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The Honolulu Metro Area is one of the most pristine and beautiful cities in the United States. It is also, perhaps, the most unique city in the entire country, with many appealing idiosyncrasies for those lucky enough to live and visit there.

With a backdrop of towering rain-forest-covered mountains, the ocean-front city is set among one of the most picturesque backdrops of any in the world. It is also home to two major military installations, both of which have considerable historic and strategic value. Naval Station Pearl Harbor was the site of Japan’s notorious raid, which forced the entry of the United States into World War II. On the north side of the city, Marine Core Base Hawaii can be found. Both of these installations combine to ensure that at any given time, Honolulu is home to tens of thousands of active servicemen.

The Honolulu Metro Area’s demographics are also unique among U.S. cities. Here, Asians are a plurality, making up 43 percent of the population. Whites are just 23 percent, one of the few cities in which they make up such a low percentage. Hispanics are about 9 percent and Native Islanders are about 10 percent. There are almost no blacks. The median household income is about $75,000.

The Honolulu Metro area has a slightly lower median home value than the city itself. The city’s median home value is almost $670,000. This is expensive by itself. But when we consider that a typical home within the city of Honolulu is a vacation-condo-style property, it produces a per-square-foot median home price of $648. This places it at the upper end of cities in terms of price. Even very expensive cities, like Los Angeles, tend to have much lower per-square-foot prices. What this means is that, for anyone looking to raise a family or who needs a multiple bedroom home, Honolulu is a very expensive market.

But that elevated price comes with some serious perks. The state of Hawaii has one of the lowest murder rates of anyplace in the United States, just 1 per 100,000. By comparison, St. Louis, Missouri has a murder rate of about 45 times that. There is some evidence that Honolulu ‘s murder rate is actually lower than the state average. Its rates of other violent crimes are similarly low.

Property crime is much higher but still quite low by the standards of big American cities. In Honolulu, you might not want to leave without locking your door at night, but you can walk the streets alone without having to worry. This is much more than can be said of many urban locations within the United States.

The schools around the city are generally excellent. Like any urban area, it has a couple schools that consistently have poor performance on standardized tests. However, as big U.S. cities go, Honolulu’s public schools are easily in the top 10 percent and possibly in the top 1 percent. If you know the couple of schools to avoid, you can pick any of the others, almost at random, and be assured that your kids will receive a good education. Schools are clearly another area in which Honolulu scores very well.

This all paints a picture of Honolulu as being a highly desirable place in which to live and work. If you can afford it, there are few better cities to consider for a home in the United States.

However, it’s also very expensive. Most prospective home buyers will need to take out a mortgage if they are to afford the typical home in Honolulu.

Which types of mortgages can best serve Honolulu home buyers?

The best rule of thumb when considering what type of mortgage to choose for purchasing a new home is that the simpler it is, the better. Most home buyers will be best served by whats known as a linearly amortizing home loan. This simply means that the loan has fixed payments and a fixed payment period, usually monthly, and that the monthly payment amounts and interest rate never change. This is a safe form of mortgage that eliminates the risks of some other, more complex forms. Generally speaking, most prospective home buyers should stay away from mortgages with adjustable rates, negative amortization or balloon payments.