Continuing my random list of the differences we have noticed between Sao Paulo and other large cities in the world:
1 Complete strangers want to know your personal details.
For example, today I was talking to a real estate agent (don’t worry they are scum bags here as well), after the formalities of swapping names and polite chit chat, he asked if I was married? – To which I said I was, he then asked do you have kids yet? Not just did we have kids, but did we have kids yet? I said no, to which he replied well maybe you have not been married very long? I told him it’s been four years, he gave me a sad look – obviously that means we must be having troubles!
Brazilians have a different idea of polite conversation – especially to the English, no one in England would dare ask if you had kids – I am not sure why, but it’s just not considered polite conversation, but here in Brazil it’s a totally normal conversation, we have been asked by people at work, waiters, taxi drivers, just about everyone who can speak English will ask drop these questions into the conversation. It takes a while to get used to it, but once you do,you realise it’s a friendly and enjoyable conversation topic – rather than some social taboo!
2 There’s no English newspapers
Ok technically you can if you are really desperate buy a copy of the International Herald Tribune and USA Today in a few places, but there is no English daily newspaper in Sao Paulo, quite amazing when you consider ther are 20,000,000 people in the city. Again compared to London where you can get copies of newspapers in almost any language from most news agents.
3 You can change the language of TV shows
A nifty feature which is apparently standard on cable TV over here allows you to switch the language of the tv show you are watching, so you can watch M*A*S*H* in Portuguese, Spanish or English, not only can you change the spoken language, you can also change the subtitles language as well – a great tool when you are trying to pick up the local lingo!
4 The rental property market is long, long, term…
The rental market in SP was a bit of a surprise to us, the normal lease on a rental property is 36 months or longer. If you want to rent for 12 months or less you can’t rent a regular apartment, you need to rent what is known as a “flat”. A flat is usually furnished apartment which is aimed at the short term market, flats are much more expensive than apartments – like double the price of a long term rental property!
All long term rental apartments are rented completely empty – i mean completely empty, you need to supply your own fridge, washing maching, cooker and all the furniture. Not much fun in country where all imported appliances have a 60% import duty on them!
Another interesting difference in apartments is that most larger apartments have a small bedroom for the maid to sleep in – usually tucked behind the laundry. As most people who can afford to live in an apartment building can also afford a maid, this is a great idea. The maids room does not count toward the bedroom count though – so a three bedroom apartment, could actually have four bedrooms in it.