Living in Hawaii on a Single Income

Living in Hawaii

Living in Hawaii is a dream for many people. The perfect weather all year long, slower pace of life, and tropical vacation atmosphere make it a bucket list location for many people, despite its reputation for higher living costs compared to the mainland.

Whether you are considering a move to Hawaii because it has always been a dream of yours, or perhaps you have been offered a job on one of the islands, you may wonder if living in Hawaii on a single income is possible. Ultimately, that depends on your income, your lifestyle, and how many people you are supporting.

Living in Hawaii on a Single Income

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We have some thoughts and strategies to help you evaluate whether living on a single income in Hawaii will work for you, so keep reading.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Hawaii is higher than many other places in the U.S., yet many find the trade-offs worth it for the quality of life and natural beauty. There's an abundance of lush outdoors to hike, minimal seasonal weather, and a variety of communities to choose from.

It is difficult to estimate a general income number that fits every situation. These numbers should be used as a starting point - not a guarantee. From there, your lifestyle, family size, and individual wants and needs will impact your cost of living greatly.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Guidelines reported that for Fiscal Year 2024, the median family income for a family of 4 in Hawaii was $120,100, with a median income for a 1-person household of $97,500.

Living in Hawaii on a Single Income

Housing is the most significant expenditure for most residents. The median home price in Hawaii exceeds the national average, with prices depending on the proximity to popular areas and amenities. For those on a single income, finding affordable housing often means looking into smaller units or considering neighborhoods further from downtown or the more tourist-centric areas.

To put it into more solid numbers, for a single-family home purchase of $996,500 with no debt and 20% down, the total income should be at least $132,600 per year. For a condo purchase of $500,000, the total income should be at least $84,000 per year with no debt and 20% down. These purchase prices were based on median sales price from recent months, and should not be considered the average - both single-family homes and condos can vary in purchase price, both above and below the median. Finding a property that fits your budget is a large step of the process unto itself and you will find plenty of options above and below those two pirce points.

Living expenses such as clothing, personal care, dining out, and entertainment are also higher on Oahu than many places on the mainland. The additional costs are primarily due to transportation, which affects nearly everything on the island. On the flipside, there are lots of free options for outdoor entertainment such as hitting the beach or going on a hike. The constant good weather also cuts down on the need for seasonal clothing.

Related:  The Island Commute - Navigating Oahu’s Transportation Landscape

Shipping Costs, Passed On

Geographically isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii incurs higher transportation costs for importing goods, significantly affecting prices from food to furniture. Everything that cannot be grown on the island must be shipped in, which is costly, and the shipping costs of goods are passed on to the consumer. Housing is another critical factor; with limited land available for development, and materials shipped in from the mainland, real estate prices have been little place to go but up.

Another reason Hawaii has a high cost of living is the appeal of the islands. Because of the natural beauty, the unbeatable climate, the perfect produce, and all the other things that make Hawaii one of the top vacation destinations in the world, the demand for vacation housing or retirement homes in Hawaii has remained high for decades. This demand keeps real estate prices high, and contributes to the cost of hospitality industries, as well.

Related: 10 Ways You Can Save Money

Living on a Single Income in Hawaii

Surviving and thriving on a single income in Hawaii, while challenging, is not impossible. It requires careful planning and smart budgeting. I moved here alone and have thrived ever since.

There are a few areas you can cut back and plan to sell current items straight away. First off - clothes. Since the climate is largely the same year-round, there isn't much need to purchase seasonal clothing, and much of current seasonal wardrobes can be sold before the move. Second - furniture. Homes in Hawaii tend to be smaller, so large pieces of furniture from the mainland could end up looking out of place.

You should plan to change your lifestyle from how it is on the mainland - reduce your storage needs before moving. Keep what is essential, but ditch those items that are just taking up space without much sentimental value.

  • Shop at Costco, or NEX if you or your family is in the military
  • Take advantage of all of the free entertainment and recreation
  • Buy gas at Costco
  • Install solar panels to take advantage of all that sunshine
  • Consider an electric vehicle, especially cost-efficient if you have solar panels
  • Cook at home
  • Track all expenses meticulously to avoid overspending on non-essentials.
  • Planning meals and shopping from local farmers' markets to reduce food expenses.

Living in Hawaii on a single income demands resilience and adaptability, keeping on top of expenses and keeping an eye out for savings - but with the right strategies and local knowledge, it is an achievable goal. Ultimately it comes down to figuring out what you really need and what you can part with.

A major part of that is finding the community that's right for you, embracing that community and learning to live within your means - and in return you are free to enjoy the rich rewards of island life.

For more information about relocating to Hawaii, contact our office anytime to see how we can help!

 More: Easiest States To Move From To Hawaii

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