16 Pros and Cons of Retiring in Hawaii

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Hawaii is one of the most popular vacation spots for its beautiful beaches and relaxing culture, but is it just as good a location for retirement? If you are thinking of retiring to the “Aloha State,” there are several pros and cons to keep in mind. 

Hawaii has some of the best beaches, activities, and scenic locations to enjoy. The state also has a low crime rate and is warm all year round. On the other hand, Hawaii is a very costly place to live in. It has high gas, grocery, and utility bills. The property prices are also sky-high. 

There are many things you need to think of before you retire in a particular location. All of the possibilities might be overwhelming, but this article will make it easy for you. We will cover the 16 pros and cons of retiring in Hawaii, including the environment, cost of living, crime rates, and several other factors that could affect your decision. 

The Pros of Retiring in Hawaii

There are many pros of retiring in Hawaii, even more than could fit in the article. The aloha state is considered to be one of the most relaxing places on earth, which is why so many people long to retire here. 

Hawaiian living is great because it can appeal to many different audiences. For those who love adventure and excitement, the state has many different attractions to try out. 

On the other hand, people who just want to sit back, relax, and read a book on the beach every day will also feel at home in Hawaii. There is something for everyone! Keep on reading to learn more about the pros of retiring in Hawaii. 

Relaxing Culture

One of the biggest reasons people flock to Hawaii for vacation and retirement is its relaxing and laid-back culture. The moment you step off the plane, you are engulfed with warm air that instantly calms you. It is also common to receive a lei (a flower necklace) as you take your first steps into the inviting atmosphere. 

When you go for a drive along the coast, you can instantly feel the tension leave you as you take in the stunning views, the warm sun and water, and the smiles of the “Aloha State” residents. If you are looking for the ultimate relaxing retirement, Hawaii should be one of your top choices. You will have no problem feeling welcomed if you retire in Hawaii, and the peaceful everyday life will be something to savor. 

16 Pros and Cons of Retiring in Hawaii

Beautiful Beaches

Hawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, which makes it a wonderful place to retire. Many of the beaches are surrounded by lava formations, which gives them a unique touch. The sand on the beaches can be various colors, including white, black, golden brown, or red. 

Not only are the beaches themselves exquisite, but the water is yet another remarkable feature. Most beaches have blue-green crystal clear water. If you decide to go for a kayak, you will most likely be able to see right down to the bottom. Furthermore, you might even catch sight of some colorful fish or dolphins!

Hawaii has over 100 beaches to choose from, so whether you are looking for a busy public beach or a quiet, secluded beach, you will be able to find one to your liking. 

There Are a Lot of Activities to Choose From

Another bonus about retiring in Hawaii is that you will never be bored. There are so many activities to choose from, so you will be sure to find one that is perfect for you!

  • Surfing – Surfing is very popular in the Aloha State because of its vast array of beaches. There are many different surf shops where you can rent surf gear, including boards, wetsuits, drysuits, and any other necessities. You can also get surfing lessons to start you off as there will be many instructors available. Once you get the hang of it, you can even buy your own board and hit the waves every day. 
  • Snorkeling – There are hundreds of snorkeling tours to choose from in Hawaii. Tours usually include boarding a boat, having some food, and going for a swim. The Hawaiian Islands are filled with amazing underwater sights and colorful fish, so this is something you wouldn’t want to miss. 
  • Scuba Diving – Whether it’s a one-time thing or a lifetime activity, Hawaii has some amazing scuba diving spots. If you love it the first time, you can get a membership to a scuba diving club and fill your days with spectacular underwater views. There are even multiple shipwrecks you can spot while diving in Oahu. 
  • Paddle Boarding – This is an easy activity to get into because many shops offer both paddleboard rentals and lessons. Not only is it a fairly easy activity to get the hang of, but the views are amazing. It is important to note that you should consult an expert on the ocean’s tides and the safest areas to paddleboard. The tides can be very dangerous and can easily cause drowning. 
  • Windsurfing – While this is more of an extreme sport, you can still enjoy this activity by joining some windsurfing lessons. There are numerous beaches that you can windsurf at, so it will be easy to find a close location. 
  • Whale Watching – If you are looking for a sit-back and relax type of activity, whale watching will be perfect for you. There are many tours to pick from that will be an experience you won’t forget! You can even get a membership if you really love the experience. 
  • Golfing – Whether you are an expert or beginner, you will be able to find the perfect golf course for you. The Aloha State has some of the best golf courses around, with its breathtaking views and vivid green course.

