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Retirement and/or Full Winter Escape Planning Trip and Services

Another motive for spending a week or two is to research, plan and test different Cuban retirement or lengthy escape options and plans.   Below you will find so9me key information, insight and cost estimates and ranges useful for assessing whether you would enjoy and afford spending a better part of your retirement in Cuba.

To assist you in doing your due diligence in assessing Cuba, and more specifically the Guanabo, Cojimar and Havana corridor as a possible location, we are offering you a great and customized Cuban village holiday/retirement analysis week get away.  For $250,  not only will you have a great, unique and affordable vacation you will also come away with a demonstrated and tangible business case to assess the opportunity to reside in a Cuban village setting between 4 to 6 months a year or longer.  

We here can offer you a low cost retirement analysis and advisory service, complete with a final business case and an in person and in-community visits and meetings.  Included would be documented research (prices, options, techniques), tours as well as alternative neighbourhood house and apartment visits.  

Our on the ground experience over many years and knowledge of local prices allows us to propose that a person or couple could easily, comfortably and most importantly very warmly live in Cuba from between $900 US/person (currently around $1,250 Cdn.) a month to $1,600/person US (2,100 Cdn.) all depending on your priorities, life style and interests.  Also the above estimated ranges are per person, clearly there would be greater economies (estimated at 15% to 20% per person primarily based economies of scale on rent and food) if you are a couple and eat at home 5 days a week.  

Using our experience and number of  contacts we can provide practical guidance, advice, costs estimates and in-person tours/examples of the quality, costs and options of:

  • Low cost ways of travelling back and forth  Canada/US to Cuba (the Havana, Cojimar and knowledge of Guanabo area)

  • Housing options and costs as per:

    • Beach proximity: on or near or up to 1 mile away from the beach

    • Size/Type: 1 large room/bachelor, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, patio etc...

    • Duration: 2 month, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months

    • Payment Arrangement: Pro and con analysis of long term lease, all up front, one month in advance, week to week etc...

  • Meals/Diet lifestyle:

    • Shop and cook for yourself

    • Have a full time cook (groceries as well) for lunch and/or supper

    • Largely eat out at very affordable restaurants

  • Transportation options depending where you live and your lifestyle:

    • Buses

    • Taxies

    • Scooter

  • Immigration Issues and options

  • Health Care Insurance (very dependent on your coverage)

  • Possible Hobbies:

    • Spanish lessons

    • Volunteering

    • Diving

    • Cooking

Our service would include the following analysis and services

  1. A preliminary lifestyle and needs questionnaire which would be supported by a telephone call to assist in the completion and ask questions

  2. Organizing/coordinating a 1 week in Cuba tour, analysis, house showings and demonstrations (ie of restaurants, shopping, transportation, tour of Cojimar etc... ).

  3. A final report, contacts and on-going communications support between Canada/US and Cuba (ie to answer final detailed questions and assist in concluding any house rental and leasing arrangements)

Total costs of the above service would be $250 Cdn.  Please note that this only covers our data analysis, introductions/contacts, reports to you and time (in Canada and Cuba) and not additional costs such as transportation, restaurants, lodging and flight etc...  

Should you just prefer to begin with step 1 (1 hour questionnaire and telephone walk through questionnaire) that would be $75 Cdn.

It is our belief that this would be a really enjoyable, professional and very responsible way to fully assess the costs, feel, lifestyle, pace, benefits and risks of spending 2 to 6 to 12 months a year in Cuba.  Imagine going to Cuba for a week or two and come back with a professional and validated cost assessment of what a Cuban retirement could be like.

Basic cost modelling examples

What follows are two different and very simple cost models of what a month may include and the associated costs per person.  While we have not included every conceivable expenditure or activity, it may cover up to 80% of the costs.  One important element missing is health insurance which is too difficult to estimate as it varies so significantly between those that do or do not have travel insurance as well as an individualís age.

Before delving into the math, it is important to better describe the key variables, assumptions and their related construction and limitations.   To begin we have developed 2 different types of single or couples travellers.  The first is much more healthier and quieter an individual than the second.  He so she enjoys a very quiet surrounding and some proximity to a friendly Cuban family, a daily walk and swim at the beach, possibly a coffee or juice at a nearby patio, a bike ride, maybe fish at dawn, cooking at home and watching movies or more reading in the evening and then reasonably early to bed.  And perhaps once a week a bus (5 cents) or collectivo (1 CUC) drive to nearby Campo Florida, Cojimar or to Havana to shop or just peruse the streets, visit a museum or arts/dance and sample the cafes.  Generally speaking, a very quiet and relaxing time with ample cultural learning activities and opportunities.

