Deciding Where to Live

By Hawaii.com Team

Each Hawaiian Island offers a distinct personality, pace of life, cost of living, and predominate job markets. Where you choose to live depends on the lifestyle you’re looking for.

OAHU

Oahu is home to the state capital, Honolulu, and to popular visitor destination Waikiki Beach. It’s the most developed and populated of all the islands, with some 75 percent of the state’s 1.2 million residents calling the Gathering Place home. The major industries on Oahu are tourism, retail, construction, federal government and state government. Large corporate employers include The Queen’s Health Systems, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Bank of Hawaii, Verizon Hawaii (telephone service), Kyo-ya Co., First Hawaiian Bank, Theo H. Davies & Co., Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, Hawaiian Airlines Inc. and Aloha Airlines Inc.
Many Oahu residents work in Honolulu. Housing is available near the downtown area, but if suburban living appeals to you (or if you work in an outlying area), consider locating in one of the following districts: Hawaii Kai in southeast Honolulu; Kailua or Kane’ohe on the cooler, windward side of the island; Kapolei or Waikele on the leeward coast; or Mililani in central Oahu. These areas offer good parks, schools and community networks, good housing, and nearby shopping and hospitals. Mililani was one of the nation’s first planned communities when it began construction in 1968.

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MAUI

MAUI is less populated and developed than Oahu, but is a popular visitor destination. Major employment sectors are government, retail and the visitor industry. Many people work in the adjoining cities of Kahului and Wailuku, or the resort area of Ka’anapali, and commute from outer areas such as Kihei.

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KAUAI

Kauai is a relatively quiet island, though still a popular visitor destination and a frequent filming location for big-budget movie productions. Major employers include the state government, Wilcox Health Systems, Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, Kuhio Medical Center, Gay & Robinson’s Olokele Sugar, and Guava Kai Plantation. Most people live and work in the districts of Hanalei, Lihu’e, Koloa, Wailua or Waimea.

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BIG ISLAND

The BIG ISLAND of Hawaii is just that — Hawaii’s biggest island. Its 4,028 square miles include rainforests, lava fields, world-famous beaches, and one of the planet’s most active volcanoes. Major employment sectors are agriculture, retail, government and the visitor industry. Many people work in Kailua-Kona (on the leeward side of the island) or Hilo (windward side) and commute from outer areas.

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MOLOKAI AND LANAI

Molokai and Lana’i are the smallest of the populated Hawaiian Islands that are open to the public (Ni’ihau, off the coast of Kauai, is populated but closed to visitors). Molokai’s “main street” is in Kaunakakai, and Lana’i’s center of business is located in Lana’i City.
On either island you won’t find rush-hour traffic, crowds, or buildings taller than the swaying palm trees. Main employment sectors are government, agriculture and tourism.

More about Molokai

More about Lanai

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