The Good, (Real Good) The Bad (Not as Good), and The Ugly in Moving To Hawaii

When you think of Hawaii, what do you think of?

Like most people, you probably think of things like:


moving to hawaii beach



Beach – the beaches here are beautiful, even the busy ones.  If you make an effort to get out and about, you can even find some secluded ones that appear untouched. 

Here’s the truth though – we live in Hawaii, but most don’t live at the beach.  I was very much relieved to see this article below.  We’ve made a beach day only once so far, and I thought it was just me. lol 

The ocean in Hawaii is wonderful, but you won’t be in it as much as you think. People ask me if I surf everyday. They think I sit on Waikiki beach and type my blog or handle my escrows, etc. Nope, I sit at a desk in my office, just like you. We do go to the beach often, maybe 3-5 times a month. We prefer Kailua Beach to Waikiki, and sometimes we go to Portlock’s small beach. There are still plenty of empty beaches in Oahu, and if you buy a house here, I’ll show you some of them! (Source)

Eucomis bicolor in garden

Tropical Setting & Flowers –  simply put, the flowers in Hawaii are gorgeous.   I’ve never seen so many varieties and colors.  I’ve even seen weeds that have beautiful flowers. This is one HUGE reason I chose Kauai as the island I wanted to live on – it is the “Garden Isle” after all.

As you might expect, this much foliage and flowers don’t make Hawaii such a tropical setting without water.  This is where the rain comes in. 

Also, be sure to keep this in mind – Every Island is Different. 

It’s easy for an outsider, especially one who has never before visited the Hawaiian islands, to paint them all with the same broad brush. They all are part of the same state, are pretty close to each other and should be about the same, right? Not only did I quickly learn about the natural differences between the islands, but I also noticed the cultural ones as well.

There are six main Hawaiian islands which most tourists visit: Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, Lanai, Molokai and Kauai. A variety of influences have separated the islands by more than just water, and you really can’t say that you know Hawaii if you haven’t explored them all. I’ve only been to two: Oahu and Lanai, and of course the two couldn’t be more different. In spite of the differences though, I did notice a commonality, a common sense of belonging. While there are regional and local differences, I found incredible pride about living in Hawaii and for some, being considered Hawaiian. (SOURCE)

moving to hawaii fun


Fun – What can I say here.  There are a BUNCH of ways to have fun when on Kauai, living here or visiting.  The really cool thing is that fun activities in Hawaii are not all about water.  Sure, most people want to enjoy the water activities but there is so much more. 

My daughter and I vacationed in Kauai December 2014 before actually moving here and I picked up one of those 101 Things To Do magazines.  Here is a snippet of a blog post I wrote (101 Things To Do In Kauai Or Not)  giving you an idea of the MANY things to do when in Hawaii. 

Water activities like: 

Whale Watching Tour
Sunset Snorkel Cruises and more
Paddle Boarding
Sports fishing
Catamaran tours

Zip Lining: 

Something we wanted to do but my daughter researched and said she had to be 80lbs or more.  I didn’t verify this, I was good to wait. lol

Activities in the Air: 

Sky Diving
Helicopter Tours
Bi-plane tours

Land Activities: 

Bicycle Tour
Wet Rappel – rappel the faces of waterfalls
Horseback Riding
ATV tours
Ranch Adventures
Museums, History, Gardens
Exploring Caves
Tours and more tours
Playing and picnic at the beach
Sight seeing – Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei pier, numerous beaches, Old Koloa Town, and much much more. 

Dining: (My Fave)

Hawaiian Cuisine
Shaved Ice
Luau –
Taste of Kauai Eating tour (yes,…there an eating tour)
Kauai Coffee shop, coffee tasting and coffee fields tour – this could be under shopping but if you do this right, you can enjoy and fill up on some awesome coffee.

 I could probably go on and I didn’t count to see if I listed 101 things but you can certainly find them in the 101 Things To Do Magazine for any island you want to visit.

moving to hawaii sunsets

Sunsets – Well, I think the picture just says it all, doesn’t it? This was a picture I took while visiting with friends at the Sheraton in Poipu. Just breathtaking! 

The Hawaiian sunset (see more photos) – you’ve heard about it, you’ve seen photos of it, and now you can finally see for yourself what all the hype is about! A large part of Hawaii’s spiritual draw can be attributed to its unique and inspirational sunset views. Gorgeous red, orange, pink and blue hues leave spectators in awe as the sun makes its way toward the horizon. The ubiquitous sunshine that provided 12 hours of life-giving light and beach and outdoor fun sinks peacefully into the sea as if being tucked in after a hard day’s work. (SOURCE)

moving to hawaii hula

Hula  – 

Hula /ˈhlə/ is a dance form accompanied by chant (oli) or song (mele). It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The hula dramatizes or portrays the words of the oli or mele in a visual dance form.

