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Life in Hawaii – What’s it Like Living Hawaiian Style?

Bodyboarding and swimming at Honolua Beach for residents and visitors of Maui, Hawaii. Life in Hawaii can be this good.

Bodyboarding and swimming at Honolua Beach, Maui, Hawaii. Something the whole family can enjoy when the waves are small.

Living life in Hawaii is a dream for a lot of people. Many who can afford a vacation to the Hawaiian islands return home and are a little bit shell-shocked. In a good way. Hawaii is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world.

If you’re one of those who has visited one of the Hawaiian islands: Oahu, Maui, Big Island, Kauai, Lanai, or Molokai you will inevitably ask yourself the question:

What’s life in Hawaii like? Can I live in Hawaii?

Everyone asks themselves if they can do it too… live in the paradise that was only a dream before they actually went and experienced Hawaii in real-time.

Vern lived in Hawaii for six years and has some insight into what it’s like to live there. I’ve lived in Hawaii for most of my life, since the mid-80s and love this place every bit as much today as I did the first day I landed here.  I’d like to share that with you in the hopes that it gives you a realistic picture of what moving there would actually be like. It’s not for everyone – really. There is good as well as bad. Here are links to more than two-hundred (200+) of my best articles about Hawaii – listed on one page.

Probably the best way to present this without writing a book about my time living in Hawaii is to make a Positives and Negatives list and let you sort it out for yourself.

Living in Hawaii Negatives:

  • Island Fever. Hawaiian island fever is a frequent complaint of those that live there for any number of years. In Hawaii you are, in fact, isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You’re thousands of miles from any major country. If you’re Caucasian (aka “Haole” pronounced “How-lee”)  you are probably feeling like a minority – because you are. Hawaii is a multicultural melting pot. It’s not easy to pick up and fly away to a neighboring state for the weekend. There are no more road trips to other states as you did in the mainland. Hawaii is a bit confining – especially if you don’t have the money to visit the other islands often, and visit the mainland once or twice each year.
  • High Cost of Living. A quick trip to the supermarket will give you some sticker shock. You basically can’t walk out of there spending less than $50 in 2016.  I remember shopping at the supermarket years ago and being fascinated… EVERYTHING was over five-dollars. Everything. I had trouble finding something to buy that was under five-dollars. I had to actually look. Everything I wanted was over five-dollars. Add to that the cost of gas, renting apartments that are very small and with pay for parking issues all over Waikiki if that’s where you plan to stay, and it gets expensive. I think auto and healthy insurance is expensive too. I’d say you need to be making $50,000 per year in Hawaii to get yourself above the “poverty line” and still you must be prepared to be really frugal and live in a manner you may not be accustomed to. Could you live for less? Of course, but you better be ready to essentially do what it takes and scale way back on your lifestyle, which few are really prepared to do.
  • Parking. I mentioned parking above, but it deserves it’s own bullet-point. Parking on Oahu, Hawaii is a minor catastrophe. For instance… drive down to Waikiki to bodyboard at “The Wall”. There is a parking lot close to it – and it’s packed every weekend, and weekdays too unless you get there before about 9 am. There are parking meters. I think it was something like twelve and-a-half minutes for one quarter but of course this is always subject to change. There is a maximum of two or three hours you can stay before the meter runs out. If you happen not to remember the meter is running out as you’re bodyboarding, bodysurfing, surfing, sunning, or whatever you’re doing – you’ll get a $35 parking ticket the very INSTANT the meter expires because there are meter-maids and meter-dudes that are camped at that parking lot trying to earn their daily pay. Here’s a local’s view on parking. Vehicles are towed quickly in Hawaii if you’re in the wrong spot. Finding a good spot is not so easy. Parking is in a sick state in Waikiki, and generally not a joy elsewhere in the state.
  • Maui helicopter ride over the West Maui Mountains.Traffic. If you’re working far from where you live on Oahu, Hawaii then traffic is going to be an issue. A big issue for some. It never bothered me that much because how upset can I really get sitting in an air conditioned car listening to my favorite music, drinking amazing coffee and looking at all the people around me? Not that bothered at all. Hawaii traffic can really get some in a tizzy though. It’s atrocious during rush hours on Oahu. Maui used to be OK but no longer. There are some serious traffic jams depending on the time of day. On Kauai – same thing. If you’re on the wrong highway at the wrong time of day, you better have great music and great coffee because you’re going to need to enjoy that bumper to bumper feeling. Molokai and Lanai don’t have traffic problems. The Big Island is pretty free of traffic except for some nasty stretches on the Kona side.
  • Petty Thieves. On a couple occasions as I was far out on the waves bodyboarding I saw guys looking through my bag on the beach. I yelled – but who’s going to chase down a young kid on drugs for you? Not many. Not even me! Auto smash and grabs, purse snatches, wallet snatchers, bike thieves… they’re all there in Hawaii. It has to be expected as there is a huge gulf between the haves and have-nots. The have nots get theirs too, but before it’s theirs – it was yours. You will have some of your things taken. Be smart and try to limit your losses.
  • Limited Mainland-ish Things to Do. Yes, this is actually a complaint of many people that I know living in Hawaii who miss mainland-type things like concerts, museums, ballet, etc.  We do get a trickle of these kinds of shows but nothing in comparison to mainland cities. But Hawaii’s not about the mainland. It’s about this beautiful land, its people, and the Spirit of Aloha.  On Oahu there are quite a few things to do. We’re all about doing things that involve nature and the outdoors, not buildings and artificial structures. There are beaches everywhere – with all those cool things to do at the beach: Snorkeling, swimming, diving, surfing, bodyboarding, bodysurfing, looking for crabs, playing cards & backgammon, sleeping, etc.

Life in Hawaii Positives:

  • Perfect Weather. I’m not exaggerating at all. There are probably over three-hundred sunny days on Oahu each year. The other Hawaiian islands get more rain. Maui must, having lived there a year I think we got plenty more rain than Oahu does over the year. Kauai’s Mount Waialeale is called the “Wettest place on earth”. The weather in Hawaii is typically about 80 degrees and with a slight breeze called “trade winds” that blow from the northeast to the southwest every day. In fact, local Hawaiians often tell directions in relation to which side of the island gets the most wind. The northeast side of Oahu is also known as the “windward” side. The opposite or southwest is the leeward side.
  • Laid Back Lifestyle. Sure, everyone works. Well, most do. But, even though everyone is working there is this underlying attitude that life is not about work. The people enjoying life in Hawaii understand well that the secret to a happy life is about what you’re doing outside of work. Work-style is a little more laid back. There is less intensity about it. People get their work done – but, it’s not a pressure-cooker environment unless you’re working in sales and your living – your income depends on it. I had a friend that sold insurance over the phone in Hawaii and he did not enjoy his working conditions. I knew another couple that sold time-shares on Maui. They made a lot of money, but nobody could really stand them as they were far to motivated and concerned about making money off those they knew and were introduced to. Those living in Hawaii like it laid back and want to keep it that way. After all, that’s why they’re living in Hawaii in the first place. To be surrounded by a like-minded group of laid back people is really invigorating and gives one a great feeling.
  • Taro Burger. Life in Hawaii is no joke, there is some delicious food!Cultural Experience. There are a variety of cultures to be experienced while living in Hawaii. As I mentioned, the Japanese and Filipinos are the predominant groups and of course there is the Hawaiian culture which most groups have adopted. There’s a large variety of food to choose from. Imagine going through the McDonald’s drive through like I did most mornings and ordering rice with shoyu (soy sauce), scrambled eggs and Portuguese sausage! There are Korean food restaurants, Hawaiian restaurants, Japanese restaurants… every group has their own restaurants. Thai, Burgers, Filipino, Italian, it’s like the best foods from all over the planet assembled on Oahu. Quite a nice experience if you like a variety of food. The best is when you befriend some locals and they ask you to picnic with them at Ala Moana beach park on the weekend. You’ll get introduced to some amazing local-style foods like lumpia and Kalua pig!
  • SO MUCH to Do! This is my take on it. I had trouble figuring out each day what I wanted to do for fun after work. There was just SO MUCH to do that my head was always spinning. I’m an outdoors and adventuresome type. If you are too – you’ll probably never ask yourself what there is to do, you’ll just be doing it. There are amazing mountain hikes of all difficulties. There are scores of great beaches on each island. There are so many things to explore. There is more shopping than I could ever want. There are places out of the way that are amazing to explore… the tide pools at Dillingham Air Field on the North West shore is one such place that is just amazing and somewhere that most visitors never see. Pity. Whether or not you surf or bodyboard you can learn to bodysurf. Bodysurfing in Hawaii is excellent because there are some beaches that are bodysurf only! Bodysurfing is a lot of fun, and pretty safe.

