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Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 02:33 AM   #1
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Retire to Hawaii

Would like information as to exactly how expensive Hawaii is to retiree to.

Would like an area (if possible) where a small apartment can be rented reasonably, has public transportation, is safe and has its share of activities and nightlife.
Should be fairly close to the beaches but if travel is necessary thats OK.

Are prices on the islands considerably more than the mainland?
I have read some prices can be 30% more.
Does that apply to Wal Mart and Costco prices as well?

I noted a recent survey that ranks Honolulu less expensive than NY, LA, Chicago and Miami.
Any opinions.

Never been there but hope to soon.





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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 09:17 AM   #2
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy
Would like an area (if possible) where a small apartment can be rented reasonably, has public transportation, is safe and has its share of activities and nightlife.
Only Island that would meet this requirement is Oahu. You could live nicely in Pearl City for $4500 a month. Diamond Head area you would need around $7K.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 11:49 AM   #3
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy
Would like information as to exactly how expensive Hawaii is to retiree to.

Would like an area (if possible) where a small apartment can be rented reasonably, has public transportation, is safe and has its share of activities and nightlife.
Should be fairly close to the beaches but if travel is necessary thats OK.

Are prices on the islands considerably more than the mainland?
I have read some prices can be 30% more.
Does that apply to Wal Mart and Costco prices as well?

I noted a recent survey that ranks Honolulu less expensive than NY, LA, Chicago and Miami.
Any opinions.

Never been there but hope to soon.
That's a pretty open-ended question!

We've lived here for 15 of the last 18 years. We're raising a teenager in central Oahu for about $2000/month, although we own our home. Detailed expenses are in these threads, although they may not necessarily apply to your situation & lifestyle:
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...6304#msg206304
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...96578#msg96578

Renting in Honolulu can run from $1000-$3000/month depending on the neighborhoods. You'll trade location for space & amenities. But even in the "tough parts" of Kalihi & Kaimuki there are nice places less than a 20-minute walk from the beach. Going farther out to bedroom communities in Aiea or Pearl City or Salt Lake gives you plenty more choices. Two-bedroom apartments in Waialua & Mokuleia are under $1000/month outside of the North Shore's winter surf season. You can rent rooms in Waimanalo for $500/month and walk to the beach in a few minutes. Hilo & Pahoa on the Big Island are quite affordable although you'll find the living easier if you bring your employment with you. Retiring to these areas is very easy, although they've recently been "discovered" and are starting to move upscale.

"Da Bus" will get you anywhere in about an hour or less. It's the cheapest public transportation, and of course taxis or shuttles can trade expense for convenience. However you may find that owning an old beater is competitive with taxi & bus fares, especially if you're outside of town.

Wal-Mart & Costco have brought down a lot of the prices but they have to be taken into context. Gas is $3.15/gallon this week but we drive less distance than most Mainland drivers so our total gas cost last year was $1400. Milk is $3.50/gallon at an Oahu Costco but more expensive on the neighbor islands. If you have to eat beef & potatoes with strawberries for dessert then you're gonna pay for it. However if you eat fish, rice, & local produce then it's not much more expensive than eating local on the Mainland. You won't have to pay for heating although A/C may be necessary (depends on your location and the prevailing tradewinds). You won't be buying winter clothing. You won't be buying three-piece suits and expensive dryclean-only office attire, either. Franchise fast-food cuisine is 20%-40% more expensive but local restaurants or lunchwagons are quite cheap. Thai food is $10/plate and other Asian cuisine (like the food court at 99 Marketplace) is even cheaper. Outdoor recreation is cheap. Downtown nightlife can be horribly expensive or you'll find places outside Waikiki that are reasonable.

Sales (excise) tax is 4.5% on Oahu and 4% on neighbor islands. Wages are taxed fairly aggressively (as high as 8% but most between 4-6%). Pensions are not taxed. I'm clueless on local health insurance but Hawaii's climate & lifestyle give it one of the nation's highest health ratings.

I think the best way to learn your Hawaii budget is to live here for a few weeks. Be a Waikiki tourist for a week or two and then find a rental condo somewhere else on Oahu or the Big Island. Check the local prices on housing, health insurance, and used cars.

PM me or some of the board's other locals if you have more detailed questions. You may be able to reach "Saver" with a PM-- he doesn't post here often but he's done all your research by living local here a couple years ago from his major-metropolis home. He can give you explicit details on where to rent near Waikiki, how to get around on Da Bus, how to find an affordable fitness center, where to shop for food, and so on. ClifP and Wstu32 can talk details about Honolulu-area living. Laurence can give you more info on the Big Island and JB can tell you about Maui.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PPT
Only Island that would meet this requirement is Oahu. You could live nicely in Pearl City for $4500 a month. Diamond Head area you would need around $7K.
I disagree. Neighbor island nightlife isn't as busy as Waikiki but there's plenty on the Big Island, Maui, or Kauai. Some people would prefer a more local scene to the tourist traps of Waikiki or Kailua-Kona. Public transportation may actually be more convenient on the neighbor islands outside of rush-hour commutes.

