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Exploring and Living in Cuba

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When figuring out your projected living expenses before considering a move abroad, be sure to take into account the following factors: currency variations, the relative cost and availability of consumer items, the price of entertainment, housing prices, utilities (water, garbage, electricity and telephone) and health care. You should also consider the cost of a vehicle (if you qualify for buying one), registration, fuel, maintenance and insurance if you eventually qualify to be a Cuban resident. Be sure and also factor in airfare to and from the country. If you cannot qualify for residency you will have to leave every 90 days.

 High import taxes are a way of life in almost all Latin American countries. Therefore, you will be better off buying domestic goods, if possible and if available. Before you bring anything from abroad be sure and find out how much duty you will have to pay.

 Once you have lived in Cuba for a while, learned all of the ropes, studied the advice in this book and made contacts, you will be able to cut your living costs substantially. This is important for those people living on small or fixed incomes.

 When you take into account how much locals live on you will realize that you will be able to live very well in most Latin American countries. If you do as they do by “going native” you will learn how to save money.

 Someday a person may be able to invest, start a small business, share a home or apartment, work as a consultant, start a web-based business if you have a particular field of expertise, trade your services or engage in other money making ventures to further reduce your living expenses. With a little creativity and imagination you will be able to find you niche and save money in the process.

The cost of living in Cuba is difficult to summarize since there has been a lack of information available for so many years. However, using information available the author knows that the groceries index a 68.74 percent of the New York index and the restaurant index’s 38.5 percent. Hopefully, there will more information available regarding individual items and individual services that are covered below.

A relatively inexpensive restaurant will charge around seven dollars per person, a meal for two at a midrange restaurant is likely to cost around $30. Domestic beer and imported beer are around $1.5 per bottle with Pepsi and Cola just over $1.1 with water costing you around 87c. However, goods available in local markets are on the whole cheaper with milk around $3.5 a litre, a fresh loaf of bread around $1.7 and 12 eggs will cost you $2.4. A midrange bottle of wine will cost you less than four dollars and domestic and imported beer will cost you two dollars, the same price as a packet of Marlboro cigarettes. Taxis and gasoline in Cuba are relatively cheap and basic utilities such as electricity, gas, water and garbage collection are unlikely to cost you more than $20 a month. Spotty Internet access, which should improve, is very expensive at $70 a month thatperfectly illustrates how the government still has a very strong hold on prices. Scores of people gather around “hot spots” like hotels to access the Internet.

According to one economist, “Even though the Cuban authorities have released some of their power and opened up some areas of economy to the ‘free market’ they are still very much in control of rationing of food and items such as clothing and very often these prices are fixed by the authorities. While this particular activity is likely to change in the longer-term it may be some time before Cuba could in any way shape or form be regarded as a “free economy.”

Even though the vast majority of everyday prices are fixed, or in some way controlled, by the Cuban government there is no doubt that the famous nightlife of the country is still there for all to see. While it will depend on which area of the country you live in it is relatively inexpensive to enjoy a good night out in Cuba as long as you stay out of ‘tourist traps.’ As the country opens up and tourism increases more and more expats move to Cuab there will be more products available and better services catering to foreign tastes.

Cuba is again one of those countries, which has made enormous progress over the last few years but still has some way to go before it can be comparable to other expats hotspots. However, this has not stopped the influx of expats to Cuba and the opening up of the economy, encouragement of foreign investment and a generally less restrictive environment are all helping to improve the attractions of this beautiful area of the world. While there are still traces of the old communist influences in and around Cuba there is no doubt that the authorities have decided to move with the times and now appreciate the importance of overseas investors.

The recent reduction in restrictions regarding foreign ownership of Cuban property has been welcomed in the short to medium term and will likely have a massive impact in the longer-term. However, some investors may be sceptical until the government demonstrates it has learned from problems in the past where similar incentives were reversed once the economy was back on its feet. Foreign investors have very long memories although there are many who are willing to take the extra risk for the potential extra rewards in the medium to longer term.

Cuba is one of a group of American countries that has been forced to change to support its economy that had struggled to survive. However, while these changes may have occurred over an extended period they are very much welcomed and certain to benefit the Cuban economy, international trade and above all the Cuban population.


Tax rates in Cuba are not as bad as many would have expected when you bear in mind the heavy communist influence over the region. Corporation tax is set at 30 percent although wholly owned foreign companies arecharged 35 percent. Individual taxation ranges from 10 percent for those are relatively low incomes to 50 percent for those of relatively high income with a 12 percent VAT/sales charge. Hopefully, as the Cuban economy is opened up to new initiatives, self-employment and more foreign investment we may see some changes in the tax rates to try and attract new investors and new visitors to the region. However, it has to be said that the rates in Cuba are not as bad as you might have expected for a country with such a history.

Approximate Cost of Living in Cuba


  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant $6.00 $
  • Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course $15.00 
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) $5.75 
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) $1.00 
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) $1.50 
  • Cappuccino (regular) $1.25 
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) $1.27 
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) $.59 


  • Milk ( (1 liter) $1.34 
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) $.41 
  • Rice (white), (1kg) $.85 
  • Eggs (12) $.91 
  • Local Cheese (1kg) $3.56 
  • Chicken Breasts (1kg) $3.76 
  • Apples (1kg) $5.82 
  • Oranges (1kg) $.74 
  • Tomato (1kg) $.91 
  • Potato (1kg) $1.45 
  • Lettuce (1 head) $.58 
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) $.89 
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) $4.00 
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) $1.04 
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) $1.57 
  • Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) $1.01 


  • One-way Ticket (Local Transport) $.04 
  • Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) $1.00 
  • Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) $1.00 
  • Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) $10.00 
  • Gasoline (1 liter) $1.50 
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) $61,709.60 

Utilities (Monthly)

  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment $5.95 
  • 1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) $.55 $
  • Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) $103.00

Sports and Leisure

  • Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 7.67 $
  • Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) $3.00 
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat $.10 

Clothing and Shoes

  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) $31.00 
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, ...) $27.98 
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) $76.00 
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes $46.89 

Rent Per Month

  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in the downtown área of a city $500.00
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of downtown $250.00 -$500.00
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) in downtown $800.00
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of the downtown area $300.00
  • Buy Apartment Price (If you have residency)
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre $263.33 

Salaries And Financing

Average Monthly Disposable Salary (After Tax) $25.00

NOTE: all of these prices are subject to change at any time. More information may be obtained from this website:



Official Guide to
Cuban Spanish

Official Guide to Cuban Spanish

For those who want to communicate with the locals and to develop basic Spanish survival skills, purchase our one-of-a-kind eBook which includes Cuban slang in English


"I always keep this book on my tablet so that I can maneuver through Cuba’s linguistic maze."

Max Gómez, Cuba Scout, Travel Expert

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Living and Investing in Cuba - Live in Cuba - Retire in Cuba - Retirement Tours in Cuba 

Information herein is authorized through the courtesy of Christopher Howard, author of the best selling Cuba information source, Living and Investing in the New Cuba. Please be aware that all information herein is protected by COPYRIGHT © and misuse of it will carry a penalty by law.