How To Retire in Hawaii: Retirement Planning, Things To Do During Retirement, & More

Beautiful scenery, warm weather, and a laid-back attitude make Hawaii a very tempting retirement option. Retirees who move to Hawaii also benefit from the Aloha State’s lower health care costs, state-of-the-art medical system, and retiree-friendly tax laws. Social Security income and public pension withdrawals are not taxed for Hawaiian residents, leaving more money in your pocket.

If you have always lived in the contiguous United States, be prepared for some sticker shock when moving to Hawaii. Because everything must be imported, goods and services cost more than they do on the mainland. If you are thinking about retiring in Hawaii, here are some things to consider before packing your swimsuit.

Visit Hawaii

retirement in honolulu hawaii

Image via Flickr by Erik Cooper

If your Hawaiian retirement has only been in your dreams, it is best to visit the state before making plans for a big move. It would be best if you experienced the island’s weather for yourself before committing to permanent residence. The Hawaiian Islands have two seasons with minimal variability in temperature and humidity. The dry season runs from May through October, with temperatures ranging from 85 to 90 degrees. From November through April, the rainy season has temperatures between 79 and 83 degrees. If you love warm, humid weather, then Hawaii will probably suit you just fine.

Visiting the islands also offers the opportunity to experience the cost of living in Hawaii. While visiting, check out potential homes, retirement communities, and apartments. Will you have enough space? Take a trip to the grocery store, and note the prices. Can you afford the lifestyle you dream of?

Preparing for Retirement

According to, Hawaii’s cost of living is 88% higher than the national average. Housing costs make up most of that increase, at 202% higher than the mainland. Utilities, transportation, and groceries also cost more in Hawaii. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the high cost of living in Hawaii:

  1. Talk to your investment advisor, and tell them your plans so they can adjust your investments accordingly. Contact your advisor as soon as you are sure of your retirement plans to allow your money to grow as much as possible before your retirement date.
  2. Put as much money as you can into your retirement plans.
  3. Work up a budget using Hawaiian costs and compare it to your projected retirement income.
  4. Downsize before you move. Scaling back will lower your moving costs and prevent your living spaces in Hawaii from feeling cramped. Gift sentimental or heirloom items to your friends and family. If you’re a collector, pare down your collectibles to just a few special items. Sell valuable items, and put the cash toward your retirement.

Budget-Stretching Options

Is your retirement budget still coming up short? Here are some great ways to stretch your dollar while living in paradise:

  • Rather than living alone, be willing to live with a roommate. Splitting the cost of a home and utilities will significantly reduce your cost of living.
  • Be willing to move into a much smaller space to save money.
  • Ditch your car. Shipping a vehicle to the islands can be expensive, as is buying a car on the island. Consider using public transportation or walking to save money.
  • Instead of retiring completely, consider working part-time. Many retirees find that working part-time is necessary to offset the higher cost of living in Hawaii.

Choose Your Home Wisely

The cost of living varies from city to city, but as a general rule, homes located in beachfront areas and tourist hot spots will be much more expensive. Looking outside the most popular cities will provide you with the best opportunity for an affordable living space. Currently, the five best places to retire in Hawaii are:

Lihue, Kauai

Lihue has a small-town feel and is an excellent option for retirees who love the outdoors. Lihue has many hiking trails and is home to the famous Kalapaki Cliffs. Lihue also has plenty of entertainment and dining options. You can also find several robust retirement communities here.

Kaneohe, Oahu

Kaneohe is only 25 minutes from Honolulu and is home to Kaneohe Bay, a popular fishing, boating, surfing, and kayaking spot. You’ll find the Ko’olau Mountains and Byodo-In Temple here, as well.

Kailua-Kona, Big Island

Kailua-Kona is a golfer’s paradise. This city has many golf courses, including the Mauna Kea Championship Golf Course. Kailua-Kona is also home to the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, known for its freshwater pools and lush forested areas. The city’s active downtown area provides lots of entertainment and dining options.

Paia, Maui

Paia is a small town that doesn’t get much tourist traffic. The city is also home to art galleries, shops, and restaurants. You can walk to the beach from any location in Paia. The popular Mana Foods natural food market is located here.

Hilo, Big Island

Hilo provides the most reasonable cost of living in all of Hawaii. Known for its laid-back atmosphere, this city is home to Rainbow Falls, the Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens, and the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo.

Learn the Language

Although Hawaii’s official languages are English and Hawaiian, the locals frequently use Hawaiian Pidgin English (aka Pidgin). A few common Pidgin phrases include:

  • Hana Hou: Taken from Hawaiian; means “to do over or again”; used after live music shows by audiences trying to get an encore.
  • Holo Holo: To wander around without direction; often used to refer to going for a walk or exploring an area without an endpoint in mind.
  • Kama’aina: Someone who has lived on the islands for a long time; used to refer to those native to Hawaii.
  • Mahalo: Thank you.
  • Malihini: A newcomer.
  • Ohana: Family, including close friends and coworkers.
  • Ono: Delicious, tasty, usually in reference to food.
  • Small Kid Time: Referring to your younger years.

Retirement is a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Although it’s more expensive than the mainland, retirement in Hawaii is obtainable with careful planning and budgeting. If you are ready to plan your Hawaiian retirement, contact us at 3D Wealth Advisors. We can help your dreams become a reality.