I was recently asked, “What parts of Hawaii do retirees live in?”
The truth of the matter is, retirees live everywhere in Hawaii, depending on where they can afford to live in, what their health care needs are, and whether they prefer an urban, suburban, resort, or rural setting. The geographic possibilities open up even further if you don’t have to live within commuting distance of a job!
Having said that, there are certain towns and neighborhoods throughout the state that are particularly appealing to retirees. This series of articles will cover those retirement hot-spots, and the housing options available within each. Some of the housing developments within these communities are age-restricted, although most are not.
If you’re looking for subsidized, low-income senior housing, read this section on affordable housing for seniors from my previous article, Senior Benefits & Programs In Hawaii. Whereas those subsidized housing programs require that your income (and sometimes assets) not exceed a certain amount, the housing communities covered in this series of articles have no such eligiblity requirements.
Let’s start with retirement hot-spots within the city of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu…
NOTE: All purchase prices listed are fee-simple, unless otherwise stated.
The Salt Lake neighborhood is located at the far western end of Honolulu and is centered around the expansive golf greens of Honolulu Country Club, which contains — you guessed it! — a salt lake (actually, a former salt lake — it’s now freshwater, and more of a pond). Adjoining the golf course is Salt Lake District Park, which has an Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, and hiking trails. There are also several smaller neighborhoods parks, including Salt Lake Municipal Park, which hosts the People’s Open Market (a small farmers market) every Saturday morning. A few miles mauka, just across the freeway, is another golf course — Moanalua Golf Club.
Salt Lake is a conveniently located suburb. It contains several shopping centers, and is within easy driving distance to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Tripler Army Medical Center, Aloha Stadium/Swap Meet, Honolulu International Airport, Pearl Harbor-Hickam Joint Base, and Fort Shafter. It is also home to top-rated Moanalua High School (currently No. 2 in the state, after Mililani High School).
There are more than 50 condo complexes in Salt Lake, and many are located within a block or two of Honolulu Country Club’s golf course. All were built between 1968-1986 and all are high-rise and mid-rise buildings, except as noted below:
- Starting purchase price: $100,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $200s-$400s.
- Starting monthly rent: Around $1,200.
- Newest complexes: Country Club Village 6 (2008-2009), Country Club Village 5 (1996), Country Club Village 4 (1995), Country Club Village 3 (1994), Country Club Village 2 (1994), Country Club Village (1994).
- Low-rise buildings: Country Club Village 1, 2, and 3 (4 stories); Hillside Villa (4 stories); Ilima Gardens (3 stories), Kama’aina Hale (4 stories); Lakeside Holiday (2 stories), Lakewood (3 stories); Likini Gardens (3 stories), Parkside Terrace (3 stories); Three Regents (4 stories), Tropicana Manor – Moanalua (3 stories).
- Nearby alternative: Just across the freeway in Moanalua Valley (next to Moanalua Golf Club) is Moanalua Village, a gated community of low-rise 3-bedroom townhomes built in 1995. Purchase price: $600,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $500s.
Single Family Homes
There are not very many single family homes for sale in Salt Lake. If you’re set on living in a detached house rather than a condo or townhome, try looking also in the adjacent communities of Aliamanu, Foster Village, Moanalua Valley, and Moanalua Gardens.
- Starting purchase price: $600,000s in Salt Lake; $300,000s in Aliamanu; $500,000s in Foster Village, Moanalua Valley, and Moanalua Gardens.
- Starting monthly rent: Around $2,500.
Nu’uanu & Makiki
Mauka of downtown Honolulu are the communities of Nu’uanu and Makiki, with Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery right between them. This is a densely populated area, and with good reason: It’s not only close to downtown, but also to Punahou School, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and no fewer than 3 medical facilities: Queen’s Medical Center, Straub Clinic and Hospital, and Kuakini Health System. If you don’t live too far up the mountain, you can walk to shops, restaurants, and neighborhood parks. One of the larger parks is Makiki Park, which has a pool, tennis courts, and a community garden.
