Cost of living in Maui

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).

The result?

View of the balcony and ocean

View of the balcony and ocean

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.

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About BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.
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46 Responses to Cost of living in Maui

  1. Manuel says:

    Hey I’m a web developer and I was wondering if you are still happy there and will encourage me to move there. My wife and I recently visited Maui and really loved the place.

    Would it be worth it for us? Thanks a a lot!

  2. BLOGmaiden says:

    Hi Manuel
    If you can work from anywhere, why not here? In paradise?
    What does it take?
    1- You have to be able to let go. In other words, once you arrive — don’t think you can just get up and return to the mainland or wherever you are, because you miss your family, friends, etc.
    2- It’s definitely not for the faint hearted. Many will say they’re here to stay. But they leave for the above reason number 1.
    3- Where there is a will, there is a way.
    As to your question – will it be worth it for you? It really depends on what you’re after.
    That’s why, on my 3rd visit, I decided to stay for several months. Work here. Get to know the people. Explore opportunities. And start this blog.

  3. tammy criscuolo says:

    I live in Missouri, USA and am hoping to sell my house within the next six months and try to acquire a teaching job. Once that is done I want to move there and get a studio or 1 bd room until I find something to buy but I cannot find listings of apartments in West Maui.

  4. Maria Slattery says:

    I would like to live in Maui. I have school age childeren. How are the schools in Maui. Do most kids go to private school or public. Where are the best schools located in Maui?

  5. DzinePOD says:

    Schools on Maui are so-so. Mainland schools are much better. I taught 9th grade English when I first moved here and was shocked to find that the kids didn’t know what a noun was… or a verb, for that matter. You could try Seabury. It’s a pricey private school.

  6. BLOGmaiden says:

    “Cost of living in Maui” is by far the most searched phrase or rather how this blog gets found. Compared to the Netherlands where sales tax is nearly 20% and gasoline is more than $10 per gallon, Maui is not expensive. Compared to the rest of the USA, however, it’s very dear.

  7. vince says:

    where would you recommend looking to find a job in maui. I am a recent college grad and am looking to make the move once i save up enough money working a temporary full time job. I have a bachelors degree in Marketing and Communications so i would be able to work in a number of areas. I just want to try and land a job before i make the move. Also what areas of maui would be good for a recent college grad (24 yrs old) because i want to be around business minded people or people that are still career drivin and not the retired people just looking to relax.

  8. Emma Dillane says:

    Hello! Like many of the above my partner and I are looking to move to Maui in 4 years time. He is a well established musician and I am studying a BA Hos degree in business. By the time we move I will have finished my degree and completed a conversion course in law. We are looking to buy a 2 bed property on a nice beach and would like a relatively relaxed life but with a good enough income to be comfortable. The same as everyone else I guess! Does anyone have any up to date advice?

  9. Diana says:

    I am retired with small income of social secuity and retirement. Are most places the same cost as you mention above? Did you research a place to live or just took your chances when you got there? In other words, could I just fly there and then find a place to live?

  10. CMW says:

    Me and my fiance are moving to Maui by the end of the year. He would have a job with the county of Maui. We intend on selling everything but our car and clothes.. and shipping our dog and misc items within a few months. I have done lots of research on rentals and it appears that most rentals are furnished or at least partially furnished. Is is wise to start fresh over there to avoid even more headache?

  11. BLOGmaiden says:

    I have heard locals say that they don’t believe anyone can really stay here unless they have been living here for two years. In other words, many people say they want to live here. They mean what they say. But whether they really do end up staying here depends on many things. One of these is time. Only time will tell — can you survive 2 years?

    If you can’t let go, then that is a problem. I arrived with two suitcases. I found a car. Bought it. Rented an apartment. Sold the car. Vacated the apartment. I returned after a short summer break. Found another place to live. Bought another car. Vacated the place. Moved into my present “cottage.” The rents have not fluctuated much for all 3 locations but my living circumstances have changed considerably.

    I’m lucky because the first thing I did before I arrived was to apply for a job. In fact, I did that before I made my way here, crossing two oceans and a continent.

    If you’re not financially secure, then that will be a big challenge.

  12. Julie says:

    I am thinking of moving to Maui to get out of the snow. I don,t Ski any more.I really don,t like driving in the snow and all the snow removal. I found a part time job in Maui, but will only get about $350.00 every 2 weeks. Is it possible to live on that much income.

    • BLOGmaiden says:

      Hello Julie, When I moved here, I had not had a job offer. The second time, I knew I’d get what you got offered and banked on a faith that there may be more. I’ve been told you need 3 jobs. It’s not surprising that people work full-time and a half to make ends meet and to save for a rainy day. If you are multi-skilled, optimistic, easy to get along with, likeable, resourceful, and healthy, the world is your oyster, including paradise.

  13. Kelly says:

    Thanks BlogMaiden for providing current info, very helpful! I’ve heard that a person who is:(in no particular order), punctual, clean and pressed, polite to ALL (not just the guests), shoulders their fair share – and that of others when needed, and understands what the words hospitality and Aloha really mean – stand a much greater chance of getting and keeping full or part time work on Maui. Have you found this to be very true? Have heard that locals may get the first shot at jobs – but once the surf’s up, many of them ditch. Trying to get some truth to this. The above mentioned attributes were my ticket to getting and keeping a coveted job here on the mainland, and want to believe same frame of mind will have simular results. Mahalo for your reply, Cheers, Kelly

    • BLOGmaiden says:

      Thanks, Kelly!

      Oh yes, I totally believe in it. The aloha spirit is something I have had to learn. It’s not just about saying hello and goodbye and being nice. It’s so much more.

      You must never come across as being arrogant. Unfortunately, an aloof and reserved mannerism or even a formal or verbose manner of speaking may come across as being arrogant.

      Most of Maui is rural. And there is that attitude of checking out who you know in common before you do business with each other. Trust is extremely important, as is reputation.

  14. Cheryl says:

    I have a question please. I am 51 and recently disabled. therefore, I will be living on social security disability. I have always wanted to live “abroad” for a few years; however, due to my medical condition I do not want to leave the states. Does Maui have a decent health care facility?

  15. BLOGmaiden says:

    There are several places for assisted living. Roselani in Kahului and Kalama Heights in Kihei. I don’t know about health care facilities for over 50’s – but there is one hospital here – Maui Memorial Medical Center.

  16. Martin says:

    I am moving to Maui during Sept. I’ve been looking for a room to rent on Craigslist, but have come to the realization that I need to be in Maui to really look for a place. Any suggestions/recommendations of where to stay (very cheaply…) for a couple of weeks while searching for a place?

  17. Gregory says:

    I lived and worked on Maui for 4+ years and it is by far the best place I have ever lived, mostly because of the amazing weather, we opened the windows and left them open for 4 years~!
    Beautiful, fantastic beaches. Groceries are VERY expensive, remember that everyting on the island had to take a 3000 mile boat ride to get there.
    VERY different culturally from the mainland, very slow life style, nothing at all is rushed. Good advice on this blog about living with the locals, what you need to understand is that the USA took over these islands by force over 100 years ago and the fallout from that still exsists today.
    If you are white you will always be a haole. The locals are friendly so long as you do like most of the mainlanders do and empty your pockets and leave, if you want to live and work there it is a different story and straying far from the tourist hang outs can be dangerous. There are more than one unsolved disappearances on Maui in the last 10 years and the cops do pretty much what they please.
    If your job puts you in a position of authority it will be expecially difficult when you are white. Again, dut to the history of the islands white people are seen as arrogant assholes no matter how much you try to prove otherwise.
    We are thinking of moving back if we can afford it. 3 br 2 ba house about 2500 sq ft is half a million
    So, that is it, my does of reality, sorry for the damper but the fact of the matter is that the people who live in Hawaii (almost no real native Hawaiians left) dont like white people.

