25 Most Affordable Places to Live in Hawaii

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The state of Hawaii is spread out across a string of stunning tropical islands, including Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and a handful of smaller islands. Far from the mainland United States, the Aloha State has a high cost of living. Most goods must be shipped in from thousands of miles away. The tradeoff, however, is breathtaking scenery, from volcanic moonscapes to lush tropical forest, beautiful beaches, a warm climate year-round, and a relaxed culture.

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Best Places to Live in Hawaii

The cost of living in Hawaii averages 46% higher than the rest of the U.S. A typical home costs $830,193, more than double the average U.S. home value of $346,653.

That said, Hawaii’s average state property tax is the lowest in the nation, just 0.27%, though high housing prices make the median annual tax payment much higher than in other parts of the U.S. If you’re considering a move to Hawaii, plan carefully with your budget in mind.

Affordability can vary dramatically across Hawaii’s islands, so it may be worth considering cities large and small across the island chain.

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Best Affordable Places to Live in Hawaii

Here’s a look at some of the best affordable places to live across the Hawaiian islands. Peruse the full list to get a better sense of the options available to you.

1. Hilo, Hawaii

Located on the eastern side of the big island of Hawaii, the city of Hilo sits on the water. It is surrounded by forest reserves and has quick access to hiking and beaches, such as the secluded Carlsmith Beach Park. The city is also home to the Hilo International Airport, and is one of the largest census-designated places in the state.

  • Population: 44,186
  • Median Household Income: $70,356
  • Cost of Living: 127% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,650
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 7
  • Average Property Tax: 0.39%

Housing Affordability: The median rent price in Hilo is $1,650, and prices have fallen year-over-year. For those looking to buy, the median value of an owner occupied home is about $489,000.

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2. Waianae, Oahu

Tucked away on the west coast of Oahu, Waianae offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including hikes in the Waianae Mountain Range, access to numerous nearby beaches, such as Pokai Bay Beach Park, and the weekly Waianae Farmers’ Market.

  • Population: 13,614
  • Median Household Income: $71,681
  • Cost of Living: 128% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,100
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 8.2
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: The median rental price in Waianae is $2,100, which has fallen $100 year-over-year. The town is a 44-minute drive from Honolulu where median rents are $2,700. The average home value here is trending close to $600,000.

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3. Kahului, Maui

Kahului, on the island of Maui, is home to the island’s main airport. As with other Hawaiian cities, it is rich in natural resources, including Kanaha Beach Park and the Iao Valley State Park with its steep valleys and rain forest. The city is also home to the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, a multidisciplinary arts center where visitors can enjoy music, cinema, dance and art exhibitions.

  • Population: 28,219
  • Median Household Income: $82,219
  • Cost of Living: 130% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,300
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 11.5
  • Average Property Tax: 0.21%

Housing Affordability: The median rental price in Kahului is $2,300, which has fallen year-over-year. Despite cheaper trends, the rental market in this town is still considered hot for Maui, one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist destinations. This may be due in part to the fact that Kahului was not damaged by the catastrophic wildfires on Maui in the summer of 2023.

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4. Kapa’a, Kauai

Located on the east side of the Kauai, Kapa’a is just eight miles from the Lihue airport. Residents can relax on picturesque Kapa’a Beach or enjoy hiking the Sleeping Giant and Kuilau Ridge trails. After working up an appetite, residents can head to the Pono market for traditional Hawaiian cuisine.

  • Population: 11,652
  • Median Household Income: $94,457
  • Cost of Living: 141% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $4,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 9.3
  • Average Property Tax: 0.28%

Housing Affordability: Kauai is one of the most expensive islands in Hawaii, in part for its popularity among tourists and vacation home owners. The median rental price is $4,500 and has seen a steep increase in the past year. Some buyers here will want to look into a jumbo mortgage loan tailored to higher-priced properties.

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5. Ewa Beach, Oahu

Once a sugar plantation town, Ewa Beach is now a sprawling suburb 35 minutes north of Honolulu. Nearby White Plain Beach with its beautiful view of Diamond Head volcano makes the area a good place for outdoor recreation.

  • Population: 16,415
  • Median Household Income: $108,953
  • Cost of Living: 147% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 7.8
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: The median rental price in Ewa Beach is $3,700, with a year-over-year upward trend. For those looking to buy, the average value of a home is about $852,000. Looking to buy a house instead of rent? Consider these tips to qualify for a mortgage.

