Where is the Cabana Boy?

Aloha!

When you live on Maui, an odd thing happens: you never go on vacation. Having grown up in Hawaii, Mike just has a really, really hard time spending money for a hotel, when we already live in “Paradise.” And we are probably just like you, in that if we stay home, all we do is work! I am currently on a writing deadline, so I thought I’d share with you the thing I wish I could say right now:

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But obviously, I can’t complain! It’s warm, the sun is out, and even though I am chained to my desk right now, I am well aware, every single day, of where I live. So here’s what I really need to say:

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I hope you have found your Paradise, too.

“It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness.”
– Thomas Jefferson

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button in the bottom right corner of the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

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The Real Reason I Live on Maui

Aloha!
So here it is, the REAL reason, above all others, that I live on Maui. My sister, who still lives where I grew up in Indiana (and teaches at our same junior high), sent this to me this morning. My teeth chatter just thinking about it:

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To all of you in the Midwest and on the East Coast battling this type of weather, please stay warm, and stay safe on the roads out there.

Have a cup of hot chocolate and think of me…I will soon be deluged with letters from people asking me questions on “How to Move to Maui.” (See FAQ’s on Moving to Maui).

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Only in Hawaii…

Aloha!

Let me just say, you chase your tail a lot when you live in Hawaii. Here’s my recent example: I got dinged with a library book fine for “having SAND in the plastic book cover.” You know, like I’d toted it to the beach.

Two problems: I never took the book out of the library. And, there was no way to pay the fine!

Yes, I checked the book out. But I was leaving on a trip… So I walked it from check out to book return, all within one minute. So how exactly did I get sand in this book cover? Yet a very formal (threatening) letter arrived from the State of Hawaii about this fine, and it was all of two dollars! As in, they spent almost in much in postage as the fine would be.

And here was the major catch: the book was from the Pearl City library (books are shipped for free interisland, it just takes a month or so to get them) and there was no way to pay the fine, because the fine had to be paid IN PERSON. I live on Maui, Pearl City is on Oahu, do we see the problem here? I could not mail a check, mail cash, or do it by credit card.

So I drove down to the Kahului library, and had a meeting with the librarian, who told me to write a letter in return and plead my case. For TWO DOLLARS?

I have to laugh, because this is one of those going-around-in circles things that happens when you live in Hawaii. For the most part, the government says no to everything….It was easier for them, back in plantation days, when people were illiterate, or did not speak the language well, to JUST SAY NO to everything! (way before Nancy Reagan jumped on the bandwagon.)
Just try to get a building permit here, for example. The immediate answer will be no, and they will make it about as difficult as you can imagine.

And so it is that they make it impossible to pay a library fine, (for SAND in the book cover) yet are perfectly willing to lend books to another island such as Maui.

Only in Hawaii…

For the record, that major fee was waived after they put an inspector on the case, and determined that YES! the book never left the library under my name. And how much do we think this inspector cost the State? Absolutely archaic. Shake your head and laugh so you don’t bang it against the nearest wall.

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaiian Name Woes

Aloha!

When you move to Hawaii, it is interesting to try to get used to the street names with their multiple syllables, and reading the names of people in the newspaper can be a challenge. The trick to Hawaiian words is to sound them out syllable by syllable, and pronounce everything.

Janice Lokelani Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele is in a fight with officials here, to ensure that her full name gets listed on her driver’s license.

The license only has room for 35 characters. Her name has 35 letters, plus a mark used in the Hawaiian alphabet, called an okina.

So Hawaii county issued her license, but with the last letter of her name chopped off. And, omitted her first name. I wonder if the number of letters in her last name holds some kind of record?

And you thought you had a problematic last name. I’ll bet it at least fits on your driver’s license…

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage. Mahalo for reading along.

Aloha, Jamaica

Positive Outlook?

Aloha!
Tourism is still the driving factor in Maui County’s economy, according to economists at First Hawaiian Bank’s 39th annual Maui Business Outlook Forum. But if you’re thinking of moving to Maui and finding a job, or starting a business, read on.

At its lowest point in the recent deep recession in 2010, the county lost nearly 9,000 jobs. About 5,000 of those jobs have returned, mostly in tourism and other service-related fields, and the unemployment rate is still well above the 3% rate before the recession. In my personal experience, I was working a part-time job on Maui when I was laid off. I found out firsthand that these jobs numbers are not totally accurate: I would never show up as a statistic, because I could not collect unemployment as a part-time employee. So it was as if my job never existed. And I could not collect unemployment, even though I’d been paying into it for years!

