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Average Cost of Living in Hawaii: An In-Depth Guide

Volcanoes. Gorgeous beaches. Year-round surfing. Hawaii is a wonderful place to live — but it will also cost you. From soaring real estate costs to the price of importing daily necessities, the cost of living in Hawaii is the highest in the country. Here’s what you need to know.
Volcanoes. Gorgeous beaches. Year-round surfing. Hawaii is a wonderful place to live — but it will also cost you. From soaring real estate costs to the price of importing daily necessities, the cost of living in Hawaii is the highest in the country. Here’s what you need to know.

With its surreal natural beauty and great weather, Hawaii is an attractive place to live. However, those benefits comes a price. The cost of living in Hawaii is the highest in the country.

That said, your total cost of living in any area will depend on several factors and will vary based on your needs and lifestyle. Retirees, families with children, and young singles all have different priorities and situations with different price tags.

If you’re thinking about moving to Hawaii, a local realtor can be a great resource. A real estate agent who knows the area can help you set realistic expectations for yourself — not only in terms of the costs of buying a home but also the specific local expenses you must consider.

Typical Home Prices in Hawaii in 2019

There are no two ways about it: Hawaii real estate is pricey. Hawaii homes are, on average, the most expensive in the country. The islands are beautiful — and small. High demand and low supply keep home values in The Aloha State sky-high year after year.

Where the median U.S. home value is $226,800, the median Hawaii home value is $614,100. But although Hawaii home values are high, they’re also stable. Home values in Hawaii increased 0.9% over the last 12 months and are expected to remain near that level over the next year.

As with anywhere, Hawaii home values fluctuate based on where the property is located. A median home in Hilo will cost you $347,000, while a median Honolulu home will be $658,400, and a median Kailua home will set you back $997,900.

Depending on your location, home sale prices can have wide fluctuations depending on the season. But with its gorgeous year-round climate, Hawaii doesn’t have a single best time of year to buy, leaving you to figure out what month best suits your needs.

Learn More: The Best Places to Live in Hawaii: An In-Depth Guide

How Much Are Hawaii Property Taxes?

Affording a home is more than just making mortgage payments. After your mortgage, your property taxes are likely to be one of the biggest regular expenses you’ll encounter.

Some taxes, such as transfer tax and capital gains tax, are assessed and paid when property is bought or sold. But homeowners also pay annual property taxes to their state and local governments. Property taxes are a fixed percentage of a home’s value. They’re used help pay for things like schools, public parks, and maintenance of local roads.

Although Hawaii real estate prices are high, the Hawaii tax rate is low. At 0.27%, Hawaii has the lowest average property tax rate of any state in the country. For a median Hawaii home worth $614,100, you can expect to pay $1,658 in property taxes each year.

The property tax savings compared to other locales help to offset Hawaii’s high home prices. When you have less to pay in property taxes, you can use some of that savings to cover a higher mortgage payment.

Learn More: The Ultimate Guide to Hawaii Real Estate Taxes

Average Homeowners Insurance in Hawaii

Every homeowner should have quality homeowners insurance. Owning a house is more than just having a place to live — it’s also making an investment. And that investment should be protected.

The exact cost of your homeowners insurance will depend on your property and the type of policy you choose. Not all homeowners insurance policies are created equal, and better coverage often means higher premiums. Statewide averages provide a good starting point for creating your budget.

If you’re expecting Hawaii homeowners insurance policies to break the bank, you may be pleasantly surprised. Despite its high real estate prices, Hawaii homeowners insurance prices are near the U.S. median. An average Hawaii homeowners insurance policy costs around $85 per month, which adds up to around $1,018 each year.

Common Home Maintenance and Repair Costs in Hawaii

Owning a home comes with responsibilities, and among those responsibilities are keeping your property in good condition and making necessary repairs. Home maintenance and repair costs are thus another thing prospective homeowners need to budget for.

In a warm climate like Hawaii, you won’t have to worry too much about heating system upkeep, but your air conditioning will be very important. A general air conditioning repair is likely to be somewhere around $350, but an new system can cost $5,000 or more.

If you’re looking at a big renovation or repair project, be forewarned that construction costs in Hawaii are more expensive than costs on the mainland. On an island, the right materials can be scarce, and shipping and procurement costs add up quickly.

Island life also comes with the risk of tropical storms. Although tropical storms in Hawaii are rare, they’re not unheard of — and with climate change affecting the frequency and severity of storms, they are a factor to consider. Tropical cyclones and high winds can cause damage to roofs, basements, and home exteriors, sometimes resulting in costly repairs.

Other Costs of Living in Hawaii to Consider

While housing is a major part of your cost of living, it’s not the only thing to think about. And living on an island comes with expenses that a lot of mainlanders overlook.

After the high real estate prices, one thing that most affects the cost of living in Hawaii is the higher price of everyday items. Hawaii has the dubious honor of being the place with the most expensive toilet paper in the world.

Think about it: most of the things Hawaiians use every day aren’t produced or manufactured on the islands. This means almost everything has to be shipped to Hawaii — and not by truck, but by plane or boat. Consumers end up having to cover those costs.

The average cost of living in Hawaii is up to two-thirds higher than the average in the rest of the U.S. And if you use a car to get around, Hawaii is also where you’ll find the most expensive gas in the country.

One final large expense for Hawaiians is electricity. Alaska’s electric prices are the highest in the country, but Hawaii slides right in behind it at number two. And with many residents relying on air conditioners year-round, you may not get the off-season break that exists in places with harsher winters.

Until you live somewhere, it’s hard to know what your daily expenses will look like. Before you move, talk to friends, family, and local experts.

Find a Top Hawaii Real Estate Agent

A local real estate agent is an invaluable resource, especially when you’re moving to a new locale. Besides helping you find great properties and get the best prices, local agents can also help you set realistic expectations about how much it will cost you to live in different parts of the state.

If you’re looking for a top-rated agent in Hawaii, Clever can help. Clever Partner Agents are experienced, know their markets, and can help you save money at every stage of the home buying process. Besides being expert negotiators, Partner Agents offer their clients Home Buyer Rebates of $1,000 or up to 1% of the sale price, for homes over $500,000.

Fill out our online form to get in touch with a Clever Partner Agent in your area.


Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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