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Cost of living spoils Hawaii’s retirement rank

The expense of the 50th state lands it at 46th on a recent list for post-career life

By New York Times

POSTED:


Models of retirement planning, Don and Reina Weiner bought an acre almost a decade ago in the Woodlands of Chapel Hill, a mixed-age community in North Carolina.

The couple, living in Leesburg, Va., at the time, had visited several towns in their hunt to find a place to live when Weiner was ready to leave his job as senior sales director at Airbus Americas. Chapel Hill met their three criteria: warm weather, access to top medical care and proximity to a university to continue learning, Reina Weiner said.

So they paid $130,000 for a lot and $11,000 to an architect to design their dream home. They sold their townhouse in Leesburg and rented an apartment in Chapel Hill so they could supervise construction.

That's when Don Weiner, now 68, and Reina Weiner, 67, hit a barricade.

"I had a significant allergic reaction to the environment," Reina Weiner said.

She felt an intense pressure in her head. Her throat hurt. There was sinus pain.

"The question was, Could I live here?" she said.

They decided to hold off breaking ground on the home while she tried to see whether she could acclimate to the area. But she had an epiphany: "I decided, You know what? This is crazy. I'm trying to do something that I can't do." So they regretfully put up the "for sale" sign on the lot and are back in the search for a place to live.

"The whole experience was disappointing," Reina Weiner said. "There was money that just went flying out the door. On the other hand, when I decided I couldn't do it, I just felt it was the right thing to do. I haven't looked back."

As people grapple with whether to pull up stakes and retire in another part of the country, there's small margin for error. Get it wrong and it's hard and costly to undo.

Hawaii ranked as the fifth-worst place to retire, according to a recent report by Bankrate.com.

Bankrate said that if it weren't for the sky-high cost of living, Hawaii would be one of the best states in the country for retirees.

"Its remoteness, popular beaches, wildlife and culture make America's 50th state a top tourism destination," Bankrate said in its report.

But, Bankrate.com cautioned, Hawaii is also tough to afford, especially for anyone on a fixed income.

"The Council for Community and Economic Research, which tracks consumer prices around the country, found Hawaii to be the most expensive state in the country for retirees," Bankrate.com said.

A loaf of bread, for example, costs an average of $2.80 in Honolulu, according to the council's 2013 analysis. That's $1.30 higher than the national average. The city's gas stations charged an average of $4.19 a gallon last year, compared with a national average of $3.44. And a trip to the beauty parlor costs an average of $52 in Honolulu, about $18 higher than the national average.

Bankrate.com looked at several factors in determining which states offer the best quality of life for retirees, including local weather, cost of living, crime rate, health care quality, tax burden and well-being (a measurement from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that quantifies how satisfied residents are with their surroundings).

The five best states for retirement were South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming. Popular retiree spots like Florida and Arizona don't even make the top 10. The five worst states for retirement, according to the report, were New York, West Virginia, Alaska, Arkansas and Hawaii.

According to a report this year from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, 57 percent of baby boomers say they plan to move to a new home in retirement. When asked which type of community they were likely to choose, 39 percent said a small town, like Chapel Hill, or a rural community. The next choice was a 55-and-older community (27 percent), followed by a metropolitan city (26 percent); 8 percent picked "lifestyle" communities (such as ones for active retirees, planned around golf courses).

Almost one-third of those canvassed plan to spend retirement in a different state from the one in which they currently live.

Moving from a high-tax state to a low-tax state is also strategic. Many people pick a retirement destination because there's no income tax.

Proximity to shopping, restaurants and the airport is also an important consideration when deciding where to relocate.

Transportation is one reason the Weiners are now considering Portland, Ore., in addition to Charlotte and Asheville, N.C.

"Don hates traffic, and there is a great light rail system" in Portland, Reina Weiner said.

What about the warm weather she said was a priority when they first started looking for a retirement home?

"I figure we could always leave for a couple months in the winter and rent a furnished apartment in Maui," she said with a smile.

