Are you considering moving to Hawaii? How fortunate you are!
Living in Hawaii is a bucket-list item for a lot of people for a reason, it’s the epitome of living in paradise.
My husband and I moved to Hawaii 10+ years ago and have lived on both Maui and Oahu. We’ve had an opportunity to live our dream and have definitely learned a handful of helpful things about living in Hawaii.
You know what they say, there’s pros and cons to everything. Today, I’d like to share our honest experience living in Hawaii.
Please keep in mind that this is a personal list of the pros and cons of living in Hawaii, not everyone will feel the same way. Regardless, I hope you find it helpful.
Living in Hawaii
First, the pros of living in Hawaii
#1. Hawaii is paradise
You’ve heard it said that being a tourist in Hawaii is nothing like actually living in Hawaii, and it’s true.
When you’re on vacation you’re in a different state of mind. After moving to Hawaii you have to understand that real life is inevitable and will always feel more stressful that vacation.
Life in Hawaii requires good planning and a willingness to hustle, but make no mistake — you’ll be living in paradise all the same.
Between the soft sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and picture-perfect sunsets there’s no denying that living in Hawaii is absolutely heavenly.
My husband and I often find ourselves saying that even is a bad day in Hawaii is better than a good day anywhere else, and I wholeheartedly believe that!
#2. The weather is pure bliss
Hawaii has two seasons: summer (May to October) and winter (November to April). Average summer temperatures hover around 85°F and winter temperatures clock in at 78°F, hardly varying year-round.
You can expect sunshine practically every day of the year and the mild temperatures make it easy to enjoy the great outdoors.
Rain season runs from November to March but the weather is very localized in Hawaii, so it’s not hard to escape a pocket of rain for sunnier patches elsewhere on the island.
Kauai is by far the rainiest island, but even then, the sun still shines throughout the day so it’s not bad at all. It’s impossible to complain about the weather while living in Hawaii!
#3. Access to nature + outdoor recreation
If you’re an avid nature nut then you are going to love living in Hawaii.
There’s a plethora of water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and world-class surfing. Not to mention the breathtaking hiking opportunities people travel from all over the world to see.
You don’t even have to be an avid hiker to appreciate the abounding nature while living in Hawaii. Simply stepping out your front door and lounging at the beach is enough to see what all the fuss is about.
Oh, lest I forget, the birdsong in Hawaii is downright heavenly! Unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
#4. Fresh fruits
The fresh fruit is a huge perk of living in Hawaii, even though it might sound strange to anyone that hasn’t yet visited the islands. Fresh fruit, really? Yes! Fruit actually tastes real in Hawaii!
There is nothing that compares to the feeling of biting into a perfectly ripe mango or juicy pineapple from Hawaii. I don’t quite know the reason, but fruits taste much sweeter in Hawaii than elsewhere I’ve lived.
In fact, when my husband and I discussed moving to Hawaii it was the access to fresh fruit that excited me most, go figure!
#5. You’ll be living in a beautiful place
Hawaii is insanely beautiful, and even that feels like an understatement.
Hawaii is a place you have to see to believe because the breathtaking nature is hard to describe and photos seldom do it justice.
From jagged mountain peaks to towering waterfalls and colorful reefs, the landscape is a sight for sore eyes. Plus, the constant rainbows are a nice touch too.
Regardless of where you live in Hawaii, you’ll be privy to some of the most breathtaking nature anywhere in the world.
If you’re trying to decide where to move in Hawaii, I strongly suggest Oahu’s North Shore, it’s one of my favorite places in the entire world (and I’ve traveled to 30+ countries).
#6. Hawaii is diverse
Hawaii is a true melting pot and it’s actually considered the third most diverse state in the country.
More than 38% of the population identifies as Asian, nearly 25% white and 10% Native Hawaiian, making it the most racially and ethnically diverse state in America.
Also worth mention, Hawaii is the least white state in the country.
I absolutely love the diversity of Hawaii, I’m exposed from cultures all over the world. Between the Native Hawaiians, the large Asian population and the plethora of tourists, I have an opportunity to expand my horizons and learn about a new culture on a daily basis.
#7. Living in Hawaii is safe
One of my favorite things about living in Hawaii is that I never feel unsafe, regardless of the time of day. Like any city in the world, we have our fair share of crime, but overall, the crime levels are low and the crime itself is rather petty (car break-ins, etc.).
I feel comfortable walking alone in the early mornings and late evenings because daily life in Hawaii feels safer than any other city I’ve lived in to date.