Nature lovers can enjoy nearby Foster Botanic Garden and Queen Emma Gardens, as well as the state park and forest reserve up in the Makiki highlands. There is one golf course in upper Nu’uanu — Oahu Country Club — but it is for members only, and membership is by invitation only. Lower Makiki is home to two major cultural attractions: Honolulu Academy of Arts and Blaisdell Center, which hosts concerts and conferences throughout the year.
There are 4 residential complexes in Makiki and 1 in Nu’uanu that are aimed at senior residents:
- Arcadia (Makiki) – Age 62 and older. Offers the full continuum of care: Independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care (including specialized memory care for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia). Monthly service fee includes apartment housing, 3 meals/day, weekly housekeeping/linen service, utilities, fitness and music classes, and recreational activities. Nonrefundable entrance fee of $115,677-$408,029 insures lifetime care/residency. On-site amenities include a fitness center, pool, solarium, restaurant-style dining room, private dining rooms, library, and chapel.
- Alexander Manor (Makiki) – Offers independent living and minimal assisted living on a month-to-month lease. Monthly rent includes apartment housing, all utilities, daily maid service, laundry service, 3 meals/day plus snacks, and use of on-site library, exercise equipment, and entertainment area. Pets negotiable!
- One Kalakaua Senior Living (Makiki) – Primary resident must be age 55 or older. Offers the full continuum of care: Independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care in on-site nursing facility Hale Ola Kino. Condos are sold on fee-simple basis or can be rented for $2,000/month. Monthly maintenance fee: $1,550-2,405 for 1 person, $2,200-3,050 for 2 people, $646 for each additional person. Monthly maintenance fee includes utilities, cable TV, weekly maid service, 30 meals, quarterly health checkups, fitness and health classes, arts and crafts classes, and recreational activities. On-site amenities include library, game room, beauty salon, and barber shop. No pets allowed.
- The Plaza at Punchbowl (Makiki) – Offers independent living and assisted living with limited nursing care (including memory care), but no intermediate care or skilled nursing care. Operates on a month-to-month lease + one-time nonrefundable “community fee” of $3,500. Monthly rent includes apartment housing, 3 meals/day, utilities and cable TV, weekly housekeeping and linen service, fitness and recreation programs, routine transportation, and access to 24-hour nursing staff. Onsite amenities include a coffee bistro, recreation room, library, living room, treatment spa, and hair salon.
- 15 Craigside – (Nu’uanu) – Age 62 and older. Brand-new community that opened just one year ago. Offers the full continuum of care: Independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care (including hospice care). Monthly service charge: $2,500-$3,536 for singles and $4,936 for couples. Monthly service charge includes 2 meals/day (your choice of breakfast, lunch, or dinner), housekeeping, weekly linen service, utilities and basic cable TV, 24-hour emergency care, scheduled transportation, room service up to 5 days when you need it, and recreational activities. Nonrefundable entrance fee (starting at $171,000) guarantees lifetime residency/care, even if you exhaust your financial resources through no fault of your own. Onsite amenities include a bistro, coffee bar, solarium, dance floor, library, theater, pool, fitness center, arts & crafts studio, salon, convenience store, meeting rooms, and private dining rooms.
There are more than 100 condo complexes in the combined areas of Nu’uanu and Makiki. The buildings are a mixture of low-, mid-, and high-rises. Many of the complexes were built between 1956-1988; the newer ones have been noted below:
- Starting purchase price: $100,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $200s-$400s.
- Starting monthly rent: Around $1,000.
- Newest complexes: Holomua (opening early 2013), 1402 Pi’ikoi (2008 remodel), Spencer Court (2000), 1448 Young Street (1999), 949 Prospect (1999), 1450 Young Street (1997), 1329 Dominis (1997), One Kalakaua Senior Living (1996-1997), Prince Lunalilo (1996), Pi’ikoi Hale (1996), Spencer Terrace (1995), Royal Garden – Makiki (1995), Fountains at Maikiki (1992), Makiki Parkside (1991), Nu’uanu Parkside (1991), Nehoa Park Estates (1991), Nu’uanu Streamside (1990-1992), Makiki Regent (1990), Queen Victoria Residences (1990).
