It’s hard to imagine two more different places than the palm tree paradise of Hawaii and the hub-bub of the Big Apple and its surrounding areas. However, believe it or not, when residents leave Hawaii, New York State is the 13th most popular destination!

Because everyone moves for their own reasons, it’s tough to speculate on the exact “why” behind these moves. However, the two states do have a few things in common. Let’s take a look at two parallels between these two places.

2 Key Similarities Between Hawaii and New York

#1 – The High Cost of Living

If you’re living in New York City, you’re well aware of how expensive it can be, especially when it comes to rent. So you’re already likely adept at managing your budget in an area where the cost of living can be as much as 148% higher than the average cost of living in other major U.S. cities. Of course, New York state is a diverse place with a number of areas that are much more affordable than the city. However, anything in close proximity to the city (aka “downstate”) will still mean a fairly steep cost of living.

However, if you’re moving to or from Hawaii, you’re well prepared. Yes, it’s true that where you live in Hawaii can mean a lower or higher cost of living. That said, by and large, it’s an expensive state to live in, especially when it comes to things like groceries and energy bills. If you’re transitioning between the two states, you’ll have the advantage of already knowing how to manage in a state that is, by and large, not cheap to live in.

#2 – Ethnic, Cultural, and Racial Diversity (Especially in the City!)

A recent study ranked Hawaii #1 in the nation for racial and ethnic diversity, and that same study put New York State in the #6 slot. Especially in and around the five boroughs, you’ll find a melting pot of different races, cultures, and ethnicities. If that’s something you appreciated about Hawaii, you’ll find it in New York—and vice versa. Both states offer its residents plenty of opportunities to discover new cultures and embrace diversity first-hand.

Now, we mentioned earlier that New York is a fairly popular destination for former Hawaii residents. It turns out that the opposite isn’t true. When residents leave New York, Hawaii is in the bottom third of U.S. destinations. Perhaps that’s because of how different the two places can be, especially when you’re zooming in on New York City. Let’s take a peek at two major contrasts.

2 Key Differences Between New York and Hawaii

#1 – Seasons vs. Summer Year-Round

Let’s start with the obvious one. There’s a reason Paul Simon sang about the New York City winters in his famous song, “The Boxer.” In the city, winters are tough. Upstate, they only get colder. But, of course, with those blustery winters come the other three seasons: the blossoming of spring, the steamy summer months, and the crisp air of fall. If you love that seasonal change, New York will deliver in spades.

However, if you’re not a big fan of the cold, Hawaii’s year-round mild and sunny weather could be a welcome change for you. You’ll be able to ditch that sub-zero puffer coat, although you might want to keep a light sweater or two for the cool Hawaii evenings.

No matter your preferences, a move between New York and Hawaii means a big shift in weather for anyone who makes the transition.

#2 – Different Pace of Life

Even in bus(ier) Oahu, life just moves at a slower pace in Hawaii. (As well it should!) People rarely honk their horns because it’s considered rude, and every errand you run in the Aloha State requires a healthy dose of patience. If you’re moving between New York City and Hawaii, the contrast will be jarring. If you’re moving to or from upstate, you might find a little less contrast between what you’re used to. In Hawaii, a little patience and courtesy go a long way. You may find that charming—or you may long for the fast-talking efficiency of the Empire State.

Where you decide to live will heavily influence the kind of life you live in both New York and Hawaii, so let’s take a look at some of the best places to live in both states.

What Are the Best Places to Live in New York and Hawaii?

Two to Consider in New York: The Hudson Valley and Park Slope, Brooklyn

If you’re not ready to trade in Hawaii life for the big city quite yet, you might consider the Hudson Valley. In the last few years, city residents who have gotten tired of the never-ending hustle have headed for this area. Access to the city is fairly easy via Metro-North, which takes you right into Grand Central Station. As opposed to the apartment life you’ll likely find in the city, the Hudson Valley offers the opportunity for a house with a yard. You’ll also have access to lakes, waterfalls, nature preserves, and hikes. Additionally, as more creatives move out of the five boroughs, the Hudson Valley has a burgeoning arts/culture/maker scene. If this kind of life sounds right for you, check out places like Kingston, Beacon, Newburgh, and Dobbs Ferry.

If city life is the reason you’re moving to New York, depending on your phase of life, you might consider living in Brooklyn. Families have long gravitated to the tree-lined streets of Park Slope, which offer excellent schools and plenty of amenities within walking distance. Although the days of finding serious deals in Brooklyn are mostly past, if you’re looking for more space and some slightly lower price tags, you might head south to Kensington.

Now, if you’re doing the opposite move and you’re headed for Hawaii, the first thing you’ll want to do is decide which Hawaiian island is right for you. As we mentioned, Oahu essentially has the most going on, both economically and culturally. Kauai lies at the opposite end, with a sleepy small-town feel that long-time residents love. The Big Island has two main centers of commerce, but the large size of the island in comparison to its population still give the island a rural feel. Maui falls somewhere in the middle. It has some areas of commerce and nightlife, but there are still large swaths of quiet, agricultural lands.

To kick off your Hawaii research, we have two suggestions for you.

Two to Consider: Honolulu and Upcountry Maui

If you’ve still got a craving for city life, Honolulu and its nearby areas will be your best bet. In the Big Pineapple, you’ll find creative chefs making a name for themselves, national music acts who fill Aloha Stadium (Guns ‘n’ Roses, Jack Johnson, and the Eagles, most recently), museums and art galleries, hip coffee shops, plenty of shopping options, and much more.

However, if you’re looking for a slower pace of life, you might take a look at Maui instead. If you choose to live in Kihei or Lahaina, you’ll have easy access to a beach town with plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops close by. (And the ocean!) Or, if you’d prefer to surround yourself with nature, check out the upcountry options in Kula and Makawao. You might find yourself with horses or goats for neighbors, and you’ll have easy access to Maui’s forest reserves for weekend hiking.

And speaking of ways to spend your time, believe it or not, you’ll be able to transfer at least a few hobbies from one place to the other.

4 Ways to Spend Your Leisure Time in New York and Hawaii

When you’re considering such a big move, it’s only natural to try and picture what your life will look like in your new environs. To help you translate your New York life to Hawaii (or vice versa!), we’ve got four ideas for you.

1. Hit the Museums

If museums and culture are your thing, New York City will be your oyster. You’ll find museums on just about everything, including food, skyscrapers, gangsters, and elevators.

You’ll also find your share of museums in Hawaii. On Oahu, the Bishop Museum is the largest museum in the state and the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific, with extensive Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms to explore. The Lahaina Heritage Museum on Maui offers a comprehensive look at the history of Lahaina, which was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the central location of several fascinating events in Hawaiian history. The Kauai Museum in Lihue features collections from local artisans, and the Kona Coffee Living History Farm takes you through the history of coffee farming on Kona—just to name a few. In other words, if cultural learning opportunities are your thing, you’ll find them both in New York and Hawaii.

2. Take a Turn on the Water

Whether you’re cruising the channels in between the Hawaiian Islands or the rivers that surround New York City, a day on the water is always a day well spent. In and around Hawaii, you might particularly enjoy a catamaran sailing charter, which can offer a little more stability for sightseeing and whale watching in an area where the waters can be choppy. In New York City, consider a tall-ship cruise to see the Statue of Liberty or enjoy an architectural tour of New York City’s most iconic and unique skyscrapers. Whether you find yourself in the Aloha State or the Empire State, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to feel the wind in your hair and the sea spray on your face.

3. Soak Up Some Live Music

New York City offers myriad opportunities to see live music, whether you’re checking out an up-and-coming band on the Lower East Side, an orchestral performance at Carnegie Hall, or a big name like Radiohead at Madison Square Garden.

You’ll also have plenty of chances to enjoy music in Hawaii. Maybe you’ll catch a slack-key guitar master performing a quiet show at a resort or a restaurant. Perhaps you’ll stop into the Blue Note or the Dragon Upstairs in Oahu to see some jazz. Or maybe you’ll catch one of Maui’s famous residents, like Steven Tyler or Mick Fleetwood, jamming on the stage at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Let’s be clear: There’s probably no place in the world with more scope, variety, and the sheer number of musical opportunities than New York City, but you’ll find some wonderful gems in Hawaii if you know where to look.

4. Spot a Mesmerizing Waterfall

Chasing waterfalls is a favorite pastime in Hawaii, where you’ll find waterfalls of all sizes, including ones that create beautiful, clear pools of water you can swim in. If you’re headed for New York, know that your waterfall days aren’t necessarily behind you. You’ll find plenty in New York state, including Mount Ida Falls in Troy, New York. As with the musical opportunities in Hawaii, you might have to look a little harder to find your waterfalls in New York, but, trust us, they’re there.

Making the Big Move from New York to Hawaii (or Vice Versa!)

If you’re considering a transition between New York and Hawaii, congratulations are in order. That’s a big, bold move that will likely mean a big change in lifestyle for you—a welcome one, we’re guessing. That said, you’ve now got some ideas on where to live and how to spend your, which will give you a head start on making a smooth transition to your new home. Now there’s only one thing left to do: Buy your tickets and start packing!




Looking for help with your New York-Hawaii move? We’ve helped tens of thousands of families move between Hawaii and just about everywhere on the mainland, and we’d love to help you. Get in touch with us for a free quote to get started.

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