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With its renowned beaches, volcanoes, and lush tropical landscapes, Hawaii is one of the most desirable places in the world to live. But this paradise comes at a price – especially when it comes to housing costs.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Hawaii is around $1,800 per month, while two-bedrooms average around $2,300. Prices can vary widely though across the different islands and cities.

In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the average rents in different Hawaiian cities and islands. We’ll look at factors impacting prices, tips for finding more affordable options, whether it’s cheaper to buy or rent, and provide an overview of what amenities and features you can expect at different price points.

Average Rents for Apartments in Popular Hawaiian Cities


As the capital and largest city in Hawaii, Honolulu on the island of Oahu commands some of the highest rents for apartments in the state. According to data from RentCafe, the average rent for an apartment in Honolulu as of December 2022 stood at $2,086 per month.

This represents a 15% year-over-year increase. One-bedroom units averaged $1,824 per month, while two-bedrooms rented for $2,439 on average.

Not surprisingly, rents tend to be higher in Honolulu’s urban core and popular beachfront neighborhoods like Waikiki. For example, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Waikiki is $2,050 per month according to listings website

The most affordable Honolulu neighborhoods for apartments include Kalihi, Mapunapuna, and Salt Lake.


The idyllic island of Maui is world-famous for its stunning beaches, lush rainforests, and luxury resorts. But this tropical paradise comes at a premium price when apartment hunting. Per RentCafe data, the average apartment rent on Maui reached $2,118 per month as of December 2022.

This reflects an astronomical 37% annual increase amid low inventory.

Not surprisingly, the popular, resort-lined towns of Lahaina, Kihei, and Ka’anapali are among the most expensive for apartment rents. A one-bedroom in Lahaina or Kihei averages between $1,900-$2,100 monthly.

More affordable options can be found in Kahului and Wailuku, where prices average closer to $1,700-$1,850 per month.


With its breathtaking beaches, tropical rainforests, and laidback vibe, Kauai is often called Hawaii’s “Garden Isle.” Apartment rents on Kauai averaged $1,811 per month in December 2022, an 11% annual increase according to RentCafe.

One-bedrooms rented for around $1,600 per month, while two-bedrooms cost approximately $2,000 on average.

The popular Poipu resort area on Kauai’s sunny South Shore commands the highest rents, averaging between $2,300-$2,800 per month. More affordable options can be found in Lihue and Kapaa, where one-bedroom apartments rent for $1,400-$1,600 on average.

Big Island of Hawaii

Spanning over 4,000 square miles, the Big Island of Hawaii boasts incredible diversity, from black sand beaches to snow-capped peaks. Apartment rents on the Big Island averaged $1,657 per month in December 2022 according to RentCafe. This represents a 12% annual increase amid low vacancies.

Not surprisingly, rents are highest along the Kohala Coast, home to major resorts and white sand beaches. One-bedroom apartments in this area average $1,950-$2,100 monthly. More affordable neighborhoods include Hilo, Waimea, and Mountain View, where one-bedrooms can be found for $1,400-$1,600 on average.

Factors Impacting Rental Costs in Hawaii

High Demand

Hawaii is a popular tourist destination and residential location, driving high demand for rental housing. Over 10 million tourists visited Hawaii in 2019, fueling demand for short-term vacation rentals. The tropical climate and natural beauty also attract new residents every year.

With limited housing inventory, this high demand allows landlords to charge premium rents.

Limited Housing Inventory

Construction costs are very high in Hawaii due to the islands’ remote location. Importing materials and labor is expensive. Building on the islands is also constrained by rugged terrain, high land values, and regulatory burdens. This severely limits construction of new homes and apartments.

Existing housing stock is mainly single-family units rather than dense apartment buildings. The resulting housing shortage empowers landlords to set high rents.

Tourism Industry and Investment Properties

A significant portion of Hawaii’s rental housing market is dedicated to the tourism industry and outside investors. Nearly 30% of Oahu’s condo market alone is vacation rentals or second homes for non-residents (source).

Taking potential housing units off the long-term rental market further restricts supply. Investors are also willing to pay premium prices given the strong tourism demand, driving up housing values.

Cost of Importing Materials

Hawaii’s remoteness also directly increases building costs. Over 80% of construction materials must be imported. This transportation logistics burden adds around 8-12% to costs by one estimate (source).

With such high baseline costs, developers must pass these expenses to landlords and tenants through higher sale prices and rents. Renters ultimately bear the brunt of Hawaii’s challenging location and limited resources.

