Image may have been resized or cropped from original. Typically, nearly everything we write about the islands is through a positive lens — we talk about the amazing, the awesome, the glowing aspects of living life in the Hawaiian Islands. Many family work several jobs, live paycheck to paycheck, have substandard by mainland comparison housing conditions, very little expendable income and at any moment are living on the financial edge.
If you can stay here for the long term you can work your way up, but on day one be prepared to live a vastly downgraded lifestyle. On various rankings, Hawaii nearly always comes at the bottom of the list in terms of starting a business. Because everyone wants to live here and is willing to work for less admittedly this is just our guess and not a data research-backed conclusionthe result is that jobs here pay much less than their mainland counterparts.
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So you really end up taking a double-hit: first you get hurt due to a much higher cost of living than nearly any other city and then you get whacked with a pay cut. This was the view I was greeted by in the morning as I came out the door to head to work in Paia, Maui from our home in Honokowai Kahana. Image Copyright CyberCom, Inc. Do the math. So either you have to make a really high income with very little expenses or you have to already have a home that you can sell that has sufficient equity.
As a result of these sky-high prices, most middle class folks in Hawaii must rent and those rents go up every year due to ever-climbing real estate prices. Yes, even our Sunday morning drives are packed in! We know of friends that moved to LA from Honolulu and they think Honolulu is worse.
The freeways look like parking lots during rush hours that can stretch a normally 30 minute commute into a two hour crawl. Every workday. On some parts of Oahu people have to get up at 5am to get to work by 8am. No lie. If your travel time can flex from 30 minutes to 2 hours, what time do you leave the house to get into town by 10am? Who knows? This forces you to leave early and then you might arrive really early, on-time, or late.
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This wastes a lot of time and makes one want to avoid driving whenever possible. When we get the occasional big highway accident, the entire island chokes on traffic. There have been some horror stories of people taking 8 hours to get home. Less competition is almost always bad for consumers and here it applies to much more than just high prices. This lack of competition also permeates our politics: Hawaii is a single party state, featuring the lowest voter turnout in the nation. This all contributes to an attitude of apathy for many.
You would think our conditions would be ripe for change and consumer revolt, but in Hawaii our Aloha Spirit culture creates a shrug-and-bear-it type of attitude. All in Hawaii are minorities but there is a pecking order.
Hawaiians are on the top of the heap, followed by other Polynesians, then Asians, and finally the Haoles. Most mainland haoles never get past this. What does this mean, really? It means you will have to completely let go of your Western self and completely embrace your new Hawaiian islander self. You must be like Lt. If you insist on remaining Lt.
Nothing here is cheap. Even locally produced goods cost a ton more.
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Why are things so expensive here? Visitors to Hawaii need only take one trip to the grocery store or any restaurant to experience extreme sticker shock that us islanders have just come to accept. Honolulu traffic. Anything in Hawaii that becomes even somewhat popular immediately becomes overcrowded. This perhaps may be more acute on Oahu than the other islands but the underlying fundamentals are similar. Find a good restaurant? New product announcement? Lines around the block. Big concert in town?
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Sold out in an hour. Big shopping sale at the mall?
Big event anywhere? Traffic backed up for miles. Big surf event? No road tripping here on the island! One of many things mainland Americans take for granted is the amazingly awesome fun of a road trip. So in reality what you end up doing is driving across the island and then back.
What ends up happening over time is you go less and less, growing ever more distant from mainland family. Surprisingly, our fresh fruit selection is not very good. While we have good local supply of pineapples, bananas and papayas, fruit that has to be shipped in is rarely ripe and either overripe or underripe. Peaches are the best example: we only get really sweet and juicy peaches for perhaps weeks out of the year with substandard selection after that. Restaurants are a problem too. Hawaii has a large selection of Asian-centric restaurants but after that it falls off the cliff.
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Italian, Greek, Mexican, Pizza and the like are sorely lacking. But great [anything else] restaurants? Share this with anyone you know that lives in Hawaii and they will have little to disagree with. But, guess what? They are still here and so are we!
This of course is an individual choice and only you can weigh out your own internal equation. The fantasy that they Hawaiians care about seniors Kapolei total bs from my experience. I have store clerks who go out of their way to avoid helping me. This is a foreign country living under the American flag. These are good reasons for people who work regular jobs. We sold our house in LA and were sexy to buy a house in Kauai for much less.
I like country living and Kauai is beautiful country. We moved to Kauai to escape the extreme heat, droughts, wildfires, traffic, mass shootings, vaccine Hawaii and general science-opposing idiocy. Most people we meet here are kind, open, friendly and interesting. Some people are deliberate jerks, rude, insulting but they are only making themselves more miserable. If I stole your house, and told you to sleep on the grass, then would you have any girl or feel black a victim? If not, then, we can try it. Hawaii is the needs guy I would live. My daughter got a divorce and requested to move herself and her 3 girls back to the mainland to be closer to family.
And provide proof the cost of living was much lower. She found a job and housing and provided all the documents, lower cost of living, school and their ratings etc.
But her relocation request was denied by the Judge saying just because you want to be closer to your family and the cost of living is cheaper, the move would not benefit the girls in any way. He flat out disrespected our family.