With amazing natural scenery, a tropical climate, and stunning beaches, Hawaii is unquestionably one of the world’s most beloved tourist destinations. But it’s not just an island for visitors- with an ever-growing job market, a great range of outdoor pursuits, first-rate schools, and an abundance of amenities, it’s also an excellent place to live. Here, we take a look at the 20 top cities and towns that constitute the very best places in Hawaii to live.
20. Wailua Homesteads
Wailua Homesteads kicks off our round-up in style thanks to its close-knit friendly community, its low crime rate, great school system, and an excellent range of amenities. It's idyllic setting in the mountains doesn’t hurt matters, either.
According to Area Vibes, the unemployment rate in Makawao is 4% lower than the US average; the year over year crime is down 23%; the median household income is 11% higher than the national average, and the high school graduation rate is 92% higher than the US average… all great scores, and ones that no doubt explain why the cost of living here is 73% more expensive than the US average. That said, if you’ve got the money to afford the average house price of $526,900, it’s an investment you’re unlikely to regret.
30,706 residents choose to call Kahului home, and for very good reason. A great range of restaurants, amenities, shops, and local businesses make the town one of the most vibrant on Hawaii, while its scenic location is hard to beat. We’ll leave the last word to one local resident who was moved to leave Niche with the praise: “Maui is a great place to live in. You meet different type of people and they are very kind. Enjoy the beach view which is very amazing! If you enjoy outdoors such as hiking and biking and running and walking and going to the pool than this is the perfect place to come and visit. Also, schools at Kahului are very close by which means kids can walk rather than dropping them off.”
With just 3,733 residents, Waialua isn’t exactly what you’d call a big town, but it’s punching far above its weight when it comes to amenities, attractions, job opportunities, and recreational pursuits. It may cost homeowners $671,500 for the privilege of buying a single-family home here, but for families or singletons looking to set up base in one of Hawaii’s most attractive areas, it still makes a sound choice.
16. Ocean Pointe
With a stunning beachfront location, Ocean Pointe in unquestionably one of the most beautiful places to live in Hawaii. Granted, you may have to part with $613,200 if you want to buy a property here (or $2,760 if you’re happy to rent), but the list of benefits does much to mitigate the cost. Along with a negligible crime rate, it boasts an excellent job market (and one that easily accommodates an average household income of $114,016), first-class schools, and a great range of wining and dining opportunities, shops and leisure facilities.
With a strong sense of community, an excellent range of first-class indoor and outdoor amusements, a reasonable (by Hawaii standards) median home value of $480,700, a robust household median income of $69,250, superlative schools, and a low crime rate, the family friendly town of Wailuku makes it to number 15.
If you’re a first-time buyer looking to get your foot on the property market, you might want to look away now… with the average price of property in Princeville coming it at a whopping $797,900, this is no place for the budget conscious. For those that can afford it, however, this is one seriously attractive town. The schools serving the area are all excellent, while the attractions and amenities on offer are beyond criticism. Peaceful, and with great access to beautiful natural surrounds, it’s the Hawaiian dream in a nutshell.
Ranked by Area Vibes as the number one medium city in Hawaii for Housing, the pretty coastal town of Lahaina offers some stunning beachfront properties, many offering specular views, infinity pools and the kind of luxurious interiors you’d expect to find in a property market that has the median home value of $609,800. Fortunately, there’s a lot more to Lahaina than high priced property: residents enjoy excellent access to some of the best outdoor pursuits on the island, a great range of cafes, restaurants, and bars, almost no crime, and an abundance of top-scoring schools. Its real draw, however, has to be its close-knit, diverse community, which guarantees a warm welcome to any newcomers.
You may have to spend $858,200 on a property in Kula, but a quick look at the list of attractions on offer may convince you of its investment value. Crime is so low, it’s practically non-existent, the job market is strong enough to support an average income of $82,468, the schools are top-notch, and the amenities are bountiful. It’s also blessed with the kind of scenery you’d typically only see on a postcard.
Located on Maui island (the second largest of Hawaii’s 8 isles), Wailea is an outdoor lover’s dream. Surrounded by stunning scenery, beautiful coastline, and pristine beaches, it’s the ideal place to indulge your fantasies of beachside living. Thanks to a constant influx of tourists, there’s plenty of boutiques, local businesses and amenities to keep both visitors and the 5602-year-round residents happy. Crime is low, the schools are excellent, and the median income is every healthy $68,678. The only sting in the tail is the property prices, which currently stand at a giant $936,400.
