Challenges, advice of renting in Hawaii

It’s not a secret that the price of paradise is expensive. From groceries to goods, almost everything costs more in Hawaii, and that includes the rent.

A new report says Hawaii is the most expensive state in the country for renters.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition says a renter wold need to make a least $31.54 cents an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, with a fair market rent of $1,640 a month.

So how difficult is it really to afford a place to love here – and what is the best advice with it comes to living in paradise?

KHON 2 did some investigating and the result? According to one housing expert, one may just want to get past the sticker shock and look at whether it might just be better to buy – than rent.

For comparison purposes – KHON2 looked at what one would have to pay in rent outside Honolulu. We came across the Plantation Town Apartments in Waipahu, completed in 2007.

There you will find is a two-bedroom unit, a little more than 500 square feet in size, and it rents for $1,450 a month, with updated appliances and a lanai. Peter Savio markets the project. He’s been in the housing business for 50 years, and he believes the rental affordability report does not tell the whole picture.

“There tends to be a distortion in the factors that go into determining things like the average size of the unit, the average rent, what’s included, what’s not included,” said Savio. He added, “As a rule, as you go into town, and as you go into the condos, the rents will be higher.”

According to the Coalition report, a person will need to make a little more than $65,600 a year in order to afford a two-bedroom rental at the Fair Market Rent in Hawaii. If the person is working full-time and making the minimum wage, that person will need at least three other people making minimum wage to help pay for that same rental.

KHON2 also looked at an apartment complex just across the main campus of the University of Hawaii. Here is a one-bedroom that normally rents for $1,300 a month – and it is about the same size of the two-bedroom in Waipahu.

Aaron Miller arrived recently from the San Francisco Bay area, where it is just as expensive to rent. “I wasn’t so surprised by the rent prices – but the competition to rent a place near bus lines that’s easily accessible, walkable areas, was really intense,” said Miller. “I looked at several places on Craigslist and some of them went right away as soon as I contacted the owner.”

Miller, who works full-time, was lucky.

He actually was able to pay a lower rent for his place.

But he lives in an older complex compared to the Waipahu apartments. University Court was built in 1962, and was converted from student dormitories to condos.

While owning real estate in Hawaii is expensive, Savio says buying is better than renting.

“That’s the misconception that local people have, they believe it’s expensive, it’s not,” said Savio. “It’s not that expensive. You just have to make compromises, maybe buy out in the country and make your way into the city as you built up equity.

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