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These Hawaii Cities Have the Highest and Lowest Cost of Living in 2024
By Selected News Articles @ 2:38 PM :: 923 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Cost of Living

These Hawaii Cities Have the Highest and Lowest Cost of Living in 2024

by Caitlyn Moorhead, Go Banking Rates, June 18, 2024

Within the United States, Hawaii is considered a paradise where you can live — if you can actually afford it.

Living in this tropical haven can impact your wallet heavily, so being realistic about all the factors of your cost of living, like housing, food, transportation and other living expenses, is just as important as daydreaming about the beach. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into some of the Aloha State’s choice cities:

Quick Take: Cost of Living In Hawaii

The cost of living calculator for Hawaiian cities often shows you’ll need a ton of money to be comfortable compared to many mainland U.S. cities. GOBankingRates recently conducted a study to determine which cities in Hawaii have the lowest and highest cost of living. 

City With the Lowest Cost of Living: Hilo

  • Population: 47,627
  • Cost of living: $51,822.95

City With the Highest Cost of Living: Haleiwa

  • Population: 4,708
  • Cost of living: $101,308.33

Housing Costs in Hawaii

Housing is the most significant factor driving up Hawaiian city’s cost of living. Due to limited land availability and high demand, real estate prices are steep. In general, the state’s average home price as of 2024 comes in over $850,000. Renters also face high costs, with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment estimated to be over $2,000.

Food and Grocery Costs in Hawaii

Another significant component of the cost of living in Hawaiian cities is food and groceries. Most food items are imported from the mainland or other countries, leading to higher prices due to shipping costs. In Honolulu, a gallon of milk costs upwards of about $7, and a loaf of bread around close to $5. 

Though you save money by meal prepping and making your food at home, if you want to go out to eat, restaurants are also quite expensive, especially in Hawaii’s more touristy metro areas. When all goods and services have to be imported such a far distance the cost tends to be higher overall for even the basics.

Utility and Transportation Costs in Hawaii

If you’re moving to a new city in Hawaii, utilities are another significant expense. Electricity rates in Hawaii are the highest in the nation, largely due to the state’s reliance on imported oil for power generation. Water, sewer, and trash services add to the overall cost of living adjustments you’ll have to make monthly.

Transportation costs also contribute to the high cost of living. Gasoline prices in Hawaii are among the highest in the country, often exceeding $5 per gallon. Public transportation, while available, may not be as comprehensive as in mainland cities, leading many residents to rely on personal vehicles.

Healthcare and Education Costs in Hawaii

Healthcare in Hawaii is generally more expensive than on the mainland. The high cost of living translates to higher salaries for healthcare professionals, which raises the cost of medical services in a vicious money cycle. Many residents also face long waits for specialist appointments due to a shortage of healthcare providers.

Education, particularly higher education, is also costly. While Hawaii boasts a strong public school system, the cost of private education and universities can be prohibitive. The University of Hawaii, for example, charges in-state tuition of over $12,000 per year, while out-of-state students pay over $34,000 annually.

Living Paycheck To Paycheck In Hawaii

GOBankingRates also recently researched which cities you would be most likely and least likely to live paycheck to paycheck. These statistics are based on average incomes, housing costs, grocery bills and more, so how much you make personally would be the biggest indicator of whether or not you would be living on the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. 

Average Annual Estimate: Makawao vs Kapolei

Average Annual Estimate City Where You’re Most Likely To Live Paycheck to Paycheck: Makawao City Where You’re Least Likely To Live Paycheck to Paycheck: Kapolei
Cost of expenditures $30,490 $32,208
Mortgage payments $77,891 $65,349
Total cost of living  $108,381 $97,557
Median income $109,385 $121,768
Potential leftover savings $1,004 $24,211


Final Take To GO

The bottom line is that living in Hawaiian cities comes with a premium price tag, influenced by high monthly mortgage payments, expensive groceries, steep utility bills, and elevated healthcare and education expenses.

Despite these costs, many residents find the natural beauty, cultural richness and unique Hawaiian lifestyle worth the financial challenges. If you are considering a move to Hawaii, make sure you’ll be able to make enough of a living wage to cover your costs comfortably.


For the methodology for this study, GOBankingRates analyzed 6,300 cities across the United States to find the cheapest and most expensive cost of living cities in each state. First GOBankingRates found the cost of living indexes as sourced from Sperlings BestPlaces and using the national average expenditure costs for all residents, as sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average expenditure cost can be calculated for each city. The total population was sourced from the US Census American Community Survey, and the livability index was sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and is up to date as of May 21st, 2024.

For the paycheck-to-paycheck research, GOBankingRates found the cities in each state where you’re the most likely and least likely to live paycheck to paycheck. First GOBankingRates gathered cost of living indexes for over 6,400 cities across the United States. For each city, the average single-family home value from  April of 2024 was found as sourced from Zillow Home Value Index. By assuming a 10% downpayment and using the national 30-year fixed mortgage rate, the average mortgage cost can be calculated. Using the average mortgage cost and the average expenditure cost, the total cost of living can be calculated. Using the median household income, as sourced from the US Census American Community Survey, the average amount of savings after the total annual cost of living can be calculated. The city with the smallest positive amount of savings per month was recorded as the city with the most likely to live paycheck to paycheck and the city with the highest savings is the city with the least likely to live paycheck to paycheck. All data was collected on and is up to date as of June 17, 2024.


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