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Salaries & Cost Of Living: Cuba, Through My Eyes - Vol. 3

I want to dedicate a little bit of time to talk about the Cuban Salary because it’s very complicated to understand. First of all, in Cuba, we have two currencies, the Cuban Pesos and the CUC.                    

The equivalent between the Cuban Peso and the CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) is: 25 Cuban Pesos = 1 CUC =0.87 USD.

Until 2 years ago, the Cuban Government would pay the Cuban people in the Cuban Pesos. In some stores you can use the Cuban Pesos, but in others, you have to use only the CUC. This was a big problem in Cuba, because people would get paid in Cuban Pesos and then have to exchange monies for CUC to buy things in the stores that only allowed CUC.

But now, you can go to the same stores and pay with Cuban Pesos. Why they just don’t use one currency, we don’t know.

So, I will give you an idea of what Cuban people make in their profession in a year....this could be a bit less or a bit more.

  • Doctor: $900-1000 Cuban pesos= $36-40 CUC ( That also depends about what kind of doctor, some make a little more)
  • Nurse: $500-700 Cuban Pesos=$20-28 CUC
  • Teachers: $400-500 Cuban pesos=$16-20 CUC
  • Engineers: $500-700 Cuban pesos = $20-700 CUC (Depends what kind engineer )
  • Attorney: Depends how many cases per month, the minimum price for cases $ 40 Cuban pesos the maximum around $400 Cuban pesos, a good month for a good attorney is $1000-1500 Cuban pesos = $40-60 CUC. But not everyone makes that much.
  • Judge: $900-1400 Cuban Pesos = $36-56 CUC (depends of years of experience)
  • Secretary: $300-375 Cuban Pesos = $12-15 CUC
  • Couch with two accent chair: $500 CUC
  • Dining table: $280 CUC
  • TV Stand: $200 CUC
  • Bed with two night stand:$130 CUCSecurity Guard: $300-375 Cuban Pesos = $12-15 CU

I will tell you now what the cost of living is in Cuba.

Previously, I mention the portion of food the government give us for the book. Most of these products are not enough so we have to buy extra ( if you can find it in the stores) Right now product like rice, laundry detergent, chicken, pork, soap, oil, café, cigarettes are almost impossible to find it anywhere.

I will give you a quick idea about prices in Cuba.

  • Tourist Workers: $250-350 Cuban Pesos = $10-14 and $10 extra CUC.
  • Janitor: $280-375 Cuban Pesos = $11-15 CUC
  • Rice: $5-8 Cuban pesos per pound
  • Beans: $8-12 Cuban pesos per pound
  • Pork: $25-45 Cuban pesos per pound
  • Chicken: $4-10 CUC per package of 8-15 chicken legs
  • Eggs: $2 Cuban pesos per egg
  • Salad (tomatoes, cucumber, cabbage): $5-10 Cuban pesos per pound
  • Root Vegetables: $5-12 Cuban pesos per pound
  • Laundry Detergent: $1 CUC for 2 packages of 250 grams normally we used 2 for one set of laundry.
  •  Soap: $35cents -1 CUC
  • Toothpaste: $1-5 CUC
  • Vegetable oil: $2 CUC per 1 and half liter

I don’t want to bore you and list every item, but this should give you a good idea.

Household items.

  • Couch with two accent chair: $500 CUC
  • Dining table: $280 CUC
  • TV Stand: $200 CUC
  • Bed with two night stand: $130 CUC
  • Mattress: $200 CUC or more
  • Doors: $150 CUC each
  • TV: $350-1000 CUC
  • Fridge: $350-2000 CUC

Clothing.

Most of the clothing we buy it in the black market and I will give you details about what black market is but too. The close in the stores are not nice and pretty much the same price as on the black market.

  • Jeans: $25-35 CUC
  • Blouses: $10-25 CUC
  • Dresses: $10-45 CUC
  • Shoes: $10-100 CUC

I give you all this numbers because I’m trying to make a point. If you take a look at these numbers, for a decent meal, pay the electricity bill, water and phone bill which is monthly you will notice, not even the best salaries are enough, unless you eat extra super simple and what we call in Cuba the day to day, means you go to the store to buy one pound of rice and 1 pound of pork, you can’t buy 10 pounds or more because you can’t afford to buy more.

So how do we survive????

In the next blog, I will talk about the Black Market in Cuba. This will help to explain how we survive.

Thanks for following.

Jany Novik

About the author

Jany Novik

Hi. I’m Jany Novik. I worked for Avalon as the cruise director aboard the flagship vessel, Avalon II in Jardines De La Reina, Cuba. I now live and work in the United States with my husband, Brett. I bring to Tidehead, years of “hands on” experience working for Avalon, strong relationships with Avalon guides and staff and a passion for providing a memorable experience for all of our guests.

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