There are many things that make wonderful places to visit and experience—but not for too long. As the saying goes, “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there…”
There are exceptions to every rule. Each year, without fail, there are visitors to Hawaii who fall head-over-heels in love with the islands—so much so that they never leave. Some are mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the islands, while others are drawn to the aloha spirit of the inhabitants. We’ve heard more than one malihini (newcomer) explain, “This is where I belong. This feels like home.”
What You’ll Pay
Buying a home in Hawaii isn’t anything new. Over the past several years is has grown in popularity. Home prices in resort locales like Hawaii have risen sharply. And despite the recent economic downturn Hawaii real estate prices remain high (however, you can now find many deals). If you’re interested in buying your own piece of paradise you should probably start by searching the Hawaii MLS.
Living in Hawaii, even as a part-time resident, may require some sacrifices and adjustments. According to state statistics, Honolulu ranks as the seventh most expensive American city to live in. Home prices are, well, pricey: The median sales price of a single-family home on Oahu is $569,000, while the median price tag for a home on Maui recently dropped to $450,000. The median prices for single-family homes on the Big Island and Kauai are $220,000 and $420,000, respectively. The median sales price for a condominium on Oahu is $307,000.
Overall, the median value of owner-occupied housing units in Hawaii is more than double the national average.
There are other things to consider: learning how to pronounce the Hawaiian street names (knock yourself out with “Kalanianaole”), figuring out the local slang (called Pidgin) and even having to watch “Monday Night Football” on a delayed basis (early evening sports reports often begin with, “If you don’t want to know the score of tonight’s game, close your eyes now…”)
When shopping for a home in Hawaii, take the time to get to know the surrounding area. One real estate expert recommends making at least three visits and working with an agent who is familiar with the market area.
Each of Hawaii’s six main islands is different in its characteristics. If you enjoy big city life, for example, you’d prefer living on Oahu rather than Lanai. If you absolutely can’t deal with traffic, Molokai (with no traffic lights) would be more attractive to you than Maui. Whichever island you choose, you’ll find a full menu of home options, from lavish resort condominiums and single-family abodes to attractive townhouses and upscale homes.