Best Islands To Live On: Big Island, Hawaii

Why move to the Big Island of Hawaii
"What if we went on a dreamy island vacation ... and never left?" Sometimes, on the right island, the question percolates: "What would our house look like? What about my job?" And sometimes, on the perfect island, the questions have answers. No place on the Best Islands to Live On list inspires (and answers) these questions like the Big Island of Hawaii. Just ask Tyler Mercier, who moved here with his wife: "We were planning to take a year off, and it has turned into three." Hiking around an active volcano, tasting tropical fruit at a farmers market, finding an empty beach — this island has a knack for raising that priceless, whimsical question. And the best part: It keeps inspiring long after you've found the answer.

Comforts of home on the Big Island
Moving to Hawaii is as realistic as moving to any other state. And the Big Island is equipped for a modern lifestyle. Says Tyler: "We have great Internet service, discount stores like Target and Costco. Plus, there are wonderful local fruits, grassfed beef and abundant fish. We have the benefits of a Pacific island along with the United States' infrastructure."

Houses for sale on the Big Island
A plantation-era house with a wraparound porch. An off-the-grid bungalow where you grow your own food. A compact condo with turnkey luxury. Whatever you're in the market for, chances are you'll find it on the Big Island. And since there's plenty of real estate on this 4,030-square-mile island — yet considerably fewer people than nearby Oahu — chances are you'll find the right price too. Your options are all over the map — from small-town Hilo to luxurious Kohala to active Kona — and so are prices. Find a two-bedroom bungalow for $200,000 or a five-bedroom spread for $1.5 million. See a fun photo gallery of Hawaii dream houses for sale.

Jobs on the Big Island
Trade in a fast-paced job for the slow life like Tyler: "I worked in Silicon Valley. Now I spend a lot of time snorkeling, going with the flow and writing for our blog," Or start a new career like Katherine Patton, who moved to the Big Island from San Francisco: "My business partner and I were project managers for Bank of America. When we moved here, we used those skills to build Hilo Coffee Mill from an overgrown sugar-cane field to 24 lush acres." No work visa to acquire, no language barrier to break through — just an island full of possibility.

Daily life on the Big Island
"Forget watching Lost; we have way better entertainment that's all just around the corner," says Jessica Ferracane, who has lived on the Big Island for more than 10 years. "If it's raining at our house in Mountain View, we load the standup paddle boards on the truck and head to Pohoiki. Or we drive three hours to Kailua and snorkel in some of the clearest waters I've seen. It's like going on vacation, but never far from home. I've never gotten 'rock fever' on the Big Island." It's probably the most exotic thing any island has to offer — peace, simplicity, aloha. Whatever you call it, that magic island ingredient is easy to find on the Big Island. "It's extremely rare for someone to honk a horn in traffic. It's just bad form, really," Jessica says. "This is one of the last places in the world where you can still find those beaches where sea turtles outnumber people." Any questions?

Great island for: Everyone.
Really. Small towns, big towns, hot weather, cool weather, primary schools, universities, golf, surf, volcanoes — the Big Island has it all.

First step to move: Just do it.
There's no immigration process to navigate; all you have to do is call a mover and ship your belongings.

See the Big Island and more islands ranked on the Top 20 Best Islands to Live On.