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

Personal Experiences from Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil 08/14/19

Background:

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

Fourth time living abroad, second tour with DOS (Department of State).

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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?

NY/DC...9-10 hour direct flights or 15 hours with a layover in ATL or Miami. Periodic flight sales.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One and a half 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?

US Consulate housing is comprised of high rise buildings in the southern zone of SP. Expect 3-4 bedrooms. You can live in Moema, near the consulate, or near the schools. Commutes are typically 15 - 45 minutes but depend greatly on traffic. It's gotten better since the metro line to the consulate opened.

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

Varies greatly depending on neighborhood and which store you go to. Most neighborhoods have many American-style grocery stores and also have their own weekly produce markets. Anything imported his hilariously expensive (Stop N Shop pancake mix at my grocery store is about $12). Some things are really cheap (mangos). I think overall, I spend less on groceries than I did in DC. Though booze is really expensive unless you want the local cheap beers.

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

Peanut butter, paper products, and any detergents that are scent-free.

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

You have BASICALLY everything here. SP is known for pizza, but honestly their style of pizza is pretty gross. However, there are many neopolitan style pizza places and even an Eataly. Japanese food is everywhere. Most places will deliver through one of the popular delivery apps. Beware though, Brazilians do not really like flavor beyond "ultra sweet" or "salty." sometimes I bring my own chili oil to ramen restaurants...

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

Not really. Some people have problems with small ants.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch, but it's not really straight forward to send. I've yet to go to the actual post office here. We're waiting for our own DPO, which will be nice. Amazon prime usually arrives in 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?

Expect to pay around $180R (US$45) for a half-day of work. No idea about full time costs, but many people hire nannies, etc.

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

The US Consulate has a gym/pool/tennis court that seem to get use. Through out the city there are tons of gyms. Pilates and crossfit are everywhere. Prices are similar to DC; for a nice gym expect to pay around $100USD/mo. Single yoga/pilates/spin classes can be up to US$20 each.

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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?

My dermatologist and dentist don't accept credit cards, but the people selling cheap beer from coolers on the street do. All stores take cards. ATMs are mostly fine tho some people have had cards skimmed.

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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 for almost everything, ESPECIALLY out of Sao Paulo. Upper class Paulistanos will speak varying levels of English. It's surprising for such a huge/international city.

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

Yes, with extreme disabilities. Sometimes the sidewalks look like they've been bombed.

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Transportation:

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

$1.25 or so for the bus or metro. Safe, but beware of pickpockets like in any major city.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Something small and with high clearance. Roads are really bad in the city (though the highways are lovely!) and parking garages are 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 can take up to 2 months to be installed. Some people can get it done in a week. it's a HUGE headache. Speed is fast, price is comparable to the US.

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

Bring an unlocked smart phone and get a local plan. A bit cheaper than in the US but with more 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?

Pets are worshipped in Sao Paulo. They all wear boots and have jewels on their foreheads and bows in their hairs. Petshops are on every corner.

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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?

Hard to get employment on the local economy. Some EFMs work at post.

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

Work: business/business casual. Everyday life...similar to the US. Though there is a very noticeable Brazilian style. On the beaches, expect to see the skimpiest bathing suits ever...on all sizes/ages of people.

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Health & Safety:

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

High-crime post. lots of pick pocketing, some robberies. Lots of homeless people with drug problems, especially in Centro. Have your wits about you, take Uber at night.

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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?

Excellent healthcare here, and the best hospital in South America! Health concerns: respiratory issues are rampant, though med and management don't seem to believe staff concerns.

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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 at post is generally relatively bad and comparable to a big US city. There are air monitors on lots of street signs. It's usually green-yellow, rarely red.

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

You can find most things for special diets here. Sunscreen is expensive.

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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)?

The tension/pressure of living in a high crime city and the weight of how difficult it is to do simple things here can really weigh on you.

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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?

Great climate. Mild winters (i've seen my breath just a few times) and warm/hot summers. During summer there's a rain storm every day right when we're leaving work...

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Schools & Children:

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

Good schools.

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Expat Life:

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

I'd think the expat community would be larger. I'm always surprised when I meet another foreigner out and about! There must be tons of them given how SP has headquarters for so many major international companies. Morale is...mixed. some people love it, some people hate it. It depends on what you make of it really. Go out and take advantage of this massive amazing city, make local friends, get out and travel, and you're happy. Stay isolated and fearful, let the traffic get to you...you're miserable. At work it really depends on other factors, and that's a whole other discussion.

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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?

Bars, restaurants, trips, night clubs, and exercising.

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

Amazing for single people! Young, vibrant, so much to do. A negative side though is that we are housed in neighborhoods that cater mostly to families. Young professionals live more towards the city center. Couples seem to do as well as singles. Families have issues sometimes with how far away schools can be and with living in high rises w/o yards.

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

Maybe the best in Latin America. Close your eyes and imagine it and it's hear for LGBT people. Pride parade is one of the biggest in the world. Certain neighborhoods seem to be predominantly LGBT-oriented/occupied. The nightlife is great. However, there are concerns with the new government's attitudes towards LGBT people and with high levels of violence against trans people.

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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?

Very easy if you put in the effort. Brazilians love foreigners!

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

Very large problems with racism. Brazil had more slaves than the US and had slavery longer. The scars are still VERY visible.

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

The beaches! Especially the northeast. All the restaurants, museums, and nightlife.

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

This list could be so so so long. I'll just say that you NEVER run out of things to do. You always have to choose between multiple amazing activities/trips/events.

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

Ehhh. Cheaper than in the US for furniture. clothing and electronics are expensive.

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

The restaurants, nightlife, culture, museums, events, markets. Sheer number of people from all over the world.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How hard it is to do anything official. How fun the city is. How we don't live close to "happening" areas of the city.

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

110%.

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

Heavy winter jackets, ideas of what Brazilians are like; it's just as diverse (if not more so) than the USA., and expectations to get easy tasks done quickly.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen!

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 11/01/17

Background:

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

Yes, it was my first.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home is Florida, USA. There are many direct flights from Sao Paulo to Miami, but they are long (9+ hours), pricey and usually overnight. Also, if you have pets, note that air travel can be an issue since Brazil is one of the countries that frequently does not permit pets in cabin -- most are required to be in baggage or cargo.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We lived in Sao Paulo for two years.

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

U.S. consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

As with most housing in Sao Paulo, we were in a high-rise apartment. We were in a sleepy neighborhood that was a short 15-minute drive to the consulate, but a bit of a haul to go anywhere else (45 minute average). We had a nice large apartment that was relatively new in comparison to others, but lived next door to a remaining favela (slum) that made walking the neighborhood not a good idea after dark (and even sometimes during the day depending on specific events).

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

Sao Paulo is expensive when it comes to buying groceries or retail products, especially if they are imported from the US or elsewhere. And their availability is random even at the stores frequented by expats. Subscription to Amazon Prime or frequent orders from Target, etc. are a must for most. However, the fresh fruit is AMAZING and affordable at street markets (versus the stores).

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

Anything liquid which is not permitted to be ordered online and delivered via the pouch (sauces, condiments, preferred shampoos/soaps, cleaning supplies, etc.) Also spices (PEPPER!), healthy snack foods, gluten free items if required, etc. If you are into healthy eating, you will struggle with the canned/boxed/bagged foods in Brazil since they contain a lot of sugar and additives in comparison to other countries.

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

The restaurant scene in Sao Paulo is well known around the world. You will be able to find any type of food if you look hard enough. If you are a sushi fan, you will be in heaven due to the quality and affordability. Most other restaurants, however, can be pricey. Note that dinner is late and most restaurants will not open until 7 p.m. Food delivery availability is random and often takes a while and shows up cold and a mess (due to the motorcycle transport on bumpy roads).

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

Ants can be an issue and mosquitoes will always find a way in, even if you live in a high-rise apartment.

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Daily Life:

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

We used the pouch at the U.S. consulate. The one time I had to look for a post office for inter-country mail I was unsuccessful.

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

Household help is very inexpensive. We paid the equivalent of $30 USD for a full day of cleaning and errands. Many friends also employed cooks and nannies which are readily available.

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

There are gyms everywhere in Sao Paulo, but membership is required at most and the prices exceed those found in the U.S. Most of the larger living complexes have adequate gyms available to residents free of charge.

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

Credit card skimming and fraud are a major problem in Sao Paulo. We opened one card for specific use there and kept the others locked away. We were hit 3 times in 2 years. When dining out insist that a credit card machine is brought to the table where you can witness the transaction. DO NOT use ATMs in public. Go inside your work location if one is provided or physically go inside a bank.

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

Not a lot to be honest. Portuguese is a MUST here. Very few people speak English.

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

Portuguese is a MUST. Even non-working spouses will need to have at least beginner-level knowledge. English is rarely spoken by apartment managers, taxis or store and restaurant staff.

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

Yes. Especially if you need assistance getting around. Due to the bad infrastructure, the sidewalks are very broken and uneven which makes any kind of assistance equipment impossible to use. Handicap parking is also hard to find.

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Transportation:

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

We avoided buses and the metro in Sao Paulo due to some security concerns, but mostly due to the overcrowding and lack of AC. We opted for Uber and 99Taxi apps which were very reliable and cheap. Parking can be an issue in Sao Paulo, so our car in the garage more than it was driven.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Something with high clearance and that can handle rough, pothole-ridden roads. Also, due to car robberies, we would recommend an older vehicle that doesn't draw attention and that you don't care if it gets dinged by other drivers. Some friends opted for armored cars, but we did not.

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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?

High-speed internet is available and good when it is connected (sometimes lacking if you are trying to watch TV or have more than one family member trying to use it). However, the frequent power outages that torment Sao Paulo will leave you without quite frequently.

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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 an old phone when you are out and about due to frequent robberies. You will need to contract with a local carrier in Brazil (no home country plans seem to work there). Unless you open a Brazil bank account you will need to pay your mobile bills in person at the store or partner bank locations.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine is required but you will need a lot of health paperwork approved by your vet and the USDA prior to entry. Sao Paulo is a VERY dog friendly city when it comes to acceptance and attitudes towards differing breeds. However, there is not a lot of green space and dogs often go to the bathroom on the sidewalk (watch where you step since most people do not clean up after their pets). There are several recommended veterinarians that speak English. Note that if you take your dog out a lot you should look into the Brazil vaccinations (which are in addition to the ones required in the U.S.).

