All Eyes on Sao Paulo

The football world cup is this month, and in only two years the next Olympics will be dominating the summer. Brazil is under scrutiny worldwide, and for Sao Paulo, one of the world’s biggest business centres, the expatriates are arriving by the boatload.

Sao Paulo, one of the Brazilian host cities for the football world cup 2014, is an impressive city. It is the third largest metropolis in the world with roughly 20 million people calling it home. There are 15,000 bars, 12,500 restaurants, 322.2km of metro lines and hundreds of distinct ethnic groups from Arab to Polish. The city has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, the largest Italian community outside of Italy and the largest openly gay community in Brazil. With an accelerating economy, the expatriate community is also growing considerably.

So where’s the work? As the financial capital of Brazil and the largest stock exchange in Latin America, the finance district is booming internationally with the city having made the transition from an industry driven centre to being service driven. 63% of international companies with offices in Brazil are based in Sao Paulo and the city is particularly popular with ‘luxury’ brands. Jimmy Choo, Pucci, Prada…they’re all there, whether in the Jardins neighborhood or one of the vast shopping centres.

The Brazilian lifestyle is appealing. In a city that runs on its stomach, pizza, pernil sandwiches and coxhina are local delicacies, and there are 52 types of cuisine citywide. Art-house cinemas, experimental theatres and a 24/7 clubbing scene are what make the city vibrant. Then, of course, there is the football fever which will be at an all time high this summer. But, as magical as it sounds, relocating to Sao Paulo has its challenges.

The realities of life in Sao Paulo are something every assignee needs to be aware of. The city is bathed in smog, the traffic is a nightmare and there is no greater chasm than that between rich and poor Paulistanos. The richest have mansions surrounded by electric gates and electric fences. The poorest live in squalor on the outskirts of the city. Crime is prevalent, particularly car-jacking and red light robberies; it’s even illegal to slow down at red lights late at night if there’s no traffic. Sao Paulo can be a dangerous and a cruel city. Expense is also a major factor. Everything is highly priced from accommodation to food, so any assignee should be advised against leaving household items behind.

Perhaps with Sao Paulo taking centre stage in worldwide media some of these problems might start to be alleviated? The noise, the vibrancy and the chaos all make up this city, but it’s questionable whether this is for better or worse.

Posted in categories: International