Brasilia, Brazil Report of what it's like to live there - 05/18/20
Personal Experiences from Brasilia, Brazil
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, this is my 6th tour. I've also lived in EUR, WHA, EAP and NEA.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
Travel from DC is long as there are no direct flights to Brasilia. You either fly via Houston to Sao Paulo and then on to Brasilia, or via Miami to Brasilia. Flight time is about 14 hours.
3. How long have you lived here?
4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Singles and couples with no children usually live in apartments often in Asa Norte or Asa Sul. The apartments are near grocery stores and are very conveniently located. My apartment has 3 bedrooms and is a decent size though I don't care for the layout at all. I have no balcony which is disappointing. The commute to work is about 10-15 minutes if it is not rush hour. During rush hour it might take 20-25 minutes. The roads are generally good and clear with very few traffic lights. I can also cycle to work, or even walk - 3 miles.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Nearly everything is available. However, products come and go misteriously from the store and then reappear weeks later. It is hard to change brands when you can't find what you want. The Facebook group in Brasilia will often help out if you are looking for a certain product - someone is bound to have seen it somewhere. The prices for fruit and vegetables is reasonable, though some imported products can be more expensive.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Cereal - packets here are small and expensive.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
iFood and Ubereats are very popular. The restaurant scene here is very good.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
Not in the apartments, but I've heard the houses in Lago Sul can have ants, mosquitoes and sometimes the odd scorpion.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Household help is readily available and affordable. You can hire either a "diarista" - for daily work - or else a full time nanny. Costs are about $40 for half a day for a diarista.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yoga and pilates studios are very common. Gyms are also available but I have not checked one out. From the advertising, the gyms seemed reasonable. The US Embassy has a small pool and small gym. My apartment has a small pool and a few pieces of exercise equipment.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Credit cards are VERY widely accepted. Certain ATMs are recommended.
5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I think you need the local language for a successful tour - for shopping, taking Uber, travel etc. Local classes are available and the locals are very forgiving if you mangle their language. It is one of the best countires I have been in for learning a language.
6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
In places yes. The sidewalks are not designed very well.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
We are allowed to take taxis or uber but not buses or other local transportation. Uber is ubiquitous and very affordable.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
I have a sedan which works very well in the city. For trips into the countryside, I wish I had a car with higher clearance.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
CLARO is quite affordable. The US Embassy will set it up before arrival as it is very slow to arrange otherwise. They offer three price levels of service and programs. Some people also use another company.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
The security concerns are about the same as living in the US. In addition, there have been occasional burlaries and one car-jacking during my time.
2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
Air quality is good at post.
3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
The weather is mostly hot and humid, 80s and 90s. July and August are the cooler months.
1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Brasilia is best for families and couples. Not so great for singles. This is not a city with a great nightlife in my experience.
2. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
I've only taken a few trips - Foz do Iguacu, Rio, the Pantanal and some local trips to see the waterfall. I've loved them all. Travel is one of the highlights of living in Brazil. It is best to book flights early to get the best prices. And hotel rooms are frequently booked out early on local holidays.
3. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
If you like quiet locations and decent traffic this is the city for you. There are also lots of parks for weekend exercise and relaxation.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Yes, so long as I could continue to travel.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
Swimsuit, tennis racket, bike, sunglasses for the dry season, and umbrella for the rainy season.