Cultural Attractions

If you are looking to embrace Hawaii’s unique culture, there are many opportunities to do that. These can include museums, cultural centers, shows, luau’s, and so much more. Since there are different cultural attractions on each island, you will never run out of things to do. 

Family-Centered Environment

The Aloha State is perfect for those who want to retire in a beautiful location and expect lots of visits from family. Hawaii has a very family-centered environment and has lots of activities for everyone. 

Low Crime Rate

When you are finding a place to retire, it is crucial to look at the crime rates, since this could affect the peace and comfort of your daily life. Another positive feature of Hawaii is that the crime rates are relatively low. 

With the national average at 3.7 crimes per 1000 people, Hawaii is at 2.5. Since Hawaii’s crime rate is below the national average, you won’t have to worry about too much. 

Comfortable Climate

One of the best things about Hawaii is its climate. The islands have a comfortable temperature all year round, ranging from 78℉ (25.5 °C) in the cooler months to 90℉ (32 °C) in the hotter months. You will also find that clothing costs are cheaper since you do not need any expensive gear for cold temperatures. 

The State Does Not Tax Some Types of Retirement Income

Trying to answer if Hawaii is a tax-friendly state for retirees can be complicated. This is because it can be tax-friendly for some, but not for others. 

One positive about retiring in Hawaii is that it does not tax public pension income or social security. Furthermore, Hawaii has low property tax and has no sales tax. If you are interested in retiring in Hawaii, it is also good to keep in mind that the tax economy does differ from county to county. Here is a list of some of the most tax-friendly counties in the Aloha State:

  • Nanakuli, Hawaii
  • Kahului, Hawaii
  • Makaha, Hawaii
  • Waianae, Hawaii
  • Wailuku, Hawaii
  • Hawaiin Paradise Park, Hawaii

There Are Numerous Top-Rated Tourist Spots to Visit

Another positive about living in Hawaii would be the accessibility to all the amazing tourist spots. Just because you live there doesn’t mean you can’t act like a tourist! Let’s take a look at some of the best spots to hit. 

  • Waikiki Beach – This is the most popular tourist spot for multiple reasons. The white sand beach spans two miles and is home to some of the most glamorous resorts and restaurants. You can also venture down the boardwalk to hit some cute cafes and shops. 
  • Pearl Harbor – This National Historic Landmark is a historically rich spot to visit. There is no cost to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center has free admission with many different activities you can do. Although, you should reserve a tour spot beforehand since this is a very busy attraction. 
  • Volcanoes National Park – This is a very unique and exciting attraction that you can visit. You will be surrounded by cooled lava rock, and you might even be able to see ash escaping from the rock. There are also holes in the rock where you can stand near and feel warm air escaping them. This always feels great on a cold day!
  • Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve – This is a very popular snorkeling spot that offers magnificent views of coral reefs. The bay is protected since it’s ecosystem is delicate. This area used to be closed for restoration, but it is now open to the public. 
  • Hana Highway – Often called Hana Road, this is a 52-mile highway on the coast of Maui. It is a very scenic drive that brings you through small, unique towns. There are also multiple stops along the way for hiking. There are even some waterfalls and beaches to explore, as well. 

Check out Frommer’s Hawaii 2020 for more information on the best tourist spots!

A Wide Variety of Restaurants

16 Pros and Cons of Retiring in Hawaii

Hawaii has many different cuisines to choose from, including Mexican, Asian, Italian, and much more. However, if you do choose to eat out, you have to try Hawaiian cuisine. The Aloha State also has fresh seafood and fruit that will leave your mouth watering. There are numerous fresh-squeezed juices perfect for mornings. 