In it’s third-quarter “Outlook for the Economy” published last month, the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism projected state unemployment rates to be 4.8% in 2013 and 4.5% in 2014.

As for construction, activity has been on a slow but steady climb since 2011 and has made about a 25% recovery after plummeting to its low point in 2010. However, the economists noted, the opportunities are coming from infastructure and commercial construction, and less from residential and timeshares. So if you’re a guy planning to swing a hammer, be aware of that.

The retail sector also is expected to grow. The Maui Mall will add a T.J. Maxx store, scheduled to open in summer 2015.(Yay.) And the Queen Kaahumanu Center is planning to add new “name brand” shops. (That will be nice, especially after we lost both JCPenney and the Gap. Because of that, I tend to shop for basics on the mainland.)

As far as real estate, based on January – through – July numbers this year, sales for both single – family and condo units were well on their way to numbers not seen since their peak in 2007: 1,000 single family units and 1,300 condos sold. “The market is getting back to where it was,” said the President of Realtors Association of Maui, P. Denise LaCosta.”When inventory is low like this, it means prices will rise, and inventory will continue to shrink.” Maui’s real estate inventory has declined 11-14% over the last 12 months.

Make of these numbers what you will…A number of readers wrote to tell me they were planning to move to Maui. If you are one of those people, please write and tell me if you found jobs. Shauna?

Other than that, we have drought conditions here on Maui, because it’s been hot, hot,hot with NO rain. I got my haircut today and was talking with my hairstylist, who lives in Haiku. She said that Haiku (rainy, eastern-Maui, jungle) used to only get in the high 70s, and it has consistently been 85 to 87 this past week. She said she is “over summer” and “so tired of being hot!” I concur. As I wrote in a past blog post, statistics now show that Maui is 10° hotter than it was 10 years ago…

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

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

Brief Relief

Aloha!
Regarding my last post about the VOG (volcanic organic gas), and that we’d had unrelenting VOG for 43 days, I wanted to give you an update. Shauna wrote to ask if I had asthma before moving to Hawaii. The answer is no. I’ve written about this in the past, but I really did move to Maui for the “clean” air. So I was shocked to find out that Hawaii has a high incidence of asthma, and particularly the children are at risk. You can check it out at http://www.CDC.gov/asthma/stateprofiles/asthma. An estimated 36,738 children have asthma in Hawaii. Child lifetime asthma prevalence in Hawaii is 18.6%, compared with the 38 participating states rates of 13.3%.

There have also been questions about whether Hawaii is a good place for those with allergies. See also: http://www.allergyclimates.com/2006/06/03/Denver-Hawaii.

I’ve sat in my chiropractor’s office, and listened to parents bringing their children in for adjustments, saying, “I pulled the children out of school today because of the VOG, and they’re doing so poorly, I brought them in for an adjustment.” Many Hawaii schools have open windows and no air conditioning. I spoke with the man who owns Air Filters Hawaii, and he was hired to go to the Big Island and fit the schools over there with air filteration systems for the VOG. I think Maui should be next.

The thing with the VOG is that it’s so in insidious. Most places on the island, you don’t even know it’s there. We can go to downtown Kahului (where the airport is),and not see the VOG at, all because we are IN it. We can go down to Kihei, or to Wailea, on the south part of the island, and it’s the same way. But we come up the mountain and have a view of the valley, and bingo! there it is, hanging over Maui like a gauzy blanket. The shorthand at our house now revolves around the VOG. The question, “Is it thick?” means, is it time to close up all the windows?

I am on the email notification list for the island’s HC&S sugarcane company. This year during our 45 day VOG seige, they would send an email that said they were going to burn in the morning between 4:00am and 6:30am, and then a few hours later another email notification would come, saying “burning suspended due to weather.” They’re not saying due to VOG, but that’s what it means. They canceled the burning so many times I lost track, and the upside to the VOG siege was they were not burning cane. So it’s a choice between VOG and cane-smoke, I guess.

We had a three day VOG reprieve, so we went to the beach. I was so happy to be out of the house I cannot even tell you! However, now I’m thinking I need to do a blog post about “what not to do at the beach.” There was the guy who stood directly in front of me and chain smoked the whole time. Then the guy next to me smoking a cigar. Honestly, people, you can’t do this in your own backyards?

So today the wind is directly out of the south, and the VOG is moving back in. All of our windows are closed, and I am so weary of it, and wonder how long it will last this time. At one point I worked in a law office here on the island, with a large group of women. On voggy days, you could just see the effects all across the office… People with itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and the inability to concentrate. People would think they were coming down with the flu (with the achiness), but it would just be the VOG.

So there’s your report from Paradise today.

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

Aloha, Jamaica