Around the island living

Are you looking to rent off base?

Most rentals are privately owned so it's hard to find a property manager that only shows rentals. Normally they are realtors of which a small percentage does rentals. So you'll have to do a lot of footwork yourself.

There are some things you should consider:

  • CHECK IN. If you are Military, you might want to check in with your base housing first before you go off and sign a lease. It is mandatory to do this with some services.
  • PETS. It's challenging when you read rental listings off base it seems like no one wants dogs over 25lbs or more than one dog in town. That is true in the condo's and apartments due to weight restrictions. You should have better luck renting a single family home outside of town. And on base housing you can have up to 2 dogs. 
  • COST. Renting off base may not be saving you a lot of money. Base housing is slightly more reasonable in size, space, and location.
    • Base housing may have discounts on electricity since it's very expensive here. If you see a rental with photovoltaic solar panels that is advantageous because it can reduce your electric bill to $18.00 a month. It's on average around $150-$200 a month for electricity for a single family home. 
  • SIZE. It's normal for a 3bd, 2bath, single family home to be 1500-1600 sq ft. 
  • A/C. Most homes do not have A/C. They may have window units but rarely central air. Electricity is so high most people sweat it out or buy fans and open the windows.
  • PARKING. This is a bonus if you can park on your property or even on your street. In town, there may be a carport or you park in tandem. Or you may only have street parking. In West or Central Oahu you may have a garage.
  • LOCATION. It's important to consider your commute time to your work place. Ewa to town is the worst commute on this island. 50,000 people live in Ewa/Kapolei. About 900,000+ people live in Honolulu county. Make sure you try out your commute during rush hour to see if that will work for you.
  • CRIME. And make sure you have ways to lock up your stuff because there is a lot of theft, people breaking into houses and stealing cars (5500 stolen a year). Here is the crime map around Oahu You can also follow "Stolen Stuff" Facebook group about crime and lost items in Oahu. 
  • FOOD. Food is very expensive so you'll find yourself shopping at the commissary regularly. Sometimes it's almost the same price to eat out as it is to buy. 

Here are some useful links to use when looking to rent on Oahu. 

Are you thinking of living the North shore? It's about a 15-20 min commute through the country road and Wahiawa to get to Schofield Barracks and JBPHH Wahiawa Annex. 

North Shore (Haleiwa, Sunset, Pupukea, Waialua, Laie, Malaikahana, Mokuleia, Waimea) ~ Big waves, country roads, and multi million dollar houses. Locals will call this area "country,". Life on the North Shore is different than most of the island. It's a little bit like living in Maui, Kauai or the Big Island. The famous Pipeline and Waimea Bay bring giant waves and tons of visitors.

LIVING AT PIPELINE This is a nice video of Pipeline in the North shore. The waves break right in front of you.

The North Shore community is highly focused on surfing, and in the winter the population increases dramatically with almost a million people a year from all over the world coming to see the big waves. 

There is only 1 high school in the North shore, Waialua, and only a couple elementary schools, and very few choices for private school.  There are only 2 grocery stores from Waialua to Sunset Beach, and 1 hospital way out in Kahuku. 

Most people drive to Costco in Waipio/Mililani, which is about 25-30 minutes away, depending on which part of the North Shore they live in.  


Are you interested in the popular town of Mililani? So are about 75% of all the Military families who move here that want to go to their top schools in the state. 

Both Schofield and Wheeler are located in Wahiawa, HI off the same road. Wahiawa is located in CENTRAL OAHU and is at a higher elevation. The weather is about 6 degrees cooler than town, nice! It rains 4-5 months of the year though and the closer you are to the mountain the more it rains. North Shore is about 20 min away.

The nearest off base housing area is Mililani (older side) and Mililani Mauka (newer). Mauka means “mountain” in Hawaiian. Mililani is one of my top 3 choices to live on the island. Both are located just 5 min away off the H2 on either side of the freeway and I know of at least 5 families that live on either side of Mililani and love it. It’s a very family oriented area with great amenities and nice residential neighborhoods.

On Mililani side, Mililani High school is ranked the one of the top public schools in the state of Hawaii. It has the highest graduation average rate and scores well when compared to other Hawaii public schools. Also the star from Disney’s movie, “Moana”, Auli’I Cravalho, is a student there!

In Mililani Mauka side, many families have told me Mililani Ike and Mililani Mauka elementary are their favorites.  Also located in Mauka is Mililani Middle school. I heard the only downside I was told is that the middle school is overcrowded so they have a track system, rotating schedule of 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off all year long.

  • Here is Mililani Middle school Track system Calendar

  • It is a 4 track system in which ¾ of all kids are on campus and ¼ is off campus. This schedule makes it really hard for parents who have kids in other schools in which the days off school do not match up.

MILILANI MAUKA BY DRONE. It is a lovely planned community. As a reminder if the you tube video loads in low resolution you can click on the dial icon? And raise it from 240p to 1080p

MILILANI TOWN CENTER, Genki Ramen and Napoleons bakery



Thinking of living on the Windward side of Kaneohe and Kailua? The most beautiful beaches on the island? 

The blue blue water of Kailua, the beaches and the Sandbar in Kaneohe is worth the 30 min+ commute through the H3, Pali and Likelike tunnels. No where on the island can you get the spectacular Ko'olau mountains view. 

The closer you live to the Ko'olau mountain range the rainier it gets. So if you are ok with Rain then live on the Windard side. The trade off is the H3 commute from Kaneohe to Camp Smith is very easy and very little traffic. 

The homes are older and mostly single story. The lots are much bigger than in town and it's a beach town so not always sidewalks or streetlights. 

For shopping, there is a new Target that opened in Kailua and lots of shops and restaurants. 

The MCBH Kaneohe has boat rentals at MWR. You can also rent diving equipment, snorkeling gear, etc. and visit the sandbar. The Kaneohe Sand bar is one of the largest in the world. 

Kaneohe will also be your only commissary on the Windward side and given the high cost of food, you will be there every week.

Here is a look at homes in Kaneohe. Note the Ko'olau mountains go straight up. You can't get that mountain view anywhere else on the island.

Kailua is a beach town.



  Salt Lake park near Tripler Army Hospital

Salt Lake park near Tripler Army Hospital

What is it like to live and commute in Ewa Beach or Kapolei? 

West Oahu and the Ewa Plain (Ewa, Kapolei, Makakilo, Royal Kunia, Ko Olina) ~ Ewa is pronounced "E' VA", as in. People who live in Ewa drive a lot. Even if they don't drive very far, they are in the car a lot. That's because there is exactly 1 way out of Ewa into Town, where most of the 50,000 people in Ewa work. But here's the positive side - Ewa, Kapolei, and Makakilo are the newest developed cities in Oahu, which means the homes are newer, the building and some roads, almost everything is new. So on an island where everything gets rusted and oxidized by the sea air, the new housing can be very appealing.

People who live in Ewa typically do so because they want more house for their money, and they don't mind commuting - or at least they put up with it. The main problem is, as you drive into town in the morning, you're driving into the sun. As you drive home toward Ewa, you drive into the sun. So you are always driving into the sun!

The average 3 bedroom 2 bath house from what I've seen, will run you 15-25% LESS in Ewa than in Town or East Oahu. That is why you might want to check it out. Spend the night in Ewa and drive into town, then drive back to Ewa at 5pm. Wow. It's brutal. The 15 mile drive can take over an hour.

This is a great drone video of Ewa Gentry and the Kamakana Ali'i mall that just opened in Nov 2016

Disney's Aulani Hotel. It's located in Ko'olina (Kapolei) about 35-45 min from Waikiki and it is located in Lagoon beach 1 of Ko'olina. The lagoons are ideal for little kids. They shaped the lagoons in such a way that there is no significant shore-break. It's $12 an hour to park unless you can validate by buying something in the store or dining there. It's really a nice place but pricey at over $300 a night. They couldn't really give me any military rates in person so better to call.

Also regarding beaches in Kapolei, you have White plains and Ewa beach. Leeward surfers go to White Plains to surf. Both these beaches have significant shore breaks and can be a risk for little kids. 

If you have little kids you are better off going to the Ko'olina lagoons at Kapolei near the hotels. There is a man made reef break that calms the shore break. It's located just behind the Ko'olina resorts and Marriott.

KAMAKANA ALI'I MALL. Here's the new Mall in Kapolei. Just opened November 2016. Kapolei is opening new stores everyday and slated to be the second biggest city after Honolulu.

 Wilhelmina Rise in Kaimuki overlooks Diamond Head crater

Wilhelmina Rise in Kaimuki overlooks Diamond Head crater




Living in East Oahu. The most expensive place in the state of Hawaii. 

Thinking of living in Hawaii Kai? It's 6 miles to the freeway on ramp. There is only one way in and one way out. The traffic starts at 6:30am and is heavy to University until 8:30am. In the afternoon 4:00-6:30 pm. Some people have sold their house in Hawaii Kai to move into town due to the congestion. 

The pluses are it is the only "harbor" life on the island. It's water living there. People take their boats to Safeway and Costco across the water to shop and then out to sea. Also Hanauma bay and crater hike are 5 min away. Once you get a Hawaii DL you can go to Hanauma bay for free and only watch the video once a year as a resident.,_Hawaii

Kaimuki. If you want to go to public schools, Kalani High school is supposed to be one of the top best public HS in the state. Housing in Kaimuki is where the boundaries are for Kalani HS. It's about $1M for 1300 sq ft to buy in Kaimuki but it puts you in town in 7 min! It is an older neighborhood and sometimes "dumpy" but you can get a classic Hawaii type living space but it may be in the basement of someone's house. It's called "Ohana" living or multigenerational. It's a very popular area due to it's location to the city and it's next to Diamond Head. 

According to a Hawaii report, there are 47% of renters in the state. Rentals are a big deal in Honolulu because affordability is low 😬. 

Population in Kaimuki almost 20K in 2 square miles.

Manoa or Makiki.
If you like living on top of each other then Makiki is the place for you! High rise apartment life. Best privates schools are in Manoa, with Punahou and Mid Pacific. In Manoa, Hokulani elementary is a public school feeder into these private schools. Also are you good with the rain? It rains quite a bit in Manoa especially towards the mountain. It's about $1.2M and up to buy an older home with no views. About $3000+ to rent a 1200 sq ft home. Lots of traffic though leading into Manoa from the University of Hawaii.

Pluses are you can be in town. Location, location, location. Downtown 3 min drive. Nice neighborhood.

Thanks for reading and please share your experiences with me on my FB group, HAWAII MILITARY LIFE, so we can help others. I mainly post Local Hawaii events and information in that group. And if you are retiring or transitioning, please join our HAWAII MILITARY RETIRED VETERANS LIFE Facebook group. 

HAWAII MILITARY LIFE is a NEW 2017 group. We try to look for a lot of FREE events or discounts for Military. We also post PCS instructions, shipping a car dealing with pets, BAH, and anything related to Military commands in Hawaii. This group is NOT FOR PROFIT so we are REAL DoD families helping each other. You can search through our Facebook site using key words on the left column.