If you’ve ever visited Maui, you know that the island has a magical feel to it. Maybe that’s why nearly 5,000 people a year get married on Maui—and why its population has more than tripled since 1970. There’s just something about Maui.
If you’ve fallen in love with Maui and you’re considering a move to the Valley Isle, there are a few things you should know before you relocate. We’ve had a team based in Kahului for the last 20+ years, and we’ve compiled a list of Maui must-knows for you—the pros, the cons, and everything in between. Our list will help you decide whether Maui is the right island for you, and it will help you make an easy landing if you decide to move to the Valley Isle.
Let’s start with what it takes to get a foothold on the Valley Isle.
#1: You’ll Need to Be Here to Get Established
If you’re the plan-ahead type, you might be wondering whether you can line up some aspects of your life on Maui from where you’re living now.
It’s possible. But there’s no substitute for actually being here.
The bottom line this: It’s much easier to secure a job, housing, etc. when you’re actually on Maui. Employers often don’t want to risk wasting time with people who aren’t 100% guaranteed to be available to work. Most landlords want to meet their prospective tenants. (And, frankly, it’s risky for you to rent a place sight unseen, for a number of reasons.)
So even though it can feel like a bit of a gamble, it’s better to come to Maui first, then start establishing yourself. You’re much more likely to get results.
#2: A Lot of the Jobs Are in Tourism
If you’re coming to Maui without a job, you’ll find it easiest to get hired by one of the many businesses that support the tourism industry. More than two million people visited Maui in 2021, and those people flocked to hotels, restaurants, bars, tour companies, and retail stores during their time on the island. If you’re willing to work in accommodation, food & beverage, retail, or activities & attractions on Maui, you can get a job pretty quickly.
Maui also has a big need for healthcare workers, so that’s another field in which qualified applicants can find work quickly.
Maui certainly has other industries as you can see from the list below. However, you may need to get a little more established on the island first—i.e., make some friends who can help you get an “in.” Business in Hawaii is built on relationships!
Biggest Industries on Maui
- Accommodation, food & beverage services
- Professional/business services
- Healthcare & social assistance
- Transportation & utilities
- Construction, natural resources
#3: It’s Good to Have Some Savings
A lot of people ask us how much money they need to move to Maui. It varies, but we’d say it’s a good idea to move to Maui with three to six months of expenses in your bank account. In other words, you want enough cash to cover a few months of:
- Rent, plus a security deposit equal to one month’s rent (the maximum allowed by state law)
- Transportation, especially crucial if you’re job-hunting
- Personal necessities
Plus, it doesn’t hurt to put aside a little extra fun money so you can enjoy Maui when you arrive!
If you’ve already lined up a job, you might not need to dip into your savings. However, if you’re starting fresh in Maui and plan to find a job when you arrive, it pays to have a cushion of cash to reduce your stress as you get yourself established.
How much money should you set aside? Let’s talk about what it costs to live on Maui.
#4: The Cost of Living on Maui Is High
The cost of living on Maui is high—more than 60% higher than the national average, according to Sperling’s Best Places. It’s a touch lower than the cost of living on Oahu, but not by much. When you’re calculating your monthly expenses, it’s important to take this into account, especially if you’re currently living in a low-cost-of-living area.
Sperling’s Best Places: Hawaii Cost of Living Index
- 100 – U.S. Average
- 165.7 – Hawaii State Average
- 160.2 – Maui
- 171.5 – Oahu
$21.80/hour – Maui Living Wage
So how do people afford to live on Maui? Many residents work more than one job to close the gap. The MIT Living Wage Calculator estimates that a single adult with no children needs to earn $21.80/hour just to make ends meet. That doesn’t include eating out, vacations, or entertainment.
Keep all of this in mind as you plan your Maui budget—and look for a job.
#5: Average Rents May Surprise You
If you’ve been dreaming of finding a fun, funky, and cheap place to stay on Maui, you might have to adjust a little. Fun and funky are easy to come by. Cheap, not so much. Housing is at a premium on Maui these days. Available properties go fast, and there are few bargains to be had.
Prices vary based on where you want to live and the amenities on your property, but here are the ranges we’re seeing:
Average Rents on Maui
- Average Rent, 1 Bedroom – $1,500-$2,200
- Average Rent, 2 Bedroom – $2,500-$3,500
To help you in your search for the perfect place to live, we’ve got a few tips for you.
#6: Work Both Angles to Find the Right Rental
As we mentioned earlier, doing business on Hawaii is all about relationships. Looking for an apartment is no different. However, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, so we recommend a two-pronged approach when looking for a rental on Maui:
#1: Work Your Network
Tell anyone and everyone you know on Maui that you’re looking for a place. Many of the best spots get passed between friends, family, and acquaintances and never make it to the listing sites.
No matter how you find your place, be prepared to make a quick decision. There’s big demand for housing on Maui, so landlords and agents get flooded with applications. If you see something you like, jump on it!
If you’re looking for a more permanent home, there’s one thing you should know.
#7: Maui Real Estate Is the Second-Most Expensive in Hawaii
As with renting, there aren’t a ton of bargains when it comes to buying a house on Maui. In fact, the real estate prices on Maui are the second-highest in Hawaii. (Kauai takes the top spot!)
Average Home Prices on Maui
- Median Sale Price, Maui – $800,000 for Condominiums
- Median Sale Price, Maui – $1,066,500 for Single-Family Homes
- Median List Price, State of HI – $825,000 (All Homes)
For some, though, the joy of owning a home in Maui—and the security that comes with it—far outweighs the price.
If you are leaning toward buying on Maui, this is one search you can begin from wherever you are now. Start browsing the current MLS listings to get a sense of what’s available, so you’re ready to pounce when the perfect home becomes available.
You’ll also want to start thinking about where you want to live. On Maui, you’ll have a number of different neighborhoods—and microclimates—to choose from.
#8: Where You Live on Maui Makes a Difference
Although the Big Island is well-known for its diverse climate zones, Maui has a pretty incredible variety, too. When you move to Maui, you’ll have the chance to choose from a number of different areas. Some are hot and sunny. Others are wet, lush, and green. And still others offer crisp mountain air that’s cool enough to require a fireplace on winter nights.
To kick off your research, here’s our overview of the major areas on Maui:
- Kihei/Wailea – Hot, dry, and sunny most days, with plenty of restaurants, bars, and activities. You’ll find both condos and single-family homes in the area, which tend toward the luxurious the closer you get to Wailea.
- Lahaina – Also hot, dry, and sunny, with easy access to a number of the island’s more popular surf breaks. Lahaina town itself is a hub of activity that draws many young people to the area. Can feel a bit removed from the rest of the island.
- Wailuku/Kahului – The center of commerce, as well as home to a number of housing developments favored by families. If convenience and a central location are paramount, Wailuku or Kahului are both great choices.
- North Shore/Haiku – Once you get past hot and sunny Paia, you’ll find yourself heading into Maui’s lush rainforest. The northeastern section of East Maui gets significantly more rain than anywhere else on the island, with the exception of the West Maui Mountains. The result? Waterfalls, tropical plants, and greenery just about everywhere.
- Upcountry – Perched on the slopes of Haleakala, Pukalani, Makawao, and Kula offer quiet, peaceful communities nestled between farms and ranches. At higher elevations, residents enjoy crisp winter mornings and incredible bi-coastal views of Maui.
What’s the best way to decide? Take yourself on a tour when you arrive. Visit each of the areas you’re considering to get a feel for the day-to-day—and the weather. You’ll know pretty quickly what’s for you and what’s not.
#9: You Have Options When It Comes to Your Maui Move
Everyone moves to Maui differently. Some people pack two suitcases (and maybe a surfboard). Others move all their possessions, including their cars, to Maui. And many, many others choose something in between.
As you plan your move, you’ll have the opportunity to choose the move that works for you. For example:
- How much do you want to move? Do you plan to fill a container? If not, you still have options. Don’t feel pressure to fill a 40′ container all by yourself.
- How much help do you need? Are you planning on a DIY move, or are you planning to have the pros pack and unpack your items?
- How will you protect your move? Do you want to purchase full replacement value protection (i.e., what you might think of as “moving insurance”)?
In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to moving to Maui. And if you’re curious what it would be like to move to Maui with a professional moving company, check out our full walkthrough of your Hawaii moving journey here.
#10: There’s Pretty Much No Nightlife on Maui
With the exception of some late-night bars in Lahaina, most Maui establishments shut down by 9:00 or 10:00 pm. Most of the people on Maui live an early-to-bed, early-to-rise lifestyle, which is perfect for getting in an early hike before it gets too hot or catching a few waves as the sun comes up.
If you want to grab a few drinks with friends, aim for a pau hana (after work) cocktail. You’re much more likely to get takers, and you’ll be well-rested for the next morning’s adventure.
#11: What Maui Lacks in Nightlife, It More Than Makes Up in Outdoor Opportunities
Even though there might not be that much to do when it gets late on Maui, there’s plenty waiting for you when the sun comes up, especially outdoors.