$4500/month is definitely the high end of Pearl City. But anyone who has to ask how much it costs to live in Diamond Head simply can't afford it.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 12:21 PM   #4
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
I disagree. Neighbor island nightlife isn't as busy as Waikiki but there's plenty on the Big Island, Maui, or Kauai. Some people would prefer a more local scene to the tourist traps of Waikiki or Kailua-Kona. Public transportation may actually be more convenient on the neighbor islands outside of rush-hour commutes.

$4500/month is definitely the high end of Pearl City. But anyone who has to ask how much it costs to live in Diamond Head simply can't afford it.
"Local Scene" implies you understand will fit in with the locals. The OP stated they have never been to Hawaii.

In my estimation probably better to be homebased on Oahu (specifically Pearl City) and travel to the other islands.

Worse case scenerio is the OP moves to one of the other islands and realizes they do not fit in with the locals.

$4500 is not being on Tricare/Delta Dental and having the ability to shop at the NEX Exchange/AF BX and Commissary.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 01:27 PM   #5
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

My parents had a retirement home in Honolulu (keeping their home on the mainland). They purchased a small condo that was in the last 20 years of the lease life. They weren't wealthy, lived a nice middle-class life.

They had three adult children, five grandchildren, who lived in the western US. The cost of transportation between the mainland and HNL to visit was significant. The result was that we rarely was them over the holidays unless they came back to the mainland, it was just too expensive to for young families.

If that isn't a consideration I think that retirees can live a comfortable life in Hawaii, particularly Honolulu. Not fancy, comfortable.

Liquidity of condos near the end of the lease can be an issue, particularly if the majority of the owners are snow-birds.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 02:28 PM   #6
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
That's a pretty open-ended question . . .
Hmmm, hadn't thought about moving to Hawaii before, always thought it would be outrageously expensive. Nords, your comments made me put it on the list of considerations.

I figure once I'm no longer bound to a location by work, I might try on a few destinations to see how they fit. Hawaii is obviously beautiful, but the location also makes exploring Asia a whole lot more convenient then here on the east coast.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 04:10 PM   #7
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by PPT
"Local Scene" implies you understand will fit in with the locals. The OP stated they have never been to Hawaii.
I don't know any other way to retire here than to fit in with the locals. My parents-in-law tried living here without fitting in and fled after five-plus years. But that's why I recommended that Tommy visit here and consult with the others.

I know that I can go down to Waikiki, struggle to find parking, pay huge prices for frosty beverages, and strain to see/hear through the crowds. But I can do a lot better at La Mariana Sailing Club, where the staff lets you linger through lunch and has live music most nights. I don't have to worry about "fitting in", either, even on Ke'eamoku Street or in Chinatown. Even Aloha Tower Marketplace or Ward Warehouse or Restaurant Row are better prices than Waikiki, let alone places like "The Shack". The most "local" place I know, the Waialua Sugar Bar, was happy to have my business even though I'm a 5'10" blond-haired WASP without a Hog. Most businesses are concerned only about the color of your money, and you need a lot less of it when you get away from Waikiki.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PPT
$4500 is not being on Tricare/Delta Dental and having the ability to shop at the NEX Exchange/AF BX and Commissary.
Whenever I see that snippy comment it makes me think that the commenter feels that there's a huge price difference, like being in a secret grocery club with low low costs. I've mentioned that I'm clueless on health insurance but I know a couple neighbors who work at Kaiser and can help if Tommy's curious. I don't carry dental insurance either and I wouldn't recommend it for most retirees. But we don't do all our shopping at the commissaries & exchanges because they're not always the best deal. As I said, Costco/Wal-Mart have done a lot to erode the price difference.

I've pointed out that we're raising a teenager here, too, so Tommy'll have to figure out his own grocery budget. Here's some Costco prices from last week for Mainland comparison. Except for the oatmeal, everything on this list is a bit cheaper in Costco's bulk than at the commissary-- even after paying Costco's 4.5% excise tax.

Macaroni $5.79/10 lbs
Semi-sweet chocolate chips $7.99/72 oz
Raisins $5.99/4.5 lbs (admittedly a bit much for most families)
Oatmeal $7.69/9 lbs (5.3 cents/oz vs 5.2)
Dawn dishwashing liquid $7.59/90 oz
Tide HE laundry detergent $11.89/263 oz (half the price)
5W-30 motor oil $1.69 quart.

