The islands of Hawaii are known for their beautiful beaches, stunning volcanoes, and lush forests. Each island has its own culture and unique attractions. Folks move to Hawaii not just for the paradise beach life, but for sunny skies and low crime. If you’re considering moving to Hawaii, we’ve compiled a list of the six best places to call home.
Housing cost to income ratio: 8.68%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.81%
Violent crime index: 9
Nonviolent crime index: 26.6
Cost of living index: 161.9
Known for being a popular tourist destination, Maui ranks as the best place to live in Hawaii. The second-largest island in Hawaii, Maui consists of multiple towns, beautiful forests, and of course sparkling idyllic beaches. Adventurous souls will enjoy hiking through Haleakalā National Park, which features a 10,000-foot dormant volcano. The Ko’olau Forest Reserve and the Hana Forest Reserve provide excellent opportunities to enjoy the beauty of Hawaii’s forests. For those who prefer to relax, enjoy one of the many parks located along the coast – and most welcome your dog! Maui experiences 276 sunny days and 35 inches of rain per year, so you will have ample time to soak up the sun. The political climate is ultra-liberal, and Maui is home to two hospitals and six schools. The most popular suburbs are Kula, Makawoa, and Wailuku.
Housing cost to income ratio: 9.14%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.88%
Violent crime index: 17.4
Nonviolent crime index: 43.4
Cost of living index: 176.5
Hawaii’s third largest island, Oahu is home to the state’s capital city and is an ideal place to live. Spend 271 sunny days per year at the beaches where you can surf, relax, and play to your heart’s delight. Oahu is known for its historical sites and events, including Pearl Harbor. You can learn more about the island’s rich history at museums like the Bishop Museum and Hawaii Heritage Center. Expansive nature reserves and forests occupy a significant portion of the island, allowing residents to embrace Hawaii’s natural beauty. Dog owners will love that more than a dozen dog parks are scattered across the island, giving owners dedicated space to play with their pups. Oahu leans politically liberal, and residents have access to six hospitals and 17 schools. Check out great neighborhoods like Pearl City, Kapolei, and East Oahu.
3. Hawaii Island
Housing cost to income ratio: 9.76%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.77%
Violent crime index: 2.46
Nonviolent crime index: 23.31
Cost of living index: 170
Known as “The Big Island”, Hawaii Island is the largest of the bunch. This island is known for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where folks can witness lava flows, craters, and other volcanic activity. Other points of interest include the coastal forest reserves, white sandy beaches, and vibrant botanical gardens. Enjoy local food and drink in the cities, which lean strongly liberal politically. Whether you prefer busy resort towns or quiet villages, there’s something for everyone here. The east and west coasts also contain dog parks, which is great news for both the owners and pets. The Big Island sees upwards of 57 inches of rain per year, making it the wettest of the locations on our list. For medical care, residents have their choice between five hospitals. Popular suburbs include Maunawili, Kailua, and Miliani.
4. Lanai Island
Housing cost to income ratio: 12.29%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.91%
Violent crime index: 9.7
Nonviolent crime index: 29.1
Cost of living index: 141
If the other islands on this list feel too large and busy, Lanai may be the perfect choice for you. Lanai is a small, peaceful island of approximately 2,700 residents. Home to over 89,000 acres of countryside and 18 miles of secluded beaches, Lanai is a place where you can feel connected to nature. One of the most popular sights is a desert terrain with rugged beauty called Keahiakawelo, or the Garden of the Gods. Lanai City has attractions such as a community garden, adventure park, and an art gallery. Two restaurants allow your dog to accompany you while you dine. This little island is politically liberal and home to one hospital and one school. Enjoy sunny weather on Lanai; residents can expect 272 sunny days and 28 inches of rain annually. Check out neighborhoods like Mililani Mauka, Maunawili, and Kailua.
Housing cost to income ratio: 21.05%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.82%
Violent crime index: 8.5
Nonviolent crime index: 24.9
Cost of living index: 157.5
The northernmost island in the chain, Kauai is called “The Garden Island” and it’s not hard to see why. The island is covered in lush rainforests, mesmerizing waterfalls, and spectacular mountain cliffs. Go hiking along the Kuilau Ridge Trailhead, kayaking down the Wailua River, or immerse yourself in the villages scattered along the island. For an exciting journey, check out the dazzling Manawaiopuna Falls, a 400-foot waterfall visible only by helicopter. Take your furry friend to Kauai North Shore Dog Park, which includes access to a hiking trail. Like other Hawaii islands, Kauai’s political climate is strongly liberal. Kauai’s weather runs warm and wet, with 41 inches of rainfall and 240 sunny days expected per year. For medical care and education, Kauai offers three hospitals and four schools. Popular suburbs include Hanalei, Hanapepe, and Kapa’a.
6. Molokai Island
Housing cost to income ratio: 25.18%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 2.64%
Violent crime index: n/a
Nonviolent crime index: n/a
Cost of living index: 116.5
Located north of Lanai, Molokai Island is a tight-knit community of 7,400 residents. With a large percentage of the population of Native Hawaiian ancestry, Molokai maintains a rich cultural heritage and historical preservation. Spend 281 sunny days each year exploring the beaches, taking a mule down to Kalaupapa Peninsula, or hiking along the majestic mountains. Molokai receives approximately 25 inches of rain per year; on rainy days, head indoors to learn more about local culture at the Molokai Museum & Cultural Center or see the latest gallery at the Molokai Arts Center. Molokai’s political atmosphere is strongly liberal, and the island is home to one hospital. Popular suburbs include Kula, Makawoa, and Wailuku.
This list was compiled using statistics for cost of living, average housing costs, average childcare costs, and crime indices.
Sarah graduated from Trinity University in 2012 with a degree in International Relations and Political Science. She writes blogs on new homes, decor, communities, and more for NewHomeSource. When she’s not writing, you can find her spending time with her three cats.