Cost of Living in Cuba for 6 months
Replies: 24 - Last Post: Dec 17, 2010 4:11 AM Last Post By: johnabbotsford
Dec 10, 2010 10:52 AM
Cost of Living in Cuba for 6 monthsI am a Canadian. How much money do you need to stay in Cuba for six months? Can you get volunteer work in Cuba? What type of accommodation is there for 6 months stay?
On a single trip how much money can I carry into to Cuba so that I can survive for 6 months in Cuba?
Dec 10, 2010 11:24 AM
1How much money you need to live in Cuba depends on how you live. A foreigner CAN find a room for as little as Canadian $400/month on a long-term basis and if paid for up front. However, it will take time to find such a place, and during that time you are probably looking at at least Canadian $30/night, or $900/month. So I would say, budget Canadian $900-$1000 for lodging the first month, and maybe $500 (just to be on the safe side) for each month after that.
You can eat and by beverages--bottled water, juice, beer, whatever--for about Canadian $10-$15/day. Again, this can be cut down once you learn where and how to "shop Cuban." This is NOT immediately apparent to foreigners, and takes time to learn, so count on spending, say, Canadian $500 for food and beverage for your first month, after which you can probably manage on less.
You may have a notion that you can save money by hanging with Cubans who will take you to the cheap places they frequent and this is true--but in exchange you will be expected to pay for them and why shouldn't you, since even if you are a "starving student" you are much more affluent than anyone you are likely to meet. And reciprocation is very much the Cuban way. They help you; you will be expected to help them.
You can, of course, do volunteer work in Cuba. But you won't get paid for it, and you will need to bring your own tools, materials, etc. If Cubans had the necessary tools and materials, they could do most work themselves. The falling-apart buildings and other infrastructure you see are predominately because of a lack of resources on the part of either individuals or the government. But if you bring your own, and get to know people in the neighborhood where you live, I'm sure any number of them will welcome you to voluntarily repair their plumbing or electrical service, paint, do masonery, or whatever.
Alternatively, you can join a group that takes volunteers to work in Cuba. They charge several thousand dollars, which is reasonable under the circumstances--the circumstances being that the sponsoring group has to provide not only tools and materials, but also medical care, emergency aid, translation services, transportation, food, lodging, and other organizational assistance to those volunteers. A number of the regular posters on this branch have joined groups doing volunteer work in Cuba, and can probably tell you how that worked for them. Or you can go on the internet and use Google.
You don't need to "carry into Cuba" enough money to survive for six months. You need to have access to money while you're there. There are a variety of ways to do that, including opening a bank account. I will leave it up to more finance-savvy posters than me to offer suggestions on that.
Dec 10, 2010 12:10 PM
2It all depend if you want to live like a tourist or a Cuban. If you like to move around and interact with the locals be advised that transportation and companionship will be your biggest expenses. I can live in Cfgos on less than $10 a day for 2 people because we either walk or ride our bikes around town and eat in the peso restaurants and for entertainment we sit in the Malecón and watch the sunset and the cars and people passing by. For excitement we sit on the seawall across the Rápido and watch the tourists make an ass of themselves. I doubt you will stay the entire 6 months unless you find someone to share your vacation with you because the number ONE is a very lonely number on the island of love. From Canada pre-load your Visa Card and withdraw the money from the banks as you need it.
Dec 10, 2010 12:40 PM
3If you've never been to Cuba there's no way you'll last 6 months for your first time.
Dec 10, 2010 4:11 PM
4JAJAJAJA ! Agreed, Terry. Even after you get your Cuba Legs under you, it can wear you down. I find a 60-day stay has me at the point of diminishing return and ready to leave.
Dec 10, 2010 4:57 PM
5Yup, have to agree with Terry and Pelo. Unless the OP is very used to and comfortable with being alone, living that long in Cuba on a 1st trip will wear him down. And more will depend if the OP speaks sufficient Spanish to get by. If not, that just doubles the "alone" factor.
Dec 10, 2010 6:28 PM
6"From Canada pre-load your Visa Card and withdraw the money from the banks as you need it."
