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The tropical beaches, laid-back lifestyle, and stunning natural beauty of Hawaii have long made it a dream destination for many. But behind the postcard-perfect images lie some harsh realities about what day-to-day life is really like in America’s island paradise. If you’re considering picking up stakes and moving to Hawaii, think twice – it may not be the hassle-free tropical escape you imagine.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Moving to Hawaii likely involves much higher costs of living, isolation from the mainland, limited job opportunities, and frustrating infrastructure problems that might make it difficult to enjoy island life fully. Read on for 10 reasons why Hawaii might not be the paradise you expect if you’re considering moving there.

The Cost of Living is Sky-High

Living in Hawaii may sound like a dream come true, but it comes with a hefty price tag. The cost of living in the Hawaiian Islands is among the highest in the United States, and it’s important to consider your financial situation before making the move.

Housing is Very Expensive

One of the biggest contributors to the high cost of living in Hawaii is the exorbitant housing prices. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, housing costs are significantly higher compared to the national average. For example, according to the Hawaii Housing Planning Study, the median home price in Hawaii is more than double the national average.

Did you know? The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Honolulu is around $2,000 per month, which is considerably higher compared to other major cities in the United States.

Goods and Services Cost More

Aside from housing, the prices of goods and services in Hawaii are also noticeably higher. Imported goods, such as groceries, clothing, and electronics, often come with a higher price tag due to shipping costs and the remote location of the islands. Additionally, the cost of utilities, such as electricity and water, is typically higher in Hawaii compared to the mainland.

Fun Fact: A gallon of milk in Hawaii can cost up to $8, which is significantly more expensive than the national average of around $3.50.

High Taxes

Another factor that contributes to the high cost of living in Hawaii is the state’s tax system. Hawaii has the highest state income tax rate in the United States, which can take a significant chunk out of your paycheck. Additionally, the general excise tax, which is applied to most goods and services, is higher in Hawaii compared to other states.

Pro Tip: If you’re considering moving to Hawaii, it’s important to factor in the cost of living and taxes into your budget to ensure you can comfortably afford your everyday expenses.

It’s Geographically Isolated

Living in Hawaii may sound like a dream come true, but it’s important to consider the challenges that come with its geographical isolation. Here are three reasons why living in paradise might not be as great as you think:

Far from Family and Friends

One of the biggest downsides of living in Hawaii is being far away from your loved ones. If you have close family and friends on the mainland, it can be difficult to be separated by thousands of miles of ocean. Celebrating holidays and special occasions may require expensive and time-consuming travel. It’s important to weigh the emotional toll of being far from your support system.

Hard to Travel

While Hawaii is a beautiful destination, traveling to other parts of the world can be challenging. Due to its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, flights to and from Hawaii can be expensive and limited. If you enjoy exploring new places, living in Hawaii might limit your travel options. Consider the impact this could have on your ability to fulfill your wanderlust.

Feeling of Remoteness

Living in an isolated place like Hawaii can sometimes give you a sense of remoteness. While the breathtaking beauty of the islands can be awe-inspiring, the feeling of being far from the hustle and bustle of the mainland can be isolating for some individuals. It’s important to consider if you thrive in a close-knit community or if you prefer the amenities and conveniences of a more urban environment.

Job Market is Limited

While Hawaii may seem like a paradise for tourists, the job market can be challenging for residents. Here are three reasons why:

Tourism Dominates

Hawaii’s economy heavily relies on tourism, which means that many job opportunities are centered around the hospitality industry. While this can be great for those with experience in tourism or hospitality, it can be difficult for individuals with different skillsets to find suitable employment.

Few Corporate Jobs

Compared to larger cities on the mainland, Hawaii has a limited number of corporate job opportunities. Many big companies have their headquarters in major cities like New York or Los Angeles, so if you’re looking for a corporate job, you may find it challenging to find the same level of opportunities in Hawaii.

Competitive Market for Locals

The local job market in Hawaii can be highly competitive. With a limited number of job openings and a large number of residents vying for those positions, it can be tough for locals to secure employment. This can be especially challenging for recent graduates or individuals without established networks on the island.

