Reader Question on Housing Answered


A reader recently wrote with this question:

“I just accepted a job as a court reporter at the courthouse in Wailuku. Will it be any easier for me to find a place to rent because I am working for the State? I also am not a kid. I am 40 years old, and plan on living there for the rest of my life.”

Here’s my answer:

Well, the good news, Gerri-Jo, is that you got a job! (The second good news is that it’s with the State of Hawaii.) So here’s the bad news: it probably won’t make much difference as you hunt for a place to live.

Here’s a local example: I know a lady who is about 65 and has lived on Maui almost 30 years. The place where she lives is being sold so she must move out. She is trying unsuccessfully to find a new place to live. Her comment to me was, “None of the local people want to rent to a haole lady.” Now to be fair, this also works in reverse. The haole landlords may say, “I don’t want to rent to a local because they are loud and will have 10 family members over all the time.” So it’s a pretty delicate balance.

When people move to Maui from wherever, it takes a while to realize that none of the former rules apply. So people may think, “I have a good job, this will get my foot in the door for housing…” but it doesn’t seem to work that way. (Just as dressing too nicely can make people here suspicious.)

The proven method to get housing is always through a friend or word-of-mouth… which is easier said than done when you’re sitting on the mainland and you don’t know anyone in Hawaii. Your best bet might be to go through anyone you’ve had contact with at your new job. If they’re going to work with you or employ you, they will have a vested interest in seeing you housed.

Also, is there any group you are affiliated with currently, such as Toastmasters, a sorority, or a house of worship, where you could call ahead and contact members in that group, to see if anyone knew of anything coming available?

Be aware that the rental market is very tight right now. Start early and be relentless with follow-up. If you can afford it, you might even offer a little higher rent then they are asking, to show how serious you are.

Food always helps in any situation in Hawaii!

Be patient and kind and always respectful.

If all else fails, start by living in a vacation rental. And call every realtor you find online to see if any do rental placements.

I wish you all the best and hope you find something soon! Congratulations on your new job and new life in Hawaii.

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Aloha, Jamaica