The second individual or couple might have a bit more energy and possibly money and wish to spend the bulk of their time outside of their house and constantly meeting new people from ex-pats (i.e. other non Cubans that spend months and months in Cuba) to Cuban men, women and families at cafes, restaurants, pubs, beach and nightclubs.  For these, it likely means a little later to rise and later to sleep.   Probably a few more drinks through the day and evening,  Likely to invite people home to chat, eat and drink but all the while respecting the landlords and neighbours rights to a reasonable peacefulness and a sound sleep.  

Again before moving to the math and cost estimates.  A bit more description on each of these variables.  As you can imagine these are just to provide a general sense of costs and options.  This is not an exact science nor definitively complete.  But I do think it captures 80% of major cost items.   With that here are the key cost items:

  • Apartment:  The cost and size of an apartment varies considerably.  A book or chapter can be written on this alone.  A person or couple could spend anywhere between 15 to 40 CUCs per day.  I think it is important to note, that most people spend most of their time outdoors and very little indoors.  I and others find that being directly on the beach is unnecessary and sometimes noisy with people and constant waves.  Questions to ask are: how close to the beach and city centre (for those that go out a lot), how nice and large and private is the outdoor covered porch or balcony; type of security; is there AC, window screens for mosquitoes, TV, cooking range, hot shower water; how many other guests units are there, are there barking dogs (at night) or roosters (in the morning) next door.  Is there a pool (important to some, but not many).  For some and for good reason, really important is the family you will be renting from.  Most if not all Cuban families that rent are very friendly, but some are particularly helpfull, generous and curious and are wonderful to learn from and sahre stories with.  In fact there is no better way about the real Cuban (culture, history, society, economics etc..) then through this exchange.  We just recommend avoiding to strong a political view or opinion.  Insights will be offered when ready and appropriate.  While there are exceptions if you know people and have been around for some time, for this exercise a good large bachelor fully equipped with a large patio 2 to 5 Blocs from the ocean should cost about $20 day.  Now if you are to book it for 3 months that might come down to $15 month with monthly up-front payments.  A larger 1 bedroom apartment with the same characteristics as above could cost about $30 a night but maybe negotiable to $25 on a 3 month basis.  Now if you are prepared to live a mile away from the ocean in the valley behind Guanabo, the same places could be as low as $10 and $20 a night.  

  • Food.  Again this is highly dependent on the individual.  Food is very, very reasonable and affordable.   Fruits, vegetables, beans and rice are abundant, fresh and cheap.    The first and easiest option is restaurant eating where you can have a large and filling Cuban lunch for $2 to $3, and a closer to home Italian or chicken/pork/fish meal for $5.50.   And even cheaper if all you really need is a large saucy rice and vegetable and fruit meal.  Cooking from home can also really reduce costs and shopping for food can be part of an interesting routine each day.   Doing so would probably runs $5 to $6 a day, or thereabouts.    Caveats are the following: good bread is sometimes hard to find, but Cuban bread is fine fresh just a bit harder; normal milk is not always easy to find, as Cubans drink/use powdered milk; lots of spices should be brought from home; beef is largely only available in restaurants; when you see butter for sale buy it as a week may go bye before more comes to the village; Cuban mayonnaise is not very good, bring Canadian; microwaves are rare in Cuba.

  • Fluids:  This of course depends on your age and lifestyle and often on whether you are your own in a relationship, but not necessarily.  For some, this is an insignificant element of their day to day routine, for otherís it is a daily occurrence.  In Guanabo, Cojimar and Havana there are plenty of pubs/bars around that are open from about 10 am to 12 pm.  And within these you will find a collection of ex-pats from around the world (but largely Canadians at this point), Cubans and new short- term tourists that cycle in and out for a week.  Sitting there for a few hours a day, be it early afternoon  or early evening, can be quite interesting and a great place to meet new people, learn a lot about Cuba and ask dozens of questions and receive a similar amount of different and alternative answers Ė sometimes contradictory.   So if your daily routine consists of 3 or 4 beers at the pub, than thatís about $4.50 right there, and if you have a couple of night caps such as rum and coke, plan on another $2.  In other words, a can of beer is $1 at the pub or at the local store.  A 26 oz (750 mil) bottle of rum is about $6 but can go as low as about $4 at a store, while a shot of rum at a bar is between $0.5 and $1.  However if all you care for is water, pop or very fresh juice each day, a litre is about $1.50.   

