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The lush, tropical island of Hawaii is a dream destination for many. With active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and a laid-back island vibe, it’s easy to see why Hawaii appeals to so many. For those considering a move to the Aloha State, Hilo offers an authentic Hawaiian experience away from the tourist crowds of the larger cities. Located on the eastern side of the Big Island, Hilo has all the natural beauty of Hawaii, plus a small-town community feel. If you’re considering moving to Hilo, read on to learn everything you need to know about living in this Hawaiian paradise.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Hilo offers a slower pace of life with plenty of natural beauty. The cost of living is lower than other parts of Hawaii. The climate is rainy but warm year-round. There are fewer job prospects compared to big cities but a thriving local community.

The Climate and Geography of Hilo

Hilo, located on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii, is known for its unique climate and stunning geography. If you’re considering living in Hilo, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the distinct characteristics of this area.

Rainy but Warm Year-Round

When it comes to the weather, Hilo is often described as having a “liquid sunshine” climate. It receives a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year, making it one of the wettest cities in the United States. However, don’t let the rain discourage you. The rainfall contributes to the lush greenery and vibrant flora that Hilo is famous for. Plus, the temperatures in Hilo are consistently warm, with average highs in the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit.

Lush, Tropical Landscape

The abundant rainfall in Hilo creates a lush, tropical landscape that is a feast for the eyes. Palm trees, exotic flowers, and vibrant green foliage are a common sight. The Hilo area is also home to stunning botanical gardens, such as the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and the Liliuokalani Gardens, which showcase the incredible diversity of plant life in this region.

Nearby Volcanoes and Beaches

Living in Hilo means being in close proximity to some of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. The Big Island is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Exploring the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and witnessing the power of these volcanic forces is a must-do for residents and visitors alike. Additionally, Hilo is blessed with beautiful black sand beaches, such as Richardson Beach Park and Carlsmith Beach Park, where you can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and picnicking in a picturesque setting.

For more information on the climate and geography of Hilo, you can visit the official website of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Housing and the Cost of Living

When it comes to housing and the cost of living, Hilo, Hawaii offers a number of advantages that make it an attractive place to live. Let’s take a closer look at some key aspects.

Lower Cost of Living than Honolulu

Compared to the bustling city of Honolulu, Hilo boasts a lower cost of living. This is great news for residents who want to enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer without breaking the bank. According to a study by Numbeo, the cost of living in Hilo is approximately 21% lower than in Honolulu. This means that housing, groceries, transportation, and other daily expenses are more affordable in Hilo, allowing residents to stretch their dollars further.

Range of Housing Options Available

Hilo offers a diverse range of housing options to suit different budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a cozy apartment, a charming bungalow, or a spacious family home, you’ll find plenty of choices in Hilo. The real estate market in Hilo is relatively affordable compared to other parts of Hawaii, making it possible for both renters and homebuyers to find a place that fits their needs. Additionally, Hilo’s neighborhoods offer a unique charm and sense of community that many residents find appealing.

Growing Neighborhoods

Hilo is known for its growing neighborhoods that provide a mix of urban convenience and natural beauty. One such neighborhood is Waiakea, which has experienced significant development in recent years. With new shopping centers, restaurants, and recreational facilities, Waiakea offers residents a vibrant and convenient lifestyle. Another neighborhood worth mentioning is Keaukaha, located along the coast and famous for its stunning ocean views and beach access. These growing neighborhoods contribute to the overall appeal of living in Hilo, offering residents a variety of amenities and opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

Employment Opportunities in Hilo

When it comes to employment opportunities, Hilo offers a diverse range of options for job seekers. Whether you are a recent graduate, a seasoned professional, or an aspiring entrepreneur, this vibrant city in Hawaii has something for everyone.

Industries and Major Employers

Hilo is known for its thriving industries, including tourism, healthcare, education, agriculture, and government. The tourism industry, in particular, plays a significant role in the local economy, with numerous hotels, resorts, and tourist attractions offering employment opportunities. The healthcare sector is also robust, with Hilo Medical Center being the largest employer in the area.

Other major employers in Hilo include the University of Hawaii at Hilo, which provides a variety of academic and administrative positions, as well as the Department of Defense, which offers job opportunities in military-related fields. The agriculture industry in Hilo is also noteworthy, with many job opportunities available in farming, aquaculture, and agricultural research.

Entrepreneurial Small Business Environment

Hilo has a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, making it an ideal place for those looking to start their own businesses. The city is home to a supportive community of small business owners and organizations that provide resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities. From boutique shops and restaurants to tech startups and creative ventures, Hilo offers a fertile ground for aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

The Hilo Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a valuable resource for entrepreneurs, offering guidance on business planning, access to funding, marketing strategies, and more. Additionally, the Hilo chapter of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce provides networking events and workshops to help small businesses thrive.

