Living in Cuba

Aside from the Island's natural beauty, one of the most compelling reasons for living in Cuba is its convenient location just some 100 miles off the coast of Florida. The island was once a favourite holiday destination for thousands of Americans who saw it as a playground and lifestyle destination where they could enjoy the Caribbean sun and white sand beaches as well as a rich culture and vibrant art and music scene.

Before the revolution, visitors would flock to the island by boat, plane and even in private yachts for a few days of fun and pleasure. A good number of foreigners also chose to live in Cuba on a permanent or semi-permanent basis, its most famous expatriate being Ernest Hemingway.

After the revolution ties between the two countries rapidly deteriorated and until quite recently, Cuba was known as a destination primarily for people looking to explore off the beaten track. Now that image is rapidly changing.

A New Era

Today Cuba is once again on the wish list of sun and fun seekers. The island's unique history, rich cultural heritage, easy access and a year-round tropical climate draws visitors from all over the world, and as more people realise the virtues of Cuba as a holiday destination, more people are also starting to see the advantages of living in this tropical paradise.

One of the reasons many people are starting to look to Cuba as a second home is the relaxation of many rigid rules and regulations applied under Fidel Castro. His brother Raul has ushered in economic reforms since coming to power in 2009 and life in Cuba has improved for foreigners and locals alike. International products are becoming readily available and many small businesses are flourishing, especially those in the tourism sector.

Foreigners can now apply for a temporary residence visa when they buy or lease real estate on the island. The visa, which is good for one year and renewable, is designed to make it easier for foreigners to stay longer in Cuba, making it possible for them to treat the island as a first or second home.

Quality of Life

While prices are definitely increasing, Cuba still offers excellent value for money and most goods and services come at a lower price than you would expect to pay in the US or Europe. Real estate prices are still very reasonable, for example, and foreign residents' the day-to-day cost of living can be easily managed according to their means. In fact, on a standard retirement fund, most people would be able to live a rich and fulfilled life in Cuba.

One of the key things people look at when deciding to relocate or retire abroad is a particular country's health care system. Despite its limited public resources when compared to the US or many European countries, Cuba's health care system is often touted as an example of excellence and efficiency. Cuban doctors are well-trained – often abroad – and the hospital facilities are of a particularly high standard. Of course, for those who need special treatments or a second opinion, the US is just a short plane ride away.

Cuba also offers residents plenty of activities to ensure a healthy and rewarding lifestyle, with two golf courses, countless museums and galleries, delicious and affordable cuisine and a lively nightlife scene. The island's natural beauty is also a major asset, with beautiful beaches, lush hills and valleys, dense mangrove forrest and one of the world's most diverse underwater environments.

Add in the human factor courtesy of its open, friendly local people and it's not hard to see why Cuba is fast becoming one of the world's top choices for relocation or retirement.

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