Article Overview: List of the Pros & Cons of Living in Honolulu From a (Real) Local’s Perspective
Thinking about moving to Honolulu? You’re in good hands.
My name is Michael Brandt, and I ended up moving to Honolulu in 2016 for a job offer that was too good to pass up.
Since then, I’ve had so many friends reach out with questions, everyone eagerly asking what they should know before moving to Honolulu (seems like everyone’s dream, hard to blame them!).
So, I thought it’d be helpful to draft up a quick list of the pros and cons to daily life in Honolulu from a local’s perspective. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Living in Honolulu, Oahu
Note: As long time readers of this website will know, the fun lives in the comments. Don’t forget to take a look below to see what Michael’s neighbors are saying about life in Honolulu. He updates this post regularly based on feedback received. Cheers!
Perks of Moving to Honolulu
Hawaii is the Happiest State in the Country
Those living in Honolulu are living in the heart of the happiest state in the U.S. Hawaii consistently ranks at the top in national surveys measuring happiness and well-being, and it’s easy to see why.
The Hawaiian lifestyle, with its emphasis on balance and harmony, also contributes to this overall happiness. Then, there’s the natural beauty – from stunning beaches to lush landscapes, which offers endless opportunities for relaxation and outdoor activities.
For those living in Honolulu, this combination of natural beauty, warm community, and sunny weather creates an environment that’s just conducive to happiness. It’s like living in a little slice of paradise where the Aloha Spirit really does seem to make daily life a bit brighter.
Did you know? At 81.6 years, Hawaii has the highest life expectancy in the country. Anyone surprised? Not me.
Perfect Weather Year-Round (Sunshine Baby!)
Blessed with a tropical climate, Honolulu enjoys an average temperature ranging from 70°F to 85°F year-round. The city boasts about 278 sunny days per year, significantly higher than the U.S. average.
This ensures plenty of bright, sun-filled days. Even in the wetter season, which typically spans from November to March, the rain often comes in short, refreshing bursts, quickly giving way back to sunshine.
This wonderful weather means outdoor activities are always on the menu, whether it’s hitting the beach, exploring the lush landscapes, or just soaking up the glorious sunshine.
For those moving to Honolulu, get ready to embrace a life where sunny skies and warm breezes are always on offer.
The Aloha Spirit is Real
After moving to Honolulu, it won’t take long to discover the essence of the “Aloha Spirit” – it’s a real, palpable part of daily life here!
This unique Hawaiian philosophy extends beyond a simple greeting; it’s a way of living and treating each other with love and respect.
The Aloha Spirit is deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture and is legally recognized in Hawaii’s statutes, highlighting its importance in society.
It’s about fostering community, connecting with others, and showing compassion and kindness. In Honolulu, you’ll see it in everyday interactions – a friendly smile from a stranger, neighbors looking out for each other, or the willingness to help without expecting anything in return.
It’s this spirit that creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere, making everyday life in Honolulu not just beautiful in terms of scenery but also in connection.
You May Enjoy Reading: 15 HONEST Pros & Cons of Living in Hawaii
Ample Outdoor Recreation
Living in Honolulu, you’re in for a treat with endless outdoor recreation opportunities, all set in a breathtaking tropical paradise.
With an average yearly temperature of around 80°F, outdoor activities are a year-round affair here. Honolulu is a haven for surfers, with iconic spots like Waikiki Beach, and there’s also snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, where you can explore vibrant marine life.
If you love hiking, the trails at Diamond Head State Monument offer stunning panoramic views of the city and ocean. Don’t forget about the lush rainforests and waterfalls, perfect for nature hikes and bird watching.
For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, the city’s beautiful beaches offer plenty of sunbathing and leisurely swimming. The great outdoors isn’t just a playground, it’s a way of life, which makes living in Honolulu a joy year-round.
Top Notch Healthcare
Contrary to popular belief, folks living in Honolulu have access to great healthcare.
Honolulu is home to some of Hawaii’s best healthcare facilities, including the Queen’s Medical Center, which is the largest private hospital in the state.
With a relatively high concentration of physicians, about 277.5 doctors per 100,000 residents, healthcare access in Honolulu is generally good, especially compared to more rural areas of Hawaii.
However, like many places, healthcare costs can be higher than the national average, partly due to Hawaii’s remote location and the cost of transporting medical supplies.
Overall, while locals have access to quality healthcare, managing the costs is an important consideration before moving to Honolulu.
Access to the Beaches
One of my favorite things about living in Honolulu is having daily access to a beach.
If you live here, you’re never more than a short walk or drive away from a sandy beach. Oahu is surrounded by over 100 miles of coastline, offering a beach for every preference.
From the iconic Waikiki Beach, famous for its gentle waves and vibrant atmosphere, to the more secluded beaches along the North Shore, there’s a spot for everyone.
Whether you’re into surfing, snorkeling, or just lounging with a book, the access to diverse beaches is unmatched.
And with an average of 278 sunny days per year, beach days are a regular part of life here. So, for beach lovers, Honolulu is pretty much a dream come true – endless ocean views and the soothing sound of waves are just part of the daily routine.
Cons of Living in Honolulu
The Sky-High Cost of Living in Honolulu
If you’re thinking about moving to Honolulu, you should know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
Well, actually, it a way it is. BUT, it comes at a cost. Honolulu is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the country.
The cost of living is about 70% higher than the national average. Housing is a major factor here – the median home cost in Honolulu is around $730,000, which is quite steep compared to many mainland cities.
Groceries, utilities, and transportation also tend to be more costly, partly due to the added expense of shipping goods to the islands.
