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Thinking about moving to The Big Island of Hawaii

Thinking about moving to The Big Island of Hawaii

Old Jan 15, 19, 8:46 am
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Thinking about moving to The Big Island of Hawaii

I I currently live in the Las Vegas area. I traveled quite frequently for work on the West Coast, but lately changed jobs. We recently went on vacation to the big Island of Hawaii and now My wife is thinking of us there. Iím wondering if thereís anyone else in this forum who lives in Hawaii now and still does business on the West Coast and how they like it. I work from home office when I am not traveling.
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Old Jan 15, 19, 7:57 pm
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Let me offer a few thoughts, having lived on the Big Island for five years and having moved there from California....

It is a wonderful, fascinating, expensive, place to live. I'm going to start with the caveats and end with the recommendations:

The Big Island is a very culturally conservative (not politically conservative, although the Kona side is much more Republican than virtually anyplace else in the state), very extended family-oriented, and unless you have some ready-made welcoming systems you may end up feeling a little lonely for awhile. Big Island locals are used to mainland malihini who come to live after having vacationed and who leave after a year (some researchers put the number as high as 70% of mainland transplants who leave within a year), and therefore they may appear formal or distant but in reality they don't want to invest having done so in the past and having folks leave. While "shoulder season" is a cheap time to travel back and forth, consider the holidays: if it is important to you to either be on the mainland with family or have them come to you, airfares routinely quadruple or quintuple from December 15 to January 5. That can mean either not being with family or going into debt to do so. It's a real source of stress. I don't now if your spouse is going to be searching for work but good full-time jobs can be hard to find (given that Hawaii state law mandates employer paid health insurance for >19 hour/week jobs, there are a lot of 18.5/week jobs!) While it's a bit dated, this book is a must-read for anyone wanting to do what you're consider:
Amazon Amazon
You might also sign up for the message boards at Konaweb.com

The good: It's a fascinating place and some of the most giving and generous people you'll meet. The variety of food is amazing. The beauty is spectacular. Likely no where else on earth can you go from snow to the ocean swimming in the space of 2 hours. The island has most of the world's climate zones. And, of course, Kilauea Volcano has kept life sadly and tragically interesting this last year for so many residents of the Puna District -- but it and the National Park are truly fascinating.

That's just for starters. Happy to offer more perspective and to answer questions -- but do also realize that my first-hand information is nine years old

Aloha nui!
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Old Jan 16, 19, 7:38 am
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Never lived in Hawaii, but have lived on Islands before. It takes a special type of person to be able to move to an Island from the mainland and make it work. Island fever is a real thing. That said, if you are one of those special people, I cannot think of anywhere better to put down roots. No way to know either unless you try it. I considered it for about 5 minutes until I remembered my "time on the island", and quickly forgot about it.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by tatterdema View Post
Island fever is a real thing.
This was very, very true for me. About twice a year, I had to get back to the mainland, if nothing else than to be able to drive for long distances and not end up back where I'd started

That said, if you are one of those special people, I cannot think of anywhere better to put down roots. No way to know either unless you try it.
This is good advice. If at all possible, try coming an living on-island for three-six months -- not as a tourist, but renting a house or apartment, dealing with the ordinary reality of groceries, gas, etc. There are also things that will just be very different from where you currently are: there was exactly one on-island restaurant open 24 hours, and most, in fact, closed by 7 or 8pm (except in the touristy places). Many shippers will not ship things to Hawaii. There are no 24 hour pharmacies, etc., etc. It still will not be exactly like living "for good" on-island, but it will be much more realistic than tourist life.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 4:18 pm
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Originally Posted by cblaisd View Post
This was very, very true for me. About twice a year, I had to get back to the mainland, if nothing else than to be able to drive for long distances and not end up back where I'd started



This is good advice. If at all possible, try coming an living on-island for three-six months -- not as a tourist, but renting a house or apartment, dealing with the ordinary reality of groceries, gas, etc. There are also things that will just be very different from where you currently are: there was exactly one on-island restaurant open 24 hours, and most, in fact, closed by 7 or 8pm (except in the touristy places). Many shippers will not ship things to Hawaii. There are no 24 hour pharmacies, etc., etc. It still will not be exactly like living "for good" on-island, but it will be much more realistic than tourist life.
I second the advice of doing a test stay. A lot of people can't make it for a variety of reasons. High cost of living, island fever, poor public schools, don't like the people, can't get stuff in general, etc. You will be moving from a low cost of living state to a very high cost of living state. That is the reason why lots of people from Hawaii move to Las Vegas

Working remotely to the West Coast is not to bad because the time difference is only 2 hours. If you have to travel even semi regularly to the West Coast it can get expensive and be a time sink. Even traveling to another island is expensive. If you are working remotely, some places on the island do not have very good internet service. If you have questions I can try to answer them. I am on Oahu but grew up on the Big Island and travel to there 3-4 times per year.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 6:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Mr. Style View Post
I I currently live in the Las Vegas area. I traveled quite frequently for work on the West Coast, but lately changed jobs. We recently went on vacation to the big Island of Hawaii and now My wife is thinking of us there. Iím wondering if thereís anyone else in this forum who lives in Hawaii now and still does business on the West Coast and how they like it. I work from home office when I am not traveling.
Ck out www.konaweb.com The members there can answer most of your questions. Just tell her milk is $5/gallon and a dozen eggs are $4+. Just a few examples. Gasoline is $3.40 ish a gallon on the BI. Bring lots of money.
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Old Jan 16, 19, 7:06 pm
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OP: I moved to Oahu over 40 years ago, and have talked to many, many people who have achieved various levels of success in moving to Hawaii.

A certain percentage really hate it here, at least initially (first six months). It is a different culture, and one has to move from being frustrated with how things are done to appreciating and laughing at the differences.

Socioeconomic status plays a role in adaptation. If you are roaming professional circles, you won't generally find the hostile anti-Haole bias that is more likely to be expressed in a blue-collar environment. However, the blue-collar types shop and fill gas at the same places you will be, so you can always run into it. The best tactic is to be low-key. Very low-key. Like, don't toot your horn, or your car's horn.

One might feel really isolated here unless there is a connection made through work or play activities. Volunteering will help you integrate. Other in-migrants may be more open to you than those born and raised in Hawaii for reasons cultural, racial, and social. An easy way of integrating is to marry local, although that might not be the recommended tactic if you are already accounted for.

Re travel for work on the West Coast; just today, a friend's return flight was delayed many hours, jeopardizing his ability to attend an important meeting tomorrow. Lots of worry involved, and he had to drive many hours to an alternate airport to catch a flight home.
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Old Jan 17, 19, 11:51 am
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
A certain percentage really hate it here, at least initially (first six months). It is a different culture, and one has to move from being frustrated with how things are done to appreciating and laughing at the differences.
Indeed. I remember right after we moved we went to the only mattress shop in Hilo to buy a mattress. Having been used to same-day delivery in California from such shops, I asked "What time this afternoon will you be there?" The salespersons must have had experience with clueless mainland haole malihini so he gently explained the realities: the mattress was actually in a warehouse in Honolulu and would need to be put on the next barge to Hilo (if there was room).

Socioeconomic status plays a role in adaptation. If you are roaming professional circles, you won't generally find the hostile anti-Haole bias that is more likely to be expressed in a blue-collar environment. However, the blue-collar types shop and fill gas at the same places you will be, so you can always run into it. The best tactic is to be low-key. Very low-key. Like, don't toot your horn, or your car's horn.
I'm as haole as they come, and I very, very rarely felt any of the bias that so often gets talked about.

One might feel really isolated here unless there is a connection made through work or play activities. Volunteering will help you integrate.
Very true.

Re travel for work on the West Coast; just today, a friend's return flight was delayed many hours, jeopardizing his ability to attend an important meeting tomorrow. Lots of worry involved, and he had to drive many hours to an alternate airport to catch a flight home.
This. Don't underestimate the fact that in any given year, if you are flying with an HNL connection to Hilo or Kona, you WILL end up overnighting in Honolulu due to late arriving planes. At certain times of the year, it can also be a challenge -- if you need to fly outbound with little notice -- to get where you need to be. When a family member became critically ill on the mainland, there were NO inter-island flights to HNL available, and ONE such flight to OGG -- but due to the last-minute nature of the travel (and the high summer season) the cost was $2000 per ticket. This is when a large stash of FF miles becomes a necessity.
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Old Jan 31, 19, 7:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Mr. Style View Post
I I currently live in the Las Vegas area. I traveled quite frequently for work on the West Coast, but lately changed jobs. We recently went on vacation to the big Island of Hawaii and now My wife is thinking of us there. Iím wondering if thereís anyone else in this forum who lives in Hawaii now and still does business on the West Coast and how they like it. I work from home office when I am not traveling.
You need to ensure you're not looking at hawaii/BI from a vacation lens.

