Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 10/05/19

Background:

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

No, we have also lived in South America and Asia.

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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 Coast: USA 24 hours of travel to get home.

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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?

Beautiful apartment on a quiet street, old but nice. Close walk to beach, stores, restaurants, etc.

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

Excellent vegetables and fruits available all year, groceries are equal to if not more expensive than the US.

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

Not much, you can basically get most items you want. If you want kid snacks from the States you will have to purchase those. We just bought local and were fine.

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

Pizza delivery is common, otherwise restaurants in Rio aren't really take out or delivery oriented. (you pay for to go containers). Rio is more a sit and eat, take your time restaurant environment.

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

None.

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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?

Readily available recommended to NOT hire full-time due to local laws and regulations. We have part-time help.

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

Many gyms available and quite expensive, around US $125/month.

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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?

Widely accepted, fairly safe to use if they bring the credit card machine to the table. Don't let your card be taken out of your sight.

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

No idea...

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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?

Very few Brazilians speak English. Best to learn Portuguese. Classes are available but I have no idea the cost.

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

Yes, the city is not disability friendly Sidewalks are small rocks/bricks, easy to trip on, tons of tree roots, holes, etc. Not easy at all for someone with a physical disability.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, 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?

We have a car at post and it helps at times but isn't necessary.

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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 available, takes around 3-4 weeks to get...

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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?

Use a local provider, it is cheap and fairly good service.

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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?

Very much. People from rio LOVE their pets, particularly dogs. Restaurants have dog water bowls everywhere and people love talking about their dogs.

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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?

Local salaries are low...most partners don't work or just volunteer. Brazil is difficult to work in the local economy if you are not fluent in Portuguese.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Kind of...not a lot.

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

Beach casual: formal dress is never required unless going to a wedding.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, lots of muggings, robberies, etc. You have to be aware at all times of your surroundings.

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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 are is good, not excellent but good. Dentistry is good.

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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?

Lots of mold due to humidity issues. Restaurants in Rio won't pay much attention to your allergies even if you tell them what your allergy is. It might be a "tudo bem" and yet you still receive the item you that will cause you an allergic reaction.

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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)?

None that I am aware of.

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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 almost all year long, January and February are miserable, the rest of the year is lovely. Some "cold" weather in the summer months (winter in Brazil) June, July & August.

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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 children attend the American School (EARJ), and in my opinion, it is the worst educational experience they have ever had. Due to our children mostly Brazilian teachers, and nearly 80% (my understanding) of the students being Brazilian, the common language at the school is Portuguese. Many classes (PE, sometimes math, etc.) are taught in Portuguese so that the majority of students can understand the curriculum.

The school is located right next to Rocinha, the largest favela (shanty town) in the city, and it even has bulletproof windows. The school was closed last year for 4 days following fighting between the cops and gangs (with a shooting) on campus one evening. Every school bus has a guard on it to ensure safety, and I could go on and on about the issues I have with the school.  If you have younger children EARJ is probably ok for you, middle school and above I do not think should go to EARJ.   The school was also closed last year for 4 days following fighting between the cops and gangs (with a shooting) on campus one evening. Every school bus has a guard on it to ensure safety, and I could go on and on about the issues I have with the school. If you have younger children EARJ is probably ok for you, middle school and above I do not think should go to EARJ.

There is a British school and a German school but they are a bit of a drive from housing.

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

EARJ says they have a special needs program but in speaking to the staff, they I really don't think they do . They might give your child extra time on a test, but that is about it. I should say that my children did not require the special needs program, but I had a friend whose children received services from the school and the services were quite limited.

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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?

Preschools are available in Portuguese, they are pricey but nice. No after school care provided at EARJ due to safety concerns with the favela. After school activities and weekend activities are often canceled due to gun shots being fired.

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

Yes, swimming at local clubs, martial arts, beach volleyball, etc. Lots of activities for children. Brazil is a very child-oriented country.

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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 but disconnected.

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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 would recommend joining a gym, or a beach class, etc. Brazilians are extremely warm and friendly people who given time will become a fabulous social group for you and your family.

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

Excellent for singles and couples, ok for families. The school is the biggest negative for us and not sustainable for when our children get to middle school.

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

Excellent for LGBT. Large gay community in Rio. The current mayor is horrible, but hopefully the times are changing...

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

It is relatively easy. Brazil is still fairly racist (read some interesting articles as they say they are not), but people with darker skin are definitely not treated the same as people with light skin. My partner is darker skinned, I am fair, the treatment is definitely different.

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

Stated above...racism is the issue Brazil doesn't want to discuss in my experience.

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

Beach, northeast, Paraty, Tirar Dentes excellent travel within Brazil while you live here.

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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, items are expensive and not much that is appealing for purchase. Some gemstones if you travel inland.

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

Beach lifestyle, walking lifestyle, relaxed, clean air, friendly people.

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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 we had known how bad we would find the American School to be.... we wouldn't have bid on this post had we had known.

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

No because of the school. We love Rio, but the school makes the post a negative for us.

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

Fancy clothes and nice jewelry.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen and patience!

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 09/19/19

Background:

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

No. I've lived in a variety of locations around the world.

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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?

Midwest US; 9-12 hours; connections through Houston, Atlanta, or Miami. Travel to/from Rio is easy. The top 3 US airlines all fly there, as do many of the large European airlines.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two to three 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?

Housing is phenomenal. Our apartment was very large, very near the beach, and very near the Metro. Of course, you will get people who complain about anything. So, if you think housing will suck in Rio, then housing will suck in Rio. If you think housing will be good in Rio, housing will be good in Rio.

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

You can buy all of the necessities in Rio. Some people would ship in virtually everything, and I don't understand why as all the basics are readily available. It might be a brand with which you are not familiar, so you might have to use something other than Charmin. You might not be able to buy chocolate chips, but you can make your own; buy Meio Amargo chocolate bars and chop them into chunks.

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

Peanut butter. You can purchase peanut butter in Brazil, but Brazilian peanut butter is very different. There are some stores that occasionally have limited selections of American peanut butter (and other American products such as pancake syrup), but not always.

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

Food snobs will probably disagree, but I think the selection is good. Good Italian food; good Portuguese food. Brazilian beef is phenomenal; go to Garota de Ipanema for picanha. Brazilian hamburgers are very good.

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

Unusual? Given that Rio is in the tropics, no.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch/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?

Teenagers satisfy this requirement.

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

Walk along the beach. No need for a gym.

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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?

Some people will tell you that 'everybody gets their credit card or debit card cloned'. Not so. Credit cards are very safe to use. All of the large Metro stations have ATMs, and they are relatively safe. Not all ATMs in all banks will accept US debit cards; you might have to check around. It is best to do cash withdrawals during the day, and not at night.

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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.

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

No.

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Transportation:

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

Metro is safe and reliable. Buses are driven like bumper cars; be wary. Buses have been known to run red lights.

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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?

Do not bring a large car. You will normally not need a car within the city, but it's helpful to get out of the city. And do get out of the city.

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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?

Getting internet installed is easier than getting it turned off. We had a pretty good internet/cable package for less than $100USD/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?

Vivo. They offer a package with five SIM cards for a family; we paid about $150-200USD/month, and never ran out of data.

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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?

Brazilians LOVE dogs. You will see dogs groomed better than their owners.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Make your own. Find a children's home or shelter. Clean a beach. Volunteer to teach English.

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

Top hat and tails would be overdoing it, but a LOT of Brazilians wear Havaianas everywhere.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. There is danger. Keep your head on a swivel at all times.

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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?

Use bug spray.

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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?

Hot and humid. In the winter, it might drop to the 60s. Briefly. If it gets down to the 70s, Cariocas start wearing hats and scarves.

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Schools & Children:

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

EARJ - good.

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

You can learn capoeira.

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Expat Life:

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

Fair number of expats, primarily in the oil industry.

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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?

Meet people. Talk to them.

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

Yes.

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

Picanha. Caipirinhas.

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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:

Mukluks.

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3. But don't forget your:

Shorts.

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 04/19/19

Background:

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

No, I've also lived and worked in Germany, Poland, Sweden, India, and South Africa.

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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?

Chicago, which is a fairly easy 12 hours with one connection through New York, Miami, Atlanta, or Houston

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three 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?