While the breathtaking views are free, the cost of enjoying them can be pretty substantial for those living in Honolulu.
Poor Housing Infrastructure
Honolulu, like many Hawaiian cities and towns, grapples with housing issues, primarily due to its limited land space, high demand and crumbling infrastructure.
Many residents face issues related to aging infrastructure, so those planning on buying a home in Honolulu, should take into account a few factors. Chief among them are outdated plumbing or electrical systems, which often come with sticker shock.
While Honolulu is an amazing place to live, these housing concerns are a reality for many, and they highlight the ongoing efforts needed to improve and expand the city’s housing infrastructure.
Housing prices are outlandish and the living conditions are not the best, which is unfortunate. But many locals think of living in Honolulu as “paying for access.” Hard to disagree.
Long Flights (to Anywhere, Really)
Living on Oahu comes with some geographical challenges. Being an island, Oahu is, by nature, isolated, which affects travel options and distances.
The mainland is over 2,500 miles away, which makes flying the primary option for leaving the island. This means longer and often more expensive flights for mainland or international travel.
For residents, this can translate to more planning and budgeting for trips off the island. But while Oahu’s island status may limit spur-of-the-moment road trips to other states, you may find yourself wanting to stay more often than leave.
I assumed that “Island Fever” would get to me, but honestly — after nearly 10 years, I’m still enjoying daily life in Honolulu and seldom find myself itching to get out. However, traveling for the holidays is a bear!
The Traffic is So Bad
For better or worse, you’ll need to prepare to embrace ‘island time’ when moving to Honolulu, especially when it comes to traffic.
Honolulu is known for having some of the most congested traffic in the U.S., with commuters facing significant delays during peak hours.
The average commuter in Honolulu spends an extra 60 hours a year in traffic, one of the highest in the nation. The city’s unique geography, limited land area, and reliance on a few main highways contribute to these bottlenecks.
And while there’s a growing emphasis on improving public transportation and encouraging alternative modes of transport, I’m not holding my breath for long-term changes anytime soon.
Traffic is a part of daily life in Honolulu, so if you’re moving to Oahu and need to commute, factor that into your decision.
Bugs are a Consideration
Living in Honolulu’s tropical paradise comes with a tiny, buzzing caveat – the constant bugs. Due to the warm and humid climate, residents often encounter a variety of insects, including mosquitoes, cockroaches, and termites.
Mosquitoes can be particularly prevalent, especially in areas closer to water or with lush vegetation. While they’re mostly a nuisance, they can carry diseases like Dengue fever, though such cases are rare.
Termites are another common issue, often requiring homeowners to take preventive measures to protect their homes.
Despite these little critters, life in Honolulu is still a dream for many. Most residents find that the benefits of island living far outweigh the inconvenience of bugs, and with regular pest control and good home maintenance, it’s a manageable part of daily life (in my opinion, at least).
Retiring in Honolulu FAQ
Is Honolulu a good place to live?
Easy yes, Honolulu is a great place to live (for those that can afford it).
Imagine living where you can hit the beach after work, enjoy diverse cultural festivals on weekends, and always find new culinary delights.
The city’s laid-back vibe, combined with its natural beauty – think stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and perfect weather – makes everyday life feel like a vacation.
Sure, the cost of living is on the higher side, and traffic can be a bit of a hassle, but for many, these are small trade-offs for the incredible quality of life.
Is Honolulu a good place to retire?
Absolutely yes! If you can afford it, it’s hard to think of a better place to retire, honestly.
Honolulu could be a dream retirement spot if you’re after scenic beauty and a laid-back lifestyle! Picture your golden years spent in a tropical paradise with warm weather year-round, perfect for leisurely beach walks or gardening.
The city offers a vibrant cultural scene, diverse cuisine, and plenty of opportunities for social activities and community involvement, which are great for staying active and connected. Healthcare services are top-notch too, an important consideration for retirees.
While the cost of living is higher than the mainland U.S., many find the trade-off worth it for the unique lifestyle and natural beauty Honolulu offers. So, if a serene ocean backdrop and a friendly community vibe sound like your ideal retirement, Honolulu might just be your perfect match!
Is marijuana legal in Honolulu?
In Honolulu, and Hawaii in general, marijuana is legal for medicinal use, but recreational use remains illegal.
There are dispensaries in Honolulu where registered patients can purchase it. However, it’s important to remember that public consumption is still illegal, and there are strict rules about where you can use it, even for medicinal purposes.
What’s the cost of living in Honolulu?
Honolulu is one of the priciest spots in the U.S., with the cost of living about 70% higher than the national average.
A big chunk of this is due to housing – think median home prices around $730,000. Even everyday expenses like groceries, utilities, and transportation can add up, as many goods have to be shipped in.
What’s the median home price in Honolulu?
If you’re house hunting in Honolulu, prepare for some sticker shock – the median home price here is a real reflection of island luxury living. As of recent data, you’re looking at around $730,000 for a median-priced home.
That’s quite the sum, but as you can see on this list, living in paradise doesn’t come cheap.
Things to Know About Living in Honolulu (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the benefits of living in Honolulu, along with the disadvantages.
- Hawaii is the Happiest State in the Country
- Perfect Weather Year-Round (Sunshine Baby!)
- The Aloha Spirit is Real
- Ample Outdoor Recreation
- Top Notch Healthcare
- Access to the Beaches
- Sky-High Cost of Living in Honolulu
- Poor Housing Infrastructure
- Long Flights Anywhere
- The Traffic is So Bad
- Bugs are a Consideration
I hope you found my personal list helpful, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions (I’m more than happy to help!).