I’ve had a few people ask me about our move from Michigan to Hawai’i and how it went. More importantly, they wanted to know how it was different when it came to cost. Just like any other state to state move, there are differences in the costs of everything. However, living on an island does have higher costs for many things. That’s the price you pay for living on an island.
We’ve been in Hawai’i for two full months now. That has given us enough time to see nearly all the price differences we’ll be facing while living here. I’ll admit, some of them are drastic changes, and some are not all that different.
Now, prices will vary depending on the island you move to; we’re on the island of Hawai’i, also called the Big Island. It is the cheaper of the island to live on, but keep in mind we also have an active volcano that has erupted for the last 30 years.
Rent / Housing
We are renting a condo right now because when we moved, we didn’t know what part of the island we wanted to live on and well, we needed to establish ourselves here before buying.
Rent costs could be a lot more than you would find in Michigan. However, they can also be pretty close to the same price. When I was looking to rent a place in Michigan last year, an apartment would have cost me about $1000/month. Here you can get a two-bedroom two-bath condo on a golf course for just under $1400. Yeah, you’re paying more, but you live on a golf course, you get access to two different pools and tennis courts. Now, we are further away from everything, so that means more driving for us.
Buying a house in Hawai’i is more expensive if you chose to live on the west side of the island as we want to. Most houses cost over $300,000, and on average they are about $500,000 for a three-bedroom 2+ bath and around 1200 sqft. That same house in Michigan would be half the price in a great neighborhood but could cost about the same in one of the more “ritzy” areas.
We don’t currently know the cost of water around here because it is included in the condo, but someone had mentioned to us that it is usually about $50-75 a month on average (if I recall correctly). Electric is a lot more. On our hottest days in Michigan, we were lucky to have an electric bill at $200 from running the AC. Our first bill here was over $200 and that is without AC. There is no natural gas here, you have to buy propane, which I’ve heard is pretty expensive. We have an electric stove and electric dryer, which plays into the electric cost that we didn’t have in Michigan.
Here we are paying between $3.30 and $3.80 a gallon, depending on where you fill-up. We pay the most at the one gas station in the town we live in, and we pay the least if we gas up at Costco down in the main town on this side of the island.
Our biggest cost difference when it comes to food is milk, eggs, and bread. Milk is about $5-6 for a gallon, and we used to pay about $3.50. We go through about 2 gallons a week, time to cut back! Eggs are $3.59 to $8 for a dozen, and we used to be able to get them for $.99 a dozen when on sale (usually were) and $1.99 when not on sale. Bread is on average $5 a loaf when it is on sale you might get it for $3.50. But many loaves of bread around here cost $6-8 a loaf.
Most of all other food costs are about $.50-1.00 different than we are used to.
We haven’t looked for a job. I’ve looked in the paper to see what was available and they aren’t that bad when it comes to paying. There are jobs available and if I start looking for something I’d be able to find something. Probably about as fast as I could in Michigan. I guess we’ll see how this goes if and when I look for a job.
Now, one of the things I found fascinating is that when you read about moving to Hawai’i is that to live here you must have three jobs just to afford to live here. Well, I can’t see how that is possible when the median income in many of the areas we’ve looked to live is less than $50,000. If people were working three jobs than this median income would be much higher based on some of the pays I’ve seen.
I guess it’s all a matter of what you find as being expensive if you are willing to pay the price to live on a tropical island where you have a beautiful view pretty much any direction you look.