So, after reading these positives and negatives about life in Hawaii – could you deal with living there full-time?

If you have any questions about living in Hawaii – feel free to leave a comment. I’ll try to answer. I don’t know everything about life in Hawaii obviously, but I’ll be happy to give it a shot.


Peter & Vern

More Hawaii Information:

Want to Change Your Life? Move to Hawaii!

Bodyboarding Oahu, Hawaii: Bellows Air Force Station

Hawaiian Life Philosophy (series): 7 principles of HUNA, Our 3 Selves, 4 Levels of Reality

Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii >

What’s a Moonbow? Hawaiian night-time rainbows.

Photo credits: Top, Apornpradab Buasi. Maui from helicopter, Flickr user, jurvetson. Taro burger, Flickr user, love-janine.

Learn more about Moving to, Living in, and Working in Hawaii:

Did You Ever Consider Moving to Hawaii to Live?

Check out the book!

About the author: Vern Lovic started this website in 2006 and has done an amazing job of content development. Peter Kay has lived in Hawaii since the mid ’80s and so loved Vern’s work he bought the website and is working hard to continue the quality and purpose that Vern started. Aloha!

123 comments… add one
  • Aloha…l have been living in Tenerife.Spain (small volcanic Canarian Island). I am a chef…would like to move to Oahu, would l have difficulty finding a position? Also what is the pay rate for a decent chef?? Thank you in advance for your time.

  • Chris

    Hi Vern!

    Thanks for this very useful article about Hawaii! (bad things haven’t scared me off yet… =P) I am an electronics engineer currently working in the UK and I am seriously thinking about moving to Oahu. As far as you know, do you think I will find it difficult finding a job related to my degree before moving? Also, do you think that needing a visa will be a problem for the employers?

    I have already checked the craiglist and I am quite hopeful!


    • Enaj

      I’m sure you can find job in here,

  • Jenny

    Just curious, is it difficult to find work in Hawaii? Any employment from McDonald’s to office work…

  • Hawaii is the best place to spend your vacation, not for living.

  • Billy Ray

    I’m thinking about moving my family to Hawaii. Are the building codes easy enough to deal with for a do it yourself er?

  • shiloh

    I would move there right now if I could sounds amazing

  • Zenia

    Hi Vern,

    So cool to reach out to you! My fiancee is being transferred out to Honolulu for work. I am currently a school counselor in California and plan to move out there in mid June (since we also need to plan ahead and get our dog Hawaii ready)
    I have a Masters in Social Work and school counseling credential. I don’t want to hold my breath in hopes of getting employed at a school.
    I’m just wondering if I’m better off seeking employment at non-profits, Hospice/Hospitals or County jobs.

    Thanks :)

    • I think everywhere possible – just start hitting the streets and have a couple of resumes made up to highlight what you do! Best of luck! Aloha!

  • tequlia

    Hi I’m from Chicago and I filled out for section 8 there in Maui and I got pick in there lottery I don’t know anything about Hawaii but I really want to leave Chicago I have 5 kids also do you think Its a good idea for me or would it be hard for me to catch on to things me and my family can you give me an idea please thank you I really want to know would it be hard for me and my kids before I try and leave

  • Jenn

    Hi Vern! My first trip to Honolulu was unreal, and like you said, I’m obsessed with going back. I was curious, I’m going to school for Radiology and Ultrasound technology. Do you know how difficult/easy it would be to get a job in the medical field in Oahu? And also, what salary do you think allows for comfortable and fun living? :)

    • Wish I could tell you! Your best bet is to start scanning job openings at Craigslist and online newspapers for Hawaii.

      What salary allows a ‘single?’ a comfortable and fun living? Hmm. For me, I’d need around $80,000 per year I think. Minimum. I mean, I’d have other stuff online too – but, as a minimum, even if I didn’t have any other online income, I’d be ok with $80K. That would mean fairly easy to go to other islands for weekends sometimes, easy to eat out all the time – like I love. Easy to fly back to East Coast USA to see family.

      I’d have a decent place to stay – maybe $2,000/mth rent. I’d have a mildly decent car – Acura something. I’d try like heck to find a job I could work hard 4 days and have 3 off!

      Good luck! Aloha!

  • Neil yagley

    Hi! Thanks for the info. It’s very valuable. I was wondering if you know anything about the school system? I have 2 younger children. One in middle school and one in grade school and I have heard that public school kids can make it hard for mainland kids. Do you know if this is true? Should we be worried? Thanks for your time:)

  • Fern

    Hello. I’m obsessed with Japan but most of my family lives in America. I lived in Yokohama once, but it was impossible for me to get to my family, and impossible for my family to get to me due to health reasons. I also really don’t like airplanes because it’s hard to breathe in them when you’re that high up, but view them as a necessary evil. I’m willing to take an airplane if that’s the only reasonable way I can get somewhere (I’d rather drive across America, which I’ve done twice now).

    I was thinking that living in Hawaii would be a good halfway point between my passion and my family. Japan to California is really rough. Japan to Hawaii? Hawaii to California? Vice versa? Ships? I know you mentioned Island Fever, but I don’t mind it as long as I can get to where I need to be when I really need to. Such as in cases of family emergencies.

  • Hey, I am contemplating moving to the big island in the next couple years. I am a real estate agent and my husband is in car sales. My son is 2 but we would move there when he got to be about 5. Can you tell me how real estate/car sales is there? Thanks so much.


  • drake banks

    What are the job options like there?

  • James

    Hi I’m a canadian chef currently living in the United Kingdom and am looking to change scenery. My options are Australia and Hawaii and I’m just trying to figure out which place to live for a while is more suitable for me at the moment. Do you have any idea what life is like as a chef in Hawaii? Hours? Pay? Days off? Anything really. I’m just trying to know everything I can before making a good decision. Thanks for your time!

  • sanya

    My query is extrememly unrealistic!! but i really want to move to hawaii as soon as possible as i definitely think its the kind of life i want to live.im a 22 year old single from india presently in college studying textile design.i would really appreciate it if you could tell me about the legal procedure of living there and if you think it could possibly work out.
    Thanks a lot!

  • Tanya

    Hi Vern,

    I am considering a job as a financial analyst with a consulting firm on Kauai, specifically in Kekaha. I am a single, white, 27 year old female. I would be moving their alone with my dog. My first concern would be meeting people my age to hang out with. It sounds like there is about zero nightlife there and I am not sure how I would meet other people. I am a very social person and “outdoorsy” (certified diver, hiking, rafting, definitely want to learn how to surf), but I can only do those types of things by myself for so long. Also, what about meeting single men? I am moving from the suburbs of Washington, DC so I am used to being a busy body and being around people, but I am definitely intersted in the hawaii lifestyle.

