10 Things I Wish I Had Brought in the Move

For more lists of 10 and insights into Sao Paulo, see American Exbrat in São Paulo.

In July we will have been here for three years. While within the first, there were items I wish we had put in the shipment, the past two-and-a-half have really made me realize how a few extra appliances and supplies would have made a big difference. And yes, I’ve taken trips back to the States. But some things just won’t fit in a suitcase, are too heavy or take too much space. Space I wasn’t willing to compromise for chocolate chips, organic coconut oil and birthday party supplies.

Here are ten thing I wish we’d packed in the move.


1. Juicer

I’ve definitely collected some unhealthy eating habits during my São Paulo journey. Recently, in a campaign to offset those, we’ve begun to juice. Juicing is reasonably easy in this city because you load up on fresh fruit and vegetables at your neighborhood feira or the organic market at Parque da Água Branca on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. What is not easy to acquire is a high-powered juicer at a reasonable price. We recently bought an overpriced juicer that seems to work fine, but some of the plastic pieces are so thin I’m afraid it may not last in the long haul. We did bring a citrus juicer from the U.S., but I wish I’d thought ahead and gotten a powerful all-round one like a Breville or the Norwalk.

2. Air Purifier

Pollution doesn’t just effect you when you go outside. There are days when I can feel it in my lungs as I wake up. It is also easy to encounter mold in Brazil, so an air purifier would have been a great idea.

3. A coffee maker with a timer

Not only did somebody break the glass pot of our coffee maker with the first few months, one that was impossible to replace, but the maker itself did have a clock we could set to have fresh coffee ready when we wake up. Now that I am getting up at the crack of dawn to get my daughter to school, this feature is appreciated. We bought a coffee maker here for more money than it is worth with a carafe feature that never really keeps the coffee warm for very long.

4. More warm blankets

São Paulo gets cold, especially at night. Most apartments aren’t built with a heating unit, so you have few options than to bury yourself under multiple blankets. Even our down comforter doesn’t always do the job.

5. Electric space heaters

Not only are these useful at night, though I never felt comfortable running one all night long for fear of electrical fire, this appliance is useful for warming up a bathroom in preparation for a shower on a cold day.

6. Washing machine

We did bring an awesome refrigerator from the States, but decided to skip the washing machine and clothes dryer because we anticipated someone who only spoke Portuguese would be the one running it. However, we paid a lot of money for a washing machine that often tears up clothes, towels, etc. Had I thought it through, I could have easily just taped Portuguese words over the ones in English on the item if I really didn’t want to run it myself. We didn’t buy a clothes dryer at all, which was a good decision because in both places we have lived there would have been a struggle to find a spot for it. So it is hang drying for us.

7. An extra hair dryer

My hair dryer recently broke. I went without for a couple weeks, but finally broke down and bought one for a painful amount of money. Sure, I could throw one of those in a suitcase on my next trip, but that would mean months of bad hair.

8. More pots and pans

We were quite sad after a women who cooked for us scraped the crap out of our beloved wok – an item that is awkward to stuff into a suitcase (but not impossible!) We also replaced some pans that didn’t survive her culinary methods, but you just don’t get the same quality for a decent price. I wish we would have extended our high quality pot and pan line in anticipation of extensive cooking.

1165700_10 piece POP Container Set

9. Food storage containers

Bugs infiltrate dry goods on a regular basis in São Paulo. And forget out casually clipping a bag of sugar or other sweet stuff. While we did bring some Oxo food storage container in the big trip, we could definitely use more and different sizes and shapes.

10. Sports equipment

Tennis racquets, bicycles, roller skates, extra yoga mats… I wish we would have thought through all that we might want to do in São Paulo parks and clubs. These items are outrageously expensive to buy in Brazil, especially if you want well-made equipment.

This entry was posted in Expatriate Info & Advice, Food & Drink, Foreigner Insights, Living in Sao Paulo and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to 10 Things I Wish I Had Brought in the Move

  1. sigh.. now that I am decorated my house I would have brought painter’s tape, no sew tape, curtain clips, ceiling lights, doorknobs, red material for projects, a kitchen aid.. haha, thelist goes on and on.. hindsight’s 20/20 eh?