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Best Places to Live in Hawaii for Families

If you’re looking to raise a family in Hawaii, here are five cities that provide great options for community, resources, and schools.

1. Hilo, Hawaii

With plenty of restaurants, museums and outdoor spaces to enjoy, Hilo offers plenty to do for families. Visit the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center to learn about marine life around the Hawaiian island, or take a trip to the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center to see some of the world’s most advanced telescopes.

  • Population: 44,186
  • Median Household Income: $70,356
  • Cost of Living: 127% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,650
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 7
  • Average Property Tax: 0.39%

Housing Affordability: As noted above, the median rent price in Hilo is $1,650. For those looking to buy, the average home value is about $489,000. If you are getting serious about a home search, consider getting preapproved for a mortgage to make yourself more competitive in the housing market.

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2. Pearl City, Oahu

Located on Pearl Harbor, Pearl City includes 10,428 households with children. Families are drawn here by its above-average public school system. They can play and relax at numerous public parks, including the Pacheco playground.

  • Population: 45,295
  • Median Household Income: $108,772
  • Cost of Living: 136% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,650
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 8.3
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: Families looking to rent in Pearl City will pay an average of $2,650. Prices have risen precipitously year over year, though the market is cool. The average home value here tops $900,000.

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3. Wailuku, Maui

Wailuku is located in central Maui, near the bigger city of Kahalui and commercial centers but set slightly away from the hustle and bustle of these areas.

  • Population: 17,697
  • Median Household Income: $83,393
  • Cost of Living: 145% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,579
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 10.5
  • Average Property Tax: 0.21%

Housing Affordability: The average price to rent a home in Wailuku is $3,579, which is nearly 80% more than the national average. Prices have risen quite a bit over the last year, and the market is warm. The average home value here is around $872,000.

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4. Honolulu, Oahu

Honolulu is home to 84,375 family households. Families with children can explore the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve, the Bishop Museum, and Ala Moana Center for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Parents may appreciate the city’s above-average schools.

  • Population: 343,421
  • Median Household Income: $76,495
  • Cost of Living: 165% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 10
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: The average cost to rent in Honolulu is $2,700, rising year over year. That said, the rental market is cool at the moment. The average home value here is around $700,000, though the market in Hawaii’s capital is large, with a wide array of properties and price points available. Planning on purchasing instead of renting? Make sure you understand the different types of mortgage loans before you get serious about looking for a property.

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5. Waimalu, Oahu

Waimalu is a suburb of Honolulu, and parents are drawn here in part by its above-average public schools, as well as its proximity to the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, and abundance of kid-friendly activities like the Keiki Kingdom indoor play space.

  • Population: 13,817
  • Median Household Income: $80,613
  • Cost of Living: 152% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,538
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 12
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: The average price of rent in Waimalu is well above the national average, coming in at $2,538. The median value of owner occupied housing units is about $466,000, which though pricey, is cheaper than many other communities in Hawaii.

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Best Places to Live in Hawaii for Young Adults

Young adults are often looking for job opportunities, a robust nightlife and entertainment options, and, of course, proximity to other young adults. These five places are our picks.

1. Kahului, Maui

This is one of the largest populated areas of Maui, with opportunities in retail, transportation, and health care. The city is also home to Maui Arts and Cultural Center, we’re visitors can enjoy concerts, art exhibits, dance performances, and more. Economic and cultural resources coupled with a relatively low cost of living compared to the rest of the state makes Kahului appealing to many young people.

  • Population: 28,219
  • Median Household Income: $82,219
  • Cost of Living: 130% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,300
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 4.04
  • Average Property Tax: 0.21%

Housing Affordability: Rent prices have experienced a downward trend year over year, which may bring young people on a tight budget some relief. The average home value here is more than $900,000. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, look into federal and state programs that can make a home mortgage more affordable.

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2. Lihue, Kauai

Young adults looking for a more of a small town feel may consider Lihue on the eastern shores of Kauai. Residents enjoy the outdoors on nearby hiking trails and beaches, and can visit local landmarks like the Ninini Point Lighthouse.

  • Population: 8,004
  • Median Household Income: $83,872
  • Cost of Living: 136% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,900
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 9.72
  • Average Property Tax: 0.28%

Housing Affordability: Lihue is remote and has a tourist-driven economy, which means that housing can be expensive. The rental market is tight and young adults may need time to find a piece of paradise. House values tend to be on the high side as well, with the average over $800,000.

