10 Cons on Living on the Big Island Hawaii - Kailua Kona

People have told us we only talk about the positive things about living here  because we are trying to get business.

 Quite the contrary, we talk about the reasons why we love living here to encourage people to do their research and move here if you are called to do so, just like we did several years ago.   We got the call!

  Today, we are going to address the cons of living here on the Big Island


* 1 Employment.   If you don’t have a good paying job you are not going to last very long here and probably can’t afford those $15 dollar Mai Thai’s at sunset either.


The bad news there are not a lot of good paying jobs here on the island and you are going to have to navigate this important step.  Most of the jobs here are in the hospitality industry and During Covid we saw a good number of people move here because they could work remotely, but now that seems to have changed, so having a job here that can support you and your lifestyle is critical to staying here. 


The average paying job here is about $50 to $60K per year and that might not be enough to live on for a family of 2 or more.   Yes there is opportunity here, but trying to find a good salaried job can be challenging to say the least


*2 Quality healthcare: if you need to see a specialist in the healthcare industry you may need to wait awhile for an appointment and we are not talking a couple of days, we are talking about weeks and even months.


Not only are you going to have to wait lengthy time periods to get to see a specialist, but the type of care might not stack up to what you may be used to on the mainland.


Recently I had to get major surgery done and my medical provider could not do it here on the Big Island and I had to fly over to Honolulu to get the surgery done.


Not a great option, but this is the norm here on the Big Island


A potential cause of the lack of medical providers is the cost of living or housing costs.   Doctors and nurses are not paid enough to live here compared to the mainland or even Honolulu


 We have a good number of transient medical personal traveling here to work for 60 to 90 days at a time and then they leave.


   So, keeping good medical providers on the island is a major challenge and if you have the need for medical specialist, make sure when moving here those professionals are available.


*3 Utilities - Hawaii has some of the highest cost for electricity in the United State.  Yes, the average cost for electricity here in Kona is about $400.00 per month and that maybe without a/c.  Yes, most homes and condos on the big island do not have air conditioning so make sure you are prepared for this sticker shock when moving here.  Solar panels have been helpful in lowering this cost, but that can be an additional expense.  Our year-round tropical breezes help, but when they are not blowing and you have only ceiling fans to keep you cool, it could be a little getting use to in order to live in Paradise.


*4 Housing - Across Hawaii there is a rental housing shortage and that is true here on the Big Island as well.   Yes, we have plenty of short-term vacation rental properties, but try and find a rental property for a year or longer, good luck.


We have had a few clients over the years who moved here and not doing their homework and could not find a long term rental because they were not ready to buy a home.  Some of then had to move over to the Hilo side of the island just to find a place to rent for a year.


People here can spend up to ½ of their monthly income on a long-term rental, so you may see people renting out just a room as a result. We have seen some of these rentals go upwards to 1200 to 1900 dollars a month for a room.


 So if you are moving here and don’t have a place secured to live before you get here, do some research and find a place before you land at the airport otherwise it could cost you some serious dollars



*5 Crime   One of the things people ask us about living in Kona is it safe, do you have loads of crime.


Well Kona has a very small population and during our time living on the island we would say it is relatively safe.   Yes, there is crime here.  There is a good number of property crimes like stolen cars or stripped-down cars left on the sides of the road.  There is drug use here, but it seems to more prevalent in the rural settings of the island and not so much in Kona proper.  However, drugs are everywhere and crime as well, but we don’t see the serious crimes that occur in places like Honolulu. 


The violent crime rate here on the Big Island as of 2022 was 2.5 incidents per 1000 people.  The national average rate is 4 incidents per 1000 people, so we are way below the national average on violent crimes,


When driving around, you should lock your car and not leave valuables out in the open to temp people.   That’s what we kind of mean when talking about crimes of opportunity, don’t temp the criminals.  so it is a relatively safe place to live.  We have not been a victim of any crime since moving here 


*6  Shopping-  like Furniture, appliances, vehicles these can take awhile for items to arrive.  Yes, when you shop anywhere here for furniture or appliances don’t expect that the items are in stock.  Nope.  We have seem people go to places like Lowes and Home Depot for appliances and the see the models on display in the store, but when they order them it can take weeks or months for delivery.   That goes for vehicles as well.   It takes some planning when shipping your vehicles to Kona, but also when shopping at the car dealerships, they don’t stock every new vehicle on the island.  So make sure you prepare yourself for some delays and practice some patience. 


If you are used to large indoor shopping malls, not here my friends, you will need to fly over to Honolulu for that experience.  Yes, we have a Macy’s Target and Ross on the Kona side of the island and a small indoor mall on the Hilo side, but that’s it.


And if you are a frequent Amazon user, nothing ships here overnight……even with Amazon Prime.   Now that may change in the near future because Amazon is putting a warehouse over in Honolulu and has begun hiring employees.


*7 Natural Disasters.  Well we have tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.   We decided to move here in 2018 while visiting the island during the disastrous Kilauea eruption and lava flow that destroyed over 700 homes in the Puna area.


We have 9 lava zones on the island and you want to stay away from lava zone 1 and possibly some areas of lava zone 2, but don’t forget all the Hawaiian Islands were formed as a result of volcanic eruptions.   


This island is always moving, so if you are fearful of these natural disasters, the Big Island might not be for you.


*8 Pest….yes moving from the mainland you need to prepared for the onslaught of annoying pests like centipedes, flying cockroaches, ants, termites, geckos and cane spiders.


Nothing here will kill you since we have no venomous creatures, but you can get bit by a centipede from time to time and it hurts.   It is like a bee sting.   You are going to find geckos everywhere even in your house.  They are cute, but they poop all over and lay their eggs.   you may not want to kill them because they feed on the ants and cockroaches.  You know the circle of life!


We live in a tropical jungle so you need to be ready for a little inconvenience.  Oh, we forgot to mention Coqui frogs…..cute little devils, but they are loud as heck at night and if you like sleeping with your windows open, these frogs will definitely bug you to death no pun intended


*9  Island Fever and loneliness.   When you move to the Big island it would be good to have a support system in place.   We moved here together so we already had each other’s back if either of us needed help dropping off a car, going to a doctor’s appointment, helping if a car broke down because you cannot rely on AAA to show up in an hour or even a tow truck.


When you moved away from the mainland you had family, friends or even co-workers you could rely upon.   So if you don’t have a support system in place prior to moving here you need to get out there and make some friends immediately.   Otherwise you are gong to get lonely very quickly and even frustrated when you move here.


We have found that people here are very friendly and are always willing to lend a hand so to speak, but you need to make those introductions yourself and establish an immediate support system.  


Which brings us to island fever.  Yes, some people really experience this condition.  You can not drive more than 100 miles in any direction on the island and if you have no support system or family here, you are more likely not going to last very long.


When we have clients moving to the island, we are always extending ourselves to be their support system if they don’t have one in place.  Practicing the Aloha Spirit is the mantra on the island and we have embraced that with all of our friends, neighbors and clients.


*10  Affordability.  Yes we saved this one for last because it is the one item that you must prepare for when moving to the Big island.


Everything is more expensive here than on the mainland.  We are not talking about 5 or 10% we are talking maybe even upwards to 30% on food items, groceries, clothing, furniture.  Don’t forget everything that comes to this island for use or consumption must be shipped here, by boat or plane.


Housing is some of the most expensive in the country.  The good news, homes and condos are less expensive on the Big Island than any other island in Hawaii and that was an attraction for us when we got the calling and decided to move here.


If you prepare yourself for all of these con’s you might find that despite these negative issues, the Big Island is paradise at least it has been for us.


There is no perfect location to live and we feel the positives that we continue to talk about out-weigh all the negatives we have just addressed.  Feel free to email us at stephen@realestatekailuakona.com or give us a call or text us at 808-300-9393 we are here to help you.











Posted by Stephen Proski on
Email Send a link to post via Email

Leave A Comment

e.g. yourwebsitename.com
Please note that your email address is kept private upon posting.