Paradise Found: A Comprehensive Guide to Living and Retiring in Hawaii

Hawaii, with its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and year-round tropical climate, has long been a dream destination for many. The idea of living and retiring in this Pacific paradise is a fantasy that captures the imagination of countless individuals seeking a slower pace of life surrounded by natural beauty. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various aspects of living and retiring in Hawaii, from the cost of living and housing market to healthcare, lifestyle, and cultural richness.

Cost of Living:

While the allure of Hawaii is undeniable, it’s crucial to consider the cost of living on the islands. Hawaii consistently ranks as one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. The high cost of goods, housing, and utilities can be a significant factor in the decision-making process. It’s essential to carefully evaluate your financial situation and create a realistic budget that accommodates the higher expenses associated with life in Hawaii.

Housing Market:

The real estate market in Hawaii is unique, driven by factors like limited land availability and high demand from both residents and tourists. Whether you choose to buy or rent, housing costs can be steep. Understanding the local market trends, exploring different neighborhoods, and working with a knowledgeable real estate agent are crucial steps in finding the right home for your needs. Additionally, it’s advisable to consider factors like proximity to amenities, public transportation, and potential exposure to natural hazards such as hurricanes and volcanic activity.


Access to quality healthcare is a vital consideration when planning a move to Hawaii. The state has reputable medical facilities, but the cost of healthcare services can be high. It’s essential to research health insurance options and understand the coverage available to residents. Some retirees may qualify for Medicare, but supplementary coverage may be necessary to address any gaps in the healthcare system.

Lifestyle and Culture:

Living in Hawaii offers a unique and laid-back lifestyle that attracts people from all walks of life. Embracing the Aloha spirit, which emphasizes love, peace, and compassion, is a fundamental aspect of integrating into the local culture. Hawaii’s diverse population, influenced by Polynesian, Asian, and Western cultures, contributes to a rich tapestry of traditions, cuisine, and customs. Engaging in local events, festivals, and community activities is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the vibrant Hawaiian culture.

Retirement Communities:

Several retirement communities and assisted living facilities cater to the needs of older adults in Hawaii. These communities often provide a range of amenities and services designed to enhance the quality of life for retirees. Researching and visiting different retirement options can help you find a community that aligns with your preferences and needs.

Retiring in Hawaii is a dream that, with careful planning and consideration, can become a reality. Understanding the financial implications, navigating the housing market, and embracing the local lifestyle are key components of a successful transition to this Pacific paradise. While challenges exist, the rewards of living in Hawaii—breathtaking landscapes, a unique cultural experience, and a sense of community—make it a destination worth exploring for those seeking a tropical haven in their retirement years.

Where to Live

Choosing the right location for retirement in Hawaii involves considering various factors, including lifestyle preferences, cost of living, access to amenities, and climate. Here are some top places for retirees to consider in Hawaii:

Honolulu, Oahu:

  • Pros: As the capital and largest city, Honolulu offers a mix of urban and beachside living. It has a diverse range of cultural activities, healthcare facilities, and services.
  • Cons: The cost of living is relatively high, and traffic can be a challenge. However, the presence of major amenities and infrastructure can be appealing.


  • Pros: Known for its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and a more relaxed pace of life, Maui is a popular choice for retirees. The island provides a balance between natural beauty and modern conveniences.
  • Cons: Housing costs can be high, and some areas may experience a higher level of tourism.

Kailua-Kona, Big Island:

  • Pros: Kona offers a laid-back atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and a range of outdoor activities. The cost of living can be lower compared to Oahu and Maui.
  • Cons: The Big Island is vast, and some areas may be more remote, impacting access to certain services. The volcanic activity on the island is also a consideration.


  • Pros: Known as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai is famous for its lush greenery and relaxed lifestyle. It offers a quieter environment with stunning natural beauty.
  • Cons: The cost of living can be high, and there may be fewer amenities compared to more urbanized islands.

Lahaina, Maui:

  • Pros: Lahaina, a historic town on Maui, provides a charming atmosphere with shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. The weather is generally favorable, and there are beautiful beaches nearby.
  • Cons: Housing costs may be on the higher side, and some retirees may find the town too tourist-oriented.

