I got a text from my wife: “Hey, I think I found a place. It’s a little small, a little pricey, but it looks so cute! Gorgeous 3 br/ 1 ba, 950sqft. Here’s the link…”
I was still living in North Carolina at the time, she traveled ahead of me to start her new job. Having done some minimal research on Hawaii real estate and rentals, I knew it was going be expensive, but I guess it never really hit me how far (or not so far) your dollar can really go here.
There was so much to like about this house, it was a few blocks from the beach, the backyard was nicely manicured with banana and avocado trees lining the privacy fence. But the Con’s outweighed the Pro’s. The cost was $3000 per month, we’d have to pack 5 people in 950 sqft, our furniture wouldn’t fit, AND we’d have to share the backyard with another tenant, I pretty much marked that house off our list.
In my search for a place to live, I thought I’d share the wealth and compile a short list with examples of what $1000, $3000, and $5000 per month gets you in Oahu. I used Zillow.com and filtered all results to include all types of housing (single family, apartment, condo, townhomes, etc) and given we’ve got pets, I only searched for places that accept pets.
So what does $1000, $3000 and $5000 per month get you?
$1000 per month
Surprise! If you’re expecting something for $1000 or less on the island, it’s going to be a tough time. After conducting a search in specific cities and coming up with no results, I zoomed out to search around the entire island. Turns out, there’s nowhere to live if you have pets for $1000 and under, or maybe that’s just Zillow.
Of course, you can probably find a bedroom in someone’s home for rent at $1k and under, but none that accept pets (at least not at the time of this post).
If you opt for the no pet option, you could rent a single bedroom in someone’s townhouse, like the place below. However, I’d feel awkward making my morning eggs in someone else’s house…
$3000 per month
A few miles west of Honolulu, you’ll find a place like this. Now this isn’t too bad, but given its location, if you’re planning on getting off work at 4 to 5 pm (like the majority of the island), be prepared to sit in traffic for about an hour or so. Stay closer to the east side of the island to avoid long waits in bumper to bumper traffic. But with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, it’s not all too bad.
$5000 per month
At $5000, this home sits in Kailua, a very desirable community with nice shops, restaurants, good schools and neighborhoods. The rent is high and according to the ad, you’ll have to put down another $5000 for security deposit, but if you want to live in a nice location, with great amenities, it’s going not going to be cheap.
You can most likely find a smaller house near the same community, further from the beach, for a few hundred dollars less.
Of course, rental prices vary across the island, usually being less expensive toward the center and furthest from the water. However, we wanted to live as close to the beach as possible and still have room to stretch in the morning without my hands touching each wall in the room. I mean, it’s not every day you get to live on an island, right?
Housing isn’t the only expensive thing here. Given most things must be shipped to the island, you’re likely to spend more on food, gas, clothing, entertainment, etc. Many locals make good use of the Costco on the island for big shopping trips. If you’re military or have an affiliation to the military, use your commissary and exchange privileges and shop on base. You save some money and it’s tax-free!
I’m in no way saying there’s not other possibility for housing at these price points, far from it! I know many people who have room mates and split a home in 2 or 3 ways, while others simply choose to rent a single bedroom in someone’s home. Having a pet can be the deciding factor whether you’re going to live in a nice home for a few thousand, or shell out an extra thousand for a decent home.
- Do your homework before moving.
- I’d strongly suggest having a solid paying job established before making the move to Hawaii.
- If you can, make the move with a friend and share the rent/expenses. It’ll make life a lot easier.
- Find out where you’ll be working, and a reasonable distance to live from work.
- Keep in mind the H3 freeway is mostly clear when everyone is getting off work, the H1 freeway can be a nightmare.
- If you don’t already have a pet, I’d plan to stay pet-free for a while in order to keep more housing options available.
- Live within your means.
- Just because you have some extra money left over at the end of the month doesn’t mean you need to spend it.
Feel free to contact me with any questions and share my commenting below.
Again, these are all simply my opinions and things I’d advise. I’d give a family member, friend and even my kids the same advice.
I’m in no way affiliated with Zillow.com, All photos above are property of Zillow.com and used on this website for entertainment purposes only.