While there is no denying that Hawaii is the greatest state in the country, the Aloha State faces certain problems as unique as the islands. From homelessness and an extravagant cost of living to garbage and traffic, here are nine facts about Hawaii you probably didn’t want to know.
1. For starters, the cost of living in Hawaii is astronomical.
Most of Hawaii’s food is imported from the mainland translating to overwhelming grocery bills; Hawaii residents pay almost double the national average for a gallon of milk. Don’t even get us started with the outrageous cost of housing here.
2. When the cost of living is coupled with the fact that Hawaii salaries are no higher than many places on the mainland, you’ve got a big problem.
For example, the average computer programmer living in Hawaii had an annual salary of $63,570 in 2013, less than California, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, where individuals with similar careers made between $82,750 and $111,320 annually. Same goes for teachers, police officers, and pediatricians.
3. Oh, and did we mention that Hawaii residents pay more than two times more than mainland residents for electricity?
Because we totally do, and it is quite the shock when receiving your first island electric bill. In 2010, Hawaii had the highest electricity costs in the nation, perhaps due to the fact that petroleum fuels approximately 76 percent of the islands’ electrical generators.
4. Oahu is home to the worst traffic in the country – second only to Los Angeles.
With streets crumbling with potholes and seemingly endless road closures, the average Honolulu resident sits in more traffic than anyone on the mainland – except for L.A. residents. The state is also ranked dead last in highway conditions and cost-effectiveness.
5. And Hawaii has a major homeless population.
Hawaii has the third largest homeless population per capita in the country; an estimated 487 out of every 100,000 residents are homeless, according to Movoto. Since the year 2000, the homeless population in Hawaii has increased by 61 percent, and while many once lived on the beaches 24/7, these individuals have since been driven into local neighborhoods, especially on Oahu.
6. Hawaii is running out of places to put all of our garbage.
Hawaii landfills are nearly full, and that means the government has to figure out where to put all of our garbage – many are debating whether we should create a new landfill on Oahu’s leeward coast, or ship the waste to the mainland. While Oahu is home to a waste-to-energy plant, it can’t possibly take care of all the islands’ garbage.
7. There is also a fair amount of property crime in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian Islands have violent crime rates that are lower than the national averages, but property crime is still a very real problem Hawaii residents must face. According to Sperling’s Best Places, Hawaii’s average is 45 out of 100, and the national average is 43.5; these crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
8. Hawaii is home to a major drug problem as well.
While the islands have lower than average rates of violent crimes, more than half of all convictions in Hawaii are drug-related, compared to just 41 percent nationwide. I’m not sure if that means Hawaii just has less other crime, or there is a serious drug problem taking over the islands. Besides marijuana, methamphetamine is the most commonly used illegal drug in Hawaii.
9. Many of Hawaii’s native species face extinction.
As the most isolated population center on the planet, Hawaii has one of the highest rates of endinism – species that exist nowhere else – in the world. And because we have so many unique species of plants and animals, Hawaii is often considered the “endangered species capital of the world.”
We obviously still love Hawaii, but it definitely isn’t without its faults. Which of these facts is most surprising to you?