Many people from big mainland cities say that Honolulu’s cost of living is similar to where they live which is true, but when those people compare what they will be paid to do the same job in Honolulu they are understandably shocked by the pay cut.
Hawaii has the high costs of big mainland cities with pay scales of small isolated towns and that’s a double whammy that’s hard to swallow.
This was the view I was greeted by in the morning as I came out the door to head to work in Paia, Maui from our home in Honokowai (Kahana). Image Copyright CyberCom, Inc.
In 2021 the median price of a single family home on Oahu was $830,000 and for a condo it was $435,000. Do the math. Unless you can put down $166,000 and carry a $664,000k mortgage for a home (and that’s a “median” home) or come up with $87,000 and carry a $348k mortgage for a condo, fuggetaboutit.
So either you have to make a really high income with very little expenses or you have to already have a home that you can sell that has sufficient equity.
As a result of these sky-high prices, most middle class folks in Hawaii must rent and those rents go up every year due to ever-climbing real estate prices.
Reason #6 you should not move to Hawaii: Traffic is really bad
Yes, even our Sunday morning drives are packed in!Sunday cash loan installment North Dakota morning traffic by kimubert is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original
Various national reports show Hawaii’s traffic as some of the nation’s worst. We know of friends that moved to LA from Honolulu and they think Honolulu is worse. The freeways look like parking lots during rush hours that can stretch a normally 30 minute commute into a two hour crawl. Every workday. On some parts of Oahu people have to get up at 5am to get to work by 8am. No lie.
What’s really bad about the traffic is that it’s extremely peaky. If your travel time can flex from 30 minutes to 2 hours, what time do you leave the house to get into town by 10am? Who knows? This forces you to leave early and then you might arrive really early, on-time, or late. This wastes a lot of time and makes one want to avoid driving whenever possible.
But wait, there’s more. Here’s the real kicker: because our mostly mountainous islands have few highways, most locations on the island are only accessible from a single highway. When we get the occasional big highway accident, the entire island chokes on traffic. There have been some horror stories of people taking 8 hours to get home. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen.
If you don’t like sitting in traffic, you’ll either need to live really close to where you work which typically means much higher housing costs or work near where you live which typically means much lower paying jobs.
Reason #7 you should not move to Hawaii: Fewer choices, less competition, poorer service, higher prices
Because of Hawaii’s disincentives, there is less competition for anything in our small, closed market. Less competition is almost always bad for consumers and here it applies to much more than just high pricespanies just don’t have to try as hard to win your business, creating for many a “take it or leave it” approach. This lack of competition also permeates our politics: Hawaii is a single party state, featuring the lowest voter turnout in the nation.