Hilo, Big Island:

  • Pros: Hilo is known for its rainforest surroundings and a more laid-back lifestyle. The cost of living is generally lower than on other islands.
  • Cons: The town receives significant rainfall, and there may be fewer cultural and entertainment options compared to more urban areas.


  • Pros: Molokai is the least developed of the main Hawaiian Islands, offering a quiet and rural lifestyle. It’s an excellent choice for those seeking a more secluded environment.
  • Cons: Limited amenities and services, and travel to other islands may be necessary for certain activities.

Before making a decision, retirees should visit potential locations, consider their individual preferences, and weigh the pros and cons of each area. Additionally, consulting with local real estate professionals and community members can provide valuable insights into the specificities of each location.

Real Estate Market

High Housing Costs:

  • Hawaii consistently ranks among the most expensive states for real estate. The high demand for homes, limited land availability, and the desirability of living in a tropical paradise contribute to elevated property prices. The typical home value of homes in Hawaii is $970193. Hawaii home values have gone down 0.6% over the past year. Some homes in the most desireable areas can range from $5M to $30M. Condos Year-to-Date Median price is $640,125, according to the Hawaii Association of REALTORs.

Diverse Market:

  • The real estate market in Hawaii is diverse, with a range of property types including single-family homes, condominiums, and vacation rentals. Each island and even different regions within islands can have distinct market dynamics.

Tourism Impact:

  • Tourism plays a significant role in Hawaii’s economy and real estate market. Some areas may experience higher demand for vacation rentals, affecting both prices and availability.

Limited Land Availability:

  • Hawaii’s islands have limited land for development due to their small size and environmental concerns. This scarcity can drive up property values, especially in sought-after locations with ocean views or proximity to amenities.

Trends in Honolulu:

  • Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, has a particularly competitive market. The city is a hub for business, culture, and tourism, influencing property values. Condominiums are prevalent, catering to both residents and vacationers. The average rent for an apartment in Honolulu is $2,076. The cost of rent varies depending on several factors, including location, size, and quality.

Consideration for Natural Hazards:

  • Hawaii is prone to natural hazards such as hurricanes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis. Buyers and insurers often consider these factors, and property values can be influenced by the potential risks associated with specific locations.

Longer Selling Times:

  • In some cases, properties in Hawaii may take longer to sell compared to mainland markets. The decision-making process for buyers can be more deliberate, given the significant investment and the unique aspects of island living.

Local Regulations:

  • Local regulations, such as zoning laws and restrictions on short-term rentals, can impact the real estate market. These regulations vary by island and can influence property values and investment opportunities.

Market Resilience:

  • Despite occasional fluctuations, Hawaii’s real estate market has shown resilience over the years. The islands’ popularity as a destination and the limited supply of land contribute to a market that remains attractive to investors and homeowners.

Buying a Home in Hawaii with a Muuvme Realtor

  • Muuvme Realtors is a well-regarded real estate agency with associates in Hawaii known for its expertise in helping clients find their dream homes in this picturesque community. If you’re considering buying a home using Muuvme Realtors, there is some additional information at the end of this blog.

If you are considering purchasing property in Hawaii, it’s essential to work with a local MuuvMe real estate agent who has expertise in the specific island or area you are interested in. They can provide up-to-date information, help navigate the complexities of the market, and offer insights tailored to your preferences and goals.


State Income Tax:

  • Hawaii has a state income tax system with rates ranging from 1.4% to 11%. The state uses a progressive tax structure with multiple tax brackets. Income earned in Hawaii, including wages, salaries, and business income, is subject to state income tax.

General Excise Tax (GET):

  • Hawaii has a unique tax called the General Excise Tax (GET) rather than a sales tax. The GET is imposed on the gross income of a business, including all goods and services provided. The general rate is 4%, but there is also a higher rate for certain activities, such as transient accommodations.

Property Tax:

  • Property taxes in Hawaii are assessed at the county level. Each county determines its property tax rates, and they can vary significantly. The assessed value of the property is used to calculate property taxes.

Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT):

  • The Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT) is applied to short-term rentals, such as hotels and vacation rentals. As of 2023 the TAT rate was 10.25%, but it’s important to verify the current rate as it may have changed.

Estate Tax:

  • Hawaii has an estate tax, and it is decoupled from the federal estate tax system. This means that estates with values below the federal estate tax exemption may still be subject to Hawaii’s estate tax. It’s essential to be aware of the current exemption threshold and rates.

Inheritance Tax:

  • Hawaii does not have an inheritance tax. Inheritors generally do not need to pay state taxes on inherited property.

Retirement Income:

  • Hawaii does tax most sources of retirement income, including Social Security benefits. However, there are specific exemptions for certain types of retirement income, and the tax treatment may vary based on individual circumstances.

Credits and Deductions:

  • Hawaii offers various tax credits and deductions that can help reduce tax liability. These may include credits for renewable energy systems, child and dependent care expenses, and others.

Filing Deadlines:

  • The deadline for filing state income tax returns in Hawaii typically aligns with the federal deadline, which is usually April 15th. However, it’s advisable to check for any changes or extensions.

It’s important to note that tax laws can change, and the information provided here is a general overview. For personalized advice tailored to your specific situation, it’s recommended to consult with a tax professional or the Hawaii Department of Taxation for the most current information.


Healthcare in Hawaii is generally of a high standard, but there are some unique considerations due to the state’s geography and the distribution of healthcare facilities across the islands. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, here are some details about healthcare in Hawaii:

Medical Facilities:

  • Hawaii is home to several reputable medical facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and specialty centers. Major medical centers are concentrated on the islands of Oahu and Maui, with some smaller facilities on the other islands.

Health Insurance:

  • Having health insurance is crucial in Hawaii. Many residents receive coverage through their employers, while others may qualify for government programs like Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to insurance options for individuals and families.


  • Hawaii residents who qualify for Medicare can access healthcare services through the federal program. It’s important to understand the coverage options available and consider supplemental insurance to address potential gaps.

Community Health Centers:

  • Community Health Centers (CHCs) play a significant role in providing primary care services, especially in rural and underserved areas. These centers offer comprehensive healthcare, including medical, dental, and behavioral health services.

Geographic Challenges:

  • The geographic dispersion of the Hawaiian Islands poses challenges for residents in more remote areas to access healthcare. Some residents on the more isolated islands may need to travel to larger islands for certain medical treatments or specialists.


  • Telehealth services have become increasingly popular, offering residents in remote or underserved areas access to healthcare professionals through virtual consultations. This has become particularly important, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cultural Competence:

  • Hawaii’s diverse population, influenced by Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander cultures, requires a culturally competent approach to healthcare. Some healthcare providers in Hawaii specialize in addressing the unique health needs and perspectives of different ethnic groups.

Public Health Initiatives:

  • Hawaii places an emphasis on public health initiatives, including efforts to address issues like obesity, smoking, and substance abuse. These initiatives aim to improve overall community health and reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases.

Natural Disasters and Emergency Preparedness:

  • Given Hawaii’s vulnerability to natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic activity, emergency preparedness is a critical aspect of the healthcare system. Hospitals and healthcare providers are well-versed in disaster response protocols.

Alternative and Integrative Medicine:

  • Hawaii has a rich tradition of traditional and alternative medicine, influenced by Native Hawaiian healing practices. Some residents may choose to incorporate alternative and integrative therapies into their healthcare approach.

It’s important to note that the healthcare landscape can evolve, and new developments may have occurred since my last update. If you are considering a move to Hawaii, it’s advisable to research the most current healthcare information, understand your insurance options, and establish a relationship with local healthcare providers.

