Choosing A Neighborhood In Hawaii

(Note: If this article looks familiar, it’s because it was originally published in my newsletter. I have since changed the format of my newsletter and have moved all articles previously published under the old format to my blog, where they can be more easily found.)

Honestly, I don’t know how I would have moved to Hawaii without the Internet. Certainly with more difficulty! I found my rental home, changed my address with the U.S. Postal Service, downloaded forms for bringing my cats into the state, booked my flight to Hawaii, applied for my state ID and business license, and registered to vote — all online.


And much earlier in my moving process, when I was still trying to pinpoint where I wanted to live in Hawaii, I found a wealth of online resources to help me decide which districts in Honolulu I wanted to focus my housing search on.

Below are some of the best websites for choosing the city, town, or district in Hawaii that’s the best fit for you and your family.

Jump to websites about: Multiple Statistics | Schools | Amenities & Activities | Crime | Climate

Multiple Statistics

Aloha Living Neighborhood Navigator
Of all the resources listed here, this is the one I’d start with because (1) it’s locally based website rather than a national one, and (2) it’s the most comprehensive in its coverage of topics. It provides statistics for nearly everything:

  • Population growth and density
  • Percentage of households with kids
  • Age distribution
  • Annual residential turnover
  • Percentage of homes that are vacant, rented, and owned
  • Fair Market Rents
  • Home sales trends and recent transactions
  • Educational and income levels of residents
  • School data (public, private, college/university)
  • Percentage of white-collar vs. blue-collar jobs
  • Climate and weather risks
  • Crime index

Neighborhood Navigator also has a couple of nifty special features: Side-by-side comparisons of two selected communities, and Yelp reviews of local restaurants and other businesses.

Zillow
Zillow is a very popular national real estate site that offers some useful city and neighborhood statistics that aren’t found on Aloha Living’s Neighborhood Navigator:

  • Percentage of single males and females
  • Commute times
  • Local school info: Student-teacher ratio, ethnic composition, and percentage of students who receive free/reduced lunch
  • Percentage of single family homes vs. condos

HomeFair
If you want to compare a city’s stats with another city, with the rest of Hawaii, or with the entire U.S., HomeFair’s City Reports offer those options, and also include some unique statistics:

  • Racial/ethnic demographics
  • Annual rainfall
  • Air pollution index

Its School Reports also offer some info not found on the previous sites:

  • Advanced placement classes offered
  • Gifted and talented program available
  • International Baccaulaureate program available
  • School magnet program available
  • National Blue Ribbon School designation

 

Schools

Grading the Public Schools 2010
Every other year, Honolulu Magazine publishes this ranking of Hawaii’s K-12 public schools. The chart is searchable and sortable by rank, school name, and district abbreviation:

  • Oahu: HONolulu, CENtral, LEEward, and WINdward districts
  • Big Island: HAWaii district
  • Maui, Molokai, and Lanai: MAUI district
  • Kauai: KAUai district
  • Charter schools: CH

Grading the Public High Schools 2011
Honolulu Magazine just published this latest ranking, which focuses only on Hawaii’s public high schools. Purchase the digital edition for $1.99.

GreatSchools
This popular website is where many real estate sites get their local school stats from. Each of its profiles on PreK-12 schools (public, charter, and private) includes student demographics, test scores, student-teacher ratio, community reviews, and their own GreatSchools Rating.

Private School Review
If you’re looking for a private school in Hawaii, this national site offers the most comprehensive profiles. Its database is searchable by ZIP code, gender, teaching philosophy, and religious affiliation, and each school profile includes:

  • Number of students enrolled
  • Religious affiliation (if any)
  • Grades taught
  • Percentage of teachers with advanced degrees
  • Average class size
  • Student-teacher ratio
  • Test scores
  • Cost of tuition
  • Sports and extracurriculars offered

Hawaii Association of Independent Schools
This local organization’s school profiles don’t contain as much info as those in Private School Review, but it has a handy search engine that lets you search by:

  • Grade level (preK-college/university)
  • Island
  • Enrollment size
  • Day schools vs. boarding schools

Private School Guide 2011
Honolulu Magazine publishes this annual list of all of Hawaii’s independent schools, sorted by island. The info on each school is the same as what you’d find using the sites above, but this guide also contains some helpful articles on choosing a private school in Hawaii and the application process.

Amenities & Activities

Walk Score
This nifty site rates how walkable a city or neighborhood is and shows what amenities are nearby, including restaurants, grocery stores, schools, parks, banks, and more. Another useful feature estimates how long it would take to commute from that place to another location.

NileGuide
If you’re concerned about having enough interesting things to do in a particular city or town, this site lists residents’ recommendations and insights on local activities, restaurants, and nightlife. And if you don’t find the info you’re looking for, you can submit a question for a resident to answer.

Crime

Honolulu Police Department Statistics
If you’re planning to move to Oahu, I recommend downloading HPD’s 2009 Statistics and reading pages 54-61 for an annual summary of the number of crimes committed in different districts of Oahu. If you’re interested in looking at crimes reported within the last few weeks, use the “Statistics By District Sector” section in the main part of the webpage, or try using the slick Interactive Crime Mapping tool.

State of Hawaii’s Online Sex Offender Search
Search for registered sex offenders in Hawaii by ZIP code or city.

Climate

Weather.com
Here’s how to use this site to find average monthly temperatures and annual rainfall for towns and cities in Hawaii:

  1. Search for a location.
  2. Once you’re on the weather page for that location, scroll down until you see a chart on the right side of the page titled “Today’s Averages & Records.”
  3. Click the link directly below that: “Historical Data.” If you don’t see this link, it’s because that info isn’t available for the location you entered. Return to step 1 and try searching for a larger city that’s nearby.
  4. From the pull-down menu, select “Monthly Averages” to see average high/low temperatures and rainfall for each month.

Lava Flow Hazard Zones
If you’re planning to move to the Big Island, check this map from the U.S. Geological Survey to see which areas of the island face the most danger from volcanic activity.

Flood Hazard Assessment Tool
Use this interactive map to search by street name or nine-digit Tax Map Key to see if the neighborhood you’re thinking of moving to is in a high-risk flood zone.