Does 'Hawaii Life' Reflect Hawaii Life?

HGTV real estate show profiles paradise.


Published:

“You don’t have to be rich to live in Hawaii, you just have to want it badly enough.”

This is the opening line of a popular real estate television show focused on Hawaii that has grated on many people in my Facebook feed, including Joscelyne Cutchens, who recently moved to Alabama.

“This way, non-rich people, let me show you this $450,000, 1,000-square-foot house,” Cutchens says with an eye roll. “And Waipahu, 30 minutes from downtown Honolulu? Not in traffic.”

Each episode of Hawaii Life focuses on a family or couple and goes through the decision-making process for their budget, living needs, and location preferences. You get a quick look at the properties in their price range and the listing they ultimately choose.

While the show is great for showing the variety of available properties throughout the state, like “Hawaii Five-0,” residents feel it doesn’t realistically reflect places you’d want to live on a budget, or places you’d truly be able to afford. For example, in one episode, the couple’s budget was $150,000 on Hawaii Island, so the realtor took them to an active lava field. That sounds pretty exotic … until the next eruption.

For me — although I know people choose their homes for different reasons — quite a few of the final choices surprised me more than anything. I probably don’t know enough about the homes based on the brief overviews, but it did seem odd to pick an older fixer-upper over a newer place closer to town.

What do you think? Is “Hawaii Life” really Hawaii life?

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