Five months ago, I asked myself, ‘Should I move to Hawaii?’ A month later, my husband Isaac and I decided to sell our house, purge 90% of our belongings, and leave his home state and family to move to Hawaii with our 9-year-old rescue dog, Smiley. Today, I am writing this from my tiny one-bedroom rental in one of Maui’s rainy, mosquito-ridden regions. In this intentionally pessimistic article, I will give you ten (there are more) reasons why you SHOULD NOT MOVE TO HAWAII. In the summer, I’ll include a link to an article on the ten reasons why I did.
1. The Cost of Living is REALLY High
Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to live, especially if you are considering Honolulu. If you want to see just how much more it costs to live in a particular city, I highly recommend Numbeo. I’ve used it throughout several long-distance moves to get a better idea of how much things cost.
A few numbers to keep in mind for Honolulu:
- One gallon of milk is $6.84
- One gallon of gas is $4.00+
- Monthly utilities for a 915 square foot apartment is $279.95
- Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is $1,895.55
Here is a link for a Numbeo comparison between New York City and Honolulu for example, but you can compare any two cities.
2. Hawaii is the Most Isolated Landmass in the World
It is hard to explain Hawaii’s isolation if you haven’t been here. The Hawaiian archipelago is the world’s most isolated landmass. This is great if you want to get away from civilization, but getting anywhere is tough and expensive. A roundtrip flight to Europe can easily cost $2,000 and take over 24 hours, so I may be going a few more years without seeing my parents in Ukraine. The small and isolated islands also lead to island fever, which causes many people to leave after just a year here.
Although flights have gotten cheaper due to COVID-19, it can still cost an arm and a leg to fly to the US mainland from Hawaii. This is also the reason for such high import costs of anything from food, to furniture, to cars. Plus, it takes longer to send and receive packages. Some companies don’t even ship to Hawaii, and there are size limits to what can be sent.
I couldn’t buy my favorite treadmill here, even though it isn’t that big. You can buy more oversized items at stores here, including Costco and Walmart, but they may be more expensive and not what you are looking for. The only treadmill I could buy that didn’t cost $700 can only go 5 miles per hour and is useless for serious runners. The reason I didn’t want to spend $700 gets me to the next point…
3. Humidity, Mold, & Dirt, Oh My…
Before moving here, I watched a video that warned us about mold and dirt. Maui soil is reddish, and it gets windy here, so white clothes are tough to keep white. Another issue is the humidity which causes mold to grow everywhere. Pair that with a small living space, and here I am with my new treadmill living outside on the lanai… it won’t last long.
I live in Haiku in what is essentially a rainforest. Mold is everywhere, and I need to keep the dehumidifier running 24/7. Any time I turn it on, it says that humidity levels are at 84%. All fabrics feel damp in the morning, which is why I’m glad I’m not the kind of person to have fancy clothes. But I am still worried that I’ll have to shop for new clothes frequently because mold will inevitably take over your home even if you take prevention methods.
Here are a few mold prevention supplies that I’ve purchased on Amazon (#affiliate):
- Vacplus Moisture Absorber Packets ($25.99)
- Danby Energy Star 50-Pint Dehumidifier ($327.76)
- MOLD ARMOR Mold Blocker 32 OZ ($9.31)
Pro Tip: If you use a dehumidifier that creates gallons of water a day, you may be able to use the water for your houseplants. Just make sure to order a water quality tester device ($13.97) to ensure it’s safe.
4. Too Many Tourists, No Really…
Do not scoff at this point! I grew up in Prague, Czech Republic, where tourists outnumber residents. I also lived in Shanghai, China, where travel during Chinese holidays means waiting up to 3 hours in lines of hundreds of people, hordes everywhere. I am used to tourists, but keep in mind that Oahu and Maui, the most popular tourist destinations, are small islands.
They are simply not equipped to handle 100,000 tourists in a week, which has been typical for Maui in the past few weeks. Especially with the shortage of cars and rentals, tourists are renting U-Hauls and driving through the dangerous winding roads such as the road to Hana, endangering everyone on the road and causing traffic.
The definition of crowded is different here, I’ll admit, but it has a different impact. More tourists on the beach means the turtles shy away. Every rental car company being slammed means crazy prices, and if a resident has car trouble, they have no way to get to work. Tourism here has always been controversial and continues to be out of hand. It has a negative impact on locals and residents here as much, if not more, than in other tourist hotspots around the world.
5. Moving Pets Here is REALLY Difficult
Moving is never easy, but I assumed that it would be easier than my other moves (from the Czech Republic to China and then China to NYC) since I was moving within the USA. It turns out that Hawaii is the only rabies-free state, so bringing your pets is pricey and takes a long time. We started the process four months before our flight and got everything done just in time.
