Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (2023)

Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places to visit in North America, with its amazing beaches and superb sunshine. It’s a great place for a vacation – but living there is an even better dream.

If you plan on relocating to Hawaii, you’ll have to consider each island’s safety, cost of living, housing, utility, transportation, median income, and job opportunities.

In the end, your income, needs, and interests are deciding factors in choosing the best island. With this in mind, we picked the best islands that offer a balance between livability and affordability. Keep reading to find the best one for you!

Table of Contents

  • 1. Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii
  • 2. Kailua, Oahu
  • 3. Waimea CDP, Kauai
  • 4. Waianae, Oahu
  • 5. Kahului, Maui
  • 6. Ewa Beach, Oahu
  • 7. Kapaa, Kauai
  • 8. Waihee-Waiehu, Maui
  • Are You Thinking About Moving to Hawaii?

1. Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (1)

Hilo, the third-largest city in Hawaii, is one of the cheapest places to live. It’s considered the fourth most affordable city for housing, with an average home costing about $318,000. The median rent is $1,045 and the cost of living is 28% cheaper than the state average.

The median income in Hilo is $63,283, with housing costs almost half the average in Hawaii. Moreover, buying groceries cost almost twice the price of the rest of the state, and transportation is a little over the average cost.

It may not be as romantic as Waikiki or as luxurious as Honolulu, but Hilo offers major attractions that are charming and it’s a gateway to beautiful landscapes and natural reserves.

If you’re a nature lover, you’ll enjoy several parks including Akaka Falls State Park and the famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you’ll find the most active volcano in the world. For more greenery, visit Liliuokalani Gardens and various Japanese gardens. Of course, let’s not forget about the beaches for outdoor entertainment.

If you enjoy waterfalls, head over to Wailuku River State Park, which is famous for its 80-foot Rainbow Falls that create a mesmerizing rainbow at around 10:00 AM on a sunny day.

(Video) 6 Most Affordable Cities to Live in Hawaii

As you stroll along the city center, you’ll find Hilo packed with countless restaurants, shops, galleries, and museums that are eye-catching.

2. Kailua, Oahu

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (2)

With a population of 39,353, Kailua is a residential community in the suburb of Honolulu where 72% of the population own a home. Kailua’s median household income is $109,087, which is twice the amount in Hilo.

Its median housing cost is 813,600 and its median rent price is $2,225, with a cost of living index of 220. Overall, the cost of living in Kailua is 25% higher than the state average. However, the household income is 52% higher than the state average, making it still a realistic place to live.

Kailua offers the same soft, white sand and clear blue waters from its many beaches, including Kaʻōhao and Lanikai Beach. Although it has a suburban feel, you can still experience the city with just a 30-minute drive to Honolulu and Waikiki.

For hiking activities with impressive scenery, you can easily visit a tropical forest in the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve and Ko’olau Mountain Range. Other places to include in your list are Kailua Beach Park, Maunawili Falls, and Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where words can’t even describe their beauty.

3. Waimea CDP, Kauai

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (3)

A small lovely town in Kauai, Waimea CDP is located on the north shore with only 1,800 people. It’s considered the third most affordable place in Hawaii with its cost of living 22% lower than the state average and housing costs that are about $378,300.

It is quite affordable to live here, with a median income of about $91,074 – 20% higher than average. However, renting is a lot more expensive when compared to buying a house, so most residents opt to buy instead. Other than that, most utilities and groceries are less expensive when compared to other Hawaiian cities.

Kauai is a small calm tropical island with many typical island activities. There are several outdoor activities and scenic views, especially in the Waimea Canyon where mountains, volcanoes, and greenery can be appreciated. If you enjoy a hiking trail, visit the Kukui Trail and catch a gorgeous site of the Waimea Canyon.

Although far from Waimea, visiting the Polihale State Park is worth the trip. This small town offers several local places including stores, restaurants, and food trucks. If you’re choosing to stay for a short vacation, you’ll find two hotels: Waimea Plantation Cottages and The West Inn motel.

