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Category Archives: Finding a home

Swim Lessons

So a few of our expat friends live at Villagio Panamby over in Morumbi.  Our beat up banged up car that we bought from an expat was from someone who lived there as well.  It’s one of those mega complexes with tennis courts, and a zillion pools, and playgrounds, and everywhere you look there are kids with babas in white in tow.  We chose not to live there due to the fact that traffic was a pain, and I don’t have a car or driver, and it’s not exactly public transportation friendly.  Not that one would ever have to leave this beauty of a compound, and if you have kids in Graded (the Americas School here), it’s close by.  So we did the next best thing to living there, we’ve got friends there 😉

Saturday was a 3 year old American style birthday.  Food, presents, and some pool time fun.  The last and first time our son dipped his toes in a pool was in Fortaleza at the waterpark. That was more laying on rafts, or walking around in ankle deep kiddie pools. This time, we let him go for it.  We figured the sooner he learns to swim the better. And he did great.

Yes he fell a few times and landed on his back under the water– no crying at all.  But he loved it, he loved jumping into daddy’s arms from the edge of the pool.  I think most of Brasil was in shock and worry that our little one year old was going to die.

So for good measure we decided to see how well our kid did under the water. Dad would count 1-2-3 and then blow in his face and dunk him. Each time he would get super excited and kick his feet and start screeching.  .  He’d come up with the biggest grin on his face kicking in excitement.  See we have video proof… and this video was made after like his 6th dunk.

Either way, Villagio is a beautiful apartment complexes.  The toilets all flush…. with toilet paper in them.  There is central air and heating in each apartment, and the architecture is lovely.  Yeah you’ll definitely pay for all the luxury, but it’s nice luxury to have.  I still like Brooklin Paulista best though, even sans Tennis courts and heated pool.


Our Empty Home

Because we are in Brasil on a temporary basis, and because my husband’s firm offered to ship down 1000 lbs. of goods (and cover the import taxes), we shipped down a few items we felt were necessary, but went light on the homier items.  Now that I sit on our couch (purchased at Tok&Stok an overpriced Ikea of sorts) and look over my large, house like apartment I wish I would have brought a few more “nick nacks”.

My husband did a wonderful job of finding an apartment in Brasil, and has landed us in an older apartment building in Brooklin-Paulista. The newer buildings, with their shiny glass covered balconies are much smaller on the interior, so we are happy with our large and spacious old style building.  I also think the apartment has a charm to it, as it is old.  The street is a quiet, rarely traveled, one-way street with bits of the original, hand-lain brickwork poking through the modern asphalt.  The trees are covered in the emerald green moss, with roots pushing the narrow, bumpy sidewalks into further distortion.  As I stare out my apartment window with my son, I watch the never ending parade of Brazilian’s walking their dogs (which is definitely one of the drawbacks of Brasil, no one really picks up their dog’s messes).  In short, I really love it here.

I read on one blog about how no one ever walks anywhere, and people drive out of their driveways and back in again, never stepping foot on the sidewalk outside.  I think a life like this may have been something I experienced in Morumbi, where there wasn’t a cute corner bakery, or the local feira, or the really great restaurant that sells Frango de Asado (grilled chicken) every weekend that I could easily walk to.  I am glad we chose Brooklin.


I love that Orchid’s grow on the trees in front of my house, I couldn’t have asked for a prettier view!

Our balcony is much larger than all of the other balconies in the complex, and wraps along the entire side of our apartment.  I also have my own private balcony for our bedroom.  This will make for a great gardening spot I think, and an even better play area for my son, as there are no little bars for him to chuck random kid objects through, little legs, or big fat heads.


The common area comes with a Brazilian style bbq pit and from the looks of it a wood burning oven. To the left is the Olympic sized lap pool (for my son), and a little play area that I may let the little licker on one day when he stops being the little licker. Behind the play area is a soccer goal, and off to the side is the gym with sauna.  Overall not bad.

The interior of the home is all dark wood. I really feel like I’m living in an old Southern home.  I have a living room, with the attached dining area that has swinging doors that head into the kitchen.  I guess if I had maids and a cook bringing out delicious meals to me, that’d be a very helpful little door.  The kitchen has a breakfast nook and then flows into the full sized laundry room.  I absolutely LOVE that there are racks above the washer/dryer that I can hang my clothing from.  Living in a small apartment in Los Angeles, I found that our apartment was strewn with my “do not dry in the dryer” clothes every Saturday and Sunday morning.


In Brasil there is always the service entrance.  The maids, nannies, service men who come to your home always enter through the back door. Brazilians take this formality seriously (as my husband learned when transporting his suitcase up the main elevator).  The service entrance is where we leave our trash to be taken away by the building maid every day.  It is where our mail is left for us to pick up, and it is the door that leads straight into the laundry room.  Off of the laundry room is the maid’s room.  This could be where the maid kept her belonging for the day, or if we had a live in maid where she slept.  The room is not bigger than a small walk-in closet and is meant merely for a bed from what I can see.  Across the hallway is her bathroom.  I’ve tried to take photo’s to capture how awful this bathroom really is… think cruise ship, but worse.  Yes the shower head literally hangs above a drain on the floor between the sink and the toilet.


Overall, the apartment is large.  With a living room, and attached dining room, two bedrooms, an office, a master bedroom, 2.5 bathrooms, and the maid’s bathroom. Along the hallway are floor to ceiling closets, which change to mirrored doors in the master bedroom.  This is the main hallway, which leads to the master bedroom hallway (another 7 feet of hallway after the door until you get to the room itself).



On all accounts we are very lucky to be in a large apartment, versus a tighter apartment.  The only issue is we only have 1000 lbs. of belongings coming down, and most of that will go in the kitchen or the closets!

And rent, well the rent for this space is better than I could ever find in LA.

All moved in

I have been mia as moving in has been a lot of time consuming work. But, we are in! We have internet! We have a tv, cable, and hot water (yes we had to call and get the guys to show up like all of our other orders), and the couch arrived today. The fridge and microwave have been in for a bit now, the washing machine is hooked up…the stove is another blog post….and we have beds….well sort of.


As we had a brand new crib, we shipped it to Brazil. Our shipment arrived yesterday, so we will se how long it takes to get released. As such the bub is bedless. I am not oppossed to him sleeping with us. In fact we used to sidecar his crib. However, now that he crawls the bed doesn’t work. So we have him sleeping in luggage…yes, hubby’s Ogio luggage.  I don’t want to get a barrage of comments about what a bad mom I am; I realize it is not that safe. However, it is temporary, until I build him a better make shift crib, as he can escape from this one.  I found he had crawled over to his noise maker, and unplugged it from the charger (which is of course when he yelled out).

My husband’s coworkers tell him that this is something a Brazilian would do, so I guess we fit right in 🙂

Shopping at the mall

Fancy title I know right? I don’t have the energy to come up with something witty. Needless to say I have no desire to go to the mall again soon.  I’ve seen on a few blogs people mentioning their visits to the mall. Honestly, there is no draw for me.  The clothing is super expensive, and the quality just isn’t there for me. If I am going to pay high prices ($R100 for board shorts), I’m going to pay those prices for designer apparel in America. That and the parking is not free, so yes the country will get every last centavo you have.

So why was I at the mall then if I’ve already imposed a no shopping for shoes or clothing at the mall ban on myself? Well we need a cell phone (because I am a moron who left her tablet on the seat pocket in front of me, and was a trusting fool to think that the cleaning crew would turn it in), and a WHOLE house full o’ furniture.  So we headed to Casa Bahia and Fast Shop to price out …well pretty much everything.  Casa Bahia reminds me of those furniture stores from the 70’s… um yes I realize I wasn’t even born yet.  The selection was almost all purchased and mostly white.  Next door was Fast Shop, more of the Best Buy of all in one shops.  The interior was modern and fancy and all of the workers were young and cute.  Needless to say we were swayed by all of the silver appliances, and ended up purchasing all of our goods here.  No not really, we’re too cheap to be swayed that easily.  They actually will negotiate with you a lot on pricing if you are buying a bunch all at once, AND you have prices from next door that you are holding them to.  There are also all the “sale” items, which is pretty much what we bought.

Being someone who always lived in furnished apartments, it was kind of fun initially to pick out my own appliances. I finally have a sweet stove to get my cook on.  As the whole expedition took about 3 hours, by then end I’m not 100 percent positive what we bought. But here are the photos… I think. We may also have got a range hood and an air conditioner…or two, and I know at one point my husband went off to look at TV’s and found a 40″ TV (without internet, but with USB ports) for about R$1500, but don’t know it looks like to post a photo.  We could have got an LG 32″ for the same price that came with wireless internet. Either way, all done and said with delivery and install everything rounded out to around R$10,000 give or take a few hundred. For the record, HSBC’s debit card was part of the reason we were stuck in the store. The card would not let us run it through for even R$5000 (the daily limit), and we wanted to pay on debit as it was saving us R$500.  We ended putting it all on our Capital One, but boo to HSBC.  We finally left the store at 11pm, thanks to the whole HSBC debit card issue. And had we not been so tired, the husband is pretty sure we could have negotiated down further.  We did get them to give us a 2 year warranty on most of the items for free.

