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The Cost of Living in Hawaii

The Cost of Living in Hawaii

Paradise does not come cheap. If you already live in Hawaii, you know that, but those moving here from the mainland or other parts of the world may experience some sticker shock. Keep in mind that virtually everything other than sunshine and lovely vistas requires shipping over long distances, so that adds to the cost of living in Hawaii. It is the most expensive place to live in the United States, but there are variables. It’s slightly cheaper to live in Honolulu than in New York City. While Hawaii celebrates its connection to the natural world, there’s little of that left in Manhattan outside of Central Park. Hawaii also attracts residents who move from places with even higher costs of living and less resemblance to paradise, such as Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney.

Hawaiian Real Estate

Will Rogers famously advised, “Buy land. They ain’t making any more of the stuff.” Hawaii’s high real estate prices derive from several factors, but there simply isn’t much buildable land available. The lack of supply drives up demand. As of 2017, the average single family home in Hawaii is $730K, and the average price for a condo is $390K. In many parts of the country, $390K will buy a nice single family home. That’s not the case here. Hawaiian rents are comparably high. However, careful environmental regulation means Hawaiians enjoy clean air and water and strict, safe zoning.

The Necessities

Expect to pay about 30 percent more for the necessities of life once you move to Hawaii – again, the most expensive in the U.S. Four rolls of toilet paper will set you back about $6, and filling up your gas tank costs more than anywhere else in the country. Electricity is pricey, and second only to Alaska. The majority of grocery products come from the mainland, which is why you might spend $7.50 for a gallon of milk or $5 for a loaf of bread. On the plus side, the luscious tropical fruits aren’t imported, and much of the coffee available is also grown in the state.

Low Unemployment

There’s an upside to this high prices. Hawaii’s unemployment rate is less than 3 percent, which means there are lots of jobs available. Because of the high cost of living, it’s not unusual for Hawaiians to work part-time in addition to their full-time jobs.

Free Beaches and Parks

Yes, you’ll pay more for restaurant meals and a night at the movies in Hawaii, but there’s also plenty of free entertainment, especially of the outdoor variety. There are lots of things to do without spending much money if you enjoy surfing, swimming, hiking and the other outdoor activities which draw people to the islands. Look at it this way. Hawaii is expensive, but its quality of life is unbeatable. It’s a premium people are willing to pay.

Contact Us
If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, contact Island Realty Group LLC at 808-689-7407 or