17 Reasons Not To Move To Hawaii, Hawaii (Voted by the locals!)

Kona sunset against palm trees on the Big Island Hawaii

This may come as a surprise, but the largest of the Hawaiian Islands- Hawaii itself- is not all rainbows and sunshine. In fact, sometimes, it’s the exact opposite. Here are 17 reasons NOT to move to Hawaii, Hawaii!

1. It’s Expensive

Everything comes with a price – and the cost of living in Hawaii is sky-high. Several factors play into this. Hawaii relies on supplies being shipped from the mainland- that includes goods such as food, clothes, furniture, cars, and everything in between. Because of this, prices go up.

Another factor is tourism. A large amount of Hawaii’s economy comes from tourism. Visitors are willing to pay more money, and therefore prices are raised. Additionally; land, housing, and other contributors are limited – consequentially pushing contractors to raise their prices.

When speaking to people from the island, one of the first things that they mentioned was how expensive it was to live there. Michelle Gray; a resident of Kona, Hawaii; shared several insights about what makes it difficult to live in the coveted state of paradise – the first reason being its expenses. She shared the following quote:

“Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to live in the US. Big Island is actually one of the less expensive islands. But still extremely expensive.”

Michelle gray, hawaii resident

2. There are Limited Resources

Closely related to the stacked prices within the State, resources are limited in Hawaii. On top of all of these expenses, when resources become limited, prices increase even higher. This can be a great frustration because often when there is a shortage in items, there is usually a greater need for them, and less subsequentially less capital to buy them with.

While some things are made or grown on the island, most things are imported from the mainland or another country. Residents on the island are more vulnerable and reliant on the economy of the U.S. because of this.

Hawaiian residents are very dependent on the mainland in order to sustain the livelihoods that have been established there. Without suppliers to deliver resources, they will be left without food, clothing, transportation, medicine, technology, and many other things taken for granted in other parts of the United States.

3. Shipping is Complicated

Going hand in hand with limited resources, everything must be shipped to -and from- Hawaii. This is a bit more complex than in other states for a few different reasons. For one, it costs more to ship things across the Pacific Ocean. Another thing is that it takes much longer both to ship things into Hawaii as well as from Hawai i- and not everyone does ship goods to the island. Additionally, when economies go haywire, barge strikes become an issue.

Kenya Ramirez, who grew up on the Big Island, stated this about issues with shipping to Hawaii,

“It’s very far away from the mainland, which can be hard due to the fact that we get everything shipped to us; so if for some reason the cargo ship workers go on strike (like they have in the past), then we get the bum end of things and are extremely limited on the food and supplies we have.”

Kenya Ramirez, Former Resident of Hawaii

Strikes are a bigger deal than one might think, too. Michelle Gray, a current resident of Hawaii, gave this insight regarding strikes:

“Barge strikes could cut all supplies to the island- ie. food, medicine, building supplies, and everything!”

michelle gray, resident of hawaii

Beyond food, clothes, transportation, and other practicalities; resources also extend to medicines and other health care expenses. It can become dangerous when needs are not met.

4. It’s Far From Healthcare

Even though there are hospitals on the Island, there are simply some healthcare needs that can’t be met. Whether it be specialists must be flown in or a patient needs to leave the island to get the care they require, it is not uncommon for individuals to go through extensive processes in order to be treated properly for their personal needs. There are also limited beds and doctors within hospitals.

These same principles apply to mental healthcare.

Regarding medical in general, Michelle and other locals stated the following:

“We’re very remote with limited services on Big Island. The main hospital on Kona side is only a trauma 3. Anything major has to be transported to Oahu. At the patient’s expense. Better have Life Flight insurance.”

Michelle Gray & Other Locals

Kelsey Gray, a teenager who grew up in Kona, also mentioned the lack of medical care and how expensive it can be.

5. There are Limited Activities

While there are fun things to do on the rainbow showered haven, someone could drive the entire loop in one day. After spending about a week being a tourist, a person could potentially run out of activities to do on the island. Especially if they don’t surf or hike.

Hawaii does not have much nightlife. Kelsey explained that nothing is open past 9:30 and that there are no restaurants to go to. Michelle confirmed this when she shared that there is a lack of things for kids to do, and many of them get into things like drugs and early pregnancies. She said that this cycle repeats itself.

6. Island Fever

One could easily get what is referred to as “island fever”. This is the feeling of being stuck on the island with nowhere to go. Hawaii is one big loop. There are only so many places to safely go to, and one could feel that they have exhausted their visitations rather quickly.

Outside of Big Island, people can island hop to the different islands surrounding Hawaii – but this can become expensive. After finding a time that works with one’s schedule and purchasing tickets, they must find transportation and places to stay on the other islands.

Eventually, visiting other islands might get old, too. The bottom line is that it is harder to travel and easier to feel stuck when living in Hawaii.

