This Vegas civic club serves 50,000 former Hawaii residents. It could soon be serving more.

Dealers in masks wait for customers at the D Las Vegas hotel and casino.
Dealers in masks wait for customers at the D Las Vegas hotel and casino.(John Locher | AP)
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 3:36 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 4:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club serves a community of more than 50,000 former Hawaii residents who now live in the Ninth Island.

And they could soon be serving more.

Market experts say Hawaii’s slowly rebounding economy and tougher COVID restrictions are likely to spur more Hawaii families to make the move to the mainland, including Las Vegas.

The University of Nevada at Las Vegas is also preparing for an increase in interest from the islands.

“We continue to see interest from Hawaii students every year,” said Woody Hoshibata, an admissions coordinator for UNLV.

Hoshibata works specifically with students from Hawaii looking to study at UNLV, saying many students often build roots in Nevada post-graduation.

“I think more Hawaii students that graduate from UNLV are keeping the valley as an option,” said Hoshibata. “Las Vegas is constantly growing and developing and we have the right academic programs to propel us in moving forward.”

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club is excited to embrace more Hawaii transplants.

“We have been serving the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander and residents of the Hawaii community for over 32 years,” said Club President Doreen Hall.

The club annually holds a host of Hawaii events in Southern Nevada that spread the aloha, like a hoolaulea and the Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Scholarship golf tournament.

What could draw more Hawaii residents to Las Vegas?

Economists says jobs and a lower cost of living would likely be the biggest factor prompting Hawaii families to make the jump.

Las Vegas fully reopened June 1, leading to a hiring frenzy.

Hawaii’s economy is also improving, but the jobs market has been slower to rebound.

Former Hawaii residents living in Las Vegas say they wouldn’t be surprised to see more folks from the islands making the trek to Nevada in the months ahead.

“The cost of living was too high,” said Judy Susuki, who used to live on Maui.

She moved to Las Vegas in 2017 to pursue a career in real estate. She said housing affordability is one of the central reasons Hawaii families make the move to Nevada.

In June, Las Vegas saw a median home price of $395,000.

Meanwhile, the median price of a single-family home on Oahu just topped $1 million.

Island Sushi in Henderson.
Island Sushi in Henderson.

Former Hawaii resident Juliet Chaney said it wasn’t easy to move to Las Vegas but it was easy to stay.

“The food connects us to home, it provides comfort and from my experience has helped with feeling homesick,” said Juliet Chaney. “I can see and feel the aloha spirit in Vegas.”

The Molokai native moved her family to Las Vegas four years ago.

“We would be leaving our family and friends and the beautiful beaches, which I love! I prayed on it and we took that big leap of faith we will be OK.”

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