4. Waianae, Oahu

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (4)

Located on the sunny side of Oahu, Waianae is the island’s best-kept secret, with a population of 13,609 and a promise of an affordable cost of living. It’s about an hour and a half from downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, and being on the same island as Honolulu, you can easily visit bigger establishments that aren’t in this small town.

(Video) Where is the best affordable place to live and work in Hawaii?

The median home cost is around $322,000, and the median rent is less than $1,000/month. Moreover, the costs are 11% lower than the state average. Working here guarantees a median income of $62,172 with a home price to income ratio that is the 23rd most affordable, making it considerably cheaper to live here than on other islands.

While Waianae is more secluded, it still has the Waianae Mall – which includes some restaurants, shops, a drugstore, and a bank. You can also enjoy water activities such as snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, and cruising at the Waianae Small Boat Harbor, which is filled with many fishing boats and yachts. Furthermore, Waianae boasts some of the most fantastic landscapes and stunning beaches, such as Pokai Bay and Makaha Beach.

5. Kahului, Maui

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (5)

With a population of 31,336, Kahului is the largest town in Maui. Living here is quite attainable, with a median home value of $485,000 and a median rent value of $1,346.

The cost of living index is at 168, which is less than Hawaii’s index of 176 in living expenses. With a median household income of $62,038, which is $20,000 more than the national average, living in Kahului is comfortable. Although food and groceries are a bit expensive, other living expenses including health, transportation, and utilities are cheaper than other Hawaiian islands.

Living in Kahului welcomes you with the Maui Arts and Cultural Center‘s 1,800 events to enjoy. Since Kahului is Maui’s retail and commercial hub, it’s the perfect shopping place to get your hands on the best items – especially at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center.

If you prefer natural landscapes, visit the Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanaha Beach Park, and the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens to experience unique adventures.

Go windsurfing or kiteboarding at Kanaha Beach Park or spot endangered Hawaiian species at Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Sanctuary.

6. Ewa Beach, Oahu

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (6)

Located in the southwest corner of Oahu, Ewa Beach has become a hub for new homes since it became the solution to Oahu’s housing shortage dilemma. It is now a suburb of Honolulu that attracts new families to live with its abundance of warm, sunny days.

This town is located near Kapolei, making it a convenient location for a variety of shops and restaurants. Moreover, you can easily reach Honolulu in just 35 minutes during off-peak hours.

The cost of living in Ewa Beach is 72% higher than the national average. Its median household income is about $86,424, which is 56% more than the national average. If you decide to buy a house, the median housing cost is $462,100, which is 150% more expensive than the national average. Moreover, the median rent price is $1,668, or 76% more expensive than the national average. It is ranked 18 out of 52 as the most affordable places to live in Hawaii.

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The most popular beach is the White Plains Beach, which is an excellent place for family BBQs, learning to surf, or just sunbathing.

If you’re into golf, you’d be surprised to find several golf courses, including Hawaii Prince Golf Club, Hoakalai Country Club, and Ewa Beach Golf Club.

If you enjoy a train ride while learning about history, then the Hawaiian Railway Station is a 90-minute train ride that teaches history in the sugar business.

Ewa Beach doesn’t fall far behind in shopping as you can find Ka Makana Ali’i Mall packed with retail stores and amazing restaurants.

7. Kapaa, Kauai

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (7)

On the island of Kauai lies the Kapaa district, with a population of 11,143. The cost of living is 1.7 times higher than the US average, ranking it as # 16 out of 52 in Hawaii that is most affordable. Housing is reasonable, with a median home value of $543,900 and a median rent of $1,389. It’s possible to afford living here with a median income of $90,925.

Among the many activities to do in this small town, the most popular is shopping at local stores on the north of Wilau in Kauai. If you head over to Kinipopo Shopping Village, there are many diverse and unique shops and restaurants to choose from. You’ll also find souvenir shirts, vintage maps, artwork, and jewelry.

