Below is a reader’s email about a couple moving to Hawaii from Colorado and they are not too concerned with spending a lot of money for the finer things Hawaii has to offer. Neither should you… if money is a consideration when moving over, you can maybe still make it – but some sacrifices must be made, or a new mindset must be adopted. The islands are killer-expensive, and yet many people live there that are only making $18,000 a year.

Hi Vern!

I have been reading around on your site for awhile now, and have to thank you for the information and insight you provide. I am hoping you can answer a few questions for me, as I have read numerous blogs and haven’t found many answers. My boyfriend and I are planning on moving to Hawaii in the next year or so, but are not sure which island/area best suits us. Here are the major contributing factors: We will probably sell our vehicle and rely on walking/bicycling and public transportation. Is the public transportation better in any particular place? Also, is it overly expensive? Second, we are minimalists who require very little to be happy in the way of housing…where is the best place to find inexpensive, but not completely run-down and unsafe, rentals? And on that note, are there beaches that allow tent camping with a permit or something similar?

I would greatly appreciate any information you can provide, and thank you again for your site! It has already helped us in our research quite a bit.

(Name removed)
Denver, Colorado

My response…

Hi _____!

Which island to live on is a major question for those that are considering moving to Hawaii, but haven’t yet been there. I wouldn’t really recommend anybody move to the islands without having visited at least Oahu before. Ideally you’d see Oahu, Big Island and Maui first, before moving.

I think the success rate of those that stay and live in Hawaii is lower if not having seen the islands first. That said…

Oahu is the better island from a transportation standpoint. You’ll be able to get public buses to most anywhere you want to go – island wide. There are about a million people just on Oahu – and they have all the transportation infrastructure you’ll need to get around. It’s not expensive – at all.

Oahu seems to be the better island to get around on bicycle or walking too – depending where you live. You will still have a hard time of crossing the entire island by bike or walking, but, for local stuff you need – Waikiki or Pearl Ridge areas of Oahu are pretty good. Personally, I’d live close to Waikiki – and that way the most is available.

Housing will get you – no matter where you live. But, is that all you need to live? For two of you – rather tight, but if you are adaptable and truly want the minimalist lifestyle – you can live on it in Waikiki or some other places in Hawaii. Big Island would be the next place to think about, but I think you’ll be moving to Oahu first – it’s just easier.

Table of Average Rents in Honolulu in 2023

TypeSq FtAvg Rent
1 Bedroom450$1,548
2 Bedroom900$3,096

Best of luck to you both and I hope you write me and let me know if your move to Hawaii turns out well!