Moving to Honolulu, HI
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Jump to any of the following sections to learn more about what to expect living in Honolulu, HI.
Navigation Jump Links
- Honolulu At-a-glance
- What it’s like to live in Honolulu
- Economy and job outlook in Honolulu
- Real estate in Honolulu
- The top neighborhoods in Honolulu
- How to get around in Honolulu
- School and education snapshot
- Weather and climate in Honolulu
- 10 can’t miss things to do in Honolulu
Moving to Honolulu? Congratulations, that’s your ticket to paradise. Lush tropical forests, scenic mountains, incredible beaches and all kinds of unbeatable outdoor recreation are awaiting you.
Located smack dab in the middle of the Pacific, Honolulu is a crossroads of sorts. It’s where cultures from the East and West come to meet, mingle and meld. A city that buzzes with a unique kind of energy.
Weather-wise, we are talking near perfection. Mild, warm temperatures year-round with a gentle cool breeze that rolls off the Pacific. It’s like Mother Nature has a soft spot for this slice of Earth.
So, while the laid-back island lifestyle mixed with a buzzing urban scene might sound like a contradiction, in Honolulu, it’s a reality. An inviting reality that’s waiting to be explored, so come on over and make the most out of living in Honolulu.
The Aloha Spirit is the Real Deal
Looking for a city that matches your active lifestyle? Honolulu is your best bet throughout the entire United States. The many sports and outdoor opportunities here greatly help lower stress and improve quality of life. And there might be other perks you are less familiar with — Urban Honolulu, and Hawaii in general, are financially savvy and value education, green space, as well as emotional and physical well-being.
Sure, it all comes with the price tag of a mini-paradise — not trying to sugarcoat the high cost of living in Honolulu — but the pros far outweigh the cons. But where else would you find so many festivals paired with an environmentally friendly lifestyle?
Oh, and something else that the Big Pineapple excels in are coffee shops, juice & smoothie bars and acres of parkland. Proportional to the population of course — which is around 350,000 in Urban Honolulu and 1,000,000 in the entire county. And while the traffic might test your patience, the people won’t. The Aloha spirit is the real deal here, don’t you forget that.
Honolulu’s Economy Isn’t a One-Note Tune
As the economic hub of Hawaii, Honolulu sets the pace for the business climate of the entire state. Here, racial equality in the job market isn’t just a phrase, but a lived reality. In fact, Hawaii proudly stands as one of the states with the most racial equality in economic metrics. The median income gap and poverty rate gap between white and black Americans are among the lowest in the United States. This underlines a notable stride toward a balanced economic playground.
Tourism is the big game in town, from hotels to restaurants. But there’s more — the military, healthcare, real estate and trade jobs keep the city humming. And let’s not forget, with eyes on green energy and the cool studies happening because of its spot in the Pacific, Honolulu’s work scene has many colors waiting to be discovered.
Now, let’s get down to numbers: The median household income of $76,495 and the per capita income of $41,571 in Urban Honolulu are inching about 10-11 percent above the national average although, interesting enough, the average weekly wages lag behind. The slightly elevated income levels compared to the mainland hint at the economic dynamics of the Pacific capita.
Unemployment rate: 2.6 percent (as of July 2023)
Average weekly wages for all industries: $1,266 (Q1 2023)
Honolulu Homes Play Hard to Get
If you are a real estate agent, you already know that Pearl City is a great choice for you, but Honolulu is not a bad place to be either. Despite the fact that the real estate market is not in the best shape, there are many job opportunities for agents and the competition isn’t yet very high. But if you are moving to Honolulu and have any other job, you are probably more interested in knowing what it takes to rent or own a home here, not how well real estate agents have it.
In that case, you should know that official data place the Honolulu median home value at $726,000 and the median gross rent at $1,620. Even though more recent data from PayScale and NerdWallet list more than double those values, online housing marketplaces disagree with them, with RedFin listing the median sale price as low as $528,000. According to Realtor.com, you should expect to pay around $733 per square foot in Urban Honolulu.
And a quick fun fact: most people moving to Honolulu come from New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
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Five Honolulu Neighborhoods For All
Are you looking for a quiet spot to nest in Honolulu or do you prefer living in the tourist rush? Would you rather have more modern amenities or as many outdoor opportunities as possible? This piece of land will welcome you regardless, but it helps to not waste your energy on the wrong listings when hunting down a home.
Famous worldwide, this is the heart of Honolulu’s tourist scene. More suitable for short-term visitors, this crowded spot has its appeal for those looking for urban and beachfront living: great nightlife, the renowned Waikiki Beach, many dining and shopping options. The cons? It can get pretty noisy and property prices are high due to its prime location.
Home to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, this residential valley area appeals most to families, university staff/students and all those preferring quieter neighborhoods in general. Additional aces up its sleeve are the slightly cooler climate and the lush surroundings. The downside is that this area gets more rainfall than other parts of Honolulu and it can feel a bit isolated from the urban hum.
This rapidly developing urban area close to downtown has new condos, businesses and a great arts scene. Its most prominent highlights are the Kaka’ako Waterfront Park and the area’s street art. These seem to speak more to young professionals, artists and those looking for modern living. New developments are, of course, pricier, but the real downside for now is that you would live in construction noise for a while.
