Living in Cuba
Replies: 94 - Last Post: May 14, 2010 10:38 AM Last Post By: ttjpdo
May 6, 2010 2:32 PM
75My boyfriend's family has owned their home in Centro for 3 generations. They are very clear about maintaining that property, and when someone leaves the country they always find someone else in the family to fill the spot. But the reality is that there is a housing shortage in Havana, and if families who immigrate were allowed to keep vacant property or rent the whole place to tourists there would be an even greater shortage. If foreigners could buy property I think you would see more illegal "slum/favela" like conditions popping up in Havana (these places already exist). Because the desire to live there would not go down but the available housing certainly would. Anyone who claims to care about the living conditions of Cubans (particularly in Havana) should oppose foreigners buying private property there. This seems obvious to me.
Edited by: saoirsesf
May 7, 2010 9:54 AM
76Saoirsesf, thanks for making the obvious connections that so many seem to miss about the importance of a small nation like Cuba retaining control of its key resources--like housing--and ensuring that they are available for their own population rather than to comparatively rich foreigners who want a cheap vacation or retirement home.
May 12, 2010 10:33 AM
Just want quickly give my experience of living in Cuba....
My wife is a Cuban and we spend some time (2-3 months) each year there with her family. We live in a small village community, not in Havana.
And living there is amazing experience always. Of course, there are NO conveniences like in the western world - electricity is gone for long time, no internet, 4 programms on TV, no fancy cafes, nothing like this! But I don't use it much even back home or in other countries (except for high speed Internet, i must admit, I don't miss nothing else!)
Living there is "Vida Pura" experience, working on the farm, very simple life, but absolutely amaizng!
Food - lots of fruis and vegetables! Meat? Carnere-)) We don't eat meat at all, so it is not a problem, but those who like beef would suffer I guess-)) Pork and chicken are everwhere, but beaf is a problem...
As a spouse of a Cuban, I can stay 180 days a year in Cuba, otherwise I need residentcy ($5,000 deposit in the bank, marriage certifiacate, police clearence from home country, photos), but if as we don't stay more than 6 months so far we don't need it.
Buying house now... i would not do it - we saw many options including $2,000-10,000 on the beach, but no guarantees of ownership and big risks... better rent now - if you have cuban friend you can rent apartments for $20-100 a month even in Havana! And wait for a better time.
Also once i visited local hospital - i had little injury form kitesurf and no problem - they did not even asked me money! and it was in varadero..
To live in your family house you would need family visa.
Immigration in Cienfuegos is the best in Cuba in my opinion - i extended my visa there and they are more helpfull and give more information. Note that you can extend your familiar visa in any province, not only where you live!
Also I noticed that people who live in bigger cities or towns in Cuba had more day-to-day problems (big lines for bread everyday, transport is a problem, not much fruits and vegetables on markets, etc.)
Hope it will help.
May 12, 2010 3:52 PM
78Free Traveller, that was a great report. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences of life in Cuba as it has been, and is, for you.
May 12, 2010 5:36 PM
May 13, 2010 6:03 AM
80Hi John –- sometimes what a poster writes is not the same as what you are thinking. For example as the boyfriend of a cubana I can also stay 180 days a year in Cuba if I wanted to. Even if you are married to a Cuban you are still a foreigner and like any other tourist you may buy a car or house for your Cuban wife or novia or but you can never have title to it in your name even if you pay for it. Anyway you know the game better than most and you know how the food and economic situation is on the island and anyone going to Cuba to shop in the strip malls or enjoy fine dining in a local restaurant is going to the wrong country. As for Cienfuegos we haven’t had any black-out or power failure for the last 6 years. For a trip of less than 6 months I rather travel on a tourist card and stay in a rental casa with a/c, ceiling fan, private baño with the option of moving around the island. I think he has the last sentence wrong that people living in big cities have more day to day problems with big line-up for bread, transportation, lack of fruits and vegetables. With money everything is available in bigger cities like Havana and in little old Cfgos even people with money you can’t find a taxi when it’s raining and the gov’t closed down the street market 3 years ago this summer to send the fruits and vegetable to Havana leaving the town people with nothing. Dining in Cfgos is going to 4 restaurants, first restaurant for your drinks, second for your main meal of chicken, third for your side order of rice and salad and a fourth for your desert and coffee. J said hola to your wife
May 13, 2010 6:15 AM
81Hi ttjpdo – don’t take everything at face value. I am sure saoirsesf means well and not intending to mislead anyone but I know for a fact when a property owner leaves the country the gov’t takes over the house and the contents unless the owner can show proof that a member of his family has lived in the same house for a minimum of 10 years. So it is not a simple matter of finding someone else in the family to fill in the spot to maintain the family home. Even if a member of the family has lived in the same household for 10 years the gov’t can still confiscated it saying the house if too big for one person and exchange a smaller house for the larger house. I wrote about this over 2 years ago when it happened to my amigos in Cfgos and Truetown agreed with my facts of the case. Foreigners can buy property if they are stupid enough to do so only they have to buy it in the name of a Cuban and in Cuba money has no friends or family. Anyone who has spent time in Cuba knows of someone who bought a house for their Cuba wife or gf and later when the relationship is over and the husband or boyfriend is left penniless but wiser.