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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?

There were not a lot of locally based jobs available to expatriate spouses when we were there. The American Society of Sao Paulo had some part-time openings that occasionally opened up, but most were volunteer only. The consulate had some jobs but required at least a level 1 knowledge in Portuguese. Salaries are extremely low in comparison to the US (especially if you are paid locally with the bad conversion rates).

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

If you enjoy volunteering you will enjoy Sao Paulo. Schools, orphanages, pet rescues, government groups - there are several opportunities. You're first step should be to reach out to The American Society of Sao Paulo that leads or knows someone who is connected to the several charities.

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

The work dress code is similar to the U.S. The social dress code can be the same or extremely different depending on where you are going. Formal events here are extremely formal, with both men and women spending the entire day at the spa for hair, makeup, and nails. We never felt "fancy" enough when we attended the high-level events.

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Health & Safety:

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

I know some people hold back on this section and give the generic "just be smart and aware" comment. However, if I am honest, crime in Sao Paulo is bad. It doesn't exist in pockets or only at night, and they don't randomly target just the flashy. Crime happens everywhere in all neighborhoods at all times.



We lived in Sao Paulo for two years and knew three people that were robbed at gun point - two on a busy street and one in her car while she was stopped in traffic (where they busted out the windows to get to her and her valuables). Our apartment was targeted and robbed. We lost all of our valuables, including the stuff in our hidden "theft proof" safe.



In all instances we and our friends followed the protocol -- be aware, blend in, don't wear jewelry, don't carry large popular branded purses, etc. It doesn't matter. There is really nothing you can do but know that it MAY happen and how to handle the situation if it does.

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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?

When we left Sao Paulo, Zika was the big health concern, but I feel it was overblown by the American media. We found medical care to be excellent. Most places have at least one doctor that speaks a little bit of English, which helps those that are not fluent in Portuguese. Be prepared to have to go to the lab to get scans for everything! The thoroughness of Brazilian doctors is a running joke with the expats, but appreciated at the same time. Medical care is much more affordable than the U.S.

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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?

In comparison to other large cities it is pretty good, but our 8-year-old daughter did have issues with the pollution and had to go on medication during our entire two years in Sao Paulo. Once we left she was able to discontinue the medication, which confirmed that pollution was the issue.

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

If you have allergies or sensitivity to varying air qualities, you will most likely have to medicate. Also, foods and restaurant menus in Brazil are not required to list all ingredients or possible allergens like nuts, gluten, etc. so you will need to be on guard if food allergies are an issue.

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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)?

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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?

The weather in Sao Paulo is very pleasant. The seasons are opposite of the US, but don't vary in temperature too much. I would say they resemble the southeast US as a comparison.

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Schools & Children:

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

Most expatriate kids attend one of the two best known schools: Graded (American school) and British College of Brazil (British school).



Graded is usually everyone's top choice since it is the American school. It is extremely large and has lots of events and activities for attending families and the community, but it can also have a long waiting list (Americans do not receive priority placement) and is a lengthy drive from most of the expat communities (long bus rides result in very early pick up and very late drop off).



BCB is a smaller, more intimate school that is close to the U.S. consulate and most of the expat communities. It is still growing and is lacking an upper school, but the programs available to middle school and under are great. Both schools are academically advanced with top-notch teachers and accolades. So really it depends on the type of experience you want (and who has an opening when you need it).



Our daughter attended 1st - 3rd grade at BCB and she absolutely loved it. And, when we returned to the US for a brief stay in the DC area, she was a year ahead of her American classmates in regards to curriculum learned.

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

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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

There are a lot of traditional sports available to boys (soccer, tennis, martial arts, swimming). Girls will find some as well, but they are much more limited than boys given the culture. Dance, music, and equestrian are all big for both boys and girls in Sao Paulo. The American Society offers weekly American sports for kids (football, baseball, girl's soccer) but they are not competitive.

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Expat Life:

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

Sao Paulo has a very large expatriate community. Morale shifts based on work (those with the government are higher than private, since a lot of private companies are pulling out of Sao Paulo and Brazil given the financial and political issues). If you can travel outside of the city at least once a month it will help with your morale (this is what most locals do).

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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?

Sao Paulo always has fun events to attend and all the expatriate societies are involved with their bases as well. It is impossible to be bored in Sao Paulo. We recommend The American Society of Sao Paulo (even if you are not American - their events are open to all and they also partner with other countries to promote their events as well).

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

I would absolutely recommend Sao Paulo to singles and young couples. It is an "OK" post for families. Most of the events happen late at night or consist of partying, which singles and young couples are more likely to enjoy. (Don't get me wrong - we enjoyed them too, when we were able to find a babysitter and didn't feel guilty for constantly leaving our child at home). Dining out can be more upscale and caters to a bigger wallet.



Also, we felt that Sao Paulo didn't have a lot for families to do in general - one major park was over-visited by us, as well as several museums focusing on limited history. Sao Paulo also has a small unkept zoo and a small aquarium. Sadly, kids in Sao Paulo spend most of their time indoors. We spent most of our time traveling outside of Sao Paulo in search of fun family-friendly activities.

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

Sao Paulo is excellent for the LGBT community and has one of the largest Pride parades in the world.

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

It depends on how much you integrate into the community, but if you do you will witness "machismo" attitudes. Most local women we knew stayed home and there were not as many sports activities available to our daughter. We did not witness any ethnic or religious issues. Brazilians love Americans and the country has really opened up to other groups as well.

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

The highlights for us were school events and community events sponsored by The American Society of Sao Paulo. Our trips outside of Sao Paulo were the most memorable. Inter-country flights are actually inexpensive and readily available. Our favorites were Rio for New Years and Carnaval, Paraty, Iguacu Falls, Bonito, Campo Grande, Campos do Jordao, and The Amazon. All were family friendly (but enjoyed by our single and young couple friends as well).

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

The events associated with Carnaval, Festa Junina, and Oktoberfest are fun and should be on everyone's list (including families). Also, for an adult night out there are interesting karaoke bars that are fun to attend with groups.

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

Yes, but mostly outside of Sao Paulo. Embu is a fun day trip for all your art and cultural handicraft wants.

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

It's the major travel hub for Brazil, so inter-country travel is very easy and affordable if you live in Sao Paulo. And again, the restaurants.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

We wish had known about the infrastructure struggles that resulted in frequent power outages which can be an absolute drain on you. Also, we wish people would have been more open about the safety issues.

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

Overall we are glad we got to experience life in Sao Paulo, however we would not move back to the city. Brazil yes, but Sao Paulo no.

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

Valuables.

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4. But don't forget your:

Open mind.

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

If you are looking at a list of foreign locales to live in, Sao Paulo will definitely outrank many. You just need to make sure you are educated on the realities and be prepared for anything.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 04/17/17

Background:

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

No - lived in a number of cities in South America and Asia. I've also traveled pretty widely.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home is San Francisco. There is a flight from Sao Paulo to LAX a few days a week which is nice because the onward flight to SF is only 45 minutes. It's on American and can be pricey and isn't every day. For business, there are direct flights from Sao Paulo to DC, although for the time being, the government contract fare is inexplicably on Delta, so now people on official travel have to lay over in Atlanta before flying on to DC. Sad!

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3. How long have you lived here?

About two years.

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

The US consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Here it's high-rise apartment buildings. They are quality, have 24/7 security, and frequently have other amenities like pools, tennis courts, gyms, BBQ areas, or other stuff. Commute times for most consulate people range from 5 minutes walking to 30 minutes driving. In the afternoons it's usually a bit longer - can be up to 45 minutes or more when it rains. When it rains, drivers melt down and can't drive right. Also the roads tend to flood.

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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 find whatever you want, but if it is a luxury product, you will pay for it. Think brie, soy milk, nuts, berries, juice that isn't just sugar water, any natural food product that isn't loaded with preservatives and chemicals, etc.

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

Cleaning products here aren't quite as good as in the States. Honestly, though, I've heard people complain about it more than I've noticed it myself. Haven't found good cheddar cheese.

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

Good Chinese, Japanese, Brazilian, Italian. Really they have everything. A good pizza in the nice neighborhoods here is ridiculously expensive (like USD$25 for a medium). Leave your expectations of tasty salads at home. A Brazilian salad is iceberg lettuce, a few slices of tomato, a few slices of white onion, olive oil, vinegar (not vinaigrette), and carrot shreds if the chef is feeling frisky.



Brazilian BBQ is great. You will probably also find yourself eating grilled ham and cheese sandwiches more than you are ready for. You can always get a plate of rice, beans, an overcooked hunk of meat and the aforementioned Brazilian salad for like USD$7. Literally on every corner.



There are not great burritos, and no deli sandwiches, which is a bummer.



Brazilian food traditions are awesome though. Beware the carbs. It's not uncommon for a dish to come with rice, beans, fries, and mashed potatoes. Sometimes even spaghetti.

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

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch. It's pretty good. I have gotten flat mail delivered straight to my apartment and it's faster than pouch.

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

Pretty cheap and pretty good. USD$50 a day for someone to clean the bejeezus out of your apartment, wash and iron your clothes, etc. Some of them will cook a dish or two if you want and are willing to forgo them spending that time detailing the grout with a toothpick.

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

Anything you can imagine, they have. Pools, horses, basketball, soccer, baseball, skateboarding. It's cheaper than the States.

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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?

A lot of people get their cards cloned here but it's kind of a fact of life. People use their cards for everything, even for small purchases. Literally the rag man on my route to work has a credit card machine (could this be why there is so much cloning?). ATMs are plentiful.

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


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

It's helpful to know Portuguese since most Brazilians don't speak English. But even if you don't know the language Brazilians are very friendly and very patient and like foreigners. You can fumble your way through anything.

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7. 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?

Yes. Uber is ubiquitous. Buses and metro are safe, cheap, and easy to use. The bus drivers are a little herky-jerky and I wouldn't eat off the seats, but if you can live with that, it's a nice way to travel and pretty convenient. Bus stops are close to the Consulate.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Something that can handle potholes.

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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. The Consulate helps with installation now. It's frequently installed in a week or two. I hear it varies based on the season.