  2. Reblogged this on William Penn University Study Abroad and commented:
    If you have traveled away from home for an extensive period of time, then you are familiar with the issue of not having all of your usual gadgets and comfort items. Remember that discomfort you might have felt for 11 days in Rwanda and Tanzania in 2012 without the hair dryer? Or perhaps you spent a summer interning abroad and had to learn how to make rice without a rice maker. These types of adjustments might be confusing and annoying enough but consider the life of an expat – who might only have a couple of suitcases of things from home.

    The WordPress blog Born Again Brazilian (https://bornagainbrazilian.wordpress.com/) just did a recent post on some material goods the author misses during their time of living abroad. Some items are larger (such as a washing machine) but others are smaller – such as a coffee pot with a timer and space heaters.
    Check out their post “10 Things I Wish I Had Brought in the Move” here: https://bornagainbrazilian.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/10-things-i-wish-i-had-brought-in-the-move/

  3. Pingback: 10 Things I Wish I Had Brought in the Move | William Penn University Study Abroad

  4. Pingback: The Packing Regret List: Life as an Expat | William Penn University Study Abroad

  5. N says:

    I do regret some of the small kitchen appliances we left behind. However I’m surprised to see items like washing machine, pots and pans, and food containers in your list ! We can easily find appliances of great brands such as Electrolux, Bosch, or even the national Brastemp here (and we live really far from a big city — I suppose you must have even more choice in SP). Yes, there is a lot of cheap crap here too, but at least in made in Brazil, not China. :mrgreen:

  6. harmamae says:

    Every time I travel, I find I’ve brought all sorts of useless stuff I DON’T need, and forgot all sorts of stuff I DID need. I think this would probably be even worse if I actually moved to another country. 🙂

  7. I was very lucky (although I didn’t at the time realise my luck) I had to wait over two years before I could ship my container due to visa mess ups but it did allow me the luxury of adding things that you have mentioned into my container and a multitude of other things that my mum generously got and packed for me. My brother is of the opinion that we can’t have any shops here, lol.
    I have to agree with your assessment of blankets, how is it that a 13.5 tog goose down duvet isn’t always warm enough. I was freezing last night even today I have on a lightweight fleece, tropical climate my bottom:) Good post as usual, thanks.

  8. Andrew says:

    At least a year ago, we were able to take 20x20x20″ boxes on our flight from MIA to GRU. You might want to look into it and see if that’s still possible. There is something called a “box embargo” that specifically did not apply to the MIA-GRU route — and I don’t think it applied to any flights going into GRU, but you might want to check on that. I’d suspect that you could fit a juicer or other bulky items into a box that size.

  9. I managed to bring a good juicer, a small wok, and my crock pot through, but I forgot my yoga mat in the back of my friend´s car, D’oh! I made sure not to forget my Mexican spices though. 😉

  10. Alex says:

    I agree on all of them, but you hit a nerve with the SPACE HEATER.


    They call Brazil a tropical country…whoever made that up was higher than the druggies in Cracolândia.


    • HAHAHA! I know it. My husband warned me before we moved that it was cold in Sao Paulo. I thought – what does a Brazilian know about cold, I’m from Chicago. Sure, it is not Chicago winter cold, but it UNEXPECTEDLY cold. Damn cold.

  11. Andrew Francis says:

    I would avoid taking large-scale appliances like a washing machine. If it ever breaks down, you’ll have trouble getting parts of a trained technician (and you can hardly blame them for not knowing a foreign model). As for citrus juicers, I’ve seen Walita models (a Philips brand) last many long years in good condition. Finally, on the blankets, try a “lencol eletrico” under your bottom sheet. You just turn it on to warm up the bed before you get in and you don’t need to leave it on the whole night.

    • We brought a refrigerator with us and chose a model specifically for that reason – so that it could be serviced here if needed. Tell me more about this “lencol eletrico” you speak of…

      • Andrew Francis says:

        Ah, how things have improved… When I was a kid (I know, calm down grandad!) we brought back an ordinary touch tone phone and it didn’t work because the local exchange was still on the old rotary dial system. To be honest, I only have second hand knowledge of these lencois but my SIL swears by it. I think the proper name is lencol termico. Put that into Google and you’ll get a bunch sites selling them.

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