Last Updated: 8/8/2022
There’s a special connection between the Hawaiian islands and Las Vegas. Some suggest the kinship started way back in the 1940s when a businessman moved his family from Honolulu to Las Vegas.
Sam Boyd didn’t open the California Hotel and Casino until 1975, but he struggled in his first year to get the operation off the ground. Thinking back to his time in Honolulu, when he worked for an entertainment company called Palace Amusements, he decided to make his property a destination for travelers from Hawaii. He started with the food, sending his chef to Hawaii to learn how to cook dishes like oxtail and loco moco. Then he put together package travel deals that included airfare, a hotel room and even meals.
The rest, as they say, was history, and Las Vegas’s reputation as the “Ninth Island” was born.
Today, Hawaii’s ties with Las Vegas remain strong. About one in ten Hawaii residents visit Las Vegas every year. Additionally, as many as 40 Hawaii high school class reunions are held in Las Vegas annually. Finally, in addition to hosting tourists from the Aloha State, Las Vegas also attracts Hawaii residents who are looking to relocate to the city and its surrounding suburbs, including Henderson, Laughlin and Winchester.
Moreover, Las Vegas attracts more than just Hawaii residents. The city is also home to a significant population of Pacific Islanders, including people from Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Micronesia. In fact, Clark County, Nevada, has the fifth-largest population of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander residents in the United States, just behind Honolulu, Hawaii, Los Angeles and Maui Counties.
While the story of the Californian makes it easy to understand why Hawaii residents might be inclined to vacation in Sin City, what makes the city so appealing for permanent moves?
We’d attribute it to these five factors.
#1: Las Vegas Feels a Little Like Home
At first glance, this might not seem possible. How could a city in the middle of the desert feel like home to someone coming from a lush, verdant tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?
We’ve already mentioned the cultural reasons. Many Hawaii residents arrive in Las Vegas knowing that there’s a community of former residents and Pacific Islanders waiting for them. Plus, organizations such as the Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club make it easy to connect with others from the Hawaiian islands, as well as help preserve cultural beliefs and practices that can make it easy for Hawaiians to feel at home quickly.
Hawaii and Las Vegas also share another big similarity: Both run a tourism-based economy with lots of opportunities in hospitality. As such, people coming from Hawaii may find it easy to acclimatize quickly, and it’s possible that previous work experience in Hawaii will translate quickly to open positions in Las Vegas.
However, those who move to Las Vegas will soon discover one of the major differences between Nevada and Hawaii—one that’s good news for their bank account.
#2: Cheaper Cost of Living
Especially if you’re coming from pricey Honolulu, the cost of living in Las Vegas will come as a pleasant surprise. For example, a gallon of milk in Honolulu may run you around $6.25, while you’d only pay about $3 in Las Vegas. Overall, it costs about 37% less to live in Las Vegas, which could be a welcome change for many Hawaii residents.
Additionally, the state of Nevada has no personal income tax. With tax rates ranging up to 11%, Hawaii residents could see immediate savings in their take-home pay by moving to Nevada. Although the Nevada state sales tax is a few percentage points higher than Hawaii’s, when all is said and done, you’ll still likely come out ahead in terms of taxes.
Moving to Las Vegas also solves one of the biggest complaints from Hawaii residents—the struggle to afford a home of their own.
#3: More Affordable Housing Prices
One of the more daunting aspects of making your home in Hawaii is finding a place to call your own. Recent statistics put the median price for a single-family home on Oahu at $795,000. Condos on Oahu sit at a median of $400,000. While other islands can offer more affordable options, many families still find it financially challenging to buy their first home.
In contrast, the median home cost is 58% cheaper in Las Vegas. Additionally, as with many other mainland locations, you’ll likely end up getting a larger home for the price you can afford, and many of these homes 1) are either new construction or 2) have been retrofitted with modern upgrades. Given recent construction booms in Las Vegas, you’ll also have a wider variety of homes to choose from, which can offer you a better shot at finding the perfect home at the intersection between your budget and your dreams.
Plus, once you’re in the Las Vegas area, you’ll have no shortage of things to see and do.
#4: Tons of Entertainment, Dining and Travel Options
If you’ve lived on an island for any length of time, you know that “island fever” is real. Symptoms differ from person to person, but often it manifests as a lack of interest in available dining options and repeated discontent with weekend plans, accompanied by constant browsing for cheap flights.
Las Vegas could be the cure, for two reasons:
- Plentiful entertaining and dining options – It would probably take you years to work your way through all the food options Las Vegas has to offer. And did we mention the variety? You can get just about any type of food to satisfy your cravings: Thai, steaks, seafood, Mexican, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Italian, subs, sandwiches, pizza, high-brow, low-brow, eat-in, take-out . . . you get the idea. You’ll also get to enjoy all the shows Las Vegas has to offer, including easy access to both national and lesser-known musical acts who rarely hit the Hawaiian islands.
- Effortless travel to other destinations – Even if you get tired of Las Vegas, nearly all of California is a short Southwest flight away. Or rent a car and explore as far as you’re willing to drive. Being on the mainland has its perks if you’ve got the travel bug.
You’ll also be able to enjoy the city at all hours.
#5: The 24-Hour, Always-Open Culture
If you’re living outside of busy Waikiki—or if you’re on Maui, Kauai or the Big Island—you’ve probably discovered the Hawaiian islands’ early-to-rise, early-to-bed routine. While we can always count on Zippy’s for a midnight snack, most everything else islands shuts down early.
If you’re an early bird who’s up with the sun every day, you might not mind.
However, if you’re a night owl, you might be longing for a place like Las Vegas where the party keeps going at all hours. Whether you just want to catch a late-night happy hour with some friends, grab a 2:00 am slice at the Cosmopolitan’s Secret Pizza joint or enjoy a near-private, late-night stroll through the Bellagio conservatory, Las Vegas just might be the place for you.
Las Vegas: Your New Home?
While there’s nothing quite like living in the Aloha State, we all get to a point where we at least think about a change of pace. If you decide to make Vegas your home, you’ll enjoy these five perks—and many more that you’ll discover on your own. Plus, if you ever decide that you miss island life, you can always move back, following in the footsteps of many, many Hawaii residents that came before you.
If these five factors have you thinking about a move to Vegas, we’d love to help! We’ve got solutions for every budget. Just reach out to us to get a free quote for your relocation to Vegas. We’ll send you to your new home with aloha (and we’ll be here if you want to return)!
Tell us about your move!