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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. 4G is reliable and affordable. If you get a Brazilian bank account you can pay your bills online. Otherwise you have to pay at the bank at the Consulate.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?


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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are a few EFM jobs at the consulate, but many require some level of Portuguese. Similarly, you will want to speak Portuguese to be competitive on the local economy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Probably plenty, but see above. Most people here don't speak English.

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

Varies depending on the situation. Not dissimilar from the US in that regard.

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Health & Safety:

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

You could get pickpocketed or robbed or shot. I think the crime concerns here are overblown. Petty crime exists like it does in most of the developing world. If you get confronted, you give up your valuables. As long as you aren't a drug trafficker, you probably don't have serious issues to worry about.

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

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Surprisingly good. The AQI in Sao Paulo is usually between 20 and 50, putting it on par with a lot of US cities. It's humid here so your allergies could act up.

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

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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)?

There is not a close community at post, so if you need that to get along, this might be a tough place.

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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?

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty big. Like people's moods in the States, morale varies 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?

BBQs, sports, going to dinner, clubbing, etc.

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

All of the above.

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

Yes. Biggest Pride parade in the world is in Sao Paulo.

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

There is a lot of racism in Brazil, and people with darker skin color will experience it here.

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

Getting to know Brazilians. There are so many places to visit in Brazil. You will not get to all the destinations you want to visit.

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

Saturday afternoon samba and feijoada. Go to a soccer game. See a theater production.

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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. There are some handicrafts and knick-knacks, but you gotta make sure it's not just Chinese, which it probably is. Clothes are expensive.

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

Great dining. Lots of cheap Michelin restaurants. Also, Brazilians.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

In a second.

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

Parka.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 04/11/17

Background:

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

No, my fourth after other assignments in Europe, 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?

New York, about 11 hours direct, with a few different airline options. A big benefit of Sao Paulo is that there are lots of international air routes.

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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.)?

US government assignment.

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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 city apartment living, all generally in nice high-rise buildings with security and most with nice amenities. The big issue is location. It used to be that apartments were located in lively neighborhoods like Jardins. In the last couple of years, folks have been moved closer to the Consulate in sterile neighborhoods like Brooklin, where there is very little activity. If you're stuck there, you'll have few places to walk to, whether that be restaurants, shops, or nightlife. If you're looking for that, you'll need to get in a car and travel to a more lively part of the city. The one upside is the new places have a shorter commute to work with less time spent in traffic. I have to say that as a single person who wanted to take advantage of being in a big city, I would have felt cheated if I were stuck in one of the neighborhoods they're putting people in now.

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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 find pretty much anything here. There are great supermarkets and stores here that sell anything you may be looking for, but it will certainly cost more than in the U.S. Take advantage of Amazon Prime.

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

There was really nothing I needed that I couldn't find locally.

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

Pretty good options, though good Asian and Mexican is hard to come by. Most places deliver after 8 pm. Be careful of pizza places, as most inexplicably don't use tomato sauce on pizza.

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

Thankfully, I've never seen a single bug in my apartment.

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Daily Life:

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

Everything comes via pouch, so expect delays of a couple of 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?

It's usually easy to find good help through word of mouth at the US consulate and rates are reasonable.

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

Most buildings have gyms and if you are looking for something beyond what they offer, there are big chains as well as tons of CrossFit places throughout the city.

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

People generally don't use cash in Sao Paulo and most businesses give you a hard time if you try to pay in cash and need change back. Businesses will run the credit card in front of you to prove they're not scamming you (restaurants will bring the credit card machine to your table). That said, I've had my card cloned three times since I've been here. You just have to use good judgment where you use it. For example, gas stations are usually a bad bet.

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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?

Needed. Vast majority of Paulistas do not speak English.

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

Probably. It just would't be that easy to get around.

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Transportation:

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

Generally, yes. The metro is great in the neighborhoods where it goes, but that's not everywhere, and it goes nowhere near the consulate or where most consulate employees live. Buses are OK but can get crowded. I've never felt unsafe on public transport. Uber works great here. Taxis are fine too, though the drivers sometimes have the TV playing in front of them on the dashboard as they drive you around, which is a culture shock.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A small SUV would work great for clearance and parking.

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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, but it is a nightmare to get it set up. You need to have a government-issued identification number, which takes months unless you know someone already here who is willing to set it up in their name. But even if they do that, then you should also be aware that it is super difficult to transfer the account to your name when you finally get your identification number.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

For the consulate it depends on your section, as some are more business casual than others. Outside of work, Brazilians generally dress a little better than Americans.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes. I was never personally a victim, but have seen and heard of incidents taking place. Sao Paulo's reputation as a dangerous city is somewhat overblown so the danger is being lulled into a sense of false security after you settle in. But it's reputation is also still somewhat deserved. If you use common sense, you should be OK, but I would always be aware when walking around even in the nicest parts of the city. Unfortunately, some incidents just happen when you're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Talk with RSO and take their advice.

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2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Generally OK for a big city.

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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?

Generally the same as DC most of the year, but with a milder winter. You won't see snow in Sao Paulo.

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Expat Life:

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

There is a large and active expat community. If that's what you're looking for, you'll find it through InterNations and the American Society.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are many private clubs around the city you can join that have great sports and other facilities.

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

I would imagine best for singles and couples. The best part of Sao Paulo is taking advantage of the culture, restaurants and nightlife.

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

Yep, there's a fantastic gay scene.

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

Flying within Brazil is relatively inexpensive. Rio is a quick trip and a cheap flight, generally. Other highlights were Buzios, Paraty and exploring the Northeast. There's no shortage of great places to visit.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

Yes. For all its hassles, I've never been bored in Sao Paulo. There is always something fun to do.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience. Everything takes longer here and you'll spend a good amount of your time stuck in traffic going somewhere.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 01/15/17

Background:

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

Yes. First post.

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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?

Pennsylvania, USA (about 13 hours with one connection) or nonstop from Newark. Orlando, FL - can find some non-stop (8-9 hours) and most from Miami are non-stop (8 hours).

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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

Working at the US Consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Nice apartments. Everyone except for the consul general lives in apartments/condos. They are all pretty nice with pools, gyms, and most have playrooms/playgrounds for the kids. I walk to the consulate from Brooklin (15-25 minute walk). Most people drive and some use bikes. The commute to/from the consulate from most neighborhoods where we live is 15-30 minutes.

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

Pretty much the same. Some things are really expensive though like diapers and peanut butter, so pack those in your HHE. You can find pretty much everything here... except Cheddar cheese.... we all miss that! And tortilla chips and many spices are hard to find too.

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

Tortilla chips, more spices (like curry), peanut butter. Anything for babies or kids is super-expensive: diapers, wipes, toys.

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

ifood has everything you could imagine. Only problem is most places don't open until after 7pm. You can't get pizza until after 7pm.

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Daily Life:

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

We have 'pony express' at the Consulate but you could use the local Correios mail too -- I've never tried.

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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 pay $1000 a month for a nanny and a housekeeper comes once a week for $50 a day (for 8 hours of work).

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

Lots of gyms and pools here. There is one at the Consulate. I just use the ones in our apartment and they are really nice.

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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 places take credit cards but I wouldn't use them in the street. Consulate has ATMs but I always just cash a check to get money at the Citibank at the Consulate. Safer than the ATMs. I would never use an ATM on the street. Very dangerous.

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

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

Lots. It is difficult to live if you don't know some Portuguese.

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

Potentially, the sidewalks are pretty bad.

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Transportation:

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

I always take taxis but many people take buses. Totally 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?

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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, however, it is really difficult to get installed. Took me 6 months! Some people have been successful getting it in a few weeks. It's about $60 a month.

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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?

Like internet, quite difficult.You need a CPF.

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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?

Not sure but 1 out of 3 people have dogs here so I think the care is pretty good. Lots of dog walkers available.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some work at Consulate, some consult and some are unemployed.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots but I haven't been involved.

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

Business and casual business at work. Casual on weekends. Bring your flip-flops!

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, I would suggest talking to RSO. I have not been a victim but I am also super careful. Don't use your phone in public, don't walk after 8pm on streets (especially alone), don't carry lots of money, don't wear jewelry, etc. Lots of robberies.

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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 and Zika. Private hospitals here are amazing - some of the best in the world - check out Einstein.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

I think it's OK but the bus and car exhaust is apparent in the city.

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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 is really hot in summer and rains a lot throughout the year with lots of flooding. It can get cold in winter, though (40F).

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Schools & Children:

1. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

My 3 year old attends day care which I think is pretty good. Around $1000 per month.

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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 large. American Society and lots of college alumni groups.

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

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

Awesome playground at Consulate where my kids love to play. The beach is 2 hours away and that's pretty nice too... but don't expect an amazing beach. It's just so-so.

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

There's a petting zoo in the city for the kids and the aquarium is good too. Jazz and music clubs. Some of the best in the world!

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

Fruits and veggies at the street fairs are amazing!

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

There is always something to do. The weather is pretty good and there are lots of great food / restaurants.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How big it is.

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

Sure.

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

Car. Some people say it's necessary but anytime I want to get out of the city, I just rent a car. Uber and 99taxi are both really inexpensive.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bathing suit and Amazon Prime account!

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

CLO has tons at post. Check them out when you arrive.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 01/06/17

Background:

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

No, I have more than ten years of overseas experience.



Previous cities include: Baghdad, Kathmandu, Dar es Salaam (garden spots)

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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?

My home city/state is Houston, Texas.



Direct flights are available between Sao Paulo and Houston. Travel time is about 9 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 1/2 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 hit and miss. Everyone lives in apartments. Apartments in quiet neighborhoods are typically spacious (Campo Belo, Brooklyn, Campo Grande, etc.) and apartments within metropolitan areas are typically small.

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

Groceries are affordable.



Fresh fruits and vegetables are typically cheap. Boxed and canned food as well as house hold items are about the same price of what you would pay in DC.

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

You can find a large variety of grocery items. Anything that you cannot find you can have shipped via Amazon (wait time is 1 1/2 to 2 weeks).

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

Pizza restaurants are everywhere!


Lots of price-per-kilo and buffet-style cafes.


WARNING: Bread and Cake shops are highly addictive!