    Appreciate your input!

  • Tenisha

    Hello, I recently joined the AF RESERVES, and working FULL TIME as a claim rep an insurance company. My b/f is in South Korea and will be stationed in Hawaii next year, I also put in a transfer which I’ll be working in Mililani and serve at HICKAM. What advice do you have to prepare in moving to OAHU ( esp from two diff destinations), and would you recommend buying a foreclosed home on the island? ( No more than 250,000)

  • Jordan

    Hi i love the article i plan on applying to college in hawaii and am wondering if you could give some insight into college life there

  • Moni P.

    I’m contemplating a job transfer from TX to Hawaii, and I want to know, how bad are the bugs, specifically roaches. I moved to Texas recently, but I’m from Indiana, where the winters kill the bugs. Other sites mention how bad bugs are, and I’m a little concerned: I’m a girly girl, when it comes to bugs, I get freaked out at a spider. I run away, but return to kill it (since I’m single).

    Oh, thats another thing! I’m single. Whats the male/female ratio and what is there to do for singles? PS, Im black, (African American for the Politically Correct snobs) so what are my chances??

    • Hi Moni,

      The roaches are bad if you – 1. keep a dirty house. 2. leave some openings for them to get in.

      Make sure you seal up everything where bugs could get in, and you’ll be fine.

      Social scene for a single lady? There are a lot of single military guys on Oahu – Marines, Air Force, Army, Navy… the whole realm.

      Let me know if you make the move, I’m interested in hearing about your experience.



  • Karen

    My husband is considering a job in Ewa Beach. We have 3 boy ages 17,13 and12. Our 12 tear old has a form of muscular dystrophy and has trouble getting around and often uses a wheelchair can you tell us about accessabily there? Although he would be just as happy floating along in the ocean:)

    • Stan Redmond

      Sadly Hawaii is not very wheel chair friendly. Ewa Beach is pretty run down and most houses are on stairs. Any beach is goin gto be just that, a beach with sand. The larger shopping centers may be OK but it’s not as wheelchair friendly as mainland.

  • Megan

    I was born and raised in Scotland and last October I started surfing lessons but it closes from the end of October until March/April because the waters are to cold.
    Do you think that once I’m older and better at surfing I should visit Hawaii and try it there? I also want to move to Hawaii.

  • Brooke

    Vern, I am also looking at areas to live. My husband will be at the PH base and we are looking for a good/safe area for kids to rent a single family house. 3.5-4k monthly. Any ideas?

  • Brooke

    Hi Vern,

    In a comment above you mentioned concerns about raising your daughter on Oahu. Our family is moving to Oahu this spring and I have a 1st grade son. He is very bright and seems bored with our A rated school here in VA. During “down time” he often gets into mischief. I’m trying to get him started on the right foot in Oahu. We will be arriving at the end of the school year and I will only have a short time before the summer break to familiarize him with his new school. Any suggestions? Public, Private, Montessori?

    • Stan Redmond

      Schools are natoriously terrible on Oahu. Being a haole (white) he will have a rough time until he establishes himself. Private schools are the only way to go. I wouldn’t have my child attend a public school there, especially Honolulu.

  • Anas

    Aloha Vern,

    Very insightful pros and cons, im an outdoors person myself with a thrive for nature, so im hoping to make the best of it.

    To whatever extent you can elaborate; i would sincerely appreciate your insight to my quest:
    im applying to study a Bio degree at UH, major is offered both at Manoa as well as Hilo, i will be on a student loan (my wife will be accompanying me), would the living cost be cheaper at Hilo? would the difference, if any, be significant and worth applying to Hilo?

    Reason is the high rent rate i found on craigslist for places within walking/biking distance to UH at Manoa on O’Ahu island.

    Again, very much appreciate tour help and hope you continue onwards with your positive attitude towards life!

    Anas from SoCal.

  • Dayton

    Hi Vern, my wife and I are nearing retirement within 5 to 10 years. Now we own a farm here in Canada and are kept quite busy. We plan to spend 2 weeks in Maui with our 2 adult sons and 2 weeks ourselves in Kauai during Feb. and March 2013. We are also looking at real estate on either island for our future plan. However we are worried the lifestyle may not be as fulfilling after the honeymoon is over. Can a person do nothing on a tropical island for 3 to 4 months without picking up any bad habits or part time work? Do the locals look down on foreigners who are entrepreneurs with ambition? For Canadian’s who live on the prairies during the winter months we would understate the climate is the big positive but we do need more to fill our days.

  • Katie

    I am planning on moving next August at the end most likely.. I was planning on going to school but out of state is insane so I was wondering if you think it would be smarter to find a roommate and work until I can become a resident and then go to school?
    I would just like other peoples opinions.

    • Hi Katie,

      If you think you can: 1. find a job good enough to keep you there for however many years it will require to get in-state tuition and 2. Find a decent roommate that won’t take advantage of you, and pulls their own weight… then yeah, why not?

      Go and see what happens. Have a fall back plan.

      See my videos here – first of four – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acQyFTU1JPc

      Buy the Moving to Hawaii book at the top right corner of this page to have a better idea what it is all about.



  • Sofia

    Btw; I really enjoyed your To-The-Point writing style! Thank you for a great read!!

  • Sofia

    Good morning Vern!
    I am doing research on re-locating my family of 4! Including 2 kids. So what concerns would a parent have of moving there 2 white kids to Hawaii? If you have anything to add, I would greatly appreciate it!! (healthcare? Vaccines? Safety? Hospitals & doctors? Etc)

    • All kinds of concerns Sofia! Please read the book, it won’t break your bank, and it will answer a LOT of questions. I think it must be extremely stressful for kids to move to Hawaii. Sure it’s lovely, but if they’re in public schools – I think a very hard transition. I think best to find a forum online where parents are speaking about the transition of moving to Hawaii with kids. Must be some great stories somewhere about that! Maybe I’ll look for some myself here on google…

  • Kiki

    I’m trying to decide between Tampa, Fl and Hawaii. What do you think?

  • Anastasia

    Read the positives and negatives…I’m still keen to move to Hawaii in the future. I do have years of experience within the hospitality industry and a Travel and Tourism (Operations Management) Diploma.
    With this diploma and experience will they be enough for a permanent visa (Green card)?!

    After visiting Maui a few weeks ago, I WAS SPELLBOUND. I fell in love. And I know in my heart that one day I will move to Hawaii. I even fell in love with the series Hawaii five o! (New series not the 1960’s version!)



  • trinh le

    Hi vern
    we r planning moving to the island but our main concern is allergy and school for the kid they are 4 and 6 y . we love the beach , is the beach clean in big island . please give us advice
    thanks in advance


    • Hi Le,

      Allergies are something I didn’t mention in my book I think – thanks for the heads-up! In my own case, my allergies were completely unaffected by moving to Hawaii. I mean, not negatively effected. In fact, they disapppeared. I have slight asthma, that bothered me a lot in New York City, a little in Miami, not at all in Tampa, and not not at all in Hawaii. I think a visit is in order. Keep in mind the weather is basically the same all the time, but when plants pollinate might still be on some sort of regular yearly schedule – I’m not a biologist or doctor.

      Did you read the book yet? See the free videos I did at Youtube?



  • The best part about living in the islands is the people. Wonderful aloha spirit can not be found anywhere else in the world.

  • Bonny

    Hi :) I went to all major cities, I lived in LA, Miami, NY, Arizona, New Mexico… city that most matched my personality was LA, but it’s too crowded..so..I was thinking about place to call home..and I just understood that I want try Hawaii now.. :) But I honestly don’t know anything about it.. hope u can help :) I am a musician, I sing, play piano ang gitar. Very laid back, positive and just feel like having a nice small house where I can sing and play and find friends musicians… how do u think what part of hawaii should I choose?