It’s hard being alone again

I am a pretty independent person. In fact if you ask my husband, he’ll point out sometimes I am stubborn about things just for the mere fact that I want to show that I can do things on my own.  For instance, if he tells me to do something, I flat-out will not do it because he “told” me to do it.  He knows this, and will occasionally be extra bossy just to push this REALLY big button of mine.

So when I came to the realization tonight that I actually miss him being around to be his normal bossy self it was kind of startling.  Especially since we have been apart for longer periods than this before.  Last year in my first trimester (yes the trimester when you are super crabby and grouchy because you are sick and your hormones are playing games with your emotional state) he decided to head to Brasil for 2 and a half weeks.  This did not bother me in the slightest and I welcomed him not being home. This meant I could go to bed at 7pm every night, and eat chicken wings from WingStop to my craving’s content.

So why the sudden change of heart? We are speaking more now than we did last time he went down.  Yes the internet connection is heinously choppy, we constantly lose connections, and are always saying, “Sorry, can you repeat that you froze/cut in and out.” But we talk for at least half an hour every day.

However this time around there are lots of decisions and preparation for Brasil to be done.  I have two cars to sell, baggage to pack, things to buy, and decisions to make. I have to figure out how to root, unlock, flash a European ROM, and not destroy my phone in the process before we go down.   If I weren’t married would I feel cheated out of the support of my husband? Probably not.  But now that I know I have someone to lean on, to do the things I don’t want to…I miss that. I miss that he always took out the trash (yeah I COULD do it, but I hate to do it).  I miss that he liked to be anal about lists and what needed to be done and in what time line (if he reminds me of this post in the future while trying to manage me to one of these lists, I will of course claim no recollection of this particular item).  Again, yes I could do that, that’s kind of my job at work, but I don’t want to… because well that’s my job at work and this is my personal life.

I also feel cheated, I guess, because part of me knows I COULD be in Brasil if things just moved a bit faster.  So now that I’ve waxed poetic about how dear my husband is to me because of all he does for me, here’s the mini Brasil move updated:

  1. Automatic Car purchased at a car dealership.  Unlike America you cannot take home a car same day, so hubby gets the car Wednesday (Merry Christmas to him). Car dealerships will also sell your old car for you on consignment, so this is what we will do when we leave. We figure we’ll get all but $5,000 R back.  What type you ask.. well a Toyota of course.
  2. We found the apartment of our dreams, after some finagling with his HR team they’ve agreed to guarantee for us.  See the apartments rent is almost as much as my husband’s monthly salary… haha (his Brasil side monthly salary… the other portion comes from the US).  Either way, the HR team now makes fun of him because he lives in an apartment worth as much as he makes.
  3. My husband now has his RNE and his CPF. So he’s legit now.

The House Hunt – a few tips

I ran across a great site today that had some good tips.  Brasil World Movers.  They also give a run down of all the various neighborhoods you may want to consider living in.  We are pretty sure we know where we want to live based on work proximity.

Although we would like to live in Moema because of that park, apartments there are automatically much more expensive because of the proximity to the park.  Also, everyone my husband has talked to said Moema is really crowded with lots of traffic.  Also, Moema is within that circle around the center of Sao Paulo where you can’t drive your car on one of the days of the week.  So, we are focusing our housing search in Campo Belo and Brooklin.

Ibirapuera Park

Ibirapuera Park near Moema

If you are planning on living in Brazil for any extended period of time.  The following tidbits from the above site are helpful to know.

  1. The RENTER is expected to pay for any repairs and improvements to the dwelling.
  2. Make sure that hot water is connected everywhere you need it. Two faucets on a sink do not necessarily indicate a hot and could water supply. This is particularly true in laundry areas.
  3. Have someone check the roof and ceilings for indication of leaks or other water problems. This is specially important if you will live in the penthouse (cobertura).
  4. Don’t look for central heating or air-conditioning in São Paulo. They exist only in rare cases.
  5. Make sure the house or apartment building has adequate water storage (caixa). You don’t want to rely entirely on street water.

This means that the beautiful photos you see online are the cleaned up, fixed up versions. Expect your home/apartment to need some paint, a good carpet scrub, or even new carpet.

Apartment buildings may have their own guards in addition to doormen (porteiros) and the building’s manager (zelador) who may or may not live on the premises. The zelador may be able to help with any maintenance or repairs, or at least be able torecommended trustworthy repairmen who have serviced the building before.


