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

Honolulu, Hawaii is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, located on Oahu island. It’s considered idyllic and comfortable for some, but for those who live there, it’s an area filled with flaws. Its linear growth rate has made it home to over 905,000 people as of 2022Opens in a new tab.. So, with all the individuals and families residing in this city, what are some reasons they should have considered before moving here?

There are often many different factors that take place in deciding which cities to move into. Here are 17 reasons not to move to Honolulu, Hawaii.

17. Food Variety

Since Honolulu is located on an island and they don’t have as many outlets supplying food as much as mainland cities do, the variety can be pretty sparse sometimes.

It was much worse before Costco came to town, but still, you’d be surprised at what they lack. The fresh fruit selection is not very good aside from the local supply of pineapples, bananas, and papayas. Fruit that has to be shipped in is rarely ripe and either overripe or underripe. Peaches are the best example, as residents of Honolulu can only get really sweet and juicy peaches for perhaps 2-3 weeks out of the yearOpens in a new tab., as there is a substandard selection after that.

The restaurants are also very limited. There are plenty of different Asian and seafood cuisines, but Mexican, Italian, Greek, and others are simply out of the question.

16. Confusing Roads

The roads can also be very confusing around the island, especially in parts of Honolulu. In the area of Honolulu that I was living in, it was impossible to find places. You’d think you could rely on street signs and other clues to get you where you needed to go, but they just aren’t clear enough to rely on.

The residential areas also look very similar to one another, so it’s hard to recognize exactly where you are just by observing your surroundings.

15. Schools

Having gone to school here, I can agree with the studies that show that schools in Honolulu are some of the worst in the state. The little funding shows in what they lack. Teachers are rude to students who don’t share the same culture as them, and supplies and other amenities that make learning more fun for students, are unavailable.

There are private schools available that will provide your children with better education, but they are extremely expensive.

14. Limited Options

Living on an island provides issues many people don’t have to think about on the mainland. For example, housing. There aren’t many options for new places to live, and it’s not like you can just look a couple of towns over to find a better fit for what you’re looking for, as everything the island has to offer is within only a couple of miles of where you are at any given time.

The recreational activities are also very limited, like restaurants and other variations of entertainment. There are only a handful of movie theaters, hikes available, and restaurants that are all very similar.

13. Culture Shock

The shock of the cultural differences can be so abrasive that it may take a while to grow accustomed to. The main population in Honolulu is Polynesian.

The Polynesian people who first settled in the area more than one thousand years ago have strong fishing roots, which is reflected in the lives of the people who continue to make a living fishing in Oahu today. This can be very different from what many of the people who desire to move there may be used to.

12. Wildlife

The wildlife needs to be considered before moving to this city because if you’re not prepared, you’re going to have a rude awakening.

Something my family wasn’t expecting when we first settled into our apartment was how many ants and cockroaches shared the apartment with us. The roaches fly or crawl, and no matter what traps you buy, you will never get them all. There are also lizards and geckos that also litter the streets, eventually becoming as commonplace as the bugs they eat.

There’s also wildlife in the ocean. Several times out of the year, beaches will be shut down because sharks are too close to close to the shore. This is an unsettling reality when you’re out in the ocean swimming with your kids. Jellyfish are also a threat when enjoying the water, but those are more sneaky hazards that don’t cause most beaches to shut down, and can sting you at any moment.

11. Island Problems

Many islands face the same issues when moving there or visiting for the first time that many don’t take into account. The ocean, as well as the rain, can cause intense humidity levels.

There’s also the fact that since you are very limited to places in which you can go, given the fact that you’ll be met with water too far in any direction. So, road trips are definitely out of the question. This can also lead some individuals to feel claustrophobic.

10. Overcrowded

Honolulu has been increasing in population steadily over the last several years and is projected to grow to over 1 million people in the coming years. With all these people swarming in, it’s a given that the city would feel overcrowded. An area that once had a lot of room with beautiful, expansive land is now being overrun with people.

Though it’s necessary to pander to the growth in population, with the tourism businesses, the constant construction, and too much emphasis on building as much and as fast as possible, it feels as though it’s all being built on top of each other.

The more that’s built, the more charm Honolulu once had is lost in the craze. Those that live, and have lived, there, wish things could have just been left alone as they miss the peaceful community, but are all well aware that it’s now a thing of the past.

9. Traffic

The influx of people coming in at any given time to the island, and especially the city, bring more people on the roads. The traffic can be crazy at peak hours but has a hard time speeding up throughout the day.

