Vacation vs Retirement Living: Hawaiian Islands

If you’re doing some financial planning to prepare for your retirement in your 50+ and senior years, or just thinking of your next vacation, here’s what to know about Hawaii as a potential vacation or retirement living destination. 

Retirement Living in the Hawaiian Islands

hawaiian islands, retirement, retirement living, lanikai beach, kailua beach, oahu, hawaii, honolulu, seniors apartments, assisted living, active adult communities, low crime, 50+, senior citizen, senior yearsLanikai (above) and nearby Kailua Beaches on the island of Oahu in Hawaii have made many Top Beaches lists over the years for good reason. Photo:

If you accumulate sufficient wealth to afford living in the Hawaiian Islands in your retirement, then Hawaii is an ideal retirement living destination. In additional to traditional detached homes and assisted living seniors communities, there are active adult communities as well in Hawaii.

The cost of living is quite high in the Hawaiian Islands, especially with the currently (2016) very strong US dollar. Oahu & Honolulu housing prices, including home purchases or rentals, detached homes or seniors apartments & condominiums, are comparable to those in the expensive major American and Canadian cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Housing is fractionally less expensive on the other Hawaiian Islands, but grocery shopping is more limited and costlier compared to Oahu. 

Much of the food – fruits, vegetables, coffee, vanilla, beef, chicken and seafood – is locally grown or sourced on the Hawaiian Islands. However, because Oahu, Kauai, Mauai, Hawaii and the other Hawaiian Islands are far from any mainland, most manufactured goods are shipped to the islands, and that makes them expensive to buy in Hawaii.

So – if you have the money to retire & live there in your 50+ and senior citizen years, the benefits of living in Hawaii in your retirement are:

  1. Weather – year-round warm weather = access to exceptional and non-stop swimming, surfing, golfing, and other outdoor activities.
  2. Relaxed Lifestyle – forget the sense of urgency that permeates the mainland – you’re on “island time” in Hawaii, and can truly relax in your retirement.
  3. Community – multi-cultural, friendly people and communities.
  4. World-Class Scenery – virtually every eco-system can be found in the Hawaiian Islands, from snow-capped mountains, to volcanoes, rainforests and of course stunning black, pink, or white sand beaches.
  5. Outstanding Vegetation – Orchids grow in eavestroughs and street gutters in Hawaii….small indoor tropical house plants in the northern US and Canada, are large outdoor shrubs and trees in Hawaii.
  6. Low CrimeHawaii 5-0 is fiction, not fact; Hawaii is a low violent crime rate
  7. Great Entertainment – Diverse restaurants (it’s hard to find a fast-food chain restaurant in Hawaii); unique local attractions/entertainment; and historically significant sites such as Pearl Harbor.

Vacation in Hawaii

If you’re still in the phase of your life where you need to work to earn money and save for your retirement (for some of us, that’s going to be well in our senior years), then Hawaii may be better as a lovely vacation destination for now. Most jobs are in the low-paying service industry; even then, many jobs are part-time, so holding several jobs is not uncommon. That makes good affordable housing out of the reach of many.

For reasons to vacation in Hawaii, see the above list!

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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