Moving to Waikiki: The Pros & Cons, What To Expect, How To Get Started

Moving to Waikiki: The Pros & Cons, What To Expect, How To Get Started

Hey Guys, Just wanted to share my personal experience with moving to the Waikiki area of O'ahu, Hawaii and give you a realistic view of what to expect.

I first arrived in Hawaii on August 29th of 2007. After seven years of wanting to just pack everything up and live life somewhere else for awhile I finally did something about it. I had no clue I would end up in Hawaii when I started this adventure, but it seemed like the way to go. So on a whim I sold everything I owned, gave away the rest and jump a plane to paradise.

I landed on the Island with $2,000 which is pretty brave according to many people. I had a friend that let me sleep on the couch for a few weeks, hooked me up with a delivery job and introduced me to a guy who would let me buy a car for $1,000 down and make payments. If it hadn't of been for that there is NO WAY that I would have survived. But if you don't need a car and have around $2,000 then I am about to show you how to make it work for you.

Getting Started: The first thing you will need to do is find a cheap place to stay to help you conserve money. The best resource is CraigsList but be careful about sending any money in advanced, there are a lot of scams out there. It's best to land, jump online, walk over and look at a place, rent it on the spot if you like it. Most places don't do credit checks and charge first & last month's rent in order to move in.

There's a YMCA on Atkinson within walking distance to Waikiki. You can stay there for less than $50 a night for 2-3 days while you look for a place. It's best to call about a place as soon as you see the ad posted, they go quickly!

Apartments: Most apartments do not have air conditioning but your body will adjust after a month or two, keep the windows open and buy a fan! I sweat my arse off the first 2 months I was there but I finally adjusted to the climate. You could consider a window air unit but be ready to pay for it, your electric bill will go up by $30-$50 per month depending on the size of the unit you buy. High-rises are a good option because you can open the windows and let the trade winds blow through, best way to go! Any ground level apartments are prone to burglary so buy a safe if you have valuables, laptops, etc. I caught a hooker breaking into an apartment in Waikiki at 3AM one morning, they're easy to spot here!

Rent Budget: The average 'cheap rent' in Waikiki ranges from $700-$1200 per month depending on how much you have to spend. If you look real hard and hit places quick on craigslist then you could land an efficiency or 1BR for $700-$800 and this is a good place to start. Set aside at least $1,600 for rent up front.

Feeding Yourself: Waikiki is super expensive so whatever you do, DON'T eat the fast food just because it's convenient, your budget will go broke fast! The Food Pantry in Waikiki is expensive also but if you shop the specials you can find some good deals. I highly suggest that you get a SafeWay Card and ride the bus to the SafeWay on Kapahulu. You will save a ton of money by shopping outside of Waikiki.

Living Expenses: As of August 2010
2BR Condo Waikiki - $1,850 Month w/1 Parking Spot, Street Parking Is Brutal!
Electric Bill - $300 Deposit & $80-$150 per month, some rentals include electric
2-Liter Bottle of Soda - $3 ABC Waikiki / $1.25 SafeWay & Walmart
Pack of Smokes - $10.80 ABC Waikiki / $7.80 Mas Liquor
Banquet TV Dinner - $3.99 Food Pantry Waikiki / $1.50 SafeWay / $2.00 Walmart
Gallon of Milk - $10 Food Pantry Waikiki / $3.99 SafeWay & Walmart
Loaf of Bread - $4.69 Food Pantry Waikiki / $1.99 SafeWay / $0.99 Walmart
Breakfast Cereal - $7.99 Food Pantry Waikiki / $4.87 SafeWay / $4.32 Walmart
28oz Ground Coffee (Brand Name) - $10.99 Food Pantry Waikiki / $7.99 SafeWay / $7.69 Walmart

Car Expenses:
Car Title Renewal - Based on weight of car $180-$300 per year
Car Safety Inspection - $20 and everything has to work or no more ride!
Cost Of Gas - Only a few cents difference in or out of Waikiki
No Liability Insurance - Tickets = $500 1st Offense / Then $1,000 / Then Lose License
Hawaii does have very cheap liability insurance rates so it pays to have it!

Driving: Driving in Honolulu is a nightmare at first. There are a ton of one-way streets so if you make a wrong turn then you could find yourself driving in some vicious traffic trying to get back to where you want to be. They finally fixed the sewer lines so no more blockage on Kapiolani, this use to be a nightmare! The Interstate, I mean Freeway, is a thing of blunder, yes I said blunder! Who the hell puts an on-ramp right before an off-ramp? Stay off the Interstate from 3:30pm to 6:30pm unless you like sitting still. You can make headway if you are patient and I do have to give credit to Hawaii drivers because they will let you in if you use your turn signal, however...

One thing that drove me nuts is this: you have two lanes and you are at a red light, when the light turns green the person in front of you turns on his left turn signal and then sits there. Please for God's sake use your left turn signal when you first pull up to a light so the person behind you knows which lane to get in, it's common sense! I think when you put people from every country together in a driving situation like that it just makes it tens times worse. It took me a good 6 months to get use to driving in Honolulu and finding all the shortcuts. Once you do then driving becomes a lot easier.