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3. Pearl City, Oahu

Pearl City rests on the outskirts of Honolulu on the shores of Pearl Harbor. It offers a denses suburban feel with many restaurants, cafés and parks.

  • Population: 45,295
  • Median Household Income: $108,772
  • Cost of Living: 136% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,650
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 8.34
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: Young people looking to rent in Pearl City will pay an average of $2,650. Prices have risen precipitously year over year. The average home value here is around $900,000.

Image Credit: sphraner/istockphoto.

4. Honolulu, Oahu

Honolulu offers the resources (and nightlife) of a big city. The University of Hawaii is here, as well as shopping centers and a diverse range of eateries. Despite Honolulu’s size, it is also close to natural resources, including hiking and world-famous beaches.

  • Population: 343,421
  • Median Household Income: $76,495
  • Cost of Living: 165% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 10
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: The average cost to rent in Honolulu is $2,700, rising year over year. That said, the rental market is cool at the moment. The average home value here is around $775,000. The large size of the market, however, means there is a wide range of properties and price points available. Particularly if this is your first time buying a home, make sure you understand the difference between mortgage preapproval and prequalification before you get into the mortgage application process.

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5. Waimalu, Oahu

Waimalu is a close-knit community and suburb of Honolulu. It offers residents a more urban feel and is home to many young professionals.

  • Population: 13,817
  • Median Household Income: $80,613
  • Cost of Living: 152% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,538
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 12
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: As noted above, the average price of rent in Waimalu is well above the national average, coming in at $2,538. The median value of owner occupied housing units is about $466,000. Though pricey, this is cheaper than many other communities in Hawaii.

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Best Places to Live in Hawaii for Retirees

The realities of a remote island location mean that cost of living is typically much higher throughout Hawaii than in many mainland states. This can eat into retirement savings. However, many retirees are still drawn to Hawaii by its warm climate and relaxing lifestyle. And it’s a plus that Social Security benefits are not subject to state taxes.

1. Hilo, Hawaii

About 21% of people in Hilo are 65 and older. They can enjoy art galleries, museums, and events at the local University of Hawaii, as well as shopping at the local farmers market and fish market. Plant lovers flock to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Papaikou and the Liliuokalani Gardens Japanese garden.

  • Population: 44,186
  • Median Household Income: $70,356
  • Cost of Living: 127% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $1,650
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 7
  • Average Property Tax: 0.39%

Housing Affordability: The median rent price in Hilo is $1,650, and with a year-over-year drop of $350, it has improved recently. The average home value, at just under $500,000, is one of the more affordable in Hawaii. If you need a home mortgage loan in order to purchase your retirement dream home, a home loan help center can help you determine what type of loan might be right for you.

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2. Waianae, Oahu

Retirees looking for a small town feel may appreciate this sleepy town on the western side of the island of Oahu. Residents 65 and older represent about 13% of the population and can enjoy local restaurants, shops, or relax on Pokai Beach.

  • Population: 13,614
  • Median Household Income: $71,681
  • Cost of Living: 128% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,100
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 8.2
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: Median rental prices in Waianae are $2,100, among the cheapest in the state, and only 5% higher than the national median. What’s more, prices have dropped over the past year.The average home value here is nearing $600,000 but smaller condo apartments do come on the market for under $300,000.

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3. Kailua, Oahu

Located on the eastern shores of Oahu, Kailua is a sleepier town with shops, restaurants and a local farmers market. World class beaches for walking, swimming, and shell collecting are a stone’s throw away. About 18% of the population is 65 or older.

  • Population: 19,713
  • Median Household Income: $79,331
  • Cost of Living: 130% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,978
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 16
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: This prime retirement spot is among the pricier places to live on our list. Average rents here are creeping toward $4,000 per month. And home values top $1,300,000. Apartments do come on the market for less than $700,000, and retirees on a tight budget who are interested in moving to Kailua will need to spend some time waiting for a relatively affordable home to come on the market.

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4. Wailuku, Maui

Wailuku is located in northwestern Maui. It boasts a famous market street packed with local, family-owned shops. The city has a vibrant restaurant scene, historic structures, and one hospital. About 18% of the population is 65 and older.

  • Population: 17,697
  • Median Household Income: $83,393
  • Cost of Living: 145% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,579
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 10.5
  • Average Property Tax: 0.21%

Housing Affordability: The average price to rent a home in Wailuku is $3,579, which is nearly 80% more than the national average. As noted above, prices have risen in the last year. The average home value here tops $870,000.

