In an era when median salaries are stagnant and the overall price of paradise in the islands continues to rise, the cost of living can feel downright oppressive.
It led a local family to flee the islands on economic grounds and a devoted schoolteacher to spend nearly a year living out of his truck. It made residents who have been here for decades choose relaxed golden years thousands of miles away over a vulnerable retirement on Oahu. It can reduce people worth a million bucks or more down to fairly standard middle-class consumers. And it can redefine the traditional middle class’ economic dreams to just staying afloat.