  • Marie

    Thank you for an honest & well informed post! Brilliant. Email me! I would love to ask you more, you know what your talking about!!

  • Miranda

    Me and my husband are looking to move from Georgia to Maui in the next year. My husband is applying for a position with the Maui Co Police Dept and with any luck we will be making the move soon. I have a BS/BMand have been in the corporate world for quite a few years and am hoping to make a career move to teaching with this move. I know that the job market is tight but we will have about 30,000-40,000 available to us to help during the transition and for the move itself and of course I have no porblem working in a restaurant to help make ends meet while I look for a position. We are a younger couple and have a 20 month old son who will probably be just over 2 when we move. How do you feel about Maui for raising a child? Would Oahu be a better island for a younger couple with a small child? Our goal is to live a simpler life that is much less hectic.

    • Hi Miranda,

      Funny your husband found you… a woman with the name Miranda… Miranda rights – you know? Funny to me anyway. Seems like you have enough for the initial move. I do hope your husband is able to get a position with the Maui police, I wouldn’t think they’d prefer to hire off-island people but what do I know? Personally I would like to live on Maui much more than Oahu. I don’t like the extreme number of people on Oahu. I don’t dig the tourists so much. I don’t like the atmosphere all that much. Sure it’s better than mainland USA, but, when comparing island to island in Hawaii – there are differences that are noticeable. Best chance to find jobs – is Oahu. Best place to relax – Maui. I would have no problem raising our daughter on Maui, and rather big problems raising her on Oahu. I think Maui is probably the better choice. Just my own opinion.

      Did you get the book yet? “Moving to Hawaii 2012”?


      Vern L.

      • Aloha

        I think Maui is like southern california and has way more mainland transplants than oahu. Oahu has a lot of people but it also has way more things to do and also has the North Shore of oahu, with the best waves in the world. Most of my friends who live on maui are from the mainland and I enjoy the island sometimes, but it reminds me of a mainland vibe.

        • I think that’s a good assessment of Maui – a general look at the island and vibe. There are different parts of the island that give off different vibes, like on Oahu as well. It’s more of an older crowd and with more money per capita (my guess) – especially on the west side – Lahaina and further west. It’s a relaxed, got my stuff together kind of crowd. I enjoyed it for the most part. I also liked the Paia crowd and any beach crowd. All great experiences…

  • Lynn

    Hi Vernon,
    I plan on buying your book from Amazon! Question. I’m 55 Divorced have a dog and love the outdoors, including surfing (small waves..no North Shore action). I’m a hairstylist by trade. I’m thinking of living and working in a laid-back suburban neighborhood close to beach where I can run my dog and catch a few waves without having to travel far.Any suggestions? Also is it more expensive to live in Maui vs Honolulu?

    • Hi Lynn,

      I think it’s more expensive in Maui. It was for me. I just think so because you definitely need a vehicle in Maui. I mean, it feels like you should have one. Things are a bit spread out and the public transportation isn’t the best. On Oahu – in Waikiki – you can walk to everything. There is more affordable housing on Oahu if you look. As far as having a beach not too far that you can surf and run your dog – I’m not sure where that would be, except in some of the local areas. Everything else is pretty expensive. I guess I’m pre-qualifying you based on what I might guess your income would be as a hairstylist. I’m not too sure what that might be if you’re working for someone else. Not sure that’s what you’re planning either. I do hope you have savings though, because getting started in Hawaii can take some cash before you feel acclimated and know where to find things for less than the outrageous prices visitors pay when they first arrive.

      Enjoy the book! If you like it – can you review it at Amazon? The reviews help a lot. I do wish you luck!



  • Kunu

    Aloha all:

    Vern, you should make a correction under you “Cultural Experience” section. Lumpia isn’t local, it’s Filipino. You can find it anywhere along the mainland West Coast too. Also, it’s not “kailua pig”, it’s “kalua pig”. Kalua pig is definitely local in the sense that it’s a native Hawaiian dish.

    I’d like to note, that people should be very aware there is extreme ignorance out here. Many locals take assumptions and rumor to be fact and have very true knowledge of the mainland let alone the world. Many locals are aware of this ignorance gap as well too, so it’s not one sided, but not much is done to correct it. So just be aware that if you move here, there is an amazing level of general ignorance you may not be accustomed to. I think this is extremely important to note because it creates for somewhat of a culture shock. Just understand this, and you’ll be fine. And know this before you move here so it’s not a surprise.

    Hope this helps

    • Hi Kunu,

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know about the corrections. I’ve never written the phrase, Kalua pig, so I didn’t know how else to spell it than “Kailua”! haha. As for Lumpia, I guess I call Filipinos living in Hawaii “locals” too since they have been there for generations. If they were born there – I call them locals. Hawaiians might have a different spin on it. Are Japanese that were born in the islands – locals? I think so. If I’m talking about Hawaiians in particular on the site, I think I’ve said “local Hawaiians”. Can’t quite remember for sure. Not sure I should be making a distinction at all. Would like to hear your thoughts on it. Are you Hawaiian?

      That was an excellent point about many locals not having a large world-view. They know the islands and what goes on outside, can be different. Quite different. That contributes to the visitor/local clash of mentalities I guess. Different worlds meeting.

      Thanks a lot for bringing that up!



  • Patricia

    Hi! I realloy apreciate you take the time to answer all our questions, and off course for sharing your experiences in Hawaii. I do have a question for you. My husband found a good job in Oahu, we had visit before, but I know is a different experience to go as a visitor and to actually live there, so I was wondering if you could recommend any good neighboorhood for a growin family? Thank you!

  • Corissa

    Hey Vern,

    I’m curious as to where you think it would be safe for a single woman to live. More petty crime, less assault and rape and serious crime. Also I have two dogs. Is any island more dig friendly than the next. I’m more interested in swimming and being outdoors than malls or “nightlife” although I do like so see some music occasionally. I am a waitress by trade and have no problem living frugally if it means I live on or near the beach. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • Hi Corissa,

      Hmm… I guess you mean on Oahu? It is pretty safe almost anywhere you are in Hawaii. As a non-local you might not move to Waianae or Nanakuli, Makaha… but, virtually anywhere else is rather safe. Nighttime can be more dangerous than other times. Since I’m never out past midnight – I don’t really notice much. Maui strikes me as especially safe – and that’s where we’d consider moving back to and living – if we were to make that choice. Best of luck to you! Did you get the book yet? (Moving to Hawaii 2012 – Is Living in Paradise for YOU?)

  • AmandaMWalker

    Decided I think I would like to give Hawaii a shot. I live in NC now, from Cali and I miss the beach and perfect weather so much!! I am a hairstylist here and am hoping I can find a broken in salon somewhere on Maui. :)
    Any ideas or advice, let me know.

  • hukki

    im hawaiian

  • Akuandi

    Maybe, probably, I’ll have the opportunity to move to hawaii big island soon. But I don’t know Hawaii, I live in Europe. Will I find some other diference apart from the normal ones. I mean, I am not from USA, so maybe I discover some other diferences that I didn’t expect?

    Is this island cheaper than the rest? I have readed that it is less populated and less turistical, maybe that helps?

    Thanks in advance!