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

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Daily Life:

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

I receive/ship letters to the US through the consulate. However the Brazilian postal service is adequate for in-country mail.

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

Cheap.

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

Lots of exercise facilities are available within Sao Paulo (gyms, cross-fit, karate, dance, etc.)

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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?

International debit and credit cards are widely accepted. However you must be watchful for electronic schemes - check your bank statements regularly... Also ensure that you bank has some type of return policy for fraudulent charges.

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

Arabic, English and Portuguese.

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

You can "get-by" with English in tourist areas. You need Portuguese to indulge in the conversation and culture.

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

Yes, however the issues are manageable.

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Transportation:

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

Uber and Easy Taxi are widely used. Buses, subways and taxis are CHEAP!

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I recommend that you bring a vehicle that withstand abuse...there are lots of pot-holes, fender benders, etc. There may be issues with acquiring spare parts for hybrid vehicles.

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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. The installation can be hectic, but once installed, high-speed internet is readily available.

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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?

Lots of mobile phone carriers are available with in-country and international options.



WhatsApp is popular in Brazil... It is used to make local and international calls on the internet. I highly recommend it!

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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?

Pet shops and veterinarians are widely available.

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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?

There are numerous employment opportunities within the consulate and local market (usually involving teaching). Spouses can work in Brazil but it is important to manage your expectations (low salaries).

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

Work and public attire is similar to what you would find within an metropolitan city in the US.

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Health & Safety:

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

Sao Paulo is rated critical for crime. It is vital that you and your family practice security awareness at all times. Crime occurs based upon opportunity!

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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?

Affordable and modern health care is available within Brazil.

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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 within Sao Paolo. Reinvigorating outside of the city.

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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 patterns are the exact opposite of the US. The climate is similar to Florida--lots of rain and sun, chilly at times but no snow.

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Schools & Children:

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

Graded School (most popular), Chapel School and British College are used by most expats.

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

Many of the international schools have accommodations.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Lots of options.

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

Most of the international schools have comprehensive activity/sports programs.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large. Sao Paulo has numerous US companies operated by American expats.

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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?

Participation within the American Society of Sao Paulo.

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

YES! There are great social opportunities for all types of people.

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

Yes! See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%A3o_Paulo_Gay_Pride_Parade

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

No. Sao Paulo is a huge mesh of individuals from different cultures, religions, sects, etc.

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

Visiting Iguacu Falls. Learning about the historical similarities between Brazil and the US.

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

You name it, you can find it in Brazil. Exploring, swimming, hiking, shopping, sky diving, etc.

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

Yes. for paintings, artifacts, and antiques. Regarding electronics, I recommend that you order what ever you need from the US.

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

The ease of travel (city, country, South America).

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Words of Wisdom:

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

YES! YES! YES!

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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?

If you are considering moving or travelling to Brazil, DO NOT WATCH: "Turista" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82vCpAgBpoc

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5. Do you have any other comments?

This has been my best tour! The work is rewarding, the schools are fantastic, the people are lovely, and the travel opportunities are AWESOME. I will leave this Sao Paulo kicking and screaming.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 08/05/15

Background:

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

Yes, first time living abroad.

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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?

11 hours to New York and nine hours to Atlanta. Very cheap flights these days. My wife and kids flew round-trip from Sao Paulo to New York for about US$500 per ticket recently. Easy 8-hour overnight flights to Miami, too.

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3. How long have you lived here?

8 months. Arrived in December 2014.

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

U.S. government job

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

I live in Brooklin, which is a little lacking in terms of street and sidewalk vibrancy, but it's a 20-minute walk to the U.S. Consulate. Other neighborhoods, like Moema and Jardins, are more lovely and have more options for bars, shops and restaurants, but they are further from the consulate.

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

Excellent grocery stores near us in Brooklin. We go to Mambo for groceries and Carrefour for household supplies. But there are other grocery chains all over the city. Again, Sao Paulo is an enormous developed city with everything you could possibly need. It's not exactly the same as in the U.S., and the quality might be different, but you can find everything you need.

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

Very little. Nearly everything can be found here.

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

It's one of the great restaurant cities in the world. Don't limit yourself to fast food, although you have the usual options.

I think the city's great strengths are traditional Brazilian food, Italian, Japanese, and Syrian/Lebanese, because of the ethnic heritage of the city. (They do other national cuisines, but the Mexican and Chinese are not as strong.) You can go for high-end cuisine, neighborhood diners, or por kilo lunch spots. Plenty of options.

Pizza, obviously fantastic. Try Braz, Pizza na Mao, or Camelo. (One problem: It's nearly impossible to order pizza before 6:30pm. Paulistanos don't eat pizza for lunch, and they don't eat dinner until about 8pm).

With the strong exchange rate, eating out is a bargain. Even fancy restaurants are generally within our means now that the real is at 3.5 to 1.

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

Mosquitoes. My daughters get eaten up at dusk. It's good to wear insect repellant. There was a huge increase in dengue in 2015, double the rate compared to the year previous, but mostly in poor neighborhoods.

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Daily Life:

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

Diplomatic pouch. Which is dreadfully slow here.

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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 don't use a domestic employee, but many people hire someone for one day a week. With the exchange rate, it's about US$40 per day.

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

Our building has a full gym, two swimming pools.

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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?

Nearly everywhere accepts credit cards. There is some problem with ATM cloning in Brazil, so we are advised to use the ATM in the consulate.

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

At least three Protestant options that I know of, probably more:

A fairly traditional church in Bela Vista called Fellowship Community.
A more conservative evangelical church, Calvary International.
And an Anglican congregation that has ties to the British expat community.

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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 people in Sao Paulo speak English. You need basic Portuguese to get around.

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

The sidewalks are rough. It would be hard for someone who uses a wheelchair to get around.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap and safe, and easy to find. There's a taxi ponto on my street, but I generally use an app called 99 Taxis to hail a cab. (It's a little like Uber, but the regular city taxis respond.) Plenty of people use the buses, too, but most of the train lines aren't anywhere near the Consulate or our neighborhoods.

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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 an old Honda Accord, and it's doing fine. It would probably be better to have a car with higher clearance since the roads can flood pretty easily, but we're doing fine.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. We have good high-speed Internet. Cheaper than in the United States. I think it's 75 reais per month, or about US$25 monthly. Our cell phone plans here are about U$S80 to 100 for two phones. Again, when the real is better than 3 to 1, the prices in Sao Paulo become very affordable.

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

Get an unlocked phone, and get a plan here. Most people choose Vivo or Net.

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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 don't know about quarantines, but, good lord, paulistanos love their pets. There are an infinite number of pet stores, doggie-day cares, kennels, and dog-walkers. I read the average paulistano family has more dogs than children these days.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty. Teaching English, working through churches and the consulate.

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

Generally, the level of formality in Sao Paulo is the same as in the United States, perhaps a little more casual in the summer when it gets hot.

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is more common here than in most U.S. cities, so you should be more aware. People have been mugged, cell phones sometimes get lifted.

But your building will have a gate and guards. You will live in safe neighborhoods. You will know where not to go late at night. You will adapt your everyday routine around certain safety precautions and then you won't worry about it too much.

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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?

If you can pay for it, Sao Paulo has some of the best health care in the world. Excellent doctors and dentists, top-notch hospitals. Many of the doctors speak English. No worries here.

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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 moderately unhealthy, but nowhere near the severity of China and India. Most U.S. cities have a particulate matter (PM10) level under 20, according to the WHO. Sao Paulo averaged 35 in 2012. For comparison, Beijing was 121, and Delhi was 286.

So, Sao Paulo is noticeably worse than U.S. air quality, but not too bad.

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

Food is well-labeled here. If you are avoiding gluten, nearly everything is labeled. (Side note: they use gluten-free tapioca, or mandioca, flour in lots of things here, such as the famous pao de queijo. It's fantastic.)

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

The climate is excellent, generally sunny and warm. It gets pretty hot in the summer (December and January), with big thunderstorms most every day.

During winter (June-August), it can get down in the high 50s F. As you probably know, Sao Paulo is known as the City of Drizzle, because it can be rainy, gray and windy. But today (Aug. 4) it was 80F degrees and sunny.

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Schools & Children:

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

The Graded American School is excellent, perhaps the nicest school my kids will ever attend. A huge, beautiful campus, excellent facilities and teachers. They have high standards and the work seems challenging. The student mix is 1/3 U.S. students, 1/3 Brazilian, and 1/3 the rest of the world.

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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?

Plenty of daycare options, although they aren't cheap. Our 4 year old went to Green Book, a bilinqual nursery school, which was close to our apartment. I think it was about $US 700 per month, for mornings only, more expensive for a full day.

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

Yes, lots of soccer and baskertball programs. Probably less for American football.

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Expat Life:

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

Large expat community, as you would expect in a large city. Morale? I think it's pretty good. I like it here. Generally, I feel like this is an easy overseas post. There are challenges, sure, but they are not as steep as in less-developed countries.

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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?

Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, beaches, museums, parks, friends, schools. For serious, pessoal, it's Brazil. They know what's up. Oh, shopping malls. They loooove shopping malls in Sao Paulo. They are fancier and more popular here than in the United States.

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

It's a huge city, and a big expat community, so there's probably a niche for everyone. Plenty of nightlife for singles, plenty of activity surrounding the schools for families with children.

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

Yes. Brazil and the United States have similar attitudes toward gays and lesbians: generally positive, moving in the right direction, but not perfect. The U.S. Consulate has a large gay community and supportive allies.

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

Of course. But no worse than in the United States. Maybe Brazilians want to believe discrimination is based on class, not race, but it's obvious that people here with darker skin have less money and fewer economic opportunities. Here's a nice piece on a complicated issue: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/brazils-colour-bind/article25779474/

We have Asian children, and we don't feel like people stare at us. In general, Brazil is very diverse with lots of Japanese-Brazilians who have been here for decades.

But, we have children who are a different race than we are, but we don't feel particularly discriminated against or stared at anymore here than anywhere else.

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

Best beaches in the world. Great travel opportunities. Easy weekend trips to Rio and to the beaches in Sao Paulo state. It's a huge, beautiful country, and the domestic flights are reasonable.

