lots of places, including many foreign dealerships: Honda, Nissan, Ford, etc., here to service your car).

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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?

GVT - the newest service offers 15mb but has been slow to react to demand for their product. Oi and Hotlink are other options and have up to 8mb and 1mb repsectively. Packages range from $50-$100/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?

The consulate provides staff with cell phones. Otherwise, there are lots of plans and they are relatively cheap.

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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?

Not really - a few NGOs, some language institutes, and the American school. The US consulate currently has one full-time consular job.

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

The city is fairly casual. Work tends to be shirt and tie.

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Health & Safety:

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

The US Government classifies the city as a critical crime threat. I have heard stories of street muggings and car thefts. Several favelas (shantytowns) are right next to other neighborhoods and that means you do have be on guard, especially at night. Probably should avoid any jewelry that draws too much attention.

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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?

At least one member of my family is sick nearly every week - mostly allergy symptoms. This is not limited to expats as many Brazilian colleagues suffer similar illnesses. Dengue can be an issue as well. Medical care is generally good - most seem satisfied with doctors, pediatricians, and dentists.

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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?

Unhealthy - despite the proximity to the ocean, the city is quite polluted from all the bus and car exhaust.

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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?

Generally hot and sunny from October-May with temperatures ranging from 85-100F. Heavy rains for hours a day from June-September, but temperatures remaining about the same. Nights are a bit cooler.

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Schools & Children:

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

The American School has had issues in the past and nearly lost their accreditation. I believe they are still on probation. There are only a few Americans currently in the school, but it appears to have made some strides since going on probation. One issue I hear is that there are few native English speakers and that Portuguese dominates outside the classroom. The school is a 5-10 minute drive from the Boa Viagem apartments.

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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?

Our pre-school aged children go to a private Brazilian school using the Montessori method. There are a few international children and we are pleased with the facilities and the teaching methods so far. I know of a few families that send their children to a different Brazilian preschool that they are very happy with as well - seem to be a variety of good choices in the pre-school market.

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

Our children's school has soccer, basketball, judo, swimming, and ballet.

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Expat Life:

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

Small. The diplomatic community includes the US, Germany, Argentina, Venezuela, Italy, Portugal, Japan, and France for a total of about 25 diplomatic families. There is a small NGO community too, but in general the expat community is dispersed and there are few efforts to bring expats together.

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2. Morale among expats:

Average - the beach helps. However, the city is very spread out, traffic dreadful, and there really isn't much to do inside the city proper.

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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?

Good restaurants offering mostly regional cuisine, lots of bars, and dance clubs. The beach. Other than that, in-home entertaining.

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

I would say it's great for singles and couples with the beach, variety of dining options, and a healthy night-life. For families it's a mixed bag. The beach is a positive, but there are very few parks within walking distance and many parks are not safe. The shopping malls have movie theaters with the latest movies and game areas for kids as well. All in all, the city is sprawled out making it difficult to get around very easily.

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

There are obvious prejudices, but I have not heard about any overt violence against gays.

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

The Northeast is very traditional and men dominate in almost every forum. That said, there are no real racial, religious, or gender prejudices.

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

The UNESCO World Heritage city of Olinda with tons of well-preserved colonal buildings; the beautiful beach town of Porto de Galinhas.

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

The beach in Boa Viagem; Porto de Galinhas, Pipa, Natal, and Joao Pessoa are also nice beach towns within 1-4 hours drive. The island paradise of Fernando de Noronha is a few hours flight from Recife. The colonial city of Olinda is beautiful, and there are a few cities in the interior of Pernambuco that are nice to visit to get out of the city. For everything else: Amazon, Rio, Sao Paulo, Salvador - you must fly.

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

There are some nice local handicrafts - art, woodwork, linens, hammocks.

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

Living in Brazil, literally on the beach. Close proximity to some of the best beaches in Brazil as well as other interesting cities all within a few hours drive.

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11. Can you save money?

Maybe. Travelling anywhere and eating out regularly will definitely inhibt the ability to save money.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Maybe, but leaning no. Brazil is a great place and the people are warm and accommodating. But the American school is still climbing back and that would be a factor for families with school-aged families. We were also surprised at how expensive things are and the difficulties of saving money are real. The lack of opportunities for spousal employment is another factor.

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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:

Beach gear, suncreen, toys under $10 if you have kids - there seems to be a birthday party every week here.

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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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