Last year, when I announced that I was moving to Honolulu, everyone I told seemed to gasp. “It’s very costly to live out there,” each one of them said using a variation of those ugly words. Well, let me assure you that if you’re looking for cheap (affordable) apartments in Honolulu, with a little luck, a little guidance, and a little effort, you will find some. Here are some tips.

Many apartments in Honolulu come furnished, since there are a lot of people who move to Hawaii with no furniture. It’s costly to move furniture from the mainland to the islands, and it’s usually not worth the cost. You’ll have to decide for yourself between a furnished or unfurnished Honolulu apartment. If you have furniture already on the island, then an unfurnished unit will be cheaper. However, if you do not, it will certainly cost you more to furnish an apartment yourself, then it would to pay the few extra bucks a month to use someone else’s furniture. My first apartment in Waikiki came furnished. The furniture was clean and aesthetically pleasing, and I was happy with my choice after renting the apartment sight unseen.

The next consideration is whether you are looking for a long-term or short-term rental. Generally, long-term rentals are cheaper. The reason for this being that the landlord won’t have to try to re-rent the apartment (a major pain) in a few short months. Also, moving in and out brings a lot of wear and tear on an apartment. So, look for a six or twelve month lease. Many landlords will offer their apartments at one price for a short-term lease and at another for a long-term. Ask the landlord if he or she can lower the rent if you sign on for a longer period of time. In addition, when looking for an apartment or condo, it is advisable to consider all the necessary factors. From location to accessibility to rates to amenities and facilities, there are several things that you need to pay attention to. The landmark condo is one of the best deals.

The next consideration is whether or not you need a swimming pool. Many apartment buildings in Honolulu, especially Waikiki, have swimming pools. While a swimming pool on the premises is nice to have, ask yourself if you really need one when your apartment is a few blocks away from the world-famous Waikiki Beach, with waters as warm as any olympic-sized heated pool. My first apartment in Waikiki didn’t have a pool. I thought I’d miss it, but with Waikiki Beach a few steps away, I didn’t in the least. Of course, apartments in buildings without swimming pools are generally cheaper than ones with.

One thing that can jack up the price of any Honolulu apartment is the view. Even a crappy apartment that overlooks the sparkling Pacific Ocean is going to cost you an arm and a leg. How many hours are you going to be spend staring out at that ocean during each day? Will it be enough to warrant the extra cost? I moved to Waikiki to write my first novel, so my apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a wide open lanai that also served as a kitchen was inspiring, and thus well worth the extra cost. But for many people, an apartment is just a place to lay their head down at night, so a view may not be as important.

The same goes for apartments on higher floors. Apartment rents rise as the apartment does. My first Waikiki apartment was on the 23rd floor, and thus more expensive. Why? A better view for one. If you’re in the market for a cheap apartment in Honolulu, look at the high-rises and then select a unit on the second or third floor.

Likewise, the closer the apartment is to the beach, the more money you’ll pay in rent. So, look for your cheap Honolulu apartment farther away from the beach. That doesn’t mean the beach can’t be within walking distance of your cheap apartment, you may just have to walk a little further.

The final consideration is an important one: Do you needparking? If you don’t own a car and take public transportation to work, clearly you do not. And your typical Honolulu apartment without parking is going to be cheaper. Like any major city, parking is a commodity, and it’s a costly one at that. If you do have a car, don’t plan on simply parking it on the street. It could be a daily nightmare looking for a spot.

If you currently live on the mainland, the best place to start looking for a cheap Honolulu apartment is Craigslist. There are tons of them. Check every day. At the very least, you’ll get a good feel of rental prices and what you’ll get for your buck. I ignore the postings without pictures. If the landlords can’t afford a digital camera or a scanner, what’s their property going to look like? Also, check out the online edition of the Honolulu Advertiser.

Aloha, and mahalo (thank you) for reading. Good luck in finding cheap Honolulu apartments – they are out there. Just heed my advice and start looking.