For more shopping galore, head over to the Wailua Shopping Plaza, which includes antique shops, restaurants, and the Coconut Marketplace.

8. Waihee-Waiehu, Maui

Which Island in Hawaii is the Cheapest to Live In? (8)

With a population of 9,319, Waihee-Waiehu is a small town positioned on the east coast of western Maui. It places 11th out of 52 Hawaiian cities that are most affordable, making it 1.6 times more expensive than the US average. Its median home value is $516,400 and the median rent per month is $1,347. Though it seems more expensive than other US states, the median income here is $100,042, making it possible to attain these expenses.

Living in Waihee-Waiehu gives you the chance to explore numerous activities and visit tourist attractions, including the Waihee Ridge Trail, which brings you to the clouds for the best scenic views of the rainforest valley.

If you enjoy golf, don’t skip the Maui Nui Golf Club and The Wailea Blue Course.

(Video) Top 10 BEST PLACES To Live In Hawaii

Since Waihee-Waiehu is located in Maui, you can also visit nearby attractions including Maui Pineapple Tour, Adventure Park Maui, and Olivine Pools.

Are You Thinking About Moving to Hawaii?

Hawaii is one of the most fascinating regions in the world. It’s the most ideal place to relocate with its mesmerizing Hawaiian landscapes that are often incredibly affordable, depending on which town or city you choose. It’s a dream to live in this paradise.

If you’re planning to live here, you have to consider how much money you’re making and how much you are willing to spend on a monthly basis to live comfortably.

Also, before moving to Hawaii, keep in mind that it’s an island state – so it can be quite difficult to move around on the road. Things are often expensive because of the shipping costs to Hawaii. However, if you don’t mind buying items in Hawaii, then you can focus on other more important factors such as living on the calm beach and sunset surfs.

Even though you won’t find any bustling cities, this paradise on Earth can still get a lot of traffic – and with it, comes increased crime rates. Like other cities, they also have problems including homelessness and drug-related crimes.

The weather in Hawaii typically has short bursts of frequent rains. If you don’t mind short rains, then this won’t be a problem for you – but if you’re always on the go with your bike or motorcycle, this can be a disruption to your day-to-day activities.

Because of the frequent rains and ocean winds, everything rusts quite quickly – so things are always replaced more often. You might have to repaint your home or replace your bike parts frequently because of the salty humid air. These are just some of the few dilemmas that are easily solved if you are willing to.

If you think it fits your lifestyle and preferences, then what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, call your agent, and find a home in Hawaii for you and your family.

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What island is best to move to in Hawaii? ›

Oahu is probably the most popular island to move to because of the job opportunities and salaries tend to be higher here. Oahu is Hawaiian through and through, but it also certainly has the most in common with the mainland – it's busy, fast-paced, and modern.

What is the most affordable Hawaiian island to retire? ›

Hilo, Big Island

Hilo tops this list as the best place to retire in Hawaii for its reasonable cost of living and relaxing lifestyle. In fact, it's much cheaper than the more popular cities in Hawaii. The cost-of-living index is 18% less expensive than the state average, according to AreaVibes.

How much do you need to live comfortably Hawaii? ›

Studies have the cost of living in Honolulu requires residents to have an income of $200,000+ are required to live comfortably in the state's capital. This is subjective of course, but according the U.S. Census, Honolulu's median household income was around $80,000 in 2019.

Can I just up and move to Hawaii? ›

In 1959, Hawaii officially became the 50th state. As a result, anyone who has the ability to legally live in the United States—including citizens and permanent residents—can move to Hawaii. Legally, it's just like moving to any other state.

What is the safest Hawaiian island? ›

Which Hawaiian island is the safest to live on? If you're just looking at the sheer number of incidents on each island, Kauai is the safest island to live on. In 2020, the Kauai Police Department reported the lowest number of violent crime incidents and property crime incidents of any of the four major islands.

