Life & The Cost of Living in Havana

As the capital and largest city in Cuba, Havana is the center of Cuban social, cultural, and political life and home to the country’s most important educational, cultural, economic, and political institutions. CASA students live and study in a privileged location for understanding the social, political, and economic complexities of this fascinating nation.

Students reside in the municipality of the Plaza of the Revolution — in the leafy, tree-lined streets of the Vedado neighborhood — and take classes at two prestigious educational and cultural institutions. The program's host institution, Casa de las Américas, is just steps away from the famous Malecón promenade, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations, and the Institute for International Relations. The University of Havana is located in the heart of the city, between 23rd Avenue and the Plaza of the Revolution. Vedado’s 23rd Avenue is home to Havana’ most important cinemas, which host the Festival of New Latin America Cinema each December and show a wide variety of films from across the world each week. Vedado’s second important thoroughfare, Linea, is home to Cuba’s theater district.

This area of Vedado is also home to important institutions like the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, the Cuban Film Institute, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Sugar, the Association of Young Artists “Hermanos Saíz,” the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba (UNEAC), and many other important national institutions.

The neighborhood of Vedado is seen by many in Havana as the contemporary heart of the city. Many of the city’s public transportation networks converge in the neighborhood, connecting students to the diverse neighborhoods that make up Cuba’s capital.

Much social life in Havana’s populous neighborhoods takes place in public spaces, on stoops of crowded apartments, in parks, in street-corner domino games of the older generations, and street soccer games of Havana’s youth. The Coppelia Ice Cream parlor on the corner of 23rd and L and the Malecón, known as Havana’s living room, are emblematic traditional social spaces for many Cubans. More recently, numerous public WiFi areas have become new spaces of socialization in the city. Theses parks allow students and locals to keep in touch with family and friends abroad. Since 2011, a new group of privately owned bars, restaurants, gyms, bakeries, and shops have emerged, providing spaces of socialization for foreign visitors and a small group of economically privileged locals.

To get to know the diverse cultural activities programmed in Havana, check the “Carteleras” published by Ministry of Culture:

· La Papeleta, Published by the Ministry of Culture

· Artex, Network of affordable concert venues frequented by locals and foreigners

· Juventud Rebelde Friday Newspaper Cultural Listings

· Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Multidisciplinary Cultural Center