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The Hawaiian island of Kauai is a tropical paradise known for its lush rainforests, pristine beaches, and laid-back vibe. If you’ve ever considered moving to Kauai, you probably have a lot of practical questions about what day-to-day life there is really like.

In short: Living in Kauai offers a relaxed pace of life, access to breathtaking natural beauty, and a strong sense of local community. However, the island’s remote location also means higher costs of living and limited amenities compared to urban areas on the mainland.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give you an in-depth look at the pros, cons, and realities of living on Kauai so you can decide if island life is right for you.

The Cost of Living on Kauai

Living on the beautiful island of Kauai comes with its own unique set of costs. While the stunning scenery and laid-back lifestyle are certainly worth it, it’s important to consider the financial aspects before making the move. Here, we will explore the key factors that contribute to the cost of living on Kauai.

Housing costs

One of the major expenses on Kauai is housing. The island’s limited land availability and high demand for housing have driven up prices in recent years. Renting an apartment or a house can be quite expensive, especially in popular tourist areas like Poipu or Hanalei. However, there are more affordable options available in less touristy areas such as Lihue or Kapaa. It’s important to budget accordingly and consider factors such as location, size, and amenities when searching for housing on Kauai.

Groceries and utilities

When it comes to groceries and utilities, Kauai’s remote location can impact prices. Many food items and household products need to be imported, which can drive up the cost of living. However, there are local farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture programs that offer fresh produce at more affordable prices. Additionally, being mindful of energy consumption can help keep utility bills in check. Embracing sustainable practices, such as using solar panels, can help offset some of the higher utility costs.


Getting around on Kauai can be expensive, especially if you rely on a car. Gas prices are typically higher than the national average, and the cost of vehicle maintenance can add up. However, Kauai also offers alternative transportation options such as biking and public transportation. Biking is a popular choice for shorter distances, and the Kauai Bus provides affordable transportation around the island. Exploring these options can help reduce transportation costs and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Job Market and Economy on Kauai

When considering a move to Kauai, it’s important to understand the job market and economy of the island. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the top industries, unemployment and wages, and how to find work on Kauai.

Top Industries

Kauai’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, with the hospitality industry being one of the largest employers on the island. Hotels, resorts, and restaurants offer a wide range of job opportunities, from front desk receptionists to chefs and servers. Other thriving industries on Kauai include agriculture, healthcare, and construction. The island’s fertile soil and tropical climate make it an ideal location for growing crops such as coffee, taro, and tropical fruits.

Unemployment and Wages

Unemployment rates on Kauai have historically been lower than the national average. Based on the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate in Hawaii stands at 4.1% as of December 2022.. This can be attributed to the steady influx of tourists and the diverse range of industries on the island. When it comes to wages, it’s important to note that the cost of living on Kauai is higher than the national average. While wages may be lower compared to mainland cities, the island’s natural beauty and unique lifestyle make up for it.

Finding Work

If you’re considering moving to Kauai and looking for employment opportunities, there are a few avenues to explore. Networking is key on the island, as many job openings are filled through word-of-mouth referrals. Attending local events, joining community organizations, and connecting with professionals in your field can greatly increase your chances of finding work.

Leveraging following comprehensive online job boards is a great way to find the best current openings available on Kauai:


Living and working on Kauai can be a rewarding experience. With its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and strong sense of community, the island offers a unique lifestyle that is hard to find elsewhere. While the job market may have its own set of challenges, with the right mindset and proactive approach, you can find fulfilling employment opportunities on the Garden Isle.

Access to Healthcare

Medical facilities

When it comes to living in Kauai, access to healthcare is an important consideration. Fortunately, the island offers several medical facilities to cater to the healthcare needs of its residents and visitors. The main hospital on the island is the Wilcox Medical Center, located in Lihue. This comprehensive medical facility provides a wide range of services, including emergency care, surgical procedures, and specialized treatments. In addition to Wilcox Medical Center, there are also several clinics and urgent care centers spread throughout the island, ensuring that individuals have convenient access to healthcare services.

Health insurance options

Having health insurance is crucial for managing healthcare costs and ensuring access to quality medical care. In Kauai, residents have a variety of health insurance options to choose from. One popular choice is the Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), which is the largest health insurance provider in the state. They offer a range of plans to suit different needs and budgets, providing coverage for hospital stays, doctor visits, prescription medications, and more. Another option is Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, which also offers comprehensive health insurance coverage.