Where is the most affordable place to live in Hawaii? ›

Check out these six most affordable places to live in Hawaii!
  • Hana, Maui.
  • Hilo, Island of Hawaii.
  • Kahuku, Oahu.
  • Kapa'a, Kauai.
  • Wailuku, Maui.
  • Waimalu, Oahu.
Feb 1, 2023

How much income do you need to retire in Hawaii? ›

You need about $2 million to retire comfortably in Hawaii—here are the 6 other most expensive states. If you're dreaming of spending retirement lounging on one of Hawaii's pristine beaches, make sure you've saved up plenty of money.

What is the number 1 place to retire in the world? ›

The Top 25 Best Countries to Retire in
6 more rows
Nov 21, 2022

Which Hawaiian island is best for retirees? ›

With a high percentage of individuals over the age of 65, and a lower cost of living in comparison to other areas of Hawaii, Hilo is a great choice for retirement.

Why are people moving away from Hawaii? ›

23, 2023. HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New data shows that more Native Hawaiians are leaving the Aloha State due to the high cost of living. The median price for a single-family home tops $1 million in Honolulu. Hawaii residents also spend more than 40% of their income on rent — that's more than any other state.

What is the biggest problem in Hawaii? ›


In 2023, there were an estimated 10% of the state's population living below poverty level. With regards to the number of people living on the street, according to the AARP there are an estimated 3,932 homeless adults on O'ahu as of November 2022.

Can I move to Hawaii without a job? ›

Can I move to Hawaii without a job? Yes, you can. Many newcomers do just that. Even so, you will have to find a job as soon as possible due to the high living expenses.

Can I live in Hawaii on $3000 a month? ›

Housing Costs

A one-bedroom apartment or home can range from about $1,500 to more than $2,000 per month and a two-bedroom apartment or a house will start at $1,800 per month. Looking at a luxurious, new one-bedroom condo? Expect to fork out at least $3,000 a month.

What is the highest paying job in Hawaii? ›

Detailed List Of Highest Paying Jobs In Hawaii
RankJob TitleAverage Salary
1Loan Servicing Specialist$329,032
2Vice President Of Application Development$251,752
3Director Of Consumer Marketing$239,829
4Chief Executive Officer And Operator$237,177
88 more rows
Apr 11, 2022

What is a good hourly wage in Hawaii? ›

$14.03 is the 25th percentile. Wages below this are outliers. $31.89 is the 90th percentile. Wages above this are outliers.

How long do I have to live in Hawaii to become a resident? ›

You're a full-year Hawaii resident if you were a resident for the entire year. A resident is someone who considers Hawaii their permanent home or who lives in Hawaii for anything other than a temporary or transitory purpose. If you spent more than 200 days of 2022 in Hawaii, you're considered a resident.

How to make money in Hawaii? ›

Extra income options in Hawaii:
  1. Delivery driver.
  2. Organizer.
  3. Personal assistant/household helper.
  4. Customer service representative.
  5. Pet sitter or dog walker.
  6. Caregiver or babysitter.
Jul 18, 2022

How long do you have to live in Hawaii to be a local? ›

If an individual has been in Hawaii more than 200 days of the taxable year in the aggregate (not consecutive), the individual is presumed to have been a resident of Hawaii from the time of the individual's arrival.

Can you live in Hawaii on minimum wage? ›

However, the minimum wage in Hawaii is $10.10, which comes out to $20,200 per year. While this is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, it isn't nearly enough to be considered livable. Two metrics to look at to understand the high cost of living are the rent and home prices in Hawaii.

Where is the most crime in Hawaii? ›

Among the four major Hawaiian Islands, Maui has the highest crime rate. It had a property rate of 3454 and a violent crime rate of 269. The crime rate falls as the year progresses.