My housing was fantastic. I had a three bedroom apartment 20 yards from the beach with views of the beach and Christo Redentor/Corcovado. it was too big for me, but I suffered through it. After construction on the Metro was completed, my commute door-to-door was 40 minutes.

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

Zona Sul is all over Rio proper and Pao de Acucar is bigger, but less prevalent. Produce and fresh foods were relatively cheap, while U.S.-type packaged foods and cleaning supplies were more expensive.

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

Salad dressings, tuna fish, croutons, furniture polish, and anything with a spray nozzle.

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

I found a variety of restaurants, apps for food delivery, and take-out were all widely available, but I'm not a foodie, so I'm not the best judge.

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

I didn't have any problems, but I heard from a few colleagues who did.

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Daily Life:

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

Dip, pouch: people didn't get the post cards I sent through the local 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?

I didn't hire anyone, but it's widely available at reasonable costs; I did hear stories about theft though...

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

The Consulate has a serviceable workout room usable for free for consulate employees. Local clubs are better, but much more 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?

Usually, but not always. I never had a problem, but heard that the ATM in the consulate was the safest in the city, yet was still hacked, I assume through a wireless connection.

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

There was an English-speaking Anglican church which I attended for Christmas and Easter in Botafogo.

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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?

Portuguese is required. Language classes are available for Consulate employees and their families at the Consulate.

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

Yes, they are still getting up to speed in offering facilities for those less able.

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Transportation:

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

Metro worked fine for me and I took the buses only occasionally. Taxis and Uber (more affordable, tho some taxi apps matched uber) were safe for me.

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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?

None, only if you need it and need/want to travel outside of the city center. I could see a car being necessary for families with kids, but I'm single so I had no need. Having a car that's available in Brazil is helpful because foreign car parts can be very expensive.

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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?

Internet is the same as it is in the U.S., mini-monopolies by neighborhood or building with no competition. Consequently, Net (pronounced "netchie") was generally considered the best, but seemed kind of expensive to me, and not a great value for the money. They installed the day after I ordered the service.

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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?

Sim cards are readily available & the Brazilians are very connected and digital savvy, so the 3-4 top carriers are all competitive. Many use pay-as-you-go plans.

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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?

I didn't have a pet, but many friends did and found that they're treated well because Brazil is the second largest pet-owning country in the world.

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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?

Most worked in Eligible Family Member (EFM) positions at the the Consulate; some spouses worked virtually for companies in the states.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

The Community Liaison Office (CLO) offered lots of volunteer activities while I was there.

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

Very business casual; Brazilians/Cariocas get formal occasionally, but very rarely.

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Health & Safety:

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

For the three years I was there I didn't have a problem, but an intern was robbed at gunpoint in Ipanema, a friend was carjacked in the Centro with his fiancee and parents in the car, and a Consular colleague was shot when they stopped on a country road.

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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 good. I didn't have surgery there, but I know someone who did and he was happy with it.

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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 in Rio was the best in the world for me. I suffer from allergies and had none the whole time I was there.

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

I am allergic to shellfish, and that's on the menu at many places, so I just avoided those dishes.

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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)?

Brazilians during Carnival can get very drunk, which is not good for anyone's mental health, especially children.

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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?

It's beautiful April-October and hot and sticky November-March.

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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 a wide variety of international schools available, depending where you are (Canadian was in Niteroi across the bay). Most at the consulate gravitated toward the American school.

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

A colleague had a special needs child who seemed to be treated 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?

Expats are there, but not recognizable; they blend in at the beach. the morale is great because you're in Rio, but you don't go to Rio for the ex-pats: you go because the locals are so nice, fun, friendly...

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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?

The Brazilians/Cariocas can't say no to a party, so they are a very social people. During Carnival, they over-socialize. There was an active Internations group, but I didn't do anything with them. I joined the Flamengo Clube where I could swim and attended a few social events there, but didn't get to know many other members.

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

I enjoyed my time as a single person in Rio. I dated a number of people through dating apps and had a very nice time. Couples seemed to have a good time too. I love music, and there are ample musical choices in Rio.

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

I believe so. A gay colleague had a great time.

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

Aside from dates and colleagues at work, I didn't make as many friends with locals as I would have liked. Although Brazil is considered a Rainbow nation, there is more prejudice against the poor and traditionally disadvantaged than appears on the surface.

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

Evangelism is growing and there is some pushback against that.

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

Getting to know the Brazilians and their music, traveling throughout all of South America (kind of expensive though), Iguazu Falls

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

Beach volleyball with the Consulate gringos was one of my favorite activities, as well as swimming at Flamengo clube, and dating locals.

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

Not particularly, there are markets along the beach and the "Hippie Fair" in Ipanema on Sundays is renowned.

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

The beach, the Brazilians/Cariocas, and the weather.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

The country is a roller-coaster ride and you just have to roll with it.

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

In a minute.

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

Winter clothes, American bathing suit, body consciousness; this is a country where nobody has body issues. They put their bodies out there on the beach all the time.

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4. But don't forget your:

Portugues, sun screen, and common sense; don't ever take any valuables to the beach

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

City of God, there was a movie about the kidnapping of the American Ambassador in Rio that was informative, but I forget the name, the book: How to become a Carioca.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Rio was great.

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 06/12/17

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 Europe and the Middle East.

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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. Around 15 hours with connections in Houston, Miami, Atlanta, Panama, etc.

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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?

Loud, dated, poorly designed and poorly maintained. However, the neighborhood is very walkable, and I'm near the beach.

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

Variety is pretty good. Local staples are cheap, but high-quality or imported items are very expensive. Real ice cream (made with cream and not vegetable oil) is US $10 / pint.

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

Napkins, trash bags, granola bars, 100% DEET, sunscreen, gluten-free flour, tea candles, craft beer, tuna, spices... pretty much everything shelf-stable is cheaper and better if you can import it yourself duty-free.

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

Brazilian food, French food, Portuguese food... there are a few good restaurants at the upper end of the price range, but mediocrity is surprisingly widespread.

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

There are occasional pantry moths, ants, cockroaches, and mosquitoes bearing lethal diseases. Local housing code prohibits sealing an apartment that has gas appliances, so apartments here have large holes in the wall without so much as screens. We covered ours with plastic and tape, but there are myriad other little gaps.

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Daily Life:

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

US diplomatic pouch works pretty well. I receive Amazon purchases in 2-3 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?

We pay about $40 per day for one day a week of cooking and cleaning. People with kids often have full-time help, although that comes with more cumbersome legal requirements. Not everyone is happy with the quality, but we have been very pleased.

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

There are plenty of gyms around, but we've been happy to just go running down by the beach.

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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?

Everyone has their cards cloned here. Use your cards, but monitor your bank statements closely.

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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 can't imagine living here without Portuguese.

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Transportation:

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

Uber is pretty reasonable and the metro is great. Buses work pretty well, too, but are occasionally subject to robberies and few expats use 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?

Many people without kids don't bring cars and do just fine. I only missed having a car for weekend road trips.

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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?

Costs are similar to in the US, but the quality is lower. Customer service is equally Byzantine. It can take a few weeks to set up.

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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?

Local provider.

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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 don't know any spouses who work on the local economy.

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

Dress is less-formal. Only lawyers wear suits. All but the fanciest restaurants have patrons in shorts and flip-flops.

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Health & Safety:

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

Almost everyone gets mugged. You will constantly watch your back and think about what you carry in public. Some robberies are violent. We regularly hear gunshots. That said, we have been safe so far.

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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?

High-quality medical care is available. Lifestyles here tend to be healthy, but everyone seems to have more respiratory issues than normal. Not all tap water is potable, and local food safety practices are questionable.

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

They are good at food labeling here, especially gluten. However, they do cook with a lot of nuts.

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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 weather here is great. There are occasional big rainstorms, but it's warm enough to sunbathe on the beach year round, and when it gets hot, it's still nice out at night. If you're not used to hot climates, though, you will learn to pay special attention to hydration and shade during the summer.

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Expat Life:

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

Brazil is an amazing place to travel and Brazilians are very warm people, but expats spend a lot of time complaining about the food and level of service. Feeling the unfulfilled potential can be frustrating, but it is a great experience for those ready to see it as such.

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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?

It's easy to meet people on the beach, or anywhere really.

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

There are plenty of parties in Rio, although expat friends who have dated here are sometimes frustrated - it can feel like a very small town. Brazil is generally kid-friendly. Parents with small children can cut in lines, and plenty of businesses cater to children.

