Family is so Important

Aloha!

If you think you might like to live in Hawaii, consider this: will extended family follow suit? Will they even visit? And then there are the aging parents and grandparents.

I got to California from the Midwest because almost the whole fam-damnly moved there, as my mother would say. (She loved her cliches and malapropisms).

I kind of hoped/assumed the same thing would happen when I moved to Hawaii, but it never did. Heck, I could barely get anyone to visit… not at all what I pictured… but airfare isn’t cheap. (Either direction.)

Also, my father and stepfather both hated Hawaii. “What’s the big deal. I don’t get it!” (Dad).
“It’s hot and humid, full of creepy bugs, you can’t get anything… you can’t go anywhere. And it’s horribly overpriced! What’s the point?” (Stepdad…he was much more verbose.) Over the years, the few times he would come here the trip would end with him saying, “You’re off your nut.”

Then the VOG (volcanic organic gas) set in when a new vent opened in the volcano in 2008, and I started going to stay with my parents every winter because I couldn’t breathe here. Then my parents both got sick and I was HERE and they were THERE, which required me leaving home for almost 2 years to go care for them. I was Trustee of the estate when they died, so then I needed to be there to sell the house, etc. (Much more time-consuming and stressful than anyone realizes who hasn’t done it.)

Two weeks after my mom died, I was in line at the post office and the girl behind the counter said, “Well, hold onto your hat. My parents died two years ago and things still aren’t settled. You’re in for a long haul.” I remember thinking, “Well, you don’t know how efficient I can be,” and boy-howdy did I look back on that and laugh at myself. I thought because I wanted to get done in California and get home to Maui that my “drive” would magically make everything go smoothly. Not even close!

Since my parents were healthy and quite active when I moved to Maui, I saw none of it coming.

On the other hand, if you are one of those who would gladly live at least 3,000 miles away from your dysfunctional family, Hawaii might be just the place….

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Reader Asks About Electric Costs on Maui

Aloha!

A reader wrote to ask:

My husband and I just returned from our visit to Maui. We have been tossing the idea about of just moving there. We live in Northern CA where it reaches above the 100 mark. It was warmer this visit, but not unbearable….we had left where it was up to 102+. Although there are some costs that are not real out of the ordinary, the electric is three times what we pay here. My question to you is…..if you have the solar or photo-voltaric (sp?) what would the average cost be for an average 1200 sq ft home in upcountry or kihei? Thank you 🙂

Answer: If you follow this blog, you know that we had a photovoltaic system put on our roof at the end of last year. On the news yesterday they said we have had over 90° heat for 15 out of the last 17 days in Hawaii. And for the first time in many years, I feel like I can run the air conditioning. (Thank goodness, because otherwise I would be Miss Crankypants that no one would want to live with.) Before the photovoltaic, our electric bills were running almost $400 per month, and that puts a dent in anyone’s budget. (We just didn’t run the air conditioner.) Add to that the high cost of food, the high cost of gasoline, and the high cost of housing, and living in Maui can become a luxury that many people decide they can’t afford.
As far as the cost for the system, loans are available. They charge by the panel, based on your electrical useage. Our home needed 19 panels, at $1,000. per panel. Our friends, who have two small houses on their property plus an art studio, paid $36,000 for their photovoltaic system.

image

But here’s the caveat: even with the state and federal tax breaks, it takes 3 to 5 years to break even. So our bill has dropped to between $18 and $30 per month, and our friend’s base rate is $36 per month. This is supposed to be the rate to “tie-in” to the system.
BUT, and this is a large but: Hawaiian Electric Company on Oahu has seen their intake drop dramatically due to homeowners putting in these systems. They are now asking for a rate hike to a minimum of $50 per household, even for those with a photovoltaic system. So essentially, private homeowners are funding their own electricity, and now the electric companies want a piece of that.

How long can it be before Maui Electric company follows suit?

Also, you are fortunate if our electric rate (killowatt per hour) is only three times higher than what you pay. Where I came from, Maui was five times higher. Living in Kihei is hotter than Upcountry. But the higher you go up Haleakala mountain, the colder it gets…

Haleakala Mountain, note the VOG!

Haleakala Mountain, note the VOG!


and then you end up figuring out how to HEAT it. There is no natural gas on Maui.

For those planning to move to Maui and rent, ask about the electricity costs, if it is not included in the rent, because you are definitely going to want to budget for it. I make it a practice to ask to see the electricity bills when I buy a house, too.

Thanks for the question, and thank you for reading along!

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

Movers and Shakers

Aloha!
You forget how slow the lifestyle really is in Hawaii, until you spend some time on the mainland. I have lived on Maui almost 15 years, and didn’t realize that Starbucks is now the center of the universe on the mainland. (Just kidding… sorta). We rarely go to Starbucks in Hawaii, it’s just an added expense. But we are away from home, near San Francisco, and we’ve been hitting Starbucks for 3 PM coffee time. It certainly is different here.

We sat outside on a perfectly still, sunny day sipping coffee, observing the Starbucks customers in a San Francisco surburb. (I wrote “still” because the wind is always blowing on Maui. Also, there is no humidity here. How could I have forgotten that? I hardly know how to act.)

Across from us there was a 20–something with her $1,200 handbag and expensive shoes, working her laptop and iPhone simultaneously, trying desperately to buy a house. We could hear everything she was saying, and every word involved stress. (As I read the other day, a CLOSET costs 5 million dollars in San Francisco.)

Then here came a 30-year old, striding purposefully into the shop, or her phone, trading stocks. Loudly.

All this commerce, this striding purposefully, the guys in suits and sports coats, the women dressed to the nines…this doesn’t happen on Maui. People in Starbucks on Maui are there simply to drink coffee. They aren’t trying to change the world, or even their own world.

People can fall into a groove on Maui. They work as waitresses, bellboys, or in a surf shack. They know life isn’t likely to change or improve. That it isn’t likely they’ll ever be able to afford a house. They have settled into dead-end jobs just so they can go surf or swim every weekend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it removes some motivation. It removes a certain amount of razor-sharp wit and intelligence needed just to keep a good job in other parts of the country.

Often, they moved Maui only to find out it’s much harder than they ever thought it would be. They end up working two or even three jobs….And if they grow weary of that, they move back home.

Sometimes, I miss the striving. Just sitting back in Starbucks and watching this smart/swift/sharp group of people navigate life here is a revelation. Eat or be eaten.

In Maui, the sharks are in the water.

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