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Expats moving to the sprawling, crowded and extremely cosmopolitan city of São Paulo may initially find settling in a challenge. At first, the sheer enormity and seeming chaos can be overwhelming. However, most expats find that the city's diversity of ethnicities and cultures helps to ease their transition into life in Brazil.
As an important commercial and industrial centre, the city is home to almost every major Brazilian industry. Job opportunities in São Paulo have attracted immigrants and expats from all around the globe. The city, therefore, boasts a significant number of minority groups. Japanese, Arab, European and American immigrants have all added their unique flavours to the cultural melting pot in this Brazilian city and have contributed to the welcoming environment that it offers expats.
Safety remains a primary concern for those moving to São Paulo. Violent crime rates are high and opportunistic street crimes are especially common, including pickpocketing and bag snatching. Expats should always be vigilant and try to avoid the higher-risk areas of the city, such as its infamous favelas. Other major concerns for expats include pollution, traffic congestion, social inequality and a lack of adequate public services.
The cost of living in the city is high. Expats relocating to São Paulo need to ensure that their salary is sufficient to offset this. Accommodation and schooling will likely be an expat’s biggest expenses. The majority of expats choose to send their children to one of the many exclusive international schools scattered around the city. These schools are often located in expensive areas. So, expats will have to plan their accommodation accordingly. Although there is a lack of adequate government healthcare, those with private health insurance can enjoy the excellent level of care offered by the city’s many private healthcare centres.
Expats living in São Paulo will be perfectly situated to enjoy the best that life in Brazil has to offer. Just outside the city lie mountains and rainforests that are perfect for hiking and weekend getaways, while the magnificent beaches and picturesque seaside towns of the coast are only a few hours’ drive away. The city also boasts an excellent nightlife scene, with restaurants, clubs and bars dotting its streets and plenty of recreational and social activities to choose from.
"Although huge, noisy and very busy, São Paulo has its charm. I enjoy the endless options of pastimes, culture and restaurants. I have built my life here around my neighbourhood and that is definitely the way to maintain a good quality of life." Read more about Dona's experiences in São Paulo in her interview with Expat Arrivals.
Are you an expat living in Sao Paulo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sao Paulo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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