Kauai Reader Weighs In

Aloha!

You, dear readers, have given wonderful feedback on the last blog entry. I appreciate all of you! The following letter puts one reader’s move to Kauai in perspective. (Mahalo for sharing, Laura.)

Submitted on 2015/03/08:
“I’m going on my fifth year living in Kauai. Prior to living here, my husband and I visited the island either 1x or 2x/year for about five years. We decided one year to look at real estate and ended up buying a home and renting it for close to 3 years with our goal moving part time to Kauai. To make a long story short, we got tired of the cold weather and decided to move here. So here’s my take on it:

First know what you’re getting into. Living on an island isn’t for everyone. It takes planning. You don’t need a lot. If you are considering moving here, don’t bring much. It will be a waste. People are always moving and you can find anything you need on craig’s list or garage sales. The pros living here : amazing scenery, the ocean, perfect weather, being able to be outdoors 365 days a year, rainbows, monk seals, turtles, whales, snorkeling. If you like outdoor activities, this is the place for you. The cons: night life is boring, not enough restaurants/cafes and the restaurants that do exist are too expensive and not worth what you get for it, limited shopping except for art galleries/gift shops, and my biggest complaint no matter where you live or how expensive your home is, there’s still that neighbor who never throws anything out and makes his yard into the car dump. What’s up with that???? Would I do it again knowing what I know, I don’t know. It’s different working and living here than visiting on vacation. It’s funny that my vacation time is going back east. Don’t get me wrong, I do like living here. I don’t miss snow or bitter cold weather but I do miss going out to restaurants, good food, shopping malls and seeing well kept properties.”

Very well put, Laura. You have summed it up nicely, especially the things you miss (Maui has more than Kauai, and I still wish there were more decent cafe-type places),the exorbitant restaurant prices, and we DO have that neighbor four houses down who has fifteen cars buried in his yard (yes, I counted.) I really miss neighborhoods where people take pride in their properties.

As for why? Mike grew up in Hawaii, and all the guys he knows are hoarders of misc. junk. The reason they give is growing up in the islands, you never knew when the boat might not come in, and every single thing they bought was so expensive that they refused to throw anything away. They all have barns, sheds, warehouses full! It’s our big struggle as a couple. He hangs on to everything!

Laura, you didn’t share where you moved from, or what type of jobs you and you husband found. Please share if you would like. I’m sure readers would like to have the full picture. Again, thanks so much for writing!

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

Aloha, Jamaica

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An Entirely Different Point of View

Aloha!

A reader sent the following letter in regard to this blog. Could be they didn’t read past the Homepage, because in many of my posts I do talk about the hardships on Maui, and the downsides. This reader feels I make it sound like all rainbows to live here…and yet another reader wrote to say I talk too much about the negatives. I do work hard to present a balanced opinion. Here’s the letter:

“You seem to have left a lot out. I lived there for 4 years. It was great, but you sound like a concierge selling the island as usual. You didn’t mention hardly any of the hardships that most everyday people and locals experience… almost everyday. …Yes, Maui is amazing, but you have illustrated an almost whimsical reality. I’ve traveled quite a bit, especially in the states, and everywhere has it’s ups and downs. What you speak of sounds like the ultimate paradise, as if all dreams, goals, and aspirations will occur simply because you moved there. I’m a realist. I have lived there. I love it. I have some great friends, but the reality is, that not everyone’s experience has been so great. Many a local are not simply comforted by having sunshine everyday, or the ocean. In fact, many feel plagued by it at times, as if there was no escape. Many people can’t find the time in between work and family to start the business of their dreams. Many people don’t have union jobs that, let’s face it, are very hard to get released from. Many people look for love on Maui all day long and never find it. Many people work 2-3 jobs, can’t find descent (sic) housing, and get ripped off by the slumlords. Overworked, underpayed, overwhelmed, and overpopulated is just a little something that my local friends want to add into your blog, especially for the newbies. Aloha:)

So, let me know what you think…particularly if you have lived on the island and left. (Some people move here, then leave…then move back again. Sometimes multiple times.) I spoke with my niece’s teacher on the mainland who said, “I used to live in Hawaii. I was so over it by the time I left. Six years was plenty!”