#8. Life in Hawaii is simple
Living in Hawaii has given me a new appreciation for a slower way of life. Simply put, life in Hawaii feels simple. All the extraneous stuff is removed so that people can focus on the essential — sunshine, the salty sea, good food, great people and the spirit of Aloha.
By and large, people that live in Hawaii aren’t as materialistic. The focus is on living an easy life more than anything else.
I’ll admit that I’m not up to date on current fashion trends, but you know what? It barely matters because I’m usually only buying swimsuits anyways.
Cons of Moving to Hawaii
#1. The housing market
Let’s address the elephant in the room: Moving to Hawaii is cost prohibitive for most folks because the housing market is insane.
Firstly, the housing prices are shocking. The average price of a home in Hawaii is $765,000 and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is a hefty $2,500.
We currently pay $2,700 for an outdated 1-bedroom apartment a few blocks from downtown Honolulu. The appliances are old and the place is hard to brag about so we remind ourselves often that we are paying for the access to daily life in Hawaii, not the apartment itself.
What’s more, the competition for houses and apartments is incredibly fierce. Expect to tour rentals alongside other renters and be aware that a strong credit score (680+) is vital in securing a place to live in Hawaii.
#2. High cost of living
Hawaii isn’t even in the same zip-code as affordable and hasn’t been for a long time. Whatever you do, don’t move to Hawaii without having a steady income or a great job lined up in advance.
It’s not uncommon for folks to work two jobs to make ends meet while living in Hawaii. The average salary in Hawaii is around $50,000, which is barely enough to scrape by and the reason so many people live with roommates.
A lot of our friends moved to Hawaii after landing high-paying teleworking gigs, which seems like the best way to go about it!
#3. You’ll never feel like a local
As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I moved to Hawaii 10+ years ago and we know that we will never feel like locals here, regardless of how long we choose to live in Hawaii.
Honestly speaking, Native Hawaiians don’t like transplants. Obviously I’m in no position to argue the validity of the resentment and I accept it for what it is. Just know that when you move here, you’ll want to bring your thick skin because the cold shoulder is all but guaranteed.
You’ll quickly learn that you will always be kept at arm’s length, regardless of how hard you try to assimilate. One thing that has helped tremendously is volunteering, it’s how we met most of our friends in Hawaii.
#4. Lack of seasons
Every pro has a con, right? Well the pleasant year-round weather ensures that you won’t experience winters while living in Hawaii.
Personally, I was looking to escape winters altogether, which is why we ultimately decided to move to Hawaii in the first place.
However, I know some folks can’t image wearing t-shirts and shorts in the dead of winter and lack of seasons makes daily life in Hawaii feel more monotonous.
#5. Island fever is real
Living in Hawaii can feel very routine after a time. Things don’t change much on any of the islands, so you’ll pretty much be going to the same restaurants, cafes and stores year after year.
Visiting Hawaii for vacation is one thing, but if you move to Hawaii then you’ll quickly learn just how small the islands really are. Plus, most places close by 10pm, so nightlife is non-existent.
You’ll run into the same people, make the same small talk and find yourself yearning for a change of scenery every once in a while.
#6. Tourist season is a bear
Hawaii gets 10+ million visitors per year, which means the island swells with more people than it can handle during the tourist season (December thru April).
If you’re living in Hawaii during this crazy time you will learn to avoid running errands during certain times of day because the lines are so long and the traffic is a nightmare.
Don’t get me wrong, it warms my heart to see tourists enjoying the place I am fortunate enough to call home, but every once in a while, I just want a coffee and donuts without an hour-long wait.
#7. The job market
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll want to have a job before moving to Hawaii because jobs (especially good paying jobs) are hard to come by.
Hawaii runs on a tourist economy, so most of the jobs are in the tourism/service industry. Think restaurants, hotels, stores, etc. If you are coming with a college degree, you will find it hard to secure a gig.
In fact, Hawaii is one of the hardest states to find a job in.
Like most cities, your chance of getting hired improve if your address is from the city, but trust me on this — unless you have a good-paying job lined up, life in Hawaii will be hard for you.
Pros & cons of moving to Hawaii (Post Summary)
If you’re planning on moving to Hawaii, here’s a quick recap of the pros and cons of living in Hawaii based on firsthand experience from someone that has lived here 10+ years. I hope you found this post helpful.
- Life in Hawaii is paradise
- The weather is pure bliss
- Access to nature and outdoor recreation
- Fresh fruits
- Hawaii is beautiful
- It’s a safe place to live
- Hawaii is diverse
- Life in Hawaii is simple
- The housing market
- High cost of living
- You won’t feel like a local
- Lack of seasons
- Island fever is real
- Tourist season
- The job market
Let me know if you have any questions or comments about living in Hawaii, it’s always a pleasure to hear from you!
This was an incredibly well-written article. Very informative and insightful! I was interested in how it would be to live in Hawaii. It seems like one has to really appreciate what is offered there since you’ll be leaving behind many things that are common in the mainland. Thanks for writing this 🙂
Antonina Pattiz says
My pleasure! I’m glad you found it helpful!
I have two dogs and one parrot, will I have to put them through quarantine? And how is that? What should I expect. I do not want my pets harmed. But I will bring my babies with me if I move to Hawaii.
I think that your work expierance can make a big difrence on what you can afford. I work in the food industry, And had no problem finding a good paying job.
Thank you for sharing, great post!
Elena A. says
What a great post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s funny, but after 10 years living in North Carolina after moving from Seattle, WA, we also still don’t feel like local .We love being here, love people here, love sun, mountains and ocean that Carolians offer, but still feel the distance 🙂
Because that is the “South” and there are “clans” of friends and family, who will never let you in. Sorry to say, but it is the truth. I was in the first generation of southerners in my family, growing up in north Louisiana, and everyone was related to someone and we were not it! Friendly people for the most part, but “outsiders” are held at a distance.
Thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts on this. It is appreciated.
Antonina Pattiz says
It was my pleasure!
Thank u ill take my chances when i hit lottery ill be there lol
frank sapa says
Hi. We loved your article. We were wondering what you would think of our family moving to Hawaii for a school year for our daughter’s first year of high school (she is currently home-schooled). We are a Eurasian family living in one of the whitest States in America and wanted a change of pace (to the least whitest). We could financially afford the cost of paradise for one year, and if our daughter loved it we could maybe figure out how to make it work.
I can’t recommend Hawaii enough to a Eurasian family blend. My husband is born in Hawaii 4th generation asian, I am caucasian from NYC ,we have a son who was born here . We moved to a very suburban 96% white population area in Oregon for work reasons when he was 6 but returned when he was 13.It was life changing for all of us in all good ways. Regardless of the island you choose to live on, you will find your place. It is a happy, welcoming place for your child.
Thanks for your post, it was super helpful!
Proud Wa'hine says
I’ve been blessed to live in Hawai’i nei for most of my life, I’m hoale and it’s true, you can’t come here and except acceptance, not happening. Especially if you compare it to “home” Love the t-shirt that says, “Hawai’i is not American” that’s also true.
I agree that Hawaii is pretty. I lived I Maui for 5 years. I miss the weather, beaches, and mountains. I miss seeing sea turtles and the ocean. I did meet interesting folks from all over. I rented a decently priced studio for $900 a month, then a one bedroom for $1100. I had a good paying job and benefits. However, Maui has a real dark side to it. I worked for the state in social services. The island is rampant with domestic violence, child abuse, drugs and other criminal activity. Honolulu is a main port for sex trafficking. While I was there several women went missing. A vast majority of locals live in run down homes with 6-10 people. Most of the population is on welfare. Residents lack basic manners and education. During my time there, I had my car and home broken into. Also a male friend of mine was jumped walking to his car in Lahaina. There is a lot of homelessness. I also felt indirect racism (toward caucasians which they called haoles). It is widely known Maui landlords are a nightmare and will come into your home at anytime and monitor what you do. The work environments are stressful and mismanaged. There are corrupt police essentially committing crimes, more so than who they are serving and protecting, scandals all over… The housing is tight and it’s noisy on the island. While I was grateful for the experience, I grew bored of the place and the sorts of people there, and decided to leave. Sadly, money was not the reason I didn’t stay.
Thank you for sharing this. I have stayed in Maui for several weeks in the past. Now I am thinking about moving back to Hawaii because it offers the best health care among all entire 50 states. I am considering to also re-enter into university for other areas of study. But reading your experience helps me to consider the other side of life in Hawaii.
Hawaii has one of the worst healthcare available in this state. Please do your research.
Marvin Cantos says
Thank you for the review, we are moving (relocating) Honolulu for 6 months to see if it’s something we really want to do. Vacationing there for a couple weeks is very nice but living there for 6 months might give me a better understanding. We currently live in Los Angeles, thanks again
HI, I hope this helps, my husbands family is from Hawaii and let me just say the culture and people are so welcoming and loving. Being that your child is home schooled and now entering into a new culture could sound scary. But not in Hawaii, Im most certain she will be welcomed and have a really good experience in Hawaii.
