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Buying your Island Home from Abroad

Aloha Friends!

Buying a home in any market can seem like a daunting task.  Buying a home in Hawaii - to some, this seems impossible! Lucky for you, I’ve “been there, done that” and am pretty darn passionate about making this process and transition smooth, manageable, and downright fun for my clients.  Below, you’ll find an outline with some basic tips. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time to discuss any of this in further detail.

1. Budget for your new home.  

How much will you spend per month to buy a home in Kailua, Hawaii?  A quick rule of thumb is 30-45% of your monthly income should go to your mortgage, however, just because this is what other people do, doesn’t mean you should too. To determine what you want to spend, we recommend you create a spending budget, “guesstimating” what your monthly costs will look like while you enjoy Island Living.  Be honest to yourself about this step. 

A great tool for family budgeting is  We use this app to help us understand how we are currently spending money. It aggregates all of your bank accounts, credit cards, car payments and investments to give you an overview of where your money goes each month. It’s quick and easy to set-up, and helps my husband and I stay on top of our finances. 

Once you know where your money is going each month, you can determine if there is extra money you can save to put into a mortgage, or if you want to spend in other ways.

If you don’t live on Oahu yet, you may not have a grasp of what your monthly bills will be. Here is a link to the Cost of Living on Oahu.  As a military family, we take advantage of shopping at the commissary, so this saves us on our monthly grocery bills. We determined that we would be paying about the same in rent as we would be to own a house, so it was a wash on our monthly rent/mortgage.  In Kailua, a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home near the beach rents for about $3,500-$5,000/mo depending on its condition and location. (It could be even more if you’re Beachside or in Lainikai!)

To give you an idea, our monthly bills for 2019 in our 3 bed/2 bath Kailua home averaged:

Electric- $150/mo (no AC)

Waste/Water- $150/mo (we have a pool and water sprinklers)

Internet and Cable- $135/mo

Don’t forget to calculate all your income. Do both spouses work? Do you have a side job? If you are military you will get extra money here on island, COLA anyone?  Not the kind you drink of coarse. But rather the monthly Cost of Living Allowance you are given to offset the expenses of living in Hawaii. Knowing exactly what your monthly income will be will help you determine your comfort level for your monthly mortgage payment. To make it easy for you we’ve included the most recent link to BAH and COLA here in Hawaii.  

<<Insert the link for COLA Hawaii and BAH >>

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