Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

With its idyllic beaches, lush green landscapes, and laid-back island vibe, it’s no wonder Hawaii is a top destination for retirees looking to spend their golden years in paradise. But like any big move, retiring in the Aloha State requires careful consideration of the pros and cons.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Retiring in Hawaii offers a relaxing lifestyle and beautiful scenery, but the high cost of living and distance from the mainland are downsides to consider. Weigh your priorities to decide if island life aligns with your retirement goals and budget.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key factors to weigh when considering retiring in Hawaii so you can make an informed decision.

The Allure of Retiring in Hawaii

Retirement is a time for relaxation and enjoyment, and what better place to do so than in the beautiful islands of Hawaii? With its idyllic beaches, laid-back island lifestyle, tropical climate, and active communities for retirees, Hawaii offers a unique retirement experience. However, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons before making the decision to retire in paradise.

Idyllic beaches and ocean activities

One of the major attractions of retiring in Hawaii is the abundance of idyllic beaches and the opportunity to indulge in various ocean activities. Whether it’s swimming, snorkeling, or simply sunbathing, the crystal-clear waters and golden sands offer a picturesque setting for relaxation. The diverse marine life and coral reefs also make Hawaii a haven for diving enthusiasts. From the vibrant fish of Hanauma Bay to the majestic sea turtles of Laniakea Beach, there’s always something amazing to discover beneath the surface.

Laid-back island lifestyle and culture

Another allure of retiring in Hawaii is the laid-back island lifestyle and rich cultural heritage. Hawaiians are known for their warm hospitality, and the sense of community is strong. The slower pace of life allows retirees to truly savor each moment and embrace the aloha spirit. From attending traditional luaus to learning the art of hula dancing, retirees can immerse themselves in the unique Hawaiian culture. The islands also offer a wide range of culinary delights, blending local flavors with international influences.

Tropical climate and scenic beauty

The tropical climate of Hawaii is undoubtedly one of its biggest draws. With warm temperatures year-round, retirees can enjoy outdoor activities and explore the stunning natural beauty of the islands. From the lush rainforests of Kauai to the dramatic volcanic landscapes of the Big Island, Hawaii’s scenery is truly awe-inspiring. The breathtaking sunsets, vibrant rainbows, and cascading waterfalls provide a constant reminder of the paradise that retirees have chosen to call home.

Active communities for retirees

Retiring in Hawaii doesn’t mean slowing down completely. The islands offer a range of active communities and clubs specifically designed for retirees. From golfing and tennis to hiking and yoga, there are plenty of opportunities to stay active and engage with like-minded individuals. These communities also organize social events, outings, and educational programs, ensuring that retirees have a fulfilling retirement experience.

Although retiring in Hawaii sounds like a dream come true, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks as well. The cost of living in Hawaii is relatively high, with housing prices and everyday expenses often exceeding the national average. Additionally, access to healthcare and certain amenities may be limited on some islands. It’s crucial to thoroughly research and plan for the financial implications before making the decision to retire in Hawaii.

Potential Downsides to Retiring in Hawaii

Very high cost of living

One of the major downsides of retiring in Hawaii is the very high cost of living. Everything from housing to groceries is more expensive compared to mainland United States. According to a study conducted by Hawaii News Now, the overall cost of living in Hawaii is about 87% higher than the national average. This means that retirees may need a larger retirement savings or pension to maintain the same standard of living they had on the mainland. It’s important to carefully consider your financial situation before deciding to retire in Hawaii.

Limited healthcare options

Another potential downside of retiring in Hawaii is the limited healthcare options. While there are quality healthcare facilities in the state, the isolated location and small population can result in fewer specialized medical services compared to larger cities on the mainland. This may require retirees to travel to the mainland for certain medical treatments or procedures, which can be costly and inconvenient. It’s important to research the healthcare options available in Hawaii and consider your healthcare needs before making the decision to retire there.

Hurricanes and natural disasters

Hawaii is prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters, which can be a concern for retirees. While the state has a robust disaster preparedness system in place, the potential for extreme weather events should not be ignored. It’s important to be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your property. This may include having a comprehensive insurance policy, creating an emergency plan, and staying informed about weather updates and evacuation procedures.

Distance and isolation from mainland

Retiring in Hawaii means being far away from family and friends on the mainland. The distance and isolation can make it challenging to visit loved ones or have them visit you. Additionally, the time difference can make communication more difficult. It’s important to consider how important proximity to your support network is to you and how you will maintain those connections if you choose to retire in Hawaii. Technology like video calls and social media can help bridge the distance, but it may not be the same as being physically close to loved ones.

