Relocating to paradise: The ethicality of moving to Hawaii


James Green

Senior Lily Dumas hikes on a recent trip to Hawaii.

Alyssa Smith, Social Media Manager

Arguably the most beautiful state in the nation, Hawaii attracts millions of tourists every year. After exploring the Aloha State, many never want to leave, but is there an ethical way to move there?

Living in Hawaii has been glamorized all over social media. Seeing influencers living the dream has encouraged more people to move there. While vloggers flex their million-dollar views and luxurious condos, natives are left struggling to make ends meet. 

Moving to paradise seems like a great idea, but the high cost of living drives locals away and now it is causing natives to be displaced. Salads that are $25 and lemonades that are $15 are aspects of a lifestyle soom residents cannot comfortably afford. 

Senior Lily Dumas recently traveled to Hawaii and was surprised by the high costs. “All the stores were crazy expensive and targeted towards tourists. Even when we went off to areas that didn’t have hotels and where locals lived, prices weren’t that much cheaper,” she said. Although tourists are expected to splurge and budget for the prices, these costs are not sustainable for locals.

It has become a trend to move to Hawaii because “you only live once.” The influencers and affluent mainlanders come to the island and have no trouble dealing with the expenses. By doing this, they are creating more demand and only raising the cost of everything from groceries to real-estate. 

The cost of living on the islands is much higher than the cost of living on the mainland, yet there is little difference between pay. The needed income to live comfortably in Hawaii is $122,000, yet the average income is $65,000.

Local Hawaiians receive a discount at some stores on the islands to try and help ease the cost. “I learned from a local that they get a discount from most stores because they live there,” Dumas explained. The definition of a “local” in Hawaii is not always clear; however. Many Hawaiians believe that if you are not native, you will never be local. This can be hard to understand for newcomers. 

In an economy driven by tourism, many Hawaiian locals work in the tourism industry. While visitors are welcome, they are encouraged to explore responsibly. 

Hawaii is rich with culture and history which seems to be forgotten and lost on many tourists. Disrespecting natives’ culture while visiting and enjoying their land is like a slap in the face.

Native Hawaiians are fighting for causes like better education and more affordable housing while the people moving there pay little attention to the issues natives face on a daily basis. 

Native Hawaiian TikToker @Ponoonovibez shared a video on the ethicality of moving to Hawaii. He recognized that people will still move there regardless, but he called for the newcomers to join him in the fight for social justice in Hawaii and to respect their culture.

Moving to Hawaii ethically is something that is difficult to accomplish. Taking up housing and driving up prices leaves natives struggling. While many realize stopping people from moving to Hawaii all together is impossible, there are still ways to be respectful and try to help the community.