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The problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
I wasn’t going to write a blog post about Airbnb in Hawaii, but I keep answering the same questions, so I thought it was time. So, what is the problem with Airbnb in Hawaii?
Well, honestly, there are a few problems. There is one problem that you might not care about (even though you should) and one that you definitely will care about.
The problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
First, there is a shortage of affordable housing in Hawaii. You might not think this affects you if you do not live in Hawaii, but it does. The lack of affordable housing is starting to cause problems with entry-level jobs in Hawaii.
For example, most people can’t afford to live working a lower-paying job, which is causing problems for those who live in Hawaii and tourists alike.
There are very high turnovers at employers like Wal-Mart, Target, etc., and sometimes even a shortage of workers.
This results in short staffing, long lines, and plenty of other problems. If you think the housing cost doesn’t affect tourists, it does.
If people can’t afford to live there and work at places like Target or Starbucks, it affects tourism. As of the writing of this blog post, there have been huge issues with this affecting the Kona area, but the problem has been around for a while.
This problem has become even worse after Hawaii’s shutdown in 2020. With so many people working remotely, Hawaii became a more viable option for many and housing prices soared.
What does this have to do with Airbnb?
You might be wondering, what does Airbnb in Hawaii have to do with this problem? The short answer is that there is more money in short-term rentals than long-term rentals.
So much of the housing that was, or could be used for locals is being used for short-term rentals (Airbnb, etc.) which are causing a shortage of rentals.
I always tell my clients that there are plenty of options beyond Airbnb, there are even resorts that condo-style if you prefer to be somewhere that is more like home.
But the prices…
One reason that people choose Airbnb is the price, but the pricing is deceptive. $150 per night sounds like a good deal until you add on all the taxes, cleaning fees, etc., and then it ends up being the same price as anywhere else.
There are plenty of hotels, resorts, and condos that having similar pricing to Airbnb, without the risk.
The second (big) problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
Yes, risk. Let’s talk about that now. The second reason why Airbnb in Hawaii can be a bad idea. Airbnb was recently ordered to share its top 1000 rentals with the state of Hawaii. Why? Because a lot of Airbnb owners do not pay taxes in Hawaii.
They were able to get away with this for a long time as the laws were pretty lax. However, the requirements are getting stricter every year.
This means that more and more Airbnb rentals are closing down without any reason or warning. Either to be sold or to be converted to a different type of rental.
The ISO in Kauai is an affordable, oceanfront option in Kauai that is a great alternative to Airbnb! Click here to read my full review.
Having an Airbnb rented and then having it disappear happens, especially after 2020 and 2021. It will continue to happen as the laws get stricter and as Airbnb releases information to the state of Hawaii.
Even if you don’t care about affordable housing in Hawaii, you should care that your rental could disappear!
Sure, you should be able to get your money back (eventually), but you’ll be left without a rental.
The real problem with Airbnb in Hawaii
That isn’t even the biggest problem. Airbnb isn’t regulated in any way. If you have a problem, you have to deal with it through Airbnb, and they aren’t necessarily on your side.
If you think your Travel Insurance covers Airbnb, you better check because not all of them do.
Just to be clear, I don’t hate Airbnb. I actually love Airbnb! Years ago, we used Airbnb in Hawaii, but now we don’t due to the uncertainty. I still use Airbnb from time to time in Florida, but never in Hawaii.
If you do choose to use Airbnb in Hawaii, just proceed with caution and make sure to choose a highly rated host.
Airbnb alternatives in Hawaii
If you like Airbnb because you like staying in a condo, I get it! I feel the same way. Luckily, there are plenty of resorts and hotels that are regulated with condo-style accommodations.
VRBO is a decent Airbnb alternative in Hawaii because it is owned by Expedia. I would recommend VRBO over Airbnb any day.
While it does operate in the same way as Airbnb and this problem #1 still exists, it’s still better than Airbnb due to being more reliable.
I recommend checking prices on Expedia or Apple Vacations to find the best deals. I have plenty of Hawaii Travel Tips that will help you along the way:
- 20 things you should never do in Hawaii
- 7-day Kauai Itinerary
- My best Hawaii travel tips
- Why consider a Hawaiian island cruise
- How to fight jet lag in Hawaii
- How to visit Hawaii on a budget
Airbnb in Hawaii
If you are set on using Airbnb, I understand. I love Airbnb rentals in other destinations, and I hope that the Airbnb issues in Hawaii will be resolved. You can use my link to get $55 off your first stay on Airbnb wherever it may be. Again, I’d recommend VRBO over Airbnb!
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Hi Amy, my question is, what if you don’t want to stay in a hotel or Waikiki? I was fortunate enough to stay with friends last time I visited but I’m hoping that I can visit again with my husband in a few years and renting a house would be nice.
Hi Meghan! I’m not sure what you mean by Waikiki? You definitely have options beyond a hotel. There are plenty of ways to rent a condo or even a house without going through Airbnb. I would definitely recommend reaching out to a Travel Agent when you plan your next trip! Feel free to sign up for my emails if you want to keep in touch until then!
Thanks for all your posts!! My fiancé and I can’t wait to travel to HI for our honeymoon. Curious- are there any other intimate, low key resorts in Kauai that are actually beach front? It looks like Koa Kea doesn’t have great access to a beach.
Hey Brittney, maybe the ISO?? It had availability the other day. I have a review: https://amyfillinger.com/the-iso-kauai-review/ Not a ton of last-minute availability but you can always email me email@example.com if you need to!!
I checked out your links but not having much luck. Need to be in Hilo Hawaii for 6 months, 2b2b minimum. Any other suggestions?
I would get in touch with a realtor or rental agent for that amount of time.