Tips for Finding More Affordable Apartment Rentals

Look Outside Core Tourist Areas

Rent prices tend to be highest in popular tourist destinations like Waikiki, Lahaina, and Kailua-Kona. By looking at apartments outside the main tourist hubs, you may find more affordable options. Towns like Wahiawa on Oahu or Pahoa on Hawaii Island offer lower priced rentals that are still within driving distance of beaches and attractions.

Consider a Studio or One-Bedroom

Opting for a smaller apartment is one of the easiest ways to reduce your rental costs in Hawaii. According to RentCafe, the average rent for a studio apartment statewide is around $1,500, while one-bedrooms average approximately $1,700.

These smaller units can offer considerable savings over larger 2-3 bedroom apartments.

Check for Deals and Discounts

Keep an eye out for move-in specials and discounts that many complexes offer periodically. Signing a longer lease, paying rent a few months upfront, or moving in during an off-peak period are some ways you may be able to negotiate a lower monthly rate.

Websites like let you search for deals on rental listings.

Consider Mainland Style Apartments

Newer, purpose-built rental projects with a more contemporary mainland design aesthetic tend to command slightly lower rents than traditional tropical-style apartment buildings in Hawaii. While opting for form over island charm may not appeal to everyone, these modern communities do provide greater affordability.

Finding an reasonably priced apartment in Hawaii can certainly take some persistence and sacrifice. But resist the temptation to settle too quickly, and leverage these tips to eventually discover some aloha deals on island rentals.

Buying vs Renting a Home in Hawaii

Deciding whether to buy or rent a home in Hawaii can be a tough decision. With high home prices but also high rents, there are good arguments on both sides. Here is an overview of some of the key factors to consider.


Hawaii has some of the most expensive home prices in the nation, with the median price for a single-family home around $900,000 in 2022. Mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs on a home this price are considerable.

Rents are also very high compared to national averages, often over $2,000/month for a small apartment and over $3,000/month for a single-family home.

Owner Costs Renter Costs
– Mortgage payments – Rent
– Property taxes – Renter’s insurance
– Homeowners insurance – Utilities if not included
– Maintenance and repairs – Application fees

Over the long run, owning a home often makes more financial sense. But high upfront costs for a down payment and closing costs can be prohibitive for buyers.

Lifestyle Factors

Beyond just costs, there are lifestyle factors to weigh as well between renting and buying. Renting offers more flexibility to move around and change locations. Owning a home provides more stability and control to make changes to a property. Here are some key considerations:

  • Length of stay – buying has more benefits if staying 5+ years
  • Settling down – buying if starting a family or settling down
  • Renovations – more flexibility when owning to make custom remodels
  • Space needs – may be limited availability to rent larger SF homes
  • Investment – potential for equity and appreciation when owning

Making the Decision

What Amenities Come With Apartments at Different Price Points

Under $1,500 per Month

Apartments under $1,500 per month in Hawaii generally offer basic amenities to keep housing costs low. Common amenities include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Basic appliances like a refrigerator, stove, and microwave
  • Coin-operated laundry facilities
  • Surface parking

$1,500 – $2,000 per Month

Mid-range apartments from $1,500 – $2,000 per month may offer upgraded features like:

  • Central air conditioning
  • In-unit laundry machines
  • Dishwashers
  • Patios or balconies
  • Garages or covered parking for an extra fee
  • Small gyms or pools

$2,000 – $2,500 per Month

Apartments in this price range often have luxurious building amenities, including:

  • High-speed WiFi
  • Smart home technologies
  • Cable TV and movie theaters
  • Spacious fitness centers
  • Landscaped courtyards with fire pits and barbecue areas
  • Heated swimming pools and hot tubs

Over $2,500 per Month

Luxury apartments above $2,500 per month offer premium amenities like:

  • Penthouse suites with ocean or mountain views
  • Concierge service at the front desk
  • Designer kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances
  • In-unit washer and dryer
  • Multi-level fitness centers and spas
  • Rooftop lounges with fire pits, wet bars, and barbecue stations

In general, the higher the rent, the more amenities there are. High-end buildings really cater towards residents with features like gyms, pools, lounges, and smart home technologies. More affordable apartments focus on the basics like appliances and laundry access to keep rents reasonable.


As we’ve covered, securing an apartment rental in Hawaii can be quite costly compared to many other parts of the country. But despite high demand and limited housing inventory, finding affordable options is still possible with the right strategy and flexibility.

Compared to buying, renting remains the more budget-friendly means of living in this island paradise. Just be prepared for housing costs to claim a larger portion of your paycheck. With world class natural landscapes and year-round tropical weather though, many feel it’s a small price to pay for getting to call Hawaii home.

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