How to Live Cheap in Hawaii

Finding ways to economize is important in Hawaii.

Finding ways to economize is important in Hawaii.

Most of us would love a vacation in Hawaii, and many manage to visit sometime in their lives -- but living there can be more of a financial challenge. Hawaii has one of the highest costs of living in the U.S. According to American Dream Realty, you can expect to pay at least $1,500 a month for an apartment. Utilities can be high as well, usually costing from $120 to $180 per month for an average family. And groceries are sky-high, due in part to the cost of transporting goods to the islands. But with a little ingenuity, you can afford to live in Hawaii.

Choose your location carefully. Oahu -- the island housing the state capital of Honolulu -- generally is a bit cheaper than the other islands, from utility costs to rental rates to the cost of other goods. Find your living accommodations and work on this island if at all possible.

Lower your housing expectations. Instead of aiming for a large apartment or condominium, look for a studio apartment or, better yet, find a room to rent. Consider finding a roommate to share costs. Another possibility is to house sit for a part-time resident. Try to arrange to rent a room in the same house when the owner is in town or, if not, find a room to rent elsewhere on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis while the owner is present.

Save money on food by shopping at large discount stores, such as Costco or Sam's Club. Farmer's markets also might have good buys on food grown locally. Be sure to buy foods that are in season, which normally are less expensive.

Use public transportation whenever possible. Oahu has an extensive public transportation system that is surprisingly affordable -- you can go just about anywhere on the island for less than $2. Try to live close to where you work, and walk or ride a bicycle to work.

Save on energy costs by being diligent about turning off lights, closing blinds in hot weather and using fans. Try to avoid using your air conditioner as much as possible. Once you acclimate, you'll come to enjoy and appreciate Hawaii's year-round warm climate.

Go out for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. You'll spend less for daytime meals than you will for dinner. Stay away from restaurants aimed at tourists, which usually are more expensive, and frequent the locals' favorite places instead.


  • Unfortunately, wages typically are lower in Hawaii than most other states. Do your homework before making the big move to make sure you have a job lined up, as well as nearby living accommodations. Working from home is ideal if you're able to do it -- you'll save on transportation costs.
  • Save money on entertainment by enjoying outside activities as much as possible. It won't cost much -- if anything -- to swim, surf, ride a bike or take long walks, and you'll have the added benefit of enjoying the natural beauty and magnificent weather that Hawaii has to offer.

About the Author

In addition to a successful career as a professional writer, Cindy White spent several years in mid-management positions for a Fortune 500 company. Prior to that, she enjoyed her tenure as a technical writer and technical documentation supervisor in the manufacturing industry. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Nevada-Reno.

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