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

Everyone goes to the big Ibirapuera Park, but there are plenty of cute little pocket parks scattered around town. (Trianon, Burle Marx, Severo Gomes, Parque do Povo). Many of them feel like the Atlantic rainforest; some have monkeys. There's also a huge nature preserve north of the city, Parque Estadual da Cantareira, which has great hikes.

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

Learn to find your local feira, a weekend market where they sell fresh produce. The price is good, and the fruit is spectacular.

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

Sao Paulo is a great post, especially if you like big cities. It's a sprawling cosmopolitan city with art, culture, museums, city parks and good restaurants. Maybe it's not the most lovely city in the world, and the traffic can be rough, but my family is comfortable here. Nice government housing, excellent schools for the kids, large American community. You can also get nearly everything you need here; no need to import everything. It used to be thought of as an expensive post, but the dollar is very strong in 2015, making Sao Paulo a bargain for Americans.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes. As long as the exchange rate stays at 3-to-1 or better.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That you don't need to bring everything with you. That almost everything can be purchased here. Including peanut butter, and wine, and maple syrup.

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

Of course. It's the most important country in South America, and a comfortable place to live, with gorgeous scenery and opportunities for travel. Sure, Sampa can be a little gray, but it's a vibrant and interesting place.

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3. But don't forget your:

Vanilla extract and chocolate chips, for those of you who like to bake. Also, Southerners take note, you can't find grits here.

It's also hard to buy clothing here. It can be more expensive and of less quality, especially children's clothes. You will likely want to do most clothes shopping online.

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

Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed and

Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 08/02/13

Background:

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

First assignment with the Foreign Service,

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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?

Direct flights to Dallas and Miami are easy to come by, the flight is about 9 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 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?

Mostly high rises, some areas are about a 10 minute commute to the consulate, others an hour. It's important to note that some days, even the normal 10 minute commute can take over an hour with the traffic here.

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

TOTALLY depends. Groceries at our house (family of 4) is about US$300/month TOTAL. But I am a shopper. I know to get certain things at certain stores and I take advantage of the local street markets. One could easily spend triple that.

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

Peanut butter, shampoo, conditioner, dish liquid, laundry detergent.

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

McDonald's is here, but expensive, as are subway and Domino's. Food ranges from cheap to REALLY expensive. You can find good food in any price range if you are willing to look.

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

None really.

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Daily Life:

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

Pony express for letters. I don't send packages - too much hassle.

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

It varies, the laws have just changed. Full time help is pretty affordable and very easy to find. (My experience, the average is US$600-$1000 for full time)

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

At the consulate and at most of the apartment complexes. Private gyms and sports clubs are all over.

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

Credit cards, absolutely. Debit cards - not so much. ATMs are fine, better during the day. The best bet is use the one at the consulate

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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?

Not to my knowledge.

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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. No one speaks English.

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

The city is getting better, but older buildings do not have handicap accessibility. That can include apartment buildings and shopping. Also, some of the doors are very slim.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe and readily available and extremely 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?

Nothing big: small, compact cars and SUVs are best. Parking spaces here are REALLY 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?

Yes, about US$75/month for a TV/Phone/Internet package.

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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?

Bring an unlocked phone and get a SIM card here. Plans are cheap, phones are expensive (triple the price in the States).

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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)?

They are readily available.

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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?

Yes.

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

Formal. Brazilians like to dress and be dressed nicely

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is a problem here. Most women don't wear their diamonds or other expensive looking jewelry on the streets. We have seen carjackings and petty thefts and have heard of more crimes, but thankfully, none where people were injured.

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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 amazing. Albert Einstein Hospital is here and is one of the best hospitals in South America (if not 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?

Horrible. The pollution here is a sinus nightmare

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

Rainy season - expect rain. Dry season - DRY. Winter gets chilly, down to about 45F at night, but nothing a room heater can't solve.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are a few that are most common, but we did not use them.

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

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes but EXPENSIVE.

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

None that I know of, but my kids are not there yet.

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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. There is a huge community outside the consulate.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

It is easy to make friends and have things to do right away. Brazilians are very welcoming.

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

This is a great city. Period. It will be what you make of it. For families - there are plenty of places to take the kids, an amazing zoo and zoo safari, awesome botanical garden, arboretum and museums. The singles here love it because of the awesome nightlife. There is always something to do and someone to do it with.

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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?

Not that we have experienced.

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

Emu das Arts is awesome. The beach is an easy hour drive. Hiking, biking is within a reasonable distance, but don't expect to walk out your door and find anything but another high rise. Short day trips are easy to come by, pretty cheap and worth the trip. Rio is only a 45 minute plane ride and flights are readily available and pretty cheap.

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

TONS within the city and even more just outside. There is a bike path every Sunday that runs the entire city, an amazing zoo, an awesome botanical garden, science parks and museums. There is always something to do .

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

Handmade wood furniture and handmade baskets - very cool.

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

The people are great, the food is good. Cost of living is affordable and you can make this city what you want it to be. The weather is pretty consistent, warm, tropical. During rainy season you can set your clock by the rainfall. Lots of interesting things to see and do outside the city.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, especially if you are willing to shop for daily goods.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, we love it.

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

Winter clothes. We brought ours because our friend told us winter got "really cold"......we didn't know 50 was cold to Brazilians until we got here.

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3. But don't forget your:

Shorts and clothes for the next few years. Clothes and shoes are expensive.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Anthony Bordain did a No Reservations (or maybe it was his new show) in Sao Paulo. He hit it pretty good.

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

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6. Do you have any other comments?

This isn't the easiest city to adapt to. It's big; there is smog; it's not pretty. BUT the people are great, the food is good, and it is not hard to find anything you may want. There are great schools and plenty of activity. All in all, it's a great place.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 12/13/12

Background:

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

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

It takes about 9-10 hours to reach Washington, DC. There are direct flights with United and TAM.

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3. How long have you lived here?

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

(The contributor was affiliated with the U.S Consulate and lived in Sao Paulo for two years ending in April, 2012, a first expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We live in Jardins, which is about a 20-minute drive to the consulate in the morning and usually a 40-minute ride back in the evening (sometimes more when it rains). Despite the drive, we LOVE our housing. It is a 3-bedroom apartment in the heart of Jardins, within walking distance to reat restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping of all kinds. The rooms are good size, and the kitchen is very nice with good counter space. There is enough storage space for all of our things. Other people live in Moema, Morumbi, etc. Almost everyone lives in a condo/apartment, but there are a few townhouse-style places within a compound for the US Consulate.

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

Groceries are on par with or more expensive than US major-city prices. Imported items are of course much more expensive.

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

I am glad we brought our own peanut butter because the local brand is super sweet, and the American imports are expensive. Also, there aren't as many cereal varieties, and if you really like your cereal, I would bring it. I wish we brought more Mexican food ingredients like canned chilies, taco seasoning, canned refried beans, etc. Most of those things are VERY expensive here. However, you can find smaller flour tortillas for a decent price. I am also glad I brought my scent-free and color-free detergent, since I haven't seen them here. If you like iced tea, bring your own. They don't really sell the 36+ pack of iced-tea bags here.

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

You can find American restaurants like McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Outback, Applebee's, Chili's, etc. It costs more than in the US.

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

We never encountered any problems. The city government runs PSAs about dengue and prevention of mosquito breeding, but I have not known anyone who has had dengue. Malaria is not a problem in Sao Paulo.

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Daily Life:

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

I used the DPO and Diplomatic Pouch addresses. It was taking 2-6 weeks for things to get from the US to post.

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

Domestic help is becoming less available and more costly every year. We paid about $320 a month for someone to clean our house and do laundry 2 times a week. That was about average at the time for US expats.

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

Yes, pretty much on every corner. The US Consulate also has a nice workout center for employees and their families.

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

I have used my debit card to take money out of Bradesco and Citi Bank ATMs. It varies for others. I have had no problem using my credit card at any place that accepts cards.

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

Yes. I attended a small Catholic mass -- affiliated with Chapel School -- that was in English.

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

You can watch many English-language shows if you purchase cable. English-language newspapers are available at stands.

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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?

You really need to know Portuguese to get around day to day in a pleasant manner. Yes, you can go shopping for groceries and just nod your head if needed, but that's about it. I took a short online course before arriving (I would recommend more if you have the time) and hired a private tutor when we got to Brazil. I would go out everyday and just force myself to use new words. You have to know at least a few simple phrases to communicate your needs. Only some professionals know English. I delivered our baby at Albert Einstein and was grateful for the Portuguese I did know to communicate with the nurses---and even some doctors.

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

Sidewalks and businesses are very often not wheelchair friendly. There are few sidewalk cut-outs, and ramps only at major grocery stores, etc. But there are sidewalks through most of the city.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe, widely available, but pricey in my opinion. You can pick up a 'taxi comum' at one of the taxi stands that are stationed around the neighborhoods. If you don't speak Portuguese, you can show them the address, and if they don't know it they can put it into their GPS or ask someone. Taxis use meters. I have used the subway, which is very clean and efficient. However, it only goes to a few parts of this large city, so it is not the most useful form of transportation. Buses are extremely crowded, so petty theft is a concern. As in any other major city, you should use common sense in crowded public places. I know many people who use the buses and think they are just fine. It would probably be best to know which bus takes you where before your trip, since the routes aren't intuitive. Of course, RSO discourages you from using the subway and --- especially --- the buses.

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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?

Small cars are best to maneuver through the city and park on the streets. Volkwagen is very big here, so you are likely to have access to parts. However, tires, car batteries, and oil are VERY expensive (an oil and filter change recently cost us $155 USD). I recommend installing new tires and battery or putting them in HHE. If you don't already have your windows tinted, get it done on arrival - they will do it darker, which is good for security reasons. If you have a car made in Brazil, expect it to take a very very long time to get through the bureaucratic process. Most people receive their car 3-4 months after they arrive. Our Brazilian-made (but US import) took about 6 months.

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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. Yes, we have 10MB internet through NET. The service was reliable. However, I have heard that many people have had issues. The cost is approximately $80 USD for 10MB internet. We opted to have this level of internet in order to use Skype to call family and friends. Video conferencing is very clear with this level of internet. Many people also use Vonage.