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

We have found Brazilians to be very accepting.

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

Trips to colonial Ouro Preto and to see wildlife in the Pantanal. Every sunset from the beach. New Year's Eve in Copacabana. The topography which never gets old. Dear Brazilian friends.

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

There is a lot of hiking in the city, some charming not-yet-quite-revitalized historic neighborhoods, and no end of places to explore outside of town (if you can get out).

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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's a bit of art, handicrafts, and interesting furniture, but it is generally mediocre and expensive. Your best bets may be soapstone cookware, handmade jewelry, naive paintings, leather items, and old furniture.

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

The beach, the warm climate, street music, and the general practice of leaving work on time.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Don't try to travel by bus or car on a local holiday.

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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:

Flashy jewelry. Camping gear - few parks welcome campers. Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, sunglasses, flip-flops, hat, swimsuits, shorts, running shoes

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 05/22/16

Background:

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

Second post. first post was in Shanghai.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year

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

Foreign Service

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most of the consulate apartments are in zona sul. Most are decent size apartments for a family. We have two kids, i think our apartment is more spacious than others. We have 4 bedrooms, a balcony, and a small pool and sauna at the roof top. Commute time on a regular day is 45 minutes to an hour in the late afternoon rush hour. Morning commute is faster, like half an hour. But on a rainny day, it could take 1-2 hours to get home; this city does not handle the rain.

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

raw food and vegetables are cheaper here, everything else is not cheap. I ship cleaning supplies and soap dish.

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

Everything imported is expensive here. Everything related to kids is expensive here, like clothes, shoes, toys. Since you can buy most things through DPO, I would just focus on shipping things that are liquid, and some ethnic food. There are two small Asian grocery stores near Flamengo metro station.

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

good restaurants with good food are expensive here, around US$150 per couple.

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

there is zika now spread by the mosquitoes. Two people I knew from the Consulate had zika, luckily they are not pregnant. Other bug issues that cannot be overlooked are moths that eat food in our cabinets. Flour, beans, tea bags etc. can be infested if you don't clean and check on a regular basic. You must keep food in sealed 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 and pouch. DPO here takes 7-12 days, which is fast.

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

A part time maid is about R$150/day. A full time maid is about R$1800/month.

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

The Consulate has a gym and there are small gyms all over the city with a fee. around R$500/month at bodytech or get a life time membership at flamengo club for about R$7000/family, or individual membership R$150/month.

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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 heard so many cases of credit card being cloned so we avoid using credit cards at any stores. However, that's mean we do a lot of withdrawal from ATM machines, which charges a fee. A friend of mine had his credit cards cloned 6 times in the past 5 months. Some ATM machines are not safe too, including those at the airport and at some banks so try to use the ATMs only at places that you know are safe.

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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?

Most brazilians in the stores do not speak English.

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

yes. Sidewalks here are not built for wheelchairs, some are not even great for strollers.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and affordable but we are still glad to have a car. We use our car for weekend trips outside of the city. I also take buses and subway, which are pretty safe.

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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?

Stores here do not have parts for American cars. keep this in mind.
A small car are better. I have a Honda CRV, which could be a bit too big for this city and hard to park. Think twice if you want to bring a mini van.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Cellphone plans are pretty cheap here.

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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 don't know anyone who works on the local economy and the economy here is at its lowest point now.

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

casual. people walk around in their swim suits.

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Health & Safety:

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

Most of the consulate housings are in zona sul area, which is safer. I generally feel safe walking around this area and I don't worry that someone will steal my phone. Things like a cell phone are an easy target at the beach so keep your eyes on your phone at touristy area. Don't wear necklaces, if possible. They are easy targets too.

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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, mosquito born disease. Bring your mosquito nets here, and bug repellent; it seems like Deet works the best.

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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.

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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?

summer could be over 100F on some bad days. it is really humid and hot, to a point that I don't really want to go out between 10 AM-3 PM. Winter rains a bit more, but the temperature is perfect, around 80-70sF.

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Schools & Children:

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

all the consulate kids I know go to the American school (EARJ) in Gavea. There is a British school and also Our Lady of Mercy School in Botafogo. My 6-year old daughter attends EARJ and likes it. It is a pretty standard school - what you would expect from an American school. We love the Brazilian school Espaco Educacao (EE); she attended in Leblon before we moved her to EARJ. Its teaching style is all hands on, kids learn through arts and craft.

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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?

For preschools, there are many good quality Brazilian preschools in Leblon and Ipanema. Half day preschools usually cost around R$2000/month.

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

yes, popular programs are swimming, soccer, capoeira, gymnastic, ballet, jiu jitsu, etc.

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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 good; there is a good mix of international community 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?

Beach, beach, and beach. After that, there are clubs with swimming pools and nice playgrounds that you can join. There is no shortage of bars and live music here.

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

good for all, especially single men.

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

yes

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

Brazilians can be racist; you will have no problem if you have fair skin.

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

trip to Ilha grande, hike to Dois irmao mountain, the beach.

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

climbing the Dois irmaos mountain and pedra da Gavea. Parque das ruinas at santa teresa. ferry from the Centro to the Paquetta island, where no car is allowed.

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

We live a 5-minute walk to the Leblon beach. community life here is centered around the beach. The street next to the beach is closed for vehicles every Sunday and holiday, which is awesome. We are 5-minute walk to many bars and restaurants and a grocery store. It's very walkable. Other interesting places to go are the botanical garden, parque lage, Lagoa, Aproador, copacabana beach.

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9. Can you save money?

no

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Food is boring here. good food is expensive here.

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

Yes. i can't complain about living by the beach.

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

winter coats.

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4. Do you have any other comments?

if you are coming to Rio, there is a very helpful facebook group "Rio Playgroup" for expats to exchange information. It is very helpful for me. If you request to join and still have not be added after a few days, it is because the person in charge has not seen your request. So you need to ask another member to shout it out loud for you to get her attention. This happened to me and many other newcomers.

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 08/16/13

Background:

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

No - 2nd 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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Employee at the U.S. Consulate General.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments only. Consulate housing, and pretty much all housing in Zona Sul is old, poorly maintained and small, despite the astronomical rent. Loud, dripping window units in the bedrooms often aren't enough to beat the heat in the summer. Commute time to work from where most housing is located averages about an hour, but can be much much longer in traffic. The white-hot real estate market in advance of the upcoming mega-events means that tiny one bedroom apartments go for thousands of dollars a month in rent and the MGMT section struggles to find places that are suitable size for folks. Nearly everyone lives in a place smaller than what is allotted. Recently the Flamengo neighborhood was re-opened by RSO and that will really help as apartments there are larger and much closer to the CG.

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

Prices are more than double for many things, almost double for most. Right now the dollar is strong so that helps, but groceries and dining out are easily the biggest hunk of the budget. You can save some if you purchase at street markets. Average quality dinner for 2 people will be US$70. Nice places will set you back US$200 easy. If you drive an hour out of town, prices are more reasonable, but you will spend two hours getting there and two hours back.

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

Mexican food, motor oil, Indian food. You can find most things here except cheddar cheese for some reason. Most things you can ship DPO.

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

McDonald's and Dominos. Twice the price as in the U.S.

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

Mosquitos are, surprisingly, not bad. Little ants and a few small lizards...not really an issue.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO takes about 2 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?

Expensive by LA standards. Difficult to find good reliable help...ask around the CG to see if someone's maid is free one day a week. Families have struggled to find good nannies.

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

Crummy, poorly maintained gym in the building. Several broken machines, a few that work, and a smattering of free weights.

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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?

Don't do it. I'd say half the employees in the Consulate have had their cards cloned at some point. Use the ATM in the building and watch carefully any time you pay with credit card. I've had 3 cards cloned since I've been here.

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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?

Yes. Many U.S. shows are broadcast with PY subtitles. Movies are usually in English with subtitles except animated films. Great 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?

A lot. Even English teachers in Brazil don't speak English.

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

A lot.

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Transportation:

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

Metro is currently under construction so more or less useless right now, but when it was working it was clean, air conditioned and relatively efficient. When it reopens it should be a lifesaver. As it is, you have to take taxis, or risk your life on the public buses. Taxis are safe and reliable but pricey. Buses are cheap and dangerous. Between January and April of 2013, 87 passengers were killed in bus accidents, and 23 pedestrians killed after being run over by buses. They are your only option for daily commuting, and they are a menace to society.