Which Hawaiian island is the friendliest? ›

Among the Hawaiian Islands, Molokai is known as the Friendly Isle, and those who live there would consider it the best island to live on by far. With many longtime families and few visitors living on remote Molokai, it is one of the most secluded Hawaiian Islands.

Is it worth it to move to Hawaii? ›

Moving to Hawaii is expensive but it can be a very rewarding place to live. The weather, outdoors life, and sunsets can be remarkable every single day. However, your taxes, housing, and overall cost of living is almost certain to increase if you're moving from most other parts of the country.

Why is Hilo so cheap? ›

Lower Tourist Population = Lower Prices

Museums, cultural centers, and historic sites abound near Hilo, with many offering cost-effective options for students and seniors along with many free events.

Is Maui or Honolulu cheaper? ›

We did a full cost analysis using data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority and found that Oahu is the cheapest island to visit and Maui is the most expensive. In fact, for a one-week vacation, Oahu comes in 28% cheaper than Maui. Of course, you can find cheap places to stay on Maui and expensive places to stay on Oahu.

Which city in Hawaii has the lowest crime rate? ›

Safest Places in Hawaii
  • Kalaupapa.
  • Maui.
  • Makaweli.
  • Schofield Barracks.
  • Hanalei.
  • Kilauea.
  • Haleiwa.
  • Paauilo.
Nov 22, 2022

What is the safest Hawaiian island to live on? ›

Here Are The 10 Safest & Most Peaceful Places To Live In Hawaii
  • 1) Makaweli, Kauai. Dave Seidman/Flickr. ...
  • 2) Kalaupapa, Molokai. Warren Antiola/Flickr. ...
  • 3) Schofield Barracks, Oahu. U.S. Pacific Command/Flickr. ...
  • 4) Hanalei, Kauai. Ik T/Flickr. ...
  • 5) Kilauea, Kauai. ...
  • 6) Laupahoehoe, Big Island. ...
  • 7) Haleiwa, Oahu. ...
  • 8) Mililani Town, Oahu.
Jun 2, 2022

Where is the best and safest place to live in Hawaii? ›

The northern part of Hawaii is the safer area of the state to live in. This includes the islands of Kauai and Niihau in Honolulu County.

Which island in Hawaii is best to retire? ›

Best Places to Retire in Hawaii: Maui

You'll enjoy plenty of restaurants, bars, and activities in the area, which is popular with tourists on Maui. You'll also enjoy long, gorgeous beaches perfect for a morning or evening stroll.

What is the poorest place in Hawaii? ›

Among the 10 places in Hawaii with available data and populations of at least 25,000, Hilo ranks as the poorest. The typical Hilo household earns $65,727 a year, compared to the statewide median household income of $83,173. Home values are often a reflection of what people can afford.

How realistic is it to move to Hawaii? ›

Moving to Hawaii is expensive but it can be a very rewarding place to live. The weather, outdoors life, and sunsets can be remarkable every single day. However, your taxes, housing, and overall cost of living is almost certain to increase if you're moving from most other parts of the country.

What Hawaiian island are you not allowed on? ›

Niihau, also known as the Forbidden Isle, is a beautiful small island in Hawaii spread across 180 sq km. The island is off-limits to outsiders and only the Robinson family, their relatives, invited guests, government officials and US Navy personnel are allowed here.

Are groceries taxed in Hawaii? ›

Sales of grocery food are subject to sales tax in Hawaii.

Which Hawaiian island has the best healthcare? ›

Oahu has the largest and best, state-of-the-art medical facilities in all of Hawaii.

Which Hawaiian island has the least crime? ›

If we look at the 10-year property crime average the Big Island comes in as the safest of the islands again: Big Island: 2,942. Oahu: 3,193. Kauai: 3,311.

How long does it take to become a Hawaii resident? ›

The 12 months of continuous residency in Hawaiʻi shall begin on the date upon which the first overt action (see evidences) is taken to make Hawaiʻi the permanent residence.


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