11 Things to Know Before Retiring in Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is a beautiful area full of sandy beaches and sunny skies. Its eight major islands are considered a tropical paradise by the millions of tourists that visit the various islands each year, but are they good places to retire in?

1. Beautiful Islands

The Hawaii islands are known to be beautiful tropical paradises, and the island of Oahu is no exception. Many of the islands have a mix of nature and metropolises, mainly because of how many tourists visit each year. Many of the homes that have been built have picturesque views of the ocean, and private pools in the backyards with minimal greenery that needs to be taken care of since most of the plants do not require a lot of extra watering in order to survive.

This is great for people who simply want to enjoy living their lives without having to maintain many plants, and for people who enjoy lounging on the sandy beach.

2. Plenty of Activities Available

When you live in Hawaii, you have access to many activities that are available. However, most of these activities are typically meant to draw in tourists rather than the local residents.

These activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Climbing inactive volcanos
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming with turtles and dolphins
  • Shopping
  • Boat rides
  • Luaus

There are a mix of high and low energy activities, which is perfect for retirees of all types.

3. Warm Temperatures

Hawaii almost always has warm temperatures, which is great for people who enjoy spending most of their free time outside in the warm sunshine. This is especially great to those who have previously lived in places with a lot of cold weather, and are tired of feeling cold.

Hawaii typically only has two seasons; winter and summer. The average daytime temperature during the summer is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average daytime temperature during the winter is 78 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a massive difference compared to the temperature in the winter for most of the states in America. source

Because of the wind that comes off of the sea, the temperatures are rarely unbearable. This is great for people who enjoy going to the beach every day because it is rarely too cold to go to the nearby beaches.

4. Seasonal Storms

Even though Hawaii is on the border of a tropical zone, an area that is likely to get the brunt of seasonal storms, the weather is surprisingly calm. However, this does not mean that the weather is always picture perfect. It can become very windy, and a tropical storm does occur once or twice a year. These storms cause giant ocean swells, gigantic waves, torrential rains, and 70 miles per hour, or faster, winds. source

Luckily, hurricanes don’t often make landfall on the shores of Hawaii. “Only two hurricanes in recorded history have made landfall in Hawaii: Hurricane Iniki in 1992 and Hurricane Dot in 1959.” source

However, this does not mean that other natural disasters do not occur in Hawaii. But since natural disasters rarely occur on their shores, many of the buildings on the shore have had time to improve their buildings in ways that help them stay structurally sound during a natural disaster.

Some of the other natural disasters that can occur in Hawaii include, but are not limited to:

  • Earthquakes
  • Flash Floods
  • Tsunamis

5. Seasonal Tourists

One of the biggest cons of living in Hawaii is the number of tourists that visit each year. In 2019, an estimated 10.4 million tourists visited the islands. source That is a lot of people, especially considering the fact that most of Hawaii’s islands are not very large. When a large number of tourists visit, it is impossible to avoid them. The beaches become even more crowded, and so do the local restaurants.

Unfortunately, most tourists choose to visit Hawaii during the same time frames: during the summer and the holidays. This means that hotels and resorts are almost always fully booked during the times where you most want your family to visit, if you do choose to retire in Hawaii. It also means that the already congested traffic becomes even worse, and it is almost impossible to go anywhere.

6. Expensive to Live There

If you are planning to retire in Oahu, be prepared to spend a lot of money. Oahu is considered to be one of the most expensive islands in Hawaii, and the median price of a single-family home on Oahu $880,000. This means that you will not have a lot of rooms for visiting family members to stay in while they visit. The median price of a condominium is currently $430,000. source

The cost of living in Hawaii is also more expensive than many states on the American mainland. Because many everyday items have to be flown across the ocean in order to be in the stores in Hawaii, the cost of goods is higher. Everything from groceries to clothing costs around 30% higher in Hawaii than they do in the mainland. source

7. Taxes

If you do not enjoy paying high taxes, then you are in luck. Hawaii is moderately tax-friendly toward retirees. Social Security income and public pension income are not taxed. However, private pension income is fully taxed. source

However, the Hawaii sales tax is very low at an average of 4%, sometimes getting to 4.5% in rare cases. source This is very low compared to the tax rates of many states in America.

However, Hawaii is not a great place for retirees, even ones who have financial freedom. The cost of living is very high in the Aloha State. Current data shows that the cost of consumer goods are very high in Hawaii,
Honolulu is the third most expensive city in the country, which may not matter if you are planning on living and staying in Oahu, Hawaii has the third most expensive nursing homes nationwide, and your expenses will likely cost more than your current home state. source

This means that if you have a fixed income, or are living off of a retirement fund, it may not be the best choice for you and your family to retire in Hawaii. Your retirement fund will last a lot longer in the mainland than in Hawaii.

8. Away From United States Mainland

If you move to Hawaii, you will be away from any family members that live on the United States mainland. This means that if you want to see them, you will have to endure at least a 6-hour flight. While this is great for people who enjoy traveling and being on a plane, this is not so great for people who may struggle traveling.

If family members want to come to visit you, which is very likely, it will be very expensive for them. Plane tickets can cost upwards of $600 per person, and that doesn’t include the hotel costs if you do not have room to house them. These prices skyrocket during the seasonal holidays and during the summer when everyone wants to visit a tropical paradise. These travel costs may not be feasible for many families, which means that you may go years without seeing any of your family members.

9. Constant Travel

Hawaii is made of islands, which means that they are not connected by land. This means that even if you do own a car, you will not be able to use it to go to another one of the islands. Instead, you will have to travel by boat or ferry when you want to visit one of the other islands, which just adds to the high cost of living. This means that you will constantly be traveling, especially if you want to go to a restaurant or shop that is only located on another island.

This may be inconvenient for you if the seas are choppy or if you are in a rush, but need to get something from another one of the islands. If you choose to live and retire in Oahu, you will constantly be traveling, especially if you enjoy visiting the other islands.

10. Traffic

Hawaii does have many roads, but they do not have the infrastructure that many large states in America have in order to make traffic less clogged. This means that traffic is always awful, even on Sundays, when there are not many people on the roads. The traffic is even worse during the holidays and summer months when tourists are visiting and using rented vehicles, especially because they are typically relying on GPS or guides in order to get to where they want to go, which means that they typically drive at slower speeds than they should.

Hawaii’s traffic is some of the nation’s worst.  We know of friends that moved to LA from Honolulu and they think Honolulu is worse.  The freeways look like parking lots during rush hours that can stretch a normally 30-minute commute into a two-hour crawl. 

11. Crowded

Many of the islands of Hawaii are not very large, so the islands are very crowded. Houses are not spaced out because so many people want to live and visit Hawaii. This means that unless you have a decent fence, which probably blocks your coveted and expensive view of the ocean, you will be looking into your neighbor’s backyard, which may become awkward if you do not know your neighbors very well.

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Tanson Allen

Hey! I'm Tanson! I am a writer and editor on suggested by locals. I studied business in college and hope to start my own business one day. My favorite hobby is eating ice cream.

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