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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 is better do to expensive gas, parking and narrow streets, but anything will work here. Parts and repairs are outrageously expensive and poor quality. Prices for tires and oil are particularly obscene. Driving at night here is a death sentence. Brazilians drive wherever they want, whenever they want, signals and traffic rules be damned. They LOVE to turn across your front from three lanes out. You learn to drive with one hand on the horn and one foot on the brake at all times. I've taken to wearing a crash helmet.

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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. US$120 month gets you cable TV and good, fast, reliable internet.

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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?

CG will supply yours and one for your EFM if you pay a low, monthly fee. SIM cards are cheap and easy to find, service is good.

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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)?

Yes. Brazilians are crazy for their pets. Pet shops are usually staffed by vets and they are everywhere.

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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, unless you can teach at the American School.

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

Business causal. Ties and chinoes, no suits unless you're around the front office. In public, you can go outside in your underwear and flip flops and nobody will give you a second look.

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Health & Safety:

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

Um...yes. Crime is better now than it has been historically but it is definitely still a dangerous city. In the past 2 years, American tourists have been murdered, gang raped, kidnapped and shot. Political unrest is rampant, with 1,000,000 people protesting in the streets in the past few months. Tear gas and riot police are ubiquitous. Buses, cops, firemen, teachers, bank employees...all have gone on strike in the past year. Friends have been held up at knifepoint and gunpoint, some people more than once. Pickpocketing is very frequent. Credit and debit card cloning is rampant. The ONLY safe ATM machine is inside the CG. Bus drivers are psychotic and will regularly run red lights, skip stops, drop passengers in the middle of traffic etc. Traffic fatalities are among the highest in the world.

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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?

Good medical care, but expensive. You pay cash at private doctors and get reimbursed by insurance. The nurse can set you up with English speaking docs, many were trained in the U.S. Several people have had their babies here and had good experiences.

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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?

Moderate. The stagnant humid summer months make the auto exhaust very noticeable...the rest of the year the ocean breezes make it negligible.

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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?

Winters are very pleasant, with a month or two of cool, damp, sometimes drizzly days. Summers are hot, hot, hot and very humid. Always a chance of rain, but it doesn't usually last very long. When it does rain, the entire city floods. I've often walked to the bus stop through 8 inches of water.

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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. Nearly all the kids go to the American School, and I believe everyone is very happy there. IT is expensive, but falls within the allotted expense amount so parents aren't out of pocket. There is also a British school and a Catholic school.

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

There is one special needs school that I am aware of. Currently no kids there.

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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. Very expensive. Many complaints about the price and quality. Preschools and daycares frequently close with little or no notice and folks have to leave work early/unexpectedly to pick up their kids. They also close for two extended breaks during the year.

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

Yes. Soccer, Volleyball, swimming.

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Expat Life:

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

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. The grit, grime, crime and terrible infrastructure wears on you after a while, but there is a LOT of fun to be had in the city.

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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 beach and the bars. Every night.

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

Good for everyone, but singles seem to have more fun. IT is REALLY expensive to live here and a family outing to dinner can break the bank. It's also just kinda dangerous traffic is everywhere so unless you're walking around Lagoa, I'm not sure what you do for family fun other than go to the beach.

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

Yes.

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

Despite the fact that half this country is black, mostly black or partly black, racism is quite prevalent. It's much worse in the fancy Zona Sul area where most CG housing is located. The only black people who live around here are maids and nannies so everyone will assume that's what you are when they see you. It's not violent or debilitating racism, but it's noticeable every day. Store clerks will follow you around waiting for you to steal something and if you try to pay with a credit card they will assume you stole it.

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

Road trips to Minas Gerais, Ilha Grande, Paraty, Buzios...any time you can get out of this ridiculous city.

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

Buzios, Paraty and Ilha Grande are all a day trip and all are phenomenal and beautiful. Off season prices are affordable. The main problem is traffic trying to get there.

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

Bikinis.

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

The beach, day trips outside of Rio, never more than 100 yards away from a bar selling ice cold draft beer, hiking, boating.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Despite all these gripes...yes. It was a great experience and I've had a lot of fun, but I am ready to go. The city is loud, filthy, dangerous and corrupt beyond imagining but the countryside outside of town and the sleepy villages a few hours away are heavenly. Amazing beaches obviously. Plus, there is truly something to be said for being able to walk across the street in your bare feet and underwear and start drinking beer at 9am. Plus, everyone pisses right in the street here, which is rather liberating.

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

Expectations that this is a glimmering, shimmering, cidade maravilhosa...it looks that way from afar, but as soon as you get up close and personal, you'll see that this city is run down and dirty, and patched together with tape and glue. Everyone loves it here at first, and everyone is absolutely ready to leave after the first year.

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3. But don't forget your:

Banana hammock swimsuit and bronzing lotion...Brazilian love nothing more than grilling themselves in the sun....they are professional sun bathers.

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 06/18/11

Background:

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

No, sixth 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?

California - a 15 hour trip.

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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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?

Almost exclusively apartments. These are generally of medium to low-range quality. This is a function of the ridiculous increases in rent over the past three years, and the general trend to build poorly and to do as little maintenance as possible. It is said Rio looks like it was built in the 70s and in a hurry. That said, if you can put up with delays in maintenance, most apartments are in Leblon, Ipanema and Flamengo. The first two neighborhoods are great for walking around. Walk to the store, to shopping malls, to cafes and restaurants...walk everywhere. It is great. The latter is a close commute to work and those apartments generally have panoramic balcony views of pao de acucar.

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

Expensive. Expensive. With the exchange rate taking a nose dive during my time here, it was not fun. For example, I recently splurged and bought salmon filets for $30/kilo. You can't do that everyday.

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

Sunblock, hair waxing kit, refried beans and some sort of machine to make tortillas.

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

Lots of fast food. No Taco Bell.

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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?

Lots of gluten free, I see it everywhere. Not sure why, but it's there. Organic is growing in popularity but not as common as in the U.S. You have to know what days to show up at the supermarket.

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

Some, dengue is near epidemic levels. Several Consulate employees contracted a virulent strain this year. Luckily they pulled through.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch mostly. Management at the consulate discourages the use of APO because of the delays and historic lack of security.

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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 hire someone to come in once a week. It costs me $50/day.

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

Many options, some very good, all 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?

Lots of cloning. Use a credit card with a low limit for your day-to-day shopping.

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

Interdenominational, Catholic and Anglican are available in English.

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

I get all my news from the internet, CNN International and Fox News Channel, which is available on the local cable plan.

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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?

It helps a lot. Cariocas are not as bilingual as their cosmopolitan cousins in Sao Paulo.

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

Many. This is not an ADA friendly city. Elevators frequently don't function and vehicles are not exactly respectful of pedestrians, much less those who might be challenged in their mobility or speed.

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Transportation:

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

Not so much safe, but yes, 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?

Smaller is better. I would also consider a Hyundai or small Ford, both have excellent local service available at dealerships.

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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, very expensive. Packages for phone, cable, and internet start at about $150/mo.

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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 a phone. Don't bother with something expensive or fancy, it will likely be stolen within your first year.

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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?

Limited, but yes. The consulate frequently has jobs that go unfilled for family members because many of them prefer not to work or don't want to work full time.

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

Very casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

YES. Every week you hear of someone else being mugged or robbed or stopped in an arrastao. These are essentially road blocks set up by armed thugs where they just walk from car to car and take your belongings. If they really like it, they can even try to take your car.

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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 ok, though overly bureaucratic. Consulate staff need the help of the nurse each time they go to the hospital or emergency room to make sure they are attended and not turned away for inability to pay upfront.

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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?

Decent, but I have no previous issues.

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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?

Summers were a bit too hot, but the rest of the year was always excellent. I am afraid California winters will seem to cold now.

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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 options, most kids attend EARJ. It has a good reputation and even a small program for special needs kids.

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

Some, not anyone's specialty in Rio though. EARJ is trying, but I would talk to them first and for a long time before agreeing to come if I had a special needs child.

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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 personal experience - though I know of several people who paid lots of money for the service. I think most people with small children end up hiring a full time nanny. Seems like a better option, but is still pricey.

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

Yes, both at family clubes like Flamengo and some gyms. Football and rowing seem to be very popular, as are martial arts.

