A lot of Havana’s income nowadays is derived from tourism. In the past it has had a very varied economy, with the main sectors being manufacturing, construction and transportation. The economy of the country is built on the traditional sugar industry and a great deal of the country’s sugar exports come through the port of Havana. Most businesses in Havana have been nationalized during the revolution, and are under state control today. The city of Havana contains most of the country’s wealth, and because of this, does not suffer from the same level of poverty that other parts of Cuba have experienced.
Expatriate jobs in Havana are few and far between. At least some knowledge of the Spanish language is essential before you make the move out there. As there are not many foreigners living and working in Havana, there is not the same expatriate community that other capital cities have, and no expatriate bars or clubs.
Many people who move to Havana for work are journalists or freelance writers. For US citizens, for instance, this is the only way to move to Cuba according to US law. It is rare for foreigners to find jobs in the tourism industry in Havana, as these jobs are very much sought after by Cuban citizens. If you do find work with an international company, then it is important to negotiate a proper salary and to make sure the employer will help you find accommodation. Employers are obliged to pay salaries in line with Cuban standards, so foreigners working in Havana often have to return home when they eventually run out of money. If you are considering applying for a job with a Cuban company, the odds will be stacked against you. If a Cuban citizen can do the job, then they will always get priority over a foreigner.
If you are entering the country as a freelance writer or a journalist have to apply for a work permit with the Ministry of Work and Social Security. You will need to have already secured work in Havana before applying for a work permit, as your employer has to sponsor your application. It is possible to enter Havana as a student, and stay on a student visa, but be aware that attendance at classes is mandatory, and missing classes could result in your visa being revoked.
Cuba operates a progressive tax system, with residents paying between 15% and 50% tax depending on their level of income. Tax is often deducted at source by your employer, although, in some cases, you may have to fill in a tax return to ensure that you are really paying the full amount.