  • Weekly Outing: The great thing about Guanabo is that there a number of villages and Havana that are about, and each of these have their own character, charm and Cuban reality.  As an example, Cojimar is about a 15 minute collective ride away or about 25 minutes bus ride.  And Cojimar has two key areas, the first being the sleepier fishing marina side famous for its Ernest Hemingway monuments and digs and then there is the other side of Cojimar which was the site of 1990s Pan American games and is much busier.  Other nearby villages are Campo Florida, Alimar (which I know nothing about)  etc..  And then of course Havana is only a 30 minute taxi drive away and costs only $1 each way by collectivo (a taxi that fills up with a bunch of Cubans).   Each way is about  $0.05 by bus or about a $1 by collectivo.  The only hitch is that there is a bit of walk to downtown Cojimar as the bus and collectivo drop you off at the entrance of town and not downtown.  However, the collectivo drops you right in downtown Havana.  So within the budget below we have factored this small cost on a daily basis for once a week either by bus or collective.  

  • Nightclubs:  There are three nightclubs in Guanabo all within walking distance or at $1 by a local coache (horse drawn carriage).  Entrance fee is normally $3 for a show but $5 if there is a big Cuban performer.  Beers are $1.25 and a rum and coke is about $2.  These shows are truly Cuban and really enjoyable (lots of dancing and entertainment) and a must for the first timer and you may go a little more often in your first few weeks, but thereafter you might find that going once a week or two is sufficient.  Depending  on your interest s and priorities, you are either the person who goes  2 or 3 times a week, or another type that may go only every two weeks.  Once again these estimated costs were inputted on a per daily share to conform with the table methodology.  

  • Cook/Clean:  It is also more than feasible to engage someone for about $30 to $60 a month to spend 2 to 5 hours a day to clean, cook and educate (ask questions and learn a bit of Spanish).  It is an option included in scenarios 2 and 3.  

  • Scooter/Bike:  Arrangement may also be made (but some lead time and planning is required). that a basic bike (likely a folding bike, but just fine for Guanabo grocery shopping and beach) are made.  If a scooter is desired it would be an electric one.  Daily price is from $2 for bike and $13 for scooter.

  • Internet:  Reasonable Internet has finally arrived to Guanabo this past year.  While a tad flaky and slow, there is now a WIFI hot spot in Guanabo`s central park.  You should note that very few if any homes have Internet in Guanabo.  But if you avoid videos or go later in the evening its fine for just anything.  The costs is about $1.50 per hour as you need to buy a card with a password on it.

The following chart then breaks down 3 types or categories of individuals.  It provides a daily sense of activities, costs and options (ie cook and bike etc...).  It is hoped that you can place yourself somewhere on or between these archetypes.  

These we believe are the major living costs which should provide a framework in which you may see yourself.   We would suggest that most people fall in between the first two (relaxed and energized) or at about $1,200 US per month.  And if you are couple, consider reducing the per person per month costs by roughly 20%.  So for a couple that are partially relaxed and partially energized, then $950 per person per month might be a good estimate.  But it could be far cheaper if there is just once or twice a week of drinking, nightlife, restaurant, bar hopping and transportation etc...

Should you be interested in taking a both a holiday and retirement/winter escape analysis. We have prepared a number of different cost estimate scenarios below.  These try to capture the costs of both a one and two week assessment/holiday package.  Furthermore the estimates are broken down for those that wish to largely spend time on the beach and walk and generally are not interested in pubs and those that really enjoy socializing a good part of the day at a pub and at night in the clubs.  Also important to note is that the one week packages would involve a staying at base-camp Hotel (semi All Inclusive package) in either Havana or at nearby seaside resort.  Whereas the two week package anticipates staying at a Casa Particulara in Guanabo.  


While we have provided as much information as possible or practical, please email us should you wish more information or to pursue further.  Contact us at

Thank You,,

Experience Guanabo Cuba Team