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Chapter 5 – Retiring In Maui

Retiring to Maui

The question you should be asking is why not retire to Maui? Financial perks for older adults, a healthy environment buoyed by temperate weather and leisure options in every direction are making the island a magnet for retirees. This fact is dawning on more and more people, with the proportion of seniors in the population increasing from 11 percent to 14 percent between 200 and 2012.

The blend of cultures in Hawaii offers special respect to kupuna, which translates to elder, or grandparent. The Valley Isle’s year-round average temperature of 79 degrees varies little from month to month. Forget the bitter winters or sweltering summers that keep you indoors and send heating and air bills through the roof.

Maui is small and easy to get around — no gridlock or long journeys to eat into your time for relaxing. It has world class golf courses in some of the world’s most spectacular scenery. There is fine dining, restaurants and art galleries galore.



  • #1 Wealth-Friendly Place in the Country for Retirees, Wealth Manager magazine
  • Five Places to Retire in Style for 2006, Fortune Magazine
  • Top 5 Luxury Family Travel Destinations, AARP The Magazine
  • Contender, Best Places to Live list of America’s top small towns in 2011, CNNMoney


Your first decision is going to be where and how to live. As a popular destination for retirees, Maui offers most types of housing on the radar of seniors. When it comes to single family homes, many houses have what is called an Ohana, an in-law suite. Ohana means family in the local language.  It’s normal for extended family to live together here and the state began encouraging the development of this type of housing in Hawaii in 1981 as a way to make home ownership more affordable. For the incoming retiree, it also offers the room for family to visit or the space to accommodate live-in care.

Depending on the community, condos and townhomes can offer a slightly less expensive option, whether to buy or rent. Anyone who doesn’t need the extra space has a better shot at getting spectacular views for a bit less money by going this route.

For seniors who want a little extra care and security, Maui also has some top class retirement communities.

Kalama Heights is an independent senior living community in Kihei, situated on the island’s Maalaea Bay. Kalama Heights offers what it calls an Independent Retirement Living model, which includes weekly housekeeping, three meals a day, transportation and a social calendar. But the key benefit is the complex’s Community Managers, residents who are available 24 hours a day to help their neighbors out. They keep the community safe and running and participate in daily life there, eating and socializing with the other residents. Units are available in studio-style, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Leases are month-to-month and the rent also includes utilities and cable TV, shuttle service, fitness classes, social, educational and recreation activities, and a travel program that offers up to seven nights’ stay in a guest suite at any other community owned by Holiday Retirement — and they have locations all over the U.S. It’s also pet friendly.

Kalama Heights is close to the Haleakala National Park, with its stunning volcanic landscape, and the Maui Ocean Center, voted Hawaii’s top-rated family attraction by U.S. Family Travel Guide. Kihei also has a multiplex movie theater and the Rainbow Mall, a quirky conglomeration of restaurants, dining and whimsical gift stores.

Kihei will also be home to the Regency Maui Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, it was announced in August 2013. The 175-bed skilled nursing and memory care facility will open on five acres in Kihei’s Maui Research and Technology Park.

Roselani Place is in Kahului and offers independent living and assisted living services. It can also provide memory care for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but does not offer intermediate or skilled nursing care. Accommodation is in studio and one-bedroom apartments, both standard and deluxe, on a month-to-month lease. The rent includes utilities, three meals a day, transportation, housekeeping and laundry service each week and various social and recreational opportunities, including health and fitness programs. Most crucially, Roselani Place provides 24-hour access to staff, with an emergency call system. Besides social and private dining rooms, the complex also has lounges, a library, a barber shop and a beauty salon.

Kula Hospital in the up-country is part of the Maui Memorial Medical Center system. Kula Hospital’s main function is as a long-term care facility with 99 Skilled Nursing Facility beds and nine Intermediate Care Facility beds. It also has a 24-hour emergency room, outpatient clinic with lab and x-ray services and an adjacent medical clinic.

Hale Makua was founded in 1946 for Maui elders who needed residential care but lacked the relatives to provide it or the means to pay. Almost 70 years later, it offers skilled nursing, intermediate and residential care in more than 250 beds in two locations, one each in Kahului and Wailuku. Hale Makua is an Eden Alternative Registered Home, with a philosophy of care focused on providing a home that feels like home, rather than an institution.  Hale Makua also offers in-home services.


As its population skews older, the state has paid more attention to seniors and their needs.  Many of the government’s outreach programs are useful to retirees who move here. Wealth Manager magazine called it the most wealth-friendly place in the country for retirees.

Hawaii doesn’t tax Social Security or government pension income, even from out of state. Retired military pay, military pensions and even some private pensions are also exempt from state income tax.. Seniors over 65 are also eligible for an additional personal exemption on their state income tax returns.

Prescription medications and prosthetic devices are exempt from the 4 percent general excise tax that Hawaii uses in place of a state sales tax.

Personal property, including cars and boats, are exempt from property taxes. And in Maui, $300,000 of a home’s value is exempt from property taxes. Rates here also tend to be lower than on the mainland, with schools funded by the state, rather than local governments.


What keeps retirees up at night worrying? How about cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders and pulmonary conditions? Maui is in the 25 percent of states with the lowest instances of all seven according to independent economic think tank the Milken Institute. The island is served by more than 60 medical specialists, 50-plus surgical specialists and about 30 general practitioners.


Should the need arise, there are three hospitals in the County of Maui, two of them on the island itself. The state-owned Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku is the largest acute care facility in the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, with more than 1,400 employees. The fully-accredited 213-bed teaching hospital’s specialized units include critical care; cardiac care; inpatient dialysis; a heart, brain and vascular center; wound care; respiratory therapy; plus recreational and physical therapy.

Moloka’i General Hospital is on neighboring  Moloka’i island but also part of the County of Maui. It has a 24-hour emergency department and 215 inpatient beds. The U.S. News & World Report found 80 percent of patients said they would recommend it to family and friends.

Also, while Medicare benefits vary from state to state, all Medicare enrollees in Hawaii receive free preventive services, such as colorectal cancer screenings, mammograms, and annual checkups. Medicare patients are also eligible for a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescriptions.


  • #2, Maui County, HI overall health,
  • #5, Maui County, HI clinical care,
  • #7, Maui County, HI health behaviors,
  • Get With The Guidelines – Heart Failure Gold Performance Achievement Award from the American Heart Association,  2010, Maui Memorial Medical Center
  • Get With The Guidelines – Stroke Care Silver Performance Achievement Award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, 2010, Maui Memorial Medical Center


Getting back to the mainland is a cinch, with Forbes ranking Maui’s Kahului airport the most punctual of America’s 50 busiest airports in 2007, and second in 2008. Several U.S. airlines offer direct service to Maui from airports as far inland as the Midwest.

Within the island, the short drives between points help mitigate the higher cost of gasoline and the County of Maui operates a public transit system with multiple bus routes that run seven days a week for $2 per ride. Monthly bus passes are available at a reduced rate for riders 55 and older. An ADA paratransit program offers transport for seniors unable to use the regular bus service because of a disability. Rides are booked in advance. The Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc. (MEO) system offers transportation to the Kaunoa Senior Center and rural shopping locales. MEO also runs a senior Red Card discount program that offers money off at local stores and businesses for those over 60.


Maybe you don’t feel like getting would likely be at least your second degree, but the University of Hawaii Maui College in Kahului Bay was a technical school and then a community college before becoming part of the state university system. It operates a culinary arts center and offers courses in music, horticulture, languages and more. The college operates an EdVenture Online Instruction Center that offers many classes entirely over the internet.


If you don’t mind a little more rain, Paia, on Maui’s northeastern side, is a place to avoid the crowds of tourists. Only eight miles from Kahului, There are fewer stores and restaurants, here, but it tends to be more affordable than the urbanized areas and still has the gorgeous beaches and natural beauty that makes Maui what it is. The town, while small, has delightful bakeries, antique stores and other curiosities in its wooden plantation-style structures that hearken back to the island’s days as a center for sugar cane.


Plenty of retirees feel the pull of teeing off amid some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Little wonder, then, that Maui is one of the world’s top golfing destinations. Kaanapali Golf Course hosts the Senior PGA Kaanapali Classic. annually and Kapalua Golf is home to the PGA Tour’s Mercedes Championship.  GOLF Magazine called The Dunes at Maui Lani one of the 35 best new courses in America and Golf Digest tabbed it One of the Five Best Kept Secret Golf Courses in America.


  • #17, America’s Greatest Public Golf Courses, Kapalua, Golf Digest
  • 35 Best New Courses in America, The Dunes at Maui Lani , GOLF Magazine
  • Five Best Kept Secret Golf Courses in America, The Dunes at Maui Lani, Golf Digest


If you’d rather lounge than swing, Maui’s beaches are consistently rated among the world’s finest.  Kapalua Beach in northwestern Maui ranked as one of Coastal Magazine‘s 21 Best Beaches in America. An appreciation for the arts will draw you to the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kihei. It’s home to the Maui Symphony Orchestra, which presents classical, Broadway, opera, and choral music year round. The center is also home to a range of seasonal shows, touring acts and an annual film festival each December. There is also a Maui Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, based in Kahului.


Maui also has a treasure trove of museums designed to enrich understanding of the island, its people and history, with more to discover upon each return visit. The Baldwin Home in Lahaina offers insight into the period of Hawaiian monarchy when western missionaries first arrived, while Kaanapali’s Whalers Village Museum houses the state’s largest collection of artefacts from the island’s 19th century whaling peak.

Lahainaluna High School  in Lahaina was built in 1837 and contains a detailed history of the written word on the island. Also in Lahaina, Hale Kahiko is an outdoor ancient Hawaiian village exhibit with a thatched house and underground oven. There are also museums incorporating Maui’s first prison and courtroom.

The near century-old Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center in Makawao features rotating art exhibits. In Wailuku, the Bailey House Museum is an 1833 mission house built on a royal Hawaiian site and is now home to the Maui Historical Society. The Alexander and Baldwin Museum in Pu’unene is a former plantation manager’s residence and provides a taste of life during the island’s time as a premier sugar producer.

Maui’s museums also capture something of its natural beauty. The 3-acre Maui Ocean Center in Maalaea Harbor is the largest tropical reef aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, with a tide pool, living coral reef, open ocean tank and a turtle lagoon. The Hawai’i Nature Center in Wailuku is an interactive nature museum with 30 hands-on exhibits and guided rainforest walks.


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