Crime: There is crime in Waikiki, don't be fooled by the low crime stats, a lot of crimes go unreported which only helps Waikiki's tourist statistics. Protect yourself, don't flash money, stay off Kuhio Ave at night, unless you want to deal with drunks, hookers, drug dealers, thieves and bums trying to hit you up for money and smokes. Most crimes consist of cash nabbing, stolen mopeds & cars, drunk assault, and even a few deaths and murders. I was robbed at Gun Point my first week there while delivering food on Bishop St. downtown. I also got my car towed which cost me $220 after the cab ride and tickets, look at the parking signs!

Jobs: This is the really bad part about Hawaii... You would think that with everything as expensive as it is, and as many tourist that drop cash in Hawaii, you could land a good paying job and be banking some of that tourist money right?, guess again! The average menial job in Waikiki will only pay $8-$10 per hour. So if you are making $10HR working 35 hours a week and paying around 20% in taxes then you will end up with around $1,200 per month.

If you are career minded like I am then you might get lucky and land a job in your field but don't plan on it unless you do your research before hand. I got lucky and landed a tech job making $25HR but I spent the first eight months delivering food, which wasn't a bad job actually.

Fun Stuff: There's a ton of fun stuff to do in Waikiki, clubs, shopping, surfing, the beach, snorkeling or just meeting all of the interesting people who live there. The best low-budget thing to do is hang out at the beach and soak in that nice Hawaiian sun. It will take some time to work your way into making new friends and finding your hangout spots but just keep exploring, there's a lot of fun to be had!

Making New Friends: It might seem hard at first and like you are completely alone but if you make your rounds and start talking to people and introducing yourself then you will start gaining status as a local in no time. Local Hawaiians are hesitant to make friends quickly for the simple fact that so many people move to Hawaii and then vanish within 3 months cause they just can't cut it.

The Island will try to get rid of you for the first 3-6 months but if you stand your ground and hang tough then you will surely earn your spot in the sun. Like I said, I got robbed at gun point, got my car towed, got a parking ticket, speeding ticket and witnessed a hit and run all within the first month. The Island DID NOT want me there, but I didn't give up and after 6 months things really changed and I started to make it what I wanted it to be. Actually having all that bad stuff happen gave me some good war stories and actually helped me make new local friends, gotta pay your dues I guess.

Conclusion: If you really want to move to Waikiki and only have around $2,000 then plan on having $1,600 for rent, this will leave you with $400 for bus fare, cell payment, food, etc. GET A JOB FAST! Craigslist is a great resource, start looking at job postings on craigslist the week before you leave and try to set up some appointments before you arrive, same thing with apartments.

You really should go with more money but if you are on a budget and have the desire for a fun-filled yet punishing new life experience then I say GO FOR IT! I wouldn't take it back for anything. Sure it was hard but I'd rather have done it then spend the rest of my life wondering what it WOULD-HAVE been like, now I know...

Your Feedback

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Viewer Comments


Melissa Jones said...

Hey frank, I really liked this help guide. It sounds like you had a really rough time of it at the beginning but i'm glad you stuck with it. I have always wanted to live in hawaii and this information really helps me know what to expect and how much it's gonna cost me. Thanks again!

Frank's Tech Help said...

Hey Melissa, I realize after writing this article that I shed kind of a harsh light on the whole situation, every experience is different, but I assure you that it is a beautiful place and there's never a dull moment. If you can survive the first few months then you should have it made. Although, I have to admit that it's nice to be back on the mainland, it's so much cheaper!

Anonymous said...

Thinking of moving to Hawaii from California. Thank you for all of the information.

Anonymous said...

Within my first week here I got welcomed with a trip to the E.R. with my daughter and a freaking TSUNAMI! thanks hawaii.. and now we discovered we are completely broke.. but we're living the good life.. and you get what you pay for.. we're paying alot but we LIVE IN PARADISE!

Frank's Tech Help said...

@Anonymous Welcome to Hawaii! Within my first month I got robbed at gun point, had my car towed, got a speeding ticket, parking ticket and witnessed a hit and run on a parked car. If you survive the first 6 months then it's all good from there, hang tight and don't give up on your dream. You can make it work!

Anonymous said...

Hey frank,

About to move to hawaii from Chicago and it looks like its not that much more expensive (as long as i dont shop in waikiki) thinking of just grabbing a bar job out there..only downfall is im afraid there arent gonna be many local cubs/bears fans to watch games with, im really hoping to find some peeps from the windy so i dont feel so alone at first..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the useful information. I have been spending weeks looking up information so I‘m prepared to move to Hawaii in a few months. The one question I had was in the tech field. My husband just graduated with his Information Technology degree and has good finance job here in the states, however he want to break into the tech field ASAP. He has just started to apply to various places but has not heard back yet. Do you recommend any specific places to apply? Thanks in advance.