Is Hawaii a Good Place to Live? Shocking Pros and Cons

Aloha, future island dwellers!

As someone who’s had the pleasure of living in Hawaii with my boyfriend, I know firsthand what an incredible experience it can be. We’ve soaked up the sun on picture-perfect beaches, explored lush rainforests teeming with life, and immersed ourselves in the rich cultural tapestry that makes this place so unique. But don’t just take my word for it – after spending a year here studying and researching every nook and cranny of paradise, I’m ready to help you decide if moving to Hawaii is right for you.

You see, I used to daydream about escaping the mundane grind and diving headfirst into a tropical adventure. The good news? In many ways, Hawaii lives up to the hype – offering breathtaking scenery, pleasant weather year-round, and friendly people eager to share their diverse culture with newcomers. However, there are some drawbacks worth considering before packing your bags.

Being the honest friend that I am (you’re welcome), I’ll spill all tea about our experiences in Hawaii: From navigating healthcare (yikes!) to adapting to local customs we didn’t quite understand at first; from assessing crime rates (gulp) to evaluating educational options for those mini-me’s running around – trust me: You’ll feel like you’ve lived here yourself by the time we’re done!

Warning: Your wanderlust may reach critical levels as we explore all things Hawaiian together. Proceed with caution… or maybe just grab a Mai Tai and enjoy the ride!

So put on your lei, kick off your slippers (’cause that’s what we call flip-flops over here), as together we’ll uncover everything you need to know before taking the plunge into island living – both its undeniable allure AND its hidden challenges!

Climate (Leave Seasons Behind)

Each season in Hawaii has something different and special to offer its inhabitants. Yet the weather is generally mild, and the temperature differences during the year don’t oscillate much. In general, the coldest temperatures are in the winter, at a comfortable 70 to low 80-degree range. And in the summer the temperatures don’t go over the lower 90-degree range. By my standards, you could say it’s almost always summer. 

The most popular times to visit Hawaii are winter (around the holidays) and summer vacation. Though the winter brings a rainy season, (the rainiest month is December) the rain is usually localized, and sunshine is just a short drive away. 

The best time of year (in my opinion) are fall and spring when the temperatures are in the high 70 to low 80-degree range. This is also a time when there are least tourists on the islands, giving you the opportunity to explore the islands without crowds and find the hidden gems that make this place a true paradise. 

Health (move for longevity)

If you need any more motivation to move to Hawaii, just think about the health benefits (both physical and mental). Asides from the natural beauty, slower pace of life, and small nit communities, Hawaii’s residents have the longest average life expectancy in the nation.

The longest life expectancy is linked to lifestyle and the fact that residents rank at the very top in preventable deaths and those due to accidents. So statistically, there are fewer accidents than anywhere on the mainland. They are also ranked at the top for the least cancer deaths and heart diseases. 

Hawaii has 28 hospitals that are well within reach no matter where you choose to live. Five are highly ranked on a national level. The number 1 hospital in Hawaii is Queens Medical Center in Honolulu. It’s actually ranked 3rd in specialties in the nation. The second is Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center which is a great general medical and surgical facility. The state has a progressive healthcare system with state-of-the-art equipment, doctors, and methods. 

Education (a great option for all ages)

The state of Hawaii has quality education opportunities from elementary school through higher education. The state started the first statewide after-school program in the nation, so they have a complete approach for families with small children and students. They have a single state-wide public school system. This means a centralized school board, located on Oahu that makes equal decisions for all its schools and ensures fair distribution of funds. Compared to the continental average, Hawaii has an above-average result. 

Hawaii also has a great higher education program the University of Hawaii’s School for Travel Industry Management, the Center for International Business Education and Research, and the East-West Center, Japan-America Institute of Management Science. The state has some of the strongest higher-level programs for earth sciences, ocean, and astronomy. 

The University of Hawaii at Manoa is the most prestigious of the universities in the state. It has on average over 18,000 students and is located in Honolulu. The university offers both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and is well-ranked. Depending on what you are looking for, the state has 11 public and 16 private higher education institutions.

Opportunity for adventure and exploring

Living in Hawaii offers endless adventure opportunities including sightseeing, gorgeous beaches, swimming under a waterfall, rainforest hiking, and much more. 

