Puerto Rico Vs. Hawaii: Which Is Better To Live In?

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Can you really go wrong with a tropical island? Both Puerto Rico and Hawaii enjoy amazing year-round weather, luxury beaches, and fantastic leisure opportunities. Between the low-key culture and the outdoorsy vibe, it is hard to choose a winner between these two locations.

Puerto Rico, although fun, festive, and culturally significant, should not be overlooked. This state is a fantastic location that is becoming safer every year and has stellar job growth expected in the coming years. Consult with the local chamber of commerce or a real estate agent to learn more about each state before seriously considering a move for you and your family.

Which State Is Better: Puerto Rico or Hawaii?

Comparing two states can be difficult, especially with the varied landscape within the state. Of course, different cities will drive other metrics, so it is best to get an average idea of the state as a whole for our purposes. It is no surprise that millionaires live in both tropical locations. Still, we will only consider how the average, typical person works, moves, and lives throughout Hawaii and Puerto Rico for our purposes.

Quality of Life

It is pretty hard not to have a good quality of life living on a tropical island, and it goes without saying that both Hawaii and Puerto Rico are far higher than average compared to other locations around the world. When comparing these two locations to one another, though, Hawaii is the clear winner. In Hawaii, residents will have more purchase power, enjoy a safer community, a better climate, and less pollution. Comparatively, the traffic and morning commute will be about the same between the two locations.

Winner: Hawaii

Cost of Living

Comparing these two locations will see a dramatic divide. Living in Puerto Rico will be about 37% less expensive than in Hawaii. One of the most significant indicators is housing, obviously, but surprisingly food will be 30% cheaper in Puerto Rico. Further, transportation is about 34% less, and healthcare will be about 43% less.

Winner: Puerto Rico

Housing Costs

When it comes to housing, there is a drastic divide between these states. To purchase a house in Hawaii, expect to pay well above the national average, with homes in high-demand locations stretching well into the multi-million dollar range. For the average resident, though, Hawaii is still almost five times more expensive than Puerto Rico for a home or a one-bedroom rental.

Many of the best places to retire in Puerto Rico offer affordable housing.

Puerto RicoHawaii
Median House Price$160,000$672,000
Average Rent 1 Bedroom$580$2,213

Winner: Puerto Rico

Job Market

Both Puerto Rico and Hawaii have a much higher than average unemployment rate. However, looking at future growth, Puerto Rico is projected to have much more opportunity. Still, it is doubtful that it will be enough to catch up to Hawaii’s booming economy, even with additional job growth. Comparing the median household income amounts, Hawaii is nearly four times the amount of Puerto Rico.

The main industries for Hawaii are tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing. For Puerto Rico, the main industries on the island include pharmaceuticals and electronics. The main employers in Puerto Rico are Evertec Inc. and the Hospital San Lucas Ponce.

Puerto RicoHawaii
Projected 10-Year Growth38.10%15%
Median Household Income$20,539$83,102
Median Personal Income$12,081$36,989

Winner: Hawaii


Much of Hawaiian culture is driven by tradition and a range of ethnic influences. There is a steady flow of happiness and joy for life felt throughout the island and shared by the residents. This state offers a slowed-down, even pace that is low-stress and comforting.

Comparatively, Puerto Rico’s culture is influenced by history, and there is a strong tradition of the Taino Indians, Spanish, and African culture felt throughout the island. Much of Puerto Rico’s culture results from an exchange with the United States, and there is a fun and vibrant US and Caribbean culture met with a twist.

Winner: Tie


When it comes to leisure, both of these islands are all about being outside. Hawaii is made up of multiple islands, and each can offer plenty of hiking, water sports, waterfalls, and more. Visit botanical gardens, or visit historic locations like Pearl Harbor. There are endless opportunities for diving and snorkeling, seeing the unique marine wildlife throughout the state.

Comparatively, Puerto Rico also has plenty of beaches for adventures. There are also plenty of hiking opportunities with the country’s endless mountains and waterfalls. A trip to San Juan will allow residents to check out the historic fortresses. Or, visit Isla Verde, where residents can enjoy bars and casinos.