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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, lots of oil company folks.

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2. Morale among expats:

High, I think. In spite of the crime and poor quality of housing, I think most people really like living in Rio. Everyone seems to find a nitch and falls into it comfortably.

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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?

Again, lots of options. Everything from all you can eat sushi to burlesque dancing with a side of BBQ beef.

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

Yes to all. Families would do well to join a clube of some sort - Flamengo for example. This provides a park-like setting, swimming pools and other benefits. Not a lot of public parks, except of course for the beaches and the lovely area around Lagoa.

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

Absolutely, lots of night life and other options.

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

I think racism is quite common, but never discussed. Brazilians take great pride in being egalitarian to the point that they won't discuss the fact that economic disparities are almost perfectly corrolated to race. That said, I doubt any American would experience any hostility.

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

Carnaval was my first all-nighter in about twenty years; that was a lot of fun. I traveled in Salvador and had a terrific time taking in sites and a completely new local cuisine. My favorite thing there was the Folk Ballet in Pelourinho. I was also able to travel a lot to Sao Paulo and enjoyed it every time. Great municipal gardens and museums, not to mention food from all over the world, including some of the best Italian food outside of Italy.

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

Wow. If you can imagine it, you can do it in Rio. Except maybe skiing. Well, there is water skiing. There is every option of nightlife, from smooth jazz bars to heavy metal clubs. You can learn to samba or skydive or surf all on the same day. You can even take a class on existential thinkers from the Casa de Saber in Lagoa and then go clubbing two blocks down in Ipanema. You can be existentialist and hedonistic in the space of three hours.

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

Internal travel: Ouro Preto, Foz, Tiradentes, Sao Luis, the options are amazing.

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

Great culture, friendly people, fun language.... I will miss the weather, the beaches, the laid back lifestyle and the amazing food.

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11. Can you save money?

No. NO. NOOO.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely. I hope to be able to return someday.

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

winter anything.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunglasses, bathing suit and camera (but make it a simple, small camera).

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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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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 07/01/10

Background:

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

Not the 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?

Washington, DC. Connections on all major U.S. carriers through Washington, Houston, Miami, Charlotte and with TAM Brazilian Airlines from New York, Miami and Orlando. A flight of approximately 8-10 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three years.

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

Spouse of U.S. Government employee.

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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 continues to be one of the major morale issues in Rio de Janeiro. Buildings, especially in upper-class Zona Sul, are literally right on top of each other with no space in between. Many consulate employees end up with sub-par, appalling housing. Officers have been known to be left for months without hot water, with various maintenance problems, ranging from non-functioning air conditioners when it's over 100F outside, to being unable to get washers/dryers, to water leaks, to electrical hazards. Historically, officers spend too much time of their workdays dealing with the management section, which usually leads to a very high degree of frustration. This is due partially to the lack of funding and partially to management's unwillingness and inability to deal with the problems.

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

One would be surprised at how expensive Rio de Janeiro is. Expect to pay 25-50 percent more than you would in Washington for quite a few of the items. And there is no VAT return. Supermarkets, like Walmart, Sendas, and Carrefour, tend to carry most of the produce one would need, but the conditions in them often are not very sanitary. One supermarket with a better selection of fruits and vegetables is Horti Fruti, although it seems to be slightly more expensive than the others.

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

Insect repellent. Detergents (if you are looking for specific kinds). Ethnic food items. Remember that the food items here are priced much higher than in the U.S., so stock up.

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

One can find McDonald's, KFC, and some local fast food restaurants. Upscale restaurants tend to be expensive, and the food is not memorable.

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

Lots of various exotic insects. If your apartment has windows that do not close (many of the consulate's apartments suffer from poor maintenance) be prepared to find all kinds of creatures -ants, geckoes, bats, just to name a few.

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Daily Life:

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

APO at the U.S. Consulate. Count on 4-6 weeks, and there have been incidents of mail being stolen at the airport, burned in fire, etc. The diplomatic pouch takes about the same time, but it seems to be a safer alternative. Or try Brazilian mail. It's faster on the outgoing shipments to the U.S.

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

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

Yes, but they are very expensive. Be prepared to pay upwards of BrR 300/month for a more modern facility.

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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?

There have been incidents of credit-card cloning, even in major hotels. The U.S. Consulate has an ATM inside.

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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?

TV through cable or satellite. You get quite a few U.S. channels in English.

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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. The vast majority of Brazilians, even in the educated upper class, either don't speak English or prefer not to speak English. Spanish might help a little, but you really need Portuguese.

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

Many. Rio de Janeiro is still far from the U.S. or Western Europe when it comes to catering to those with physical disabilities. You often see beggars missing legs, or having other physical deformities, who beg for money on street corners.

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Transportation:

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

Affordable - yes. Safe? Watch the Brazilian movie called "Bus 174" about the hijacking of a bus in Rio. Not that it happens all the time, but it's not a safe city for taking public transportation. That being said, there are consulate employees who take buses all the time and have not had any problems. Taxis are more or less equivalent in price to D.C.

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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?

Gas is expensive, and roads are acceptable (unless you want to drive to small towns outside of Rio). You don't need an SUV. VW is very popular here. Smaller cars come handy when looking for parking. The parking spots inside the buildings tend to be very tight.

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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?

Internet normally comes in a package with TV and phone and is priced around US$100-150. Be prepared for the internet to go down due to various technical problems, and then good luck getting assistance.

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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?

Cell phones are provided by the consulate. Sometimes the consulate forgets to pay the bill, and you cannot place any outgoing phone calls. Sometimes the networks go down. As Brazilians say "Se Deus Quiser", or God Willing things will work out.

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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. The labor market is very competitive, and there are hardly enough jobs for the locals.

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

Business attire at work. Shorts and flip-flops everywhere else.

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Health & Safety:

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

Lots. One has to be prepared not to wear a watch and not to carry a wallet or any other valuables unless you are fully ready to part with them. There are regular incidents of expatriates -- as well as tourists -- being attacked or carjacked. This can happen anywhere in the 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?

There are numerous health concerns in Rio, ranging from periodic dengue epidemics to asbestos in the U.S. Consulate building. Employees are often told not to be concerned, since the amounts of asbestos are allegedly low. Private hospitals provide ok facilities and care, but they are expensive since you have to pay out of pocket. Dental care is of acceptable Western standards.

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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?

Air quality is mostly acceptable near the ocean. However, there are a number of areas along the canals, Lagoa, and on the way to the international airport, where the water is polluted by sewage and smells bad.

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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?

It can get very hot in January-April. May and June, in what is winter in Brazil, tend to be the nicest months, while the chance of rain during October-December is high.

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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?

Nannies are readily available and can be employed part-time or full-time at a cost of approximately US$40-60/day.

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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?

Medium.

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2. Morale among expats:

In the private sector, the morale seems to be much higher than that of USG employees. Again, the low morale at the U.S. Consulate has largely to do with the lack of funding, and poor management.

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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?

Singles or couples without kids tend to go out a lot, and there are quite a few choices of restaurants.

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

Rio can be very challenging due to the above-mentioned security issues. Many singles who come to Brazil, though, enjoy the local dating scene.

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

Yes. Brazilians are very liberal in their attitudes. It is advertised as a gay mecca, although there is a lack of organized gay activities in Rio de Janeiro. There is a gay section of the Ipanema beach at Farme de Amoedo.

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

Although Brazil claims not to have any racial problems, the racial divide still exists. Due partially to demographics, most of the household help and nannies are black, partially because a lot of them come from the much poorer North-East of Brazil. While Brazil is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, evangelical churches have increased membership in recent years, especially among the poor. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are home to fairly sizeable Jewish communities.

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

Trips to Iguazu Falls, the Amazon, and Argentina. Local travel is expensive, distances are great, and domestic airfares are not cheap. One can drive to Sao Paulo in about 5 hours, and to the colonial towns of Minas Gerais in 3-5 hours.

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

Lapa antique fair on the first Saturday of the month. Hippie Fair every Saturday, drinking coconut water at the beach.

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

Art, hammocks and gemstones.

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

Someone in Rio de Janeiro has to be into all of the beach-related activities. Everything revolves around the beach, so don't come here if you are looking for cultural opportunities (Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo might be better choices). There are some spectacular landscapes amid, unfortunately, numerous slums that are a part of Rio.

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11. Can you save money?