For the summer and spring months, Hawaii has some of the best beaches in the world for swimming including Hapuna State Beach, Makena Beach, Hanalei Bay, and the stunning lagoons at Ko Olina Beach. The advantage is that it is easy to island hop when living in Hawaii, so there are endless options for swimming, snorkeling, and exploring beaches and parks. Not to mention the impeccable sunsets. 

In the winter, Hawaii is famous for whale watching and surfing. Humpback whales make their way from Alaska into the warmer waters and can be seen for most of the winter. It is estimated that over 15,000 whales are found in Hawaiian waters at his time. The best part is that they can be seen from many of the beaches and lookout points without taking an expensive tour. So locals can enjoy them daily for months on end. 

Hawaii is also the top destination for professional surfing in the winter. Many world-famous competitions are held on Hawaiian beaches. It is a great opportunity to gather and enjoy some mouth-dropping surfing, local vendors, and entertainment. In fact, the North Shore surf competitions are some of the most exciting sporting events in the world including Billabong Pro Pipeline, Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, and the Pipe Pro.

The welcoming and rich culture

The islands are famous for the Aloha Spirit. This is a philosophy deeply rooted in the native culture that each person must think and emit good feelings towards others. For anyone who has spent long periods of time in Hawaii, they know this is truly a staple of everyday life here. 

Culturally the islands are a great melting pot of different nationalities, traditions,s and ways of life. This can be seen and felt through many of the festivals and manifestations during the year that represents many Asian and Pacific traditions, along with Western celebrations. Among many of the festivals worth visiting, some of the best are the Hawaii International Film Festival, Prince Lot Hula Competition, and the Honolulu Marathon held in December. 

The islands are filled with historical attractions including over 70 museums and monuments. But my favorite representation of the diverse culture is the food! (Yummy!) Hawai hosts endless food festivals and my favorites are Kapalua Wine & Food Festival, Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, and Kauaʻi Chocolate & Coffee Festival. Events like these attract hundreds of vendors and last for days. Which just adds to the magic of living in Hawaii. Not to mention the abundant locally sourced and fresh food influenced by cultures all around the world. 

Low Crime Rate (lowest crime rate among tourist destinations)

Another excellent fact about living in Hawaii is that it has a very low violent crime rate. In fact, it has the lowest crime rate of all the major tourist destinations in the U.S. This makes it a great place to raise a family or even retire. 

The crime rate in the state has even gone down since the previous year and is at 2.5 incidents per 1,000 people for 2022. Even the larger cities are safe, as Honolulu was ranked in recent years as one of the safest twenty large cities in the U.S. Most crime in Hawaii is reported as property crime, which is driven by tourism. Those choosing to live in smaller communities or outside the tourist hubs can consider Hawaii virtually crime free. 

The cons of living in Hawaii

Even though there are many excellent reasons to live in Hawaii, no place is perfect. After all, not all of us enjoy the same things.

Cost of living

For starters, a financial barrier can be a big deterrent for some. Though Hawaii has great places that are reasonably affordable with rent around $1.000 per month (take a look at Hilo and Hana), in general mortgages are high at an average of about $420,000 for a home. The cost of living (especially in larger cities) can be higher than in the continental U.S. including insurance, transportation, and other amenities. 

Finding a job

Though the job market has been steadily growing in Hawaii, it is still fairly limited. The biggest offers can be found in the tourism sector. While higher professionals usually find work in larger hubs like Honolulu and Hilo. Still, the unemployment rate is generally low, and finding a job ultimately depends on your skill set and qualifications. Hawaii can be a great place for those working remotely, getting an education, or retiring. 


Tourism can be bothersome for many residents, especially those living in high-tourist areas. During the peak season, there is a large influx of people, making it harder and slower to get everyday tasks done. (Sometimes getting a good restaurant reservation seems like mission impossible!) This is a lesser issue for those choosing to live in continental regions of the island and less popular towns for tourism. If a big influx of tourists bothers you during the peak seasons it’s best to live in areas outside of the popular cities. That way you get all the benefits of the cities (with a short drive) without the tourist hassles. 


