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Rent Or Buy On The Big Island (Part 5) | Moving To Hawaii

Nearly every client I have ever had that has come from the mainland poses the question to me, “Chris, should I buy or rent in Hawaii?” Well it’s really an interesting question and one that isn’t easy to answer. Everyone’s intent is a little different when they relocate to one of the islands. Some come for a job. For some, it’s a military relocation. But for most, it’s the dream of the island lifestyle. I tried to find an actual statistic to cite that illustrates the people that move here from the mainland, how many stay, and for how long, but I couldn’t find one. What I can do is speak from my own experience and the experiences of others to help you make the best decision for you.

Lava field coastline of Kona Kailua on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Explore The Big Island Before You Move

What I feel is the absolute ideal scenario, if you can afford to do it, is to come here to the Big Island for 7-10 days and explore the island. Rent a nice Jeep Wrangler, take the top off, and leave no stone unturned. Fly into Kona and then check out everything Kona has to offer. Drive down Ali’i Drive, pop into an open house or two at some of the popular condo complexes, and head south into Captain Cook. Things will start to look a bit more lush now with majestic views as the road twists and turns above the Pacific Ocean. Stop at The Coffee Shack for one of the nicest views on the island and a bite to eat. Then you will drive through places like Ocean View and Naalehu, which offer country living off the grid with beautiful views and soon thereafter will come across Black Sand Beach.

Continuing on, you will approach Volcano. This is where the Kilauea Volcano is located (the one that was erupting up until the early part of last year). You will start to really enter the windward side of the island, complete with a jungle/rain forest type feel, waterfalls, and an old country charm as you pass by the towns of Pahoa and Keaau. You’ll then enter the other sizable city on the island called Hilo. Hilo and Kona are both very different but afford you big name stores, restaurants, and endless activities. It will rain here off and on almost every day, while the Kona side is much drier. From here, if you continue to hug the coast, a beautiful drive awaits that winds by waterfalls and beautiful beach scenic areas through towns like Pepeekeo and Honomu. This area is all part of the Hamakua Coast, which also boasts the absolutely stunning Waipio Valley, which is a must-see on this drive.

Waipio Valley Lookout view on Big Island, Hawaii 

After passing through, you will start to see a great deal of ranching areas as you head into Honoka’a and the town of Waimea (also known as Kamuela, long story for another blog post). This is a truly unique town that has a wet and dry side. Sandwiched in between are farmer’s markets, great schools, shops, restaurants, playgrounds, and even a rodeo. As you drive on, you will now be entering the northwest corner of the island, which was once home to Hawaiian Royalty. The main area here is Hawi (remember to pronounce your W as a V), and you can take time to walk around town and get a feel for what this area has to offer. Finally as you come down the coast, you will pass by some of the most beautiful beaches on the island like Hapuna, and drive into Waikoloa. Waikoloa has two parts that you should be aware of. The first part is right on the coast, and this is where places like the Waikoloa Beach Resort is, among other large hotels like the Hilton and Marriott. The other part is if you drive up Waikoloa Rd and enter Waikoloa Village. The Village is a residential area that has a number of homes with ocean views and a new shopping center being built that will open in the Fall of 2020. Driving back down Queen K, you will pass the two most prestigious developments on island Hualalai and Kukio, which house Four Seasons Hualalai and many of the highest-end homes you will find in all of Hawaii.

Resort in Waikoiloa with Mauna Kea in background, Big Island, Hawaii

Buying On The Big Island

The reason I think the scenario I described above is ideal is that, from your experience of exploring, you will find which part of the island resonates most with you. A book can give you great information, but it can’t stimulate your senses like driving around the island can. Your realtor can be a wealth of knowledge, but when it comes to being objective, he or she already is going to favor certain areas over another, and you might be missing out on something that really appeals to you. The other thing I like about this scenario is that your gut instinct is going to kick in, and it’s going to tell you something. Maybe it tells you this is the place I have been looking for my whole life. If that’s the case, look to buy. Perhaps it tells you, I really love the island, but I’m unsure about where I want to live, even after spending a week exploring. In this case, I would still say buy if you can, because this is Hawaii after all. You can always sell and take those proceeds with you to the next property you might like to buy.

Renting On The Big Island

While buying a home in Hawaii might be the right choice for some, there are certainly cases to be made for renting on the Big Island as well. Let’s say you are moving here on short notice and can’t get here to look around before moving. In that case, you are not going to know Kona from Keaau, and it truly might make sense to find a month to month or six-month lease to give yourself the time to conquer the island and make a comfortable decision on what is right for you.

Want To Know More About Moving To The Big Island?

I’m happy to analyze your situation and help you make the best decision possible if moving to the Big Island is on your radar. At the end of the day, whether you rent or own, chances are you are going to have one heck of a story to tell and an experience you will never forget.

Moving To Hawaii Blogs

Making The Decision (Part 1)
Choosing A Moving Company (Part 2)
Tips For Shipping Your Car To Hawaii (Part 3)
Bringing Your Pet To Hawaii (Part 4)
Rent Or Buy On The Big Island (Part 5)
Moving With Kids (Part 6)

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Linda Hussey

January 23, 2020

Very informative series of blogs Chris !

Christopher Moody

January 23, 2020

Mahalo Linda!

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