Hikers, mountain bikers, surfers, divers, road bikers, runners, windsurfers, foilers, freedivers, spearfishers, explorers, and sports enthusiasts of all kinds can all find plenty of adventures to get into on Maui. The ocean, the rainforest, the mountains, the forest reserves, the waterfalls, the National Park land—it’s all waiting for you.
#12: Plus, Maui Is Perfect for Just About Every Ocean Sport
Speaking of watersports, if you’re looking for a good all-around place to enjoy the water through all four seasons, Maui definitely qualifies.
For surfers, the island has plenty of surf breaks, including a few world-class waves at places like Peahi and Honolua Bay.
Kitesurfers, windsurfers, and kitefoilers can take advantage of the tradewinds that funnel between Maui’s two dormant volcanoes, producing great conditions for wind-dependent sports nearly year-round.
If you’re a freediver or spearfisher, Maui has plenty of spots for you. The same goes for the SUP-per in your family, the scuba diver, the canoe paddler, the kayaker, the snorkeler, etc. Even the younger members of your family will find a few “baby” beaches protected by a reef where they can learn to get comfortable in Maui’s beautiful waters.
In other words, all-around watersports enthusiasts will never run out of things to do on Maui.
#13: Recognize the Rules—and the Limits
When you’re adventuring on Maui, you will likely encounter a “kapu” or a “no trespassing” sign at some point or another. Despite what older editions of the Maui Revealed guidebook might say, it’s important to respect those signs.
Kapu means “sacred” or “forbidden” in Hawaiian, and it may indicate an area that’s culturally significant to native Hawaiians. Pay the culture the proper respect and turn around.
Even if the sign you see is simply marking private land, we strongly recommend obeying the landowner’s wishes. If you’re thinking, “Could one tiny visit really cause any harm?” think about to the millions of visitors to Maui each year—and the potential for that “one” visit to snowball quickly.
If you want to live a harmonious and pleasant existence on Maui, respect the rules. Your fellow residents will appreciate it!
#14: Take the Time to Learn About Native Hawaiian Culture
Along those same lines, we recommend that future Maui residents learn about the culture of the native Hawaiians who originally settled these islands. The history of Hawaii is complex is fascinating. Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, written by Hawaii’s last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, is a great place to start.
On Maui, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the stories, art, music, dance, and traditions of the native Hawaiians. They’ll offer you a whole new perspective on the people you meet, how the island operates, and even how you view yourself and your relationship to the environment around you. The time you invest in this area will be well worth it.
#15: Keep Your Costco Card
A lot of people embrace a stripped-down lifestyle when they move to Maui. By and large, you’ll need a lot less “stuff” than you think you will.
There’s one thing you should hang onto: Your Costco card. Costco in Kahului has the cheapest gas on island. In fact, the savings alone will likely cover the cost of your Costco membership in just a few months.
Additionally, if you’re good at managing bulk purchases, Costco can also make sense for your groceries and staples—and help with the high cost of Maui living. So if you’ve already got a membership, keep it. And if you’ve never had one, consider joining for the significant perks.
#16: It’s Pretty Easy to Ship Your Car
And while we’re on the topic of gas, we get a lot of questions about whether or not to ship a car to Maui.
Here’s what we recommend: If you can see yourself driving your car for the next few years, we recommend shipping it to Maui. If you live near a port city, it’s a pretty simple process. In many cases, it’s as easy as making an appointment, paying the fee, driving your car to the drop-off location, and then picking it up at the other end once it arrives. If you don’t live near a port, it can still be pretty cost-effective to hire a company to drive it to a port for you.
However, if you were already planning on selling or replacing your car within the next year or two, take care of that on the mainland and get a new or used car on Maui.
Will you need four-wheel drive on Maui? Probably not, unless you’re a committed adventurer, hiker, or hunter. There are only a few spots on Maui where you truly need AWD or 4WD. Otherwise, you’ll be fine with two-wheel drive on Maui’s well-maintained roads.
#17: The Aloha Spirit Is Alive and Well on Maui
Finally, as with most places, Maui is what you make of it. You’ve probably heard of the famous aloha spirit in Hawaii, and it’s alive and well in Maui. In our experience, the best way to experience it is to share it. Give aloha in Maui, and you’ll receive it in spades.
This might mean smiling at a stranger, stopping your car to let someone cross the street, or letting someone out of a parking lot in a crowded area. It might also mean helping someone load groceries in their car or volunteering for a cause you believe in.
However you decide to show aloha, it’s something that will make your time that much more meaningful on Maui.
Ready to Make the Move to Maui?
Now that you’ve read our 17 must-knows, are you itching to make the move to Maui? If so, we’d be happy to help you get your belongings to the island! Just reach out for a free quote to get started.
Tell us about your move!