With these drivers coming from all over the place, their driving styles can be quite different than what the locals are accustomed to. Because of this, traffic can get backed up when outsiders don’t know the laws or rules of the road, and even lead to accidents because of the same reasons.

8. Natural disasters

It’s no surprise that Hawaii has potential for natural disasters, and Honolulu branches from that with volcanos, earthquakes, tsunamis, and more. These can be incredibly dangerous to islanders and should be taken seriously when deciding to move to this city.

When I was living here as a kid, I used to get terrified at school when entire days were devoted to drills in case of a natural disaster taking place while we were in class. They would also have to sit us down and explain how if it were to happen while we were away from our families, it would take time after everything settled down before we could go home and see them again.

Recovery from experiences like this can also be incredibly hard and take mental, physical, and financial tolls.

7. Weather

The weather in this city, like most islands, is unpredictable. At any given moment, it can go from a nice, beach-worthy day, to pouring rain and raging monsoon within a couple of minutes.

There are also the dangers of the sun. Many may not know how dangerous the heat can be, and don’t take the proper precautions when going out and exposing themselves. It can cause dehydration, heat stroke, fatigue, terrible burns, and situations that can at times be lethal if the they are bad enough.

6. The Aftermath of the Rain

As mentioned before, the rain on this island can be hard to deal with, but the aftermath is just as bad. Once it begins to rain, it can continue for days without slowing down or stopping, which in turn can cause flooding.

The floods associated with the rain produce water damage to homes and property and sometimes even lead to power outages. The power outages are inconvenient and dangerous. It frightens people, causes food to spoil, and set individuals and families back financially while trying to recover.

The rain also causes an increase in rust on homes and vehicles that is impossible to avoid.

5. Expensive

Honolulu is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the state of Hawaii. Buying a house is nearly impossible for new homeowners right away, especially in specific areas. Opening any kind of business can be super hard as well if finances are an issue.

On top of the cost of living and with nationwide inflation rates, necessary items are growing in price, making any kind of quality of life hard to accomplish on a budget.

4. Jobs

Despite the higher cost of living within this city, the pay in any given job is usually lower than the national average by about 20%. If you were to have a job on the mainland and then move over to Honolulu, many are surprised by the pay cut while also having to deal with the higher cost of living. With so many people wanting to move here from all over the world, this could be the cause of why this massive pay gap is so apparent.

The middle class in Honolulu is also considered to be living at the poverty level. Most families there live paycheck to paycheck, don’t have disposable income, have humble homes, and normally have more than one job. If you were to move here you need to be earning at least $150,000 a year to have what on the mainland can be had for $75,000 a year in many other cities in the United States.

On top of all that, jobs are also just incredibly hard to find, start, and/or retain in general for new move-ins.

3. Crime rates

Homicides, robberies, assaults, and rape cases on Oahu are at 3-year highsOpens in a new tab., according to the Honolulu Police Department in 2022, elevating concern among police and federal law enforcement officials using data and crime prevention tactics to contend with threats to public safety.

We lived in an apartment complex where everyone would put their strollers and children’s outdoor toys under the stairwells communally. It was on several occasions where we would spot different people trying to steal our, or other people’s, property while they walked by. It was always a gamble when keeping your things outside for anyone to have access to.

These are definitely things to ponder when deciding to move here, especially with children.

2. Exclusivity

If you aren’t a local of Honolulu, you never will be. Moving to an area with so much emphasis on culture and like-mindedness is always risky, and Honolulu is no exception.

The majority of residents have been living here for generations, and don’t take too kindly to new folks trying to settle down in their territory. During my time living here, my family had mentioned on countless occasions how awkward social gatherings could be when no one would acknowledge them, and if they did, not be so friendly with the things they would say.

They take pride in what they’ve been able to do in the time their families have grown up there, so count on being an outsider.

1. Tourism

Oahu is Hawaii’s most visited island, so it’s no wonder why it’s called the “Gathering Place”. Given that thousands come to visit every year, there’s also a huge market for tourism, which just so happens to be one of the biggest annoyances while living in such a picturesque area.

This industry increases traffic, prices for items and housing, and contributes to the overcrowding of the already growing city. Regular areas where locals enjoy visiting like the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Pearl Harbor memorial site are now ridiculously crowded nearly every day, causing treasures to be lost to those that have been enjoying them for their entire lives.

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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