You should do an extended vacation/work/stay maybe 1-6mo in duration to see if you really are able to truly live on a fairly rural island (and even then lot of people do get island fever in a few year and move back to mainland).

Initial isolation, cultural changes, lack of certain services available resources can be an issue (ie, amazon prime, shipping, time zone difference, etc.)
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Old Feb 1, 19, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by ginmqi View Post
.....

Initial isolation, cultural changes, lack of certain services available resources can be an issue (ie, amazon prime, shipping, time zone difference, etc.)
Add traveling to Oahu for certain types of medical care. Just the airfare will be ~$150>200 r/t per.
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Old Feb 1, 19, 5:42 pm
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A story on why you should rent first before moving to the Big Island...

Having gotten a call in early December 2016 from my mom that they'd bought a house on the Big Island and that she and my dad wanted to move and fly out on December 26th of the same month should give you an indication of where this post/story is going. Oh, and they also were going to take their cat on this move to HI.

Sooo...bought very expensive one way fares into KOA (plus the one round trip for me) to leave LAX on December 27th. Best I could also do was book a rental car for a whole week at a $1,000+ rate. Went shopping on December 26th to find a pet carrier that would meet UA's PetCare specs. Got my parents, their oversized bags, the cat and its carrier to LAX hours early so that we could check the cat in. Got my parents' bags checked and them onto wheelchairs for escort to the gate (with a stop in the LAX UC for breakfast...) Had seats in the very rear of the 739 for ease of bathroom access...and had to give up my upgrade into First so I could stay in the back with my parents. Got them to KOA, the rental car, the bags and them to their new house - which had its issues....Cat went into its 3 month quarantine for rabies as required by the State of HI.

(I could keep typing for another thousand plus words to tell you about the challenges of getting them set up in KOA-area, getting their water turned on, buying a car, etc. etc. etc. But I don't have time and I don't want to belabor the details.)

Departed KOA 3 days after arrival since I had to get back to work.

In mid-April 2017 - less than 6 months into their endeavor - I received another phone call from my mom. They were moving back to California, selling their house on the BI, shipping their new car home. She wanted me back in KOA sometime mid-May to be the transport agent to get them back. Bought the return tickets, got myself and my wife to KOA, stopped off at my parents' house and said hi before departing on a quick 4 day driving trip around the BI with my wife. Got back the evening before we were to depart, provided what assistance I could, came back the next day. Had to go back down into Kailua Kona to pick up another large bag to stuff more stuff for the mainland (time I hadn't planned on...). My wife and I got them down to KOA, checked them in (and the cat!), dealt with them trying to bring HI produce back to the mainland/California, got back to LAX and extracted the cat from PetCare and got them back to their old home (which, fortunately, hadn't been sold).

Upshot: All I can tell you is that I wish they'd rented a condo and tried living on the BI first - instead this instant move.

David
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Old Feb 1, 19, 11:21 pm
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Originally Posted by DELee View Post
... less than 6 months into their endeavor - I received another phone call from my mom. They were moving back to California, selling their house on the BI, shipping their new car home.
Ha! Sounds like you're a good son.

Did they say what were the things that they expected that, clearly, failed to live up to their standard/expectations?

Many people move to hawaii with a distorted vision/expectation and then realize it's not what they imagined and move back to the mainland.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Feb 3, 19 at 5:34 am Reason: shortened quote
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Old Feb 2, 19, 6:48 pm
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Where on the big island?

-David
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Old Feb 3, 19, 1:38 pm
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Originally Posted by LIH Prem View Post
Where on the big island?

-David
probably start with a rental in Kona or Hawaiian Oceanview Estates. I don't know if I can handle all the rain of Hilo. I'm thinking of living there a year and if we like it then build a kit house where I can grow coffee, bananas and other fruits.
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Old Feb 3, 19, 1:44 pm
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Originally Posted by cblaisd View Post
Let me offer a few thoughts, having lived on the Big Island for five years and having moved there from California....
<snip>
Likely no where else on earth can you go from snow to the ocean swimming in the space of 2 hours.
<snip>
Aloha nui!
Well of course you can do that from where I live in Orange County CA - maybe you didn't live in that part of CA

Not all year round of course.
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