Costco's loss-leader milk is also cheaper than the commissary, but not every week. Milk on neighbor islands is more expensive, and I've seen $7/gal milk in upcountry Maui.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3 Yrs to Go
I figure once I'm no longer bound to a location by work, I might try on a few destinations to see how they fit. Hawaii is obviously beautiful, but the location also makes exploring Asia a whole lot more convenient then here on the east coast.
"Wealth Manager" ranks the states on tax friendliness, and IIRC Hawaii was #1 in 2005 or 2006 for retirees. No tax on pensions is a huge help. Renters don't get a break on property taxes but homeowners pay only 3.65 mils and there's talk of lowering that or handing out rebates.

Exploring Asia... well, I guess it's better than starting from the east coast but it could be better. A heckuva lot of flights go to Japan (~8 hours) but getting to Bangkok is a royal PITA due to the layover at Narita. I would think there'd be a big business in charter flights direct from HNL to BKK. When spouse wanted a flight to Guam it actually worked out cheaper to go through San Francisco. I've never flown to Singapore or Hong Kong from here, but when we're empty nesters then I'm willing to learn!
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 05:37 PM   #8
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

If I am understanding the old Bloomberg Wealth Manager right, you would be paying 8.25% on any investments like stocks, bonds and so forth for Hawaii's State income tax if you have over $40,000 worth. A bad deal.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 05:53 PM   #9
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidflower
If I am understanding the old Bloomberg Wealth Manager right, you would be paying 8.25% on any investments like stocks, bonds and so forth for Hawaii's State income tax if you have over $40,000 worth. A bad deal.
If you're asking about an asset tax, there's no asset tax in Hawaii.

Working income is fairly heavily taxed since there's not a lot of exemptions & deductions. 8.25% is the top income-tax rate. However net long-term cap gains top out at 7.25% so that's a bit of a rate reduction.

http://www.retirementliving.com/RLwealthfriendly.html
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 07:04 PM   #10
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

I was born and raised in LA, and went to school in The SF Bay Area, and worked in Silicon Valley. I find the housing/rent prices in Honolulu to be a bit cheaper than those places and other expenses a bit more. There are definitely places on Oahu where you can rent a smallish two bedroom apartment for $1300 a month and be within walking distance of the beach. It is also possible but more difficult on the outer islands. These places will be more isolated and night life and even access to big box store will require a 30-45 minute drive.

The Bus is a very good public transportation system my sister lived here for a year with only one car and used it extensively. However, I wouldn't recommend not having a car, because you can't realistically use the bus and go shopping at Costco/Sam's club, but one car for a couple is doable.

As Nord's said realistically you want to adjust your living style to live here. If you rent a large house, in the hotter parts of the island, run your AC during the summer, buy steak, pork, apples, pears at Safeway, fly back to the mainland during major holidays, and eat at chain resturants a couple times week, $10K+ month is not unrealistic. On the other hand the median wage in Hawaii is $3600/month so obviously you can live a lot cheaper.

Kaiser Health insurance is ~200/month for a 46-50 male and you can check it on-line. Blue Cross coverage is higher but generally health insurance is fairly low and auto insurance isn't unreasonable after the 1st 6 months.

The 4.5 "sales" tax is an excise tax which means it applies to virtually everything, rent, dentist visits, plumbers, even some insurance.
There is a couple books worth checking out, I used so you want to live Hawaii? before moving here.

Personally, I love it here, even if I spend way to much time in front of the compute instead of taking advantage of the fabulous weather.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-13-2007, 08:46 PM   #11
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

One of the reasons why health insurance is reasonable in HI is that the % of uninsured is small. Kaiser is the primary health care provider (excluding the military & vets).

The reason why Kaiser goes back to WW II.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-15-2007, 08:04 PM   #12
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
IWhenever I see that snippy comment it makes me think that the commenter feels that there's a huge price difference, like being in a secret grocery club with low low costs.
If the prices are no different, why is the taxpayer saddled with paying the tab to run those so called "secret grocery clubs"?
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-15-2007, 08:58 PM   #13
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

I called on military bases and grocery stores for the past 30 years. The every day price at a military funded store is great, but the loss-leader price at a conventional grocery store is better.

The big savings are on items which are heavily taxed at the state and federal level, for example -- cigarettes. They are much cheaper.

If you are willing to shop you can equal or beat most military pricing without too much effort.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-15-2007, 11:51 PM   #14
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by PPT
If the prices are no different, why is the taxpayer saddled with paying the tab to run those so called "secret grocery clubs"?
I think the prices are comparable because Congress & DoD can legislate non-profit costs while Wal-Mart & Costco manage to get there through pressuring suppliers and doing huge volume with miniscule profit margins. I'm impressed that the civilian stores achieve that despite having to collect sales tax. Perhaps some of their competitive advantage comes from loss leaders-- arguably all those price comparisons are for staples that most people have to buy, and while they're picking up a few groceries they also bring home a 54" LCD TV.