Located to the east of Honolulu, this suburban neighborhood mixes marina-front homes, shopping centers and outdoor attractions. And it does so successfully. Families, retirees and outdoor enthusiasts prefer it for its proximity to nature and the fact that it is quieter and more family-friendly than central Honolulu. Its standout features are Maunalua Bay for water activities and the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.
Since this is one of the older neighborhoods of Honolulu, it offers a more authentic local vibe. At the same time, some parts may be seen as less developed or polished compared to newer neighborhoods. This is definitely a more affordable living option for long-term residents and you still get to enjoy many local eateries and shop nearby.
Honolulu Blends Scenic Drives with City Strides
Honolulu traffic can be a tad slow during rush hour — we’re talking about 19-20 mph — but hey, a slow ride gives you more time to soak in the views, right? In fact, most folks still prefer to zip around Oahu by car and the average commute in Honolulu clocks in under 23 minutes. Not bad compared to the national average of 27 minutes.
Now, if you are the kind of person who likes to lace up those walking shoes, places like Ala Moana-Kakaako, McCully-Moiliili and, of course, Waikiki are quite walkable. So, you can stretch those legs while running a few errands. If you are thinking about biking, the city’s got you covered to an extent and buses come equipped with bike racks.
Got places to be but don’t want to drive? Honolulu’s public transport system, aptly named TheBus, has got quite the spread. It covers most parts of the island and is pretty reliable. Buses usually roll around every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the line. If you are in a rush or prefer a more private mode of transport, taxis, Uber and Lyft are always at the ready. Though, keep an eye on those fares — they can sneak up on you.
Honolulu Has a Strong Educational Game
With about 200 schools, including 35 high schools, families living in Honolulu have choices aplenty. The quality of education? Top-notch, with impressive low gender and racial education gaps to boot.
For those looking ahead to university, the University of Hawaii — West Oahu might catch your eye. Ranking in the top 1 percent of U.S. colleges, it also manages to make top marks in campus safety, cost and financing. The University of Hawaii at Manoa is another major player in the city with a sizable undergraduate enrollment of around 14,000.
And here’s a cool tidbit: Over 90 percent of Honolulu’s adults have their high school diplomas and 38 percent hold bachelor’s degrees. Both figures sit a notch above the national average.
Experience the Warmth of the Sheltered Bay
Honolulu’s climate? Think consistent warmth and sunshine. Throughout the year, the temperatures stay pretty steady, offering a tropical sanctuary. It’s no wonder locals often describe it as an endless summer.
In the heart of winter, it’s still beach-worthy, with mild temperatures that will have you thinking it’s spring elsewhere. When spring actually rolls around, you’ll feel a gentle uptick in warmth. And by the time summer hits, it’s sun-soaked and balmy, but not blisteringly hot. Fall doesn’t see a dramatic drop either.
Precipitation? While people living in Honolulu do get their share of rain, especially in the winter months, November to March to be more precise, it’s nothing overwhelming. You might need that umbrella occasionally, but it won’t be a constant companion. Overall, the Big Pineapple strikes a great balance between warmth and rainfall, ensuring the landscapes remain lush and the beaches welcoming.
Summer average (June – Aug): 88℉ high, 75℉ low
Winter average (Dec – Feb): 81℉ high, 68℉ low
10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in Honolulu
Pack your bags and aloha spirit — Honolulu is an island paradise with historic sites and pristine beaches. Do actions speak louder than places to you? Worry not, the city also has busy markets and cultural experiences for you to indulge in. Enough talking, now here’s your list of 10 must-do things in Honolulu:
- Hike Diamond Head. This dormant volcano offers a moderately challenging hike, but the panoramic views of the city and ocean from the summit are absolutely worth it.
- Visit Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona Memorial. Take in the history of the place and pay your respects as you learn about the events of December 7, 1941.
- Surf at Waikiki Beach. It’s the heart of Honolulu’s beach scene! Even if you’ve never hopped on a board before, Waikiki’s gentle waves are perfect for beginners. Numerous surf schools dot the shoreline, ready to get you up and riding. With its golden sands and clear waters, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most recognized beaches worldwide.
- Go to Hanauma Bay. A nature preserve that’s a snorkeler’s paradise! The bay is teeming with marine life, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle or two.
- Stroll through Kapiolani Park. This large public park in Honolulu is not only great for picnics and jogging but also hosts the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Shell, where many concerts are held.
- Watch the sunset from Aloha Tower. Once the tallest building in Hawaii, the observation deck still provides some of the best harbor views, especially at sunset.
- Go through Chinatown. Wander through markets, savor some local dim sum and take in the vibrant street art scattered around.
- Cycle at Tantalus Lookout. For those who prefer pedaling, this mountainous route offers challenging terrain coupled with awe-inspiring views of Oahu’s southern coast.
- Hike to Manoa Falls. A picturesque waterfall at the end of a lush trail. It’s a relatively short hike, making it accessible for most. The gentle cascade set against the verdant backdrop looks straight out of a postcard.
- Attend King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade in June. Do you want to celebrate Hawaii’s rich history? Don’t miss this festival with vibrant floats, traditional hula dancers and live music.