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Finding a home in a new country is never easy. In a city the size of São Paulo, the challenge becomes even harder. For newly arrived expats, choosing the right property in the right area or suburb of São Paulo will be essential to having a pleasant experience in Brazil.
In this ever-expanding city, every expat is sure to find a neighbourhood that has an accommodation option to meet their budget and requirements. Below are a few areas and suburbs of São Paulo that are particularly popular amongst expats.
Areas for families in São Paulo
One of the major draws of Morumbi is that it is a lot less polluted than areas close to the city centre. It is also home to several lovely green areas such as Alfredo Volpi Park and Burle Marx Park, making it a great location for expats with children. The area is popular with expat families as it is home to many reputable international schools. Morumbi has plenty of facilities such as shops and cafés. It is also close to one of São Paulo’s top medical facilities, Albert Einstein Hospital.
Morumbi is often cited as one of the city's most obvious examples of social inequality. While it is mostly rich residential suburbs full of large, high-security housing complexes, one can’t fail to notice the extreme poverty of the neighbouring favelas.
Chácara Flora is an exclusive area in Santo Amaro, one of São Paulo’s largest suburbs. This is a family-friendly area with secure housing options and ample green space. Like Morumbi, Chácara Flora is home to many good international schools, which accounts for its popularity amongst expat families.
Residents have easy access to supermarkets, restaurants and retail facilities. Public transport links are abundant. Furthermore, Chácara Flora is close to Congonhas Airport in neighbouring Campo Belo, which makes it a convenient area for executives needing to take domestic flights for work.
This is a gated community located about 12.4 miles (20km) outside São Paulo. Over the years, Alphaville has developed into a small city in its own right. It is home to over 20,000 residents, 11 educational institutions, a large shopping mall and a hospital.
The type of housing available in Alphaville is varied. Everything from luxury apartments to functional single-family homes can be found in the area. Many properties come with a swimming pool and large outdoor areas.
While Alphaville is a very safe and pleasant place to live, residents are somewhat isolated. Public transport links in Alphaville are limited. Even commuting by car to São Paulo can be frustrating due to the traffic on the Castelo Branco highway.
Areas in São Paulo for young expats
Brooklin Novo is popular with younger expats looking to have a more authentic Brazilian experience, rather than living in one of the more isolated and exclusive expat neighbourhoods. Brooklin Novo is a middle-class neighbourhood located in the south of the city. The German expat community has a particularly strong presence in this area.
Most of the area is residential. Retail facilities mainly consist of small, local shops rather than big chain stores. There are a number of parks and green spaces, which make it an attractive area for expats with pets. Brooklin Novo is generally quite safe, but expats are advised to be careful in places close to the Buraco Quente favela.
Expats looking for cheaper property in an area known for its historic charm should consider living in Santa Cecília. This neighbourhood, close to the centre of São Paulo, is home to many old-style churches and buildings. Santa Cecília has traditionally been popular amongst São Paulo’s artistic community. However, it is now becoming popular with young expats who have moved to the city to teach English or do volunteer work. There are downsides to living in the area, such as the high number of homeless people sleeping on the streets and the high levels of noise and pollution. Most residents are willing to overlook these factors though because of the neighbourhood's bohemian atmosphere and low accommodation costs.
There are many lively bars and restaurants in the area. Its central location also gives expats easy access to facilities within São Paulo. Expats looking for property in Santa Cecília should not expect any of the luxuries one would find in other parts of São Paulo, such as apartment complexes with swimming pools and gyms. Property here tends to be rough around the edges, but adequate for those on a budget who do not plan on settling in São Paulo for the long-term.
Vila Madalena is São Paulo’s most bohemian neighbourhood and home to many of the city’s artists and musicians. It is popular with young expats and international students and hosts a sizeable selection of bars and clubs. The area can get noisy, especially in the evenings and on weekends. As such, it may not be particularly suitable for expats with children. Vila Madalena is well-connected to other parts of São Paulo by public transport. Any expats looking to own a car should note that traffic congestion in this part of the city can be a problem during peak hours.
►Find out more about public transport in the city in Getting Around in São Paulo
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