On a fairly regular basis, friends, colleagues and sometimes complete strangers ask me the question:
"Are you happy that you moved to Hawaii?"
9 months ago today I got on a plane in Denver to move to Maui.
And 9 months ago tomorrow, due to airplane delays, I arrived and started this adventure.
|Sunset from Canoe Beach|
My answer? Yes. I am happy that I moved to Hawaii.
Each time you move it is stressful. Even if you are just moving houses/apartments in the same town. The farther away you move, the more things stress you out. Moving to Hawaii has some of the challenges and logistics that I imagine come into play when you move to another country.
Everyone who moves here will have a different story. This is my story as well as some of the questions that friends, family members, and colleagues ask.
Why did I choose to move to Hawaii?
I had an opportunity to apply for a promotion with my company to transfer properties from Denver to Maui. Not going to lie - a job transfer is pretty sweet. I didn't lose any of my benefits. I am continuing to move up in my field. A relocation company handled the shipment of my car and packing up my stuff. I had a place to stay while I was looking for a place to live and waiting for my furniture to arrive.
Why Hawaii instead of somewhere else?
I spent the past 8 year in Denver. I love Colorado. There are a lot of places that have no appeal to me, personally, when it comes to relocation/transfer. Hawaii, and Maui in particular, fell into the "once in a lifetime" category. A chance to live where most people only come on vacation. The farthest point from everywhere in the world (really). A chance to see if island life in paradise is all that it's cracked up to be. An entirely different climate, pace and style of life than I was used to.
What do you love about living in Hawaii?
I love living by the water. I've never lived on a coast or an island, so seeing the ocean every day, even from my kitchen window, is a real treat. I love all the outdoor activities and exploring a new place. I love the people that I work with. They made me so welcome and helped me jump into living the Maui life. I love the cultural activities that are related to Hawaiian and Asian culture, such as the King K Day parade, Chinese New Year celebrations, and the Obon festival. I love trying new foods. I love that being barefoot is the most common state. I love sushi and poke.
Do they pay you a lot more in Hawaii due to the cost of living?
No. I think this is something that probably catches people off guard. The cost of living in Hawaii is higher than many places on the mainland, but the odds of getting a big fat cost of living increase or geographic differential are pretty slim. I meet a lot of people who work multiple jobs in order to pay the bills.
Is everything really expensive?
Not everything, but many things may be more expensive than what you're used to...depending on where in the world you live. Living on an island, almost everything needs to be imported. And since we are living in the middle of the ocean, everything has to travel farther and arrive via container ship or air freight. When you shop online, some companies will ship free to Hawaii. But others? Expect to get that bonus Hawaii/Alaska surcharge.
When it comes to groceries, it's the dairy, frozen foods, and packaged foods that carry a higher price tag. Just like anywhere else, if you shop the sales, you'll do ok. The cost of milk is often what shocks people. I paid over $4 today for a half gallon. Clothes are a similar price as the mainland, though Maui has a limited selection of stores to choose from.
Gas has been about $4.30-4.50 in the time that I've lived here. I drive significantly less than I did in Colorado. My commute to work is about 6 miles each way and if I want to stop at the grocery store, drug store or go out to eat, most places I go fall in that same 6 mile stretch.
You don't need nearly as many clothes and we really only have one season. There are lots of shops that cater to dressing island style, and there is a mall in Kahului that has a Sears and a Macy's for your department store needs. There aren't many occasions that call for formal clothes. The big news? A Target is under construction and will open in 2015!
I live on the west side of Maui and the rental market can be very challenging depending on when you arrive. Studios and one-bedrooms are more common. Friends who are looking for family housing have said that it is difficult. Kihei, Wailuku or Kahului seem to have more options and be a little less expensive. Furniture is also expensive (again the whole freight thing) - you can find used furniture shops or go to garage sales.
When you live someplace that has a high population of tourists on vacation, restaurants tend to be more expensive. The key here is happy hour and kama'aina. Lots of restaurants have great happy hour specials, often from 2-5, including drinks and pupus (appetizers). Some restaurants also offer kama'aina discounts for Hawaii residents, which is often a percentage off of your bill.
The majority of activities here on Maui are outdoors and free. So much revolves around the water. All beach access in Hawaii is public, so you just need to walk or drive to the beach. Buy or borrow the equipment you need (snorkel set, paddle board, boogie board, beach chair) and you're set. There are also lot of options for hiking all over the place. If you want to do any the sails, snorkel trips, shows, etc, most companies will offer kama'aina discounts.
|Free turtle watching at the beach|
What do you miss?
When I'm asked this question, my answer is people. I've been back to the mainland once since I moved last fall (and I'm going again at the end of this month). I miss seeing my family and my friends on a regular and sometimes daily basis. I miss the community I had at my church. The good news is that friends and family want to come visit - but it's not as easy or as affordable as taking a drive or hopping on Southwest. When it comes to friends and community, I have to remember that I built that over the course of years - friendships take time. I'm not much of a shopper / nightlife person, so I don't miss that aspect of life in the city, although there are times that I wish that Trader Joe's and New York and Co, were on island. I also miss major concerts and theater productions.
|I miss having brunch with my sister|
Was it hard to move alone?
When you move with your family/significant other, you have instant companions to try a new restaurant, go hiking, or go to the beach with. When you move alone, you have to put yourself out there - accept invitations to go/do, or extend the invitation yourself. I've always been one who will go it alone rather than not go at all, but that's not for everyone. Where I work, people move from the mainland on a fairly regular basis, and we welcome people by offering to pick them up at the airport, take them out and go explore the island. At the beginning of the year, my co-workers asked what I was going to do on Saturday, and I said that I wanted to visit Surfing Goat Dairy. They said, "We've never been, can we go with you and make a day of it upcountry?" It was so much fun, but it never would have happened if they had not asked. And then I paid it forward later this spring by taking someone else new on a similar trip.
How long will you stay?
This is completely up to me. I'm not here on a contract, it's a permanent move/transfer. It sometimes feels weird to say "I live in Hawaii." But there it is. I live in Hawaii. And I'm happy about it.
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