    • hukki

      Manoa valley is where most students live. There are lots of shared rooms available. You’re own flat – would be outrageously expensive for a student, but if you can afford it – nothing beats your own place. You can take a board on a bike, there are special racks for it. Works best for a beach cruiser type bike. From Manoa it’s a long walk to the beach, bike is best. Good luck to you – I also went to UHM for some undergrad study in the 1985-1987 timeframe. Aloha, Hukki

  • Echo

    My husband of 20+ years (and my 5 kids!) are Polynesian, and I’ve always wanted to experience living in Hawaii. I have a chance for a teaching job at a college there in 2014. However, the bugs might keep me away. I’ve read about the centipedes, the roaches and the cane spiders and am not sure I can deal with that on a regular basis. I’m in AZ now, and had to move from a house because we had 15 scorpions in one year. I couldn’t sleep at night. Same thing happened in another house we lived in that had a lot of big roaches. (We have roaches here in AZ from March to October–but mostly outside.) I don’t know if the benefits outweigh the sleep loss I will most certainly experience. Paradise, but for the bugs!!

  • Sienna

    Hi Vern,
    Thanks for all this great info. I will be starting a graduate program at UHM (as an international student) in September and was wondering where to stay. I may have to stay in university housing, but I may be able to find my own flat. I’m not keen on buying a car, I would rather cycle everywhere, and I would really like to be within walking distance of a decent surf beach (I can’t take a board on a bicycle :) do you have any recommendations regarding which areas would be good?

    • The Manoa valley is where most students live. There are lots of shared rooms available. You’re own flat – would be outrageously expensive for a student, but if you can afford it – nothing beats your own place. You can take a board on a bike, there are special racks for it. Works best for a beach cruiser type bike. From Manoa it’s a long walk to the beach, bike is best. Good luck to you – I also went to UHM for some undergrad study in the 1985-1987 timeframe. Aloha, Vern

  • John

    Hello Vern. Thank you for the information you had provided here, much appreciated. I am single and make a pretty good living. I have a work from home job. I’ve already cleared the idea of relocating to Hawaii with my boss and she is pretty much all for it.

    What would you recommend as a next step?



    • Hi John,

      Sounds like a dream come true in the making. If you haven’t read the book – Moving to Hawaii 2012- Is Paradise Right for You? Then order that from Amazon or here at this site (you can choose formats from the order page here).

      If you want more information before buying the $5 book, there is a series of YouTube videos I did where I cover the chapters of the book here -> Moving to Hawaii Videos.

      You’ll need to figure out where on the islands you want to live next. Since your job is mobile you can start with anywhere. Probably best with starting on Oahu, living near downtown or Waikiki and then moving as you find a place you think fits you better.

      Best of luck to you – can you let me know as you arrive and get things going? Would love to hear a status report later…



  • Melvin


    Thanks for posting this, it provided some more insight in to my desire to move to Hawaii some day. My wife and I make a trip out to Hawaii once a year. Last year was our first trip to Maui. We enjoyed it in the sense that it is far more relaxed than Waikiki, but it was also windier and I felt that in Maui you have to have a car to get around whereas in Waikiki you can walk. Before our trip to Maui, we were dead set on moving to Waikiki, but now we are thinking about Maui as well.

    Having lived on both islands, you have a good insight. What would you say utility costs average out to be on either island (don’t have to give an exact number, an average works)? And did you find it difficult finding certain necessity items in Maui as opposed to Waikiki?

    Also, outside of Waikiki, is there any Maui like areas that are just as quiet and laid back, but not too far from the city?

    And on a scale of 1-10 have would you rate safety of living on either island? Have you encountered any serious issues? Safety is paramount to us.

    Thanks buddy. Hope to be a fellow resident of Hawaii in the near future


    • Hi Melvin,

      I think you’re right – in Maui, a car or motorbike is a necessity. Some do without one, living in Wailuku, but, I couldn’t get along without one.

      My utility bills were roughly the same, but I had dramatically different living conditions on the two islands. I don’t know how they would compare apples to apples.

      Outside Waikiki – as in – walking distance?

      You could head over toward Diamond Head – follow the road and there are a couple public access points to the beach. They’ll probably be deserted beaches. You could climb up the hill a bit and there is the view looking over all the surfers below. If you keep going, it gets less crowded…

      Safety? Never had or saw any problem last time I stayed. Keep in mind, I’m not out hitting the clubs and driving around after 10 pm either. I think I avoid most of the negative things that might happen on the islands, because most happen after dark. Even so, you’re fairly safe wherever you are – the islands are not a place where random violence happens much. Purses are snatched. Cars are broken into and stolen. Things like that – theft is big. After hours – maybe violence in the clubs happens occasionally.

      You and your wife, unless you’re into the nightlife pretty heavy – probably won’t even see any sort of violence on either island.

      Ok then – best of luck to you!



  • Sally

    Dear Vern: My hubby and I will be making our first trip to Hawaii in the spring of 2012. We have 10 days to vacation and would like to know, what island(s)would you suggest that during this first trip we visit?

    As a young child, my dream has always been to move to Aloha, but I know the realities, however; always the optomist, this may also be a true “begin to get accquainted” trip. Would love to hear your suggestions…..I love the ocean (of course) and any water activity…..Thank you so much.

    • Hi Sally,

      Wow – a great trip is in the making! Congratulations for pulling it together and deciding to visit Hawaii. Make the most of it!

      Though I don’t know anything about what you enjoy, you should probably see these three islands:

      Big Island

      In that order of priority. You are not likely to move to Kauai, Molokai, Lanai – if you ever decide to move to Hawaii.

      Oahu has the people. Maui has the natural beauty and rugged nature of Hawaii. Big Island has a couple cities to look at and decide if you could live there – cheap and maybe what you’d consider moving to.

      Good luck and have a blast! If you think of it – write me back and let me know what you thought of Hawaii!



  • marak

    hamai is good for having trip. aloha

  • Awesome post hitting both sides of living in Hawaii. I myself am moving to a tourist location (Las Vegas) & got to thinking what would it be like to live in Hawaii (that’s how I found this post) -Daniel

  • Sarah K


    Hi, I am a 31 year old female with a BA in Communications. I have lots of restaurant experience as a server and also retail management experience. I am planning on moving to Oahu, Waikiki Beach area and was just going to waitress at the Hard Rock Cafe for starters. I’m already hired. How do u think this work out? Should I be okay? I have 9000 saved and don’t really want to spend it all. I’ve lived in worked in both Miami and NYC. Is Hawaii really that expensive for simple things like food? I am used to living frugally. How is the social scene? Should it be easy to make new friends?

  • Francis

    My name is Francis and I am from New York City. I am 21 years old and I currently live in Stockholm, Sweden. I have been here for about 6 months.
    If things don’t workout for me here in Sweden, I am seriously considering moving to Hawaii or the Caribbean. (not sure which island though)
    I am a Personal Trainer here but I am not sure if there is a high demand for personal training in Hawaii.
    I have never been to Hawaii, then again I have never been to Sweden before I moved here either. I honestly have no idea what to do with my life. I am lost and confused.
    Do you think I can still do Personal Training there? Is Hawaii the right place for me?

    I hope to hear back from you..

    Warm Regards,


  • Debbie

    Your thoughts on a single woman living on Oahu.
    Can’t afford to sell condo in Kapolei due to divorce, so I will take possession. Alimony will pay mortgage for at least 2 years and I am a nurse so I think I could find per diem work. How receptive are Hawaiians to white “mainlanders” taking there jobs?

    • I don’t think there is ANY jobplace discrimation. There can’t be. It’s illegal. Lawsuits would be forthcoming fast and often. You can be sure there is no issue there. If you are relying on alimony for anything – I mean anything, I wouldn’t do that. You never know what can change in 2 years. Sure he’s all willing now – but, anything can happen. Rent out your condo in Kapolei. We also had a condo there – and it wasn’t very difficult to find renters for that area. It’s a nice little community. Or, rent out a room – and you can stay there too. On a nurses salary you can make it, assuming you can find a job. Jobs are tight everywhere, maybe a quick visit to see what the real situation is – and if you can’t find a job quickly, return and rent out your place in Kapolei?

