For the Love of God, I Just Want Some Heat!

So, if one didn’t know, one might think that Brazil is an all-around tropical kind of country. I mean, it’s south of the equator and everything. This is a fallacy.

Sao Paulo is quite chilly in the winter months, which is just about now. Yes, I’m originally from Chicago, where things got cold. But guess what, we had heat inside our homes. Maybe Sao Paulo doesn’t get as cold as the midwest and northeast regions of the States, but it gets cold. With no heat in the apartments, it’s the same temperature sitting in your home as when you are sitting on the sidewalk. In fact, in our apartment, it’s COLDER than the sidewalk.

In addition, we discovered too late that our apartment did not come equip with a water heater. That’s right folks. No hot water. We take electrically heated showers. On top of all this, it seems the electrical system in our building is not the most powerful. So here what happens if I want to give my daughter a bath in the winter.

Step 1. Must heat bathroom using a small electric heater.  We only recently made the purchase of the electric heater. At first, I lamented not getting a much bigger heater because this little one only has so much power. Then I realized that even the little one is a strain on the system. So when I turn it on for any extended period of time, I have to make sure that we are not running any other large appliances, like the television, or it blows out the electricity in the apartment.

Step 2: Fill the bathtub. In my previous life, this was no big deal. Turn on the hot water and wait maybe ten to fifteen minutes. But here, we must take many precautions. Because we are filling a large bathtub with a small electrically heated spout, I must be certain that all the lights are off in the house. That only the very basic electric needs are met, like the refrigerator. Or else it blows out the electricity in the apartment. And the tub takes about 45 minutes to fill. I also heat up two tea kettles of water, twice, to maintain the warmth of the water during the process. Important to note – never run the hot water and the heater at the same time. This will result in the creation of a blackhole that will suck us all in and drop us somewhere in Thailand.

Step 3: Quickly deposit child in the bath before the water turns cold and turn the heater back on. Nope. No long leisurely baths for anyone in the winter.

I never thought I would long for the day when I, or my offspring, could take a nice, warm relaxing bath. Or stay warm at all. For if we want to stay warm on those chilly night, we must gather around the small electric heater, in the dark.

Let me tell you something, living in the third world certainly makes you appreciate all the things you previously took for granted. So all of you living in the west, please, enjoy a nice warm bath for me.

Image: Marco Torresin /

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16 Responses to For the Love of God, I Just Want Some Heat!

  1. danielle says:

    Aw! Poor little thing. We adults understand it, but she’s at the mercy of the electricity gods!

    We installed a fancy shower head in our new apt that we had in our old one. But apparently, the new apt’s electricity system is not nearly as strong. So when we have the water on the hot setting (“inverno”, haha), it constantly kicks off the circuit breaker thingy — like 3 times during a 10-minute shower. So while one of us is showering, the other one stands next to the wall to keep turning the power back on. It’s one of those things we’ll be able to whine about to our grandkids, I guess.

    • Oh my. HA. Who would have thought! Ours is not so bad, but close. If the power goes out, we have to call downstairs and wait for the guy to pull the same kind of circuit breaker thingy… not fun when you are wet and cold.

  2. Rachel says:

    I just posted on this too! My apartment is freezing! I put on my socks and such here and then go out in a t-shirt to walk in the sun. My boys don’t seem to mind at all though. I will say, it’s the one time I’m thankful for the individual water heaters in our bathrooms. No problem heating up a nice hot bath.

  3. Ray says:


    I think the type of individual electric heaters Rachel might be talking about are the same ones my parents have in their apartment, they never had a problem keeping their bath tubs filled with hot water.
    The best brand is called “Cardal”, they are easy to be installed, do not cost you a fortune to operate.
    We just installed “Laticrete” floor heaters in our bathroom floors and found out the same floor heating system is also sold by “Laticrete” in Brazil. They are installed under the bathroom tiles, that way, it keeps your bathrooms nice and toasty without using too much electricity, their technicians will do the necessary adaptations. My parents are getting ready to install it in their bathroom in Sao Paulo.
    I don’t know how much they cost in Sao Paulo but I bought the whole system at Lowe’s for under U$200,00 and paid my electrician U$150,00 for the electrical adaptation/installation and paid the tile guy another U$500,00, totally worth it, we left the electric floor turned ON 80F for a whole month and our electric bill went up by about U$12,00. If the system is expensive in Sao Paulo because of the import fees, you can grab one at Lowe’s, at the Tile isle, next time you are in the US, they are super light and easy to pack. Make sure you ask the store clerk at Lowe’s all you will need to install it in your bathroom.
    When you arrive in Sao Paulo just call the local “Laticrete” reps and ask them to install the system for you, it is totally worth it.