  1. Is street lighting adequate?
  2. Is there a street guard or private security?
  3. Is it near a favela or vacant lot?
  4. Is the wall/fence high enough to discourage intruders?
  5. Is the garage door automatic? If electric, is there a manual over – ride switch on case of power outage?
  6. Be sure to have all the locks changed on the day you move into your new home. The extra security is worth the hassle and expens

Vocabulary terms that will be helpful in finding an apartment and cleaning it up!

Alcohol Alcool
Backyard Quintal
Bathroom Banheiro
Bedroom Dormitório
Breakfast room Copa
Broom Vassoura
Brushes Escovas
Bucket Balde
Building Edificio / Prédio
City Cidade
Clean Limpar
Cleaning fluid Removedor
Closet Armário
Cold water Agua Fria
Condominium Condominio
Country Campo
Den / office Escritório
Detergent Detergente
Dishwasher lava louça
Disinfectant Desinfetante
Downstairs Embaixo
Dust Tirar pó
Dust pan
Dust rag Pano de pé
Employer Patrão
Family room Sala Intima
Fireplace Lareira
Floor Andar/Piso
Furnished Mobiliado
Furniture polish Lustra Móveis
Garbage Lixo
Garden Jardim
Heated Aquecida
Hot water Aguar quente
Iron Ferro de passar
Iron Passar
Landlord Dono
Laundry room Quarto de Serviço
Library Biblioteca
Light Luz
Liquid / powder Liquido em pó
Liquid bleach Agua Sanitária
Living room Sala de Estar
LP gas Gás
Maid’s room Quarto Empregada
Make the bed Fazer a cama
Master bedroom Dormitorio de casal
Pantry(expenses) Despesa
Party room Salão de Festas
Polish Lustrar
Pool Piscina
Real estate Imóveis
Rent Aluga
Scrub Escovar
Sell Vender
Sink Pia
Slum Favela
Soap Sabão
Squeeegee Rodo
Suburb Suburbio
Sun room Jardim de Inverno
Sweep Varrer
Teletel. Telefone
Terrace /deck Terraço
Upstairs Em cima
Vacuum aspirar
Vacuum cleaner Aspirador
View Vista
Wash Lavar
Washer Máquina de lavar
Water plants Molhar / Regar
Water storage Caixa de Água
Wax Encerar

It’s all about perspective – settling in

I got a rather long, frustrated email from the husband today.  Do you remember in college, the night before an exam where you could feel your brain studying as you laid in bed? That restless, I need to solve this puzzle feeling is something that he constantly has with him.  From trying to find the right Portuguese words to express what he needs, to figuring out where in this large city called Sao Paulo we will finally call home, I think he is feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I am sure I will feel like this when I arrive to.  But sometimes you just need to change your perspective.  I recently purchased a Johnny Jump Up for the little monkey.  He was getting a bit whiny so I took him out and laid him on the floor for a second, so I could grab something. When I turned around he was laughing at the jumper swinging above him.  In fact, I think he loved it more than the jumping.

It’s the same way with Brasil.  Sure the car we will have to buy will be something we never would have bought before. Sure he is now selling the beautiful, new cooled and heated seat Lexus that he just bought a few months ago.  Yes, a nice Brazilian apartment isn’t of the same quality as a nice Los Angeles apartment. And yes, “broadband” internet does not translate into 10 MB speeds.

But if we stop trying to make Brasil be America and take a different perspective, I think some of our stress will disappear.  We are not expecting to drive the same luxury cars as we do in America. In fact, we should welcome not worrying about getting our car keyed, doored, or hit.  Shopping daily, and getting both fresh fruit and fresh baked bread will be a welcome change to the once a month shopping trips I tend to do now.  Sure the food items may be a bit more expensive sometimes, and I’ll have to shop more often. But acai, mango, avocado, and fresh bread will be well worth the extra shopping trips.

Yes, apartments do not come with any of the fixtures. We’ll need to buy new toilet seats, and most of the carpet, flooring, and paint are well worn.  But I look forward to finally being able to DO SOMETHING with my apartment and not worry about not being able to change anything due to a deposit.  This apartment can be a mini home… and with only an 18 month assignment we don’t have to worry about do something we “may get sick of too soon,” and can take some adventurous leaps in decorating.

So I think we are going to take the perspective of my son.  Sure maybe things aren’t quite how we want them to be, but we’re going to have a good time anyway!

What have you found that you have learned to love about Brasil??