This was an email I got recently. I think they’ll have no problem living on $7,000 per month on any island, considering they don’t care about owning a home. I respond after the email.


Hi there,

I have a question about what you feel is an adequate income level to move to Hawaii; you mention a figure of 50k per person as being in the ballpark.

Here’s what our situation will be, roughly four years from now. My wife and I will both be retired with a gross income of roughly $7000 monthly; we’re not interested in home ownership, feeling it is no longer a great investment. Haven’t really decided where we would like to live, but the North Shore of Oahu is one possibility. We will have some (but not unmanageable) long-term debt, and the income is bulletproof. We don’t drink, aren’t nightlife types, but we do like to go out and hear live music periodically.

Is a move to Hawaii anything we should even be thinking about?

Thanks for your advice!


My response…

Hi there,

You didn’t mention what amount of long-term debt. Letting me know what you have net after that would help I think. Even if you have only $5,000 left per month – you can make it. The biggest expenses for retired couples I think are:

  • Rent
  • Food
  • Medical insurance
  • Debt payments

I think if I was retired with my wife and our daughter was grown, we could live on $4,000 per month after taxes, with not too much trouble or suffering. I would much rather do it at $8,000+ per month clear, but that extra $4,000 would just go to an ocean view, proximity to the beach, better food more often, and trips to neighboring islands and trips back to the mainland to see family more often. Living on $8,000 per month as a couple in Clearwater, Florida would go a LONG way, and would enable us to make a trip to Hawaii, Alaska, Thailand, and Europe each year – and still live at a decent level.

It all really depends on your chosen lifestyle. I think a single person could live comfortably in Hawaii on $2,000 per month clear – having the right attitude… a minimalist one, for sure!

I know a guy living on Kauai right now – and he has for about 2 years now… he is making maybe $1,000 per month. I have been afraid to ask. Maybe I’ll ask him in an email today. He is working at a farm and living a minimalist lifestyle, but he has a used truck and an apartment to stay. He seems happy that he’s able to live in paradise and isn’t too concerned about having to leave anytime soon because of money.

It is definitely possible to live in Hawaii on nearly any income, what the issue is – as always, is what are you willing to live with? Can you handle a lower standard of living, and for how long? If temporary, does it make sense to move to Hawaii at all? Maybe, maybe not. Lots of unknowns, as you surely know.