What's it like to live in Honolulu, HI?


Meghan Miner

Profile written by local expert:

Meghan Miner

Honolulu continues to entice visitors to make their vacation a permanent one. With its laid-back island vibe, diverse blend of cultures and ethnicities, and palm-lined business district that's just a short walk from the sea, Honolulu is regularly identified as one of the country's happiest places.

The Honolulu metropolitan area encompasses the southeastern half of the island of Oahu, from the high rises downtown to the white sands of Waikiki's beach. Today's Honoluluites enjoy a casual lifestyle, and although they don't spend every waking minute at the beach, surf and sand are integral parts of everyday life.

Honolulu is undoubtedly the Hawaiian Islands' cultural and culinary hub. The metro area encompasses regions such as the retail-filled Kaka'ako; a Chinatown that is one of the oldest in the nation; and a collection of residential neighborhoods that span from the green Ko'olau mountains in the north and east to Pearl City and its famed harbor to the northwest.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Honolulu, Hawaii is ranked:

#46 in Best Places to Live

#24 in Best Places to Retire

6.6

Overall

Scorecard

  • Desirability
    10.0
  • Value
    4.5
  • Job Market
    7.6
  • Quality of Life
    6.2
  • Net Migration
    6.0

Read how we rank places

Honolulu, HI Quick Stats

  • 984,178

    Metro Population

  • $49,320

    Average Annual Salary

  • 84.4° / 70.9°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 36.9

    Median Age

  • $508,323

    Median Home Price

  • 17.1 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.0%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $1,569

    AVG Monthly Rent

  • 28.2 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Honolulu, HI?

Living in paradise will cost you. In the city proper, many people rent rather than own their home given that the average price for a home in Honolulu exceeds $500,000. Unfortunately, Honolulu is also one of the most expensive places to rent in the country. Honolulu has one of the country's largest unsheltered homeless populations, which is partially a result of the lack of affordable housing.

Value Index

Index Score: 4.5 /10

How we calculate this.


Honolulu offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Honolulu
$508,323

USA
$211,704

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

What's the weather like in Honolulu, HI?

They don't call it paradise for no reason. Honolulu enjoys tropical temperatures that flutter between the mid-60s and the high 80s. Of course, the climate can change depending on where you are in the metro area – temperatures tend to be colder the farther into the mountains you go. Humidity often spikes during the spring months, while fall generally sees a fair amount of rain. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

73.7°F


Winter

76.1°F


Spring

81.1°F


Summer

79.7°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

3.2 in


Winter

2.0 in


Spring

0.6 in


Summer

2.4 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Honolulu, HI?

One thing that continues to surprise first-time visitors and new residents is the area's traffic congestion. Honolulu's perfect storm of narrow roads, limited space and increasing number of vehicles results in daily rush-hour backups. Despite its relatively small size, Honolulu has some of the worst traffic in the country.

The region's TheBus fleet of more than 500 buses service Honolulu and many other parts of the Island of Oahu. Despite this, most Honolulu residents continue to brave the city's traffic and high parking prices, opting to drive solo, carpool or even dodge between cars on a scooter.

Honolulu International Airport is within easy reach of downtown; however, many Honolulu residents choose to avoid long-haul and expensive flights by taking advantage of Hawaii resident deals (known as kama'aina – meaning local – discounts) on local hotels and entertainment. 

Commuting in Honolulu, HI

Means of Transportation
Driving
79%
Below national average

Bicycling
1%
Equal to national average

Walking
5%
Above national average

Public Transit
8%
Above national average
Average Commute Time

28.2 minutes

2.3 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Honolulu, HI?

Honolulu is a true melting pot of races and cultures, with Polynesian, Chinese, Japanese and a bevy of other influences leaving their mark on the area. A walk through historic Chinatown – home to a mix of hongwanji Buddhist temples, Vietnamese fusion restaurants and Irish pubs – will illustrate this mix quickly.

The high cost of living and lack of national corporations headquartered in the area is causing millennials to seek work off the island. Still, young immigrants from Asian countries are increasingly finding a home alongside the growing population of retirees.

Honolulu is a family-centric place, with 70 percent of households qualifying as family households and only 27 percent of the population age 15 and older having never been married.

Honolulu is largely liberal, with just 30 percent of the population registered as Republican. The metro area is also not very religious, with less than 40 percent of residents identifying with an organized faith.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Honolulu as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Honolulu, HI?

Honolulu features a number of excellent beaches for swimming, surfing, sunning and exploring.

In addition to providing residents access to beautiful shorelines, Hawaii's location in the Pacific Ocean has made it a gathering point for Asian, American and Polynesian communities, all of which have had a hand in shaping life in Honolulu. The metro area's history is on display at a number of museums such as the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Museum of Art, and during cultural festivals like Lei Day in May and the Aloha Festivals in September.

Honolulu is also home to a number of historic sites, including Iolani Palace and Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. Away from the coast, nearby state parks and nature preserves offer opportunities to hike.

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Honolulu, HI