For many, Hawaii is an appealing place to put down roots. From the magnificent landscapes and white sand beaches to the verdant outdoor areas and lush vegetation, there’s much about the Aloha State that’s to love.
That being said, Hawaii is by far the country’s most expensive state to live in, and if you’re hoping to relocate to one of the state’s islands, you will need to make sure you have plenty of money squirreled away.
Of Hawaii’s seven inhabited islands, Oahu is one of the most popular places for both tourists and those looking to make the state home. Most of the amenities on America’s mainland can be found on Oahu, and the capital city of Honolulu boasts a booming job market and top-notch infrastructure for its residents.
Oahu has some of the most iconic scenery in all of Hawaii, and it also has a collection of diverse neighborhoods that allow those with lower incomes to enjoy the island as well. Continue reading to discover the 20 most affordable places to live on Oahu.
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Situated on the island’s dry and sunny leeward coast, the city of Waianae is one of the most affordable places to live on Oahu. Not only is the median rent price extremely low compared to the rest of the state, but the overall costs of living in Waianae are also notably lower.
If the prices weren’t enough to entice you to give Waianae a shot, the gorgeous scenery and secluded beaches will certainly draw you in. The city has little to offer for shopping and eating out, but the larger, more developed city of Kapolei is just 20 minutes away if you find yourself wanting more options.
Honolulu is about 45 minutes away depending on traffic, and while Waianae certainly isn’t the closest suburb to the bustling city center, it is just close enough to be a fairly easy commute while still being far enough away to enjoy a relaxed, small-town lifestyle.
Located just south of Waianae, the city of Nanakuli is another one of Oahu’s most affordable places to live. The population consistently hovers around 11,500 full-time residents, allowing those who call this lovely city home to enjoy all the modern conveniences of big city living while simultaneously basking in the charming small-town vibes that this area is known for.
While the overall cost of living may be high compared to other states around the country, it’s actually one of the cheapest places to live in Hawaii. Home prices are relatively low, and the 40-minute drive down the coast to Honolulu makes it easy for residents of this small town to keep a balanced income-to-rent ratio.
Nanakuli is also surrounded by beautiful nature offerings, including white sand beaches, pristine ocean waters, and stunning parks and preserves. Surfing, diving, and fishing are all popular pastimes for residents of Nanakuli, and the hot, dry climate of this side of the island only makes these activities more enticing.
Originally planned as Oahu’s “second city,” Kapolei is one of the island’s most affordable places to live. The dream of Kapolei becoming a neighborhood for families to live and work without commuting to the bustling capital of Honolulu has mostly become a reality, and this suburb has everything you’ll need to put down permanent roots.
Not only are homes reasonably priced, but the city of Kapolei also boasts all the necessities for daily life right within town limits – so there’s no need to make the trek to Honolulu unless you really want to. While this small town is mostly residential, you’ll still find plenty of shops, restaurants, a university, and of course, plenty of natural beauty.
Kapolei is located on Oahu’s southwest corner at the base of the Waianae mountain range. While it’s not located directly on the coast, beaches are just five miles away.
4. Ewa Gentry
Ewa Gentry is a charming suburb located on Oahu’s southern leeward side. With its affluent housing developments, its proximity to some of the state’s best beaches, and its location next to multiple breathtaking golf courses, Ewa Gentry may not seem all that affordable. But when you compare this town’s median household income with the median home values, Ewa Gentry is actually one of the most affordable places to live in the entire state.
The unemployment rate is also extremely low, and even if you don’t find a job right in town you’ll be just minutes away from Kapolei, Waipahu, and Pearl City. Honolulu is also just a 30-minute commute, though you’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the big city when you return home to Ewa Gentry.
This suburb is extremely popular with those looking to start a family, in part thanks to the reasonably priced (and large!) homes on the market.