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

I brought my quad-band unlocked phone from the US and used a local microchip. You can get a cell phone or SIM card through the consulate with a really cheap plan, but sometimes that can take a while (it took a month for me). So, you can always get a pay-as-you-go SIM if you prefer. You have to have a CPF number (like a social security number) in order to sign up for a prepaid or postpaid plan. I used my CPF to get a chip for my sister (under my name) when she visited. Smart phones are available, but much more expensive compared to US prices. Many Americans from the Consulate have a Blackberry or iPhone and use that here. I have heard you can get them unlocked here for $50 USD.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No, but they do need rabies vaccination and vet forms completed with USDA approval before entry.

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

Very top notch. Our cat was neutered in SP and I couldn't have been happier. You can hire dog walkers, top-notch pet groomers (complete with bows for your pooch), and kennels when you have to be away. Dogs are especially pampered 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?

A good working knowledge of Portuguese is almost always essential to employment in the local economy. You have to have a work permit to work in the local economy, which can take at least a month to obtain. You can get a work permit without a job prospect if you are affiliated with the US Consulate. Most local-economy jobs are for teaching of some sort. But if you are willing to work pro-bono, there are opportunities out there. I have been volunteering on a public health research project in my field. I know others who teach/tutor English classes and get paid in cash and don't have a work permit.

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

Paulistas like to dress nicely. Men wear suits or at least a tie and women wear nice dresses, skirts, pant suits, (extremely) high heels, etc.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty theft is a concern. We live in a fairly safe and populous neighborhood, so I feel completely safe walking at night by myself to meet up with friends or to go to the store (although some other American women I know don't feel comfortable). When in a car, I put my purse in the trunk or on the floor out of sight. We also don't roll our windows down completely (or sometimes at all). Some locals put a dummy purse with a little money in the front seat just in case. This would be for the drive-by 'motoboy' smash and grabs. Most theft is opportunist, so just trying to make it a little harder for your things to get pilfered seems to be enough.

Of course, sometimes things happen, so it makes sense not to have really expensive/irreplaceable things on your person if that is a concern to you. There are also a lot of aggressive drivers in Sao Paulo, so as a pedestrian and driver, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Pedestrians do not have the right-away when crossing the street. As a walker, you need to be extra vigilant throughout the city. However, there was a law passed recently (and seeming to be enforced) that tickets cars which stop or creep into the striped pedestrian walk-way during a red light.

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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?

Healthcare here is top notch. I knew many expat women who were pregnant while we were in Sao Paulo, and not one went back to the US to deliver their baby, myself included. The go-to hospital for the US Consulate is Albert Einstein. However, there are many other quality hospitals you can choose from. The quality of medical procedures/technology is on par with US healthcare. The time you spend with your doctor is usually 15 minutes to an hour. Private doctors have the time to listen and get to know their patients, unlike in the US.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is moderate to unhealthy. Traffic is very dense, but most cars run on ethanol, which helps reduce the pollution. People with asthma and other breathing conditions may have issues, especially during the summer months. However, I have asthma and have not experienced an episode worse than when I was living in Washington, DC or Chicago, IL. Also, the medical system here is top notch, and this is home to the best hospital in South America.

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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?

There are moderate changes in seasons. Seasons are opposite of the United States. It gets into the 90s F during the summer and 50s F during the winter---cold enough for sweaters and a medium-weight coat. We needed space heaters during the winter.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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

Yes, primarily through the schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Fairly large and growing.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good to great when I was there.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

There are numerous things to do after work and on the weekends. Meet up with friends for drinks after work (chopp is a favorite: small glasses of extremely cold beer with a surprisingly delicious creamy froth on top), late dinners at great restaurants, dancing, etc. Brazilians usually don't go out for dinner until after 9 pm, and bars/clubs don't start filling up until after midnight, with some staying packed until the next morning. During the weekend, people head to the beach that is about an hour away or visit local parks to see and be seen.

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

Sao Paulo is a great places for singles, couples, and those who are looking to start or expand their family.

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

There is a visible gay community in Sao Paulo, and there are many gay-friendly bars and clubs. The city hosts a very well-attended gay pride parade every year. However, there are incidences of hate crimes committed on occasion.

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

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

The people were really the highlight. We made a lot of Brazilian friends while living in SP. Travel wise, Brazil is a huge country, bigger than the continental U.S. So, there is a lot to see, and your only limit is your budget and free time. There are many places you could visit outside the city for the weekend. Rio de Janeiro is fairly close and an easy long-weekend trip (we went there many times). I recommend taking a trip to Fortaleza (or Jeri Coa Coara) or to Foz do Iguacu. The Pantanal is a better place for seeing wildlife than the Amazon. Of course, there are many things to do within the city, from museums to theaters to neighborhood markets and festivals.

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

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

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

Living in a major city like Sao Paulo, you have only yourself to blame if you are bored! There are so many restaurants to choose from, cultural events to attend, museums, parks, etc. There are also many sites to enjoy immediately outside the city. And you are also at a major flight hub, which makes it easy to get to other locations throughout Brazil and South America.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't take tons of adventure vacations. If you want to tour all of Brazil and South America, you won't be able to save money. We took 2-3 nice trips a year and were OK.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Sim, com certeza!

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

Inhibitions.

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3. But don't forget your:

Portuguese dictionary!

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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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Sao Paulo, Brazil 01/25/12

Background:

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

This is our second expat experience. We lived in Toronto/Canada previously.

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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?

About a 10-hour flight to Washington, DC. There are daily direct flights to Sao Paulo from the major US hubs such as Washington DC, NYC, Miami (multiple a day!), Dallas, Chicago etc.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years (2010-2012)

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

Affiliated with the US Consulate

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The consulate housing pool consists mostly of apartments and a few houses – all within gated compounds across the city. The best compounds are the ones that have multiple residential buildings as they have more amenities like pools, tennis courts, playgrounds etc. Commute times vary depending on traffic (ha!) and weather (rain=double commute time) from about 20 minutes to 1 hour.

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

Everything is available but at a steep price. Fruit and vegetables are best bought at the weekly feiras/markets – unless you insist on imported brand names and goods, you can make do but expect to spend more money on groceries here than at home.

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

Children’s clothes, diapers, toys, American brands/food you can’t live without, electronics and appliances; ship whatever you think you will need.

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

McDonalds, Burger King, Subway – more expensive than in the US. There are a number of fine dining options and you will pay heavily for those - unfortunately many lack the matching service quality. One of the most frustrating things about living here has been the absence of "good" and adequately priced restaurants.

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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?

There are a few organic stores selling fruits, vegetables, and milk but very expensive.

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

Many apartments seem to have problems with ants and termites; mosquitos are not a problem in the city but can be quite a nuisance at the beach especially the Northern beaches (Litoral Norte). Also, look out for black flies (“Borrachuda”) around the area of Sao Sebastiao and Ilhabella – their bites are about 10 times as bad as mosquitos.

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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 – mail takes a very loooong time….about 4-6 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?

Widely available but expensive; we pay about US$50 per day for our maid.

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

Yes in most Shopping Malls but they are extremely expensive. Most apartment buildings have a gym and the Consulate recently upgraded its gym (overall, the Consulate has a fantastic recreation area consisting of a gym, basketball court, soccer field, tennis court, pool, and playground).

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

Credit and debit cards are generally accepted everywhere. Use the ATM at the consulate bank to withdraw money for safety reasons and to avoid having your card cloned.

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

Can’t comment

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

Through internet

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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?

You need to speak at least a basic level of Portuguese to get around. Not too many people speak English.

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

Many. Streets and walkways are generally not wheelchair accessible.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis called by phone are safe but very expensive. RSO advises against taking certain train lines and buses. After seeing how crowded subways, buses, and trains are during rush hour, you will probably decide to avoid taking them anyway.

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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?

Small SUV like CRV or RAV4 to help navigate pot holes. Parking spaces are very tight so don’t bring a huge SUV – don’t bring a car that is not typically sold in Brazil in case you have repairs or problems.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes, NET provides internet, cable, phone but is very expensive. High speed internet (alone without cable, phone) costs about US$100 per month (and often goes out).

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

There are many providers.

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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?

Can't comment

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

Can't comment

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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?

Yes, if you speak Portuguese.

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

Dressy and stylish for work; in everyday life –pretty much anything goes

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is an issue – you can never let your guard down especially when in the car or walking on the street. Robberies and carjackings remain common occurrences. There have been increasing incidences of carjackings at schools and preschools when mothers pick up or drop off their children. That said, if you take common sense precautions and get over the initial shock (and keep personal safety in mind), you can live comfortably here.

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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 fabulous. Albert Einstein Hospital has been ranked as the best in this part of the world. Most physicians speak English as they have studied abroad and freely hand out private cell phone numbers to call in case of emergencies (and they actually answer the phone too). Expat women typically have their babies here.

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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 unhealthy especially in the dry/winter season when you cannot escape the pollution. The rain in the rainy/summer season “cleans”the air so pollution is less obvious then.

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

Winter – June through August – is generally dry and comfortable – around 60F/70F but can get cooler. Note that apartments are typically poorly insulated so they tend to stay pretty cold in the winter. Summer – November through February – is generally hot and humid (80F/90F). It usually rains every afternoon, although it has been known to rain all day for several days in a row at cooler temperatures.

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Schools & Children:

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

Can’t comment – don’t have school age children.

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

Can’t comment

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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?

Many, many options in English and Portuguese (although English programs will usually be bi-lingual). Pre-schools are usually half days (mornings or afternoons) and cost about US$500 and up per month (not including meals).

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

The American Society organizes sports 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?

Huge

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2. Morale among expats:

Mixed. Singles/couples tend to like it; families face greater challenges as entertainment options are limited for children of all ages.

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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?

Picnics/BBQs, parties, (very expensive) restaurants, movies

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

Sao Paulo is a great city for singles and couples as there are tons of nightlife options. It’s not an easy city for families as there are limited options for reasonably priced entertainment and traffic and weather often make going to the park and other outdoor options difficult. Many parents feel they have very limited options of things to do with their kids.

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

Sao Paulo has one of the biggest Gay Pride Parades in the world, so yes.

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

No

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

Traveling around Brazil – trading chaotic and concrete city life for nature and beach

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

Going to the beach (about 2 hours; just make sure to return early on Sundays otherwise it can easily take you 5 hours); visiting the “wine” region of Sao Roque (go for the nature and grape juice/champagne; not necessarily for the wine!); going to the weekend markets at Embu das Artes.

