When it’s time to pack up and say a final aloha to Hawaii, California is the #1 state that Hawaii residents head for, according to the data collected by the IRS. Additionally, within the state, San Francisco is a popular destination. However, did you know the reverse is also true? We see a number of individuals and families who move from the City by the Bay to the Aloha State.
At first glance, it might not seem that San Francisco and Hawaii share a ton of similarities, but we found some surprising synergy between the two destinations. We’ll show you these unexpected links, which can make for an easier transition when you’re moving between these two places. Plus, if you’re looking for ideas on where to move in San Francisco and Hawaii—and how to spend your days off—we’ll cover those, too.
First, let’s start with four characteristics that tie these two places together.
4 Surprising Similarities Between San Francisco and Hawaii
1. Culinary Delights Abound
San Francisco may be the ultimate city for people who love food. The area features 39 restaurants for every 10,000 households—a ratio that can’t be beaten by any other U.S. city. SF residents report new restaurants popping up all over the place all the time, with fierce competition to be the best new restaurant, bakery, coffee shop, taco truck—you get the idea.
Hawaii is no slouch in this area. The state’s resident chefs have taken cues from all the diverse ethnic groups that have lived in the islands—native Hawaiians, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, and Americans, for starters—then added their own personal flair, resulting in a unique fusion that you won’t find anywhere else. Add Hawaii’s burgeoning food truck culture, and you’ll never be far from a highly satisfying way to fill your belly in the Aloha State.
2. City, Beach, Mountains: What’s Your Pleasure?
San Francisco and Hawaii both share the ability to hop between a beach, a city, and the mountains in under just a few hours. In the Bay Area, you’ve got Lake Tahoe within a couple of hours, the mountains of the Pacific Coast Range, the Half Moon Bay Beaches, and plenty of hiking in Muir Woods, just to name a few options. You’ll find the same plentiful diversity of outdoor options on Hawaii’s islands, which feature beaches, forests, volcanoes, and even our very own “cities”—although these exist on a much smaller scale than a San Francisco resident may be used to!
The other thing you’ll find in both locations is a significant number of microclimates. In Hawaii, it might be hot and dry at the shoreline, but foggy and rainy at higher elevations. The difference between living in Kona versus living in Hilo is a great example. Those familiar with the Bay Area will find this phenomenon familiar. It might be foggy in Inner Sunset and sunny in SoMa. So no matter where you decide to live (more on that in a moment!) make sure you love the microclimate you’re in.
No matter where you choose to live, though, you’ll still…
3. Leave Extreme Weather Behind
Although the dominant weather in San Francisco and the dominant weather in Hawaii are pretty different, they do share one big similarity: You won’t find big, seasonal swings in either location. Instead, you’ll enjoy much smaller differences between the dead of summer and the dead of winter.
Average high temperatures in San Francisco hover between the high 50s and low 60s in the winter months and the high 60s and low 70s in the summer months. While average Hawaii temperatures are higher—the high 70s in the winter and low 80s in the summer—you’ll notice a similarly tight band of possible temperature that you’d never see in, say, New England. Both locations mean having one set of clothing you can pretty much wear year-round, as long as you’re willing to embrace the concept of layering!
4. Plentiful Jobs—in Your Niche
Historically, Hawaii has enjoyed low unemployment rates, and San Francisco’s job economy has boomed in recent years. That being said, both areas have one big catch: They’re pretty niche when it comes to employment. However, whereas Hawaii’s economy is largely focused on tourism (and all the industries that support travel!), San Francisco’s is focused on tech. If tourism or tech are your sweet spots, you can find your home in either one of these locations. However, if you’re looking outside either one of these industries, you may need to look a little harder.
And while we’re on the topic of finances…
5. Cost of Living
Both San Francisco and Hawaii are well known for their high costs of living. Interestingly enough, although estimates mark San Francisco as more expensive overall, there are certain aspects of Hawaiian life that remain pricier. For example, utilities as well as food and grocery costs in Hawaii are estimated to outweigh San Francisco’s. That being said, the cost of real estate in San Francisco is much higher than average values in Hawaii. (That might surprise you if you’ve ever browsed listings in Hawaii, but San Francisco ranks in the top five for most expensive real estate in the U.S.) Either way, those moving between San Francisco and Hawaii will both be familiar with navigating a place that’s simply not cheap to live in.
Speaking of real estate, if you’re still looking for a place to live, we’ve got a few ideas for you.
What Are the Best Places to Live in San Francisco and Hawaii?
We’ve moved people all over the islands—and all over the Bay Area. The good news is that you’ll have plenty of beautiful spots with iconic views to choose from.
If you’re headed to San Francisco, you’ll find a laundry list of neighborhoods waiting for you, each with their own distinct energy and vibe. It will be up to you to decide whether you want to live in the Mission, Noe Valley, SoMa, Pacific Heights, Outer Richmond, or one of the City by the Bay’s other options.
