Price of paradise is becoming too high for some to call the Hawaiian islands home

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — For Kaimuki-native, Bobby Bergonio, moving to Oregon was a no-brainer.

“The cost of living is just, there’s no comparison,” said Bobby Bergonio, former Hawaii resident who recently moved to Oregon.

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Bergonio has been living in Portland for just two months but said the move has already taken the pressure off of his wallet.

“I can go to the grocery store here and maybe spend $30 or $40 for a week of groceries, and in Hawaii, you have to spend maybe like $50 or $60 or up to, maybe even like, $100 just to have a week’s worth of groceries,” Bergonio explained.

According to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO), Hawaii’s population started seeing a downward trend consecutively since 2017. In 2018, Hawaii residents were moving to California, Texas, Nevada, Washington and North Carolina. From 2019 to 2020, the number of people moving away dipped slightly, but experts said it could be related to the COVID pandemic.

Another reason for Bergonio’s move was the record-high housing market that does not seem to be slowing down.

“We still have a lot of people that need to have to own their first home,” said Shannon Heaven, 2021 president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors. “We just have a lack of supply and until that catches up or interest rates rise dramatically, I think we’re still going to always have this issue. This is an issue that we had before COVID, we were behind in being able to produce products for people before that.”

It is not just home prices that have been raised. A trip to the grocery store now will land consumers a bigger bill.

“You go into the supermarket and all of a sudden your bill has jumped, but you’re not buying as many items as you normally have,” said Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

Global shipping delays and shortages are to blame for the increased cost of goods.

“From food items to clothing to sporting goods, electronics, home improvement items, building material — it’s across the board, and there’s nothing that hasn’t been affected by this,” Yamaki said.

Born and raised in the islands, Bergonio hopes to one day call Hawaii home again. For now, moving away was his best bet.

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“Hawaii will be home no matter where you are. It was a big decision to move away. I think for me it was more of a personal choice to know that I’m able to afford more things and save more money. I didn’t want to live with my parents for the rest of my life,” Bergonio said.

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