Tall buildings on the shores of Waikiki beach

Average Salary in Hawaii: Can You Afford the Cost of Living in Hawaii?

Despite being ranked as the least affordable state in the United States by US News, the cost of living in Hawaii can be managed. As long as you have a steady income to cover your living expenses, you will lead a comfortable life in the state. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary in Hawaii is $51,729. With this amount, it is definitely possible to manage the average rent in Hawaii, including utility bills and extra expenses. 

If you want to move to Hawaii, you should take advantage of the information provided in this guide. We will also give you detailed insights into other important details, such as what a good salary is according to the cost of living index, and a salary comparison by city.

What to Know Before Moving to Hawaii

If you’re moving to Hawaii, you should expect a lot of white sand beaches and tropical fruit. Hawaii has over 100 islands as a result of volcanoes, but only six grab the attention of tourists across the world. You can decide to live in Kauai, Oahu, Maui, or Hawaii county. Each island features different attractions that can influence your decision to settle down. 

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Before making a decision, consider the culture, cost of living, available job opportunities, taxes, and salaries. You should also roughly estimate the cost of moving to Hawaii. This will include your flight ticket and baggage fees. If you are only going for a few months, you will pay lower baggage fees than a person who decides to relocate there permanently.  

What Is the Cost of Living in Hawaii? 

According to PayScale, the cost of living in Honolulu county, Hawaii is 93 percent higher than the national average. However, it is important to keep in mind that this cost is limited to the basic variables of housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. To get a better picture, you must also consider other parameters like higher income tax rates or the effective property tax rate.

How Is Cost of Living Calculated?

The cost of living is calculated by estimating the cost of necessities required by an individual to survive. The cost of living index takes into account the cost of housing, food, energy, transportation, taxes, and medical care, among other expenses. Having a clear sense of your expenses will help guide you to the best job available to cover the cost of living in Hawaii. 

What Contributes to the Cost of Living in Hawaii?

Average Rent in Hawaii

The average rent in Hawaii is $3,279 per month. According to RentData, a studio apartment’s average market rent price is $1,017. If you want to live in a one-bedroom apartment, your monthly rent will be $1,164, while a two-bedroom apartment will cost you $1,531. If you have a big family, you might need to rent a four-bedroom apartment. In Hawaii, the average monthly cost of a four-bedroom apartment is $2,076. 

Average Transportation Costs in Hawaii

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average transportation cost in Honolulu County, Hawaii, is $8,213. This is 13.5 percent of the entire budget of $60,884 and is 16.5 percent lower than the national average. However, despite the relatively cheaper transportation costs, nearly 88.5 percent of resident expenditure in 2020 has gone towards maintaining private vehicles. 

Average Food Costs in Hawaii

BLS lists the average food cost in Hawaii at $9,924 per year, nearly 16.3 percent higher than the national average. Honolulu residents spend 61.5 percent of their food budget on eating at home, with an average grocery cost of $6,118. The average price of food eaten outside the home is $3,835, which makes up 38.5 percent of the entire food budget. 

Average Healthcare Costs in Hawaii

The average cost of healthcare in Hawaii is 16 percent higher than the national average. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Hawaii’s average annual medical coverage for employer-sponsored individuals is $19,243. You can expect to pay $128.31 for a doctor’s visit, $110.23 for a dental checkup, $120.23 for a visit to the optometrist, and $511.12 for RX drugs. 

Average Utility Costs in Hawaii

The average utility cost In Hawaii is $654.31, according to PayScale. This cost takes into account the total energy bill as well as the phone bill. The utility cost for households, however, varies depending on the number of people living there.

Other Expenses to Consider in Hawaii

There are other expenses you should consider in Hawaii in addition to housing, healthcare, and utilities. One of the most overlooked costs is insurance and pension. You will find multiple insurance providers to help facilitate your needs. Ensure you read through the fine print before committing to any insurer. 

Should I Buy or Rent in Hawaii?

Whether you should buy or rent in a populous state like Hawaii depends on multiple factors. Government-issued statistics forecast a demand of 19,610 housing units in Hawaii by 2025. For the same year, the government estimates only a 29 percent population growth. This means there will be a surplus of housing units for you to buy or rent. Given the expected drop in the average rate of demand, you can expect lower housing prices. 

The median house rent is around $23,572 per month in Honolulu, whereas the median home price is $1,046,899. If you have a steady income, you can opt to buy a house instead of renting. Even if you’d have an easier time buying a house, you should take into account your monthly income, housing costs, and your income tax bracket before committing. 

If you are simply visiting Hawaii for a few months, renting a house would be the best option. If you are planning to relocate to the state completely, you should consider buying. The best way forward is to consult an expert real estate agent to help you arrive at a suitable decision. 

What Is the Average Salary in Hawaii? 

The average salary in Hawaii is $51,729 per year. This translates to about $24.87 per hour. However, the salary is not written in stone. Professionals can earn annual salaries anywhere within the range of $26,703 and $92,911. With such a huge disparity, you have plenty of room to increase your income by obtaining more experience and skills. 

For a more complete breakdown by location, check out the city-by-city salary comparison in the table below. The salary data was collected from ZipRecruiter, and the table shows the five cities with the highest median income in the state. 

Salary Comparison by City in Hawaii

City Average Salary
Waimea $62,716
Honolulu $60,046
Wailuku $57,396
Hilo $49,528
Schofield Barracks $48,165

What Is a Good Salary?

A good salary is an income that matches a professional’s skills, education, geographical location, and experience. For you to be able to conduct your job duties to the utmost level, your average monthly income should sustain your needs and then some. It’s thus crucial that you look into top in-demand careers before relocating permanently. 

The household income of a resident in Hawaii should exceed $51,729 annually. This is enough for an individual to cover their living costs without having to drop their standard of living.

Can You Afford the Average Cost of Living in Hawaii?

Yes, most people can afford the average cost of living in Hawaii. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, households in Honolulu, Hawaii, spend $60,884 each year. If your household earns more than this collectively, you will be able to afford the gas prices, housing expenses, and healthcare costs, and even have some left for savings. 

All in all, you just need to land a well-paying job in Hawaii to afford its cost of living. Job boards and websites will help you find suitable job opportunities in the state. If you’re just starting out, make sure you write an effective cover letter and resume as well as update your portfolio to gain a competitive edge in the job market. 

Cost of Living in Hawaii FAQ

Is Hawaii expensive to live in?

No, it’s not expensive to live in Hawaii if you make a decent salary. Professionals living in Hawaii earn an average salary of $51,729 each year. This is enough for all your household expenses plus savings. If you land a better-paying job, you will easily cover the cost of living in Hawaii. 

What is the minimum wage in Hawaii?

Starting in October 2022, the minimum wage in Hawaii will be $12 per hour. Your salary prospects depend on your skill level, experience, level of education, and geographical location. There are areas in Hawaii that pay a higher salary than others. Make sure you look into the compensation rates in Hawaii before relocating. 

What is the unemployment rate in Hawaii?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Hawaii is 4.1 percent as of July 2022. While you should look through job boards and forums for available job opportunities before making a move, the state’s fairly healthy job market will give you a decent shot at a living wage. 

Can I land a well-paying job in Hawaii?

Yes, you can land a well-paying job in Hawaii. The highest-paying jobs in Hawaii, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are mostly in the medical field, including dermatologists, obstetricians, and pediatricians. The best jobs that only require a bachelor’s degree include software developers, sales managers, and computer hardware engineers. 

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