Things to Consider

While Hawaii is often viewed as a paradise with its stunning natural beauty and unique cultural heritage, there are also some challenges and drawbacks to consider when contemplating living in the Aloha State. Here are some cons of living in Hawaii:

  1. Cost of Living:
    • Hawaii consistently ranks among the most expensive places to live in the United States. The cost of housing, groceries, utilities, and other daily expenses can be significantly higher than on the mainland. This can put a strain on finances, especially for those on fixed incomes or with limited job opportunities.
  2. Limited Job Opportunities:
    • The job market in Hawaii, especially in certain specialized fields, can be competitive and limited. The economy is heavily dependent on tourism, and job opportunities in other sectors may be more limited compared to larger mainland cities.
  3. Traffic and Infrastructure:
    • Traffic congestion is a common issue in urban areas, particularly on the island of Oahu. The infrastructure, including roads and public transportation, may not be as extensive or efficient as in larger mainland cities.
  4. Isolation and Distance:
    • Hawaii is the most geographically isolated state in the U.S., which can lead to a sense of isolation for some residents. Travel to the mainland or other countries can be expensive and time-consuming, making it challenging to visit family or take extended trips.
  5. Natural Disasters:
    • Hawaii is prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. While the state is well-prepared for these events, residents must be vigilant and prepared for potential emergencies.
  6. Education System:
    • The education system in Hawaii has faced challenges, with some schools experiencing overcrowding and resource limitations. Families with children may want to carefully research and consider the available educational options.
  7. Limited Healthcare Options:
    • While there are reputable medical facilities in Hawaii, access to specialized healthcare services may be limited, particularly on the smaller islands. In some cases, residents may need to travel to Oahu for certain medical treatments.
  8. Invasive Species and Environmental Concerns:
    • Hawaii is susceptible to invasive species that can impact the ecosystem. Additionally, issues such as coral bleaching and sea-level rise due to climate change pose environmental concerns for the islands.
  9. Cultural Adjustment:
    • Adjusting to the local culture, known as the “Aloha Spirit,” can be both rewarding and challenging. Some newcomers may experience cultural differences, and building relationships within the close-knit local communities may take time.
  10. Tourist Impact:
    • While tourism is a significant economic driver, it can also have downsides, such as crowded popular destinations, increased traffic, and rising prices due to demand from visitors.

While Hawaii, like many places, encompasses a diverse range of political perspectives, it is generally considered a Democratic stronghold, often characterized by progressive politics. Here are some aspects related to progressive politics in Hawaii:

  1. Environmental Conservation:
    • Hawaii has a strong emphasis on environmental conservation and sustainability. Progressive policies focus on protecting the unique ecosystems, marine life, and natural resources. The state aims to be a leader in renewable energy initiatives to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  2. Social Issues:
    • Hawaii tends to have progressive stances on social issues. It was one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage, reflecting a commitment to LGBTQ+ rights. The state also supports reproductive rights and access to healthcare services.
  3. Cultural Sensitivity:
    • Progressive politics in Hawaii often involve an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and respect for the Native Hawaiian population. Policies aim to preserve and promote the indigenous culture, language, and practices.
  4. Affordable Housing Initiatives:
    • Given the high cost of living and housing in Hawaii, progressive policies often focus on addressing affordability issues. There are efforts to create affordable housing options and policies to protect residents from gentrification.
  5. Social Welfare Programs:
    • Hawaii has social welfare programs designed to address the needs of vulnerable populations. These programs may include assistance for low-income families, food aid, and support for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  6. Progressive Taxation:
    • There is a recognition of income inequality in Hawaii, and progressive taxation policies are often discussed. The state income tax system has multiple brackets, with higher rates for higher income levels.
  7. Access to Education:
    • Progressive policies in education aim to provide equal opportunities for all residents. Efforts are made to improve the quality of public education and ensure access to higher education for students across economic backgrounds.
  8. Universal Healthcare Advocacy:
    • Hawaii has explored discussions around universal healthcare to ensure that all residents have access to essential medical services. While specific policies may vary, the progressive ethos often emphasizes the importance of comprehensive healthcare coverage.
  9. Worker’s Rights:
    • Progressive politics in Hawaii often align with the protection of worker’s rights. There is a history of labor movements, and policies may focus on ensuring fair wages, workplace safety, and collective bargaining rights.
  10. Immigrant Rights:
    • Hawaii’s multicultural population contributes to a progressive approach to immigrant rights. Policies may aim to protect the rights of immigrants and create inclusive communities.

