Sometimes it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own little worlds that we forget other people’s experiences can be totally different from our own.
Even if you have visited Cuba on more than one occasion, it’s likely that you still don’t really know what life is like for those who are permanent island residents.
Cuba is definitely a gorgeous and beautiful island, it’s undeniable, however, sometimes I think that tourists tend not to have realistic expectations of the island as a whole.
After all, there is more to the country than just the sandy beaches and gorgeous architecture. This isn’t to say that Cuba is all bad either.
The island seems to be thought of as either this idyllic island or this bleak place full of famine and death but it really isn’t either, as, with places, it’s somewhere in between.
Neither all good nor all bad. Throughout this article, we’ll talk about what it’s actually like to live in Cuba.
Do Cubans Today Live In Poverty
Most Cubans certainly do not live a life of luxury as the wages are extremely low to what you may be accustomed to receiving at the end of a month.
A doctor will receive just $30 a month and yet items such as a bottle of water from the store can still cost up to $2 so as you can see, budgeting is no easy feat for the locals.
However, let’s take a moment to actually define poverty.
‘Absolute Poverty’ is fined as struggling to obtain basic needs such as food, water, medicine, and rent.
Most Cubans have homes and they do get a ration each month that can cover up to 40% of their food.
So Cuba doesn’t really fall under absolute poverty, but the country is still not exactly seen as wealthy by any means.
Conditions In Cuba
Most Cubans will have access to both an education as well as any medical services they need.
Since the country is so hot year round they tend not to need to use much fuel to keep themselves and the house heated.
And as previously stated, they are subsidized a certain amount of money for food essentials such as eggs, rice, and sugar.
The constitution also believes that it is important for Cubans to have access to both music and art which is why many concerts and plays are free to view, and if they are not free they are almost always very reasonably priced.
While the country doesn’t fall under UNESCO’s definition of poverty, the living conditions for most Cubans are still fairly far from ideal.
Cuba is quite an expensive place to live while wages are unmistakably low.
This means that most locals struggle to keep up with the cost of living and are for the most part always looking for ways to earn a little extra cash to get them by.
Most homes are fairly rundown and the interior inside is often a good few decades old.
It often doesn’t help that any possessions that the locals own are shared with the state.
So for example, if a local was struggling to eat but owned a couple of cows, they wouldn’t be able to slaughter any of their livestock for food as they would need the states permission too, since they also have ownership over those cows too.
Economy In Cuba
In Cuba there are two main currencies.
CUC is the currency that is often used by tourists that come to visit, and Peso’s are used more often by the locals.
1 CUC is the equivalent of 25 Peso’s.
A lot of Cuban’s have renovated their homes to become homestays as this is a way for them to earn extra money.
And it’s a lot more than they get from their own jobs. One night in a homestay can be equivalent to what a doctor may make in a whole month.
The ability to do this has really improved life for many Cubans, and some have even left their careers to follow the touristic profession as it generates a lot more money.
However, due to the costs of living in Cuba it is not uncommon for the people to work more than one job, a doctor by day may be a taxi driver by night for example.
The Ban On Locals Going Overseas
For as long as 5 decades, there was a ban on any locals being able to actually leave the country.
Thankfully, in 2012 this restriction was finally lifted, giving the locals a little more freedom.
For a very long time Cuba was not a tolerant and accepting country of the LGBTQ community, and it wasn’t really until Mariela, the daughter of Castro came out in support of the LGBTQ+ community that things began to change.
Thanks to Mariela’s support, Adela Hernandez was released from prison (who was imprisoned for being gay) and actualy went on to become the very first transsexual memeber of pariment which was a massive step for the island.
Cuba now a is a lot more tolerant than it once was, and there are many gay bars and clubs in areas such as Havana.
However, it is still not quite as tolerant as other countries may be. But it continues to move in the right direction.
There is also much more than this to what it’s like to live in Cuba, but of course I couldn’t mention it all.
A few other things to consider is that internet access is also very limited in Cuba, the locals are also not allowed to enjoy all the tourist attractions as some are strictly off limits to Cubans.
The island is beautiful and has many wonders too, but for those who live there permanently, things may not always be as perfect as they seem.
However with that being said, many Cubans are very happy with the lives they lead.
It’s simply just a very different experience from what we might know, and it’s important to remember this while you are visiting.