The 5 Cheapest Cities in Hawaii

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • There's no way around it: Hawaii is an expensive place to live.
  • Most of its most affordable cities are located on the Big Island, particularly on its eastern edge.

Paradise definitely comes at a premium here.

Hawaii owes its warm climate and beautiful scenery to its isolated location. But its isolation, coupled with the state's small area and high demand for land, earns it the highest average cost of living in the nation.

Fortunately, there are still some cities in the Hawaiian islands that don't charge sky-high rates on everything. Here's a look at the five with the cheapest average living costs, based on doxo's analysis of rent, mortgage, utilities, cable, phone, and internet bills, among other things.

1. Pahoa

Located on the eastern side of the Big Island, Pahoa has the highest concentration of historic buildings in all of Hawaii, with some of them dating back to 1900. It's not too far from Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, but for those who prefer to stay closer to town, there's plenty of boutiques and galleries, along with a boardwalk to entertain you.

The city is easily the most affordable in Hawaii. Renters pay a pretty average monthly rate, but homeowners have an average mortgage payment of less than $1,000 per month here. Auto insurance is also surprisingly affordable in this area, as are cable and satellite bills.

2. Kea'au

Kea'au lies a 20-minute drive northwest of Pahoa. It's just a short distance from the beach and it's also close to the Hilo Airport, so it's convenient for those who want to travel to other islands. Those interested in exploring Hawaii's volcanoes also won't have too far of a drive.

Though living costs in Kea'au fall slightly above the national average, they're still pretty reasonable for Hawaii. The average mortgage payment is $1,339 per month, while renters pay a little less at $1,253 per month. Utilities are also pretty expensive for this area, but residents pay below-average rates for cable and satellite services.

3. Hilo

Hilo is one of the largest cities in Hawaii, and it's got something to offer everyone. It's located near the 'Akaka Falls State Park and also a number of farms producing coffee, tea, chocolate, and more. Some of these farms even offer tours. In addition, the city hosts the only tropical zoo in the United States.

Housing costs are a bit more affordable in Hilo than in Kea'au, especially for renters. The average renter pays just $1,050 per month here, and homeowners pay just slightly more at $1,327 per month. Utilities also aren't quite as expensive here, though they still fall above the national average.

4. Kailua Kona

Kailua Kona is located on the western side of the Big Island, which is closer to many of the island's most popular beaches. Adventurous individuals can snorkel with manta rays and check out an exotic animal sanctuary. But for those seeking something more low key, Kailua Kona offers great restaurants, coffee tasting, farmers markets, and more.

It's much cheaper to be a renter here than it is to own a home. The average mortgage payment runs about $2,065 per month. The typical renter only pays about $1,400 per month. Though it's considered affordable for Hawaii, many other everyday costs, like utilities and insurance, cost more than the national average here.

5. Kapa'a

Kapa'a is located on the eastern side of Kauai near beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and waterfalls. It's also home to a Hindu monastery and a Hindu temple. The town has several nearby art galleries as well.

It's less expensive than Kailua Kona, though the average mortgage and rent bills are still pretty high at $1,851 and $1,463, respectively. Utilities are even more expensive here than they are on the Big Island, so residents would do well to reduce their water and electricity usage to keep costs down.

There's no denying you're going to pay a lot of money to live or stay in Hawaii, even if you're doing your best to keep costs down. However, the above figures are just averages. It might be possible to find housing at more reasonable rates than those listed above. But you're more likely to find them in these cities than in other Hawaiian cities that are even more expensive.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow