Native Hawaiians leaving state due to high cost of living

Las Vegas and Sacramento County are popular landing spots

(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)
(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

There’s trouble in paradise.

Many Native Hawaiians are leaving for Las Vegas and California as they find it increasingly difficult to stay in the Aloha state due to soaring housing costs, the Associated Press reported.

The median single-family home costs $900,000, while the median price on the most populous island, Oahu, tops $1 million, according to the outlet. In addition, Hawaiians spend just over 42 percent of their income on rent — the highest percentage in any state by far, AP reported, citing statistics from Forbes Home.

Many residents, particularly the state’s Indigenous people, work low-wage jobs; the minimum wage is $12 an hour. An analysis by the state last year found that a single person would have to make $18 an hour in a 40-hour week to pay for rent and other expenses, according to the AP.

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Places like Clark County, Nevada, and Sacramento County have seen the highest population increase of native Hawaiians, while the greatest decrease was in Honolulu, the AP reported, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Estimates show there are now more Native Hawaiians living in other states than in Hawaii, a flip from just over a decade ago, the AP said, citing data from the American Community Survey.

Native Hawaiian Kona Purdy said he was paying more than $2,300 a month in rent for a four-bedroom apartment in a Honolulu suburb for himself and his family of nine. He and his family moved to a Las Vegas suburb, where they paid $1,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment, because it’s a popular vacation destination for his family and the cost of living is significantly lower.

The Purdys eventually moved back to Hawaii, but the statistical trend is not lost on Hawaiian officials.

“There’s no Hawaii without Hawaiians,” Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters, a Native Hawaiian whose siblings all moved to the continental U.S., told the Associated Press. “That’s just incredibly sad to me, that Hawaiians cannot afford to live in Hawaii.”

— Ted Glanzer

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