20 Living in Hawaii Pros and Cons

If you are an American who loves the idea of living in a tropical location, then Hawaii offers an amazing opportunity. You don’t need to have a passport to move here because it became our 50th state in 1959.

There are some unique facts to think about if you are considering a move to this island state. It has its own time zone, which is called Hawaiian Standard Time. It runs two hours behind Pacific time, which means it is five hours behind Eastern time. There is no daylight savings time in Hawaii, so the amount of time you will be behind the continental 48 will vary throughout the year.

There are only four counties in Hawaii, even though there are eight significant islands with population centers. Each island is represented by a color and a flower, while each city receives representation from a council in charge and a mayor. It is also one of the few states where all the underground minerals belong to the state, although the resources available there are few.

Here are some more pros and cons to think about if you are considering the idea of living in Hawaii.

List of the Pros of Living in Hawaii

1. The weather is incredible in Hawaii all year long.
The state of Hawaii is home to 11 of the 13 sub climates that you can find in the world today. That means there is the perfect environment for you to live when you consider all of the islands. If you like dry weather, then you’re going to love the leeward side of the big island when moving here. It is colder when you journey up to the higher elevations. If you prefer something that is a little warmer, then move closer toward the coast.

2. The roads and highways around Hawaii are usually in good condition.
Hawaii does an excellent job of funding its infrastructure to ensure that you are able to get to where you need to be. There is excellent public transportation available throughout the islands as well. Most of the communities are open and accessible to everyone, with bike paths and several parks available to those who want to take a break from the madness of their day. Although there are frequent road construction projects that you will find throughout the islands, this work helps to reinforce the benefits of the existing structure.

3. Hawaiian culture is often loving, warm, and fun.
You will sometimes see new transplants coming to Hawaii and trying to maintain their regular lifestyle from their previous home. Most people incorporate the culture of the islands into their home soon after they move because it is a laid-back approach to life. If you make a genuine attempt to learn the customs and practices of the culture, then you will find that many people here are willing to help you with the learning process. It is remarkably hospitable, especially when you’re building relationships with the people who have lived there all their life.

4. Crime levels are relatively low in Hawaii.
When you commit a serious crime in Hawaii, then there are only a handful of places for you to go. You’re on a set of islands in the middle of the ocean, after all. That makes is a challenge to disappear, which is a strong incentive to avoid such activities in the first place. Issues with armed robberies and homicide are minimal throughout the state. Neighborhoods have robust neighborhood watch programs in place as well, while the larger communities have some level of law enforcement presence that helps too.

5. There are hundreds of small uninhabited islands you can explore.
If you choose to live in Hawaii, then it can be a lot of fun to start exploring some of the uninhabited islands that are in the region. You’ll need a boat to make that happen, but there are numerous charters that you will find that are willing to help you out. It doesn’t take long to purchase your own vessel once you move there too, which means you can then explore these places on foot.

6. Hawaii offers a diverse set of outdoor recreational opportunities.
If you love to explore activities in the outdoors, then you are going to love living in Hawaii. The range of water sports that are available here is arguably better than anywhere else in the world. The diving, snorkeling, surfing and swimming are all world-class activities here on the islands. You can go canoeing, kayaking, or Paddleboarding at numerous locations. Hiking, biking, and snowboarding are even possibilities. There are times during the year when you can surf in the morning, ski in the afternoon, and have a great time.

7. Isolation isn’t always a disadvantage when considering Hawaii.
It is true that the state of Hawaii is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It would also be true to say that finding a place where you can enjoy the quiet of isolation while still having access to the conveniences of a large, modern city is quite unique. That is one of the reasons why island life tends to move at its own pace. Life is too short to be caught up in all the drama and stress that occurs. Go find a beach to have a great time.

8. Hawaii has become a melting pot of culture.
The history of Hawaii before it became a state was not overly kind to the local population. White settlers manipulated sugar plantations to essentially push the U.S. Government into recognizing it as a territory. Although there is some skepticism of newcomers here, you will also find that the state is a melting pot of cultures today that encourages a diverse range of music, food, and entertainment. When you decide to live here, then you get to contribute to that culture as well.

9. You cannot ignore the beaches of Hawaii when you live there.
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are found in Hawaii. The combination of soft, white sands and turquoise waters is something that makes you long for relaxation. It is almost impossible to feel stressed out when you’re out there watching the gentle waves start coming in toward your toes. You’ll discover that the sunsets at the beach are almost always perfect – and the sunrises aren’t half-bad either.

10. Hawaii offers some unique features to consider.
The state of Hawaii is the only one in the United States where there is a royal palace. You can find it on the island of Oahu. It is called Iolani Palace, and the property was once home to the monarchy that ruled over the country before the United States took over. You will also get the chance to explore the rainforests that are on the islands, the stunning coastal cliffs, and the diverse wildlife that you cannot find anywhere else on the planet.

11. People have less of a fascination on wealth or material possessions in Hawaii.
The personality of Hawaii is truly unique when compared to the other states in America. There is more of an emphasis on family and relationships here than there is a desire to own a large home or drive the most expensive car. You can still find people on the islands where physical wealth is a top priority, but the attitude of island culture dictates that you take things one step at a time. That means you will find that more people are interested in having a good time than working 14-hour days to get ahead of the neighbors.

List of the Cons of Living in Hawaii

1. There are lava flows to consider when living in Hawaii.
One of the best examples of this issue can be found with the lava flows that are in the Kailua-Kona area. This material is primarily basalt, so it is extremely dark, and it absorbs the sunlight’s heat with a greedy appetite. There are numerous severe droughts that occur in this region because of how heat is distributed to it. That means you can find yourself dealing with a water usage restriction regularly.

2. Some places in Hawaii receive a lot of rain.
Tropical climates always seem to get a lot of rain during a specific season. If you live in Hawaii, especially on the Highlands or the eastern side of the big island, you will experience lots of rain all year long. That means homeowners in these areas are usually dealing with mold issues in their houses. It will grow on everything, including your wooden furniture, unless you take the time to clean it regularly.

Then there are the tropical storms and hurricanes that sometimes blow through the state of Hawaii as well. When these events occur, then you get to experience heavy winds and lots of rain simultaneously.

3. The cost of living in Hawaii is significantly higher than most other states.
Because of its location and popularity, living anywhere in Hawaii is going to be expensive. You will find it a challenge to locate a studio apartment with anything more than a stove for less than $750 per month. If you want a one-bedroom apartment, then expect to pay at least $1,300 per month. The cost of propane, electricity, and gasoline are the highest in the state when compared to any other in the country. Even the cost of auto insurance is extremely high, even for people with a perfect driving record.

Then you start dealing with the cost of the groceries when you live in Hawaii. It can cost up to $7 to purchase a loaf of bread. A gallon of milk might set you back $10. There are ways that you can counter this issue somewhat, but it is part of the experience. You’re living in an isolated location, which means it costs more to get items delivered to you.

4. Traffic in highway is nothing short of a nightmare on some islands.
If you find yourself out on the highway during rush hour, turn expect to add a couple of hours to your trip. Hilo, Kona, and the stretch between Pahoa and Kea’au are especially bad when commuters are on the streets. The roads that are on the islands were not built with the idea of handling the amount of traffic that they currently contain. Because this need to improve traffic has been recognized, you will also see lots of road construction happening throughout the year. The bottom line is this: if you drive somewhere, then expect to experience a significant delay.

Then there is the fact that speed limits tend to be treated as a suggestion more than a law on many of the highways. You’ll find people doing double the posted limited without blinking an eye – or their turn signal. If you get anxious in traffic, this state takes some getting used to with this disadvantage.

5. You may need to capture your own water supply when living in Hawaii.
There are places in Hawaii where formal water distribution infrastructure does not exist. The big island is one of those places, relying on private rainwater catchment systems to supply homes with what they need. The only exceptions to this rule apply to the cities which have invested in this fundamental need, such as Kailua-Kona and Hilo. Each home has its own catchment system, so if it doesn’t rain for a while, then you won’t have any water access unless you transport it yourself – and that can be very expensive.

6. There is not always mail delivery for homes in Hawaii.
If you decide to move to Hawaii, then expect to rent a PO Box from the US Postal Service when you arrive. There are several locations where mail delivery to homes does not occur. If you live in one of the cities in the state, this issue is not as prevalent. Homeowners do receive UPS and FedEx shipments even when the USPS does not deliver, so there are some ways to counter this disadvantage if you are creative about it. The good news here is that if you can prove that you live in an area where no delivery occurs, then you receive the PO Box for free.

7. You might even need to deal with your own trash collection.
Because there are many areas of Hawaii that are rural in nature, there are not as many trash collection companies operating in the region. You may discover that it is your responsibility to haul your rubbish to a local collection center to stay in compliance with local laws. You would need to dump it from your vehicle once you reach the station as well. Some families use the trash run as a way to take care of their other errands each week.

8. Hawaiian culture is not always accepting of newcomers.
One of the biggest changes that people from the continental 48 states encounter when the start living in Hawaii is that they expect it to be just like other parts of the United States. The islands are not America, despite the affiliation. They are part of Polynesia. That means you can expect to be met with a certain level of suspicion, indifference, or both for the first few months that you are there. You will also discover that multi-generational families on the islands are extremely tired of the influx of people who are coming their way.

If you get called a haole (if you are white), then that may be a descriptor – a foreigner – or it could be something a little worse. Try to learn the correct pronunciation of Hawaiian words. It will go a long way toward your integration into society.

9. Hawaii is extremely isolated from the rest of the world.
Although there are islands in the Atlantic Ocean which are extremely isolated, they are minimally inhabited. In terms of significant population centers, Hawaii stands on its own in the Pacific Ocean. When you are living there, then you are about 2,400 miles from California, over 3,800 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China, and almost 5,300 miles from the Philippines. It’s even further if you want to contemplate Australia.

When you start looking at the pros and cons of Hawaii, you begin to realize that a cost-benefit analysis doesn’t really do the state justice. The average person looking at the cost of real estate on the island would then compare it to other tropical destinations – and go somewhere else. There is the advantage of staying in America, but it comes with the disadvantage of being severely isolated. If you’re thinking about living on the islands, then visit the state a few times before making the decision. That way you’ll know if it is right for you.

Living in Hawaii Statistics

Hawaii Median Household Income Statistics

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.