Honolulu : Hawaii


What It Is Like to Retire in Honolulu

Honolulu is the largest city and the capital of the 50t:h state, Hawaii.  The population of the city proper is just under 300,000 while 1,000,000 live in the city and county. The city consists of many neighborhoods - both commercial, tourist area of Waikiki, and The Arts District Honolulu in downtown/Chinatown. Ala Moana Center is the "World's largest open air shopping center" and the largest shopping mall in Hawaii.  Nearby communities and upscale neighborhoods like Waialae and Kahala attract wealthier residents.  Obviously the year round weather is fantastic in Honolulu. Picture of Downtown Honolulu, the city and county urban center courtesy of Wikipedia and ErgoSum88 (public domain); Front corner view of Honolulu Hale, the City Hall of Honolulu, Hawaii, courtesy of Wikipedia and Joel Bradshaw (public domain), picture of Richardson Hall at Fort Shafter, Hawaii , courtesy of Wikipedia and US gov(public domain).

Here is Topretirements Mini-Retirement Guide to Hawaii


Where to Retire in Honolulu and Home Prices

There are some active developments in the area but they are difficult to find. Many are small scale, while many residents live in the general community. Two upscale gated communities of Waiʻalae ʻiki and Hawaiʻi Loa Ridge. Other neighborhoods include Wahiawa, Waipahu or Kanehoe. The median price of a home in Honolulu is very high. The National Association of Realtor reports the median price to be $902,500 in urban Honolulu during the 4th quarter of 2020.


What Is Special about Honolulu

The weather, the scenery, the beaches, and the relatively slower pace of Hawaiian life are all very appealing. The unemployment rate is low.  Honolulu has a Walk Score of 63 from walkscore.com.


What Is Not Special about Honolulu

Hawaii is one of the most expensive places to live in the USA. It is obviously very far from the mainland and possibly, friends and family. Just about everything you need except for food needs to be imported.

Who Will Like Retirement in Honolulu

People who like beaches and a relaxed way of life. Former military people are especially likely to retire here - they tend to be familiar with the area and the military infrastructure such as medical and PXs are readily available.

Local Economy Is Driven by

The city has a very diverse economy with many major corporations as well as the state capital.

Climate and Physical Environment

Honolulu is the southernmost city in the US and the 50th state's largest city. It is located on one of the world's great harbors on the island of Oahu. The temperature is remarkably consistent and is normally in the 70's. 

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

As a large and thriving city Honolulu has an outstanding collection of cultural institutions. Its symphony is the oldest one in the US west of the Rockies. The Neal Blaisdell Center Concert Hall and Arena is the main music venue. It has opera and art museums such as the Honolulu Academy of the Arts.


Honolulu crime rate is a little above average with most crimes being property related, not violent crimes.


Medical Facilities

The city has the most extensive health care system in the Hawaiian islands. Kaiser Foundation operates one of the largest hospitals.


 Honolulu Internatioal airport;  Honolulu is above average in walkability when compared to other communities.


Valuable Links

Honolulu Travel Guide



What people are saying about Honolulu

living in Honolulu
My wife and I decided to retire to Hawaii from New England. We spent over 5 years visiting each island for weeks to determine if that island matched our needs, wants and likes as each of the 6 main islands are totally different from each other. We settled on Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Then we discovered my wife had cancer. She fought the cancer and won the battle but the chemo ruined her lungs so it was a race to get her to HI before she died. We moved to Honolulu on Oahu because all the main hospitals and doctor/specialists are on Oahu. She died a happy woman and her ashes were scattered near Kailua-Kona where she wanted to be. I decided to settle in Honolulu and live in the country on the sunny leeward coast which is the dry non-humid side of the island. It’s a much laid back life style here. HI has only one school district for the whole state and has a county form of municipal government with 4 municipal governments that also set each county property tax. If you purchase a residential property in certain a price range or historic designation per the county you live in with the homestead exemption and senior citizen exemption you can get away with paying only the county minimum property tax per year which is Honolulu County=$300, Maui County=$150, Hawaii County=$100 and Kauai County=$25 per year. Vehicles and boats are not taxed in HI. Retirement income from Social Security, first tier Railroad Retirement benefits, military, federal, state/municipal, and some private pensions are exempt. All out-of-state government pensions are exempt. Also, employer-funded pension plans are exempt. Distributions from private employer pension plans received upon retirement are partially taxed by the state if the employee contributed to the pension plan. Sales tax is 4%. Waikiki Beach on Oahu is the most visited destination in HI. About 80% of the 1.3 million state population lives on Oahu but only about 30% of the island is developed meaning downtown Honolulu hums 24/7 like New York City but in 25 min drive you can be on a desolate white sandy beach or up in a mountain rain forest or out in the country. You basically have the best of both worlds living in Honolulu. Honolulu is basically the whole island of Oahu. There are over 100 white sand beaches that ring the island and median daily temperature below 3,000 ft. is 78 F degrees. I find living retired in Honolulu about 1/3rd the cost of living back in Rhode Island. If I lived in town I would need air-conditioning because of humidity and city noise requiring closing of windows and higher electric bill but out in the country I can keep my windows open year round and I hardly turn on ceiling fans due to natural trade winds. All beaches are free in HI with free parking so weekends in Honolulu you will find the beaches and parks filled with family and friend picnic parties. The public transit system in Honolulu "TheBus" has been ranked best in nation twice and for $2.25 you can ride the whole island. Honolulu is the melting pot of U.S.A. but there are no ethnic neighborhoods as everyone lives together meaning the food culture in Honolulu is over the top with international cuisine and "Hawaii Regional Cuisine". Top priority in Hawaii is given to very good food and a good party! Every Friday night there are fireworks over Waikiki Beach. Honolulu is a fun place to be as a retiree!! I purchase most of my food produce at farmer's markets which HI has a 365 day growing cycle and all farm animals in HI are free range as there are no feed lots in HI. In Honolulu on the North Shore the ranked best single origin cacao and most expensive in world is grown and sold.
Posted by Kiana on July 05, 2012
Distance from Family
My husband and I dreamed of retiring to Hawaii for years, and finally put money down on a lot on the Big Island. Several circumstances later, including a lost job, we withdrew the offer. We knew we could handle the higher cost of living, and looked forward to a simpler, island life. But the cost of traveling from HI to the east coast is so high, I knew it would make seeing our families prohibitive. We finally traded that dream for the ability to see our grandkids more frequently. Let me tell you, anyplace we are considering now can't come close to an aloha life.
Posted by kinikia on February 15, 2012

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