Is Honolulu a Good Place To Live? An Honest Answer

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Honolulu is a good place to live for many people, but like any place, it has some disadvantages that may or may not make you want to look elsewhere. While planning to move to Honolulu might seem like leaping into a tropical paradise – and in many ways, it is – staying in this city permanently isn’t for everyone. 

Honolulu is a good place to live for people who like urban living, have substantial savings or a job in the city, and love outdoor activities. The cost of living in Honolulu is high, and it has more apartments than houses, but it has everything an urban outdoors person could want. 

So, let’s ditch the formalities and talk about the reality of living in Honolulu. I’ll tell you an honest perspective of what it’s like to live in this city, listing the pros and cons and detailing why it might or might not be the best place to live. 

The Benefits of Living in Honolulu

Honolulu has a lot going for it, and many people save up funds their whole lives to spend a few years of retirement here. 

That alone is enough to back up the fact that it’s a great place. However, if you want to see the full spectrum of what makes this city so remarkable for its residents, here are the advantages of moving here: 

Honolulu Is Diverse 

According to the 2021 census, Honolulu’s population is predominantly Asian, but you’ll also find people of various backgrounds, including native Hawaiians, people from the mainland, and a sizeable Latinx population. With many cultural centers and ethnic communities, Honolulu is an environment where cultural differences are celebrated. 

There’s Plenty of Hiking and Beaches

Naturally, people love Honolulu for its proximity to the beach, great hiking spots, and natural wonders

Whether you are into surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, diving, or sailing, Honolulu’s constantly warm, calm seas are the place to be. If you’re experienced, you’ll quickly make friends to share your hobbies with, and if you’re a beginner, there are hundreds of classes available in the city. 

Likewise, a lot is going on on land in Honolulu. There are some fantastic hiking spots within a 30-minute drive of the city, including Diamond Head Puu Ualakaa State park, Manoa Falls, and many more. 

You’ll Have Many Urban Conveniences

Although it’s tucked away in a tropical paradise, Honolulu is a big city, so you’ll have every urban convenience, from restaurants to Costco to hospitals, right at your fingertips. 

Being close to everything means that you can usually walk wherever you want to go, which saves money on gas and encourages you to get some exercise. Plus, you’ll never run out of places to go and things to do in a city of this size. It’s hard to get bored in Honolulu!

There Are More Job Opportunities in Honolulu

While Honolulu might not have as many job opportunities as Chicago and NYC, it is the best place to find a well-paying job in Hawaii

Aside from jobs in the food and hospitality industries, there are tons more. Since this is the urban hub of the Hawaiian state, you’ll find many banks, hospitals, law firms, and other professional jobs. Marketing is also an excellent field for Honolulu residents since the tourism industry is booming year-round. 

Other jobs you can make a solid living on in Honolulu include teaching, photography, business ownership, art, cooking, and so much more. 

Honolulu Is Environmentally Sustainable

Hawaii was the first state to declare a climate emergency, and since then, they have made massive changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle

By creating initiatives for farmers, fighting the effects of erosion, and decreasing litter, Hawaii has become one of the US’s greenest states. 

If you want to learn more about Hawaii and how global warming has impacted it, check out my other article, “Will Hawaii Be Underwater?” It’s incredible how committed Hawaii is to a more sustainable future!

Honolulu’s Crime Rates Are Very Low

According to Forbes, Honolulu is the second-safest city that has a population of over 30,000 in the USA. So, if you’re looking for a big-city feel without the creepy alleyways and fear of becoming a victim of theft or assault, Honolulu is the place for you. 

There’s Warm Weather Year-Round

With annual average temperatures falling between a high of 84°F and a low of 71°F (29°C to 22°C), it’ll feel like spring every single day in Honolulu

While this weather might not be ideal for people who enjoy cozying up in warm sweaters with a mug of hot chocolate, it’s terrific for people who like to be out in nature, hiking, swimming, and staying active. 

It’s also a perfect temperature for your electric bill since you’ll never need heat!

You Will Get Incredible Food

As I mentioned, Honolulu is pretty diverse, and along with that comes the opportunity for many different cuisines. From authentic Hawaiian spots to gourmet sushi and Chinese food in Chinatown, there are many excellent places to eat here! 

If you want to learn more about the food here, you might want to read my other article on The Best Sushi Restaurants in Honolulu. I’ll warn you now — it might make you hungry and send you out the door searching for some sashimi! 

