It’s a good lesson for state lawmakers. If even Hawaii is losing population to high taxes and onerous government, what chance would a state like Wisconsin have?
Aya Robinson also left for college and has stayed on the mainland for better job opportunities. She lives in Nashville, Tenn., and says she can’t imagine moving back because of “Hawaii’s strict firearm restrictions, high taxes, high cost of living, low-quality public education system and overall mismanagement of state finances.”
Despite being consistently rated as the “happiest state” in the nation, Hawaii is experiencing its third straight year of negative migration. Some 35,000 residents moved to the mainland from 2015-18. The young, highly educated and well-off are most likely to leave, which means fewer new businesses, more-crowded classrooms, and shortages of doctors and nurses.
The Aloha State has the highest cost of living in the country. According to the Tax Foundation, the real value of $100 in Hawaii is $84.39—worse than California and New York. Purchasing a home is out of reach for many residents. According to Zillow, the median list price for a house in Hawaii is $630,000, compared with $284,999 for the U.S. as a whole. Rents in Honolulu are roughly 40% higher than the national average.
Many assume that a high cost of living is “the price of paradise.” But while some of the costs related to living on an island in the middle of the Pacific are unavoidable, government policy makes the problem significantly worse.