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Live Well for Less

Want to beat the high cost of living in the Islands? Move to Minneapolis. Barring that, you can read this story, which has ideas on how to stretch your dollar.


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You won’t find any Tightwad Gazette-style advice here—we’re not going to make a lamp out of an empty soda can and a worn-out sock. Nor will we suggest you beat the high cost of living in the Islands by relocating to Minneapolis. But if you’re interested in stretching your entertainment dollars so that you can have a big night out on the town for less than $50, you’ve come to the right place. We also looked at which home renovations are worth investing in, and how to get more money for your home when you’re selling. We researched where to get an inexpensive massage, as well as how to save gas money driving to the appointment. In this story, you’ll also find the savviest ways to book a vacation, and best splurges and steals for fall fashion. Because living well for less is not about living cheaply, but rather about leading a luxurious life within your means.


The Real Price of Paradise

We all know that Hawaii is one of the PRICIEST places in the country. But you have a good job—so why do you still feel pinched for cash? Consider:

A study by Coldwell Banker compares homes in middle-management neighborhoods around the United States, looking at the cost of a 2,200-square-foot house with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms. Such a house in Honolulu would fetch $858,750, compared with $658,000 in Bellevue, Wash., $356,619 in Denver and $288,278 in Dallas.

Check out the cost-of-living calculator at www.cnnmoney.com or www.bankrate.com, where you’ll learn that you if you earn $70,000 annually, you could move to Portland, take a 30 percent pay cut and still maintain the same standard of living as you did in Honolulu. Or that if you relocated to Vegas, you’d pay 35 percent less for groceries.

Hawaii has the sixth highest state and county tax burden, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation. Taxes consume 12.4 percent of our incomes. Nationwide, the average rate is 11 percent.

Hawaii has the highest average retail price of electricity in the country, with residents paying about 22 cents per kilowatt-hour, more than double the national average, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

You’re not imagining it—it’s getting even more expensive to live here. Real personal income in Hawaii grew by more than 6 percent last year, but that was barely enough to keep up with inflation. In 2006, the inflation rate in Honolulu jumped to 5.8 percent, more than double the national average, according to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. The largest increases? Housing and fuel.

>> Entertainment

Thirty-dollar entrees and $10 cocktails don’t shock us anymore. But there are still many great deals on food and entertainment in Honolulu, if you know where to look. Here are a few itineraries for inspiration. —Ronna Bolante


Big Night Out with Your Spouse

Dinner at Little Village, $30
This Chinatown darling’s popularity hasn’t affected its affordable menu prices. We recommend the spicy garlic shrimp ($14.95), dried string beans ($8.50) and, of course, two bowls of rice ($1.75 each). It’s also BYOB, meaning you can finally break out that nice bottle of Riesling you’ve been saving. There’s no corkage fee, only a $1.50 charge per glass used. 1113 Smith St., 545-3008.

photo by Cory Lum

The Dragon Upstairs

A Show at Hawaii Theatre, $50
Stroll two blocks over to Honolulu’s grandest performing arts venue, where a hula h-alau and the Honolulu Symphony are two of the attractions scheduled over the next two months. Discounts vary by production, so check with the box office; there’s almost always a special for people ages 62 and over. 1130 Bethel St., 528-0506.

Nightcap at The Dragon Upstairs, $16
Why rush home? There are no rowdy bar-hoppers at this intimate jazz lounge, which only charges a cover on Mondays. Savor your romantic evening with a top-shelf cocktail and the smooth sounds of some of the best musicians in town, including Ginai and Abe Lagrimas. 1038 Nuuanu Ave., 526-1411.

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Honolulu Magazine May 2018
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