Is Hawaii More Expensive?

HAWAII MORE EXPENSIVE? I don’t think the statisticians take everything into account when they do their figuring.

It’s a common misconception that Hawaii is more expensive than anywhere in the country.  I think Honolulu is number 7 of 11 big cities ranked by Huffington Post; and Honolulu is the most expensive in Hawaii.  The Big Island isn’t that bad.  Gas is more expensive here than anywhere, that I do know, but you don’t have to drive as far as you do on the mainland and no stop & go traffic for hours on the freeway; there is no freeway!!  Also, there are benefits of living in paradise that many people overlook.   You don’t need to buy new winter clothes every year for your growing kids. You don’t have to own a coat here.  Coats can get pretty expensive.  And on the Mainland don’t you have to buy new winter outfits every year because the old ones go out of style?  Here you can wear the same outfits all year long year after year (shorts and aloha shirt).  You don’t need to buy heating oil or spend money on any kind of heating because homes don’t have heaters.  Most people don’t have air-conditioners either because of the gentle ocean breezes and mild temperatures; saves on summer electric bills.  Building a house is cheaper because you don’t need insulation, multiple pane windows, heating ducts, etc.  Building permits are way cheaper, and building restrictions are far less than most places on the mainland.  And what about winterizing your car and switching to studded snow tires and then back again every year?   And even in the summer, don’t you have to buy expensive suits, several of them, to look stylish?  And shoes!! Boy are they expensive.  Here you can go to work in shorts and aloha shirt and wear the same pair of “sleepahs” (sandals, flip flops) until they wear out.

I didn’t add homeowner’s insurance to my article because I didn’t have any experience with it.  Then I bought a house for my daughter in North Carolina.  I was shocked that the insurance for the house there was three times more than the insurance for my own home in Kona.

Back in the old days things were more expensive because there was no competition and venders were all mom & pop stores.  It’s this out-of-date information that keeps people thinking Hawaii is an expensive place to live.  Now we have Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Macy’s and the largest Safeway in the state.  More stuff, especially lumber, is being shipped over in such large quantities that the retail prices are about the same as anywhere on the Mainland.

Hawaii Property taxes are lower than most places on the Mainland except probably Arkansas and Mississippi.  But much lower than anywhere in Washington State or California, New York, Main, Vermont Massachusetts, etc.  I had a client from Main who was paying around $10,000/year for a regular house.  Here it’s about $2,500.  Food is more expensive here, especially milk, but the four or five thousand dollars the average person will save on property taxes will certainly buy a lot of milk!!  And now CostCo has organic milk really cheap.  In fact, Costco has everything cheap.

Now you tell me what this is worth: Summer temperatures average between 80 & 90 with humidity between 30 & 60.  Winter temps are between 75 & 85 with about the same humidity.  You can swim in the ocean 365 days a year; the water temp is perfect, not cold but never tepid like in the Caribbean. We have an 8,600 foot high mountain that rises up from the ocean right behind town.  It rains about 10 to 25 inches a year in town and maybe 30 to 50 inches the higher you move up slope.  The sun evaporates moisture off the ocean and convection currents carry the moist warm air up slope starting about 9AM.  Every morning around 9AM I have to shut my dormer windows to keep papers from blowing off my desk.  When this warm moist air mass gets up around the 4000′ to 5,000′ elevation on Mt. Hualalai clouds begin to form.  Starting around 11AM the cloud layer begins to fan out over an inversion layer and by 2PM it’s shading my house.  By 4PM it’s shading town. Also around 4PM I’ll have a light rain lasting about an hour up at my place (1,167′ elevation).  Around 6PM everything gets really still for about an hour as the sun sets brilliantly over the beautiful blue Pacific.  Then the cold air from 8000′ begins to slide down the mountain and cools things off all night long. Around 7AM it gets calm for about an hour and then it starts all over again. ALL YEAR LONG!!  Oh sure, sometimes we have droughts and it doesn’t rain at night for months at time.  Sometimes we have storms and it will rain every day for a week.  But even when it’s raining it’s between 70 & 80 degrees outside, so who cares??!!  If I want to work outside when it’s raining I put on a bathing suit!:-)  Ask yourself what THAT’S worth?

Mahalo, Harry