      Good luck to you – whatever you decide!

  • George


    I am contemplating a serious move to Hawaii. I own a very wealthy home that I can’t afford, and am thinking of selling it, then buying several units over the islands. Maybe a home on the big island, and some apartments or condos on the other islands. I’m eyeing a couple of homes on the laval plains on the big island, but want to know about the local flora and fauna.

    My one issue is centipedes. I’ve squared off with grizzlies, wolves, and herds of giant caribou and elk, and even accidentally sat on a rattler when I was growing up. But creepy crawly things give me the creeps. What’s the situation with centipedes? Are they a big problem on Hawaii?

    • HI George,

      I think if you sit on the ground a lot… or on the floor of your home… you might have an issue. I was bitten once by a 3 inch centipede in Maui – and it hurt, but literally nothing like a jellyfish (box) or a stingray that flipped open my foot in Florida. Both of which were 10-20 times more powerful than the centipede bite.

      Other people say the centipedes in Hawaii swell up their entire foot or leg.

      It’s like – would you move to Florida? They have bees. You’ll likely get bitten once in 10 years or so… but, it won’t kill you and you’ll have a story to tell. lol.

      Good luck on your move!

  • ivy qiu

    Dear Vern,

    Thank you for sharing.

    I will be moving to Hawaii in September for a full-time position and I am currently looking for an apartment during my employment–Honolulu. Any recommended places?

    Thank you in advance for the help!

    • 400 Hobron Lane is a cool place. Nice pool and party pad on the roof. Highly recommended. Good luck with your job and move…

  • Cerveza

    How about technology jobs?
    I’m in the tech field living in MI right now and my wife and I want to move out of state.

    Tired of the crappy weather in the winter. Will not miss being snowed in or sliding all over the deathtrap highway that has no salt on it.

    • Ben

      Hey Cerveza! I live in MI too and considering a move out to MI. I found some IT jobs on Craigslist. Good luck in your research.

  • Tonia

    How is the employment for electrical trade there? Healthcare?

  • Kathy

    Do you know anything about the construction trade in Hawaii? My husband does residential construction, mostly masonry. Would there be work if he were self-employed there? Hawaiian houses -are their basements? Poured concrete patios etc? Do people have garages and polebarns? These seem like things that might be more for colder, NY type, climates.

    • No idea on this. Basements – no – not usually.

  • Kathy

    My son is moving to Hawaii, Ohau, this August. He plans to stay there for at least three years. He’ll be a college student living in Honolulu close to Waikiki. Will he be safe?

    • Probably! That’s a tough call… it’s an amazing place – VERY safe in my own view… but, still people go and get killed when they do stupid things. Does your son do a lot of stupid things… like drugs? Like fighting? I think it depends on the kid. You don’t want to send a clueless kid to Hawaii, and you don’t want to send a very streetwise kid either. LOL. Hope that helps. Hope it’s accurate… lol.

  • Shawn

    Thank you so much for these posts. My wife & I are trying to finalize plans for a move to Hawaii, most likely Honolulu. We started this journey about two years ago after we found out my wife suffers from what’s called barometric pressure headaches. This means she needs to live where the pressure or the temp doesn’t go up or down to quickly, dr said either California or Hawaii. After reading the crime rate in Cali we booked a trip to Hawaii. We were there for 11 days & for the first time in over 15 years she was headache free the entire time. We decided to persue the plan to move. Our home is up for sale & we sold pretty much everything we owned at an auction about a year ago. I believe we are getting close to time to move but it will happen when it is meant to be. Until then we have booked another trip to Honolulu as we both have 20+ years in retail mgt so that will probably be our island. We do alot of research for the move so again thank you for these posts the help a great deal, I believe the more informed we are when the time comes the easier the move will be, aloha.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, this is a very helful article! I am almost 18 and I am thinking of going to community college in Oahu until I transfer to University of Hawaii Manoa. I’ll be moving alone from the mainland, so I’d have to work part time while I go to school. Do you think that these plans are a little unrealistic becuase of the high prices and the limited amount of jobs on the island? I have always dreamed of living in Hawaii, even though I know it will be a challenge. Thanks so much!

    • To me – I think it’s bold, daring, adventurous, and you should try it – only if you have a good fall back plan. I say go for it – but, definitely know what you’ll do if you can’t afford to stay. Definitely bring a couple thousand dollars more than you think you’ll need since you’re young and likely not able to budget $ well. Who can at that age! lol… if this doesn’t apply to you – great.

      Good luck!


  • chenoa

    wow!this website is soo helpful… I am 32 years old– an estetician and mama.. i have two children- almost two and almost four! Recently my partner- who is in sales and computer tech stuff- our children, and I went to Kauai.. I had been there previously eight years ago– and fell deeply in love with being there..

    we came back with the dream of moving there and spending the next 4 years there before landing in the North San Diego area for educational and future opportunities… We want to garden and live the beach life. the slow life. soaking up all that we can while the kids are young and life takes hold of us….

    It is true– planning to move when it is by yourself is so different than moving a whole family. I want everyone to profit from the decision and make the best choice for everyone.. any thoughts? todays economy is so unstable it is hard to think about realities.. we wont be able to pay really expensive rent, want a yard, and dont want to slum it…frugal is fine- but we are health conscious people that need a certain quality of life maintained simultaneously.. open to all thoughts :)

  • Emily

    Hi I am 12 years old and my dad say’s we might move to hawaii, my mom and my sisters think it will be cool but I don’t.Can you tell me what life would be like in Hawaii from a 12 year old’s perspective^_^

    • Hi Emily,

      I think I wrote you email on this – not sure. From a 12 year old’s perspective? How in the world do you know the word perspective???

      I don’t think it will be so cool for you, honestly. But, you gotta go with what your parents say – right? Such is life – so make the best of it. There are amazing things to do and see in Hawaii – so go see and do them!

      Try to find some friends that are sweet and nice – and aren’t into the bad boys and bad things to do because there are FAR too many of them in Hawaii.

      Find good friends – that’s my best advice. Find the coolest people – and that doesn’t mean the people that everyone wants to know and hang out with. That means the nicest people. The nicest girls. The most down-to-earth girls. The friends that you can count on – not those that will get you in trouble. Find friends that you can hang out with on the weekends and that can come to your home to do the same. Find friends that like simple things.

      That’s my best advice Emily. Good luck to you and your family!

  • amir

    ALOHA… i’m from latin america, 21 years old… i’m going with my friend to find a job in maui. We are both legal and we are looking for restaurants,shops, hotel, kind of jobs.. What can you tell me about the situation right now.. The latins are welcome?? the arabs are welcome?? whats the perception on that people…. help me please!

  • Bruce

    Hey Vern:
    I’ve been in the automotive refinishing business for 15 years, I am considering moving my family “wife, two daughters” to Hawaii as I have seen a large number of autobody repair jobs there “not to mention living in paradise”, I think I should be able to make $50,000.00 a year pretty easily if not more as I also have boat repair experience, my question is….do you think we could make it with my experience level…..without having to live like we are homeless? We got no problem living frugal.

    • Good question Bruce. I’ve no idea, I’m sorry to say! A lot will depend on how much you do to go find work. There must be boats that need work. Working for yourself will earn you more than working for someone over the long-term. I’ve no experience in this area so I can’t guess whether you’ll be ok. Those two skills – autobody repair and boat repair are needed and valuable skills anywhere on any island I would think. Maybe in demand in Hawaii too?

