A Couple Living on Maui on $35,000 Per Year?

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The interior of Haleakala Volcano on Maui Island, Hawaii.Here is an email with questions about moving to Maui… and my response below:


I read your book (so much great information)

I still have some questions regarding affordability to live in Maui. Well, me and my husband we are 35 years old with no kids. Currently live in Houston TX. I work as an Esthetician in day spa , also have experience working in animal hospital as an veterinary assistant and kennel technician. My husband is also in customer service.

Our question is if we move to Maui and get one bedroom apartment somewhere in Kihei area for about $1000 a month.

Could we live off minimal wages? I know that our jobs don’t pay a lot. But if we make together about $35 000 a year would that be enough to live on Maui? We are not looking to live rich people life but we also don’t want to be poor either. We visited Maui twice so far and we just love the island. We also have money saved and a house to sell.

I would like to know your opinion.

Mahalo :)


You have been to Maui twice and you love it… I love it too. Living on Maui was paradise!

Can you move to Maui and live off 35,000 per year as a couple? Is that after taxes or before? Makes a big difference, but I think you’re saying it’s before taxes.

35,000 x .28 maybe as a married couple? That’s 25,200 clear per year. If 12,000 goes to rent – You’ll have $13,200 left per year for everything else. That is $1,100 per month. You’ll likely need to (and want to) spend some for health insurance. You’ll need a car – which your savings can take care of. Gas is crazy expensive, as everywhere. You could probably save some money living on Maui by using two motorbike scooters if you wanted. I sure would.

Food alone is going to cost you more than $500 per month. I think it’s more like $500 per person per month, but I don’t skimp on food and I eat out a lot. You could budget and make meals at home and do it for less than that – I’m sure.

Electric, water, garbage… it all adds up.

Honestly, unless you are a couple that deals well with having very little money at all to do anything extra per month – I don’t know how you’ll be happy on Maui at that income level. Your apartment wouldn’t need to be $1,000 – you could find something for less if you look around a lot. Kihei is rather expensive… Kahului would be a little less expensive.

I’m not sure how easy it is to land on Maui and both of you find customer service jobs very quickly, having been on-island only a short time. Maui is not Oahu – where you could do it without too much of a problem. There are plenty of good customer service jobs working at the resorts – but, for the most part those good jobs are filled by locals that want to live on Maui. There are few jobs on Maui compared to Oahu – for sure. Be sure to check Craigslist Hawaii and MauiNews.com to see what they have. Check there for cars, and everything else too – two great resources.

If you don’t mind spending some of your savings to keep you happy – I’d say, MOVE!

If you have minimal savings and don’t want to spend it, I would probably stay where you are and try to get some skills that would give one or both of you better earning power.

Don’t take moving to Maui lightly… everything costs. On the other hand, if both of you were committed to living a very minimalistic lifestyle – you could probably pull it off.

Best of luck to you…




About the Author:

I’ve lived Hawaii since the mid ‘80s when I moved here at the age of 21. I arrived site-unseen in Honolulu with zero contacts and about $5k in savings. I worked from nearly zero and today Hawaii has given me the greatest gifts in the world in all aspects: spiritually, financially, romantically (married since early ‘90s w/ 2 children), and most important, peace. My goal with this site is to share the magic of this Land of Aloha and help others who are on a similar quest.


  1. Fred 05/15/2016 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Hello Vern, I have a bit of a situation. I have a job offer from the TSA the job is obviously at the airport. The airport is in Lanai City and I would be making between $36,133.00 to $51,617.00 / Per Year. I’m single, 27 years old, and just looking for a little different climate than Kentucky for a little while. My question is would I be able to live decent? Thanks, Lowell

    • Peter Kay 05/15/2016 at 8:10 am - Reply

      It all comes down to what you think “decent” means, but overall you could probably do it “for a little while” at least. What are rents going there for right now for what you would want to move into?

  2. P Alexander 05/09/2013 at 1:29 am - Reply

    Aloha! Still waiting to hear how much income you think a retired couple with simple pleasure needs, has to have to live on Oahu? Would be looking to rent a 1-bdrm and enjoy the sunshine! Mahalo nui loa, Mrs. P Alexander

    • Vern 05/17/2013 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Hi there, sorry it has taken so long to respond. I have months of email backed up too. The response for people looking to move to Hawaii has been overwhelming.

      It’s my own idea that with the money you mentioned, you could probably make it on Oahu. It really depends what sort of people you are and what you require in the way of extras. With no extras – you can make it, no doubt. With need for a car, golfing, nightlife, travel to other islands, you will likely not make it.

      An apartment too – is really linked to your tastes. You can find a one bedroom for $900 per month, or 3,700.

      But, it’s doable, if that’s what you’re looking for… :)

      Best of luck, Aloha, Vern

  3. P Alexander 04/13/2013 at 6:04 am - Reply

    Just wondering about whether a retired couple with minimal savings(less than 50k), and pension(38k now w/3% annual COLA), and all the required insurances could make it on Oahu? Spent 6wks there last year, and want to move there for life.

  4. Paul 01/24/2013 at 4:48 am - Reply

    I’m interested in moving to Maui. I’m a boat mechanic and diver, I have three young kids. Do you think there is any work for a boat mechanic? And honestly how much a month to rent a two-three bedroom place?
    Thanks so much.

    • Vern 01/24/2013 at 4:56 am - Reply

      Hi Paul,

      I think there is work for boat mechanics. I can’t imagine there not being any. A 2-3 bedroom is probably around 2,500 per month on Maui. It is not one of the cheaper islands, and housing is at a real premium because there is little available.



  5. Anonymous 09/30/2012 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    waht is the cost of living on maui? thanks gina from big island

  6. Joe 08/02/2012 at 4:47 am - Reply

    I have a simular question.Myself and my wife plan on moving to maui in 8 years. We will be able to purchase a home and vehicle out right. We will have and income, through a pension, of about 45 – 50k a year gross.Will this be enoiugh to meet our regular everyday cost of living. We both plan on seeking some type of employment to supplement our income. I will be 53 and my wife will be 51 years old. Any guidance and information you can provide will be greatly appriciated.



    • Vern 08/03/2012 at 4:03 am - Reply

      If you have a home and car, the rest of your expenses shouldn’t be that bad… $50K pension plus anything else you make with other jobs will be enough. That’s my guess anyway. Unless you’re talking about putting something down on a house and financing it? You’re not clear, so I cannot be either. If buying cash – you should be quite fine! Good luck! Glad you’re thinking in advance about this…

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