Looking forward to your letters.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

How Living on Maui Changes Your Money Habits

Aloha!

Well, you spend your money differently. The mainland has all those temptations that Maui doesn’t: Bed, Bath, and Beyond, for instance….which I call “the place with everything you never knew you needed, but have to have.” Same with Bath and Body Works. Wander through a place like that on the mainland and you’re buying those scented pump soaps because they’re five for $25.00 or whatever, and that’s money you hadn’t planned to spend. Now take away Michael’s huge craft store (and Richardson’s). Not to mention Kohl’s, JC Penney’s, Victoria’s Secret….Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, The Container Store. And of course, Nordstom and Neiman Marcus (“needless markup”) as my friend calls it.

But, you think, I’ll just end up ordering those things online. How will this save money? One word: shipping costs. Recently, I tried to order a sunscreen/moisturizer online that I’ve been using for years. Usually, I buy it when I’m on the mainland and bring it back (just like everything else) but I hadn’t been to the mainland lately. I’d had some luck ordering from them online before, but this time, two little bottles of cream were going to be $45.00 for shipping. (Would have been about $7.95 to ship on the mainland). I pleaded. Wheedled. Cajoled. “Can I just mail you a flat-rate shipping box? That’s $12.00, and I could get ten of those suckers in there!” No, they said. They were sorry, but shipping to Hawaii had gone way up, but most of it was the “handling.” Guess my sunscreen needed to get a massage before they could put it in a box.

These are not luxuries, they are everyday items that people on the mainland take for granted. Eventually, you just learn to do without. Eventually you learn to stop wanting. A Pottery Barn chair? That’ll be extra shipping (see the special little “shipping to Alaska and Hawaii” box), then an additional $250.00 just ‘cuz you have the audacity to live on an island.
Actually, it’s probably much more than that, because I haven’t bothered to check on Pottery Barn anything in like ten years.

So, you think, I’m gonna save a bundle without all these tempations, right? Uh-uh. All that money you’re saving goes right to the high costs of food, housing and gasoline.

Before gas prices dropped, World News would say that California (or wherever) had the highest gas prices in the country. They would name some figure like $3.68 per gallon. We would want to throw a shoe at the telecaster. Hello! We’re paying $4.68 over here. Are we not part of the country?

Actually, when you live on this island, you’re not. You are on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Entire fashion and housing trends pass you by like they never happened. People on the mainland get their shorts in a twist about things that don’t affect us, and we have major situations here that mainland people are blissfully unaware of. (The Big Island dock damage /closure after the earthquake comes to mind.)

Living on Maui, you not only spend your money differently, you think differently, act differently, feel differently.

Stay long enough, and this island will forever change you.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Because Suze Orman Said So

Aloha!

Many of you have written to me saying you’re planning to move to Maui this June… must be something in the air. And of course the price of Paradise always enters the conversation when people plan to move here.

I never had facts and figures to back up how much more expensive Paradise is, until now. In the recent Oprah Magazine a woman wrote to financial guru Suze Orman to talk about budgeting, and she is living in Hawaii. Suze wrote back to question the wisdom of living in a place that is 55% higher than the mainland for necessities like gas, groceries, and utilities.

So there you have it. Paradise is 55% higher because Suze Orman said so. Now we can all quit wondering.

I spent this winter in northern California, taking care of my mother’s estate after she passed away. There were three people living in the house. And California was having the coldest winter anyone could remember for ages, which meant I was running the furnace all the time.

The  utility bill in California (for three people) was $310 per month cheaper than my house in Maui (for four people), with no furnace running.

And then there are the groceries. In California, I fairly skip down the grocery aisles, tossing things into my cart with abandon. Everything is about one third, to half the price, as Maui. It’s all relative, whatever you are used to. I’m sure the people in California don’t think their groceries are cheap.

The price of paradise is steep. The difference is, I did not get to wake up to blinding sunshine every single day in California like I do in Maui.

It really is all relative…

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the homepage.


Aloha, Jamaica