The Cost of Living In Hawaii

Hawaii is beautiful. My god it’s maddeningly gorgeous. And the weather is basically the best in the world. There are these incredible afternoon mists that blow in and with the sunshine make some of the most amazing rainbows in the world. And since I’m from Hawaii, born and raised, I just have a deep connection to this little spot on planet Earth. For all it’s incredible, beauty, Hawaii has some major drawbacks.

For instance the bugs are VERY LARGE and they live inside your house. Barring major insecticides there is no way around this. If you see one there are thousands in your cabinets and walls that are just waiting to meet you. They wait until you enter, flick on the kitchen light at 2am, to give you a nice surprise. “Hi did you know you have 5 thousand roommates? Thanks for the lovely casserole”, they say.

The cost of living is way out of control and jobs that pay appropriate to the COL are not common. We lived in Honolulu while I was working on my M.S. degree and the only way that we could find a place that was cheaper than $1000 per room was to rent a house with the H1 freeway in our backyard. The onramp was a few houses down so each time a motorcycle would get on the freeway and accelerate to 60 MPH, the noise would wake us up. The free market in this case really screws the people in Hawaii. The cost of housing is so high because developers make more on investment housing so there are tons of empty places that are owned by people that live somewhere else. And because everyone wants to own “a piece of paradise”, this drives the cost of property up, making it inaccessible to most local people.

Instead of pay increasing with the COL like you would expect, the constant influx of people “living the dream” and moving to Hawaii for short terms, keeps wages relatively low. And unlike other high COL areas like San Francisco the major industry is tourism. Hospitality jobs just don’t pay enough.

Hawaii is a hell of a place to save for financial independence. Pretty much everything is more expensive; food, electricity, and transportation. So what should we do guys? Geographic arbitrage.

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