Hula dancing is a complex art form, and there are many hand motions used to represent the words in a song or chant. For example, hand movements can signify aspects of nature, such as the swaying of a tree in the breeze or a wave in the ocean, or a feeling or emotion, such as fondness or yearning. Foot and hip movements often pull from a basic library of steps including the kaholo, ka’o, kawelu, hela, ‘uwehe, and ‘ami. (SOURCE)

Click Image to Read Article
Click Image to Read Article


Surfing – Take some time to enjoy an article I found, you can View it here

Pure Hawaiian

Beyond the glitz of tourist beaches, locals cling to the spirit of the ocean.


moving to hawaii reality

The were just a few of the things I thought about before I moved to Hawaii. 

Now let me set this straight, Hawaii (Kauai especially) is like living in a modern day Garden of Eden.  I LOVE IT

There has never been any other place in the world that purely MOVES MY SOUL like Kauai. 

There is however,  a realistic side of things you might want to know about when moving to Hawaii. 

For example: 

Cost of things – there have been some things that have taken a little getting used to, but nothing that can’t be worked around.  For example, I’m learning where to shop for most items, what’s worth watching for sales at grocery stores,  what I make a trip to Walmart for, and what I can freeze when buying in bulk. Think Costco which has become my BEST Friend ever for groceries! 

Check out this article I found that gives you an idea of how things work when you move to Hawaii.  (note locations may vary as well as when this article was written, etc)

House:  It’s hard to generalize about housing costs, but the Big Island is more expensive than most of America, but cheaper than most big cities.

You can buy a house as cheap as $200K, but the largest number of single family homes are available in $300K to $600K range.   AlohaLiving has the best detail for the MLS listings, while  Zillow has the best map view of what’s available.

Most homes with 3 bedrooms run $1,000 to $2,000 per month, but it’s certainly easy to spend more.   Kirsten organized a bunch of links for long-term rentals in Kona at her site, so you can go there to find examples of what’s available.

Cars & Gas:  Cars cost roughly the same as the mainland.  It’s about $1,000 to ship one here from the west coast.   Kirsten also set up a page about shipping cars to Hawaii

We find that we drive a lot less here because the town is much smaller, so we save on gas, even though it costs about 50 cents to $1.00 more than most places on the mainland

Insurance:  Both my renters’ insurance and auto insurance are double what I paid in Virginia.  I think Virginia was especially cheap, but our agent here told me that Hawaii has the highest rates in the country.   Health insurance seems to be about 30% cheaper.

Utilities: The good news is that unless you live at a high elevation, you don’t spend money on heat.  However, the electricity is insanely expensive here.   A single family house will run $200-$500 per month.  If you run the AC, you can easily double that amount.

Groceries:  Walking into a regular grocery store like Safeway will make you feel violated.  I’d estimate that normal pricing is 40% higher than the mainland.

In Kona, we also have a Target and a Walmart, which are about 20% higher than what you’re used to.  Finally, we have Costco, which besides being cheapest overall, is probably only 10% more than the mainland.

Our shopping strategy is to buy everything we can at Costco, fill in as many grocery items as possible at Target/Walmart, and try to minimize the number of things we need at the grocery store.  There’s probably about 5-10% of items that we still have to get there because of their wider variety.

Restaurants:  Prices here run 20-30% more than the mainland, because their costs are greater as well.  Looking for “Kids eat Free”?  Good luck with that.

And whenever you see ad campaigns on TV for sales like “$5 footlongs” at Subway, the tiny type at the bottom of the screen says “at participating locations.”  Now you know who doesn’t participate.

Clothing:  Finally, an area of savings!  We haven’t bought any winter wear and we only buy clothes for the kids when they wear out or outgrow them, as opposed to a shift in seasons.   Total savings are about 50% from what we spent in Virginia.

Shopping can be a bit challenging here as the shops do tend to be expensive, with limited selection.  Kirsten orders most clothes for herself and the kids online.  Amazon offers their free super saver shipping here, but does not offer the Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping.  Many other companies have the same shipping policies as they do for other states, but that’s not always the case.