  • Angelica

    Thanks Vern for this very detailed summary and thanks Trisha for the useful comment. I’m planning to move to the US from Europe but while most of the Europeans move to California, Florida or Texas I want to go to Hawaii. These kind of blogs help a lot and i feel like Hawaii is the place I am looking for.

    Is it possible to live there without a car or is this something I have to buy first when I get there?

    • Hi Angelica,

      Which country are you coming from?

      The car? Good question. I’d try to live in Waikiki and work in Waikiki so you need not have a car. That’s just me though. I’d bike. The roads are a bit scary for biking, but I biked NYC commuting from Queens into town. Oahu isn’t THAT bad. There are buses. You can walk.

      Good luck to you!


  • trisha

    HI! I hope this helps. I live in Maui-lahaina have since 1986 when I was 10 years old (now 34) brought w/my parents! I moved from Victoria, BC. I am now happily married to my hubby who is hawaiian/chinese. We have 4 growing boys. I worked in the tourism industry for 15 years & left in 2007. My hubby is a union construction foreman making $55 an hour and we barely & i mean barely made it. He has been out of work for over a year. Unemployment both he and I (w/extentions) have gotten us to here. However,,,this is one of the most expensive places to be unless you slum it & even then. To raise a family? It’s tough. We have safeway, foodland and times to shop at for groceries and regular local shopping (not tourist stores) are a joke. Kmart, walmart, costco are all in kahului which w/the price of gas is a trip now a days (almost $4 a gallon) and it’s like 30-50% more than the mainland (that’s what we call the 48 states). It sucks. Nobody online will ship to you w/o huge shipping fees (besides a few-HSN, amazon-on some items only). Everything has to be shipped here, hence the high cost. Growing up here I certainly was the minority but I didn’t mind. I do LOVE the diversity in culture. My husband is gorgeous and so are my kids but if you are not a huge beach/heat person there is NOTHING to do. no roller rinks, ice skating, theme parks, fairs etc. There are 2 parks in lahaina to take my kids. 2 parks for 50k people and they have like a swing each?! Lucky my boys play little league. And the weather, oh yes it’s gorgeous but after 20 years of never seeing more than 1 day of rain? Lahaina anyway certainly doesn’t get more than a few a year. Seriously….it can rain in morning and gone in an hour. There is no change in seasons. Schools are okay. Not much choice. 1 highschool in lahaina, same w/jr high. The “fun” tourist activities cost a LOT so it’s not like you can do them for a family of 6. So i guess bottom line is if you are single, can really work anywhere (restaurant, hotel etc) and share a place w/some friends and LOVE LOVE LOVE the ocean than it’s for you. Bringing a family here-dont’ know if I’d recommend that unless one of you is a doctor or lawyer type. There are not a lot of rescources. Even experienced workers now though aren’t finding jobs. I was the general manager for a travel agency/property management company for 15 years and I can’t get a job at walgreens or a hotel or a car rental company. My husband has 25+ years in construction/home remodel and can’t get work. If we both got desk jobs we wouldn’t pay the rent. Buying here? ha ha. good luck w/that. now the market is down down down and the cheapest place to buy in lahaina is 500k and that’ doesn’t even have a yard. There are no real yards to speak of. There is no land to have huge yards. That’s what is so expensive. The land! Oahu is a nightmare. 1 million people + on an island smaller than Maui. Lanai/Molokai have NOTHING there but retirement and Kauai is oh so pretty but no work-no way to live. The thought of having to leave breaks our heart but perhaps it is because this is all we’ve ever known…..maybe come on vacation or a month and make sure you check out EVERYTHING you want to check out. you can email me anytime w/any questions. ahnewboy@yahoo.com. We own our house (well the bank does) and my husband got what they call Hawaiian Homelands which is only for those 50% Hawaiian or more. We got a 3bedroom for 240k w/killer ocean views and that is a steal for Maui. We don’t own the land however….it’s leased.

  • Claire

    I have been dreaming of living in Hawaii for quite some time now. I just recently returned from a family vacation on Maui and decided that it IS or CAN BE possible to make my dream a reality. I am currently in college and would likely finish up my degree before moving (which gives me 2-3 years). I am working towards getting a degree in Hospitality Business Managment. Is there a future for someone with this degree in a career on Maui?
    Thank you for this site, I’m finding so many helpful things!

    • Hi Claire,

      You’re welcome – I made the site to help people like you… enjoy it! Is there a future for you on Maui? Good question, but I don’t have the answer. Many people that want to live on Maui do whatever is necessary to live there – survive… until they get the job they want. If you’re only just graduating you may find it tough to get a great job on Maui in your field, but, you should be able to find something entry-level I’d think…

      How badly do you want to stay in Maui? If you really want it – you can make it. I know people that have made it without great jobs. If going with a friend to share the rent (and experience) is possible – I’d recommend that. Good luck!

  • Cary

    What are some of the ways people move from island to island? Are there auto ferries between islands?

    • Not auto ferries where you go with your car – but there are shippers. Well, I never went with my car from Oahu to Maui – but, maybe it is possible. Unsure. Google it!

  • John Gallenstein

    I myself have seriously been considering finishing my college degree in a more laid back environment like say possibly Hawaii. I appreciate your insight and intelligent approach to this unbiased yet informative article. How do you feel about Hawaii’s collegiate system? Is that a honorable place to graduate? If you have any insight on this subject I’d be pleased to hear it.


    • Hi John,

      I attended the University of Hawaii – Manoa part time while in the Air Force there but that’s the extent of my personal involvement in the university system in Hawaii. Chaminade University is quite respected, but I know little of the caliber of education at any of the other universities – including UHM. Maybe someone will comment here if they have an opinion…?

  • Jarrett

    Hi Vern,
    My family and I visited Hawaii this pasted June. We fell in love with the weather. We are from Va on the mainland. We have two children and will about $100,000 for the move and to put down on the house. Great credit. We want to move to Oahu. I own a construction company. We remodel house’s specializing in kitchens and bathrooms. I am great with stone work, tile, marble and granite. Can I come there and make a living to take care of my family and enjoy the laid back life.


    • Hi Jarrett,

      It sounds like, money-wise, you’re ok. Job-wise, you’re going to be OK – there are heaps of homeowners that want quality interiors in their multi-million dollar homes. The only problem might be – your kids and schools. Research the school system and private schools. Personally, I’ve been considering this for months now as we have a new baby girl and considering the move back home to Hawaii. Hawaii may not be where we’ll end up after all. Just not sure. Good luck with everything Jarrett.

  • olivia

    hii (:
    iv always wated to move to hawii because im absest with the beach and so iv heard they have some amazing beaches there
    i live in australia and my family said that u caint live there if u dont hav a pass port for america i was wondering if this is true or there just saying this because they dont want me to move… lol

    • Hi Olivia,

      Yep, mom’s right. I think it might be easier for you to go to America for studying at college than any other way, so work on that! :) Vern

  • Grey Pilgrim

    Hey, Awesome website, thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences living in HI with the rest of us! I am on the mainland, in MD, thinking about saving up to come out there with my kids in about a year or so and wanted your advice. I am in the Security field, currently working for AlliedBarton at a Federal site. I don’t think they have any accounts out in HI but I am not sure. I am going to be earning my BA in Homeland Security with a minor in Business Management, and then will probably be going on to get my MA in a similar Criminal Justice field with a similar coupling of Business oriented classes. I have three children, oldest son is 5, my daughter is 4 and my son is 3. I will probably have around about $20,000 or so at time of move, all of my children will be of school age (gonna go public school route), I don’t plan on bringing car or any major luggage, I have my eyes set on Oahu based upon your wisdom on the many well written articles here. I’m not going to lie I have horrendous credit but am hoping there may still be rental opportunities for people with bad credit in HI, at least if they can put down a hefty security deposit. Anyway, taking all of this info into account, do you think I would have a good chance of being able to find a decent place to live for me and my kids and a job that will pay enough to replenish my savings enough to the point where I can survive long term? Thanks!