Thank you so much! Great article. The absence of night life is a pro, though (LOL]!!
Lived in Hawaii for 15 years (West Side of Oahu), this is a very accurate assessment. The only caveat being about the CON of the job market. There is a decided lack of credentials in Hawaii. If you have transferable credentials, skills, degrees etc, getting a job is very easy in Hawaii. Getting paid enough is a bit harder.
Anne S says
You left out some pretty important cons. The lack of housing/affordable real estate has a knock-on effect on everything, particularly the outer islands (ie., not Oahu). Good luck finding: a veterinarian, a family doctor, long term care (one year waitlist), caregivers, specialty care (Wilcox hospital on Kauai has been through 7 oncologists in last three years), a plumber or electrician. Education K-12 not well rated on outer islands – this is one of two states without local school boards and it shows. Classrooms are chronically under funded and teachers can’t afford to live here. Local people are sick and tired of mainlanders who move here, after two years decide, wow this is hard, and leave, which increases real estate turnover and costs. If you are any of the above listed professions you will be welcomed with open arms as these services are much needed. If you are yet another realtor please stay home.
Love Charity says
Thank you for taking the time to share your experience about “life in Hawaii” it is not very often that someone will answer my questions without me having to do additional research . I am just not usually where most people are mentally . “state of mind” that is one of my favorites, I often use it and connected so to what you meant it made me smile.
thanks again, nice reading. 🙂
Thank you for a great article. Really appreciate your view from both sides.
Antonina Pattiz says
I’m glad you found it helpful, Sharon! My intention was to ensure an honest approach so that nobody is caught off guard if moving to Hawaii and I’m glad it helped.
Excellent article about Hawaii – thanks so much for posting. I also liked the comments and replies. Educational, and presented a balanced picture in what is literally a picture-perfect place but maybe not so figuratively speaking. Still sounds very good overall if one has the right knowledge, perspective and precautions going forward. I am the author of the boo “World Travel Adventures” (sold worldwide) and want to look more into Hawaii…
Thanks for posting this excellent information. Something to consider on both sides before making such a move…
Hawaii is a place to vacation only in my opinion, the homeless issues and drugs are running rampant on Oahu.
I’ve never been propositioned by prostitutes anywhere more than Honolulu and I’ve been all over the world. Lots of poverty here..It’s definitely a beautiful place but only for vacation for me.
When you bring your fur babies to the island their life will be hard for them. The laws to protect your fur babies in Hawaii are Not written in their favor. Things to hurt them and you without any recourse to help and make it right will be lacking. People here are Not what they say; especially when they open their mouth and say something positive about your fur babies. You will face lots of CHALLENGES AND HOOPS TO JUMP THROUGH.
Corey Elliott says
I’m surprised no one has brought this up, but are the roaches as bad as everyone says they are? I’ll be living in a place very similar to the price of you and your husbands place.
What are some of the things from the continental US that Hawaii doesn’t have? That could also be a con!
I’ve lived in Kauai for 5 years and I agree with this comment completely. Underneath the beauty and weather there is a lot of rot.
Tina Rosin says
Thank you so much for you post. I am trying to purchase a home on the big Island “Ocean View”. My family would come with me, so at least there would be three adults with income. I am very happy and excited for this new adventure.
My Uncle took his vacation every year in Hawaii until the pandemic came along and ruined that for him. I did a little research on Hawaii and there’s a lot of good and bad in Hawaii.
One thing that I didn’t like about Hawaii is the high cost of living and the lack of understanding from the locals when you purchase land there. I heard about how they treated Larry Ellison when he paid $300 million for Lanai Island
We are contemplating moving to Oahu. I have a cousin married to a native Hawaiian, he is a Haole, she is Asian and Hawaiian. My cousin has lived in Hawaii for 15 years, and says he’d never move back to the mainland.
I’m retired and we are thinking of living on our boat (43 foot sailboat in a marina in Honolulu) We will probably buy a condo in the city eventually. Coming from the LA Metro, i’m pleasantly surprised at the low cost of marinas. The cost of living is comparable to SoCal In our neighborhood homes sell for 800k plus and they are 12-1500 sq feet,.
I’ll sail the boat to Hawaii with some sailor pals, we’ll put our things in storage here and get oriented and figure out where to buy a nice condo in the city. my wife has marketing and a internet skill set she has developed over the her years in business.
