Want to live in paradise? Hawaii has plenty to offer its 1.2 million residents, including the famous beauty of its islands and the comfortable year-round climate. Even the products Hawaii exports are luxurious: cane sugar, pineapple, flowers, coffee beans, bananas and macadamia nuts are the state's chief products. The biggest industry is, naturally, tourism.
There's more to living in Hawaii than inserting yourself into a real-life picture postcard of paradise; the revitalization of Hawaiian culture is a strong force in the state, with the Hawaiian language being taught throughout schools and a renewed interest in the Hawaiian monarchy.
What to Expect
One of the biggest challenges when considering a move to Hawaii is trying to decide what to do with your possessions. In other words, ship or sell? It can often be financially beneficial to sell certain items rather than pay to ship them between apartments; older cars and heavy furniture you don't really like anymore may also fit into this category. But if your possessions are in good condition, it may make sense to ship them, as most manufactured goods are quite a bit more expensive in Hawaii (remember that the stores there had to pay for shipping, too).
Where to Explore
Each Hawaiian Island offers a distinct personality, pace of life, cost of living and job market. Where you choose to look for apartments depends greatly on the lifestyle you're looking for.
Oahu contains the state capital, Honolulu, as well as the crowded tourist destination of Waikiki Beach. It's the most developed and populated of all the islands, housing about 75% of the state's 1.2 million residents. Is it your dream to live on the beach in Waikiki? Average apartments run about $1,000 in monthly rent. Most Oahu residents work in Honolulu, where plenty of apartment rentals are available near the downtown area. If suburban living appeals to you, look for apartments for rent in the outlying districts of Hawai' Kai, Kailua, Kane'ohe, Kapolei, Waikele or Mililani.
The fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai may prove to be a quieter home than Oahu, but it's still a popular tourist destination and the site of many film productions (picture yourself living in Jurassic Park!). Believe it or not, you can find studio apartments starting at around $500. How's that for affordable paradise? Expect to pay considerably more if you want more living space—the price for most apartment rentals is around $1,000.
Maui is less populated and developed than Oahu, and it is famous for its pristine beaches and excellent surfing. Major employers include the local government as well as retail and tourism. Condo rentals are plentiful for vacationers, but you may have a slightly harder time finding apartments for rent as a resident. They don't come cheap, either; expect to pay $1,200 or more for the average apartments. If you're looking for island living and a beautiful place to call home, though, you'll find that Maui fits the bill.
Hawaii (the Big Island) The Big Island is Hawaii's geographical largest at 4,038 square miles (twice the size of all other Hawaiian Islands combined). Rainforests, lava fields and fabulous beaches make this a spectacular place to call home. Most residents are employed in agriculture, retail, government or the tourist industry. When it comes to rentals, you'll find plenty of condos and apartment rentals, with an average rent of $700—the cheapest of the major islands.