5. Ewa Beach
Just down the road from Ewa Gentry, you’ll find Ewa Beach. This coastal town shares a lot in common with Ewa Gentry, though there are definitely some differences to take note of as well. While both areas are quite affordable when it comes to Hawaiian standards, Ewa Beach has historically been a lot more popular with singles than it has with families.
That being said, the housing market is great in Ewa Beach, and buying a home is actually much more affordable than renting here. Affordable housing developments have drawn young families to the area in recent years as well, and it’s also a hot spot for service members stationed at the nearby Schofield Barracks Army Base.
If the eclectic community vibe and affordable housing weren’t enough to draw you to this area, the beautiful white sand beaches at your doorstep should definitely do the trick. The weather here is mostly hot and dry, making it the perfect place for beach bums and ocean lovers to lay down roots.
One of the larger suburbs of Honolulu is the city of Waipahu, located on the leeward side of Oahu. This former plantation town is now one of the most affordable places to live on the island, making it especially popular with young families. The above-average public schools also make this an enticing place to settle down, as does the diverse and welcoming community, the town’s rich historical past, and the short commute time to Honolulu.
Residents love the mix of urban and suburban that can be found in Waipahu, with easy access to large chain stores and grocery stores along with the mom-and-pop shops that support the local community. There are also tons of verdant parks and walking trails located around the city, in addition to a golf course and wildlife sanctuary.
For those that don’t own a car, Waipahu may be one of the best places for you to settle down. The up-and-coming railway system will seamlessly connect this suburb to Honolulu and other important areas around Oahu in the near future, helping with the noisy and inconvenient traffic that often plagues this area.
If you’re sold on living in Waipahu but can’t decide which neighborhood to choose, Waikele is one of the most affordable and sought-after areas of the city.
This neighborhood has it all, with plenty of parks, a community center, a swimming pool, walking paths, and lots of restaurants. You’ll also be close to the urban conveniences of the greater Waipahu area like shopping centers, grocery stores, and freeways to take you anywhere you want to go.
Members of this community are extremely tight-knit, friendly, and dedicated to keeping this neighborhood clean and safe. It’s no surprise that many families choose this area of Waipahu when searching for homes, and there are tons of great schools that service this area as well.
8. Pearl City
Just a few minutes east of Waipahu sits another one of Oahu’s most affordable places to live, Pearl City. This large suburb is mostly residential and is an especially popular place to settle down for retirees and young professionals. Pearl City is also a great place for young families thanks to its above-average public school system.
An abundance of restaurants, coffee shops, parks, and local stores allows this large suburb to keep its charm, though the morning and afternoon traffic jams from those commuting to and from Honolulu do take away from the overall ambiance of Pear City.
The proximity is hard to beat, however, and living just half an hour away from both Honolulu and Waikiki Beach certainly does have its appeal. Even those who don’t own a car will find public transportation in this area easy to navigate. There are also plenty of gorgeous outdoor offerings right in Pearl City’s backyard, including lush hiking trails, waterfalls, and the Pearl Harbor Bike Path.
If you want the conveniences of a larger suburb like Pearl City but are looking for more of a small-town feel, the tiny town of Waimalu may be right for you. Not only is it one of the most affordable places to live on Oahu, but it also boasts a minuscule unemployment rate and has very little crime.
Its proximity to larger areas like Pearl City and Honolulu affords residents the shopping and job opportunities that usually aren’t available in such small areas, and the nearby Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is also a big employer to those who call Waimalu home. It’s not just military families who seek out Waimalu, either. The above-average public schools are a draw for families of all backgrounds, and there are also tons of parks, walking and biking paths, and hiking trails all over town.
If you’re still not sold on Waimalu, the incredible community and scenic surroundings are likely to convince you that this is one of the best places on Oahu.
The perfect mix of urban and tropical, the small community of Aiea is one of the most affordable places to live in Oahu. Located just east of Waimalu on Oahu’s leeward side, Aiea is a small suburb that’s all about location, location, location. Not only is Honolulu just a quick 15-minute drive (traffic depending), but you can also make it over to the windward side of the island in about 30 minutes.