This one personally does not bother me! But it’s something to consider before your move! There are currently six active volcanoes in Hawaii, located on the Big Island and Maui. The Big Island is home to four active volcanoes which have had eruptions as recently as 2012. Maui’s volcanoes have been dormant for hundreds of years but are still monitored by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). Even though these eruptions are carefully monitored and pose relatively little risk to human safety, there is always a risk involved with nature. Those bothered by this risk should consider one of the other islands. 

No seasons or changes

For me personally, this is a pro! However many can see the steady and constant temperature year-round as dull, or even unnatural. For example, Hawaii very rarely sees snow, especially amounts where one could snowboard or ski. So for activities such as these, it would be best to travel to the mainland. Because of the small altitude band, there is also no real change in the length of the day. Unlike the continental U.S., the day length in Hawaii stays almost constant all year. The only noticeable seasonal change (in my opinion) is the short-lived rainy season during the winter. 

WARNING: Living in a tropical paradise might make your family and friends want to visit more!

Conclusion on is Hawaii a good place to live?

There are many great benefits to living in Hawaii. 

The island offers great natural beauty perfect for those looking to be active through exploring the amazing hiking trails, beaches, and sightseeing. It offers many options from big city living to small quaint and historic towns on the outskirts of tourism. 

Statistics on crime, education, and health are very favorable and show a lot of potential for those looking for a healthy, slower lifestyle. For those willing to make a change and untangle some logistical issues with moving to an island from the mainland, this can be a perfect place to live. 

That’s why this article offers tons of useful information including the pros and cons of living in Hawaii so that you can make a good decision as it pertains to you.

If you are considering moving to Hawaii, or know someone who is, please share this article with them and support my work.


Is moving to Hawaii a good idea?

Moving to Hawaii is a great idea! However, it takes careful planning and consideration, since it is more complicated than moving to the mainland. There are many things that Hawaii can offer its residents including a low crime rate, health benefits, great hospitals, a good centralized educational system, and a culturally diverse community to grow in. 

Hawaii is a diverse ecological wonder with jungles, lava fields, volcanoes, exotic waterfalls, white sand beaches, and exciting hiking trails with panoramic views. There is always an adventure available, or just an opportunity to read your book while enjoying the sounds of the ocean from the nearest beach. The islands offer amazing whale watching all through the winter season and are the mecca for professional surfing competitions. 

Is it expensive to live in Hawaii?

Depending on your budget, living in Hawaii can be more expensive than on the mainland. However, there are many good options with a lower cost of living and rent in smaller towns and less tourist-attractive areas. Average $1,000 per month to $1,800 per month depending on the location. Smaller towns like Hana in Maui can offer much more affordable living with fewer transportation costs and a more locally maintained economy. The minimum wage in Hawaii is a little over $10 per hour.

For those looking to live on a budget in Hawaii, the Big Island and Oahu offer some of the best options. Consider looking at some of the cheapest cities to live in, and I’m sure you will love the offers. Some cities to consider include Hilo, Kaunakakai, Hana, Pahoa, and Waimalu which is located on the outskirts of Honolulu. Even the small towns of Hawaii don’t take away from the beauty and benefits of living on a paradise island. 

Is it hard to find a job in Hawaii?

The unemployment rate in Hawaii is low. Still, your ability to find a job depends on your qualifications. The most in-demand jobs in Hawaii include nurses, teachers and educators, dental hygienists, and engineering technicians. There are also many tourism-related opportunities, but many can be seasonal. Other jobs that are almost regularly available include landscaping, construction, military, government, and retail.

Larger cities like Hilo offer more job opportunities, especially in sectors like IT development, computer support specialists, and so on. To work legally in Hawaii you need the same work permits and citizenship requirements as in the mainland U.S.

What are the downsides of living in Hawaii?

If you ask me, the downside to moving to Hawaii is that all of your family will want to visit! But jokes aside, there are some downsides that everyone should consider. Being a tourist destination, the cost of living on an island is generally higher than in the continental U.S. Also, depending on your skill set and experience it might be hard to find a professional job outside of the service and tourist industry. Lastly, you should consider the weather. Though I personally love the mild and sunny climate year-round, there are no distinct seasons. If you are a fan of snowboarding and skiing, you would need to vacation outside of the islands. But that’s why Hawaii has an amazing surfing season during the winter months that attracts the world’s top athletes. 

Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Brigitte