Tips for Retiring Well in Hawaii

Choose an affordable island like Kauai or Big Island

When considering retiring in Hawaii, it’s important to choose an island that fits your budget. While all the islands offer unique attractions, some are more affordable than others. Kauai and Big Island, for example, are known for their lower living costs compared to Oahu or Maui. By choosing one of these islands, you can make your retirement savings stretch further and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Secure healthcare coverage before moving

Prior to retiring in Hawaii, it’s crucial to secure comprehensive healthcare coverage. This includes researching healthcare plans, understanding the cost of medical services, and ensuring that your current insurance covers you in the state. It may be beneficial to consult with a financial advisor or healthcare specialist to help you navigate the process and find the best options for your specific needs. Remember, access to quality healthcare is vital for a happy and healthy retirement.

Factor in costs for visiting family on the mainland

Living in Hawaii can be a dream come true, but it’s important to consider the costs associated with visiting family and friends on the mainland. Flights to and from Hawaii can be expensive, especially during peak travel seasons. Budgeting for these trips will ensure that you can maintain strong connections with loved ones while enjoying your retirement in paradise. Additionally, take advantage of discounted fares and frequent flyer programs to help minimize the financial impact of traveling back and forth.

Rent first to test out island living

Before committing to retirement in Hawaii, it’s a good idea to rent a property on the island you’re considering. This allows you to experience island living firsthand and determine if it aligns with your expectations and lifestyle. Renting also provides flexibility, as you can easily explore different areas and neighborhoods to find the perfect fit. Take the time to immerse yourself in the local culture, connect with the community, and assess if retiring in Hawaii is truly the right choice for you.

Best Places to Retire in Hawaii

Oahu – Vibrant island with lots of amenities

Oahu, the third largest Hawaiian island, offers retirees a vibrant and bustling lifestyle. With its world-class shopping, diverse dining options, and exciting entertainment, Oahu is perfect for those who crave city amenities while still enjoying the beauty of the island. The island is home to the state capital, Honolulu, making it a hub for cultural events, festivals, and a thriving arts scene. Retirees can take advantage of the island’s excellent healthcare facilities and access to top-notch medical professionals.

Maui – Upscale island popular with retirees

Maui, known as the “Valley Isle,” is a popular choice for retirees seeking an upscale and luxurious lifestyle. The island is famous for its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and world-renowned resorts. Retirees can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, including golfing, hiking, and snorkeling. With its high-end shopping and dining options, Maui offers retirees a chance to indulge in the finer things in life. However, the cost of living on Maui is higher compared to other Hawaiian islands, so retirees need to carefully consider their budget.

Kauai – Laid-back vibe with natural beauty

Kauai, often referred to as the “Garden Isle,” is perfect for retirees seeking a laid-back and peaceful lifestyle surrounded by natural beauty. With its lush rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls, and stunning coastline, Kauai offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. The island’s charming towns and friendly communities create a strong sense of community, making it easy for retirees to make new friends and feel at home. However, it’s important to note that Kauai has limited healthcare facilities compared to other islands, so retirees should consider their medical needs before making a decision.

Big Island – Affordable, adventurous island life

The Big Island, officially known as Hawaii Island, is the largest and most affordable Hawaiian island to retire on. With its diverse landscapes, including active volcanoes, black sand beaches, and lush valleys, the Big Island offers retirees a unique and adventurous lifestyle. The island is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and stargazing at the world-famous Mauna Kea Observatory. The cost of living on the Big Island is generally lower compared to other islands, making it an attractive option for retirees on a budget. However, it’s important to consider the island’s remoteness and limited access to certain amenities.

Retiring in Hawaii offers a unique and fulfilling experience, but it’s essential to carefully consider the pros and cons of each island before making a decision. Whether you prefer the vibrant city life of Oahu, the upscale luxury of Maui, the laid-back vibe of Kauai, or the affordable adventure of the Big Island, each island has something special to offer retirees. Remember to do thorough research, visit the islands if possible, and consult with a financial advisor to determine which island aligns best with your retirement goals and budget.


While Hawaii offers an unparalleled island lifestyle, retiring there requires carefully weighing the pros and cons to ensure it aligns with your retirement vision and budget.

By selecting an affordable location, securing healthcare, and budgeting for visits and higher costs, you can make your Hawaii retirement dreams a reality. Approach island living with realistic expectations to enjoy the very best of paradise in your later years.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts