A lot of people who want to live off the grid imagine Hawaii as being an excellent place for grid living. Although Hawaii is a paradise, but when it comes to off grid living it has a lot of drawbacks. The main problem with Hawaii is that it imports everything, from food to clothing, virtually everything comes from the mainland. Eating healthy in this state is extremely expensive, and one of their staple foods is canned SPAM.
Hawaii is not a good state for off grid living, although living off the grid is legal and you can also harvest rainwater legally but it is still one of the worst off grid states. Hawaii’s main problem is that everything has to be imported, and this makes the cost of living significantly higher than on the mainland. In addition to this, the cost of housing and property is around 180% higher than the national average. On the other hand, there are several off grid communities in Hawaii although not by their choice.
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Hawaii is located in the North Pacific Ocean, between the USA and Australia, currently, it has a population of 1.4 million people although the population density in some areas can be fairly high once the tourists arrive. Generally speaking around 7-8 million tourist visit this state every year, which means that the cost of living will be high. Although there are several areas where the population density is fairly low and with few to no tourists but not even these areas are good for off grid living.
Hawaii has only one city with a population of over 100k people, the biggest city in this state is Honolulu with around 372k people, followed by East Honolulu with 50k, Pearl City 48k, Hilo 43k, and Kailua with 39k residents. Even though the population in Hawaii is fairly low you will instantly notice that the traffic is slow, this gets even worse when the millions of tourists flood this state. If you are planning to move here to live off the grid then you have to prepare to spend a lot of money on basic things.
As everything needs to be brought in from the mainland some construction materials can double their price until they get to you. Hawaii’s economy is mostly focused on tourism, although there are some manufacturing and agriculture in this state, this is not enough to feed the local population or the millions of tourists. If you want to take a look at a state which has a lot lower cost of living then check out my recent article Off grid living in Montana ( The Treasure State ).
Even though Hawaii is one of the smallest states in the nation, it still has several types of climates. Generally speaking, the predominant climate is tropical, although in some areas it can be arid, temperate, and even polar. The average summertime temperatures are around 85°F, and the average wintertime temperatures are around 75°F, basically, it is summer all year round. As not a lot of vegetables tend to grow in this state most people use buy canned vegetables, if you want to know which ones are the best for canning then check out my recent article Best vegetables to can ( Top 13 ).
Types of crops grown in Hawaii
Due to the local climate, Hawaii has several types of crops that can be grown here, the most common crops are pineapples and sugar canes. Hawaii is famous for its beautiful flowers, and this state grows a lot of different types of flowers that are exported. In addition to this Hawaii also grows tomatoes, papayas, bananas, avocados, coffee, potatoes, corn, beans, and lettuce. There are some areas that are excellent for growing crops although these tend to be extremely expensive. If you want a state where you can grow your own food then check out my recent article Off grid living in Idaho ( Gem State ).
Freshwater availability in Hawaii
Most of the freshwater in Hawaii comes from aquifers, and during the past couple of decades, there has been a significant decrease in the amount of water in the aquifers. Although these aquifers should have enough water for Hawaii’s population but with the influx of millions of tourists every year the aquifers are draining faster than ever. The good news is that if you want to live off the grid in Hawaii then you can harvest rainwater legally as there are no restrictions.
The average yearly rainfall in Hawaii is around 32″, which is simply not enough to replenish the aquifers, and sooner or later the state will impose some restrictions regarding freshwater.
Most of the wildlife in Hawaii is either living in the ocean or on the coast., you can find here monk seals, northern elephant seals, whales, dolphins, Indian mongoose, mule deer, and turtles. Hawaii has a big problem with feral animals, which do not have any natural competitors and they are slowly destroying Hawaii’s unique wildlife. The most common feral animals are goats, pigs, cats, cattle, sheep, and even donkeys.
Hawaii has only five types of freshwater fish, Stenogobius hawaiiensis, Sicyopterus stimpsoni, Lentipes councilor, Eleotris sandwicensis, and Awaous guamensia. As expected Hawaii has a lot of saltwater fish, you can find anything from goatfish, white-spotted, damsel, bannerfish, surgeonfish, and so on. Don’t forget that you will need a fishing license https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/licenses-and-permits/.
Generating power off the grid in Hawaii
- Solar power: You will see a lot of solar panels in Hawaii, especially in remote areas. The state offers the Energy Tax Credit which is around 35%, although this is capped at $5000 and the solar power system has to be set up and fully functional before you get the money. In addition to this, you can also apply for the federal tax credit which is around 26%.
- Wind power: Hawaii also offers an incentive to people who want to set up a wind turbine, and on top of this you can also apply for the federal tax credit.
Hawaii off grid laws
Living off the grid in Hawaii is legal, in fact, there are several communities that do live off the grid in this state. Although if you are planning to move to this state and live off the grid then you might find that it will cost you a lot of money, especially as the price of property and land is fairly high. Homeschooling is very popular in Hawaii as the local education system is not the best, just make sure you inform yourself about the homeschooling laws before you do anything. If you want to know the best places for off grid living in this state then check out my recent article Best Places To Live Off The Grid In Hawaii ( On Every Island ).
Hawaii road access
Hawaii has several islands, and moving your vehicle from one island to another will cost you a lot of money. In addition to this some areas have way too much traffic, so expect to stay in traffic jams most of the time. People who live off the grid use ATVs or small boats to get around, these are cheaper and they do allow you to access areas that do not have roads.
Price of land in Hawaii
When it comes to the price of land and property Hawaii is one of the most expensive places on earth, generally speaking, the average price of a house is around $660k. You will pay around 180% more for housing than the national average.
Hawaii property tax
Hawaii has the lowest property tax in the nation, which is 0.27% and the national average is 1.08%. Even with a 180% higher price for hosing, you will still pay somewhat less than the national average. The problem is that Hawaii has a big housing problem, most of the lands suitable for housing are bought by big companies to build hotels and restaurants, leaving a big part of the native population struggling to find affordable housing.
Cost of living in Hawaii
By this time you shouldn’t be surprised that Hawaii has also one of the highest costs of living in the country. You will pay around 180% more for housing, 50% more for groceries, 85% more for utilities, and 22% more for transportation than the national average. On the other hand, you will pay around 5% less for healthcare services than the national average. One of the main reasons why the cost of living is so high is because everything has to be imported, and it is no wonder that some people are eating SPAM regularly.
The high price of groceries means that eating healthy is extremely expensive and the native population is going through an obesity crisis.
Hawaii’s unemployment rate is at 2.7% which is significantly lower than the national average of 3.6%. The minimum wage is at $10.10 which is extremely low as you will need to make around $100k per year to live comfortably here, and on the mainland, you need only around $60k. The biggest industries in Hawaii are tourism, commercial fishing, agriculture, manufacturing, and governmental industries.
Hawaii crime rate
Even though the population density is fairly high the crime rate is below the national average, there are around 2.49 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The safest areas are around Makaweli, Kalaupapa, Schofield Barracks, Hanalei, Kilauea, and Honokaa. The areas with the highest crime rate are around Hilo, Wailuku, Hoolehua, and Honolulu.
Hawaii natural disasters
Hawaii has a couple of extremely destructive natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, lava flows, and even volcanic eruptions. Hawaii has 3 active volcanoes, although they are considered fairly safe, it is only a matter of time till Hawaii experiences a massive volcanic eruption.
I can not recommend Hawaii for off grid living, the cost of property and the cost of living is extremely high. You will not be able to live frugally in this state, as even the groceries cost around 50% more than on the mainland. Hawaii is a paradise if you have money, but for off grid living it is way too expensive.