It may not be practical to carry a positive balance on a Canadian Visa credit card (maybe not even allowed in some cases, not sure), but CIBC claims its new Advantage Visa debit card is accepted everywhere Visa Debit is accepted. That should mean Cuba. I will test it in two weeks (while not relying on it exclusively).
Dec 10, 2010 6:38 PM
7I don’t want to pull rank on you but I have used that method in the past without any problems. Pre-loading your Credit card with a positive cash balance eliminates any interest charges when you withdraw cash in Cuba. Read the fine print, what is accepted everywhere may not be accepted in Cuba so ask your bank but CIBC should be ok because they are one of the banks that offer next day transfer of funds to a bank in Cuba.
Dec 11, 2010 12:00 AM
Dec 11, 2010 4:11 AM
9One thing to consider about pre-loading credit card with funds for your trip.
I carry a single credit card from a major Canadian bank. I also pre-load it. However on my trip to Cuba last Febuary, about 1/2 way through my trip my bank CANCELLED my card. The issue I found out (after I got home) was that the Toronto Police had cracked a gang and found a computer with a list of thousands of credit card numbers on it. Mine was one of them. It had never been fradulently used, but because my card number was on the list the bank cancelled the card and issued a new card / number. This directly had nothing to do with Cuba, but the trouble was you cannot get a new card issued to you while you are IN Cuba. You have to get the new card when you get home.
So I encourage you to have multiple cards from multiple companies so that you can split your funds across the cards. That way if this type of situation arises, you've at least got some funds available.
Dec 11, 2010 5:09 AM
109. That is what I do and I have had cards cancelled for one reason or the other, and very glad I had an alternate. I also found out it is necessary to call them and advise them of the pre-load and when you will be in Cuba. I have had my card cancelled because their security kicked in when they saw a lot of withdrawals from Cuba.
Dec 11, 2010 6:44 AM
11Actually AC, that's one thing I always do. I call my bank a week or so before my trip and have always advised them of my travel plans, and a rough idea of what spending they should expect. The notations are made on my file. Up to this year it's been flawless, but got caught this time. Live and learn I guess.
Dec 11, 2010 6:57 AM
127 - no problem pulling rank; experience always trumps guesswork. (I was probably remembering revised terms for a line of credit, not a CC.)
I'd still have a couple of additional caveats, though.
- read your particular card's terms and conditions to make sure there are no "gotchas" such as cash-advance fees, less advantageous currency-conversion terms than a regular deposit account, etc.
- be very careful to avoid dipping into credit, because of the way interest is calculated on advances -- usually kicks in immediately, no grace period (an obvious point, especially for those who've done it before, but worth mentioning for those who haven't). So if doing this I'd load it up with substantially more money than you think you'll need.
- the advice to notify the card issuer of travel plans is always good, whether carrying a positive balance or not. It's a big drag to be stuck with a security freeze on your account when you need it most.
As for CIBC, I have spoken to someone there, so the claim is from a rep, not just the website. Whether it works in Cuba or not it'll be a useful card to have for travel elsewhere, and for expanding my ATM options at home, so I'll get one and try it out in Cuba.
Dec 11, 2010 7:23 AM
13the advice to notify the card issuer of travel plans is always good, whether carrying a positive balance or not. It's a big drag to be stuck with a security freeze on your account when you need it most.
Just to add to Steve reply it’s prudent to call the number on the back of your credit card to let them know where you will be using the card so they can flag it and at the same time to get a out of country number to call for lost or stolen card.
I go 4 to 6 times a year and I don’t even think about the money issue anymore. If I run short on funds we eat beans and rice otherwise we dine in some pretty nice restaurants in Cuba and always enjoy ourselves.
Dec 11, 2010 7:38 AM
14In answer to te OPs original question I would say approx. 8 to 9000 Can would do it if you want to just use cash. It is not adviseable to have a budget dependant on finding cheap alternatives. They may not be there when you want them. If you don't spend all your money, you can take some home with you.
That much cash should be reported to Cuban customs and should be deposited in a local bank.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$217.26 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$326.39 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$250.00 per night