It is not surprising Hawaii is high on many retirees lists as the ideal place to settle down. Hawaii is not only full of natural beauty, but it is also one of the healthiest places to live and there are many attractive places to retire in Hawaii. Plus, the overall climate is mild enough to enjoy the outdoors year-round, allowing retirees to stay active.
Retirees who enjoy spending time in nature will love Hawaii; with the mountains and ocean, you will enjoy hiking, camping, biking, snorkeling, boating, fishing, and more. And, the sunsets found in Hawaii are like no other found anywhere else in the world.
Though this paradise has endless benefits, it, unfortunately, is an expensive state to live in. According to Smart Asset, the cost of living is 33% higher than the national average. And though there are some benefits for retirees, many of the taxes are not as friendly as other states.
Hawaii does not have a tax on social security or public pensions. However, they tax all other retirement income ranging from 1.4%-11% depending on your tax bracket. So retirees depending heavily on IRAs, 401(k), or employer pensions will have their income taxed at a higher rate than others.
Additionally, there is an estate tax on estates with a value of $11 million or more. But estates valued lower than $11 million will not be taxed.
There is good news, though, there are exemptions for residents who own their home, and those who are 65+ will receive a higher exemption than others. The exemption amount depends on the county you live in but maybe as high as $120,000.
Although not cheap, Hawaii is one of the healthiest states to live in. In one report by USNews, those who live in Hawaii have a higher rate of good mental health. Also, many who live in Hawaii love the relaxed atmosphere and the friendly, welcoming community. Plus, being able to stay active year-round and get plenty of sunshine also helps too (Florida and California are other good states for anyone who wants plenty of sunshine).
Where to Retire in Hawaii
- Percent of Senior Population: 20.7%
- Overall Population: 72,293
Of the eight inhabited Hawaiian Islands, Kauai is the oldest and 4th largest of them. Kauai is made up of various small towns, most of which are economically dependent on tourism.
Kauai is also known as Garden Isle because 97% of the Island is made up of undeveloped mountains and rainforests. Kauai also has 43 miles of sandy beaches.
With much of the island kept in its natural state, it is the perfect retirement place for active retirees looking to enjoy the outdoors. Few other places on earth are filled with so much beauty just waiting to be discovered. Some of the attractions found on the island include:
- Waimea Canyon State Park
- Wailua and Opaekaa Falls
- Kilauea Point
For the more adventurous, you can hike through the rainforests, take a helicopter tour to see the canyon from above, or go scuba diving off the coast. And for everyday adventures, Kauai is perfect for boating, fishing, biking, and swimming. Though much of the island is undeveloped, it is still a golfer’s paradise with ten of the best courses in Hawaii.
In addition to relying on tourism, the Kauai economy is also bolstered by coffee, sugar cane, and tropical fruits such as guava, mangos, papaya, bananas, and avocado.
But beauty like this comes at a cost. The average price for a house is over $600,000. But the island does have several medical facilities, including three hospitals. And, Kauai has the lowest crime rate of any of the Hawaiian Islands.
- Percent of Senior Population: 43,263
- Overall Population: 19.5%
Hilo is one of the biggest cities in Hawaii and is located on the Island of Hawaii. It is not only large, but it is one of the oldest cities too.
Though Hilo may not be the most popular city in Hawaii, its lack of notoriety is a plus since the cost of living here is significantly less expensive than other parts of Hawaii. However, the lower cost of living in Hilo should not be mistaken for fewer things to do here.
Hilo has an abundance of attractions, including the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Japanese-style Lili’uokalani Park, to name just a few. Plus, those looking for a fun hike will love checking out Rainbow Falls state park, the jewel of Hawaii. Rainbow Falls is 80 feet tall and open to the public.
The downtown area of Hilo is full of fun boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants reflecting the Japanese and Colonial culture. Plus, the Hilo downtown area also has other fun things to check out like:
- The Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center
- Tsunami Museum Center
- Imiloa Astronomy Center
And Hilo is home to the University oh Hawaii, Hilo campus. The art scene in Hilo is also quite popular with various galleries and the Palace Theatre, an art-house.