Despite these challenges, there are still opportunities for those who are determined and willing to put in the effort. Networking, gaining relevant skills, and exploring niche job markets can help increase your chances of finding suitable employment in Hawaii.

Infrastructure and Government Services Lag

Living in Hawaii may sound like a dream come true, but there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of before making the move. One of the biggest challenges you may face is the lag in infrastructure and government services. From traffic and crowding to an aging infrastructure, here are a few reasons why living in paradise might not be as great as you think.

Traffic and Crowding

Hawaii’s beautiful landscapes and year-round pleasant weather attract tourists from all over the world. However, this also means that the islands can become crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons. The traffic congestion can be frustrating, and it can take longer than expected to get from one place to another. This is particularly true in popular tourist areas like Waikiki or the North Shore of Oahu. So, if you’re not a fan of sitting in traffic, you may want to think twice about moving to Hawaii.

Aging Infrastructure

Another issue that residents of Hawaii face is an aging infrastructure. While the islands are known for their natural beauty, the buildings and roads often struggle to keep up with the demands of a growing population. The infrastructure in some areas may be outdated or in need of repair, which can lead to inconveniences and delays in everyday life. It’s important to consider this when deciding whether or not to move to Hawaii.

Poor Internet

When it comes to internet connectivity, Hawaii may not be as advanced as you might expect. Depending on where you live on the islands, you may experience slower internet speeds and limited access to high-speed internet providers. This can be frustrating, especially if you rely on a stable internet connection for work or entertainment purposes. It’s worth researching the available internet options in the specific area you plan to live in before making the move.


Like any other state, Hawaii has its fair share of bureaucracy. The process of dealing with government agencies, obtaining permits, or navigating through the legal system can be time-consuming and frustrating. Some residents have reported delays and difficulties in getting things done, which can be a source of frustration for those who are used to a more efficient system. If you value efficiency and streamlined services, you may find the bureaucracy in Hawaii a bit challenging.

Despite these challenges, it’s important to remember that living in Hawaii can still be an amazing experience. The unique culture, stunning natural beauty, and laid-back lifestyle are just a few of the reasons why people choose to call Hawaii home. However, it’s always a good idea to consider both the pros and cons before making such a significant decision.

Natural Disasters are a Real Threat

Living in Hawaii may seem like a dream come true, with its breathtaking landscapes and year-round beautiful weather. However, it is important to recognize that this paradise comes with its fair share of natural disasters. Hawaii is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, making it vulnerable to various types of natural disasters.

Volcanic Eruptions

Hawaii is home to active volcanoes, such as Kilauea and Mauna Loa. While these volcanoes attract tourists with their awe-inspiring lava flows, they also pose a significant threat to residents. Volcanic eruptions can result in the release of toxic gases, destruction of property, and even loss of life. The volcanic activity in Hawaii is closely monitored, but it is important for residents to be aware of the potential risks and have a plan in place in case of an eruption.


Hawaii is not immune to hurricanes, despite its remote location in the Pacific Ocean. While the state is not directly hit by hurricanes as frequently as other parts of the world, it is still at risk. In recent years, Hawaii has experienced the devastating effects of hurricanes, such as Hurricane Lane in 2018. These powerful storms can bring high winds, heavy rainfall, and even storm surges, causing significant damage to infrastructure and posing a threat to residents.

Tsunamis and Flooding

Due to its location in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is susceptible to tsunamis and flooding. Tsunamis can be triggered by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or even landslides. The state has a comprehensive warning system in place to alert residents in the event of a tsunami, but it is essential for individuals to be prepared and know the evacuation routes. Flooding can also occur during heavy rainfall or as a result of hurricanes, leading to property damage and disruptions in daily life.

It is crucial for anyone considering a move to Hawaii to be aware of the potential risks associated with natural disasters. While the beauty of the islands is undeniable, it is important to be prepared and have a plan in place to ensure the safety and well-being of yourself and your loved ones.

