Living in Hawaii Pros and Cons

In 2007, about 0.3% of the almost 1.3 million people in Hawaii decided to make the big move and live in Paradise. Were they right? Will they live happily ever after? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s look at some things to keep in mind if one is considering a move to the 50th State.

Some of the benefits are: no winter (basically there are two seasons, a sunny one that runs April to October and a rainy one that goes November to March), exotic flora and fauna (some have been accidentally imported like Giant African Tree Snails and Blind Worm Snakes so the local Ag department tends to be a little paranoid), friendly people (in most areas on each island but they do have places that not even the locals would wander into voluntarily) and interesting things to do (ski and surf on the same day? It can be done on the Big Island.)

Some of the cons are: no winter (if you like a White Christmas, you better be living on Mauna Kea), exotic flora and fauna (I lose track of the number of survivalists from the Mainland that get lost here and almost starve to death because they can’t find dandelions or cat tails to eat), living in a state where tourism is the number one source of income (if you don’t speak Japanese fluently or do the hula or can pronounce humu-nuku-nuku-a-pua’a, you’re in trouble), real estate prices are ridiculous ($700,000 is median house price), groceries are expensive ($7 for a gallon of milk, $4 for a loaf of bread and almost $6 for a pack of cigarettes) and living in the World’s largest Small Town (Everyone is either related to or knows everyone, especially on Oahu where 75% of the state’s population lives. So if you screw up, expect to see it on the 10 PM news.)

Depending on what one is looking for, life in Hawaii can either be good or miserable because of its difference from living anywhere else in the world. Basically Hawaii is a densely populated area with a number of different ethnicities and mixture. The pretty girl or handsome guy you just met on the beach could be of English-Chinese-Hawaiian-Filipino descent and the residents here down play the mixture of ethnicities. Like the movie, Lilo and Stitch, there is a strong sense of ohana(or family) here. A friend once commented that in Hawaii, my wife and I may go hungry but our kids never will. The generosity of the folks in Hawaii is amazing.

Being an island-state, it is not possible to drive from one island to another. Air or ocean are the only two choices until teleports are commercially available. Development on the islands (Hawaii or Big Island, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kauai) is restricted so there is nothing like Mall of America or Disneyland or Six Flags here but if you’re into going to the beach or hiking in the mountains, you’re in good shape. There are restaurants, movie theaters, nightclubs but in much smaller quantities and sizes compared to what one would find elsewhere. Persons prone to “cabin fever” will not do well here.

Most complaints I’ve heard about Hawaii is the high cost of living. The gas prices there tend to always be in the top 10 across the country. Ditto on the houses. Ditto on the groceries. But since it has a tropical climate, someone always has extra breadfruit or tangerines or bananas that they bring to work to share. So if you like fruits, you’re in good shape.

Of course to live somewhere with a high cost of living, one needs money to pay the bills. For couples, a 2 income family is normal. Sometimes both husband and wife also work part-time jobs as well. As mentioned earlier, tourism is the number one source of income so most jobs are in hotels and restaurants. Another big area of employment is working for the government and I’ve heard as much as 40% of the working adults are employed by county, state or Federal governments. Other than that, there are few openings for engineers and programmers, opportunities for medical professionals and teachers.

Is living here like being in Paradise? Like everything else in life, it depends on what you’re looking for.