Looking for somewhere to invest that $490,600 hanging around your bank account? Then may we suggest you cast your eyes in the direction of Kapolei, a medium-sized town of 21,086 residents that ranks as the 10th best place to live in Hawaii. Along with a negligible crime rate, a similarly low unemployment and poverty rate, and the kind of highly desirable quality of life you can expect of a place where most residents net an average salary of $98,025, it’s unquestionably a place worthy of a few hundred thousand of anyone’s money.
9. Pearl City
Ranked by Niche as the 5th best place to retire in Hawaii, Pearl City isn’t short of an attraction or two. As one local resident comments, “I really enjoy living in Pearl City. It's a safe city to live in if you're looking for a place to live in Hawaii. The commute to stores is short. There are many convenient stores everywhere. Since it is an older city, there aren't many fun things to do but it's great place to live in for your family. Everyone in the community is friendly and there's a lot of community activities.”
As you’d expect of a college town, Hilo has a youth vibrancy and buzz about it that’s hard to replicate. Housing comes in at a very affordable $305,900 (with rent being even cheaper at just $988), while the extensive list of attractions on offer is guaranteed to appeal: a low crime rate, a good local economy, excellent schools, a robust median salary of $57,151, and easy access to everything from horse riding to surfing to bar hopping. If you come (be it a permanent move or something more fleeting), don’t miss the view from atop Mauna Kea – its one of the most beautiful on the island.
7. Mililani Mauka
There may be cheaper places to buy a property than Mililani Maika, but only a handful better. If you have the $641,900 needed to set up tent in this peaceful little suburb, you can expect a great range of shops, bars and restaurants, easy access to the delights of the Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge, a low crime rate, a booming local economy, and a median income of $112,726. You can also expect access to some of the best school in Hawaii: as The Crazy Tourist notes, there are a grand total of 42 schools in the district, each offering small class sizes and consistently above-average exam performances at every grade level.
As an increasingly popular spot with millennials, Waikele has a lot going for it. As well as offering an abundance of green spaces and recreational destinations (including the ever popular Waikele Golf Club and Pasty T Mink Park), it also has some great retail outlets and cultural venues. Compared to some of our other high-ranking entries, housing is affordable (at least by Hawaii standards), making it a great option for young, first time buyers looking to get their foot on the property ladder.
Within just a short drive of both Pearl City and Aiea, you’ll find the very attractive town of Waimalu. The historic docklands unquestionably offer a great natural setting, but there’s a lot more to this little town than just great views. Crime, unemployment, and poverty are all towards the bottom end of the scale, while excellent schools, public services, amenities, and job opportunities are all towards the top. Housing is in no way cheap (the average single-family home comes in at around $396,900), but fortunately, most people’s household incomes are high enough at $76,272 to be able to support it.
With a population of around 28,343, the town of Mililani comes in at number 4. Large enough to provide plenty of amenities and attractions, but small enough to still offer a close-knit, friendly environment, Miliani ranks as one of the best places in Hawaii to raise a family. The schools are some of the best in the state (Miliani High School and University Laboratory School both score top marks) while the crime rate is too low to deserve a mention. The job market, meanwhile, is booming to the point that most residents can expect a median income of $93,138. All in all, one very attractive town indeed.
Thanks to a wide range of excellent schools, top-notch public transportation, and a reputation as one of Hawaii’s safest areas, picturesque Kailua is a massively attractive option with families. Its beachside location, meanwhile, is a huge draw with tourists and second homers, the result of which has seen the price of homes soar to a giant $901,200 (and if you were thinking of cutting costs by renting, think again- most rental properties go for around $2327). Fortunately, the job market is strong enough to support the housing boom, with most residents netting a salary of around $114,381.
Maunawili ranks one of the most desirable towns in Hawaii- which no doubt explains its hefty median property price of $948,400. However, few will quibble over parting with such a considerable sum when they weigh up the benefits of living in an area that’s serviced by some of the best schools in Hawaii, excellent commuting links into nearby Honolulu, a crime rate that’s basically non-existent, plenty of amenities, first-rate services, and some of the best surrounding views you’ll likely encounter anywhere on the island. To cap it off, most residents can expect to net a median household income of a mammoth $143,750.
Rounding off our list is Honolulu. With a population of 402,452, there’s no doubting Honolulu is a major metropolis, and it’s certainly got the amenities, shops, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to prove it. What it also has, and what makes it truly unique compared to most major cities across the world, is a stunning beach to serve as a constant reminder of the kind of idyllic nature that surrounds the state capital. Housing here certainly isn’t cheap (expect to spend $688,200 on a property to buy, or $1,441 on a rental), but with the average median income coming in at $70,527, you’re unlikely to hear too many complaints about the cost of living.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn