Hawaii is truly an amazing, magical place. I was lucky to grow up there as a kid. It’s warm, safe and offers exotic scenery and activities.  However, paradise comes with a cost. It’s expensive, small and a radically different lifestyle than what you grew up with if you were born and raised on the mainland. It can be a big adjustment for people moving here for the first time, and some may think that the opportunity costs are too expensive to commit to the islands full time. Some who move to the islands end up falling in love with it and can’t never think of themselves living anywhere else!  So it works! But for some, it doesn’t work out. These are three reasons why Hawaii is not for everyone.

Reason #1 Why Hawaii is Not for Everyone: The Inability to Downsize.

Real estate in Hawaii is on average much smaller than places like the Midwest or East Coast.  As you can think, it’s primarily because of the limited supply of it and unique terrain of the islands.  The islands have mountain ranges all over them and it’s difficult to develop on most of the land. Hence, the properties here are smaller and more quaint.  It can be difficult for someone who grew up in a large midwestern home to downsize their valuables and vehicles to fit into a small home on the islands. This can be an inhibiting factor for those trying to adjust to the islands. The ability to downsize can be more difficult than you expected.  

Shining over the Central Fire Station downtown.
A full moon in downtown. by Daniel Ramirez is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

Reason #2 Why Hawaii is Not for Everyone: The Outdoor Lifestyle.  

Growing up I thought everyone loved going to the beach and hiking and getting salty with the humidity.  Come to find out, that’s not the case for everyone’s preferred outdoor activity. Some people enjoy urban centers with downtown nightlife and city living, and that’s great!  But that’s definitely not going to be here in Hawaii. The outdoor lifestyle in Hawaii is also different than most outdoors. For example, there’s not much rock climbing, there’s no skiing and water sports are limited.  For example, people don’t own boats for luxury here. The only people with boats are fishermen who need them for a living. The outdoor lifestyle in Hawaii is heavily centered around ocean life. For example, there’s little to no backpacking because there aren’t many trails that are extensively long (longer than 12 miles).  

Shorebreak by Brian Burger is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

Reason #3 Why Hawaii is Not for Everyone: The Population Density.  

The population density in the islands is one of the highest, almost a million people live on the island of O’ahu and most of them are concentrated in the city of Honolulu.  That’s a lot of people. When relatives or friends come to visit the islands, that’s the first thing they comment on- look at all these people! Keep in mind this doesn’t include the heavy tourism industry that reaches its peak during the holidays and summer months. The traffic can be ridiculous because of this, which can be overwhelming for those who are used to living a simple rural lifestyle.  

Lahaina’s busy Front St. by Matt McGee is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.