Why Are There So Few Places to Live On Maui?


Some friends recently moved to Maui, and commented on how hard it was to find a place to live. They asked, “Why are there so few long-term rentals on Maui?”

The answer is simple and complicated at the same time. A typical landlord can pull in much more per month renting a condo unit out by the week in a rental pool, than by the month. Of course, he/she has to keep it rented.

If you are the condo owner, you probably want to use the condo a month or so in the year– or let the kids and grandkids use it. You can’t kick a long – term tenant out, but you can block out a month for yourself– which means it’s a vacation-rental only.

So now you, the landlord, have yourself a place to vacation on Maui, plus it’s pulling in money the rest of the year. Pretty much a win – win, wouldn’t you say?

Yes, for everyone except the locals, who are pulling their hair out trying to find a decent rental for a decent price. And be warned, what is out there for rent is rarely in pristine shape. One of the first places I rented on Maui was a condo in Honokowai. It was built in the early 70’s and had dirty, worn Pepto-Bismol pink carpeting throughout. Plus a pink toilet, a pink sink… just lovely. (Not). Nothing had been replaced or upgraded.

When I moved in, the new owner/landlord hadn’t even had it cleaned after taking it out of the rental pool. When I asked him to clean it, he acted shocked, SHOCKED! that he wasn’t going to get to be a slum-lord with no out-of-pocket expenses. And then he found the two lowest priced local girls to come in and do the job, because I’d never seen two people move so slowly and get less done in that amount of time.

I cleaned the whole thing over again, which was fruitless, because there were holes so big in the “natural” rock walls that the cockroaches had a freeway going from the outside in. And red dirt blows right through jalousie windows, even when they are closed.

For this, I was paying an exhorbitant price. And this was the beginning of my real education on Maui: the landlord mostly wins.

Now that I’m a landlord, I vow never to be that way. And I don’t vacation-rental it. I save it for a local, who is tired of the rental war.

I was once that person, you see.

A hui hou! Mahalo For reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Ask the Right Questions Before Vacation on Maui


We just had the staycation from hell here on Maui (the vacation that wasn’t). So even though we asked all the right questions before staying in this condo, we still got burned, so I thought I would share the questions always to ask before renting a place here.

Realize that the west side of Maui was first settled in 1969, with a few resorts. Condos then sprung up along the shoreline and across the road from the ocean, and those units are now 30 to 40 years old.

Condos that are part of a chain HOTEL property are required by their owners to upgrade to a certain grade, such as A, A+, etc. Not so with an individual condo owner in a little complex, who posts a rental on the web, complete with photos, and it looks just too good to be true. Perhaps it is.

1) “How old is this unit? When was it last updated? Is there a dishwasher?”
2) “Is the subfloor between floors wood, or concrete?” You want concrete. I once rented an oceanfront condo in Honokowai with wood subfloors and the people above me scraped counter stools in and out at 3 AM for a week. Who knows what they were doing up there!
3) “Is it air-conditioned?” Most older units are not. (“But we have the sea-breeze!” they say gleefully). Realize this: red dirt blows all the time on this island. If the only means of cooling a unit is open windows, it is most likely full of red dirt, which is hard on allergies. Ask also: “Is it central air, or a room air-conditioner? Located where?” I once stayed in an old Kihei condo while attending the Maui Writer’s Conference, and I’ve never been so hot my life. The window unit was in the living room and the cool air never got close to the back bedroom.
4) “Is it carpeted?” Many places have tile floors. That’s a good thing, because all that red dirt and dust and sand is otherwise trapped in the carpet.
5) ” Is there shade on the property for the pool/lounge chairs?” My favorite property on Maui, the Aston Kaanapali Villas, (http://www.astonmauikaanapalivillas.com) is beloved by guests who return every year because of it’s wide expanse of lawn with lounge chairs under glorious old shade trees….absolutely perfect for stretching out with a summer read.
6)” Is there road noise?” This is obviously subjective, because I asked the woman before we rented the condo, and she said no. I didn’t sleep a wink. We checked in one day and checked right out the next. (After hauling a week’s worth of food, drinks and clothes up a flight of stairs. The idea of a condo is to be able to eat in it. So then we had to haul it all back out.) And the road noise was just one of many issues, like no hot water!
7) Which leads to, “What is your cancellation policy?”

When you go online and see these cheap units in Kihei, Honokowai, Mahinahina, Kahana and Napili, it’s tempting to whip out the credit card and book. Realize how old they might be, that many have never been upgraded or have been done cheaply or shoddily.

So don’t forget: ASK QUESTIONS.

And remember, the closer your unit is to oceanfront, the quieter it is more likely to be (and more expensive).

Now, if you rent a house, room, or ohana someplace like Paia, Kihei, or Upcountry, I’m afraid you’re on your own. Here’s a hint though: your first question should be “Are there roosters in this neighborhood?”

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the Follow button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Scene and Heard


I was in KMart here, searching for something, and two teens came up behind me. I heard one say,”Whoa! It’s like Walmart after the Zombie apocalypse. Eerie. There’s nobody here…”

Kmart has gone down downhill ever since Walmart opened. And then there was that unfortunate business of Sears buying them out… it just seems they never recovered. And they’re tearing up the whole store and it now looks like a five-and- dime for tourist’s only: sand chairs, beach towels, trinkets. The shelves are empty. Empty shelves are always an issue on Maui, but this was beyond that.

I couldn’t figure out why recently, every time I went to Walmart the shelves were empty. I was discussing this with a woman whose husband works at the docks, and she said they changed the Walmart dock delivery day from Friday to Saturday. I was always there on my errand day, Friday! Well, it sure helps to know someone who works at the docks when you live on an island.

But we’re holding on here, because TARGET is coming! I can see the walls going up (on the land behind Walmart.) I was really surprised at how fast it was moving and then I realized they were bringing in preformed concrete walls and standing them up.YAY! More choice on Maui.

The second thing seen and heard was a young girl, maybe eight years old, standing in Safeway with her mother. She was pointing to a mound of fresh peaches and saying “Mom, what ARE those?” No child raised in the Midwest would ever have to ask what a peach was…

Enjoy your weekend. Maybe you’ll find a nice, fresh peach.

A hui hou. Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Does Your Giraffe Have Termites?


We recently attended the Schaeffer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (www.mauiarts.org) to see an art show. One of the centerpieces was a larger-than-life-sized giraffe and her baby, made entirely from driftwood by artist Steve Turnbull. I was in awe as I stood craning my neck up and up.



But then I got to hear a funny story about it while at a party. Apparently, the show was all set up and the docents were manning the door, when someone looked up and said, “Excuse me, but are those termites flying out of that giraffe?” Oh, this couldn’t be good. The docents went into high gear…there were other pieces of art made of wood on display. The termites might decide to move on, and those buggers work fast.
The story goes that the artist had to hire a crane to come in and take the piece down, haul it to a place where they could put it in a box and pump it full of termite poison, then haul it back to the gallery.

A similar thing happened to friends. A wood artist carved them a headboard and nightstands out of earpod, a beautiful wood similar to monkeypod. It was delivered to their house and they found that it had some type of beetle boring into it. It, too, had to be hauled and put into its own special box and pumped full of poison.

I’m telling you, there’s just never a dull moment here in Paradise.

Some days, I find myself pining for a dull moment. Or two.

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica