My assumptions about living in São Paulo

Everytime I think about this, my heart races. I’ve dreamed about living in a place I didn’t know for so long and now it is finally going to happen. From June 22 until August 10 I will be living in São Paulo by myself. The last two weeks my husband will join me and we will visit Rio for a few days as well.

So, even though I have never been, I did quite some research about São Paulo and Brazil in general. I’ve made some friends over the years and noticed some big differences between the Brazilian culture and whatever culture I am used to (roughly Western, I guess). My goal is to just live in Brazil, and dive into the Brazilian lifestyle head-first to experience it to the fullest. On paper I understand the differences, but I simply can’t know what it is actually going to be like. I thought it would be fun to write down my assumptions about what it will be like, to be able to look back on it after and see what I got right and what I was off about.

Please know these are all generalizations and based on information I have found in videos, blogs and from other people’s experiences. Don’t come for me.

My patience will be put to the test

I am used to being on time. I am used to things just happening on time. Generally when people here say a party will start at 8, it starts at 8. People will arrive even a bit early for it. In Brazil this is much different. If a party starts at 8 and you show up at 8, they will look at you strangely. I am not sure how I would handle this, but probably show up 30 to 60 minutes late? I hope this is not the same when you’re meeting people for lunch or something, because that is going to be rough on me. I can’t stand when people are late.

I know that public transportation in Brazil is an adventure. Subway trains will come when they come. There’s no real time table. And if there is, you shouldn’t waste your time on looking at it. São Paulo has a good subway system, but the trains don’t come when it says so on paper. Over here that’s much different. Generally when it says the train leaves at 12:35, it will leave at 12:35 and not a minute later. I think my patience will be put to the test in São Paulo.

There will be lots of hugs

Something I love about Brazilians is how affectionate they are. When you meet someone for the first time, there’s always a hug involved and often a kiss (on the cheek). Here, depending on the country, it’s a handshake or when you know each other a bit better 2 or 3 kisses on the cheek. Very rarely do you get a hug each and every time you see each other, or when you say bye. Brazilians are also fond of generally touching someone when they are talking. It may come across as flirting to Western people, but it’s just part of their culture as a way of saying “I think you’re cool,” in the most friendly way. I am actually looking forward to this because I am the same way and I naturally like to touch people when I talk to them (if I like them).

I will make lots of friends

Brazilians are extremely hospitable and open. They are known to want to talk to other people, especially when you’re not from there. I expect to meet many people and be invited to do things. I will follow a language course and I will partake in some city tours and I think it will be easy to meet people and make friends. I am writing this down quite hesitantly, because I do think to myself sometimes, what if I don’t meet anybody? But knowing myself, and knowing the Brazilians I’ve met in the past, that is not going to happen.

Lots and lots of new food

This is not an assumption, but I am pretty sure of it… São Paulo is a melting pot of many different cultures. I think I will enjoy that but I will mostly want to try Brazilian or São Paulo foods like feijoada, coixinha, brigadeiros, pastel, pão de queijo… Because there’s many different cultures, it would be easy to find things I am already familiar with like Chinese, Japenese, Italian, but my goal is to eat as few familiar things as possible and dive straight into the world of Brazilian cuisine.

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What’s left on my travel bucket list

I am a lucky gal, I know this. Over the past years my list of countries visited has grown tremendously. My counter is at 34 now, with Brazil being 35 when I go there for seven weeks in June – August.

Bucket list items ticked off

Back five years ago I remember having a bucket list for travel that had some countries and places on there which I have been able to visit over the past couple years. One of them was Jamaica. Well, on our honeymoon in November 2015 we visited Jamaica and it was absolutely wonderful! Another one was Brazil, and as I wrote earlier, I will be living in Brazil for seven weeks this summer and I couldn’t be more stoked. I also wanted to go to Ireland and we visited Dublin back in 2017 for a country music festival and I absolutely loved it! I hope to go back there one day and see more of the country, but Dublin was wonderful.

Dubai | Travel bucket list item
Dubai | Travel bucket list item

Places I still need to see

A once in a lifetime country is Australia. I would love to visit one day but it’s definitely not at the top of my list. I know it will be one of those trips that will be amazing, but nothing I need to accomplish within the next 10 years. I would also really like to go to Dubai one day. The architecture and culture seems amazing to me. There’s always some great deals, but the past few years we’ve had way too many other trips planned. I am sure this will be ticked off the list within the next 5 years. I also want to go to Vancouver. I’ve been to Canada before (Toronto and Niagara Falls), but something about Vancouver draws me to it. It is supposed to be a beautiful city. Then I also want to see Cuba, obviously. Cities in the USA that I want to visit are New Orleans and Nashville.

In the summer I will be visiting 3-4 cities in Brazil: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, and perhaps one or two more, depending on how much time I have. But I definitely want to one day visit Salvador da Bahia and the German states in the South of Brazil like Santa Catarina.

There are also just so many countries and cities I want to visit again or I want to keep visiting. Los Angeles is obviously one of those cities I will keep going back to each year. There are some places we’ve visited cruising that I really want to return to, such as Honduras, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico (still one of my favorites!). And I am afraid that after the summer I will want to keep returning to São Paulo.

Ugh.. I need to win the lottery.

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Finding an Airbnb in São Paulo

So one of the most exciting things I’ve done so far is researching where I am going to be living for seven weeks. I first looked at hotels, but I soon realized that Airbnb would be the cheaper and it would give me the more authentic experience. I spent weeks researching different neighborhoods because the topic of safety in Brazil is a thing…

Requirements

So I quickly realized that the areas around the main popular street in São Paulo, called Avenida Paulista, are the safest, but also the most expensive when it comes to apartments. Coincidently, my language school is also located in one of these areas. I knew I wanted to be around here, because this is also where things are probably most exciting and safe for me. Also, São Paulo has thousands and thousands of high-rise buildings, so a great view was high on my list of things that I wanted.

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I looked at a ton of different options and I listed some requirements:

  • 24/7 security in the building (door man)
  • great view with balcony or something
  • safe neighborhood
  • walking distance to subway
  • walking distance to a grocery store
  • modern apartment
  • washing facility in apartment or building
  • Superhost (which is a trusted host on Airbnb)
  • Less than € 1,100/month

I had a favorites list on Airbnb of a bunch of apartments that I really liked and that were around my budget for the seven weeks. I read hundreds of reviews and compared many different locations and narrowed it down to a couple. Some were further out than others. Some didn’t have a balcony, others were a bit further away from a subway station.

Making the decision

I soon narrowed it down to two options. One was right off of Avenida Paulista, it was a gorgeous apartment with a fantastic view and a washer inside the apartment, but no balcony and also not in walking distance to school. But it was only 2 blocks from the subway and just 2 stops away from school.

The other choice was a gorgeous new apartment building with the most terrific view, laundry room in the building, pool, co-working spaces, walking distance to school as well as Avenida Paulista, just a bit more of a walk. It had big windows that could open to give you that balcony feeling, even though it isn’t technically a balcony. The neighborhood wasn’t as nice as the first option, though.

Avenida Paulista
Avenida Paulista

I then had to think about if I wanted to ride the subway to school 3-4 times a week. After much consideration I decided that no, I would like to be able to walk to school and be there in 20 minutes instead of having to walk to the subway, wait for it, then walk another half mile to school from the subway. So, I chose the second option.

It’s a gorgeous new apartment building in Vila Mariana with 24/7 security. I will probably write a post on it soon and obviously when I am there, take some pictures.

I wrote the host and he was really excited and nice. I booked it for the seven weeks. So there’s no going back now!

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