One to Consider: West Portal
If you’re looking for a house with a yard, set in an area that still offers you all the amenities of the city, West Portal might be the neighborhood for you. Families are often attracted to the area for its excellent public schools and walkable access to West Portal Park, with its basketball courts, tennis courts, and playground. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and small stores in the area, making West Portal a convenient spot to live.
If you’re headed to Hawaii, your first task will be to figure out which Hawaiian island is right for you. Each has its own character, and your final choice will largely be dependent on your vision for your life in Hawaii.
Two to Consider: Honolulu and Kihei
A number of the people moving from U.S. cities choose to move to Oahu, specifically Honolulu. There’s no question that it offers the most city-like experience in Hawaii, with plenty of bars, restaurants, tall buildings, cultural opportunities, shops (including the largest open-air shopping center in the world), and big-city buzz.
However, if you’re looking for something a little more laid back—a place with easy access to the beach, a more low-key vibe, and yet still plenty of amenities like restaurants and grocery stores—you might take a look at Kihei on Maui. You’ll find everything from condos to single-family homes in the area. Plus, living in Kihei offers you easy access to the rest of the island.
Just know that, wherever you live in Hawaii, you’ll probably want a car to help you get around. The public transportation system isn’t as developed as San Francisco’s, so having access to a vehicle will make it much easier to enjoy everything that your island has to offer.
Once you have your transportation nailed, both of these locations have plenty to offer you in your free time.
San Francisco and Hawaii: How to Spend Your Days Off
1. Take in Some Pro Sports
The options you’ll find as a spectator in San Francisco are enough to make any pro sports fan drool: the Golden State Warriors (2015, 2017, and 2018 NBA champs), the San Francisco Giants (World Series winners in 2014, 2012, and 2010), the San Francisco 49ers (5-time Super Bowl champs, most recently in 1994) and the San Jose Sharks (who made it to the Stanley Cup finals in 2016).
You might not find pro basketball, baseball, football, or soccer in Hawaii, but you’ll still have the opportunity to watch pros perform at their peak, especially when it comes to watersports. Pop up to the North Shore of Oahu for the winter surf competition lineup, which includes the legendary Billabong Pipe Masters. Or, head on over to Maui to catch the Jaws Big Wave Championship at Peahi, where you can see surfers charge waves that reach up to 60 feet. It might not feel the same as catching a Niners game at Levi’s stadium, but it can be just as thrilling.
2. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Whether you live in San Francisco or Hawaii, you’ll find plenty of people heading outdoors in their free time to enjoy the beautiful weather. San Francisco’s extensive park system offers you quite a selection: Golden Gate (which also features museums, an earthquake simulator, and a Japanese tea garden), the Presidio and Mission Dolores Parks top the list, but you’ll find plenty more to appreciate. Hawaii also has its own share of outdoor spaces, from beach parks with available grills to forest reserves, rainforests, and national parks, all just waiting to be explored. In other words, outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities (as well as people who share their passions!) in both locations.
3. Browse a Local Farmers’ Market
Hawaii’s rich soil and year-round growing temperatures mean that its farmers’ markets offer plenty of produce to choose from that range from the exotic (lychee, dragon fruit, and breadfruit) to solid standbys everyone will recognize (kale, tomatoes, bok choy). Considering that this produce never sees the inside of a container, you’ll find that it’s fresher than what you’ll find in the grocery store. (It can also be cheaper, too!) San Francisco also offers its share of farmers’ markets, although their selections cater to the foodie culture of the city and feature items like navel orange marmalade, pretzel croissants, dairy-free mini cheesecakes, lavender tarts, and, of course, plenty of fresh, organic produce.
4. Catch an Artsy Show
In San Francisco, home of the San Francisco Fringe Festival, you can just about always find a quality stage production, if the theater is your thing. Some will make you laugh, some will make your eyebrows pop, and just about all of them will leave you thinking. Hawaii’s islands do have their theater shows, but none more historical than the hula shows you’ll find in Hawaii. If you want to see the living embodiment of a near-lost art, look no further than a local hula show. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival on the Big Island is a great place to start, but local hula schools (called halau hula) also often put on yearly shows that will give you an authentic taste of this Hawaiian art form.
5. Enjoy an “Only in…” Moment
We spend so much time in our usual surroundings that we often forget what’s around us. When you move to a new location, you’ve got the opportunity to see (and enjoy!) your new home with fresh eyes. Whether that means heading to Baker Beach to enjoy scenic views of the Golden Gate Bridge or taking a long walk down a Hawaiian beach to enjoy a quiet sunrise, make sure to take advantage of these moments! Before long, you’ll be a “local” who only does stuff like that when you’ve got visitors in town.
Making the Hawaii-San Francisco Move
Whether you’re moving from San Francisco to Hawaii or from Hawaii to San Francisco, you’ll end up in a spot that offers beautiful views, temperate weather, and plenty to enjoy year-round. Additionally, now that you’ve seen some of the similarities between the two destinations, you’ve got a leg up in getting yourself settled quickly in your new home.
Making the Hawaii-San Francisco move? (Or the reverse?) We’d be happy to help you make a safe, easy and affordable move. Just reach out to us for a complimentary quote to get started.
Tell us about your move!