I bet every commissary & exchange manager lives in daily fear that Wal-Mart or Costco will bid on a nationwide outsourced contract. "Walmissaries" & "Cost-exchanges", anyone?

Congress could've screwed the taxpayers even worse on military compensation. It could have come in the form of higher salaries, which would have been fully taxable at the federal (and some state's) levels. Instead of having to pay extra taxes to then pay military payroll taxes, the compensation is a non-taxable benefit. Personally I think we're getting a bargain for our tax dollars, but I also don't think we're paying that much.

Commissary employees' salaries are funded by taxpayer dollars, although I don't know what percentage of the total commissary budget is devoted to the employees. (Regardless of the amount I guess we're paying taxes to create jobs.) The food is bulk buying with a 5% markup, which pays for renovation & new construction. A commissary comparison might be Berkshire Hathaway's McLane wholesale grocery supplier, which does a huge revenue on razor-thin margins. (If commissaries are like the exchanges then the taxpayer costs are in single-digit percentages.) So the big losers to commissary expenses are the states which can't charge them sales or excise taxes. http://www.commissaries.com/history.cfm

The exchanges are even more cost-effective. Congress appoints funds for military salaries, utilities, and transporting merchandise to overseas bases. Everything else is funded from sales, and they're also required to give their profits to the local morale, welfare, & recreation clubs. http://odin.aafes.com/employment/CorpProfile.html

You know where the exchanges make their biggest profits? From the markups on sales to military retirees, which go to defray the stores' operating expenses and avoid tapping taxpayers. The retirees are buying the expensive stuff to subsidize the troops...

Getting back to the original poster's question, let us know if you have any more. We still have to discuss how to acquire a cheap longboard!
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-16-2007, 02:48 PM   #15
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
We still have to discuss how to acquire a cheap longboard!
Get in with the Australia's or/and Kiwi's. They will give you a good deal on one if you trade your time to show them around and get them to and from North Shore during their stay.

My x gilfriend can hook you up-she surfs at least 5 hours a day. We are still good friends but she does not want to leave Hawaii and I don't want to live there. PM me for her contact details.

I overstepped the line with the exchange crack. Opps. Sorry.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-16-2007, 07:02 PM   #16
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Nords, I'm sorry....I mean that Hawaii taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains (not assets like stocks and bonds). Sorry for the error.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-16-2007, 07:37 PM   #17
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Nords,
Have you ever experienced "Island Fever".


To others - the feeling that the island is just too small and you have to get off it.
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-16-2007, 07:54 PM   #18
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

HI is beautiful...I look forward to visiting again (someday)...after all, it is very far from good snow skiing! Keep your true pleasures in mind when considering retirement destinations. Simply moving (or not moving) somewhere because it is "affordable" for retirees seems ludicrous to me. (when not taking your interests and passions into consideration)

Nords is obviously VERY content where he is at (albeit regardless of the percieved expense - or lack of) - and has figured out how to make it all work. Beautiful!
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-16-2007, 08:41 PM   #19
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Quote:
Originally Posted by dex
Have you ever experienced "Island Fever".
Uhm, Dex, yer talkin' to a retired submariner here. Federal prisoners get more cubic footage in their accomodations than my "biggest" stateroom ever had. My concept of personal space would still get me kicked off most dance floors.

But I'm familiar with the phenomenon of Rock Fever, if not the experience. People who have to drive over 65 MPH for hours in a straight line... who have to see huge wide-open vistas stretching for dozens of miles in every direction... whose nearest neighbors should be in a different time zone... won't be happy here.

OTOH I can get up to 75 MPH downhill on H-3 for a half-mile or so, I can see for 5-15 miles for about 180 degrees from my back lanai, and one of our neighbors is a sewage plant's booster station. We have it pretty darn good by comparison. And anytime I want to see miles of empty vistas I can rent a sailboat.

But I guess people recreate that wide-open experience even around here. I saw on HGTV's "Fantasy Open House" yesterday that a Big Island resident is selling his 27-acre spread on the Kohala coast for $13M. It's a steal!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fireup2025
HI is beautiful...I look forward to visiting again (someday)...after all, it is very far from good snow skiing!
Have faith-- the Mauna Kea Snowboarding Championships should be held again soon!
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Re: Retire to Hawaii
Old 05-16-2007, 08:49 PM   #20
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Re: Retire to Hawaii

Nords - is it all snowboarding, or do they let two-plankers up too? Hmmm, skiing in Hawaii...now that is a trip to be planned!!! Wahoo!
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