Moving to Honolulu
December 3, 2004 11:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm seriously thinking about moving to Honolulu in a few months. [omnidesire]

I visited the city several years ago, and liked it very much, but won't have time to do an exploratory visit before I pack up and move there. Specifically, my questions are:
- How does one go about finding a small, nice, not-too-expensive apartment in Honolulu? (I figure I'd start looking around the UH campus ... ? A cursory search in the classifieds section of the Honolulu Advertiser tells me only that the classifieds section of the Honolulu Advertiser is not very helpful.)
- Does Honolulu have a local "arts" weekly newspaper with a decent classifieds section?
- Is it a bike-able city?
- How expensive is it to live there, really? Hawaii has a rep for being super-costly, but my recollection was that prices were a little bit higher than usual, but not horrifically so. (Of course, I grew up in Westchester County, NY...)
- Can you recommend specific areas of town for someone who loves movies and music, likes to hang out amongst young(ish) people, wants to simplify his life by relying on bikes and buses instead of cars, and desires a ready supply of fresh pineapple?

And if you've ever lived in Honolulu, any general or specific tips about setting up shop in that city would be greatly appreciated.

Muchas gracias, todos.
posted by Dr. Wu to Travel & Transportation around Honolulu, HI (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry, I have no helpful advice; I just want to applaud your decision. Awesome.
posted by clockzero at 11:16 PM on December 3, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks, clockzero! I could use the encouragement - it's kind of a capricious decision.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:55 PM on December 3, 2004

I am not sure where to look to find an apartment. You might want to take a look at the Honolulu Craigslist, although it isn't very active. Living in Hawaii is somewhat more expensive, but it really isn't that bad.

If you are interested in the arts, then I guess you will want to be near UH, probably in the Manoa area. But really I am not sure, because Oahu doesn't really have a strong arts community. Kailua and the North Shore (and maybe Hawaii Kai) are also kinda arty, but neither of these are close to Honolulu.

I don't think Honolulu is a particularly bikeable city. I mean, it certainly is possible to ride your bike from Waikiki to UH, but you wouldn't want to do it, and I don't think it is done in general. Have you considered a moped?

It can be inconvenient to get around to the other parts of the island by bus. It once took me over 2 hours to get from downtown Honolulu to Waipahu, and that wasn't even during rush hour. If the bus is your only means of transportation, then I guess you will probably spend most of your time in the Honolulu/Waikiki/Manoa/Kahala/Hawaii Kai areas.
posted by TheIrreverend at 12:07 AM on December 4, 2004

I currently live in Honolulu (Makiki area). I've been here about three years so I might be able to give some info (or at least it's the first askme question I could possibly answer in depth). The local "arts" weekly newspaper is The Honolulu Weekly. It's a good source for what's going on around town - events, concerts, galleries, etc. but I wouldn't recommend it for looking for an apartment. The advertiser is really good but the only problem is that places tend to go very quickly - especially at the end of summer when all the students arrive with UH's massive housing shortage (now should be ok). I think you need to be here to see the places yourself. I remember looking in the paper before I moved here and thinking the rent seemed reasonable but those places ended up being right next to H1 and not the most aesthetically pleasing. I suggest booking a hotel room for a week and then start early one Sunday morning. For an arts area (Honolulu isn't really an art town - one of the best gallery spaces in town, Studio 1, just closed down) I'd suggest Kaimuki although it gets very hot in the summer. There's also nice neighborhoods near Diamondhead and Kapahulu Ave. that aren't too expensive. Expect to pay around $800 - $1000 for a one bedroom. But if you get roommates, it'll be alot cheaper. And you can still find deals. The bulletin boards at UH are also a very good source for places for rent (and bikes and furniture from all the students who just graduated). Getting around by bike is easy except during rainy season and even then it's still not bad. The bus routes are extensive but slow. I'd recommend just buying a moped for $500 and then you can go and park wherever. I don't think it's expensive here but groceries can get a bit pricey and the selection is not always the best. Also, I'd suggest selling everything except for computer, books, and music rather than shipping stuff here. There are always people moving off the island and selling their stuff cheap. Buy a fan and some roach traps and then go have fun. Maybe we'll finally have a Metafilter meet-up here. Feel free to e-mail me with more specific questions. Best of luck!
posted by snez at 4:36 AM on December 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

As someone who spent four years living there (on a capricious decision), and now lives in Westchester, I can't say this strongly enough--do it. Not that I don't like Westchester, but I found Honolulu a tremendous place to live.

As a general rule, most folks I knew who came over from the mainland found their first apartment through their employer. As general rule, no matter where you're working, there's always some nice auntie in the main office who takes newcomers under her wing and helps them out on stuff like that. Hawaii culture is very open--one of the eye-opening experiences for most newcomers is realizing that "the aloha spirit" is _not_ a cynical ploy. There's really no shame or weakness in just asking for help, and people tend to give it without looking for leverage.

Another common move is to rent a monthly apartment in Waikiki, and use that as a base to find a longer-term space. (Not that I'm recommending Waikiki as a place to live, long-term, but that's where most of the no-lease monthly units are, or at least used to be when I was there. It'll also cure you of any desire to spend time there _real_ fast.)

My roommate and I found a condo on Keeaumoku Street pretty quickly when we first landed there--in 1988, that was a good stretch to find more reasonable housing in a pretty central location.

Given the hills, a moped is definitely a more useful option than a bike, unless you're looking to get in a _lot_ of exercise just getting around. Even so, you'll almost certainly need to end up getting an old beater to get around--there's no way you're going to moped out much past Sandy's, let alone the North Shore. (And it would be a tragedy to live out there and not aggressively explore the entire island.)

Do it, do it, do it.
posted by LairBob at 5:56 AM on December 4, 2004

[And I don't mean to be a starry-eyed rube about the "aloha spirit" thing...Hawaii is full of people, and there a lot of jerks, and a lot of racial and economic tension. But as a general rule, there's a lot more expectation that peopl just help each other, and it's much more acceptable to ask for and give a helping hand without having it get all weird.]
posted by LairBob at 5:56 AM on December 4, 2004

I am actually going to be making the move out to Honolulu in less than a month. The two options I'm looking at is either a shared house with some coworkers, or renting a place in Waikiki until I find a place of my own. I'm afraid I can't really help you out now, but perhaps in a month or two I'd have more information for you!
posted by aquitone at 2:08 PM on December 4, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you, TheIrreverend, snez, and LairBob!

It's great to know about unbikeability, furniture availability, and, best, the option of the one-month Waikiki lease. As it is, I happen to have 2-3 free hotel nights that I can use in Honolulu, so I'll do that, and then probably look into a month's lease. I spent enough time in Waikiki to know that a month there will be more than enough.

LairBob: I picked up on the "aloha spirit" thing, too, during my visit, and it's one of the reasons that Hawaii is an attractive place for me. Besides, you know, the fact that it's paradise, and all.

And a big holla to the 'Chester! Rye in the hizzouse!
posted by Dr. Wu at 3:07 PM on December 4, 2004

Yeah, I would guess that real estate there isn't the goldmine for speculators it once was. I knew a guy who thought he was going to move to Hawaii, buy a few properties, and make a lot of rental income. He was back in Ypsilanti, Michigan in six months (and it pissed me off, too, because I was renting his house and had to move out).
posted by kindall at 9:36 PM on December 4, 2004

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