    • Takeachance says:

      I Lived on Oahu 30 years ago when I was in my 20’s for about 2 years.
      A developer hired me and flew me in to set up his offices.
      I was born and raised in the South USA. You speak the truth.
      To the islanders, Whites are like the blacks were in the deep South.
      They only tolerate off islanders because they are their SOURCE OF REVENUE.
      Be realistic when you go there and always REMEMBER, IT IS THEIR ISLAND.

    • Linda says:

      are you still there or gone back to the Mainland?

      4 years is a long time – I got a great job offer and believe or inclined to take it – but this note makes me re-think? I appreciate your honesty

      • BLOGmaiden says:

        I’ve known people who came here intending to stay for a year but are still here after 20. I hear things are picking up (i.e. economy is picking up) — so it’s really up to you. You’re lucky to get a job offer. Some people come here first and then look for work…

  18. “cost of living in Maui” is the most sought phrase that brings people to this blog. Here is a spreadsheet from the Maui County Databook 2011 that will help you compare cost of living between different counties in Hawaii: http://hisbdc.org/Portals/0/MCDB/2011/XLS/Ch1/2011%20T1.4.4%20Cost%20of%20Living%20by%20County.xls

  19. Jen says:

    Aloha. My boyfriend and I are planning on moving to Maui next month. We are from the states, but have spent the past 4 years living in St. Thomas, USVI. We love island living. The weather, the pace of life and the small community is so nice. We are used to expensive groceries because st. Thomas had to import everything and I assume the cost of living is similar. Is it very difficult to get jobs? I am a concierge and be is a scuba diver. We are currently looking for jobs, but I figured it will be better once we arrive. Any info is much appreciated :)

  20. Ingrid says:

    Appreciate financials regarding a life changing move – just flirting with idea. How is the job market for semi-retirees?

    • BLOGmaiden says:

      I don’t know the job market for semi-retirees or any age-group. Check Craigs List for Maui. There is always the hidden job-market. I would say if you’re semi-retired, then you can afford to take the risk as a move towards full retirement. That is, if there’s nothing that lures you to return to where you are now.

  21. James Papsdorf says:

    How expensive is periodontal cleaning ?
    How expensive is maintenace treatment for glaucoma ?
    Many thanks.

  22. cherylb says:

    Do you have any advice for a mother who’s daughter is moving to Maui? She’s 28, beautiful, kind of shy/reserved, might be mistook as arrogant as you say. I want her to spread her wings but not that far from her family but she is determined!!!! Will she be safe? Are the people nice? I always looked as Hawaii as a vacation spot, not a living one. She doesn’t have a job or a place to live is what tears me up the most, but she is determined!!!!

  23. grace says:

    Hello I was wondering could you give me your take on a quick question. I am a 21 year old Irish student applying for a one year internship in maui and I get my accommodation and internet included in my work so I have not to worry about that. But what I am trying to figure out as I am not from the US either and not familiar with general cost of living on the mainland or obviously hawaii. How much your is a general food shop would cost for a week in maui? If you could bare in mind im student and probably used to basic living also? Thank you very much :)

  24. Pablo says:

    I work for the USPS and make about $30/hr. Working PT(about 20 hours a week) and renting, is it feasible to survive in Maui?

  25. Tim says:

    I am a single, 65 year old military retiree. My mililtary pension and Social Security benefits will be around $35,000 a year. I have lived in Okinawa for over 30 years so island life suits me. I have always loved Hawaii (many trips to Oahu) and am interested in relocating to Maui. How many days would you give me before I washed up on shore???

