March 10, 2010

What $100 Worth of Groceries Looks Like – Florida vs. Hawaii

The main reason I decided to migrate down to Florida is because I am a sucker for tropical climates. I love palm trees, warm weather, and beaches more than anything. While Hawaii is the perfect place for this, I didn’t want to return to the high cost of living that Honolulu had to offer.

After doing a few cost of living checks, I learned the most of Florida is relatively affordable. However, it wasn’t until the other day when my girlfriend and I were grocery shopping that the cost of living difference between here and Hawaii really hit me.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of what $100 will get you in each state:


This photo was taken in 2007, so the prices may be a tad outdated. Everything in the picture was purchased from a Sam’s Club in Honolulu for roughly $100.

Items included:

  • 1 Bag of Mixed Fruit
  • 1 Box of Cereal
  • 1 Bag of Beef Jerky
  • 1 Package of Deli Turkey (Double-pack)
  • 2 Loaves of Whole Wheat Bread
  • 1 Bag of Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 Bunch of Bananas
  • 1 Bag of Frozen Vegetables
  • 1 Bag of Frozen Broccoli
  • 1 Bottle of Mrs. Dash Spices
  • 1 Bag of Tilapia

That’s it…


This photo was taken a few days ago and most of the items were purchased at a local produce stand or natural food market. Everything came in at roughly $93.

Items included:

  • 2 Bottles of Organic Lime Juice
  • 2 Bottles of Olive Oil
  • 2 Bottles of Organic Soy Sauce
  • 1 Bottle of Orange Juice
  • 1/2 Gallon of Organic Milk
  • 4 lbs. of Organic Oatmeal
  • 3 lbs. of Organic Chickpeas
  • 1 Dozen Eggs (Free Range)
  • 3 lbs. of Frozen Blueberries
  • 2 lbs. of Carrots
  • 7 Bunches of Broccoli
  • 4 Sweet Potatoes
  • 7 Zucchinis
  • 1 Piece of Fresh Ginger Root
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 3 Bags of Spinach
  • 7 (Huge) Apples
  • 1 Bunch of Strawberries
  • 1 Bunch of Bananas
  • 1 Gallon of Vinegar
  • 1 Bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide
  • 1 Rolling Pin
  • 1 Bar of 100% Cocoa

A Clear Winner

It is pretty crazy when you can see the cost difference side-by-side. Not only was I able to buy a lot more stuff (and better quality), I was also able to support a few local businesses at the same time.

Just curious…do you think you could get more or less where you live?

17 thoughts on “What $100 Worth of Groceries Looks Like – Florida vs. Hawaii

  1. Adam Pieniazek

    Less. Living in Massachusetts, especially right now during the transition from Winter to Spring, means almost all our food comes from elsewhere and is thus more expensive (plus general higher cost of living here) and less fresh.

    I’m jealous looking at that huge stash, I’d guess that would run ~$130~ up here.

  2. Colin Wright

    Wow, that’s a pretty stark comparison!

    Would love to see more of this. I’m always trying to get the most for my dollar, and when I’m back in the States it’s difficult to accurately compare (since the contrast isn’t always as obvious as, say the difference between what you can get in Los Angeles and Buenos Aires for $100).

  3. Willow

    Interesting comparison. I live in a community where there is a vibrant year round farmers market. My husband keeps numbers in his head very well, and he says that we pay the same for our local produce that the ‘big stores’ charge unless there is a sale item. When we moved from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California, our dairy products started costing us double, and most other food was more expensive than in PNW. But now with buying at the farmers market, we are getting so much real food and better, fresher quality.

  4. Elke

    Living in Belgium, I think I could get all that for about 60€, though buying strawberries right now wouldn´t be a good idea, they´re way out of season now.

  5. Tim Stiffler-Dean

    I can definitely get more than that here in Ohio. I’ve gone to the store with $40 and come out with about as much as you got in FL. Now, maybe the quality isn’t as good (it’s Ohio, after all) but it’s still a pretty big difference.

    Now, compare that to NY where they charge $4 for a pop!

  6. Liz

    Everything is just more expensive in Hawaii. I use to live there and I think that’s where I learned my most frugal habits. However I’ve also been to Florida and, weatherwise, I must say I prefer Hawaii.

  7. lladro porcelain figurines

    I also lived in Hawaii for a time and I think most any of the mainland states are cheaper than Hawaii when it come to groceries. Hawaii has to have so much imported which costs them more. Florida, btw, is a great alternative, hope you’re enjoying it 🙂

  8. Chris

    I highly doubt you could get all of that for $60 in Ohio. Most of those products come from places like, say, FLORIDA so they are cheaper there. Also having lived in Hawai’i, I would agree that if you buy the same things you buy on the mainland, it is probably twice to three times as much. Just like with anywhere remote, the key is to buy local in every sense possible. If you eat things native (or at least commonplace) to Hawai’i, you can do it cheap. I’ve never had better options at lunch in my life than a $4 plate lunch!

  9. Thomas

    25 Cents for papaya, coconuts are free
    lychee season! get any papaya, lychee, mountain apple, lilikoi, guava, pineapples, sugar cane inflorida?

  10. laszlo

    We’re vegan and live in SW Florida…the gulf side. Thanks for the compare. We get some amazingly cheap organic and ‘low pesticide’ veg down here at cash only Farmers Markets. Like 5 tomatoes for a buck. Like BokChoy for 99 cents a head…crispy!

  11. Amy

    I agree with the person who said you can eat cheap if you eat local. Why go to Hawaii if you want to live like a mainlander? Some of the things that people say make it hard to live in Hawaii are why it appeals to me. I’m not into going out for entertainment or traditional nightlife. Right now, we’re considering the pros and cons of both Florida and Hawaii. Some things that people hate about Florida, such as the humidity and flat topography, are what I love. I have fibromyalgia, and my body does better in the humidity and is also affected by barometric pressure, which makes Hawaii the best place for me to live, followed closely by Florida. My husband, however, hates the heat, so Hawaii would be better for him. He’s also quite “traditional” though, so I think the Hawaii life and eating local might be pretty hard on him. Florida isn’t as flat as some people think. There are some pretty good waterfalls, from what I’ve seen. Siesta Key has one of the best beaches in the world. Pure white, sugar – fine sand that never gets hot. It’s 99% pure quartz. I’m not fond of the alligators, but there’s also Manitees. And I compared prices for houses in Sarasota and Hilo. They really aren’t that different. I was pleasantly shocked. It all really depends on where my husband can get work. He’s a pastor. I have an early retirement disability salary through the railroad. We’re poor as far as US averages. So for either place, we’ll have to have a job in place to afford anything.


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