Renting A Home In Havana: A Short Guide

The first challenge for expats when moving to a new country is finding a place to live. This can be a daunting task if you’re not familiar with the country and are unsure how and where to look. We compile informative guides to help you with these issues, and in this article, we’ll be looking at how to go about renting a home in Havana, Cuba.Despite the fact that Havana is an intriguing, vibrant city, there are not many migrants living and working there. This is largely due to the country’s turbulent past, including its communist regime. In addition, the visa system and work permits can be difficult to navigate, and – depending on your nationality – can be restrictive in the type of work you can do.

The expat community of Havana is small in comparison to other major cities, and finding adequate accommodation there is notoriously challenging. Many of the old Colonial buildings haven’t been maintained properly and are becoming uninhabitable. It only became legal for migrants to purchase property in Cuba in 2012, and this is still under heavy restrictions. It is advisable to research and plan your accommodation in Havana prior to moving, as so many expats have struggled to find a place to rent upon arrival. If you are being transferred to Cuba by your company, ask your company if they can organise accommodation for you.

History Of Accommodation In Havana

Many residents in Havana were either given their homes by the communist state, or inherited their homes from family members who were given them by the state. Owners are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of their property, and given that the average wage in Cuba is very low (between $24 and $40 a month), this can take some time to save up for. This means that the state of some of the buildings is less than ideal. It is therefore difficult for young Cuban people to purchase and rent properties, so many live with their families well into their 30s. The government has not introduced many new property schemes, and new building developments are few and far between.

Casa Particulares

Casa Particulares are a unique type of accommodation in Cuba; they are essentially shared houses, although they can vary greatly. They are similar to Bed & Breakfasts. In some houses, you can rent a room and use a shared living space and/or kitchen with the family you are renting from. In others, you may have a section of the house or even a whole floor with a private entrance and amenities to yourself. Casa Particulares can be a comfortable and cost-effective option in Havana when compared to hotels, plus they are more or less one of the only legal types of accommodation that migrants can rent.

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What You Need To Know

Properties being rented to migrants are technically required to have a special permit or license from the state, and the owners have to pay additional taxes for housing these people. If, for example, you rent an apartment from a nice elderly Cuban couple that you were introduced to through a friend of a friend, and they do not have a permit, then in the eyes of the law, you are renting illegally. However, renting illegally in Havana is fairly common as it can be so difficult to find legitimate places to rent prior to arriving.

Some people suggest booking into a hotel or short-term accommodation in Havana, such as AirBnB, and then looking for long-term accommodation upon arrival. While it is true that you can find places to rent in Havana by asking around and word of mouth – especially since some locally owned places don’t advertise online – this can also make the entire moving process a lot more stressful. Not to mention that you won’t have any protection due to the potential legitimacy (or lack thereof) of these rentals. If you have lots of items to move over with you then this approach will have additional problems. Plus, bear in mind that AirBnB has had various issues operating in Cuba in the past and can be a bit touch and go, so use with caution.

How To Find Accommodation In Havana

If your company has not already organised something for you and you want everything to be above board, your best bet is to look at Casa Particulares. You can do this a few ways. You can look around when you get there, download an app, look online on websites such as TripAdvisor in the area you want to stay in, or use an agent. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Apps

Cuba-Junky
This is a great app that you can download to sift through Casa listings, which you can download for free on any smartphone.

Agents

Cuba Booking Room
There are plenty of agents that you can book Casa Particulares through such as Cuba Booking Room.

Casa Havana Particular
Another local agent to take a look at is Casa Havana Particular; they have a large variety of rentals at affordable prices.

Booking Websites

Popular and reputable booking websites such as Booking.com also list Casa Particulares, which you may prefer to use for guaranteed security.

Have you lived in Cuba? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!


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