    Let me know if you are interested and want to find out more about it.
    My parents building condominium replaced all the wires in the entire building in the early 90’s, when many people started using Personal Computers, Microwaves, Space Heaters and many other appliances the old electrical wiring from 1974 just wasn’t strong enough. Perhaps your building hasn’t done the upgrade yet.
    My parents street is served by underground natural gas lines, so all the buildings have Natural Gas heaters in all apartments, they are much better and cost less to operate.
    That is one thing I will be alert for when looking for an apartment in Sao Paulo. My brother just bought an apartment that has all faucets supplied with Natural Gas heated water.
    It sounds like you could solve your electrical problems with a simple upgrade, see if an electrician can help you with that, even if your building hasn’t done the necessary upgrades, you can replace your apartment’s wiring, it is not too hard, your electrician will have to replace the wire connecting the apartment to the building’s main electrical box.
    I remember seeing an AD for a new building in Sao Paulo showing bathrooms equipped with heated floors and jacuzzi bathtubs that you could turn on from your iphone while driving home from work, so when you get home, your bathroom is nice and toasty and bath tub filled and bubbles going…now that is a luxury I would love to have in a Sao Paulo winter 😉


    • WHERE DO YOUR PARENTS LIVE AND WHERE DID YOU SEE THAT ARTICLE!! Floors that are warm?? Seriously?? I’m on it.
      Yeah, I know realize that we made some trade-offs to live in the particular neighborhood. One must be the old buildings. I think next move is going to have to be in a fancy new building, even if it means I’ll have to consider driving. Whoa, the iPhone thing would be so cool… I love technology.

  4. workmomad says:

    Plenty of heat up here in Alabama! Ig I could lend you some, and get some cooler weather here in return, I would!

  5. Ray says:


    My parents live in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in the metropolitan area of Sao Paulo called ABC, Sao Bernardo is about 300 meters higher than Sao Paulo, colder and much more humid, so it’s miserable in the winter, fireplaces and heaters have always been more common and more prevalent than in the city of Sao Paulo proper, they have always had piped underground natural Gas for water heating, at least since the early 1970’s.
    My brother lives in a brand new building in Cerqueira Cesar, close to Avenida Paulista, they have the works, complete gym, toys room for kids and nannis, party room, quiosk with Pizza brick oven, lap pool, kids pool, outside cool wooden playground for the kids, large jacuzzi for up to 15 people, dry and steam sauna, the idea is that people will entertain themselves within the condominium and avoid rush hour traffic all together.
    I actually installed “Laticrete” floor heating here in Rhode Island and told my parents, they went out and found it down there too, I think the Brazilian company who distributes in Brazil is “Cimento Votorantin”, but I am sure you can find it at most large “Home Depot” type stores.
    If you call Gomez de Almeida or some other large real state firm, they will be able to tell you which new apartments offer the iphone connectivity fancy heated floors and jacuzzi tubs among many other amenities such as “iris” and “digital” recognition security systems etc…I will tell you, this people go all out with high tech gadgets to sell real state in Sao Paulo.


  6. Ray says:

    Oh, and in Sao Bernardo and most of the ABC area of Sao Paulo powerful dryers are a must if you don’t want your clothes to rotten while they wait to dry or smell like mildew. 😦

  7. alex says:

    Hi born again,

    This sounds hilarious when reading, but obviously isn’t funny when its happening to you. You have my sympathy if that makes you feel any better!

    Anyway, I wanted to say hi and introduce myself. I really enjoy your blog! I have learned alot from it and it will help me when I make my big move! Thanks!


    • Hi Alex! I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Yes, it will probably be hilarious when I read it in the summer.
      I assume you are moving to Brazil. I’m planning on writing something specifically for future Brazil expats – a list of things you should know before you move here, so look for it 🙂
      Thanks for your comment!

  8. ojeitobrasileiro says:

    Yeah everyone kept telling us Brazil is cold, Brazil is cold. Why doesn’t anyone say, well Brazil’s not really cold, but see the houses have no insulation or heating so your toes will get frosbite, and you will sleep in pajamas with your down quilt and a jacket?! We have a ceramic heater we picked up for R$390 and I lug that around with my son (he eats in his diaper). I can’t drag my son out of the bath tub (read plastic blow up pool) even if the water has turned to ice after 5 minutes, so he’s learned to take baths (at the age of 1) sitting under the shower head, so he has a constant stream of hot water. We have a gas water heater– not an American gas one– one of those tiny Brazilian ones.
    I have toyed with the idea of the heated floor tiles, but we are only hear through next winter and I think I can tough it out…I had found this article on it: and pricing.

    • That’s what Sophia did last night for her bath, just sat under the water because she was cold. I wonder if we should invest in one of those Brazilian heaters? Is it something we can drag around with us?
      Thanks for the link!

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