Single Family Homes
Many of the single family homes in Nu’uanu and Makiki are up the mountain ridges, where they command amazing views — and amazingly high prices. If you’re set on living in a detached house, check out the cheaper real estate in the nearby neighborhoods of Punchbowl, Pauoa Valley, and Liliha.
- Starting purchase price: $600,000s in Nu’uanu and Makiki; $400,000s in Punchbowl, Pauoa Valley, and Liliha.
- Starting monthly rent: Around $2,000.
Kaka’ako & West Waikiki
The beachside neighborhoods of Kaka’ako and West Waikiki (west of Lewers St.) occupy either side of Ala Moana Shopping Center. Both areas contain several recently constructed condo buildings, with more in the works. Residents can easily walk to Waikiki Beach, the marina, Ala Moana Beach Park, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Ward Centers, a multiplex movie theater, and lots of smaller shops and restaurants. And just a short drive away are Blaisdell Center, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Queen’s Medical Center, Straub Clinic and Hospital, Ala Wai Golf Course, and downtown Honolulu.
Residents of Kaka’ako and West Waikiki are mostly young professionals, empty nesters, and retirees who enjoy the convenient, low-maintenance lifestyle of condo living. Many of these condos are also used as vacation rentals, particularly in West Waikiki. The newer condo buildings (and the more luxurious older ones) offer amenities galore, including private parks/terraces, pools, spas, sun decks, fitness centers, and concierge services. There are virtually no single family homes in this urban stretch.
If you’re interested in buying a condo in Kaka’ako or West Waikiki, I recommend working with Jeanne Buboltz. Raised on Oahu, she knows the island inside-out, and she currently specializes in real estate in Kaka’ako and West Waikiki. She herself lives in the Moana Pacific condo complex, so she knows first-hand what it’s like to live the condo lifestyle in Kaka’ako. Her blog entries are a wealth of info, too.
There is 1 residential complex for seniors that is scheduled to be built this fall (2012):
- Kalakaua Garden (also known as 1723 Kalakaua) – Will offer the full continuum of care: Independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. It will be located within easy walking distance of Ala Moana Shopping Center.
There are more than 100 condo complexes between Kaka’ako and West Waikiki. Nearly all of the buildings in Kaka’ako are high-rises, with a few exceptions noted below. The condo complexes in West Waikiki are an interesting mix of low-, mid-, and high-rise buildings. Both neighborhoods have their share of old and new buildings — I have pointed out the most recent construction below:
- Starting purchase price: Kaka’ako condos start in $200,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $300s-400s; West Waikiki condos start in low $100,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $300s-$400s.
- Starting monthly rent: Around $1,500 in Kaka’ako; around $1,300 in West Waikiki.
- Low- and mid-rise buildings: There are many low- and mid-rise buildings in West Waikiki, but in Kaka’ako there are only a handful: Crown Kinau (4 stories), The Elms (8 stories), Honuakaha (7 stories), Kinau Villa (10 stories), Pacific Manor (8 stories), Rycroft Manor (4 stories).
- Newest complexes in Kaka’ako: Waihonua at Kewalo (opening late 2014, starts in $500,000s + fee), Pacifica Honolulu (2009-2011), Vanguard Lofts (2008), Keola La’i (2008), Moana Pacific (2007), 909 Kapiolani (2007), Ko’olani (2006), Hokua (2006), Hawaiki Tower (1999), One Archer Lane (1998), Honuakaha (1995), 1133 Waimanu (1995), Imperial Plaza (1991), Nauru Tower (1991), One Waterfront Towers (1990).
- Newest complexes in West Waikiki: The Cove Waikiki (opening late 2013, low-rise of 5 stories, starting $350,000 + fee), Allure Waikiki (2011, starting $600,000 + fee), Trump Tower Waikiki (2009, starting $400,000 + $454 fee), The Watermark (2008), Loft at Waikiki (2007), Lanikea at Waikiki (2005), Maile Sky Court (1993), Waikiki Landmark (1992).
- Closest to the beach: Waikiki Shore is the only condo building that’s right on the beach. But there are 4 buildings that are just a block away: Trump Tower Waikiki, Imperial Hawaii Resort, Ni’ihau Apartments, and The Regency on Beach Walk.