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

Travels around Brazil, local handicrafts

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

Taking in Brazilian life, food, and culture (futebol!). It is certainly not the place to go to save money as cost of living expenses are high, partly due to incredibly high import taxes (expect to pay 3-5 times more for imported goods like toys, wines/alcohol, clothes than you would in the US).

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11. Can you save money?

Uhm...no

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Hm, I don’t like to say that we would never consider moving back. It just would not be a top choice.

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

Snowsuit, ice skates, and skis

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3. But don't forget your:

Umbrellas and rain coats; Portuguese phrase book as English won’t help you very much; patience as Brazilian life is VERY bureaucratic and you will spend lots of time waiting

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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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Sao Paulo, Brazil 01/17/12

Background:

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

no, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Panama City

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Atlanta, 9 hours

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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.)?

US Consulate

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

All kinds. Mostly apartments, some houses for families. Apartments can be large for families--best are some compounds with playgrounds, tennis, pools. Commute time varies from 10-15 minutes to 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?

All available but all expensive--we do get a COLA that helps, but that is the shocking thing about the monthly budget

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

Children's clothes, peanut butter, chocolate chips, books

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

McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc., more expensive than the US

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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?

Many people order things online. There is definitely some of this available.

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

nothing too bad

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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?

Pretty expensive--about $600 or more a month for full-time help.

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

Yes

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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?

Most use ATM card everywhere, or cash, or credit--

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

Yes--Calvary International in English has a website--Catholic English available at Chapel School on Sundays--Catholic mass in Portuguese--large Jewish community

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

TV yes--NET is expensive per month--prepare yourself--a package with internet is $200 a month

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

Helps a lot--definitely learn this as it will make your stay so much better

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

It is a Latin American city with limitations

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Transportation:

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

Taxis called by phone are safe--a bit expensive

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any car would work

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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?

see above

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

Easy to figure out--can bring a universal type phone from US and buy the chip here

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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

Yes

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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?

yes

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

work is stylish and business at the same timepublic is pretty open to whatever

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Health & Safety:

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

must stay alert, vigilant when leaving home in car or walking--crime is an issue that should always be in the back of your mind

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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?

Excellent medical care.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

unhealthy but during dry season mostly

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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?

Never gets too cold, but there is a winter June-August. Really nice summer, spring, fall

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Schools & Children:

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

Overall very good reports--Graded is competitive but very rich in resources.

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

Some great accommodations have been made for some of my friends' children at the preschool level.

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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?

My kids went to preschool--lots of options both in English and Portuguese.

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

Yes--Brazilians love kids and there are lots of opportunities for them

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Expat Life:

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

large

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2. Morale among expats:

pretty high--you have to have a good attitude and look for the beauty in the city--it is not always apparent at first glance, but there is a great deal of culture

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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?

picnics, parties at homes, movies, restaurants

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

Yes, all. We love it here--not all do, but you have to dive in and make a Brazilian friend. Once you find a way to link with Brazilians, you will love their culture and warmth.

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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?

No

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

strong sense of community with Brazilians not found in other posts

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

Beaches not far from Sao Paulo--1-3 hours gets you to a great 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?

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

friendly people

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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?

YES. I have loved this post.

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

carb-free diet---you will live on pao de queijo!

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3. But don't forget your:

Portuguese--it will help you make Brazilian friends and that is all you need here

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Just give Sao Paulo a chance. Once you get into the city and get to know some people, you will see how wonderful it is.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil 01/03/12

Background:

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

No. Nurnberg, Frankfurt, and Seoul.

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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?

Wash, DC. The flight was 8 hours, direct, from Washington/Dulles airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

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

U.S. Consulate 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?

Typically high-rise apartments, which are all nice and vary in size, depending on the neighborhood. Jardins is a safer area, but apartments there are smaller than in the south or west part of the city. Traffic is almost always heavy.

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

Expensive, and limited, compared to the US. Farmers' markets have fresh veggies, fruits, and fish at reasonable prices. Cost of beef is reasonable, and better in taste than what we had in the US. Shrimp is expensive. The variety of some foods, such as cereal, is very limited. Remember, Brazil is a socialist country.

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

Bring EVERYTHING possible: electronics, clothes, dry goods of all sorts; paper products (napkins); school supplies; laundry detergent.

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

Restaurants are very expensive. American restaurants in the city are Applebees and Chilis. Fast food is mainly McDonald's and "por kilo" (pay by weight) cafes.

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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?

Limited.

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

None in Sao Paulo, but the beaches and interior have mosquito problems that can be quite a bit more difficult to deal with than in the US.

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Daily Life:

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

APO and Unclas Pouch.

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

Very reasonable, but most people have had problems with theft. If it is full-time employment, you will pay for limited benefits also.

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

Yes, but they are typically around $175/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?

Use the banks and be wary of your surroundings. Availability is good, but more limited than in the US, particularly in the interior. But virtually every place takes a debit card, but don't let it leave your sight.

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

Yes, previously mentioned.

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

English language magazines are expensive, but cost 2 to 3 times more than in the US. Cable and SAT TV are available, but English-language programming is limited.

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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?

Important. Store employees and most cafe employees do not know English.

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

Lots. The 'sidewalks' are horrible even for someone with no walking disabilities. Elevators are limited in stores.

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Transportation:

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

Metro and taxis are safe. I use both regularly, and have had no problems.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A small SUV, for its compact size and ground clearance. Roads are fair in Sao Paulo, but they do have pot holes. Parking is VERY limited, so you tend to pay for a parking space. Carjackings occur, but more so for high-end vehicles, such as Mercedes.

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Phone & Internet:

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

Yes. Cost is about $75/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?

Service is good, but expensive. Best to bring an unlocked phone, and use it as a pay-as-you-go phone. Chips can be purchased here for about $10.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

View All Answers


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

Yes.

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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 have to know Portuguese.

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

Business casual to Business.

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Health & Safety:

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

Yes, crime is high, and it tends to be violent. Lots of poor people here, so they form gangs, and they will not hesitate to enter restaurants to rob the patrons, mainly at night.

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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?

Superb health and dental care, but very expensive. The doctors don't take foreign insurances, so you have to pay up front, typically $275 - $325 per visit. Einstein hospital is EXCELLENT. Dentists are cheaper than in the US, but no foreign insurance is accepted.

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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?

Horrible! You'll gasp when driving in traffic.

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

Generally warm, but a little cool for some during the winter season. The summer can be humid. No snow or frost.

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Schools & Children:

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

Graded is the American school. Chapel is a Catholic school. There are British schools. Most Americans attend Graded. Bullying is a problem, and the staff of most schools, even though American, prefer to have the rich Brazilian students attend. Graded uses google docs exclusively; Students in grades 6 and up need a laptop.

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

The public schools are of very poor quality. The international schools don't make considerations for special needs.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, but the language is Portuguese. I have no children in pre-school.

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

Yes, obviously soccer. Many apartment complexes have a soccer court and a swimming pool.

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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, but I heard that it is less than in the past as many businesses have pulled out of Brazil.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Clubs; corner bars; theatre.

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

Not for families, but for couples or singles it can be o.k. Knowing Portuguese is a must.

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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?

No. There are two non-denominational Christian churches in English; one Catholic church in English.

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

Waiting for my trip to the deep Amazon.

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

Martial arts; movie cinemas have first run, English language movies; Plays, if you understand Portuguese. Beaches are about 2 - 3 hours away.

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

Artwork.

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

Weather is generally nice; no winter, but a rainy period. It is VERY expensive here, due to high import taxes, including food.

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11. Can you save money?

Possibly, but limited.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No.

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

Heavy winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

De-humidifiers and umbrellas.

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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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Sao Paulo, Brazil 10/26/08

Background:

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

Florence, Italy.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government.

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

8 hours to USA. Direct flights from Fortalezza to Africa. Good within South America, difficult to get to another continent without flying through USA.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Excellent, in my opinion. My apartment is in a prime location, ample space, and has a commute varying from 15 minutes to an hour depending on traffic and rush hour.

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

Moderately expensive. Depends on what you want. Peanut butter is about US$12 a jar, maple syrup is like gold, Mexican food like taco mix is about US$15.Other stuff is more typical. I usually spend about US$150 at the grocery store, which is about the same I spent in the U.S. Candles are ridiculously priced and for some reason it seems very difficult to find envelopes...but overall you can get anything you can get in the U.S. and pay just about the same or a bit more.

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

Candles (heavy but coveted), envelopes, grape jam (it's not the same here), brown sugar and cocoa, chocolate chips are hard to come by, more seasoning and sauce mixes to cook with, that"s about it.

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

Subway, McDonald"s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, plenty of local fast foods in any shopping mall. Jardins is where the best fine dining restaurants are, but you can eat well anywhere in the city. The food here is excellent. The churrascarias (all you can eat meat "rodizio"s) are also awesome.

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Daily Life:

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

I use APO and/or pouch.

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

I pay R$65 every time my maid comes (about $33 bucks) and she does everything. It"s easy and cheap to find someone to live in and cook and clean, and the same to find someone to live out and do the same.

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

ATMs are widely available and most places accept credit cards. Check with clubs before you go, because some places (like Pacha) only take Visa for some unfathomable reason. So your Amex or MC will be useless there and there is not ATM on premises in some of these picky spots. However overall you will have no problem. I prefer to use cash but there"s no reason you can"t eat out every night with just a credit card. The Banco 24horas is what you probably will need with your particular ATM card, since many banks here only have machines tied to their particular customers.

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

Everything is available, haven"t personally gone to any English language services but I know they are available. Catholic, Jewish, non-denominational Xtian, I"m pretty confident you can find whatever you"re looking for.

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

Satellite is available with U.S. channels, U.S. newspapers and magazines too. I don"t pay for either so no idea as to cost, but I hear cable is about on par with US prices.

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

A lot. Sao Paulo isn't as bad as Rio (where despite its ubertourist status, it seems practically no one speaks English), and usually people speak something. But definitely to live here you want to know more than good morning and thank you.

