Wednesday
Aug082012

Oahu Cost of Living

The Price of Paradise!!
Money Tree *Living in Hawaii can be quite expensive when compared to the mainland. However, if you are from California or a big city on the East Coast, the sticker shock may not be so bad.

Housing

Housing prices here, on Oahu, are roughly comparable to big cities, like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, but you are getting a very different product. The home styles, neighborhoods, and lifestyle are generally very different. Like anywhere, the cost of housing will vary greatly from area to area, depending upon both location and the quality and size of the home and property upon which the home is situated. Most beach areas and areas with good views are the most expensive.

Gas

Gas prices here are more than many, but not all, places on the mainland. For a glimpse at current local gas prices, visit www.hawaiigasprices.com.

Groceries

Grocery prices, also, are typically more than on the mainland. Remember, almost everything has to be shipped overseas. That said, it is obvious that anything locally grown or produced will be fresher, though not neccessarily less expensive. Some major island supermarkets are Foodland and Times Market. There are also mainland stores like Whole Foods, Costco and Safeway. Visit the websites of these grocers to see the weekly specials and get an idea of grocery prices. Like on the mainland, Hawaii retailers have frequent shopper discount and points reward cards, that help with prices. Local farmers sell locally grown and organic produce at the farmers’ markets, on a weekly basis. Military families find relief using the Commissary system which provides substantial savings on groceries.

Utilities

Most people in Hawaii have neither central heat nor air conditioning, but you can still expect a whopping electric bill. Hawaii has the highest electricity cost of any state in the US, which can be double or even triple that of other states. At the time of writing this, Hawaii’s power cost was 22.76 a kilowatt hour, with California at 12.62, Arizona 8.46, and Oregon 7.56. As a result, many homeowners opt to use ceiling fans and gas appliances, where available, to achieve savings. In Hawaii, The Gas Company provides synthetic natural gas (SNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or liquid propane. As SNG is not available in all areas, many people use LPG which can be held in a tank in your yard, to be refilled as it is used, or in certain areas, the LPG it is piped and provided by The Gas Company. The State of Hawaii offers several tax credits for switching to gas and for using solar power.

Taxes (The GOOD News!)

See my Hawaii Real Property Taxes Page - Hawaii has one of the lowest rates for real property tax in the United States. Awesome!!

Sales Tax – More Good News - In Hawaii there is no sales tax! However, there is a General Excise Tax (GET) that for most consumer purposes, functions similarly to a state or local sales tax. That tax for Hawaii is currently 4.5%, which is lower than the sales tax in most places, but this is often passed onto consumers as a tax of 4.712%, since the merchant pays taxes on their taxes. To find out more about Hawaii GET, read this:  An Opinion on the Effect of Hawaii’s GET & How it Varies From Sales Tax

Other Taxes – Please see the following additional resources for more information on personal income taxes in Hawaii, and gas taxes, cigarette and alcohol taxes, etc, in Hawaii:

* Pachira Aquatica or “Money Tree” – a plant grown in Hawaii which is believed to bring good luck or good fortune to your home or business. It is one of the group of Chinese New Year plants, said to be lucky because its name in Chinese resembles how you would say “good fortune is coming your way.”

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