Job Growth and Economic Initiatives

Hilo is experiencing steady job growth, thanks to various economic initiatives and investments in key sectors. The city’s strategic location, natural resources, and commitment to sustainable development have attracted businesses and organizations seeking to capitalize on its unique advantages.

One notable economic initiative in Hilo is the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative (HIEC), which aims to promote renewable energy, create jobs, and support local businesses. HIEC has been instrumental in driving the growth of the clean energy sector in Hilo, providing opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship in the renewable energy field.

Furthermore, Hilo’s commitment to education and research has led to the establishment of the Innovation Center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. This hub of innovation and entrepreneurship fosters collaboration between academia and industry, promoting economic growth and creating new job opportunities.

Recreation, Culture and Entertainment

Year-Round Outdoor Activities

Living in Hilo, Hawaii offers an abundance of year-round outdoor activities due to the region’s stunning natural beauty. Whether you enjoy hiking, surfing, snorkeling, or simply soaking up the sun on the beach, Hilo has something to offer everyone. The region is home to several beautiful parks, such as Wailuku River State Park and Liliuokalani Gardens, where you can immerse yourself in nature and enjoy breathtaking views. Hilo is also known for its waterfalls, with Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls being two of the most popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. With its warm climate and stunning landscapes, Hilo provides endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and relaxation.

Local Arts and Music Scene

The vibrant arts and music scene in Hilo adds a unique cultural flavor to the community. The town is home to numerous art galleries, showcasing the work of talented local artists. From traditional Hawaiian art to contemporary pieces, there is something to suit every taste. Additionally, Hilo hosts a variety of music events throughout the year, ranging from intimate concerts to lively street festivals. The Palace Theater, a historic landmark in downtown Hilo, regularly hosts live performances, including plays, concerts, and dance shows. For those interested in learning more about the local culture, the East Hawaii Cultural Center offers workshops and exhibits that highlight the rich heritage of the region.

Annual Events and Festivals

Hilo is renowned for its vibrant and diverse annual events and festivals, which showcase the unique traditions and customs of the Hawaiian culture. One of the most popular events is the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of hula that brings together dancers, musicians, and spectators from around the world. Another highlight is the Hilo Orchid Show, where visitors can admire the stunning beauty of various orchid species. The Big Island Film Festival, held annually in Hilo, attracts filmmakers and film enthusiasts alike, showcasing a wide range of independent films. Whether you’re interested in traditional Hawaiian culture, arts and crafts, or culinary delights, Hilo’s annual events and festivals offer something for everyone.

Schools and Education in Hilo

When it comes to schooling and education, Hilo offers a range of options to meet the needs of its residents. Whether you have children in need of primary or secondary education, are pursuing higher education yourself, or are interested in lifelong learning programs, Hilo has something for everyone.

Public and Private Education Options

Hilo boasts a variety of both public and private education options, ensuring that families have choices when it comes to their children’s education. The Hawaii Department of Education operates several public schools in the Hilo area, providing a comprehensive curriculum and dedicated educators. These schools are known for their emphasis on cultural diversity and incorporating Hawaiian traditions into their teaching methods.

For those seeking alternative education options, Hilo also has a number of private schools that offer specialized programs and smaller class sizes. These schools often provide a more tailored approach to education and may focus on specific areas such as arts, sciences, or language immersion.

Higher Education Opportunities

Hilo is home to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, a public university that offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. This institution provides students with a high-quality education and the opportunity to engage in research and community service. The university’s commitment to sustainability and Hawaiian culture is reflected in its academic programs and campus initiatives.

Additionally, Hilo is located within close proximity to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, which offers even more educational opportunities. Students in Hilo have the option to take advantage of the numerous online courses and programs offered by the University of Hawaii system.

Lifelong Learning Programs

Hilo understands the importance of lifelong learning and offers a variety of programs for adults of all ages. The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Continuing Education and Community Service provides non-credit courses, workshops, and community events. These programs allow individuals to explore new interests, develop skills, and connect with others in the community.

In addition to the university’s programs, there are also various community organizations and centers that offer lifelong learning opportunities. These include art classes, fitness programs, language courses, and more. Hilo truly values the pursuit of knowledge and provides ample opportunities for residents to continue learning throughout their lives.

For more information on schools and education in Hilo, you can visit the Hawaii Department of Education’s website at or the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s website at


With its small-town pace of life surrounded by natural splendor, Hilo offers the best of old Hawaii. The cost of living is lower than other parts of Hawaii, though job opportunities are fewer than in major cities. However, Hilo’s strong local community and cultural roots gives the city a unique character. If you’re seeking natural beauty, a slower pace, and an authentic Hawaiian experience, Hilo may be the right fit. Wherever your next chapter takes you, Mahalo for reading and Aloha!

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