This is the biggest question I have gotten as a real estate agent. We did the move from Anchorage Alaska to Kauai almost 3 years ago and I wouldn’t change a thing. The islands are very special and I have found friends and activities to last a lifetime. There are many issues that you should take into consideration
Where to live
What part of the island you decided to live may depend on jobs, available housing or just your favorite place. When we first got to the island my husband’s job was centered in Lihue so that is where we began our search. I thought that we would end up in the hillside of Kapaa but the longer I am here the more I enjoy the convenience of Lihue town. Shopping, medical services and access to other parts of the island is what I like most. So where you decide to actually live is a huge first decision.
There are 5 main areas of the island and each has its own unique culture.
North shore: Kilauea to Haena encompasses all of Princeville and Hanalei Bay. The vibe here is laidback and the landscape is beautiful beaches, mountains and waterfalls. It rains more here but the rainbows and abundant greenery make it worth it. If surfing is your thing, than this is the place to be. It is also the gateway to the Napali coast for Hiking.
East Side: Kapaa and Anahola area is the highest population areas. Here you will find the Coconut Coast with Resorts, Shopping and the famous bike path. The population stretches up to the mountains 5 miles for cooler living.
Lihue Town: The center of Government, Costco, Wilcox Hospital, the airport and Port. This is the hub where everything enters the island. There is a lot of activity and jobs. The old part of town Rice Street is getting a big revitalization starting next year. New road configuration with pedestrian friendly streets and new restaurants are making this an up and coming area.
South Shore: Poipu, Lawai, Kalaheo and Eleele are all part of this area of the island. Most of the resorts are in the Poipu area while up in the Kalaheo and Lawai hillsides are cooler areas. The part of the island get’s more sun but has some of the best beaches and snorkeling.
West Side: Waimea, Kekaha and Polihale are all on the West side of the island. You can view the island of Niihau from here, which is privately owned by the Robinson family. This side of the island gets very little rain and is sunny most of the year. Most of the towns are walking distance to the ocean and the housing prices are lower here. The Military base is located on this side of the island so there is a great mixture of local and transplanted people.
No matter what part of the island you choose the people are what make it special. The Hawaiian culture is rich and enchanting. Learn the history of the island and its people. Read about the place you are considering living, from the Tahitian paddlers to the Missionaries and the role of Sugar. You will then understand how and why people think the way they do.
What to bring
Whatever you decided to bring with you remember that this is a salty humid environment. All metal rusts and all leather molds. Downsize, downsize, downsize!!! You need so much less than you think. Also check shipping costs to the islands. All ships must go to Oahu first unload and reload for Kauai. This takes the costs of shipping to Kauai up. If you airship use air cargo. Remember under 50lb you can bring on the aircraft. Look at the different airlines each charge different prices for luggage. Be sure and bring your important documents: Birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses.
Bringing your pets: OK this is HUGE!! You must follow the Hawaii State Government procedure for bringing pets on any Hawaiian island. Please follow the quarantine requirements to protect your pet. This process takes 180 days so plan ahead.
Renting vs owning
The average 3 bed 2 bath rental will run you about $2000 per month plus utilities. This is the biggest sticker shock to most people. Studio rentals are about $1000 per month. Electric is very expensive on the island. Unless the property has solar expect to pay $200-400 per month. If your property has gas stove, dryer and water heater it is actually propane. The company will bring a large tank to your home and fill as needed. Most homes do not have air conditioning due to our trade winds, it’s really not needed. During the months of August and September when the trades slow or stop completely our fans are running nonstop. Some have added AC for those months.
Buying an average 3 bed 2 bath home in Kapaa will run you between $400-600K. With a 20% down payment your rent vs own is pretty close. My suggestion would be to try and purchase as soon as you can. There is a search engine on the first page to look at the current homes for sale or let us know what you are looking for and we will customize a search just for you.
Lucky we manage rental properties as well as assist buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. Contact us first for possible rental availability.
Last Notes on Moving to Kauai
The prices on Kauai are similar to many big cities. The food costs can be tackled by shopping at Costco and the local farmers markets. You will find many new and exciting fruits and vegetables at the local farmers markets. Just ask the vendor what it is and how to prepare it. I have found some new favorites by just doing that. I didn’t know I loved Rambutans and Bread fruit maybe you will too.