12 Reasons You May NOT Want to Move to Hawaii
Here’s where we try to talk you out of paradise by telling you some major reasons you should not move to Hawaii. Typically, nearly everything we write about the islands is through a positive lens – we talk about the amazing, the awesome, the glowing aspects of living life in the Hawaiian Islands.
If you read fifty or so articles on our site, are you going to have an overly optimistic view of what life in Hawaii is all about and be surprised when you arrive and it isn’t like you expected?
Reason #1 you should not move to Hawaii: There’s a good chance you’ll be living at what feels like poverty
The “middle class” in Hawaii lives at what their mainland counterparts would consider poverty levels. Many family work several jobs, live paycheck to paycheck, have substandard (by mainland comparison) housing conditions, very little expendable income and at any moment are living on the financial edge.
Put it simply, in Hawaii as of 2019 you need to be earning at least $150k a year to have what on the mainland can be had for $75k/yr. And if you have a larger family, you’ll need more and possibly a lot more income.
If you’re going to live in Hawaii, you need to be prepared to live a lifestyle of comparative poverty. If you can stay here for the long term you can work your way up, but on day one be prepared to live a vastly downgraded lifestyle. Unless you’re already a multi-millionaire.
Reason #2 you should not move to Hawaii: One of the worst places to start a business
On various rankings, Hawaii nearly always comes at the bottom of the list in terms of starting a business. If you’ve dreamed owning a business, Hawaii is going to make it many, many times harder for you to succeed. It’s not impossible though as Hawaii has thousands of successful small family businesses.
It’s just that you will have a much, much harder time starting and running a business here than almost anywhere else. If the business is in a regulated industry, you’ll have to deal with very long streams of red tape. And once you get past that, you’ll need to build trust and respect in the community to get customers and that becomes a big catch-22: You need customers to build trust and respect but you need trust and respect to get customers.
Reason #3 you should not move to Hawaii: Near the bottom in public education
Hawaii has one of the largest capacity (per-capita) of private schools in the nation and that’s because parents try to avoid Hawaii’s public schools if they can. Hawaii’s public school system usually sits near the bottom of various national rankings. In 2018 WalletHub ranked Hawaii #39 overall and #43 for “Quality”.
The problem with private schools is that due to high demand, it’s expensive. In 2021 you can expect to pay around $17k/year per student. If you have two children, you’re talking $34k/yr and that’s after taxes so about $45k-$50k/yr of your gross income will go to paying for private school.
So combine this with the $150k income to start and you’re up to $200k/yr in gross income. And we haven’t even talked about buying a house yet.
Because everyone wants to live here and is willing to work for less (admittedly this is just our guess and not a data research-backed conclusion), the result is that jobs here pay much less than their mainland counterparts. Expect a 20% cut in pay or more from what you’re making on the mainland.