May 13, 2010 1:52 PM
82Rickie, I see no reason to characterize a foreigner as "stupid" just because s/he might choose to give a Cuban friend or family member the money to buy a house. Wouldn't anybody who isn't brain-dead assume that a house bought in somebody else's name (here or there) then belongs to that person, NOT to the person who put up the money? Which means that if you put up the money for your girlfriend to buy a house, it would belong to her, to be passed on to her child, and not to you. Hardly any different if you put up the money for a girlfriend in Canada to buy a house and your name wasn't on the title, right?
The principal difference in Cuba is that foreigners CAN'T own property, and also that property ownership there, even for those who can own it, isn't exactly the same as in North America. It's somewhat like a longterm lease, except that a person (or that person's family) only makes one payment for the place, and can pass it on to other family members. Of course the government can confiscate property--any government in the world can do that because who's to stop them? North American governments confiscate properties when they consider it in national interest to do so, and compensate the owners exactly what they please, which is rarely what the property was worth. Ditto the Cuban government.
You may know an individual in Cuba who was forced to give up their large home in exchange for a smaller place, but I wonder if something else might have been involved, because I know a number of individuals right across Cuba who live alone in large homes and have done for years without being required to trade down to a smaller place. Probably the most famous was the old lady who lived in that great tile-roofed mansion on Avenida 5 that you see just when you come out of the tunnel under Rio Almendres. (Can't recall her name at the moment; do you remember it, Johnabbotsford?) Anyway, despite Havana's housing shortage, she lived there all by her lonesome for near half a century, right up until her death last year. Anybody know what (better) use her house has been turned to since?
May 13, 2010 4:54 PM
May 13, 2010 6:10 PM
84#80 thanks Rickie but still don't understand what the visa is that allows 180 day stay (for anybody 'married' to a cuban and not just canadiana)? it certainly isn't the A2. Not that I would ever want to stay that long so just curious.
#82 sorry ttjpdo - remember the newspaper article on her demise but that's all. I'm old remember!
May 13, 2010 7:05 PM
85Yes, Pelo, that's the house I meant. I saw the renovation work going on there, too, back in December. (The fixer-upper of my dreams).
When did you get "old," John? When certain posters started making snide remarks about young Cuban partners? Don't let 'em get to you. Some of them aren't so young they-selves.
By the way, Rickie, you're right about a family that decides to split from the country can't just grab some relative and move them into the house as a means of hanging onto it. It does have to be the left-behind's actual home (or appear to have been) for some time. If you say ten years I'll take your word for it, because I don't know otherwise.
May 13, 2010 7:42 PM
86I was quite struck by that place, Rosa, and commented on it many times to my girl. They had given it a name to honor it as an historical landmark but I cannot recall what that was. The name that fuzzily omes to mind was something like "The Green House" or some such "color-related" name. Beardo should be able to find that ought as I believe he drives by it daily. B?
I have purchased and remodeled several "fixer-uppers" over time and I would agree with you that that house would be The fixer-upper of my dreams, too.
I don't wish to pretend to speak for others but I didn't read saoirsesf as suggesting that the owner of the house was permanently leaving the country and looking to supplant a family member as dueño, but rather that one of the members of the family was leaving and they wanted to maintain the "census" of the place.
May 13, 2010 8:14 PM
May 13, 2010 8:52 PM
May 13, 2010 9:24 PM
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