It’s important to note that the political landscape can evolve, and the implementation of policies may vary over time. Additionally, not all residents may share the same political perspectives. Individuals considering a move to Hawaii should stay informed about the current political climate and engage with the local community to understand diverse viewpoints.

Are the Hawaiians Welcoming?

While it’s true that some Native Hawaiians may express concerns about the impact of newcomers on their culture, land, and way of life, it’s essential to recognize that attitudes vary among individuals. The relationship between Native Hawaiians and newcomers can be complex, shaped by historical, cultural, and socio-economic factors.

Here are some considerations:

Historical Context:

  • Hawaii has a history of colonization and the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in the late 19th century. Native Hawaiians have faced significant cultural, social, and economic challenges as a result. Some may view newcomers through the lens of historical injustices and be protective of their culture and resources.

Cultural Sensitivity:

  • Native Hawaiians have a deep connection to their cultural heritage, and there is a strong emphasis on preserving and perpetuating traditional practices, language, and customs. Some may be concerned that an influx of newcomers could contribute to the erosion of their cultural identity.

Land Use and Development:

  • The rapid development and expansion of tourism and residential areas have raised concerns among Native Hawaiians about the impact on the environment and traditional lands. Some may feel that these changes are occurring without adequate consideration for the cultural and ecological significance of certain areas.

Economic Disparities:

  • Hawaii faces economic disparities, and some Native Hawaiians may feel marginalized or economically disadvantaged. There may be concerns that newcomers contribute to rising living costs and housing prices, making it more challenging for Native Hawaiians to remain in their ancestral lands.

Community Engagement:

  • Building positive relationships with the local community, including Native Hawaiians, is essential for newcomers. Engaging with the community, respecting local customs, and learning about the cultural significance of different places can contribute to better relationships.

Diversity of Perspectives:

  • It’s important to recognize that opinions and attitudes vary widely among Native Hawaiians. While some may have reservations about newcomers, others may be more welcoming and open to diversity.

Cultural Exchange:

  • Positive interactions and cultural exchange between newcomers and Native Hawaiians can contribute to mutual understanding and respect. Learning about and participating in local traditions can help bridge gaps and foster a sense of community.

Ultimately, building trust and positive relationships between newcomers and the Native Hawaiian community requires open communication, respect for cultural differences, and a commitment to understanding the historical context. It’s advisable for newcomers to approach their new community with humility, a willingness to learn, and a genuine respect for the unique cultural heritage of the Native Hawaiian people.

Buying a Home in Hawaii with a Muuvme Realtor

Muuvme Realtors, a reputable real estate agency with a presence in all 50 states, excels in helping clients discover their dream homes in this charming community. If you’re considering buying a home with Muuvme Realtors, here’s an overview of the process:

  1. Initial Consultation: Start by discussing your needs, budget, and preferences with a Muuvme Realtor.
  2. Pre-Approval for Mortgage: Get pre-approved for a mortgage to enhance your buying power.
  3. Property Search: Muuvme Realtors use your criteria to find suitable homes, scheduling viewings for you.
  4. Offer Preparation and Negotiation: Craft a strong purchase offer with your Realtor’s guidance and expert negotiation skills.
  5. Contract Execution: Ensure accurate and timely completion of paperwork, inspections, and appraisals.
  6. Closing Process: Muuvme Realtors assist with closing documents, ensuring a smooth transaction.
  7. Post-Closing Support: Ongoing assistance and answering questions post-transaction.
  8. Local Expertise: Benefit from their knowledge of the community and real estate market.
  9. Transparency and Communication: Stay informed at every step with regular updates.
  10. Tailored Service: Customized service to find a home that suits your unique needs. is a user-friendly platform for new movers, offering a streamlined home search experience with expert Realtor collaboration. It considers your preferences, budget, and lifestyle to suggest properties that align with your desires. simplifies the journey to your dream home while benefiting from seasoned real estate professionals’ expertise. Say goodbye to endless scrolling and embrace an efficient path to your dream home with and its dedicated realtor partners. Contact Muuvme for more information. © 2023 MuuvMe All rights Reserved

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