Even though Hawaii does have many restaurant options, you will probably only be dining out every few weeks (depending on your budget) since it is expensive. 

The Cons of Retiring in Hawaii

While there are many pros to retiring in Hawaii, there are also a few important cons to consider. Hawaii has always been famous for vacationing, but only a select few can actually retire here due to a number of reasons, but most of it comes down to cost. If you are thinking of retiring in Hawaii, you will need a solid source of income to live comfortably. 

Let’s look at some specific factors that might change your mind about retiring in the Aloha State. 

The State Taxes Certain Kinds of Retirement Incomes

As mentioned before, Hawaii is not tax-friendly for some retirees. The state taxes private pensions and retirement savings accounts (401(k) or IRA). Furthermore, the home prices are very high, which can increase your annual taxes. Properties in Hawaii are very expensive. 

High Cost of Living

A big downside of retiring in Hawaii would be the cost of living. The Aloha State is one of the most expensive states to live in compared to the entire United States. The cost of living is 33% higher than the national average. 

If you decide to retire in Hawaii, you might have to rent and not buy since property can be so expensive. 

Lack of Public Transit

Something that the islands of Hawaii lack are public transportation options. The islands do not have subways, trains, or trams. However, there are buses on every major island. You can use an app on your phone to easily track and ride the buses, making it pretty easy to get around the island. 

Furthermore, taxis and uber are available on the major islands as well, even though these will be more expensive. If you wanted to take a day to venture to different locations, renting a car might be the best option for you. 

If you are thinking about retiring in Hawaii, you should strongly consider shipping over your car. You can do this through Matson, Horizon Lines, or Pasha Hawaii. On average, it can cost anywhere from $1000 to $6000 to ship your car. 

Bad Traffic

Since there are usually only a few ways to get somewhere in Hawaii, traffic can get pretty bad. A study by WalletHub listed Hawaii as the worst state for traffic in the United States. However, this is only during rush hour. If you are fully retiring, you can choose when you want to drive and avoid the bad traffic times. If you do need to travel during rush hour, try to avoid the main highways. 

It Is Expensive to Travel Around the Island or to Other Islands

If you are retiring in Hawaii, you will want to explore the island you are on and even the other islands. However, this can be pretty expensive. Since there are not many public transportation options, you will have to use your own car, rent a car, or take the bus to travel around. 

Even if you have your own car, Hawaii has some of the most expensive gas prices in all of the United States. Something to consider would be to invest in a peddle bike. Even though you can’t peddle across the entire island, you will be able to move around town easier and cheaper. Biking is also a great way to get in your daily exercise! 

There Are Lots of Critters and Insects

Embracing Hawaiian life means embracing everything that comes with it. This can sometimes mean bugs and critters such as geckos, cockroaches, spiders, and many more. Since the weather will be so beautiful on the island, you will often have your windows or doors open. This can mean a higher number of bugs and critters inside your home. If you can’t stand bugs, you might want to reconsider choosing Hawaii as your retirement state. 

High Grocery and Utility Bills

Many things are more expensive in Hawaii because it is an island. This means that goods have to be either flown or shipped, which is why prices are higher. A way to combat high grocery bills is to grow your own garden. This could also be a great retirement hobby!

Final Thoughts

Hawaii has a lot of great features for those who love the warm sun and the blue ocean. If you love to be outdoors and try out different water sports, Hawaii would be a great place for you to retire. There are many opportunities to stay active and immerse with the laid-back and welcoming culture. 

On the other hand, Hawaii is a costly place to live in. The housing and property prices are very high, which can increase your annual taxes. Furthermore, groceries, gas, and utilities will be very expensive. If you are wealthy and absolutely love the idea of an adventurous beach life, then Hawaii will be the perfect location for you to retire. 



Hey there, my name is Ruth, I'm in my late fifties. My life was turned upside down a few years ago as I experienced a burn-out. But I saw it as a sign that something had to change in my life. I'm happy I used this tough experience as a stepping stone. I now feel happier than ever and hope to inspire you to do the same, no matter how old you are.

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