Wednesday, September 1, 1999


What price paradise?
Art For some, it may be a gallon of milk; for others, a takeout pizza or a video rental.

Many Hawaii residents have their pet peeves about retail items that cost much more here than on the mainland. Our high cost of living is often written off as the "price of paradise" or the "paradise tax" -- the premium we pay for living in the most beautiful place on Earth.

But are higher prices really justified by our distant location?

Earlier this year, the Star-Bulletin decided to examine Hawaii's cost of living. We turned to our award-winning consumer reporter, Rob Perez, who previously cast a bright light on Hawaii's high gas, milk and new car prices.

For this report, Perez traveled to three West Coast communities in June to compare prices of hundreds of goods and services with those in Honolulu. To make sure the comparisons were fair and meaningful, he mostly looked at retailers that have operations in all locations.

The extensive survey, along with scores of interviews, resulted in our two-day series "What Price Paradise?" starting today. Each four-page special section includes two full pages of survey results and reports on how some retailers charge similar prices here and on the West Coast while others tack on a steep "paradise premium." Part II is tomorrow.

Both sections are must reading for anyone who has ever wondered, "What Price Paradise?"


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