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Latest Study Shows Why You Should Retire in This Hawaiian City

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Aloha! The enchanting islands of Hawaii have always been a dream destination for many, especially those looking to enjoy their golden years in paradise. But which city in Hawaii truly offers the best experience for retirees? 

A recent study sheds light on this, revealing that one city stands out as the ideal place to retire. Read on to find out which city it is and why it tops the list.

The Winning City: Hilo

The study, conducted by AreaVibes, analyzed various factors such as cost of living, healthcare facilities, recreational opportunities, and community engagement. Hilo, known for its stunning waterfalls, lush rainforests, and vibrant cultural scene, emerged as the top city for retirees.

Hilo is the largest city and the county seat of Hawaii County, located on the eastern side of the Big Island. It has a population of about 45,000 people, making it the second-largest city in the state after Honolulu. Hilo is also home to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Imiloa Astronomy Center, and the Merrie Monarch Festival, the world’s premier hula competition.

Why Hilo Tops the List

Hilo offers a variety of benefits for retirees, such as:

Cost of Living

While Hawaii is known for its higher cost of living, Hilo offers more affordable options in terms of housing and daily expenses compared to other Hawaiian cities. According to the DATA USA, the median home value in Hilo was $339,300 in 2020, which is lower than the state average of $669,200. 

The median household income in Hilo was $62,529, which is higher than the state average of $60,231. The cost of living index in Hilo was 104.9, which is lower than the state average of 114.3 and the national average of 100.


Access to quality healthcare is a crucial factor for retirees. Hilo boasts several top-rated healthcare facilities and specialists in senior health. The Hilo Medical Center, the largest hospital on the island, offers a range of services, including emergency care, surgery, cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, and rehabilitation. 

The Hawaii Pacific Oncology Center, located on the hospital campus, provides comprehensive cancer care and support. The Hilo Veterans Home, a state-of-the-art facility, offers skilled nursing and long-term care for veterans and their spouses. The Hilo Clinic, operated by the Bay Clinic, provides primary care, dental care, behavioral health, and pharmacy services for low-income and uninsured residents.

Recreation and Leisure

The city is a haven for those who love nature, with its beautiful beaches, parks, and golf courses. Hilo is surrounded by scenic attractions, such as the Wailuku River State Park, which features the Rainbow Falls and the Boiling Pots, the Liliuokalani Park and Gardens, which is the largest Japanese-style garden outside of Japan, and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which showcases over 2,000 species of tropical plants. 

Hilo is also a gateway to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, and offers hiking, camping, and sightseeing opportunities. For golf enthusiasts, Hilo has several courses to choose from, such as the Hilo Municipal Golf Course, the Naniloa Golf Course, and the Volcano Golf and Country Club.

Hilo also has a rich cultural scene with museums, galleries, and theaters. The Lyman Museum and Mission House, the Pacific Tsunami Museum, and the Mokupapapa Discovery Center showcase the history, culture, and natural wonders of Hawaii. 

The East Hawaii Cultural Center, the Wailoa Center, and the Hilo Art Museum display the works of local and international artists. The Palace Theater, the Hilo Community Players, and the Performing Arts Center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo offer live entertainment and performances.

Community and Safety

Hilo is known for its tight-knit community and low crime rate, making it a safe and welcoming place for retirees. Hilo has a diverse population, with a mix of Native Hawaiians, Asians, Caucasians, and others. The city celebrates its multicultural heritage with festivals and events, such as the Merrie Monarch Festival, the Hilo Orchid Show, the Hilo Bay Blast, and the Hilo Farmers Market. 

Hilo also has several organizations and clubs that cater to seniors, such as the Hilo Senior Center, the Hilo Coast United Church of Christ Senior Fellowship, and the Hilo Orchid Society. Hilo has a low violent crime rate of 2.3 per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the state average of 2.6 and the national average of 3.7.

Comparing with Other Hawaiian Cities

How does Hilo compare with other popular Hawaiian cities like Honolulu, Maui, and Kailua? 

Here are some of the key differences that make Hilo more suitable for retirees:


The capital and largest city of Hawaii is located on the island of Oahu. It has a population of about 350,000 people, making it the most populous and urbanized city in the state. Honolulu offers many attractions and amenities, such as the Pearl Harbor, the Waikiki Beach, the Diamond Head, and the Iolani Palace. 

However, Honolulu also has a higher cost of living, a higher crime rate, and a heavier traffic congestion than Hilo.


The second-largest island in Hawaii, is known for its scenic beauty and luxury resorts. It has a population of about 165,000 people, making it the second-most populous island in the state. 

Maui offers many activities and attractions, such as the Haleakala National Park, the Road to Hana, the Lahaina Town, and the Kaanapali Beach. However, Maui also has a higher cost of living, a lower availability of healthcare facilities, and a more touristy atmosphere than Hilo.


A town on the windward coast of Oahu, is known for its laid-back vibe and stunning beaches. It has a population of about 40,000 people, making it one of the largest towns on the island. 

Kailua offers many outdoor and water sports, such as kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, and snorkeling. However, Kailua also has a higher cost of living, a lower diversity of cultural and recreational options, and a more isolated location than Hilo.


The study’s findings are clear: Hilo in Hawaii is not just a dream destination for tourists, but also the best place to retire. With its blend of affordable living, excellent healthcare, abundant recreational options, and a warm community, it’s no wonder that retirees are drawn to this city. If you’re considering retiring in Hawaii, Hilo should undoubtedly be at the top of your list!

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