It’s important to research and compare different health insurance providers and plans to find the one that best fits your needs. Websites like and can provide more information and help you make an informed decision.

Education Options on Kauai

When it comes to education, Kauai offers a variety of options for residents. Whether you have children or are looking to further your own education, there are opportunities available to suit your needs.

Public schools

Kauai’s public school system is part of the Hawaii Department of Education, which strives to provide a quality education to all students. The island has a number of public elementary, middle, and high schools, offering a comprehensive curriculum and extracurricular activities. The teachers are dedicated and passionate about their work, creating a positive learning environment for students. According to the Department of Education’s website, the graduation rate for Kauai public schools is above the state average, showing the commitment to student success.

Private schools

If you prefer a private education for your children, Kauai offers several options. Private schools on the island often have smaller class sizes, allowing for more individualized attention and a close-knit community. These schools may have different educational philosophies or religious affiliations, giving parents the opportunity to choose an environment that aligns with their values. One example is the Island School, a highly regarded private school that focuses on project-based learning and environmental stewardship. Private schools can provide a unique educational experience that caters to each student’s needs.

Higher education

For those looking to pursue higher education, Kauai offers options as well. While there isn’t a university located on the island, there are opportunities for online learning or attending community college. Kauai Community College, part of the University of Hawaii system, offers various degree programs and certificates. The campus is situated in a beautiful setting, providing a unique learning experience for students. Additionally, many students from Kauai choose to attend universities on other islands or on the mainland, broadening their horizons and gaining a diverse education.

Lifestyle, Culture, and Things to Do

Outdoor activities

Living in Kauai offers an abundance of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. With its stunning beaches, lush tropical forests, and majestic mountains, there is no shortage of adventures to embark on. Whether you enjoy hiking, surfing, snorkeling, or simply lounging on the beach, Kauai has something for everyone. The island is particularly renowned for its hiking trails, such as the famous Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast. This challenging yet rewarding trek offers breathtaking views of the coastline and is a must-do for avid hikers.

If you’re a water lover, you can explore the island’s crystal-clear waters through snorkeling or scuba diving. Discover vibrant coral reefs, swim alongside tropical fish, and maybe even catch a glimpse of a sea turtle or dolphin. For adrenaline junkies, surfing is a popular activity in Kauai. The island’s consistent waves and warm waters make it an ideal spot for both beginners and experienced surfers.

Additionally, Kauai offers opportunities for boating, kayaking, and even zip-lining through the treetops. The diverse range of outdoor activities ensures that you will never run out of things to do and places to explore on this beautiful island.

Dining and nightlife scene

Kauai’s dining scene is a culinary delight, offering a fusion of flavors influenced by its diverse cultural heritage. From local Hawaiian cuisine to international dishes, there is a wide range of options to satisfy any palate. You can indulge in fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and traditional Hawaiian dishes like poke and kalua pig. Many restaurants on the island focus on using locally sourced ingredients, providing a farm-to-table experience that showcases the island’s vibrant food culture.

When it comes to nightlife, Kauai may not have a bustling club scene, but it offers a more laid-back and intimate atmosphere. You can enjoy live music performances at local bars and restaurants, showcasing talented local musicians. Some establishments even feature hula dancing performances, giving you a taste of traditional Hawaiian culture. Whether you prefer a quiet evening sipping cocktails by the beach or dancing under the stars, Kauai’s nightlife scene has something for everyone.

Arts and community events

Kauai’s vibrant arts and community events scene reflects the island’s rich cultural heritage and tight-knit community. The island is home to numerous art galleries, showcasing the works of talented local artists. You can explore a wide range of art styles, from traditional Hawaiian art to contemporary pieces inspired by the island’s natural beauty.

Throughout the year, Kauai hosts various community events and festivals that celebrate the island’s culture, music, and traditions. The Kauai Folk Festival and the Koloa Plantation Days are just a few examples of the lively events that bring the community together. Attending these events not only allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture but also provides an opportunity to connect with the welcoming and friendly residents of Kauai.

For more information on Kauai’s arts and community events, you can visit the official website of the Kauai Visitors Bureau:


While island living isn’t for everyone, Kauai offers a uniquely relaxing and fulfilling lifestyle for those who appreciate natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and a tight-knit community. With some careful planning and budgeting, you can make your dream of moving to Kauai a reality.

We hope this overview has helped you better understand the ins and outs of living on the Garden Isle. Wherever you choose to settle down, may your life be filled with happiness and the aloha spirit.

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