Vacations:  We were active travelers and have scaled way back.  Partly because it’s expensive to get other places, partly because we are where we want to be.   It’s turned out to be a savings of thousands for us, but your mileage may vary.

Active Pursuits:  The good news is that most water sports are free once you have equipment.  Surfing, stand up paddleboarding, boogie boarding, snorkeling, and SCUBA all have some stuff to buy.  One cool thing is that parking is free and easily available virtually everywhere, so once you sink a little money into some toys, you can have a lot of cheap fun.

Entertainment:  We have lots of free entertainment at the festivals, parades, and other community events.   However, there aren’t a lot of big concerts or other shows here on the Big Island, so you’ll probably save money because there are simply less opportunities. (SOURCE)

Here’s a funny video that does give you some idea of prices on Kauai 

The many new friends you’ll make (non human) ~ BUGS

One problem many people contemplating a move to Hawaii consider is how many and what types of bugs they are going to encounter in their new home. Though I can catch a cobra, krait, or coral snake with my hands, I’m no fan of bugs that bite. I avoid them like the plague.

Hawaii doesn’t have any venomous snakes, but they do have some biting and stinging bugs, some of which you are likely to encounter (fire ants, centipedes) and some you likely won’t see, like scorpions.

moving to hawaii bugs

   I’m not going to lie, these are the things I dread most and we’ve found two in our house so far.  I can     assure you, we do our best to keep a clean house now while living in Kauai.

   Sadly, after my daughter got bitten by one in her bed, I believe she is now convinced at how                      important it is to have a clean room. FINALLY


We LOVE Hawaii and we are still very happy to have made the choice to move to Kauai.  We’ve just come to terms with the fact that life as we know it is now different and we embrace and accept that.  

Life is an adventure after all.

moving to hawaii Life-is-An-Adventure


Changes in the way you live:  Life is going to be different.

As with any move to any location, things are going to be different.  If you didn’t want different, chances are, you wouldn’t have moved.  

Here are some things I’ve found to be uniquely different since my move from Las Vegas to Kauai.

~ bug spray instead of perfume or cologne

~ Frontline is your pets best friend

~ having sharp objects laying around inside the house to chop up centipedes that wander out of bedding

~ very aware of every speck of food, drink, etc. because of Ants that find food within 30 seconds,  

~ dog MUST eat when fed – no leaving anything laying out

~ cute geckos and the not so cute stuff  they leave behind but I accept because they eat other bugs (roaches)

Although these things are not earth shattering, they are realistic and hopefully give you an idea of Hawaii life is really like. 

Now I share these things not to be a Debbie Downer 

Frankly, I am more than willing to deal with these and live with them (literally) because the benefits and joy of living on this island far outweigh the inconveniences

I just thought you might want to know. 

NOW consider this, 

What I share here are just my opinions and my experiences of my life here on Kauai.  Other islands will vary and your experiences will vary as well.  I write this post to just give you an idea of some things you might encounter so you make your move to Hawaii with your eyes wide open. 

What else would you like to know about making a move to Hawaii? 

Are there questions I can answer, things I can share with you, please let me know by leaving me a comment below. 

Until the next post. 




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17 thoughts on “The Good, (Real Good) The Bad (Not as Good), and The Ugly in Moving To Hawaii”

  1. The photo of the centerpede was it for me. I really want to move to Kauai. Just came back from 2 weeks. volunteered to photograph the dogs at the Kauai Humane Society and also took a dog out on the field trip program. Fell in love with him. Adopted him and named him Makai Makana for Ocean Gift. He now lives with my other 5 dogs in Dallas. From talking to many mainland people who live in Hawaii, they seem to tell me the same thing and that is it’s expensive and unless I am really rich, I would have to work 2-3 jobs. I am a professional photographer so I am sure I can make a living. The toughest part is convincing my husband to move. Sometimes in life you have to just take a risk. I am glad you did and love it there. We have 6 dogs so definitely won’t be able to rent so will have to buy but the average house is 700K? It’s kind of crazy. Maybe I will continue to dream.

    1. What an AWEsome story that is!!! You are so very AWESOME for doing what ever it took to get Makai home with you!! Things do cost more here, but I am here to tell you, I’m not rich (YET) and I live here. I am willing to forgo some frivilous things I might have bought and done before for the island lifestyle. Clothes are not as important as they used to be, I’d rather be in shorts and a tank top. If you shop around, you can find good deals on housing and it all depends on where you want to live. Like most places, there are people that must sell and move and are willing to negotiate. Let me know if you need a good Realtor Blessings

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