If you miss any documents or make any mistakes, your pet might be subject to weeks of quarantine that you have to pay for. And it is traumatic for your pet. Plus, if you have a pet other than a cat or a dog, you may not be able to bring it at all because of Hawaii’s strict environmental and wildlife laws.
Even though we did all the research and did everything right, our dog almost didn’t make it on the flight. Many breeds, including pit bulls, are restricted from flying. Airlines claim it is due to respiratory issues, but others say it’s an excuse to avoid the liability of “dangerous” breeds. Needless to say, most pit bulls I know are just as terrifying as Smiley:
We got lucky because Smiley is a rescue, and he got ID’d as a mixed breed by the airline. If he weren’t, he would have had to go on a special flight for dogs that takes a long time, is stressful for the animals, and can cost over $3k per pet. The rest of the process cost us about $1,500.
By the way, larger dogs also need to fly in cargo. There is just no way around it. Trust me; we looked into cruises, private boats, and private planes (possible if you have $30,000.) This was by far the most significant deterrent for us personally. Smiley ended up doing just fine on his flight, but there are many horror stories out there about dead, injured, and missing pets on flights.
6. Shopping for Basics is Obnoxiously Difficult
I already mentioned the higher prices and the limit on package sizes when online shopping. Another obstacle to shopping is location. The islands may be small, but you may have to drive far to get to a store, depending on where you live.
Then there’s the fact that local stores have fewer options and higher prices. We try hard to support local businesses, but when a passion fruit costs $5, it can be tempting to drive to Costo, even if it takes an hour. Unless you are rich, you will have to make many sacrifices to live in Hawaii, including ones you don’t expect until you experience them first hand.
7. Weak Phone Signal, Dropped Calls, & Bad Internet
During my 11-day cross-country road trip, I discovered that I am super spoiled when it comes to having a good signal and internet. Half the states we drove through, including upstate New York, had many issues with connectivity.
There are many dead spots on the island where you won’t get anything and others where your call will cut in and out. If you are used to full bars likeI am, it may be a cause of frustration. Plus, it can be a deal-breaker if your job requires being on-call.
8. Bloodthirsty Mosquitoes = Lifelong Scars
Any time I step outside, I literally play the Jaws theme song in my head. Except I’m not scared of a shark attack (although those happen here), I worry about being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Some areas of the island are mosquito-free – these are generally by the beach, where it’s super windy, so the mosquitos are swept away along with any possession you don’t nail down.
Everywhere else, mosquitos are abundant and more bloodthirsty than any horror-movie serial killer. I let my dog out the other day, and he took two whole minutes to poop. I returned home with 15 bites, no exaggeration. Locals claim that they prefer fresh blood, so newcomers get the worst of it, and then they get used to you. Well, it’s been a month, and I still can’t go outside without bathing in DEET. The temporary discomfort isn’t my only concern, it can cause lifelong scars!
9. Monotonous Weather and Seasons, No PSLs
You know that perfect fall day where it’s chilly, so you put on a nice sweater, grab a hot pumpkin spice beverage, get cozy by a window, and watch the leaves change color? Yeah, there is none of that here. There is also no proper winter, so you can say goodbye to snow days.
Sure, Hawaii has beach weather all year long, but it can get boring. There are rainy seasons, which also mean more mosquitos, and potentially no internet for the day if a tree takes out your power lines. The temperature stays pretty much the same, with more range at a higher elevation, but still no spring, winter, or fall, traditionally speaking. Also, it’s September and I still can’t find my pumpkin spice latte…
10. The Few Available Jobs Offer Low Salaries
There is a reason why so many native Hawaiians are forced to move. There aren’t many jobs available here, and when they are, the salaries are not good. A person living alone will likely make a little more than the cost of their rent. Since Hawaii is a highly-desired place to live, there is much competition for these low-paying jobs.
I work remotely for a company in Iowa and have an Iowa-appropriate salary. I supplement my income with a small business without which I could not afford to live here. Unless you have a hefty savings account, do not move here and expect to find a job that can support you easily. Plus, many rentals require evidence of income unless you opt for a $3,500 a month vacation rental.
There are many reasons not to move to Hawaii, but I did move here, as you know. I love living here and wouldn’t change it for the world, and you should check out my Should I Move to Hawaii? – 10 Reasons Why I Did article. Despite all the negative aspects, there is a reason why so many people make sacrifices to move here.
It is essential to do your research and consider all the pros and cons before making any life-changing move! I’d also like to point out that I lived in Hawaii before moving here. If you have visited for just a week as a tourist, you may have a skewed idea of what living here is like. Even though I was here for four months as a college student, I still didn’t quite know what real life here would be like.
There is also an ethical concern about moving here for you to consider: