10 Things You Should Know About Living in Hawai'i

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What do you really know about living in Hawai'i? What do you know about the traffic or what it really costs to live here? Well, we are here to break down 10 realities of living in Hawai'i.

1. All The Islands Are Different

If you're moving to Hawaii, you need to pick an island!

Hawai'i island, or the "Big Island", is about 4,000 square miles across. Given the 8 islands make up 10,900 square miles, this shows you how large the Big Island really is. The Hawai'i Island is known for places like Hilo, a lush and rainy sleepy town that seems like it's stuck in the 60s, Kona, a more desert-like area with some of the more high-end resorts, and Waimea, which is more of ranch life. There isn't anything huge happening with the economy on the Big Island, mainly tourism.

Maui is more of a "bougie" island, with many tourists flocking to locations like Kihei and Wailea, which have more gated-community types of resorts. Areas like Ka'anapali and Lahaina are more like O'ahu's own Waikiki, and locals live in areas like Kahului and Wailuku but also love the "up country" like Makawao. The "up country" is a nice and quiet location to relax and have time to yourself.

Moloka'i and Lana'i both have a very small-town feel to them. Lana'i is now owned by Larry Ellison, so the island has the feelling of being at a wellness retreat. Manele Bay is located at the bottom of the island, and the Four Seasons-run Sensei is located at the middle of island. These islands are mostly tourism, but differ from the agriculture-heavy Big Island.

Kaua'i is lush and beautiful but small, with one main road getting you from one end of the island to another. The people on this island are very friendly and generous, maybe due to their endurance of hurricanes (such as Hurricane Iniki), and this kindness could very well have been passed down through generations.

Finally is O'ahu, which is crowded, tourist-heavy, and full of high-rises. Most of the rest of this information about living in Hawai'i is going to be focused on the realities of living on O'ahu.

2. Each Side of O'ahu is Different

We are going to cover the main 5 areas of O'ahu and their differences, including the Windward Side, the North Shore, the West Side, Central O'ahu, and Honolulu (or the "town" side).

Starting with the Windward Side, the most popular part of this area is probably Kailua. Living in Kailua is a very "Instagram-able" area, including locations like Lanikai Beach with its turquoise water and white sand, the Pillbox Hike, the Mokulua Islands, and cute coffee shops. Also on the windward side is Kaneohe, which has a gorgeous backdrop of the Ko'olau mountains. Moving up the coast towards the North Shore will have a small-town, rainy vibe.

The North Shore is a surfer's paradise. This area is more for the ocean lovers as opposed to those who want a cute Instagram-able experience, and likewise has a very laid-back vibe. Wailua is another area of the North Shore, which is more plantation-heavy but a location where people still enjoy going to the beach. The traffic in North Shore Oahu can be a problem for those who work in Honolulu.

Central O'ahu, home to neighborhoods like Mililani and Waipio, offer cooler climates given the higher elevation and family friendly lifestyles through numerous park, recreation centers, and one of the top public schools on Oahu. This region expects a ton of growth through the Koa Ridge master plan in Waipio with intentions to build 3,500 Oahu new homes in the next 10 years. 

The West Side of O'ahu is home to many Native Hawaiians, with lots of homestead land and some of the most gorgeous beaches on island. Here, you can get a lot of house for your money but, like the North Shore, the traffic on the West Side can be a problem for those who work in Honolulu. This neighborhood is also seeing tremendous growth through the Hoopili master plan; a 12,000 home project being developed over the next 10 years.

Honolulu, or simply known as "town", has a lot of "hustle and bustle" with lots of high-rises condos and naturally more congestion than the rest of the island. Houses in this area are going to be smaller and more expensive, but the convenience of living in this area is a big draw. The Kakaako and Ala Moana neighborhoods are seeing as many as 20 new luxury condos in Honolulu that are either under construction, just finished, or planning to start within the next 5 years.

3. Hawaii Cost of Living

Check out our 2020 video detailing the cost of living in Hawaii is a contentious topic and we dive i albeit the information is likely outdated given the extreme housing increase, rampant increases in pricing, and inflation. As a quick example, a gallon of milk at Safeway can cost $8.69.

4. Traffic is Bad

Traffic on O'ahu is some of the worst in the nation, especially in weather conditions like rain. There are many potholes, infrastructure is not quite up-to-par, and water breaks happen quite often.

5. Common Jobs

On O'ahu, it seems like everyone is either a fireperson, a nurse, a police officer, a flight attendant, or a realtor, and most of our economy is run on tourism, military, and government jobs. However, those that are in construction will thrive here, given there is no shortage of work and construction workers are always busy.

6. There Are LOTS of Critters

In Hawai'i we don't have snakes, bears, or rabies (which is why it can be very difficult to travel here with a family pet), but we do have centipedes, B-52 roaches, and geckos everywhere. Get used to seeing these critters in your home!

7. Home Construction & Parking

Vintage Hawaii homes include single-wall construction and jalousie windows, but AC is a luxury (with people opting for split AC as opposed to central AC). There also is not much insulation, and having a garage is also a luxury. Instead, you will likely have a carport with room for a single car. 

However, there are regions of Oahu where much these luxuries comes standard. Oahu new homes for sale in regions like Ewa Beach and Mililani will be your best bet for suburban style living but if you're for a condo in a more urban setting, look to the Kakaako & Ala Moana condo markets.

8. Shopping is Expensive

Often due to shipping, shopping here is very expensive. There is also no Ikea nor Chik-fil-A, so best of luck furnishing your house! You'll also suffer the "free shipping" let down once you read the fine print where it says "except for Alaska & Hawaii." 

As for malls, Ala Moana Center is in Honolulu is the nation's largest open air shopping center and is a guaranteed one stop shop for all your retail therapy needs. 

MALLS ON OAHU

9. Living in Waikiki Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

It can be fun to "play tourist" and stay in a hotel on Waikiki, have a beach stay-cation, and enjoy the bustling culture of this area, but generally you do not want to live in Waikiki. The congestion of the area makes it tough for day to day needs like going to the grocery store, running errands etc. If you're someone with a lot of time on your hands and just want to leisurely stroll to an extremely crowded beach, we won't stop you!

10. Viral Social Media Accounts

We have a viral Hawai'i Instagram account which operates like our very own TMZ, so please remember to be respectful of the island unless you want to be plastered all over Instagram! People live here and honor this island and its culture, so remember to be respectful.

Living on the Islands can be very expensive and inconvenient, but if you're living here, you stay for the amazing people, the culture, and the Aloha spirit, which are things you cannot put a price tag on.

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