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COL=A lot. But those who want to make it here learn how to adapt. It's easier in the sense that there really isn't any "keeping up with the Jones's" so no matter if you can't afford the nicest whatever. Most everyone understands and is in the same boat. A studio is usually between $500-$800/ month, a 1 bedroom around $800-$1000 on average. Electricity is expensive so find one that includes it. Craigslist, Salvation Army, Ross, Savers and yard sales are your best friends. Food is relatively high. I shop at various places depending on what I need. It's easier here with a SO if you can share in the cost of things. Cheap public bus goes all around island, and has a bike rack so don't really need a car (and no one cares about hitch hiking- quite common)
That's a great point about what Malela says, status stuff like BMW'S don't seem too important here I live in Waikiki and it is more expensive, I pay about $1300 for a rather small one bedroom that includes security, parking, water and basic cable. Electric runs about 90 a month (yes it's high). Food costs are of course high. But some of the high costs are offset by other advantages such as not needing winter clothes. And the beach is free. I moved here seven years ago and I was well aware of the COL but it was a LIFESTYLE change that took a bit longer to get used to..coming from the mainland where I had a three bedroom house, and now I live in a small place in a high rise..but really all I need is a computer and a place for a surfboard, so if the lifestyle suits you, there's payoffs to the higher COL. I'm a single mom and I do case management, I don't have loads of money laying around but it supports me pretty good. But I don't have any debt, no mortgage, no credit card payments, and nothing fancy.