Aiea is mostly made up of residential family homes, with diverse real estate options like high-rise apartments, townhomes, condos, and single-family homes. Living in Aiea is both affordable and convenient, and you’ll find a shopping center, schools, and a variety of restaurants within city limits. The beach is also just a short drive away, as is the airport, golf courses, and beautiful natural areas.
Halawa’s proximity to the international airport does make it quite loud, but it’s one of the most affordable and convenient places to live on Oahu. Apart from being located near the airport, Halawa is also just a short distance from Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and a major highway system that will take you virtually anywhere you want to go on the island.
Halawa is most popular with married couples, though a large portion of the population is also made up of families. While there are no schools directly in Halawa city limits, the nearby towns of Aiea and Pearl City have many options to choose from. Those serving at the nearby Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam also find Halawa to be an affordable and convenient place to call home.
In addition to the relatively low property prices and the convenient location, residents also love Halawa for its proximity to beautiful nature areas, beaches, and golf courses.
The wayward side of the island has plenty to offer when it comes to affordable living as well, and the eastern city of Kahaluu is one of the best places on Oahu for those who are on a budget. The balance between median household incomes and median home prices allows most residents to own their own homes, and this small town is mostly residential.
The suburban–rural feel of Kahaluu draws people of all ages, including families, retirees, and young professionals. While it may feel a world away from big city life thanks to its proximity to gorgeous beaches and scenic hiking trails, the commute to Honolulu takes just about 30 minutes via Highway 3.
Although the median home cost in Kaneohe is higher than the rest of the state, when you compare it to the median household income, this beautiful city is actually one of the most affordable on Oahu.
The stunning location on the shores of Kaneohe Bay on Oahu’s windward coast also makes Kaneohe one of the most beautiful places to settle down. Residents of this lush town can enjoy numerous parks, botanical gardens, and hiking trails right in their backyards, in addition to a collection of renowned golf courses and a large barrier reef just off of the shoreline.
Those who are worried about a long commute into Honolulu need not fret, as Kaneohe is conveniently connected to the bustling capital city via the scenic Pali Highway. The Honolulu International airport, Waikiki, and West Oahu are also easily accessible by way of the H1, and there are plenty of beach and shopping opportunities right in Kaneohe city limits.
Located just south of Kaneohe, Kailua is another one of the most affordable places to live on Oahu. Just like its opulent neighbor, Kailua may not seem like a great bargain at first glance, but when you compare median home prices and median household incomes, this seaside town is actually quite affordable.
Just 30 minutes away from downtown Honolulu, Kailua is as convenient as it is affordable. It’s also one of the most beautiful areas on Oahu’s windward coast, and the soft white sand and turquoise blue waters of the Kailua Beach Park have garnered national acclaim. Residents also have easy access to the tropical hiking trails in the nearby Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve, in addition to a gorgeous mountain backdrop that never ceases to amaze.
While Kailua is a relatively small town, those who live here report loving the option of frequenting both mom-and-pop shops and larger chain stores like Target and Starbucks. Other draws to living in Kailua include friendly neighbors, rich history, and endless outdoor recreation opportunities.
Just south of Kailua is the small town of Waimanalo. Just like its larger, northern neighbor, Waimanalo is one of the most affordable places to live on Oahu. The population is much smaller, and the area is a bit more rural, but if you’re looking for a small-town vibe, Waimanalo certainly has it.
The town is mostly residential, without many options for dining out or shopping. That being said, its proximity to larger cities does not make this much of an issue for residents. Many native Hawaiians call Waimanalo home, as do families, and those employed at the nearby Bellows Air Force Station.
Waimanalo is nestled right along the coast and boasts long stretches of white sand beaches. Luckily for residents, this small community has yet to become a tourist hot spot and the beautiful shoreline is rarely overcrowded.