She’s already has offers, between the two of us we’ll have an income of 150k plus. We’re both excited and just can’t wait to get moving on this dream. My oldest daughter is a psychologist and she says, “Dad, just go for it,”
Ryan Millsaps says
As someone who attended elementary/middle school and had siblings attend high school in Hawaii, I would strongly discourage you from subjecting your daughter to the public school system there. The part about never feeling like a local cannot be understated. Generally speaking, locals are prone to violence, disrespect authority and have little problem hurling racial slurs at any mainlander. School-aged children and teens are even worse. You’ve been warned–really.
You forgot to mention year round neighborhood fireworks as a con
Antonina Pattiz says
Have you been able to figure out what the deal is with that?
Capture Aloha says
Thank you for your information on this! We look forward to your next post! #3 is worth it alone!
Your article is very thoughtfully written. Hawaii has been my second home since I was a kid. I have had some different experiences than you describe, so just to give an alternate point of view I’ll mention a few things…
I’m Irish, which means I’m as “white” as a girl can get. I’ve actually never been treated badly by the locals on Oahu. Living most of my life in a small beach town in So Cal, I grew up with a similar laid-back attitude to those on the island. I’ve found that Hawaii residents on Oahu, from windward to leeward, and Waikiki to Northshore, are very welcoming and friendly… if you behave the same towards them. Don’t arrive with a fast-paced, impatient, entitled attitude. Realize that the island is not an amusement park. People are not living there to serve you. THIS IS THEIR HOME. Arrive and behave as a guest in their home. If you are kind and thoughtful in your words and actions, you will be welcomed.
I’ve also never (knock on koa wood) been a victim of crime in HI. My car has never been broken into, I’ve never been robbed, and I’ve never been threatened. I can only assume this is a combination of luck and living an hour away from Los Angeles. If you are familiar with living in a crime-stricken area, you might be fine. You already know that you should be careful where you park, never leave anything in the car, and don’t be flashy. Don’t walk around alone in the dark of night. Don’t be rude and park in someone’s yard then wonder why your windows got broken. Crime happens, but compared to big cities it is not so bad.
On pricing, if you live in a mainland big city, Honolulu is comparable or even cheaper. Compared to coastal CA, HI has cheaper gas prices, far cheaper sales tax, way cheaper property taxes, and some groceries are less expensive. Properties themselves can be a bit more costly on the island, but rent is comparable. Dairy and meat are more expensive. Some mainland fruits such as strawberries are a lot more expensive. Basically, it’s a trade-off. If you are coming from a central or rural state, you should expect a big sticker shock.
Finally, I’m going to mention one “Pro” that isn’t mentioned above. Hawaii loves to celebrate! Halloween, Christmas, Spam, Marathons, you name it. If there isn’t a reason to have a parade, Hawaii will think of a reason. So once again, come with a positive attitude. Celebrate and don’t complain. There might be slower traffic for a few hours because the local school bands and kids’ dance schools are marching and performing down Kalakaua. Be happy and join the celebration.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the difference I’ve felt on Maui. I did find that people were not as friendly. It’s worth visiting to experience the road to Hana. If you are on vacation and can afford an expensive resort, you will be treated well. The residents may not want you around, and that includes people working in smaller local hotels. It might be harder to adjust to living there full-time.
Thank you for this very helpful & thorough little tidbit! Some of these additional comments, like yours, are very necessary things that most people wouldn’t mention. The celebration part to me makes island life all the more appealing… Ah, if only.
I feel a lot better about the hope of moving to O’ahu’s North Shore after reading this.
I am an African American male what does Hawaii have to offer me? I am a graphic designer and would love to escape winter and enjoy the sun and the beaches.
Phyllis M. Johnson says
Mom and I have talked about moving to Hawaii but do realize it is expensive. Loved the honest opinions because it gives idea of what to expect. It would be the perfect place for us. I am her caregiver and looking forward to retirement in a few years. But it would seem that I would need to win big on lotto to stay there.
Amanda R McCormick says
Very helpful written beautifully
Hawaii is a beautiful place but I did hear that the people aren’t friendly
Jenny Buendia says
What is the bug/spider situation like?
Isabel Gonzalez says
This is amazing, i’m planning on moving to Hawaii where my parents are. Im super nervous about the whole change but after reading this I feel more prepared. I visit them this Month so hopefully I love it! This post was so informative and you write so good!
Robin Bruce says
Hello Antonia! Thank you for your blog on pros and cons about living in Hawaii! I am going to share this with my son as he has been offered a TSA job at Kahului Airport as well as one in Everett, WA. We have been researching the cost of living in both places and they are both expensive. To … paradise or not? In our research, we’ve learned that Hawaii has a State tax. Since you’ve lived there, can you tell us more?