Hawaii Is the Happiest State in the USA

According to CNBC, Hawaii is home to the happiest people in the USA. While this pro is not precisely Honolulu-specific, it rings true in the city. 

Honolulu is a chill place. People are very happy, they look healthy, and there’s a lot of goodwill going around. 

Manners and kindness are a big part of what makes Hawaii such a wonderful place to visit, and it only gets better when you live here. No one cuts you off on the interstate, you don’t have to worry about violent crime, and people take what comes to them without getting too caught up. You get all the benefits of city life, but no one’s bitter! 

The Disadvantages of Living in Honolulu

So, now that you know precisely why Honolulu is a good place to live, let’s look at the disadvantages of making this city your home: 

Honolulu Is a Fast-Paced City

While this may be a pro for some people, if you are not a city person, Honolulu isn’t going to be the best city in Hawaii for you. 

With all the sounds and sights of urban life, Honolulu doesn’t have many secluded beaches – or even lawns, in most cases. So, if you’re looking for a place to live with sprawling greens and jungles in your backyard, you might want to look at other islands like Maui or Kauai. 

The Cost of Living Is High

The cost of living in Hawaii is the highest in the nation, so you will have to work hard if you want to make it in the city. This high cost of living extends to housing, groceries, and utilities, so it’s best to have substantial savings or a high-paying job before you consider moving to Honolulu. 

Honolulu Is Humid, and It Frequently Rains

While it’s usually warm here, it’s very humid, and you should expect frequent thunderstorms in Honolulu. According to weather reports, Honolulu usually rains about 200 days a year. So, prepare for some heavy showers if you want to move here permanently. 

Traffic and Tourists

Honolulu is like any city; you’ll experience your fair share of traffic on the city highways, especially during the summer tourist season. 

While traffic can be annoying, I will say that the people here are generally friendly and courteous drivers, which helps the traffic move along and makes the jams a little bit less frustrating. 

Salty Conditions Cause Rust on Vehicles and Anything Metal

Like most beachside cities, Honolulu is prone to corrosion. Vehicles, steel roofs, pipes, nails on your furniture, and anything else made out of metal will turn red and rust in Honolulu, and it’ll happen a lot faster than you’d expect.

However, you can keep up the rust with some extra vehicle maintenance and careful selection of building materials – it just means a bit more effort. 

Mail and Shipping Are Costly and Slow

Last but not least, there’s the mail. Since Hawaii is thousands of miles from the US mainland, most of the mail takes what can feel like eons to get here to Honolulu. 

However, you do get used to it, but don’t expect 2-day shipping to only take two days when you live here, and send out mail to the mainland early if you want it to reach the recipient on time. 

The Verdict: Is Honolulu a Good Place To Live? 

Honolulu is a good place to live if you know what to expect and want to live in a big city in Hawaii. It’s expensive, fast-paced, and heavily populated, but it offers some of the best outdoor activities, the most diverse culinary scene, and the nicest people you’ll ever meet. 

So, moving to Honolulu might be right for you if you can afford it and want to be in a walkable Hawaiian city with plenty of conveniences.

However, Honolulu might be a bit too intense for you if you are more of a naturalist who doesn’t like crowds or big cities. 

To sum things up, here’s a direct comparison of the pros and cons of living in Honolulu: 

The Pros of Living in HonoluluThe Cons of Living In Honolulu
Diverse.
Plenty of hiking and beaches. 
Urban conveniences and job opportunities. 
Great colleges and schools nearby. 
Environmentally-sustainable. 
Low crime rates. 
Warm weather year-round.
Incredible food. 
Nice and happy people. 
It’s a fast-paced city. 
The cost of living is high. 
It’s always hot and humid. 
It frequently rains. 
Lots of traffic and tourists. 
Roaches are very common. 
Salty conditions cause rapid rust.
Mail and shipping are costly and slow. 

Final Thoughts

Honolulu is one of the best places to visit in Hawaii, but living here has a whole new set of pros and cons. Living in Hawaii is costly, but Honolulu’s big-city vibes with plenty of job opportunities can make a move feasible. 

Here, you’ll get to do all the outdoor activities you’ve ever dreamed of, enjoy year-round warm weather, and appreciate the fantastic food and people. It’s a great place if that sounds like everything you’re looking for in a home. 

Steve Rajeckas

Steve is an avid traveler who can't get enough of the wonder and curiosity that comes with visiting a new place. Some of his favorite destinations include Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, and Maui.

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