“I heard milk is like $5/gallon. That’s ridiculous, how do you guys deal with that; Is Hawaii expensive?” is a question I get asked a lot. People make a big deal about milk being $5 gallon in conversations with me after they find out I grew up in Hawaii. However, if you consider what you’re getting for it, it makes sense that paradise can be pretty expensive.
Is Hawaii expensive?
If you want to get a glimpse at how expensive Hawaii is in 2019, the average monthly rent for an apartment in a decent area at 480 sq ft is about $1,800. The average price of eggs is about $4 for a dozen eggs and the best milk I’ve found is $4.99 at Costco. Relative to cheap places like Reno, this is pretty expensive. Not to mention, Hawaii has an income tax so whatever your income is, you’re going to get a pretty significant chunk of it taken out to go towards state taxes. States like Nevada, Texas and Wyoming don’t have income taxes, but Hawaii doesn’t have that luxury.
The average homeownership rate for the U.S. is at 63.90% whereas Hawaii comes in at 56.61%. The median price of a single family home in Hawaii is about $800k, so real estate is expensive, if that’s not already obvious. This could be a big reason why Hawaii’s homeownership rate is significantly less than that of the national average. It’s more difficult for a young individual recently out of college to become a homeowner due to the expensive real estate in Hawaii.
So the simple answer to this question is yes, Hawaii is very expensive. In addition to high cost of living and real estate, it’s also expensive to fly to Hawaii if you’re coming from anywhere else but Hawaii. For those living in Hawaii, traveling on vacations can be extra pricey because it will cost you about $500 round trip just to get off the island and reach LAX.
However, fun things to do aren’t as expensive in Hawaii as they are on the mainland. For example, lakes on the mainland aren’t that much fun unless you’ve got a boat or jet skis or some kind of toys to have fun with on the water. However, beaches in Hawaii are enjoyable just as is. It’s not common for people to have their own boats or jet skis or things of that nature, it’s just not a thing. Most people have surf boards or body boards that are a lot of fun. Surf boards can get a little pricey depending on what you’re looking for, but you can get a used short board for a cheap if you look for one. However, they are nowhere near expensive jet skis or boats. Also, most mainland lake water can be pretty cold for most of the year which can make it unpleasant; whereas Hawaii’s water is warm all year round. Frankly, it’s really not that necessary to use a surfboard in Hawaii because it’s still a lot of fun to just float around in the water in an inflatable floaty.
In conclusion, although Hawaii is very expensive, it’s important to keep in mind that paradise is expensive but that fun things don’t cost much in Hawaii whereas on the mainland you typically have to pay to have fun, so the costs can somewhat balance each other out.