As the second-closest state to Hawaii (surprisingly, Alaska is the closest!), California is, not surprisingly, a popular destination for former Hawaii residents, specifically San Francisco and, increasingly Oakland. As the cost of living continues to skyrocket in the Bay Area, many are choosing Oaktown, as it’s known, for a more affordable and, by all reports, a hipper and artsier living experience.
Oakland’s population has grown by about 10% in the last 10 years, while San Francisco has only seen about 6% growth in that same period. Part of the growth in Oakland has been fueled by the arrival of several company headquarters, including Blue Shield of California and, soon, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) as well as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
Now, just as we’re seeing Hawaii residents head for Oakland, we’re also seeing the reverse: Oakland residents are leaving “the Town” behind to enjoy life in the islands. You might imagine that there’s some kind of special tunnel under the Pacific Ocean that connects the two states, one that’s facilitating all these moves.
We haven’t found one yet, but what we have found is that there are some surprising similarities between the two places. Those who move from Oakland to Hawaii, as well as those who leave Hawaii for Oakland, may take comfort in these to ease their transition from one place to another.
If you’re looking to make the move between Hawaii and Oakland, we’ll walk you through these similarities, show you a few neighborhoods to consider in both places, and even offer some fun ideas to explore both locations. Let’s dive in!
The Surprising Links Between Oakland and Hawaii
1. It’s Always Sunny in . . . Both Places
If you’ve done your research on Hawaii, you’ll know that the islands contain a number of microclimates, which means that your day-to-day weather can be very different, depending on where you live. However, if we take an overall look at Honolulu weather, we can see that Oakland and Honolulu enjoy a similar number of sunny days, an average of 261 in Oakland and 271 in Honolulu. That’s well above the U.S. average of 205 days. So whether you’re headed for Oakland or Hawaii, it will be easy to stay on the sunny side of the street.
2. Similar Costs of Living
One of the biggest considerations around moving to Hawaii involves the high cost of living. However, when you take a look at the overall cost of living in both Oakland and Hawaii, you’ll find that they come in pretty close. In fact, estimates put them at only about 1% apart. Of course, like your daily weather, your mileage may vary, depending on exactly where you decide to make your home in Hawaii. However, those moving between Hawaii and Oakland can expect to manage similar budgets in both locations.
3. Strong Support for Local Business
The spirit of supporting local entrepreneurs runs deep in both Oakland and Hawaii. In Oakland, the non-profit Oakland Grown offers a great deal of assistance to local businesses, as does the Oakland community, which believes in keeping East Bay money close. You’ll find a similar spirit in Hawaii, where residents understand how important it is to support the survival of the local businesses (including Hawaii-based farmers!) that work hard to keep the island supplied. Although you will see your share of Amazon boxes in Hawaii, you’ll also find a number of people who believe in supporting their own.
4. An Eye Toward Sustainability
In Hawaii, you’ll hear a lot about honoring the aina, the land, which provides so much for the people of Hawaii. As such, you’ll also find strong support for environmentally friendly solutions, like restricting single-use plastics. (Insider Tip: If you’re moving to Hawaii, make sure you’ve got plenty of reusable bags. You’ll find lots of ways to use them!) The people of Oakland share these sentiments. They’ve turned empty lots into gardens, worked to protect the city’s water supply and changed laws to make it easier for urban residents to farm. If protecting the environment is a cause you believe in, you’ll find similar-minded communities in both Oakland and Hawaii.
Now that you have a flavor for some of the unlikely links between Oakland and Hawaii, let’s discuss some ideas for where to live.
What Are the Best Places to Live in Oakland and Hawaii?
Oakland stretches over 78 square miles, so you can imagine that it’s home to quite a number of neighborhoods, including Temescal, Fairview Park, Piedmont Avenue, Lakewide, Adams Point and Grand Lake.
One to Consider: Rockridge
As you do your research, consider Rockridge, a family-friendly, walkable area in northern Oakland. The neighborhood features a number of local stores, as well as its own BART station, which can make a commute to San Francisco much easier than battling Bay Area traffic. In addition to Rockridge’s neighborly spirit, you’ll also enjoy the annual Rockridge Out & About Festival, in which local shops, artists, and vendors take over an eight-block area to celebrate everything that makes the area unique.
Now, if you’re doing the reverse—and leaving Oakland for Hawaii—your first task will be choosing which Hawaiian island is right for you. Each has its own particular features and character, so you’ll want to take some time to consider each. That said, we have a few options for you to take a peek at.
Two to Consider: Honolulu and Hilo
If living in Oakland has left you with a taste for city living, Honolulu and its surrounding neighborhoods might be right for you. Kakaako has a fun, young, and artsy vibe that might suit a former Oakland resident.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a slower pace of life, maybe the small-town vibe of Hilo, on the Big Island, will appeal to you. If you decide to live close to downtown Hilo, you’ll have easy access to its famous farmer’s market, as well as a diverse selection of local options to eat and shop.
Now that you’ve got some ideas on where you might live in Oakland and Hawaii, let’s talk about the ways you can spend your days off.
4 Ways to Enjoy Your Time in Oakland and Hawaii
To help you decide whether the Oakland-Hawaii move is right for you—or to help you enjoy your new home to its fullest—we’ve compiled this list of things you can do in both places.
1. Get Out on The Water
This might be a no-brainer in Hawaii, where you’ve got world-class windsurfing, kiteboarding, scuba diving, canoeing, and snorkeling available almost every day of the year. But did you know that you can enjoy the water in downtown Oakland? Check out Lake Merritt, a three-mile wide body of water that also happens to be the oldest designated wildlife refuge in the United States. Rent a kayak, a sailboat or even a gondola to enjoy an unexpectedly delightful day on the water, right in the middle of an urban center.
2. Go Birding
Hawaii is home to more than 5,000 endemic species, ones you won’t find anywhere else. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Hawaiian honeycreeper, a bird that evolved into more than 50 species once it arrived in the Hawaiian islands. If you’ve got any kind of penchant for birdwatching, these unique and beautiful birds will be worth your time. Grab a set of binoculars and keep your eyes out for the scarlet-plumed ‘i’iwi and the bright yellow ‘amakihi. The good news is that, if you’re into birding, you can also enjoy this activity right in downtown Oakland. In addition to offering you a day out on the water, Lake Merritt also features 70 species of native birds to spot, so you can get a two-for-one in this unique location.
3. Hike Amongst the Redwoods
If you were surprised that both Hawaii and Oakland offer opportunities for birding, you might be further surprised to realize that you can hike through redwood groves in both places. Head to Oakland Redwood Regional Park to enjoy these giants in California. In Hawaii, you’ll find them on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the Big Island and along the Poli Poli trail in Maui. Although Hawaii’s redwoods are younger than those in California, they create the same kind of quiet, serene hiking environment so you can enjoy a thoughtful day of wandering through the woods.
4. Sip Some Local Wine
We already mentioned the “buy local” spirit you’ll find both in Hawaii and Oakland. If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ll be thrilled to know that this spirit also extends to viniculture. In Oakland, grab a map of the Oakland Urban Wine Trail, your guide to the local spots where winemakers are bringing in grapes from all over the state to finish the process right in downtown Oakland. You’ll also find your share of home-grown wineries in Hawaii, most notably at Volcano Winery (Big Island), Oeno Winemaking (Oahu), and MauiWine (Maui). All of these offer an easy (and delicious!) way to support local farmers and enjoy a taste of the land.
Enjoying the Best That Oakland and Hawaii Have to Offer
Whether you’re moving from Oakland to Hawaii or the reverse, your move will represent a transition for you. A few touches of the familiar can be comforting as you adjust to your new home. Armed with this list, you’ll be able to cozy up to a few favorite activities and spot some similarities that can help you ease into your new life. You can also use this list as a springboard to inspire even more adventures in your new home, so you can get the most out of everything these locations have to offer.
Making a move between Oakland and Hawaii? (Or from Hawaii to Oakland?) We’d be happy to help you make an easy transition. Just reach out to us for a complimentary quote to get started.
Tell us about your move!