Paradise is…Expensive.

20130623_113831(Photo Credit: Minnie)

Our family had an opportunity to live in Honolulu, Hawaii for five years, from 2011 to 2016.  We loved it, but there were things about Hawaii that we didn’t love, which was the high cost of living.

Let’s talk about food…due to importing most of the food into the islands, the cost of food is much higher than mainland prices:

For example:  These are the prices as of March 2017 at Foodland, one of the main grocery chains on the islands

  • Gallon of whole milk: $5.39
  • 12 can case of Pepsi: $6.99
  • Pack of deli meat: $9.99
  • Pound of apples:  $2.99

How do the locals cope with the high prices?  They told us–eat chicken and rice.  There are some items that are close to mainland prices, such as chicken, rice, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, bananas, and pineapples.  Costco is a godsend, as its items are very close to mainland Costco prices, although milk is still a few dollars more.

There are some items you can only get fresh and relatively cheaply in Hawaii, but it will be very expensive outside of Hawaii–those are local papayas and Okinawan purple sweet potatoes.  Hawaii papayas are the best!  Sweet, fragrant and melts in your mouth.  I cannot even find it at grocery stores in Southern California.  Purple sweet potatoes are stunningly deep indigo and very dense and sweet.

If you are into organic produce, the prices are even higher.  I resorted to buying organic produce like kale and broccoli from farmer’s markets around Honolulu, which have a good selection and are cheaper than grocery prices.

Restaurants are plentiful, especially Japanese restaurants are very good in Hawaii.  But the prices are high, about the same or higher than the same quality restaurant in California.  It’s best to take advantage of plate lunches and local hole in the wall type of places for the best deals.

I will share more in the next post about housing, schools, and some of the unique aspects of Hawaii that I found hard to get used to:  flying cockroaches!

So You Want to Move to Hawaii: Watch out for the Cockroaches! (Pros and Cons)

So You Want to Live in Hawaii (Pros and Cons) Part Two