- Marina-front buildings: There are only 2 condo complexes located right on the marina: Ilikai Apartment Building and Ilikai Marina Apartment Building.
- Closest to Ala Moana Shopping Center: If you want to live within easy walking distance of Ala Moana Shopping Center, search for condo buildings in the Holiday Mart, Ala Moana, and Pawa’a neighborhoods. There are only 2 newer buildings in this area (both located in Pawa’a): 802 Punahou (1997) and 1723 Kalakaua (2008). The rest of the buildings were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s.
- Nearby alternative: Just a little further away down Kapiolani Boulevard are a cluster of condo complexes loaded with amenities such as putting greens, tennis courts, and onsite convenience stores. They also have nice views of Ala Wai Golf Course, Diamond Head, and the Waikiki skyline. These complexes are definitely worth your consideration: Marco Polo, Iolani Court Plaza, Century Center, Kings Gate, and Royal Iolani. Purchase prices start in the $200,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $200s-$300s. Monthly rents start around $1,500.
Just east of Waikiki is the Diamond Head neighborhood, which encircles the base of Diamond Head Crater. On the makai (ocean) side of the crater is the prized “Gold Coast,” a stretch of sunny beach lined with oceanfront condominium buildings, a couple hotels, and an enclave of multi-million-dollar houses. Diamond Head is a very pleasant neighborhood for being outdoors, and is popular with walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and surfers of all ages. You can walk along the beach, jog around spacious Kapiolani Park, or hike up to the summit of Diamond Head Road to watch (or join) the surfers riding the waves below.
Diamond Head is gay-friendly, with nearby Queen’s Beach a favorite among male sunbathers and Hula’s Bar just across the street from Kapiolani Park. It’s also family-friendly — Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium are within easy walking distance, and nearby Sans Souci Beach is popular with parents and children alike. Also within walking distance are the Waikiki Shell (where concerts are held), Ala Wai Golf Course, Kapiolani Community College (which hosts an awesome farmers market every Saturday morning), and locally owned shops, cafes, and restaurants along Monsarrat Avenue. For even more food options, all the eateries along Kapahulu Avenue are just a short drive (or a long walk) away.
There are more than 30 condo complexes in Diamond Head, most of which are beachfront. There is also a cluster of buildings about a block away from Kapiolani Park (on Pualei Circle), which I’ve noted below. All of Diamond Head’s condos were built between 1953-1980, and all are mid- and high-rise buildings, except for those noted below:
- Starting purchase price: Off-the-beach condos start in $300,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $400s. Beachfront condos start in $400,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $400s-$1,000s.
- Starting monthly rent: Around $2,000.
- Low-rise buildings: Diamond Head Ali’i (3 stories), Diamond Head Condos at Pualei Circle (3 stories), Diamond Head Gardens (3 stories), Diamond Head Hale (2 stories), Diamond Head Plaza (3 stories), Diamond Head Terrace (3 stories), The Gregg Apartments (3 stories), Hale Pua Lei (3 stories), Ilima Apartments (2 stories), Pua Leahi Apartments (3 stories), Diamond Head Sands (3 stories), Diamond Head Surf (2 stories), La Pietra (2 stories).
- Located on Pualei Circle: Diamond Head Ali’i, Diamond Head Condos at Pualei Circle, Diamond Head Gardens, Diamond Head Hale, Diamond Head Plaza, Diamond Head Terrace, The Gregg Apartments, Hale Pua Lei, Ilima Apartments, Pua Leahi Apartments.
- Also located off the beach: Diamond Head Sands, Diamond Head Surf, La Pietra, Diamond Head Hillside.
- Cheaper alternative nearby: On the eastern end of Waikiki, just a couple blocks from Kapiolani Park and the Honolulu Zoo, there are a couple condo complexes overlooking Ala Wai Golf Course: Ala Wailani and Hale O Nai’a. Purchase prices start in $200,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $300s. Monthly rents start around $1,200.
Single Family Homes
Houses in the Diamond Head area are among the most expensive on Oahu. For example, homes in the exclusive Black Point gated community start at around $2.5 million. However, there are some less-expensive options nearby, as noted below:
- Starting purchase price: Around $1.5 million.
