Homesteading might not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Hawaii, but this idyllic state offers great opportunities for people considering a total change by starting a homestead.
Is homesteading legal in Hawaii? Hawaii has some strict rules about who legally qualifies to start an official homestead. However, with the warm climate, fertile land, and lack of predators, the state is ideal for those who would like to live a rural, self-sufficient homestead lifestyle.
According to the Hawaii constitution, you must be 18 years of age and of Hawaiian descent. The law further clarifies that you must either be a Hawaiian native or have at least 50% Hawaiian blood.
Hawaiian blood is identified as any of the races that inhabited Hawaii before 1778.
Although that narrows the pool of official homesteading candidates considerably, if you do qualify, you will have the chance of a lifetime to live off the grid or simply change your lifestyle in the pristine lands of the Hawaiian islands.
Just remember that homesteading is more of a frame of mind than anything else. With a piece of rural property and tons of determination, you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of in an idyllic setting.
So let’s take a closer look at what it takes to get you started with a homestead in Hawaii.
Homesteading in Hawaii
As far as tropical islands go, Hawaii is a true paradise. It has fertile land enriched with old volcano eruptions, and the weather couldn’t be any more ideal for growing tropical crops.
Moreover, the Hawaiian government offers homesteaders lots of incentives that make life away from the rat race even more appealing.
But apart from the strict qualification rules, buying land in Hawaii is rather complicated and can be very expensive.
Hawaii Homestead Laws
The homestead laws in Hawaii have some similarities to other state laws. Once a property is designated as a homestead, that automatically protects you from creditors.
That said, each island has its own specific laws, especially when it comes to the maximum size allowed for each homestead.
Before you look for a land parcel to buy, you need to check the local homestead laws in that jurisdiction.
Hawaii Livestock Laws
Since cattle are a precious commodity in the state of Hawaii, the livestock laws are rather protective of them as well as other farm animals you raise.
Animal rights are enshrined in the state law, and any form of torture, including overdriving, overloading, or being cruel to your farm animals, is punishable by the law.
Hawaii Zoning Laws
In Hawaii, the Land Use Ordinance (LUO) classified the land of the island into different zoning districts. Each zone is assigned a classification that limits its use.
The classifications include residential, commercial, agricultural, business, industrial, and preservation zones.
Each zoning district has its own subcategories that further limit the options of the landowner in terms of how to use and develop that land parcel.
Hawaii Cottage Food Laws
Prior to 2017, it was prohibited for people to make food and sell it without obtaining a bunch of licenses first.
However, these laws were amended recently, and now you’re allowed to make low-risk foods and sell them from the comfort of your kitchen.
As long as these homemade foods don’t carry the risk of transmitting diseases, you can go ahead and sell them without a permit.
Hawaii Homestead Exemption
Homestead exemption in Hawaii is not as generous as in other states, such as Florida. If you’re the head of the family or over 65 years old, you have an exemption of $30,000.
For every other homesteader, the exemption is only $20,000.
Hawaii Gun Laws
You have to be 21 to get a license to carry a gun in Hawaii. The license is only valid for the county that issues it. Both open carry and concealed carry are allowed as long as you have a valid license.
Without a license, carrying a gun on your person or in your car is considered a class B felony.
Available Land in Hawaii
According to official statistics, the total land area in Hawaii is 6,995,840 acres as of 2017. Out of this, farmland takes up about 1,135,352 acres.
This is further divided into just 191,175 acres for cropland, 761,816 acres for permanent pasture and rangeland, 88,813 acres for woodland, and 93,548 acres of land for buildings.
Hawaii Land Prices
The land in Hawaii is quite precious and sells for very expensive prices tags. On average, a land parcel or a farm will set you back 2 million dollars.
However, the location of the land can be a decisive factor. Land on the oceanfront is naturally more expensive than land located in the path of volcanoes.
So these are considerations to take in mind when selecting the island or district in which to buy.
The tropical climate of Hawaii has two seasons: a hot season from May to October where the temperature averages 85℉ and a cooler season from November to April where the temperature is in the mid-70s.
The average rainfall is 49 inches, and the island state has five growing zones: 9a to 13a.
Hawaii Growing Season
Thanks to the tropical climate and relatively mild weather, the growing season in Hawaii lasts all year long. You can grow tropical fruits every month of the year without the need for greenhouses.
The soil is naturally fertile and rich, and the quality of the produce is exceptionally high.
Most crops grow unaided and without hard work. There’s no fear of frost or unpredictable weather conditions.
Number of Homesteaders in Hawaii
The strict laws and regulations regarding homesteading in Hawaii have kept the number of homesteaders quite low compared to other states.
It is estimated that the island state has about 10,000 homesteaders as of this writing.
Is Hawaii Good for Off-Grid Living?
Hawaii is a good place to get out of the busy city life and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. The abundance of natural resources and the mild weather are also suitable for those who want to unplug.
That said, some parts of the island state are so remote that you might have to generate your own electricity.
Can You Homeschool in Hawaii?
Hawaii recognizes homeschooling as a legitimate education form. However, as a parent, you’ll need to initiate the process yourself.
How To Find Land for Homesteading
As with other states, the land parcels available in the island state of Hawaii can be viewed on property websites like Land Watch, Zillow, and other similar websites.
Tips for Homesteading in Hawaii
The Hawaii island is the best for homesteading of all the islands that comprise the state of Hawaii.
And thanks to the long growing season that lasts all year round, you can grow tropical fruits for which only a few places in the USA are suitable.
List of Helpful Resources
- Hawaii Farmers Union United
- Slow Food Hawaii
- Hāmākua Ag Cooperative
- Hawaii Organic Farming Association
- Hawaii Agricultural Foundation
- Hawaii Public Seed Initiative
- University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Cooperative Extension
- Farmers Voice Hawaii
- GoFarm Hawaii
- Malama Kaua’i
- Hawaii Farm Bureau
Can You Live Off the Land in Hawaii?
The land in Hawaii is naturally fertile. Years of volcano eruptions and volcano ash have enriched the soil in ways unparalleled across the whole of the United States.
This reflects both on the quality of the fresh fruits and vegetables you can grow in the land as well as the nutritious grass for your livestock.
Once you got your homestead up and running, you can practically live off the land with little need for any visits to the local supermarket.
Does Hawaii Have Any Predators?
One of the best qualities of living in Hawaii is the absence of any large predators. Even snakes have no presence on the islands.
That means you and your family are safe to go to picnics or travel across the length and breadth of the land. Your livestock can also graze in safety.
For the aspiring homesteader, Hawaii offers a great opportunity to make your dream come true. As long as you have Hawaiian blood, you can buy a parcel of land and start your official homestead.
Otherwise, forgo the official status, and just adopt a homestead, self-sufficient lifestyle on a rural property.
The fertile land and the long growing season make the island state the ultimate destination for the homesteader.