To Container or not to Container…

That is the question my husband and I both asked ourselves before moving to Brazil. However, we looked around our apartment in New Haven and found that the total amount of the IKEA furniture did not amount to the cost and hassle to rent a container and ship our stuff to Brazil, so we opted not to container. My sister and brother in-laws on the other hand opted to container. They spent approximately $7500 dollars or R$18,000 to ship their stuff and it took almost exactly three months (their stuff finally arrived last week).

I think that in some situations renting a container is a good option, mainly because everything in Brazil is so expensive. But R$18000 is a lot of money and if you are going to make this choice it should not be taken lightly. I mean for us the choice was easy because my husband and I were still living like college students at the time and we really didn’t have a lot of nice furniture. But for a family who has built a collection of nice things, this might be the right choice.

A couple of things to keep in mind before you make this decision:

1. Will all of your stuff fit in the container? My in-laws actually had the opposite problem where they had plenty of extra room but were still paying the premium price. So they shipped items for friends and family (including us!)

2. Will all of your things fit in apartment in Sao Paulo? Real estate is at a premium here in Sao Paulo and square footage is expensive! Even to rent. My in-laws could only afford a 645 sq ft apartment but have enough stuff for a 1200 sq ft apartment.

3. Will your appliances fit in an apartment in Sao Paulo? Everything here is smaller, even the appliances and space is again limited. But I get that in the US things are bigger and better (and cheaper) but be realistic. My in-laws bought a huge two door refrigerator in the US and now they have to spend more money to move their sink to fit it in their apartment. Also their washer and dryer are so big they won’t pass the door into the laundry room. (Just and FYI, their American refrigerator would cost R$10000 here in Brazil – I told them they should sell it, buy one that fits and use the remaining money to pay off the container).

4. Be prepared to wait. Originally, the container should have arrived two months after it was shipped from the US but of course this is Brazil and their stuff was delivered to the wrong port. They then had to wait for another ship to come along and pick up their container and deliver it to the right port. Meanwhile my in-laws had to pay for the extra time it took for the rental of the container and the extra rental time at the port.

5. What will you do in the meantime? My in-laws were lucky because they had us to stay with and help from my husband’s parents. But if you don’t have a place to stay while you are waiting (either here or in the US), you have two options. One, you can stay in a completely empty apartment for two to three months or two – you can stay at a hotel.

Every person who moves to Brazil has a different set of circumstances; some people only plan to stay for a short time, while others plan to make their life here. Whatever your situation, take the time to really weigh the pros and cons of renting a container because you could do a lot with R$18000. One of the things I love most about living in Brazil is living more simply and not feeling the pressure of needing so many things.

If you have any of your own container stories feel free to share!





In general Brazilians are not known for their safety habits. My husband (who is Brazilian) says, “Brazilians are reckless, it’s part of our culture.” Last January the world watched the devastation of a fire in a Brazilian club in the city of Santa Maria that killed approximately 242 people (mainly 20 year olds). But that is not surprising to me because there are no fire alarms in our own apartment building. In fact of all the apartments I’ve been to in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, I have yet to see a smoke alarm. When my son was born I made my husband buy one for the ridiculous price of R$70.00 ($30.00).

Even before my son starting crawling (he’s now walking), I began talking to my husband about childproofing. He thought I was crazy, he argued that his parents never childproofed their house and he is fine. My response was that I too rode in a car without a seat belt when I was little (there were no seat belt laws in the US then) but we were the lucky ones. Just because I never got into a car accident it doesn’t mean another child did and died. Do we really want our child to be one of the unlucky ones? My husband finally conceded and we child proofed.

Things in Brazil are slowly changing. Around the time when I moved here they passed a law requiring children to ride in a car seat. However, I still see people holding babies in cars and I once saw a four year old bouncing around a car without a seat belt. So even though Brazilians have laws in place a lot more education needs to be done.

Recently I have seen a campaign on TV called CRIANÇA SEGURA. It is all about child safety and childproofing. The ads are actually really clever and even a person who doesn’t understand portuguese can get the idea.

This is one of my favorites; it is called Prevention: Poisonous Products. The translation is, “Juice, little juice, and it’s strawberry! I love strawberry juice! I want it.” Then the tag line reads “Use your imagination. They are going to use theirs.”

The Brazilian website has the two other videos if you are interested, plus many facts about child safety (all in portuguese of course).



Chato (male)/Chata (Female) (Shah-too)= Stubborn, Annoying, Boring

My husband taught me the word chato and it explained that it means boring or annoying. For example, you can say; you are being a chato. Now every time he is being annoying I say to him, “Chato!” One day he said, “I don’t like this, you using my own language against me.