Outdoor Activities Can Be Dangerous

While Hawaii is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and outdoor activities, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that come with them. From rip tides and rogue waves to hiking risks and dangerous ocean wildlife, here are some things to consider before embarking on your next adventure in paradise.

Rip Tides and Rogue Waves

Hawaii’s stunning beaches might seem like the perfect place to relax and swim, but it’s crucial to be cautious of rip tides and rogue waves. These powerful currents can quickly pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. It’s important to pay attention to warning signs, listen to lifeguards, and never underestimate the power of the ocean. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, remember to swim parallel to the shore until you’re out of its grasp.

Hiking Risks

The lush landscapes and scenic trails of Hawaii offer a hiker’s paradise, but they also present certain risks. Steep cliffs, slippery terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions can make hiking treacherous, especially for inexperienced hikers. It’s essential to be prepared with proper footwear, adequate water, and a detailed map of the trail. Always let someone know your hiking plans and consider going with a knowledgeable guide if you’re unfamiliar with the area.

Dangerous Ocean Wildlife

Hawaii’s crystal-clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, some of which can be dangerous if not approached with caution. While encounters with sharks are rare, it’s important to be aware of their presence and follow safety guidelines when engaging in water activities. Additionally, certain species of jellyfish and sea urchins can deliver painful stings, so it’s advisable to wear protective gear such as reef shoes and to check for any warnings or advisories before swimming.

For more information on beach safety and guidelines for outdoor activities in Hawaii, you can visit the Go Hawaii website. Remember, being aware of the potential dangers and taking necessary precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in Hawaii’s great outdoors.

Hawaii Has a Dark History

While Hawaii is often seen as a tropical paradise, it is important to acknowledge its dark history. Throughout the years, the islands have faced significant challenges and struggles that have shaped its present-day society. Understanding this history is crucial to gaining a complete perspective on life in Hawaii.

Native Hawaiian Oppression

The native Hawaiian population has endured centuries of oppression and marginalization. The arrival of European settlers led to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, which had a profound impact on the indigenous people. The loss of their sovereignty, land, and cultural practices left a lasting scar on the native Hawaiian community.

Plantation Labor Abuses

Hawaii’s history is also marked by the exploitation of plantation laborers. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of immigrants from Asia, particularly Japan, China, and the Philippines, were brought to Hawaii to work on sugar and pineapple plantations. These workers faced harsh working conditions, low wages, and limited rights. Their contributions to Hawaii’s economy should not be overlooked, but it is essential to acknowledge the hardships they endured.

Legacy of Colonization

The legacy of colonization continues to impact Hawaii today. The islands have experienced cultural assimilation, loss of traditional practices, and the erosion of indigenous knowledge. The effects of colonization can be seen in the struggles faced by native Hawaiians in preserving their language and cultural heritage. Recognizing and addressing these ongoing challenges is essential for a comprehensive understanding of Hawaii’s history.

It is important to approach the topic of Hawaii’s dark history with sensitivity and empathy. By acknowledging and learning from the past, we can work towards a more inclusive and equitable future for all who call Hawaii home.

Racial Tensions Persist

While Hawaii may be known for its stunning natural beauty and warm weather, it is not immune to racial tensions. Despite its reputation as a melting pot of different cultures, there are still instances of discrimination and prejudice that persist in the islands.

Locals vs Outsiders Mentality

One of the major sources of racial tension in Hawaii is the locals vs outsiders mentality. Some native Hawaiians and long-time residents may feel a sense of resentment towards newcomers, who they believe are encroaching on their land and way of life. This can lead to a divide between locals and outsiders, making it difficult for newcomers to fully integrate into the community.

Cultural Appropriation

Another issue that contributes to racial tensions in Hawaii is cultural appropriation. The Hawaiian culture is rich and deeply rooted in the history of the islands. However, there have been instances where elements of Hawaiian culture, such as hula dancing or traditional tattoos, have been misappropriated by outsiders. This can be seen as disrespectful and offensive to native Hawaiians, further exacerbating racial tensions.