Absolutely not.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No. Rio is a beautiful city to visit, but I would not want want to repeat the nightmare experience of working at the consulate.

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

winter clothes, skis, watch, wallet, and high expectations.

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3. But don't forget your:

swimwear, flip-flops, t-shirts, garbage bags, microwave, electronics and -- last but not least -- patience. Electronics and electrical appliances are prohibitively expensive in Brazil.

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

Fernando Henrique Cardoso "The Accidental President"

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

"Bossa Nova" if you want to fall in love with Rio, "City of God" for a dose of reality.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 06/13/10

Background:

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

No. Lived in several other foreign cities including Sao Paulo from 2006 - 2008.

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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.9-10 hrs - fastest is United via Sao Paulo but can go American through Miami and lots of other direct US flights.

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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.)?

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?

Almost all apartments, but there are some very very expensive homes in Alto Leblon, Gavea and far away in Barra. Construction quality and maintenance is a problem in all Consulate housing. Most apts have severe issues, including A/C, which you really really need in summer. Bedroom sizes (and possibility of getting an apartment comfortably big enough for a family of more than 4 people) are generally very, very small in Ipanema and Leblon - less so in Flamengo and Botafogo or way out in Barra.(Barra is not an option for the Consulate community.)Most people at the Consulate (regardless of family size) get a 3 or 4 bedroom apt and they usually have a very small maids room. There are some parks through the city for kids but in Rio there are very few apartment complex playgrounds that I found a godsend in other big cities. Some buildings designate one floor as the "Play" floor, which is essentially an empty floor where kids can run around and use their own toys. To entertain their kids locals often join sports/social clubs (Flamengo is within the budget for Consulate people but rich locals prefer the Jockey Club, Caicaras, and others).One other option is the Estacao de Corpo gym (which is pricey compared to others) but also offers free swim time on weekends in their nice clean pools and has a few kid classes. There are several gyms for grownups, which are a little pricey - but under $250.Traffic from/to Barra from the rest of the city is atrocious since it all passes through a couple chokepoints (but is not so bad on a weekend) and my kids' friends' parents who live in the near end of Barra report 2-3 hr commutes on the really bad days (rainy Fri pm).Before or after rush hour 20 min from Ipanema to Centro, 30-40 min from the far end of Leblon to Centro, 5-10 min from Flamengo or Botafogo to Centro. During rush hour or rainy Friday afternoons can jump to 30-60 min Centro-Ipanema, 45-90 min Centro - Leblon, and 15-30 min - Centro - Flamengo. Leblon is the fanciest of the neighborhoods - lots of fantastic restaurants/shops/pharmacies, etc. nearby, Ipanema has more of the same though is less tony, Copacabana (not an option for Consulate families) has some very expensive apts and closeby grocery stores/pharmacies, but is a bit seedier, especially along the beach at night. Lagoa is a very nice expensive neighborhood, too, bigger apartments (though expensive) and without the restaurants/shopping/drug store options that Leblon and Ipanema have. Flamengo/Botafogo are more middle-class but still lots of restaurants/shopping/conveniences nearby, and Barra is like living in the U.S. suburbs with shopping malls a short drive away, U.S. sized grocery stores, and none of the Rio flavor. All apartments in Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana, and Flamengo (and parts of Botafogo) are within a short walk of a beach, though you won't end up going as often as you think. The beach side of Lagoa is about a 15 min walk away. Ipanema and Leblon beaches are the prettiest, but you do not really want to swim regularly in any of them.(One newspaper article here last year reported that Ipanema sand had the high fecal matter content of all of them.)I'm not squeamish and still let my kids go to the beach and in the water, but most people here - American and Brazilian - go out to more pristine locations in Barra and beyond when they want to "go to the beach."

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

Very expensive. Most groceries except for sweet corn and some other American things like cranberries (you can find these things at Santa Luzia in Sao Paulo if you get there) are here (but, sadly, not fresh milk - it's all the long-life stuff) but very, very expensive. Maybe 1 1/2 - 2 times what they cost in the U.S.Much cheaper to use NetGrocer or Amazon. Household supplies I just go local, except for good ziploc bags, wax paper, aluminum foil, and Pam spray.

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

Same things - Pam cooking spray, tires, car parts, American wrapping paper/tape/party supplies, kid bday presents (they are all here but outrageously expensive), American candy for parties, pinatas for parties, hair/beauty favorites. I also order all clothes/shoes online b/c they're so expensive here.

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

McDonald's is ubiquitous, I saw a KFC in Copacabana, a few Subways, tons and tons of little mom and pop bars with snack foods called salgados. Not as many nice restaurants as Sao Paulo but lots of options - especially in Leblon and Ipanema. My favorites are Alessandro and Frederico (Italian), Sawasdee (Thai), Ten-Kai (Japanese), Joe and Leo's (burgers) and Carlota's (French).Price range is about USD 25 - 50.Chain restaurants are also here - especially in Barra - Outback, TGIF, Fogo de Chao, Applebee's - probably same price range.

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

Every once in a while there is a big dengue outbreak (mosquitoes), and ants are annoying.

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Daily Life:

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

APO (unreliable) or dip pouch. Local courier service is OK though.

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

Widely available. People pay $35 or so per day for a housekeeper/cook if they don't go full-time. Most people hire nannies, who Americans will usually pay USD400 - 800/month. Brazilians will pay less, but may pay up to USD 600 or 700 if they are really loaded. To comply with local labor law you must pay Brazilian social security and other taxes if you hire a Brazilian. This can be pricey.

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

Widely available and 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?

Lots of cloning. Even some bank ATMs are rigged. But this is a tourist-accommodating place and most reputable places how bring the little machine to your table.

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

British School has an English-language Anglican service, non-demoninational Christian church in Barra, there may be others.

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

Widely available and expensive. Regular cable channels show lots of US programming (though dated) in English on Sony, Fox, Liv, Warner, AXN, Universal and HBO channels are available. CNN Intl and BBC are also here. I pay for the cable/internet/phone combo for about USD 160 a month but this is without the movie lineup.

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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?

In the tourist-y areas and with wealthy Brazilians you won't need much. Traveling to smaller towns or off the beaten tourist path you will. Beware the regional accents as Brazilian Portuguese varies widely between cities/regions.

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

Sidewalks/roads are often poorly kept, so they are bumpy and uneven. Public transport buses have lifts for chairs, but I don't see them used often. I didn't see elevators for wheelchairs in the metro, but maybe they're there.

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Transportation:

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

Buses, taxis, metro all safe and affordable. I commuted by public bus for USD 0.80 each way until my schedule changed.

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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?

Parking spaces are a a premium - the smaller the better - plus gas is about USD 8-9 a gallon I'm guessing. With 4 kids I've got a mini-van and am letting all the dents accumulate b/c I know I'll get more. I'd bring small parts (filters, spark plugs, tires) and order other small ones online. Roads are generally OK but beware of speed bumps in cities and on roads. Duties are very high (but go to 0 for diplomats if car is at least 3 yrs in country?!) and lots of people sell when they leave.

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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.

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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?

Dunno. Mine comes from work. Do have a VOIP phone that's invaluable.

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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)?

I am new to this and haven't used a kennel yet, but they have them.

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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?

You need a work permit - we do have a bilateral agreement for diplomatic spouses - but even then it is difficult, as you need great Portuguese, and so many highly qualified people here are fluent in both Portuguese and English and usually something else. Salaries won't be as high.

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

For Americans, it's business, but Brazilian co-workers will be loosely business casual. On the street it is very casual and skimpy - similar to Miami.

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Health & Safety:

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

I don't find it any worse than other big cities I've lived in (NY, Mexico City, Nairobi, London) but security is a much bigger issue than in small-town USA.The much-publicized high homicide rate is true, but most of those happen in the poor favelas where they do not have government services and a police presence. There is quite a bit of tourist-related crime in the city so you really really should not carry expensive or important things like your passport with you when you go out and about. That said - this is an outdoor city and walking along the well-lit sidewalks next to the beaches in the main tourist areas is common any time of day, late in the night and early in the morning and if you look like you're jogging/walking as opposed to carrying your vacation money and camera you should be OK.I do not, however, walk down by the water at night after it's dark - I stick to the well-lit sidewalks. Also do not carry/use cell phone/ipod much when walking alone in public, etc. though lots of others do.

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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?

