The Waianae Coast on leeward Oahu has a bad reputation, and it isn’t entirely undeserved. Waianae High School has the highest student dropout rate in the state. Drive through certain neighborhoods and you’ll see unkempt properties, shuttered businesses, and a proliferation of convenience and liquor stores. News reports of drunken brawls and “tent cities” on some of its beaches certainly don’t help improve the area’s image.
The Waianae Coast is also known for high rates of theft, burglaries, substance abuse, and homelessness — but so are other areas of Oahu, including parts of Honolulu. And the “locals only” attitude that some visitors and new residents report isn’t a problem for others.
If you’re looking for affordable housing on Oahu, don’t immediately dismiss the Waianae Coast. Here’s why it’s worth considering:
- Less crowded “country” living
- Some of the most beautiful white-sand beaches on the island
- Great area for underwater sports, fishing, and surfing
- Dolphins and sea turtles offshore
- Incredible sunsets
- Job growth and amenities in nearby Kapolei (Oahu’s planned “Second City”)
- An award-winning high school media program
- A K-8 charter school that’s surmounting socioeconomic challenges
- Did I mention affordable housing? Including some right by the beach? (In February 2011, the median price of a single family home on the Waianae Coast was $235,000.)
Of course, living on the Waianae Coast is not for everyone. Families with children should be aware that new kids attending local schools are likely to face peer testing. A gay couple might find it difficult to live in some communities in the area that cling tightly to tradition. Someone who works regular office hours in Honolulu may find the daily commute too brutal. But for the right individual or family — I think retirees, especially — the Waianae Coast could be the perfect mix of affordability, natural beauty, and beach lifestyle.
(Note: These are just a few of the housing communities on the Waianae Coast and not a comprehensive list. I highlighted these because I thought they were most relevant to my readers.)
- Hale Wai Vista II – 132 brand-new 2- and 3-bedroom apartments for low-income residents, located in the town of Waianae. Depending on the tenant’s income, rents range from $509-964 per month, including water/sewer and one parking stall. Download this flyer for more info (including income limits). If you qualify, download a rental application.
- Makaha – This is the northernmost town on the Waianae Coast, and the many retirees that live there consider it a hidden gem. Yes, some of the homes there are million-dollar estates in gated communities, but there are also beachfront condos selling for under $100,000! And if you’re looking to rent instead of buy, a quick search on Craigslist reveals condos with monthly rents around $1,000 — some even less. Here are a few condo communities in Makaha:
- Makaha Surfside
- Makaha Valley Plantation
- Makaha Valley Towers
- Makaha Beach Cabanas
- Sea Country – Further south in the small town of Maili is a relatively new planned community of single-family homes called Sea Country. Builder D.R. Horton started construction in 2005, and new homes are still being built. The community includes several family-friendly amenities, such as a park, pool, child care center, and general store. If you’re interested in buying a brand-new home, D.R. Horton’s latest development, Makalae At Sea Country, offers 3-, 4-, and 5-bedroom single family homes starting in the mid $300,000s.