Ongoing Racial Inequality

Despite its reputation as a paradise, Hawaii has its fair share of racial inequality. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders face disparities in areas such as education, healthcare, and employment. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Native Hawaiians have higher poverty rates and lower median incomes compared to other racial and ethnic groups in Hawaii. This ongoing racial inequality can contribute to tensions and feelings of injustice within the community.

It is important to acknowledge and address these racial tensions in Hawaii in order to create a more inclusive and harmonious society. By promoting cultural understanding, respecting traditions, and working towards greater equality, we can strive to make Hawaii a truly welcoming place for all residents and visitors.

The Weather Isn’t Always Ideal

While Hawaii is often seen as a tropical paradise with perfect weather year-round, the reality is that the weather isn’t always ideal. Here are a few reasons why:

Humid and Hot

Hawaii’s climate is characterized by its humidity and heat. The islands experience high levels of humidity, especially during the summer months. This can make it uncomfortable for some people, as the air can feel heavy and sticky. Additionally, temperatures can soar, with some areas reaching well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to be prepared for the heat and humidity if you’re considering a move to Hawaii.

Lots of Rainfall

Contrary to popular belief, Hawaii isn’t always sunny and dry. In fact, it receives a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year. The islands have lush, green landscapes due to the regular rain showers. While this can be great for the natural beauty of the islands, it can also mean dealing with wet and muddy conditions. Be prepared to invest in rain gear and be ready for the occasional downpour.

Hurricane Season

Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean, which puts it at risk for hurricanes during the annual hurricane season. While the islands are typically well-prepared and have effective evacuation plans in place, it’s still something to consider when thinking about moving to Hawaii. Hurricane season runs from June to November, and while not every year sees a major storm, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions.

It’s worth noting that despite these weather challenges, many people still find the beauty and allure of Hawaii to be worth it. The stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and unique experiences are just some of the reasons why people choose to call Hawaii home. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential downsides and make an informed decision before making a move.

Island Fever is Real

Living on a beautiful island like Hawaii may seem like a dream come true, but it’s important to recognize that island fever is a real phenomenon. The small size and isolation of islands can lead to a sense of boredom and monotony that may not be immediately apparent to outsiders.

Boredom and Monotony

While the stunning beaches and tropical landscapes of Hawaii may provide endless beauty, the limited number of activities and attractions can eventually become repetitive. Without the variety found in larger cities, residents may find themselves longing for new experiences and excitement.

Additionally, the remote location of many Hawaiian islands can make travel to other destinations more challenging and expensive. This can further contribute to a feeling of being stuck in one place, exacerbating the sense of boredom and monotony.

Lack of Variety

Living on a small island means limited options when it comes to shopping, dining, and entertainment. While there are certainly local businesses and restaurants to explore, the range of choices may be significantly smaller compared to what you would find in a larger city.

Furthermore, the availability of goods and services can be limited, especially for those living on more remote islands. This can make it difficult to access certain products or services that you may be accustomed to having readily available.

Difficult to Make Friends as Outsider

While Hawaii is known for its friendly and welcoming culture, it can still be challenging for outsiders to establish deep connections and make friends. Many residents have strong ties to their local communities and may already have established social circles.

Building meaningful relationships takes time and effort, and it can be even more difficult when you are an outsider trying to integrate into a close-knit community. It’s important to be patient and proactive in seeking out opportunities to meet new people and get involved in local activities.

For more information on living in Hawaii and overcoming the challenges of island life, you can visit


While the tropical climate and natural beauty of Hawaii remain alluring, the realities of island life in America’s remotest state present many challenges. From the sky-high cost of living to geographic isolation to natural disasters and more, moving to Hawaii involves making major trade-offs. For many, the day-to-day difficulties outweigh the tropical paradise fantasy. Hawaii can be an amazing place to visit on vacation but living there – permanently – may not be the hassle-free, relaxing escape many envision.

If you still have your heart set on an island lifestyle, consider other options like the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico where costs are lower, American citizenship provides benefits, and proximity to the mainland reduces the feeling of isolation. But reconsider a permanent Hawaii move if you’re dreaming of an affordable tropical paradise.

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