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

Advertisements

Real Estate is Hot Again

Aloha!

Real estate is on fire in California… I share this with you because the common wisdom is that Hawaii follows California. So if you’re thinking of moving to Hawaii, the time is now.

Yes, I’ve said this before. However, that was before I became personally embroiled in California real estate, and now I see it in the big picture. Home prices in the Bay Area have hit a milestone: median prices for all types of housing topped $500,000 for the first time in five years.

I am the executor of my mother’s estate, which means I needed to sell her house in the Bay Area. It went on the market, had open houses for two weekends, and got 18 offers. 18 offers, people! Almost all of them were well over asking price. I was floored. Then of course, I had to weed through the 18 offers, and ended up countering five of them. It was a very difficult decision to make the final choice, especially knowing that there are many young families out there who are desperate to buy a home while interest rates are historically low.

I have a friend in California who has been actively trying to buy a condo. One of the units she placed an offer on got 28 offers. She was very discouraged, but after five months of looking and putting in offers, she prevailed. The secret in this market is to be extremely patient. Also, to be excited about a house, but not crushed if you don’t get it. Easier said than done.

The reason for the on-fire real estate market in the Bay Area is that housing prices have risen to where underwater homes can finally sell at a profit. And yet, people are still leery of the market, and many are holding back to see where the prices will land. This has created a seller’s market, and a huge demand for very few houses. “I’ve been in real estate for 32 years and this is the lowest inventory we have ever had,” said Caroline Miller, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.”We’ve had multiple-offer markets before, but it’s just incredible. There are anywhere from three offers up to 20 or 30 offers, it’s just been crazy.”

As I said, Hawaii follows California. Are you planning to move to Hawaii? Do you hope to buy a house? Then hurry, please.

What is the housing market like in your area? Please share your stories.

A hui ho! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “follow” button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Paradox of Paradise

Hawaii Weather Today: High 86, Low 71

The Paradox of Paradise

(Thanks for today’s title, Marianne!)

Aloha!

Last Sunday The Maui News http://mauinews.com/ ran an article about how the country of France has decided its people are too rude. They have begun a billboard campaign in bus and train stations to encourage people to be more courteous. It cited the statistic that France is the world’s most visited country (I didn’t know that, did you?) and the French needed to step up their game with the tourists. We just happened to have French friends staying here. I asked Maxim what he thought. He said he agreed with the article and that basically it was a sad commentary on their nation.

At least the French know they have a problem, and they are, afterall, mostly French. Here in Hawaii the lines are blurred, in that it’s a melting-pot of cultures, with each being represented at roughly ten percent. I didn’t know that before I moved here. Did you?

Today I was at Kaiser for a doctors appointment. I have a wicked tennis elbow and in fact can barely type anymore. (I got an I-Pad and am learning to dictate to it, so there’s hope for this blog). Anyway, as the nurse’s aide was taking my vitals she looked me up and down and said in pidgin, “So where you from…Wailea?”

Well. You have to live here to know how rude that was. She might just as well have said, “How much money you got, Haole lady?” And the silly part was I was wearing a $29 dress off a sale rack that was missing it’s belt, and a pair of $22 sandals from Marshall’s. I had on no jewelry, no usual markers of wealth or status, (though it’s normal to see local girls/women with 3-5 gold bracelets piled up their arms, with Hawaiian words carved into them…words like kuuipo; sweetheart). Because I am haole and I’m not in shorts and a tank top, the aide assumes I’m prosperous. She thinks I live in Wailea, also known as Haolewood. But I just smile, because she doesn’t even realize how rude it is.

This is part of the paradox, this type of racism. After all these years, it still catches me by surprise. If a Filipino lady had come in with her Chanel bag and large diamond the question never would have been asked. Case in point: the “local” lady in a blue silk dress and high heels at Taco Bell today. No one is ever going to ask her if she’s from Wailea. (If you haven’t been to Maui, Wailea is the chi-chi area. Except I can’t really say that, because in Hawaii chi-chi means “to go potty”.) Go figure.

Until you have lived in Hawaii these nuances are hard to fathom. People think they know what it’s like here because they vacation here. But until you live it day to day, year after year, and experience the many, many layers, and realize it’s pretty much a foreign country, it’s hard to explain to someone else. Just like anywhere I suppose, except I don’t think a New Yorker is going to say to every Black person, “So you live in Harlem right?”

I was in LA one time and a waiter in a coffee shop said he could tell I wasn’t from there. How? Because I had short hair at the time and wasn’t carrying a $1,200 bag? Elsewhere, it’s considered wise to always look your best. For a haole in Maui, it’s a minefield…if you’re not careful you’ll be taken for a tourist, or worse, a realtor!

And if luck is really against you, you’ll be accused of being from Wailea. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really nice place. I have done lots of interior design work there in high-end homes. Clint Eastwood has a home on the beach there. It’s that kind of place.

In her book “The Descendants,” set in Hawaii, Kaui Hart Hemmings describes an encounter between the main character and a Chinese gift shop owner. It says, “A Chinese woman enters the shop and stands behind the register…She is wearing a muumuu over navy polyester pants. She looks like she has escaped from an insane asylum.”

With what seems like about nineteen cultures represented in full force in Hawaii,  it’s hard to know what’s considered normal for each culture. A neighbor girl moved here from the Phillipines and plied me with questions about daily life in Maui. She made this observation about Maui: “No one dresses here when they leave the house. They all look like slobs. Where I’m from, you have clothes you wear at home and clothes you wear out. Why don’t they do that here?” I couldn’t answer her question, but apparently, a cotton dress and sandals were too much for this haole girl’s doctor’s appointment.

Silly me!

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica