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The word "aloha" -- the greeting Hawaiians almost sing when they welcome visitors or meet one another -- means love. And from the moment one arrives, it's hard not to feel the love. Hawaii is a land of powder-sugar sand, lush palms, majestic Pacific Ocean views, and laid-back living. The state's diverse landscape includes volcanoes, snow-capped mountains (yes, there's skiing in Hawaii ) rain forests and a unique local culture with Polynesian, Tahitian and Asian influences. It's the kind of locale many spend their day fantasizing about, which is probably why baby boomers rated Hawaii their top choice when asked where they'd want to live other than their home state, according to a recent Harris poll.
After a look at the prices in Hawaii, boomers might find themselves rethinking that fantasy. According to Sperling's Best Places, Hawaii's cost of living is 77% higher than the national average and the median home will set you back $495,700. (Don't expect to see the ocean for that price.) And forget about the ultimate in a Hawaiian retirement paradise, the lovely beaches of Kaanapali on Maui. With a cost of living that's 163% higher than the national average and median home prices that are over $1 million, Kaanapali makes even ultra-pricey mainland favorites like Nantucket and Kennebunkport look affordable. Plus, trips back to the rest of U.S. are pricey and time-consuming (a round-trip ticket from Honolulu to Los Angeles routinely costs upwards of $500 and each leg of the flight takes about five hours). Quality health care also isn't easily within reach for those who don't live in Honolulu or a larger city, says Kaleialoha Cadinha-Pua'a, president of financial advisory firm Chadinha & Co.
But before putting Hawaii on the "never going to happen" list, consider that there are some significantly cheaper -- notice we didn't...