Cuba has two currencies, on one currency Cubans earn their salaries and use it to pay for their government rationing; this one is called CUP. The second currency is one with a higher value on which tourists or Cuban with families in other countries deal called CUC.
$0.90 (dollar) = 1 CUC = 24 CUP (cuban Pesos)
An average Cuban worker earns approximately 300 – 400 pesos a month; that translates to approximately $12 to $16 US dollars. Cubans do get some subside rationing from the government to be paid in Cuban pesos but that only last most families about 10 days or so. The rest of the time is a struggle to find food and the money to buy it.
Housing is not expensive if you are able to share living space with family members, most people live in their family houses for generations. If you are not so lucky you need to rent a house and that is another issue. Housing in Cuba is very scarce and there has been next to little or nothing constructed in the past years, the few houses available for rent are offered at very high prices, many times more than the average salary.
As a result the economic reality is very harsh, more often than not things are only sold in the CUC or they will convert the CUP to CUC increasing the price.
Sample Prices of the street vendor in Havana:
Onions – $35.00 pesos or $1.50 CUC about $1.70 dollars – 2 days of salary for ordinary Cubans
Beans – $25 pesos per pound or $1 CUC about $1.10 collars – 1.5 day of salary for ordinary Cubans
Malanga (taro root) – $20 pesos per pound or about 0.85 CUC – about $1 dollar – 1 day of salary for ordinary Cubans