    • Grey Pilgrim

      Additional info in case helpful, I will have probably in the neighborhood of three to five years of experience in the Security field by the time I move.

    • Hi – thanks for commenting… I think you’ll have no problem moving to Hawaii and finding a place to live. Right – security deposit is a big thing and nobody will care about your credit if you’re able to put a decent deposit down. The telephone and electric companies also check credit so you’ll have to put deposits there too.

      As far as finding a job in the security field I’m not up on that at all. I think there are MANY marines and other armed services personnel that leave the military and want to stay in Hawaii. Many are in the security field. Many have secret and top secret clearances… so, you’ll be competing with them I imagine.

      Good luck though and I hope you pull it off!

      • Grey Pilgrim

        Hi Vern, thank you for your reply to my last post, I appreciate it…so, at the risk of seeming slightly flaky (hey I am what I am lol), I have switched academic/professional gears a little bit, in another area that has always held a lot of interest for me and one that I am hoping (fingers crossed) might be a little bit more accessible in HI and not quite as competitive, even in this dire economy. That area would be economic tourism, a field I am looking to get into, more on the marketing/administrative side of things though.. So same question as before, all facts in place, only thats the career field I am looking at, with the relevant degrees to go along with it… Oh and if you could also consider the same scenario but if I were to become a professional video game tester too, that would be awesome (lol I am totally kidding about this one, btw).

  • jarrod

    hey vern, great facts i was born in hawaii stayed for a while left to the states but my family recently visited, when we lived there we lived at the makaha surf side maybe you have heard of it it was so expesive but the beautiful beach by there was amazing. i will soon graduate high school and am considering goin to nursing school and maybe continuing to be a surgeon and i would consider moving to oaho im sure they could use some nurses or surgeons. good idea?

    • Jarrod! You have the right idea man. I think you’re going to be just fine. I know Makaha – and bodyboarded there a few times. It’s pretty local though brah! Haven’t been there since 1988 at latest. Usually I go to ala moana, walls, diamondhead, makapu’u, waimanolo, bellows, or north shore spots nobody goes to. Good luck and have a blast when you get back!

  • K in Vegas

    Hi Vern, Am so happy to of found your website it so aspiring. I just came back from a week in Oahu with my 7 year old daughter, we had a blast. She got to learn how to surf and did very well. Great pictures we were able to get. My daughter cried the night before we had to leave, she was really feeling it there. My dad was born and raised in Waimea Kauai ,he came from a large family, he joined the Navy and never returned to the islands. My sister and I were raised on the east coast so we never got to learn about our culture or the way of life in Hawaii. I’ve always dreamed of living in the islands, after this first time visit, I was convinced that Oahu is the place for me and my daughter, her and I are true water folks. Everyone has the aloha spirit. I’m hapa haole,I was asked if I was a local with my makapo eyes. I’m currently working for a local credit union and would love to be able to get into a credit union on Oahu. I’ve checked out apartments on Craig’s list, they list some reasonable rentals at Makaha north of Ewa Beach, are you familiar with that area? Is it pretty safe and easy commute into town? A local mentioned to me there that if I’m able to prove I have heritage in the islands it would make it easier for me to obtain work, do you know what website
    that would be? I visited the Hawaiian homestead, that was more geared towards land. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Mahalo from Vegas

    • Hi Kath,

      Wow – amazing that you finally found where you’re supposed to be! Hawaii is the ultimate – that I know. No wonder you’re feeling a strong pull to be there – I wish you all the luck and strength you need to get there!

      There are some reasonable rentals there. Makaha is a very local area as you probably know. Safe personally, for theft – maybe not so good. The commute into Waikiki is not at all easy – and it will be a daily battle no matter where you live – unless downtown Waikiki and you can walk. Seriously, it’s insane.

      I’m sorry, I don’t know what website that is you mentioned – but, it’s a program you definitely want to check out! Maybe just the state of hawaii work force development on Beretania Street would be a good place to start. They’d know the site if it’s separate from them – for sure.

      Good luck -and maybe see you there? !

  • Kath in Vegas

    Hi Vern, I’m so happy to of found your website it so aspiring. I just came back from a week in Oahu with my 7 year old daughter, we had a blast. She got to learn how to surf and did very well. Great pictures we were able to get. My daughter cried the night before we had to leave, she was really feeling it there. My dad was born and raised in Waimea Kauai ,he came from a large family, he joined the Navy and never returned to the islands. My sister and I were raised on the east coast so we never got to learn about our culture or the way of life in Hawaii. I’ve always dreamed of living in the islands, after this first time visit, I was convinced that Oahu is the place for me and my daughter, her and I are true water folks. Everyone has the aloha spirit. I’m hapa haole,I was asked if I was a local with my makapo eyes. I’m currently working for a local credit union and would love to be able to get into a credit union on Oahu. I’ve checked out apartments on Craig’s list, they list some reasonable rentals at Makaha north of Ewa Beach, are you familiar with that area? Is it pretty safe and easy commute into town? A local mentioned to me there that if I’m able to prove I have heritage in the islands it would make it easier for me to obtain work, do you know what website
    that would be? I visited the Hawaiian homestead, that was more geared towards land. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Mahalo from Vegas

  • barbara

    Hi Vern, I’m, thinking about moving to Oahu. I vacationed in Oahu and we stayed in the Waikiki area this past summer. I had a great time. So great that it made me really consider moving for awhile. I’m a teacher and I’m in the process of completing the application process for teaching in Hawaii. My question is what about the cost of living as far as apartments? What is the average rent for a 3 bedroom? and location how will I know if the area is decent and safe. As I am a single mother with two children I want to make sure that once I get the job that I can find a safe place to live.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Wow. I don’t have any idea how you would make it in Hawaii as a single mom with two kids and teaching for your occupation. I hope someone can offer advice to you about whether it’s even possible. I assume you mean teaching at the primary or secondary level and not university since you have to get approved. I know Hawaii needs good teachers – always does. Everybody does – but, how much they pay? I just don’t have a clue.

      Can someone help? Is it possible to move to Hawaii as a single mom with 2 kids and live on a teacher’s salary?

  • Thanks Vern. Oh and wow how lucky to have lived in Hawaii and now Thailand! Amazing! Nice to see you sharing the aloha even though you’re far from Hawaii. Just goes to show that aloha is where you are. Take care and keep in touch.


  • Really enjoyed this story. The good and the bad and most of all the possibility that anyone can actually live in Hawaii. I never thought I would be so lucky to live in Hawaii, but in 1994 I moved to the islands and since then I’ve never wanted to leave and have had the great opportunity of enjoy the Hawaii lifestyle ever since.


    • Hi Vernon, this is Vern… I’ve been back a few times – lived there a total of 6 years. 5 on Oahu, 1 on Maui. Gotta say, if I can swing it I’ll probably live in Maui – quite an amazing island. As it is – Thailand has been good to me for 4+ years and might make it 10 before I get out of here! Really enjoyed your blog 808talk.com, and podcasts. Keep up the good work!

  • lily

    Wow..another great story about Hawaii! Yes, i agree that this is one of the most beautiful places in the world (though I’ve never been there lol)! Some of my friends have future plans of either going to Fiji or Hawaii. It’s just a short stay, but I think they’d prefer the latter because the place is more alive. They also love to buy things from their trips and keeps them as souvenirs. I just hope they’d buy me some hawaiian cool shirts.

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