HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Are You Ready to Live Here?


By Kelly Moran

Are You Ready to Live Here?

Many people dream of living in Hawaii. Take a few vacations here – maybe even just one – and the idea will certainly cross your mind. But whether you do move here, or just keep dreaming about it, is up to you, because living in Hawaii, full-time, is not for everybody.

In my last blog, I talked about relocating your pets. Now I want to talk about relocating yourself. I can help you do it. But I want you to come with your eyes open. If you are serious about living here, full-time, there are some aspects of life here that you should keep in mind.

The Climate. People who move to Alaska are people who trulyenjoy wintertime. If you move to Hawaii, your favorite season had better be summer, because unless you live more than 2,000 feet above sea level, you’re going to be hot most the time.

And probably wet, too. You may not want to live on the rainy, windward side of the Big Island, but with the exception of our desert-like leeward shoreline, this island is also very humid. Granted, we don’t have a wet-blanket humidity, like Florida or the Gulf Coast, but there’s always moisture in the air, and you should be prepared to deal with mold and mildew.

The Cost. If the reason you like summertime is because you can beat the heat with air-conditioning, remember that electricity on the Big Island already costs nearly 40 cents a kilowatt-hour, and is sure to go higher. Although there are now State income-tax incentives to install solar hot-water systems, many homes here still have electric water-heaters and ranges. Add in what your hair-dryer or your power-tools will consume, and you can expect your monthly electric bill to be gigantic.

Stroll through a local supermarket; most necessities are more expensive here than on the Mainland. And as the price of oil climbed, this past year, fuel-surcharges raised the cost of shipping. And the price of airline tickets. Getting you here also costs more, now, than ever before.

The Isolation. This is something you may not be able to plan for. Hawaii is a very big island, as islands go. But it’s no continent. There are only so many places to drive and things to do, here. How many trips will you really take to the beach, the volcano, or the summit of Mauna Kea? You’re going to spend a lot of time at home, staring out your window at the ocean or the tropical foliage; and believe it or not, you could get bored. You might contract what local folks call “rock fever,” and yearn to get the heck away!

The People. Unlike everywhere else in the U.S., it’s perfectly acceptable, in Hawaii, to talk about race. Nearly everyone here has a multi-cultural background. The various ethnicities of beauty-pageant contestants are proudly and publicly announced. A dinner guest may turn to another and say, “You look Polynesian – are you part-Hawaiian?” (On the Mainland you would never hear: “You’re rather dark – is someone in your family Black?”)

Local people – strangers, even – may ask about your ethnic background. If you are Caucasian, it’s not enough to shrug and say you are a haole – they can see that! You must be prepared to elaborate (“My mother is a German Jew and my father is Polish,” or whatever.) And you will hear plenty of ethnic jokes based on stereotypes; they’re rarely cruel, but they are popular, and you’ll have to take them in stride, especially if it’s your ethnicity that’s being laughed at.

In a multi-cultural environment, too, not everyone will speak English well. You’ll have to get used to hearing “Pidgin”, especially among youngsters. And you must be prepared to slow down, when talking with shopkeepers, service people, and even government officials.

I don’t want discourage you. But living full-time in Hawaii is more complex than it may appear to be when you’re here on vacation. The reality is: some people who move to Hawaii . . . move back.

One Reply to “HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Are You Ready to Live Here?”

  1. Aloha Kelly,
    Thanks to your tireless energy in 1994 and 1995, you helped make our move to Hilo an absolute pleasure. We never regret our seven years there and would still be there if not for our unexpected return to the Mainland in late 2001.
    Hilo and Hawaii will always be my home.

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