Dengue when there's an outbreak. Mold allergies. Mold is everywhere and tough to get rid of due to the humidity. Locals use little manual dehumidifying boxes that suck away water into a little container so their closets/drawers stay dry. Building construction is poor and lots and lots of mold/dust/irritants. I have three of four kids on anti-allergy medicines. Drs are very very expensive in the neighborhoods we frequent but at least follow-up consultations are usually free. Had one good recent experience at the Sao Jose orthopedic emergency room.(Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein hospital was much more convenient for consulate employees.)

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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, though certain areas smell extraordinarily unhealthy.

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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?

Lots of sun, quite a bit of rain - very hot in southern hemisphere summer and comfortably warm in southern hemisphere winter. There is a LOT of rain, which results in frequent street/road flooding and dangerous mudslides in hillside communities and roads.

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Schools & Children:

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

English-language schools include EARJ (American school of Rio), British School, Our Lady of Mercy (OLM)(small Catholic school), and a small Christian school out in Barra. EARJ and the British School both have a spacious campus out in Barra, too. EARJ is located in Gavea (beyond but closest to the Leblon neighborhood), British School is in Botafogo (closest to Botafogo/Flamengo and about a 20 min ride when I go early am from Ipanema) and I don't know about the others. EARJ has all grades at the Gavea site. British school has kids from nursery school - 4 yrs in one separate building across the street, and kids 5 - 12 yrs (Class 5) in Botafogo and older than that go to their campus in Urca (a lovely residential neighborhood between Botafogo and Copacabana by Sugar Loaf).I visited both EARJ and the British School in 2006 and opted for the British School because I felt they focused more on academics and character building. All four kids are there now (reception through Class 3 for my now 10 yr old) and very happy with it. It is not as academically rigorous as Chapel School in Sao Paulo (a fantastic school with a great grass football pitch) but I'm still happy with the decision. The biggest downside is that the school year follows the Brazilian calendar, so it begins in Feb rather than Aug. And they're not getting any U.S. history. EARJ is the State Dept sponsored school and has tons more resources and support. It has a beautiful, magical campus, and parents with kids there are happy with their decisions. I continue to hear anecdotes about disciplinary issues (a reluctance to do so) so you should talk with parents who have kids there to get their insights. There is a reluctance to tell children no throughout Brazilian society - especially the wealthier you are - and I see a bit of that at the British School, too. About school buses - I think the EARJ buses are run by the school. British School is not - but the school gives you a live of private bus companies to use and that's been easy. My recollection was that kids doing after-school activities at EARJ did not get to use the regular schoolbus and parents had to make other arrangements to pick them up, but that may have changed or have been my misunderstanding. The company we use at British School has a couple of pickup times, so doing a variety of afterschool activities is no problem. Transport time will depend on whether they're the first or last picked up (even if I were a stay at home mom I don't think I could stand the long queue to drop off/pick up every day) but my kids get picked up in Ipanema around 7:10 and get to school in Botafogo about a half hour later. When we lived at the far end of Leblon pickup was 15 min earlier. When I drive in (before rush-hour) it's a 15-20 min ride through the Tunel Velho. For midday school events it takes me about 15-20 minutes to get from the Consulate to the British School (Botafogo).This was another selling point for me. To get to EARJ in Gavea would take an hour or so. To get from Leblon to Botafogo would take about a half an hour if it's very early and no traffic on Humaita or an hour or so if there is. Did I tell you how long the queue is to pick kids up/drop off?When I need to do that I always take a taxi b/c the R$50 I spend is well worth not waiting in that infernal line filled with other kids' parents' drivers who have all the time in the world to wait. Parking is also in very short supply around the Botafogo campus. Not sure if this is an issue at EARJ or OLM.There are several really good Brazilian schools, but most of them are full-price for half day - i.e. 8-12pm OR 1-5pm - and then you pay for the extra English class, sports activity, etc. British School is IB mandatory and not sure what EARJ does. The population is predominantly Brazilian at all schools, though I suspect more English-speaking expats with the oil companies go to EARJ so probably a higher-percentage of native English speaking kids there. Playground language is still Portuguese, at least in lower grades. Don't know where EARJ grads go, but British School grads seem pretty evenly split between U.S., UK, and Brazilian university. Not sure about British School. I know one parent is happy with the accommodations at EARJ.

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

Don't know about British School (they were very accommodating about putting my daughter's eye patch on every day).I know one parent of a child at EARJ who's happy with the accommodations there.

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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?

Really expensive in the neighborhoods we live in. British School offers it for astronomical fees (USD 1500 - 1800? or so per month) and St. Patricks is an English speaking preschool in Leblon that's also expensive. I have dual national kids and was happy to go local and still paid about USD 600 per month for a half-day program at Creche Bambini in Ipanema, which I LOVED.Brazilians love kids so they'll most likely have a wonderful experience anyway. Creche Bambini was the only one of the three I visited that was interested in even introducing letters/numbers to 4 yr olds. They had great learning themes - Carmem Miranda and Carneval - too. Most people hire nannies, who Americans will usually pay USD400 - 800/month. Brazilians will pay less, but may pay up to USD 600 or 700 if they are really loaded. To comply with local labor law you must pay Brazilian social security and other taxes if you hire a Brazilian. This can be pricey.

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

At the social clubs or through the schools. Most popular are football (soccer), volleyball, capoeira, basketball, judo/jiu-jitsu.

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Expat Life:

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

About 22,000 resident Americans in the district and lots of other intl expats as well.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mostly high, unless you have overly high expectations about housing, which will be in a fantastic location but probably not as big or well-maintained as you would like.

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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?

Little for official functions. Most families socialize with their kids' friends -- I know mine often go to their clubs or country houses -- and singles have lots of options and do a mix of in-consulate socializing and local.

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

Fantastic for all.

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

Umm... heck yeah. though the Sao Paulo pride parade is bigger.

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

Racial prejudice exists though not always acknowledged. There is a federal-level effort to eliminate the vestiges of racial prejudice but a long way to go. People of color are often presumed to be the hired help in the expensive parts of town (especially if they wear all white clothes - the uniform of the nannies).My beautiful brown children stand out in the crowd at school but there are some others and no name-calling or anything like that. One thing that baffles me is that despite Rio's history and demographic patters lots of people still assume that my children are adopted, but I suppose that would happy in the U.S. too. No religious issues here. Brazil is pretty progressive gender-wise and women are well represented in the professions. Not sure about salary disparity. Judges automatically grant custody to moms though there is a nascent fathers rights movement to get joint custody/access rights.

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

Lazy days outside with the kids on the beach, bicycling around Lagoa (the lagoon), walking along the beach on weekends/holidays when the main roads are closed off for travel, parks (favorite is Ibirapuera park in Sao Paulo), visits to historical places, the Amazon, Salvador, Petropolis, spectacularly lavish kid birthday parties, local festivals/celebrations like the Festa Junina country-wide.

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

Lazy days outside with the kids on the beach, bicycling around Lagoa (the lagoon), walking along the beach on weekends/holidays when the main roads are closed off for travel, parks (favorite is Ibirapuera park in Sao Paulo), visits to historical places, the Amazon, Salvador, Petropolis, spectacularly lavish kid birthday parties. Haven't yet been to the Pantanal, Ouro Preto/Tiradentes, the gazillion beautiful waterfalls/swimming holes, Foz Iguacu, Fortaleza, or many of the beach areas. And, oh, yeah, all the Rio tourist spots people who live here forget about - Big Jesus (Corcovado), Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf), Santa Teresa cable car ride, Copacabana fort museum, Lapa for dancing (between of hold-ups there so don't flash your valuables and give them up if you're asked for them), football games, umm Carnival.

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

Living in the expensive part of town, souvenirs from the hippie fair, art, expensive travel to other cool in-Brazil destinations, children and teacher (and janitor and secretary and librarian) fancy birthday presents for anyone who sees your child at school on a regular basis, after-school activities for your kids, good restaurants, Carnival parade and ball tickets/costumes.

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

Spectacular beauty, musical culture, warmth of the people, variety of international influences, proximity to other interesting places to visit in Brazil, weather that makes outdoor activities an option year round, wonderful walking/running paths throughout the city, enthusiasm for enjoying life.

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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?

Definitely. We will be sad to go and strongly recommend living here for everyone.

