Before I moved to Maui, I asked my sister about the cost of living here. She gave me the following estimates for a single or a couple living in a studio or one-bedroom apartment in central Maui.
Estimated monthly expenditures in 2010 US$:
- Rent: (all inclusive in furnished studio) $775
- Insurance: (health) $335
- Car: (petrol, gas) $50
- Car insurance: $50
- Food: $200
- Total: $1,400
So I figured that I would need a job that paid at least $1,500 to cover everything, provided that I had everything else (air tickets to get to Maui, car, car registration, clothes, furniture – unless it’s a furnished apartment, and a little slack for emergencies).
Monthly expenditure in US$ 2011:
- Rent: $875 (unfurnished one-bedroom apartment, but includes wireless Internet $31 and electricity $60)
- Insurance: (health) 0 (we pay this elsewhere)
- Car: (petrol, gas) $100 (Gas prices started skyrocketed from 4.00 to 4.37 cents per gallon plus tax)
- Car insurance: $44
- Food: $200 – $400 (dinner outings vary from $35 to $80)
- Cell phone: prepaid $30 (1,500 minutes + 30 MB) x 2 = $60
- Total: $1,460
But there were considerable upfront costs to setting up shop, so to speak. These are additional costs, time, effort, and inconvenience that we had not anticipated.
When we finally settled on an unfurnished apartment after looking for furnished ones, we had to look for furniture, furnishings, kitchen appliances, linen, etc — all of which added up. Although water, sewage, and garbage collection services were included, we had to register and pay for electricity and the Internet. Maui Electricity required a $150 deposit. Our new bank in Maui took 6 weeks to clear mainland US$ cheques before we could access our accounts. [Withdrawing cash from our non-Hawaiian bank accounts from any ATM on the island incurred fees.] It took 2 months before we got a US credit card.
On the positive side, we were lucky to find a very affordable and reliable second-hand car — a Maui cruiser the locals call it, allowing us to blend in easily. The one-off ownership registration cost us $110. We were also fortunate to find a one bedroom end-of-terrace apartment with a large balcony and panoramic ocean and mountain views. It has high ceilings and neighbours only on one side (not in front, behind, below, above, or one side).
Even with higher prices than mainland USA (considering 90% of products and produce are imported), we are happier with the sales tax of 4%, compared to 17.5% in the UK and near 20% in the Netherlands.