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

Not too bad. Ramps are common at public places for wheelchair accessibility.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right. But drivers here are basically nuts, so stay alert. Lane marks are suggestions in many places and it's not uncommon for people to cross three lanes of traffic to make a right turn (cutting you off).I"ve been in two fender benders here, neither my fault. Avoid major highways when it rains, as it seems to cause brain freezes in many drivers.

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

All are safe and affordable. Taxis are by far the most convenient. Unfortunately the subway is poorly planned and can be a challenge to use, even for someone used to that sort of travel. Buses are the most inconvenient and cheapest. Crowded, smelly, and the most dangerous as well.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

The smaller the better, in my opinion, but plenty of people have huge SUVs and don"t seem to mind. Carjackings aren't as common as simple robbery when you are in your car at a stoplight. If you plan on travelling much outside of the city or to farms or the interior, a 4x4 would be a good choice. Definitely not necessary though.

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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. I pay about US$40 a month.

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

TIM seems to have the best coverage but Claro is cheaper. A word of warning--landlines here treat calls to cell phones like long-distance, so you might call your friend across the street at a local cell phone number and spend almost 50 cents a minute, where a call to the U.S. from your cell phone might just be 20 cents. It's ridiculous but true.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Phone cards that you can buy at any magazine stand (banca) for denominations of R$25 or R$50.You can get great prices per minute. I usually get about 8 hours off of one phone card. Calls to US cell phones eat up minutes faster however.

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Pets:

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

Yes, and vets come to your house here, which is awesome. Lots of kennel and housing facilities for pets if you go out of town, although most people just have their maid deal with their pets. People in Sao Paulo are mad about their pets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Absolutely.

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

Business standard. Think Manhattan with more cleavage and higher heels for biz attire, ladies. Think same old same old for the boys.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate, some people claim it"s extremely bad but I"ve not had any problems at all. Like any big city, it"s gray and no blue skies.

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

In general it is considered a critical threat post for crime. However, I have luckily not been victimized. Be smart, don't go to sketchy areas at night, tint your car windows, plan routes ahead.

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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?

Hospital Albert Einstein is where most people go. Health care is expensive but dental is cheap. It's a weird combo. You can spend US$400 for a visit to the doctor for a check-up and then US$30 for your teeth cleaning.

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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?

Mostly temperate throughout the year, Sao Paulo gets hot from around November-February, which is also the rainy season. Last year it did get strangely cold for about two months and I was sleeping in layers. Most apartments don"t have heating or air conditioning. Seasons are the opposite than in the USA (winter here is 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?

Chapel, Graded, some others but no kids so don"t know details. Most families seem happy with the quality of the education, however.

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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?

Don't know, most people use "babas", live in nannies, that are very cheap. You can pay about US$400 a month for 24-7 child care.

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Expat Life:

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

Very large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very high.

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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?

You can be a party animal here if you want to be. You can join a social club and mingle with the upper crust of the Paulistanos. You can go out every night of the week until 5 am if you so desire.

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

Sao Paulo is great for everyone. It's like Manhattan, only bigger. You can find plenty to do with cultural and entertainment options that are basically limitless. Dating scene is excellent if you put yourself out there. Clubs are fine for "hookups" like in any big city. There is fine dining, excellent concerts, many big name acts come through here from Europe and the USA, and tons of places just a day trip away when you get the itch to leave.

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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?

Yes, as in much of Brazil you will see that skin colour is often related to social station. It seems all religions are welcome, however. Men here have the Latin machismo thing going strong but the women are aggressive and it seems to balance out.

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

EAT at one of the awesome restaurants in town. There are tons. SHOP at any type of designer store or junky fun street fair like 25 de Marzo. VISIT outlying areas like EMBU and ITU or take a trip to the beach at GUARUJA. LISTEN to a concert in the fantastic acoustic ambiance of Sala Sao Paulo or see your fave band at Via Funchal or Credicard Hall. WALK around the various neighbourhoods, seeing the instrument shops of Theodoro Sampaio, the boutiques of Oscar Freire, the Japanese district of Liberdade, or the shoe outlets in Moema. DRINK tasty coffees at Santo Grau or imbibe a Guiness at one of the many Irish pubs. Basically this town is like any big city. You can explore museums, antique fairs, malls, parks...you can ice skate in the tiny rink in the basement of the ElDorado shopping mall, go to an anime convention, see a movie, watch a play, go horseback riding, to the botanical gardens. If you get bored here, you"re not trying hard enough.

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

Wines, food, clothes, precious stones (lots of gemstone mining here), surfing or samba classes, and travel travel travel. See the rainforest, beaches, dunes, farmland. Get up to Bahia and Ceara, go down to Santa Catarina and Rio Grande, and don't forget there are some neighbouring countries with a lot to offer. Don"t miss the rest of the continent if you have time.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes. But not if you want to really see the country.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely.

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

Earmuffs.

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3. But don't forget your:

Appetite.

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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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Sao Paulo, Brazil 08/14/08

Background:

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

No. Seoul (two years) and Rio (one year).

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2. How long have you lived here?

Nine months.

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

Government.

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

Dulles to Sao Paulo direct (about 10 hours).

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Jardins to the Consulate takes 30 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes coming back. You should definitely have a car, if you can afford one.

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

Everything is so expensive. Plan to spend all your money.

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

Trash bags, hot sauce, peanut butter, mop, glasses, plates, DSL or Cable modem.

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

You shouldn't eat fast food, it's not good for you. There are a ton of fantastic restaurants around here anyway for comprable prices.

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Daily Life:

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

Pouch takes 2.5 weeks or so. Don't send anything you care about through the 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?

I pay US$40 for the maid to spend the day at my place.

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

US$5 fee to take money out.

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

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

Don't have cable, but I think people pay about US$100/mo for it.

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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?

Lots. Spanish helps, but you'll need to know Portuguese to have meaningful communication with people.

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

Tons.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right, but that won't stop oncoming traffic from driving into your lane.

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

Yes. Taxis are maybe US$12 to go somewhere fun from where I live. RSO thinks the bus and the metro aren't safe, but I think RSO is wrong. I have never heard of a robbery in the metro. They're a great way to avoid traffic and, in my opinion, safer than exposing yourself to car jackings. Paulistas listen to their iPods on the Metro, giving you an idea of how safe they think it is.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I recommend a small SUV, Honda CRV, Rav 4, or the Ford. There are a lot of potholes and dips in the road, so the extra ground clearance is nice. Folks with lower cars are constantly hitting the underside. But the lanes are small and so are the parking places, so trade-in your Ford Expedition for something more practical.

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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$100 for 4mps.$80 or so for 2mps. Expect the price to go up as the dollar weakens (this is calculated at R$1.5=US$1). I think Telefonica (speedy) is more reliable than Net. If you use telefonica, buy your own DSL modem (http://www.amazon.com/Actiontec-USB-Ethernet-DSL-Modem/dp/B000AD0AKW/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1218742502&sr=8-1).If you're going to do cable TV, though, you should consider NET.

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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?

You can bring your American cell and they'll unlock it for you.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype or a VOIP service. With high-speed internet available, there's never a need to pay for long distance phone calls.

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Pets:

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

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Don't think so, not sure.

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

Suit and tie for men. Women should also go formally, but not all do.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate. Some people complain a lot about it, but I don't think it's that bad. It rains frequently, so that tends to wash away the pollution. Much better here than Los Angeles.

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

Lots of crime, but I think people tend to make too much of this. I've lived in Brazil two years now and I've never been robbed. That said, I don't ride buses at 3AM through favelas while scrolling through my iPod with an American flag on my shirt. As long as you take precautions, you're probably okay.

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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?

Rainy, gets down to the high 40s during the winter. Don't forget about the inverted seasons.

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Schools & Children:

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

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

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

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

Pretty big. In Rio, it seems like every Brazilian treats an expat like a gringo tourist who's just passing through. In Sao Paulo, foreigner get a lot more respect. I feel like I'm treated the same way a New Yorker might treat a young, professional Brazilian working over there.

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2. Morale among expats:

My morale is high.

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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?

I left a night club once at 7am and there was a line of people about 100 deep, waiting to get in. There are limitless opportunities for a great social life. Also, if you can afford it, go to Salvador for Carnaval. No city in Brazil can compare.

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

Like most places overseas, single men tend to do better than single women. But it's still pretty good all around.

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

It's got to be one of the best, outside of San Francisco. Very open GLBT community here, an enormous GLBT parade, which drew 3.5 million people last year. Brazilian girls say the gay clubs play the best music in the city. One gay friend of mine had no trouble finding a new boyfriend the same day he arrived.

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

Brazilians will tell you that there is no racism in Brazil. This, of course, means there's a great deal, but the society hasn't yet come to terms with it. It's not institutionalized, but if you're black, it's not going to be as easy to get into the premier nightclubs. Browse the photo gallery section of their websites and you'll see why. One person I know went to an members only style club and they told this person,

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

Great restaurants, lots of travel opportunities, nightlife has got to be some of the best in the world.

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

Club admissions.

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9. 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?

Yes.

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

Mangos.

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3. But don't forget your:

Bathroom stuff! Shower gel, shampoo, hand soap, all of this stuff is scarce and/ or expensive.

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

This book was really helpful for my Portuguese and also is a great introduction to Brazilian culture.http://www.amazon.com/Cr%C3%B4nicas-Brasileiras-University-Florida-American/dp/0813012465/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218742159&sr=1-5

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

This book was really helpful for my Portuguese and also is a great introduction to Brazilian culture.http://www.amazon.com/Cr%C3%B4nicas-Brasileiras-University-Florida-American/dp/0813012465/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218742159&sr=1-5

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Brazil has a world-class film industry.http://www.amazon.com/Best-Brazilian-Movies-find-Amazon/lm/3EQXPLFCIQ5G0. These are good, with the exception of Onibus 174.That movie goes on forever and will scare you. All of the favela violence played up in these movies is usually confined to the favelas themselves. It is sensationalized for the big screen.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Sao Paulo is a great city. I've lived here and in Rio for a year each and I prefer the cosmopolitan lifestyle of Sao Paulo over the lazy beach Carioca vibe. People tend to complain a lot about the driving, crime, pollution, and high prices here, but if you're looking for a fun city, in a place you'll never be bored, this is a good choice. If you prefer small town atmospheres, I don't know if this is the place for you.

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