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

winter clothes (though you will want to bring a leather jacket or something for the "cold" weather - 65 degrees that will feel much colder), pantyhose and most of your socks.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunblock and other personal products if there are brand names you can't live without; also beach and athletic wear.

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

A Death in Brazil (Peter Robb), Ruy Castro's book "Rio de Janeiro - Carnival Under Fire" about the history of Rio, The Accidental President (Fernando Enrique Cardoso), Brazil (Errol Lincoln Uys).

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Tropa de Elite, City of God, Passenger x (keeping in mine that that view of the favela side of Rio is only one part of life here), that 1960's or 70's movie about an American and her Brazilian boyfriend, the 2009 movie about the Brazilian bossa nova pioneers and their adventures trying to market it in NY (Os Desafiados?), 7 Days in September.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Rio is a very different place than it was even a few years ago. It is really in the midst of a Renaissance - booming economically, decreasing crime, and loads of business/cultural opportunities. There was a long decline after the capitol moved from Rio to Brasilia (and the U.S. Mission to Brazil moved with it - ultimately leaving the Consulate resource challenged in staffing and funds - but that is changing as Rio regains its importance in the bilateral relationship. Next year's Military Games, the 2014 World Cup, and 2016 Olympics will also attract more attention and travelers to Rio. It is still a constituent post, and those management and resource challenges will continue. Nevertheless, I am very very glad I lucked out and was able to serve here and that my children were able to experience this wonderful city for a couple years. One caveat to parents of dual citizen kids - there are strict exit requirements from the country. If Brazilian children are traveling both parents much accompany or provide a judge's authorization showing that they agree for the children to leave. There are no exceptions. If either parent decides they don't want the children to leave the country, and refuses to get the judge's document, the federal police will not let the children depart. This is true even when the trip was supposed to be temporary and after arriving one parent decides they want the children to remain in Brazil.www.travel.state.gov has comprehensive information about the security, health and other information about Brazil and other countries, and you definitely should read that before coming.

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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 11/13/09

Background:

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

No.

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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?

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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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?

Apartments, some very nice with mountain or ocean views, some less nice but still generally acceptable.

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

About 50% more than in the U.S. There is a decent selection.

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

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

With the current exchange rate, it's a bit pricey to go out. But the restaurants are quite good - lots of sushi and seafood.

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

Dengue Fever is a very serious problem causing many deaths each year.

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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?

$500-600/month.

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

Yes. They are not cheap, but there are some really nice ones.

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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?

Be careful, as there are many cases of accounts being liquidated.

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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?

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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?

Quite a lot. Not many Brazilians speak English. Even family members should do the full training.

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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?

Taxis are generally safe and cheaper than in the U.S. But they still cost more than in almost any other developing country at the current exchange rate.

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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?

Buy a local Corolla or Civic and sell it for what you paid when you leave (due to the ability of diplomats to buy tax free).

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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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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?

Relatively casual

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. The sea breeze helps a lot.

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

Rio is a dangerous place, no doubt, but you just have to be careful and give up what you have if targeted.

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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?

Very hot and humid from Jan-March, otherwise 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?

This is a significant issue for anyone with school-age kids. EARJ has deteriorated dramatically in the past few years, so much so that anyone with kids at critical years should probably look elsewhere for a post. EARJ has got to be one of the weakest international American schools in the WHA region. it's in a highly dangerous location near a favela (DS has paid for bullet-proof windows), and its structures are an embarrassment.

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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 good preschools if you don't mind your child being spoken to in Portuguese (often an enriching experience). Price: 300-700 full-time.

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

Yes - soccer, swimming, etc.

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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:

Most official Americans like it here. The big problem has been low calibre leadership in the front office. CGs have not ensured that the consulate is running at even a basic level of efficiency - from basics like having toilet paper in the bathrooms to HR issues like sending into retirement senile 70-something-year-old local employees in key positions. A textbook case of management failure from the top.

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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?

Very good. Cariocas love to party.

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

Yes to all, but families should be careful about the school issue.

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

Yes, very good.

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

Yes, but less than in many other countries.

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

Beach, parks, forests, concerts. Rio's very outdoorsy but also has a very respectable cultural life.

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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?

That is a bit tough with the present exchange rate.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I love the city, but inept post management and a poor American School would probably keep me away.

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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. 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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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil 01/28/09

Background:

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

No, this was a third posting.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2006-2008.

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

Worked at the U.S. Consulate.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Direct flights from Washington, DC and Miami.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments in either Ipanema or Leblon, which are two of the most upscale neighborhoods in the city. However, the housing pool and the management section's attitude was appalling while I was there. Several officers were without hot water for extended periods of time - gas leaks, ceilings caving in, broken air conditioners, lighting wiring held together with electrical tape such that only GSO staff could change light bulbs - all common place. And to make it worse, while I was there, the attitude was "well, the landlord won't fix it and we have no money so just live with it". OK for a broken door handle or something but not for major health and safety related concerns. Everytime there was a problem in anyone's apartment, the resident would get a sinking feeling in anticipation of having to go to war with the management section.

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

Decent availability. Not much as far as prepared foods however, not even things that many of us take for granted like pasta sauce. Going to the grocery store is not pleasant as they are mostly crowded, small, dark and smelly. Great fruits although not so much for veggies.

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

Saran wrap, paper towels, toilet paper, any kind of boxed prepared foods that you like, dog food, vitamins.

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

Lots of restaurants and McDonalds. The food is not the greatest though. Pretty bland and uninteresting for the most part. Pizza has no tomato sauce. Spices are limited to salt and maybe oregano it seems. Most restaurants are buffet style.

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

Garden variety tropical insect problems, nothing excessive.

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Daily Life:

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

APO, although several times in 2008 there was no money to buy gas for the Consulate staff to go to the airport to get the 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?

About US$30/day - it is hard to find hardworking housekeepers but they are adequate for the most part.

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

Lots.

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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 is extremely common. Somehow the crooks can clone your ATM cardnand access your PIN if you use it for debit purchases. Many people have had their bank accounts emptied in this way.

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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?

Cable has lots of English language programming

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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?

Lots - not too many English speakers.

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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?

Trains and taxis are pretty safe, although there are often incidents of taxis coming or going to the airport with foreigners being stopped in the middle of the highway by heavily armed men who then rob the occupants. Buses and the subway are supposedly not safe but I personally never had a problem.

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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?

Most anything but gas is really expensive.

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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, about US$50/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?

No.

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

Brazilian love their dogs and there are lots of vets and good kennels. I never met many people with cats though and think that cat litter was hard to find.

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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.

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

Casual compared to a lot of other posts.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate, the buses sometimes belch black smoke.

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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.

Lots. Armed robberies in broad daylight on crowded streets are common as are carjackings and kidnappings in which victims are taken to ATMs and forced to withdraw money. As if this weren't enough, there is the omnipresent danger of a taking a stray bullet due to the ongoing war between drug dealers and the police. All this being said however, I personally never had any problems although I witnessed a double murder in front of the Consulate one afternoon.

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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?

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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?

Beach weather all year long, some people find it uncomfortably hot at times but I like warm weather and so did not find it oppressive or anything - it is not extremely humid and there is usually somewhat of a breeze.

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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?

Nannies readily available, lots of preschools although I am not sure about the cost.

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

Yes, soccer and volleyball classes on the beach.

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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.

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2. Morale among expats:

Varies, at the Consulate pretty bad because of poor financial management and housing nightmares. Having no money for toilet paper at the Consulate, no money for gas for official vehicles making it impossible to do one's job, having all consulate cell phones turned off for nonpayment of bills etc etc can all take a toll on morale.

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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?

Not too much of a cohesive group at the Consulate but it can be a lot of fun if you make friends with the cariocas.

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

Yes for all. The city is great but the Consulate work environment is another story.

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

Yes.

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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"?

Live music, carnaval parade and the rehersals leading up to it, going to the beach, going sailing, going to nearby beach towns, theatre. There is always something going on and just hanging around at sidewalk cafes and watching the locals walk by is fun in and of itself.

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

Samba CDs.

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9. Can you save money?

As the dollar got stronger towards the end of my time there, it may be now but not while I was there.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I'd return to Rio in a heartbeat but I'd NEVER work at the Consulate again.

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

Gringo reserve, idea that you live to work instead of work to live.

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3. But don't forget your:

Partying spirit, joie de vivre, dancing shoes and sunscreen.

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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. 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?

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