  26. Big Island Guy says:

    Best option is the big island – fresh fruit, fresh veg and grass fed beef all over the island – wind farms, solar power and free fresh rain water year round… Lots of long drives with nothing but nature and the road, huge land to never get bored of, the volcano and SNOW! Local university and lots of flights around the world. I never understand why people would choose small Maui over the huge Big Island. More for us, I guess :)

  27. Tom says:

    I am turning 65 next May, may lose my job next year, my wife, my house, my car, so I was thinking about just selling everything I own and head over to Maui. I have no retirement except social security which I do not want to draw on for another two years, 66.5. I might have enough from the equity of my house to live in Maui until SS kicks in. I have a long term care policy that will take care of me if I cant take care of myself. I love to play golf, snorkel and scuba dive, bike ride and just chill out listening to the waves and being close to the beach. Don’t require much food or entertainment, not real outgoing, an accountant by trade. Just want to spend the rest of my life in paradise. I don’t like being alone but I guess I will meet someone?? So what is wrong with this picture. Why would I not want to do this and start over at least in paradise rather than Houston, Texas? Why cant someone start a non-native community in Maui or newsletter, so people do not get lonely. I have lived overseas before and it is difficult without a partner. Maybe I will get a dog? what is your thoughts? It would be a tremendous and stressful event if I did this but why not. Wont be happy in the states so I might as well spend the time unhappy in Maui??

    • Greg says:

      Tom,
      i can relate…in Houston and trying to move next spring with my son in college…in 50’s so no ss soon. i had a biz there in the 90’s and things do move slow and being ultra cheap is the key..no eating out or luxuries will help…reliable car tha tmay serve as a habitat a good back up, lol. i left for family medical issues i 99. you can contact me via texassurf.net contact. although the persons living there will have better info and moe current

  28. jumy says:

    Hi I just want to know if in Maui you have good public schools? And the cost of life in comparison with Miami Thanks

  29. nate431 says:

    I am considering moving to Maui by the end of the year. I have been in Alaska Law Enforcement for about 15 years and want a change. Would Maui be a good place to start over? I am used to high costs and being the “white cop” Im just not sure if its the right move. The kids are grown and its time to live without snow. Anyone want to talk me out of it? :)

  30. BLOGmaiden says:

    I came here twice, in 1999 and 2007, before deciding to look for a job in 2010. I would highly advise that you come here to “scout it out” before moving everything here and having no back-up plan. You will be very lucky if you get a job that pays you to come here to live. Times have changed. You will be lucky to get a job, even if it’s not what you want. Other ways include volunteering so that people know what you are like as a person – your work ethics, level of commitment and trustworthiness, etc. Be sure you have adequate savings as it will cost you more than you expect – and it’s always good to have a buffer.

  31. Pingback: Three years on: how to get on and stay on | Maui Tips for Newcomers

  32. mainlander says:

    Was in Maui recently & got a job offer for approximately the same salary I currently make in Nevada, a state tax free state. If I make the lateral move how much less spending money would I have? How much higher is the cost of living in Wailuku compared to Las Vegas, NV?

  33. Koko Kele says:

    I purchased a condo in Kihei in 1999 and have been renting it out ever since. I purchased it for $79,000 but used it as an ATM card several times. I refinanced again in 2013 to get a lower mortgage interest rate. I plan on kicking out my tenant and moving to Maui within two years. Here’s how I anticipate my expenses:
    Mortgage, taxes, homeowners insurance: $1020
    Homeowner Association Fees: $425
    Health insurance (continuation of employer policy): $650
    Utilities: $225 (includes cell phone)
    Auto and term life insurance: $125
    Groceries and gasoline: $450
    Miscellaneous expenditures: $500
    Total monthly cost of living: $3,395
    Total pre-tax income required: $3,994
    I’ll be using a pension, 457b plan, and eventually social security as income. I plan on seeking employment both for more income and to stay in the mix. I won’t mind working because my off time will be spent in a place I’d like to vacation. I have a strong background in sales and an even stronger background in government administration, so I think I’ll be able to find something, more likely in the former than the latter. The main roadblock will probably be my age, but I’m a big, affable guy so maybe that’ll overcome the age barrier thing. We’ll see.
    Aloha!

  34. Choc Donut says:

    Thank God Larry Ellison bought Lanai. An Island in Hawaii may actually be run without corruption.

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