Saturday, November 24, 2007

Being an Expat in Sao Paulo

Housing: An old, 1,000-sq.-ft., two-bedroom apartment in a building with a doorman and swimming pool in expat-friendly neighborhoods will rent for around 2,200 reals (about $1,200) a month. Newer apartments in the same neighborhood will go for around $2,000.

Cost of Living: Thanks to Brazilian automotive taxes, a new Toyota Camry retails for about $80,000. A Ralph Lauren short-sleeve shirt runs about $85. A Big Mac costs $4.10. A liter of low-fat milk costs $1.10, while a grande latte from Starbucks costs $3.70. At a nice Italian restaurant, dinner for two with a few glasses of wine might cost you about $75.

Downside: Few countries have seen their currencies appreciate against the dollar faster than Brazil. The dollar has lost nearly half its value against the Brazilian real since 2003. Someone making $55,000 a year in 2003 would have made 192,500 Brazilian reals. Now that salary is worth 99,000 reals. Safety is another issue. In mid-2007, members of the PCC prison gang went on a rampage throughout Sao Paulo, killing cops, burning buses and stalling traffic. Civil police officers stood outside their barracks at all posts in the city, armed with pump-action shotguns and bullet-proof vests.



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