Known for its pineapple plantations, idyllic beauty, and rich history, Wahiawa is another one of the most affordable places to live on Oahu. Located in the central part of the island near the North Shore, Wahiawa is surrounded by mountains, lakes, and lush hiking trails, making it as beautiful as it is affordable.
While many of the older, more opulent homes in Wahiawa were built during the height of the old plantation era, there are lots of new developments being built that are much more affordable than the lavish historical homes that were once the norm.
The United States military has a large presence in Wahiawa, with multiple bases, airfields, and barracks located within the city. Those commuting to Honolulu will only need to travel about 30 minutes depending on traffic, and there are also multiple bus lines that travel between the two cities.
Residents of Wahiawa generally spend their free time hiking the verdant trails, strolling through the parks, or visiting the famous Dole Plantation. The beaches of the North Shore are also just a quick jaunt from Wahiawa, as is the Leilehua Golf Course.
17. Whitmore Village
Whitmore Village is a tiny suburb located just north of Wahiawa. This micro-community is extremely affordable, and most residents own their homes rather than renting. With a population of just over 4,000, residents report a family-like feel and an extremely tight-knit community.
The city is easily walkable, and while you may have to drive to the nearby city of Wahiawa for staples like groceries and gas, Whitmore Village has its own elementary school, church, pharmacy, and even a few parks.
Honolulu is just 30 minutes away (give or take a few minutes depending on traffic), and the beautiful beaches of the North Shore can be reached in about 20 minutes by car. Whitmore Village is perfect for those looking to buy a home in a quiet area without sacrificing the convenience of being near both big cities and beautiful beaches.
Another great option for affordable, small-town living on Oahu is the city of Hauula, situated on the island’s northeastern shore. This small community is located more or less in the country and boasts an idyllic feel along with cozy, beach town vibes.
Similar to Whitmore Village, there are roughly 4,000 full-time residents that call Haaula home, but this resort town also sees its fair share of tourists thanks to the stunning landscape and dazzling beaches that surround it. Hauula’s small commercial center boasts a supermarket in addition to a few small shops and restaurants.
The local economy in Hauula is driven mostly by tourism, though some do make the one-hour trek to Honolulu for work. While this may not seem like far to drive for some, by Hawaiian standards this is quite a long haul to complete twice a day.
Located just a few miles up the shore from the small community of Hauula sits another affordable option for living in Oahu – the town of Laie. Slightly larger in size and population, Laie still boasts a small-town feel that is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas around Honolulu.
While it is still a quiet oasis, Laie is becoming more and more popular amongst tourists and those who are thinking of relocating to Hawaii. The Polynesian Cultural Center is located here, and it’s one of the most visited spots in the entire state. Laie is also home to the Hukilau Marketplace, a buzzing plaza with small shops and restaurants that is popular with both locals and tourists alike.
Perhaps the biggest draw to Laie is the relaxed, laid-back lifestyle that is authentically Hawaiian. The beautiful white-sand beaches also make Laie an enticing place to lay down permanent roots, as do the hiking trails and natural recreation areas that surround the town.
Continue north along the windward coast and you’ll run into the city of Kahuku, one of the most affordable places to live on Oahu. Similar to many of the idyllic villages in the nearby vicinity, Kahuku boasts gorgeous scenery and prime, white sand beaches, all at an affordable price.
Rent prices in Kahuku are more affordable than many other cities on Oahu and in Hawaii as a whole, and although the commute to Honolulu is longer than some might wish to undertake (about an hour each way depending on traffic), the laid back vibes, stunning landscape, and low prices make Kahuku a great place to settle down. There are various options to choose from for both buyers and renters in Kahuku, including townhomes, single-family homes, and cozy cottages.
Those with kids looking to relocate to Hawaii would be hard-pressed to find a better spot, as Kahuku is famous for its high school academics and sports programs. While you may not find many upscale restaurants or vibrant clubs here, residents of Kahuku are spoiled with secluded beaches, a lovely golf course, and fresh, farm-to-table restaurants.