Winner: Tie


Hawaii is made up of several individual islands, and transportation is largely facilitated through small aircraft or boats. On each island, there is a reliable bus system. Many highways are narrow and windy to navigate the changing landscape, which can make for slow and tedious commutes. Hawaii is home to an international airport that brings millions of tourists and visitors each year.

Although Hawaii transportation may seem less than ideal, Puerto Rico has an even more rugged transportation system. There is an international airport, but many of the roads through this island are only rough paved. A metro rail, bus system, and ferry can help transport people from one part of the country to another. There are also several ports to accommodate trade ships, supply ships, and the ever-popular cruise ships.

Winner: Hawaii


Hawaii has a highly varied demographic spread with several Asian influences. About 26% of the population identifies as White, 37% Asian, 10% Native, and 2.6% Black. Much of the Asian heritage comes from either Filipino or Japanese descent.

Interestingly, Puerto Rico is not nearly as varied as Hawaii, and the racial spread is much more narrow. 75% of the population is White, 12% Black, and only 0.2% Asian. During the 19th century, a large influx of immigrants arrived in Puerto Rico from Portugal, France, and Lebanon.

Winner: Hawaii


Hawaii is the only state in the US with a unified school system that is uniform across the entire state. Although there is a cooperative effort to improve the school systems, Hawaii public schools routinely test below average for students but occasionally score well for mathematics. There are several universities and colleges to choose from for higher education, including the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University.

Although Puerto Rico has a unified public school system that the government runs, very few students graduate from high school. Only about 60% of enrolled students graduate. However, of that 60%, nearly 30% of them go on to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Higher education options for students in Puerto Rico are slim, but they can attend the University of Puerto Rico or the National University College in Puerto Rico.

Winner: Hawaii


Both Hawaii and Puerto Rico see some pretty incredible weather year-round. However, Hawaii has far less extreme weather due to its coastal climate and location. Summers are around the high 80s, and winter temperatures barely change, with the temperature dipping to the low 80s. Hawaii has a definite wet and dry season throughout the year.

Puerto Rico has a year-round average temperature of 85 degrees F. In lower elevations where the weather is colder; an average temperature of 70 degrees F is normal. The one big challenge with Puerto Rico is that this tiny island can experience intense tropical storms and hurricanes rather frequently.

Winner: Hawaii

Crime Rates

Hawaii has an unbelievable low crime rate and is one of the safer states in the country. Comparing Pacific states, Hawaii is tied with Washington as the second-lowest crime city. There are only 2.9 incidents for every 1,000 people. Total violent crimes were only 260 cases for every 100,000 people.

Puerto Rico is almost as safe as Hawaii when it comes to violent crimes. Considering rape, murder, and assault cases, Puerto Rico experienced only 284 cases for every 100,000 residents, which is well below the national average. In recent years, Puerto Rico has seen a steady 8% decline in crime every year.

High crime is one of the cons of living in Puerto Rico.

Winner: Hawaii

Related Questions

What is the wealthiest part of Puerto Rico?

Much of Puerto Rico is varied, similar to the United States. Just like the US, parts of the country are more wealthy than others. The richest city in Puerto Rico is Guaynabo, where much of the city’s commerce and activities are. The per capita income in his town is $24,262. The second wealthiest city in Puerto Rico is San Juan, which has a per capita income of $18,160. The third richest city in the country is Guarabo.

How many tourists do residents in Hawaii have to live with each day?

It is no secret that one of the primary industries in Hawaii is tourism. Living in Hawaii will undoubtedly force the residents to interact with tourists daily if you live in popular tourist destination locations. Sticking to more residential areas, away from resorts and restaurants, will help you avoid the ongoing flow of tourists that visit this island every year.


Both are islands; both have fantastic weather, and both present wonderful opportunities to new residents. So how is it possible to choose just one winner between Hawaii and Puerto Rico?

When examining the strong education, varied culture, and endless opportunities for exploration and leisure activity, Hawaii is the winner. Not only does the state have consistent temperatures and great weather year-round, but it has an extremely high median income. The housing may cost significantly more, the overall high quality of life helps make up for the pretty penny you’ll pay to live on a tropical island.

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