7. It’s Far From Everyone

Hawaii is a tiny dot on the world map. The Island of Hawaii itself is a whole flight away from its neighboring islands. Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific makes it difficult to stay in touch with the world, friends, and family. Seeing the world and people on the mainland is even more expensive and time-consuming.

Here’s what Michelle had to say about traveling and relationships with others:

“Travel is expensive to and from the island and mainland. It makes seeing family and being present for all the wonderful events [difficult].”

michelle gray, resident of hawaii

8. There’s Limited Education

The Big Island has limited educational opportunities. Past high school, Hawaii only has one college. The University of Hawai’i at Hilo is a community college for public liberal arts.

Kelsey also expressed that there is a lack of college credits, as well as a lack of athletic scholarships. She expressed,

“I play Waterpolo and paddling. And those are the sports I would play, but there are no good opportunities for scholarships or scouts.”

Kelsey gray, resident of hawaii

Locals and Michelle confirm this regarding the education offered on the island in general:

“…the kids can tell the teachers don’t care, so they don’t care…”

michelle & other locals

9. There’s Limited Social Life

Because Hawaii is an island in the middle of the sea it is hard to meet new people. Whether it be friends, love interests, mentors, or really anyone. The lack of activities, travel, and high costs of travel, also reduce the opportunity numbers for making new connections.

Not only does one miss out on seeing people in person, but they miss out on world and social events. Things as simple as going to the movies, having a game night with friends, attending a concert, or whatever it may be might not be options.

10. Traffic is Frustrating

Believe it or not, traffic is a very prevalent issue in paradise! Most of the island is one lane on each side, so if a car is caught driving behind a slow driver, they are pretty much stuck for the entire ride. Thankfully the drive is full of beautiful scenery, however, the road veers close to steep cliffs in many areas, so it’s important not to get distracted and to keep your eyes on the road.

11. Housing is a Mess

The chances of ever owning a house in Hawaii, Hawaii are pretty slim for the average island resident. With the amount of pay to cost of living ratio, the home or apartment one can afford to live in is likely not within purchasing budget. A different reason that reduces the chances of becoming a homeowner would simply be that no one is selling. The only option may just be to rent.

Because of the lack of affordable housing, it is common for multiple families to live in the same place and work many jobs at the same time to pay for their place of living.

12. There are Weather Changes

It seems to be that everyone who isn’t from Hawaii thinks it is always perfect- but that isn’t the case. Kenya had the following to say about the weather:

The weather changes…It can be sunny in the morning and a huge storm in the afternoon. Which is normal in most places but everyone thinks, “sunshine and no clouds” because Hawaii is paradise.

Kenya Ramirez

There are also many rainy months within the year. If one is used to a snowy Christmas, it can feel strange to have a warm winter that feels more like July.

Without proper expectations, one shouldn’t move to Hawaii. The beach is not always fun, either. On windy days, the sand can blow in someone’s eyes, the roads can be too dangerous to drive, or the waves can be too gnarly to enjoy.

13. It’s a Welfare State

Hawaii is a welfare state. This leads many people to choose to live on the island, but not to work. This contributes to poor economics and uses many of the limited resources of the island.

14. Vog is a Problem

Vog is air pollution that comes from the smoke of volcanic activity or volcanic smog in other words. The active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kilauea, is the source of vog on the Big Island. Kilauea erupted last year, in September of 2021. The Vog makes it difficult to breathe and can be especially harmful to those with asthma or other breathing disorders.

15. There are Cultural Differences

Many who come to live on the island do not understand the rich, sacred history or background of the Hawaiian culture. Many do not take the time to learn, and this is very disrespectful to the islanders of Hawaii as well as to the land.

Even if one is born and raised on the island, however, it is common to be treated differently if in the minority as a caucasian – just as it is common for minorities with darker skin to be treated differently on the mainland.

16. Employment is an Issue

Employment is a huge issue in Hawaii. Both lack of employment and the jobs themselves. Starting with young people, Kelsey shared that there is a lack of job opportunities – especially for teenagers. This contributes to the problem mentioned earlier of kids getting into trouble and hard situations like addictive substances and teen pregnancies because of the lack of things to do, as well as many other factors which won’t be discussed in this article.

Michelle and her coworkers also provided this quote regarding employment issues:

“No one wants to work! So restaurants, stores, well- everything is short staffed!”

Aside from a lacking push for people to want to work, there is also a lack of quality jobs within the island’s work field. This means that those who do work may have to find several jobs, because few offer a living wage, as the state is such an expensive place to live.

17. There are Time Differences

There is a big time difference between Hawaii and the rest of the United States, as well as most of the rest of the world. Additionally, Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time. This makes remote learning, employment, and all other communication with anyone off-island inconvenient and in most cases somewhat difficult.

Nathan Aydelotte

Hello! I'm Nathan, the lead editor for Suggested by locals. I grew up in the Boise, Idaho area and have lived here most of my life. I enjoy being close to the mountains where I can go hiking, camping, and mountain biking.

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