Being a larger city, Hilo has plenty of medical facilities, including the Hilo Medical Center. Additionally, Hilo has a lower crime rate making it all the more appealing.
- Percent of Senior Population: 15.5%
- Overall Population: 11,975
Golfer enthusiasts will love Kailua-Kona with its many award-winning golf courses; Mauna Key Championship Golf Course is amongst the many found there.
Though you don’t need to golf to enjoy Kailua-Kona, adventurous retirees will love ziplining the forests at Kohala or scuba diving off the coast. And on the days you are looking for a more relaxed time, stop in at the Kona Brewery for lunch, and a cold one is always an excellent way to spend an afternoon.
And many of us have heard of the world-famous Kona coffee blend, well Kailua-Kona is where it is sourced. So you can imagine retiring here will give you access to the freshest coffee imaginable.
Kailua-Kona is the largest tourist destination on the island. The beaches, snorkeling, and Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park attract thousands of tourists every year. Because Kailua-Kona is a popular tourist destination, the downtown area along Alii Drive is full of shops.
In addition to the many resorts and hotels, Kailua-Kona has several friendly neighborhoods spread throughout the town. However, as you may imagine, the cost of housing is relatively high here, with a median house price above $550,000.
Unfortunately, medical care is limited, and those needing serious medical attention need to fly to the island to Honolulu. The largest medical center near Kailua-Kona is in nearby Hilo.
- Percent of Senior Population: 17%
- Overall Population: 10,699
Kapaa is one of Kauai’s largest towns. It is near the base of the Sleeping Giant, also known as the Nounou Mountain. Kapaa is the ideal retirement spot for those who enjoy spending time outdoors in nature.
Retirees can enjoy walking the nine-mile trail that runs along the coast or explore Nounou Mountain. Also, since Kapaa is on the ocean, residents can enjoy daily walks on the beach, snorkeling, fishing, and more.
Kapaa has endless shopping opportunities. The downtown area of Kapaa is full of shops and local street vendors and artisans selling hand-made crafts and delicious food. In addition to the shops and vendors, Kapaa also hosts a farmers market, knowns as the Sunshine Market, where residents and visitors alike can buy an array of goods from crafts to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Kapaa hosts an Art Walk on the first Saturday of the month, from 5-9 in the evenings. The Art Walk is the biggest monthly event on the island and is filled with local artists and craftspeople displaying their work. Local restaurants and stores extend their hours staying open the same hours as the festival. Besides shopping, there is an array of live music and food trucks, completing the festival feel.
Kapaa has a small medical clinic in town, but there is a full-service hospital Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, less than an hour’s drive from Kapaa. Though Kapaa is undoubtedly a beautiful city, it does have a slightly higher crime rate than the national average.
- Percent of Senior Population: 48%
- Overall Population: 922
Seniors looking to retire to a small relaxed town will love Maui-Kaanapali. Kaanapali is a resort town enjoyed by thousands of tourists every year and is on the larger island of Maui.
The town is full of resorts, villas, and condos. Most of the communities are open to any age; however, the majority of the residents are happy retirees. Maui-Kaanapali has both part-time and full-time retired residents.
Maui-Kaanapali, much like other parts of Hawaii, is full of beaches and gorgeous green golf courses. Residents in the area also enjoy hiking, whale watching, tennis, and biking. And of course, there is a multitude of water activities to take part in.
One of the best things about the area is the climate. Because of the mountains and ocean, the island never reaches extreme temperatures. Though warm, it is rarely hot, and it is never cold, with the lowest temps around 64.
Like much of Hawaii, the cost of housing is significantly higher than that of the national average. Many of the houses are valued in the millions. But the good news is that Maui-Kaanapali has a low crime rate.
The nearest major medical facility is the Memorial Medical Center, just a short twelve miles away.