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5. Kahalu’u, Oahu

Kahalu’u offers residents a mixed suburban and rural setting. The slow-paced town is only 30 minutes from Honolulu and access to big-city resources like shopping and hospitals. Nearly 22% of the population here is 65 or older.

  • Population: 5,241
  • Median Household Income: $123,718
  • Cost of Living: 128% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,000
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: N/A
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: Median rent prices in Kahalu’u are $3,000 per month, significantly higher than the national average. This small census-designated place shares a real estate market with neighboring Kaneohe. There are relatively few properties for sale here at any given time, but prices start at $600,000 and travel well north of $1,000,000.

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Best Places to Live in Hawaii Near the Beach

The islands of Hawaii sit like a string of jewels in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. No city is far from the water, and most are blessed with easy access to sparkling white and black sand beaches. Here are some spots that stand out for their beaches and relative affordability in this highly priced paradise.

1. Waianae, Oahu

A small town on the western shores of Oahu, Waianae is home to Makaha Beach, which is good for surfing. Those looking for a protected bay for swimming may try Maili Beach with its stunning mountain views.

  • Population: 13,614
  • Median Household Income: $71,681
  • Cost of Living: 128% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,100
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 8.2
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: The median rental price in Waianae is $2,100, a relative bargain compared to, say, Honolulu which is a 44-minute drive away and where median rents are $2,700. The average home value here is trending close to $600,000.

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2. Waimea, Hawaii

A hidden gem on the Big Island, Waimea offers a number of beaches where you can swim, snorkel and sunbathe, including Mauna Kea Beach and Hapuna. When you’re tired of surf and sand, head out for a hike at the Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve.

  • Population: 9,904
  • Median Household Income: $90,343
  • Cost of Living: 131% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $4,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 9.04
  • Average Property Tax: 0.28%

Housing Affordability: Living near Hawaii’s best beaches can come at a premium. Median rents in Waimea are $4,500, nearly doubling year over year. Rent is 125% of the national average, but in a cool housing market, prices may begin to fall. The average home value is just north of $800,000.

Image Credit: leekris/istockphoto.

3. Kapa’a, Kauai

Located on the eastern side of Kauai, Kapa’a offers beautiful beaches, including Kealia Beach, popular with surfers, and Kalapaki Beach with its manmade break making it a gentle place for relaxed swimming.

  • Population: 11,652
  • Median Household Income: $94,457
  • Cost of Living: 141% of the U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $4,500
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 9.3
  • Average Property Tax: 0.28%

Housing Affordability: Kauai is one of the most expensive islands in Hawaii, in part because it is popular with both tourists and owners of vacation properties. The median rental price is $4,500. Studio and one-bedroom homes start in the upper $500,000 range.

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4. Kailua, Oahu

Residents of Kailua on the eastern shores of Oahu can enjoy nearby Lanikai Beach for snorkeling with sea turtles, or Kailua Beach with spectacular vistas. Though relatively small, the city offers residents a diverse array of shops and restaurants. Home cooks may enjoy the local farmers market.

  • Population: 19,713
  • Median Household Income: $79,331
  • Cost of Living: 130% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $3,978
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 16
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: Average rents in Kailua are high at $3,978 per month, which is high compared to other Hawaiian cities. As noted above, homes are expensive here, but apartments do come on the market for less than $700,000, so good things may come to those who can wait.

Image Credit: segawa7/istockphoto.

5. Honolulu, Oahu

Honolulu is home to world famous Waikiki Beach, which is lined with highrise hotels, and provides easy access to shopping. Waikiki welcomes sunbathers, swimmers and world class surfing competitions throughout the year.

  • Population: 343,421
  • Median Household Income: $76,495
  • Cost of Living: 165% of U.S. average
  • Median Rent Price: $2,700
  • Home Price-to-Income Ratio: 10
  • Average Property Tax: 0.32%

Housing Affordability: The average cost to rent in Honolulu is $2,700, rising year over year. The rental market is cool at the moment. The average home value here is around $775,000, although this is a big city with a wide range of properties and price points available.

Image Credit: Art Wager/istockphoto.

The Takeaway

When considering living in Hawaii, carefully examine your budget. Cities big and small across the island tend to be much more expensive than the national average, and it may be well worth considering the cost of living in other states. If you decide the sticker price is within your reach, consider your personal needs when deciding what island to live on and what type of city you wish to choose.

This article originally appeared on SoFi.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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