Moving to Cuba
Many expats thinking about moving to Cuba are deterred by its communist heritage and uncertain international relations. The difficulty in meeting the requirements for settling in Cuba mean the country’s expat population is nowhere near as large as those of other Caribbean destinations like Costa Rica.
However, this should in no way dissuade an expat from moving to Cuba. Cuba is nothing if not an exciting, new experience. Those who take the plunge will encounter a political system that’s very different from the one they may be used to. Decades of American embargos on Cuba coupled with policies that have historically inhibited foreign investment and stunted economic growth. In recent years, the country has been slowly implementing reforms to the economy. There have also been efforts to decrease the number of people in the state’s employ and increase involvement in private enterprise. Free trade zones have opened up, and import-export laws have relaxed. Greater numbers of Cubans in the workforce are self-employed and pay tax to the government. These changes suggest a bright future with many opportunities for expats. The biggest industries in Cuba are the farming and exporting of goods such as sugar, tobacco and coffee, and the tourism industry is growing.
Cuba has also managed to build up reputable education and healthcare systems, and the medical tourism industry has played an important role in the country’s economy for a number of years. However, the ailing infrastructure leaves much to be desired. There are very few international schools in Cuba – all of which are in the country’s capital.
Cuba is a relatively safe country. The biggest dangers are from natural disasters and poor infrastructure. Expats should take note that the hurricane season runs from June to November, and extreme weather can be a safety issue. Crime, especially opportunistic theft, is on the increase, so expats should avoid walking around Havana alone at night and make sure to use only legitimate taxis and tour operators.