Yup, this is paradise.  Tanned, fit bodies.  Palm and Coconut trees.  The ocean surf, Waikiki, snorkeling and Zippy’s.  Oh, and the highest cost of living in the known universe.

Just like buying a house in Hawaii, renting a home or an apartment in Hawaii is also more expensive and much different than doing so on the mainland.

At the end of this article, please don’t leave thinking, “Crap!  I’m not going to move to Hawaii after reading all of that!” The fact is that hundreds of people move to the Islands every year and make it work.  This article is just to give you a heads up at what you’re going to face on your apartment hunt in Hawaii!

A Personal Experience

While I was living in a hotel with my family and looking for a permanent place to live (we were always looking to rent and not buy), we went and looked at a home in central Oahu.  The house was beautiful with a gorgeous view of Oahu’s windward mountains and large mango tree in the backyard; two things that I wanted.  I love the place…until it got weird.


It turns out that I was being shown the house by a realtor because the owner lived in Japan.  The problem was that there was an entire pat of the house that was locked off from me and my family because the owner was storing “stuff and items” in there.

They were also asking for about 3.5 months of deposit which brought the move in price to around $8,000.

So, never mind the fact that there was possibly 12 mummified dead humans in part of my house that I couldn’t confirm, but it was going to cost me more to move in than it did for the second-hand car I was currently driving.

Turns out later that while certain areas of the house being locked down was very legal in Hawaii, asking for more than 2 month’s rent as a deposit was NOT legal.

Again, business and doing things in Hawaii is very different than the mainland.

Hawaii Facts that You Need to Know Before Looking to Rent


  • A person on Oahu can qualify for housing assistance allowance from the State if they make less  than $55,000.*
  • A family of four can earn $79,000 and qualify for assistance.*
  • The cost of living in Hawaii is the highest in the nation and 16% higher than the national average.
  • The cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Hawaii is 71% higher than the national average at $1700.
  • In comparison, a person in Hawaii needs to earn $33 per hour to find and afford a suitable apartment as opposed to $26 per hour as the national average.
  • Gas, electricity, water and even cable/internet is among the highest in the nation as well.

So, What does this Mean for Renting an Apartment in Hawaii?  4 Things to Keep in Mind



  1. Asides from the obvious, “it’s expensive” it also means that you would be best to downsize when moving to Hawaii so that you can save money on housing.
  2. Unless you have a lot of money coming in or you’re really well off it may be best to look deep into finding the perfect apartment or house to rent before just jumping into it.
  3. Speaking of that…  Hawaii doesn’t have nice, relaxed open houses on the weekends that you can plan on attending. NOPE.  Instead, Hawaii has showings.  These are done in group setting, last around 25 minutes and happen during the middle of the day Monday thru Friday.
  4. Also, you’re going to be hard pressed to find “cheap” or “affordable” apartments/studios in Hawaii (especially, Oahu) that are in nice, modern buildings.

Figures source:  Hawaii Public Housing Authority