- Starting monthly rent: Around $5,000.
- Slightly cheaper alternative nearby: Tucked between Diamond Head and Kahala is the tiny neighborhood of Pu’upanini, which has its own private park with a paddle tennis court. Home prices here start around $1 million.
- Significantly cheaper alternative nearby: Parts of the Kapahulu and Kaimuki neighborhoods border the slopes of Diamond Head crater and are within walking distance to many of the same points of interest as the Diamond Head neighborhood. Home prices in this vicinity start in the $500,000s. Monthly rents start around $1,600.
Just east of Diamond Head is the upscale neighborhood of Kahala, known for the grand oceanfront estates lining Kahala Avenue, although much of Kahala is further inland. Kahala is definitely not as walkable as Diamond Head, but depending on which part of the neighborhood you live in, you might be able to walk to at least 1 of 3 major destinations worthy of repeat visits: lovely and peaceful Kahala Beach, the posh Kahala Hotel & Resort, and Kahala Mall — a convenient medium-sized mall that includes a multiplex movie theater, Whole Foods Market, Longs Drugstore, and Macy’s. The neighborhood also has an oceanfront golf course, Waialae Country Club, which hosts the PGA Sony Open every January. However, it’s a members-only golf course, and membership is by invitation only.
There is 1 residential complex for seniors in Kahala:
- Kahala Nui – Age 62 and older. A relatively new complex (it opened in 2005) located on a 6.5-acre garden campus within walking distance of Kahala Mall. Offers the full continuum of care: Independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care in their onsite Hi’olani Care Center (including memory care for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia). Monthly maintenance fee: $2,860-$7,228. Monthly maintenance fee includes a 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom apartment with full kitchen, utilities and basic cable, Internet access, housekeeping and linen service, flexible meal plan, scheduled transportation, concierge service, museum tours, and classes in art, language, music, and fitness. An entrance fee (refundable up to 90%) of $477,300-$1 million+ guarantees your lifetime residence and access to nursing care. Amenities include a pool/jacuzzi, fitness center, library/business center, meditation garden, art studio, card room, piano lounge, public/private dining rooms, beauty salon, and massage studio.
There are only 11 condo complexes in Kahala and the adjacent enclaves of Waialae Nui Valley and Kalani Iki. Kahala Beach Apartments is the only complex located on the beach. The rest are much further inland, within walking distance of Kahala Mall. Three of the complexes (indicated below) are located within a gated community in Kalani Iki that has a private pool, tennis court, and recreation center. None of the complexes are new, having been built in the 1950s-1970s. All of the buildings are low-rise except for a few high-rise complexes, as noted below:
- Starting purchase price: Inland condos start in the $400,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $300s-$400s. The beachfront Kahala Beach Apartments are leasehold-only: They start around $50,000 + monthly maintenance fee in the $900s + $2,206 monthly lease rent (which will be renogatiated in 2017); the leasehold expires completely in 2027.
- Starting monthly rent: $2,000 for inland condos; $4,500 for beachfront Kahala Beach Apartments.
- High-rise buildings: Regency at Kahala, Kahala Towers, and part of Waialae Gardens.
- Complexes inside gated community: Kahala Pacifica, Kahala View Estates, and Kalani Iki Estates.
- Least expensive complexes: Kahala Gardens, Kahala Towers, Tropic Gardens, Tropicana Village, and Waialae Gardens.
Single Family Homes
The most expensive homes in Kahala are beachfront houses located along Kahala Avenue, and those fronting nearby Wailupe Beach and Aina Haina Beach. The starting purchase price for these oceanfront homes is around $2 million. Houses located in the Kai Nani area adjacent to Waialae Country Club’s golf course are also among the most expensive. But even more modest houses further inland still command purchase prices over $1 million. However, if you look in neighborhoods adjacent to Kahala (noted below), you can find much less-expensive single family homes:
- Starting purchase price: $1 million.
- Starting monthly rent: $3,500.
- Cheaper alternative nearby: House prices in the adjacent neighborhoods of Waialae Nui, Kalani Iki, and Aina Haina (excluding the beachfront area) start in the $600,000s, with monthly rents starting around $2,000.
Hawaii Kai is a master-planned community at the far eastern end of Honolulu that was first developed by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser in the 1960s. Today, there are still new home developments being added to it. Built on and around a marina, the community has become a highly sought-after place to live on Oahu, and housing prices reflect that.
Besides its easy access to Moanalua Bay, Hawaii Kai also contains several large shopping centers (including a Costco), a bevy of restaurants, a multi-plex movie theater, 3 health clubs, and public tennis courts at Koko Head District Park. Nearby Koko Head and Hawaii Kai’s surrounding mountain ridges present plenty of scenic hiking opportunities. Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach (a favorite with locals) are just a short drive away. Hawaii Kai also has a golf course — aptly named Hawaii Kai Golf Course — around which a few housing developments have been built.
There is 1 residential complex for seniors in Hawaii Kai:
- Hawaii Kai Retirement – Offers independent & assisted living, but no intermediate care or skilled nursing care. Residents stay on a month-to-month lease. Monthly rent includes housing in an apartment or cottage, 3 meals/day, utilities and cable TV, shuttle service, weekly housekeeping and linen service, fitness classes, educational lectures, other recreational activities, and a travel program (stay up to 7 nights in guest suite at any other Holiday Retirement community). Amenities include a restaurant-style dining room, private dining room, fitness center, billiards lounge and game room, TV/media room, and laundry facilities. Pet-friendly community!
There are more than 30 condo complexes in Hawaii Kai, and they come in all sorts of configurations — from luxurious high-rises with resort-like amenities to 2-story townhomes with their own marina docks:
- Starting purchase price: $300,000s + monthly maintenance fee in $400s-$900s.
- Starting monthly rent: $1,700.
- Newest complexes: Hale Ka La’e (development postponed indefinitely), Colony at the Peninsula (2004-2006), Moana Kai (2004-2005), Peninsula at Hawaii Kai (2002-2006), Nanea Kai (2003), Kai Nui Court (2002), Kalama Ku’u (2002), Kaluanui (2001).
- Oceanfront complexes: Kuliouou Kai (in the adjacent enclave of Paiko Lagoon) and Napua Point.
- Marina-front complexes: Colony Marina, Colony at the Peninsula, Esplanade, Gateway Peninsula, Hale Makani Kai, Hawaii Kai Cp, Kaimala Marina, Kalele Kai, Koko Isle, Kuapa Isle, Marina Palms, Mawaena Kai, The Moorings, Peninsula at Hawaii Kai, Villa Marina.
- Close to golf course: Kalama Ku’u
- Nearby alternative: Haleloa, in the adjacent enclave of Kuliouou.
Single Family Homes
There are more than 20 subdivisions of single family homes in Hawaii Kai. Some are right on the marina, others are on the surrounding mountain ridges, a handful front the ocean, and 3 are adjacent to Hawaii Kai Golf Course:
- Starting purchase price: $500,000s.
- Starting monthly rent: $2,500.
- Newest home developments: Bali Lofts – within Kamehame Ridge subdivision (2007-present), Na Pali Haweo – within Kamehame Ridge subdivision (early 1990s-present), Koko Villas (2004-2005), The Cottages at the Peninsula – within West Marina subdivision (2004), Kamilo Nui (2003-2004), Leolani – within Anchorage subdivision (2003-2004), Carriage Ways at the Peninsula – within West Marina subdivision (2002).
- Oceanfront subdivisions: Portlock, Koko Kai, Paiko Lagoon, and Niu Beach. Purchase prices start around $2 million.
- Marina-front subdivisions: Anchorage, Kealaula Kai, Luna Kai, Mariners Cove, Spinnaker Isle, West Marina.
- Adjacent to golf course: Koko Villas, Laulima, and Queen’s Gate (gated community with private tennis courts, raquetball courts, and recreation center).
- Nearby alternative: The neighborhoods of Kuliouou and Niu Valley.
Retirements Communities On Oahu (outside of Honolulu)
For more up-to-date, detailed info on moving to Hawaii, check out my e-book: Moving To Hawaii: A Step-By-Step Guide