Kerry Hannon, New York Times






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bekwell wrote:
Hawaii, as well as most all Islands have a higher cost of living due to the shipping. Everything we buy in Hawaii is shipped from elsewhere. You may be able to buy a locally grown lettuce, but you have to buy the knife. Still; that is only part of the cost of living. Greed, and the high cost of union controlled government adds to the overall cost. Another factor for Oahu is the military installations. They do bring in a lot of cash flow to the economy, but they also have an impact on prices, including rental prices. With the lack of good paying jobs, I don't see how many survive, unless you have a large family, all living in one overcrowded apartment; sharing expenses. If you visit Las Vegas you'll think most of Hawaiians moved there for jobs. One can buy a new house for 150 thousand. Can't buy anything for that amount here. With all that said, Hawaii is Hawaii and the desire to live here cannot be explained.
on June 23,2014 | 03:58AM
serious wrote:
It's not the shipping per se, it is shipping under the Jones Act pure and simple!!! Google it!!
on June 23,2014 | 05:00AM
bekwell wrote:
You're right, and I'm aware of the Jones act. Does add considerable to everything we buy here.
on June 23,2014 | 05:21AM
palani wrote:
bekwell, yes, you may be able to buy locally grown lettuce or bananas, but you will pay more than what is available in most supermarkets. Apparently, greed is contagious.

Think global, buy global.


on June 23,2014 | 06:33AM
HD36 wrote:
Your'e right, Hawaii has the largest percentage of population working for the government, Federal, state, and city and county. If you include benefits, the government worker gets paid twice the private sector worker in a similar job. It takes about 6 private workers to support 1 government employee. Yes they might spend a lot of money in the economy, but similar to food stamps, they're competing for the same products and services so prices rise faster as a result.
on June 23,2014 | 06:44AM
SteveToo wrote:
I was a school teacher. I never in 30 years made more than $55,000. Not a lot but w/a good retirement plan life is good here.
on June 23,2014 | 11:20AM
soundofreason wrote:
You cut your cause description short. I'll help you fix that......"Greed, and the high cost of DEMOCRAT SANCTIONED union controlled government adds to the overall cost."

There. That's more accurate.


on June 23,2014 | 06:56AM
ehrhornp wrote:
Yes it would be so much better if republicans control everything. lol It was not cheap to live in Hawaii prior to the democrats taking over and there was a reason why the democrats took over.
on June 23,2014 | 11:43AM
soundofreason wrote:
And caused the need for a Republican Governor. This same Governor who STOPPED Democrats from dipping into pension funds year after year after year...
on June 23,2014 | 06:55PM
oxtail01 wrote:
The problem is not the prices but people like you who don't/can't understand the blessings of living in Hawaii.
on June 23,2014 | 07:57PM
nitrobreath wrote:
Military installations offer the residents of Hawaii Colossal amounts of security that trumps the cost of living here. Why wouldn't our residents welcome that level of existence over the price of living here?
on June 23,2014 | 05:24AM
HD36 wrote:
According to Joel Skousen's book: Strategic Relocation, the more military installations in a state, the bigger more that state is a target. He gave Hawaii the lowest rating because: Oahu has one of the highest population densities; nearly everything has to be shipped in; the level of government corruption was extremely high; and according to him, a white man, there were lots of ethnic gangs roaming around.
on June 23,2014 | 06:33AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Ethnic gangs? Lol. Yes but as a white man he can opt for his Second Amendment and buy 20 guns. If Hawaii had carry permits, you would have " cowboys" running around doing the Deedy.
on June 23,2014 | 08:31AM
HD36 wrote:
Yea I get your point on that too. From a mainland perspective, he showed that crime statistics are a lot higher where large concentrations of minorities live, specifically blacks, and he erroneously extrapolated the conclusion to apply to Hawaii.
on June 23,2014 | 09:23AM
false wrote:
Yep. Good thing we don't have that specific racial problem.
on June 23,2014 | 10:10AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Ok, when I mean white man, maybe I should say southerner who fear blacks. Lots of Ha0les in Hawaii are cool, and they except a lay back way of life. Many live here because of low rates of violent crimes. But roving ethnic gangs? Chill.
on June 23,2014 | 12:04PM
glenn57377 wrote:
What are you talking about? I'm originally a Southerner and I'm white. I don't fear blacks or anyone because of their ethnicity. I naturally fear dangerous people that would wish me harm regardless of their ethnicity. I get along fine with everyone I meet and work with. I know where I can go and can't go and so does everyone else. No one ethnic person is 100% safe on Oahu 100% of the time. There are people here that have chips on their shoulders and I am still trying to understand why. I have lived here since 1993 and only now am I beginning to feel like this can be my home. I wear sunglasses when I drive because when I am stared at, if I look back, I get insulted for "stink eye." There is a lot of bad ethnic mojo on this island and there is no reason for it. Still, most people I meet are fine people that define what living together in Hawaii is all about.
on June 23,2014 | 02:45PM
EwaWarrior wrote:
He must have been referring to Waipahu.
on June 23,2014 | 10:50AM
SteveToo wrote:
Lots of ethnic gangs roaming around???????????? Where? Not out here on the West Side.
on June 23,2014 | 11:21AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
If your white, just join a roving ethnic gang. One week it's dim sum in China Town, next week lumpia and adobo. When roving the West Side, Laulau and kalua pig. The most dangerous gang has a cholesterol level over 300.
on June 23,2014 | 12:10PM
HD36 wrote:
I forgot to mention he's a 78 year old white guy that lives in Utah. So, for him, seeing a group of Japanese tourist, he might have visions of Pearl Harbor.
on June 23,2014 | 07:39PM
oxtail01 wrote:
There are some really bad ones in Kailua and Hawaii Kai.
on June 23,2014 | 08:00PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Yup, a white man's perspective keep it to himself and keep himself out of here.
on June 23,2014 | 07:58PM
ehrhornp wrote:
Yet Hawaii is only one of two states that has been attacked in recent history. Love that security.
on June 23,2014 | 11:45AM
glenn57377 wrote:
Are you talking about Hawaii and New York? Or, are you talking about the thousands of Hawaiians killed in-fighting for control of all the islands? If Japan, China and Russia had not been booted, where would Hawaii stand today? Being American is not so bad. Look at all the benefits from the State and Federal Government that ensures life to the have-nots. If you could vote today, would you rather be a part of the United States, Japan, China or Russia?
on June 23,2014 | 02:50PM
whs1966 wrote:
I have been to North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. If people want to retire their, go ahead. Yes, living in Hawaii nei is expensive, but given the people, the wonderful multicultural way of living, and the weather, there is nowhere else I would rather be. (Yes, it helps that I grew up here.)
on June 23,2014 | 05:50AM
Kate53 wrote:
I agree with that. How much higher the cost of living is in Hawaii also depends where you are moving from. For example, New Jersey has relatively high property, income and sales taxes compared to Hawaii. The cost of food is much higher in Hawaii, which is why it's good to have your own garden, even a small one.
on June 23,2014 | 08:44AM
glenn57377 wrote:
I live in South Dakota two years. That was one of the better midwest places to be. It was two years too long. In these places, your dollar will go a long way. If you live to spend it due to Arctic winters, tornadoes, hail and fire.
on June 23,2014 | 02:52PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Surprised you lasted that long there.
on June 23,2014 | 07:55PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Also it seems like, based on the guy's ranking, that it helps not being white as all the States mentioned are basically all white.
on June 23,2014 | 08:03PM
HD36 wrote:
The cost of living is going to rise a lot faster. The Federal Reserve has pegged interest rates close to 0% for a long time. The money supply has increased over 400% since 2010. The federal deficit is $17.5 trillion with another war over the horizon. If interest rates rise, the government would have to print even more money. The consequence of money printing has always been inflation. So far, we've seen it in the stock market, bond market and real estate the most.
on June 23,2014 | 06:22AM
Nevadan wrote:
I have the impression that physicians in Hawaii are not as competent as those on the mainland, especially those in Johns Hopkins, Mayo, and Cleveland Clinic. Your thoughts?
on June 23,2014 | 06:43AM
HD36 wrote:
Yes I agree. My dad and his twin brother both had to have heart valve surgery. The surgeons here recommended a artificial replacement. His twin brother went to California. The doctors over there repaired his valve. My dad has to take blood thinners the rest of his life. His brother doesn't. They had exactly the same congenital problem and both did it around the same time.
on June 23,2014 | 09:30AM
Nevadan wrote:
Thanks. Best wishes to them both.
on June 23,2014 | 11:54AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
If the doctors here are not competent, why is the life expectancy rate higher then areas around Hopkins,Mayo etc.?
on June 23,2014 | 12:13PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Healthy lifestyle here means less doctor's visits. Also, Asians, in general, live longer than whites, blacks, and hispanics.
on June 23,2014 | 07:46PM
ready2go wrote:
Living and visiting Hawaii is simply, very expensive. Being in the middle of the Pacific is good and bad. Nearly everything we use, eat or depend on, is shipped or flown into Hawaii. We're also the most important military base in the Pacific with thousands of troops living here which also puts upward cost pressure in supporting them and their dependents.
on June 23,2014 | 07:29AM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Okay, help me out. Why does it cost $52 for a trip to the hairdresser here, but only $18 on the mainland? I get the loaf of bread. I get the gallon of gas. I get the Jones Act. I get it! But it costs 3 times as much to get your hair done in Hawaii.........why?
on June 23,2014 | 07:45AM
scbsee88 wrote:
Because the hairdresser needs to buy bread and gas too. In all seriousness, I can find a haircut for $18 in Hawaii. If you want a stylist, yes $52 is about right. Don't know why haircut was part of the cost of living criteria...I would think 1 gallon milk, eggs, necessities would make the list.
on June 23,2014 | 08:09AM
HD36 wrote:
Buy a flowbee.
on June 23,2014 | 09:21AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Rice bowl.
on June 23,2014 | 05:47PM
oxtail01 wrote:
For most people in Hawaii, milk is not a necessity, bread is not a necessity. Eggs and spam, yes, and spam is way cheaper here than on the Mainland.
on June 23,2014 | 07:54PM
Kate53 wrote:
Read it again. The article says a haircut in Hawaii is $18 higher than the national average (not that the haircut is $18).
on June 23,2014 | 08:46AM
EwaWarrior wrote:
The article stated that the haircut cost $18 more than the national average, meaning on the mainland, that haircut cost $44, not that the mainland average was $18.
on June 23,2014 | 10:49AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Waipahu Haircut ,$8. Military and seniors. Neck massage, $2 tip.
on June 23,2014 | 11:57AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
I've cut my own hair for 28 years. Free haircut on demand!
on June 23,2014 | 06:00PM
oxtail01 wrote:
Have you seen how people in the so-called best retirement States (which by the way is pretty ridiculous - notice that all those States are pretty much lily white ones?) look like? They could spend a thousand bucks and still look bad.
on June 23,2014 | 07:51PM
false wrote:
Look on the bright side. This type of news may discourage potential mainland transplants from moving here.
on June 23,2014 | 10:19AM
oxtail01 wrote:
I really hope so - they can go to their paradise in South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, and all the other places where only non color that matters is white.
on June 23,2014 | 08:08PM
SteveToo wrote:
They have to be kidding.... South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota and Wyoming are super cold in the winters. Old folks sitting at home watching it snow will die in a few years after retirement. The trick is to plan ahead...Back in 1975 my wife and I bought 2 acres of somewhat level land on the West Side w/an old house on it. We paid $70,000. Over the years we added rooms as the family expanded. Now the kids are gone, the house and cars are paid off and Hawai`i is the BEST place to retire in.
on June 23,2014 | 11:17AM
oxtail01 wrote:
Well they do get to see mostly only other whites.
on June 23,2014 | 08:09PM
islandsun wrote:
Retirees are getting the shaft from the our current batch of politicians. Each year, more and more will be priced out and be forced to move. And the keiki, most will struggle with just the water and electric bill.
on June 23,2014 | 11:35AM
cojef wrote:
We live in a retirement community of around 16,000 residents and our budget exceeds $40,000,000 and increasing. Thanks to "Prop 13" my real estate tax runs less than $500 per year. Out of state residents who move here pay 3 X's the amount we pay. Medical services and facilities must a condition that must also be considered. Come August 10 this year will make 22 years we have lived in this community. If golf is your sport of choice we have 27 hole regulation and 9 hole executive courses. Gave up golf 5 years ago, but kept my golf cart which is convenient to run down to the super market and small shopping center. Laguna Woods Village is where we live.
on June 23,2014 | 02:26PM
oxtail01 wrote:
I'm retired in Mililani - my house was $135k when bought in 1981. Got beautiful golf courses within easy reach, and can play at Mililani for $25, including cart. Got 7 rec. centers, most with swimming pools, and I play weekly at the tennis center at night. I can walk to shops, theaters, library, YMCA, and restaurants within 15 minutes easy walk. Expensive to live in Hawaii? Heck NO!
on June 23,2014 | 08:19PM
konag43 wrote:
we might be the worse state but thats ok. we don't need anymore people moving to hawaii from out of state or anywhere else we are over crowded as it is.
on June 23,2014 | 02:50PM
WizardOfMoa wrote:
Living in Hawaii was never economically idealistic. In any era and /or at any of the islands that are part of this unique state. However, most families are able to survive by ingenuousness , discipline, hard work and plain old common sense!
on June 23,2014 | 05:41PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
For folks who bought a home back in the 60s and 70s no sweat - great equity, great place for retire. You young'uns are big time scroo'd. Unless you can afford $1M condos in Kaka'ako.
on June 23,2014 | 05:48PM
Papakolea wrote:
Yes, it is expensive to live here. But there's something to be said about being able to enjoy sunshine the majority of the year and being able to wear the same clothes all year round. People who have lived here all their lives take for granted how convenient is is to be able to leave the house dressed just how you are without having to bundle up during winter or bearing with 100 degree heat during the summer.
on June 23,2014 | 06:34PM
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