THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE MOVING TO HAWAII
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE MOVING TO HAWAII
Every year thousands of people move to Hawaii, buy a home, and begin to live their dream. Starry-eyed people come here with high hopes of living in paradise, in a beautiful house on the beach, surfing everyday, and sipping Mai Tai’s out of coconut shells. Here’s some things to know before buying a home in Hawaii.
Hawaii is an island state.
That means it can be harder to get some of the things you like and are used to being readily available. Things are more expensive to ship and slower to arrive by Fedex. Fedex overnight means 2 days here. Even if there are stores here that carry what you want, that doesn’t mean that they’ll have it in stock on a given day.
Hawaii is paradise on earth, but it’s not heaven.
There is still traffic and crime, and there are still some rude people in Hawaii like anywhere else. People tend to live for about a year in the honeymoon stage, we call it Mai Tai fever, still euphoric about living in Hawaii. Then reality sets in. People in Hawaii still get sick. Life still throws you a curve ball in paradise, and your stuff begins to rust, no matter where you live on the island.
Housing is expensive.
$750,000 will buy you a an average house in Maui or a large condo in Kailua Kona. It might be single wall construction, meaning there are no studs in the walls. Your yard might be smaller than you’re used to, and the dirt will be bright red. However, if you go out a bit to the Puna area of the Big Island you can get a great home for about $300k in Pahoa, Volcano (the city, not the actual Volcano), or Kurtistown.
The ocean in Hawaii is wonderful, but you won’t be in it as much as you think.
People ask us if we surf everyday. They think we sit on a beach and type my blog or handle my escrows, etc. Nope, I sit at a desk in my office, just like you. We do go to the beach often, maybe 3-5 times a month. We prefer Kailua Beach to Waikiki, and sometimes we go to Portlock’s small beach. There are still plenty of empty beaches in Oahu, and if you buy a house here, I’ll show you some of them!
It rains a lot, suddenly, for about 10 minutes at a time.
If you live in Kahalui, Maunawili, the North Shore, or Kailua, it rains more than in town, the Leeward side, or Haiku. Usually within a few minutes the sun will come out and dry everything off. So stop walking around with an umbrella, you look like a tourist.
All your friends will visit
The first year, and you’ll have to cart them to the North Shore, to see the Whales, to a tourist luau, and all the spots they have dreamed of. You’ll have less visitors in the second year, until finally you get 1 or 2 visitors a year—forever. It helps if you visit them once a year, and have them visit you once a year. And friends will come and go, most people come to the islands with the same goal: to live happily ever after and surf all day. But reality bites when they can’t find work and have to move back to the mainland. This makes it a social turnstile — a circulation of new faces returning to old places and new ones entering your life.
If you have a pet
Consider getting your animal’s rabies vaccinations up to date well in advance of moving. The animals need to be current on their vaccinations and they also need to get blood work done to prove that they have built up immunity to rabies. It can take up to 4 months to get this process done and if you prepare ahead of time, it might save you being away from your pet.
If you want to ship your pet to Hawaii from the mainland, you’ll also need to have your pet given a good bill of health from your local veterinarian. Some airlines don’t allow certain dog breeds to fly in the hot summer season (think Boxer or dogs with Brady cephalic heads). It’s also expensive to ship them and if they’re a larger breed, they will likely need to ride in the cargo hold and my dogs and I aren’t too fond of that idea.
If you ship a car to Hawaii
It’s a process to get the registration changed to Hawaii. Just take a day off work and plan on spending the whole day to get this done. Even if you have car insurance from a large company like State Farm or Farmer’s, you’ll need to get a local agent. Once you have your auto insurance agent and your new insurance ID card for Hawaii, you can go get your car safety inspected. These inspection stations can be busy, and they’ll check the tint color of your windows, your signals, mirrors and if your car checks out, they will give you a slip of paper that you can bring to the department of licensing. You may have to wait in line at the DOL for half a day, so be prepared. Bring something to read and some snacks and don’t forget to take a number. Licensing your car in Hawaii might be more expensive than in your Mainland State. Once your car is registered, you need to drive back to the safety inspection office and have them stick a safety sticker on your car. I told you it was a process didn’t I?
Everything takes longer in Hawaii.
Things that take 5 minutes will take 10 here. Things you might get instantly in L.A. could take days in Hawaii. You need a contractor to come give you an estimate? How about 2 weeks from now? You need a dentist appointment? How about next month? Life in Hawaii is in sometimes in slow motion, and we like it that way. Even in our real estate transactions, we work slow. Our average escrow is 45-60 days. Learn to drive slow, walk slow, and live slow. We enjoy the drive along the coast at 35mph, just enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian views.
Some people end up leaving Hawaii after a few years, and then regret it for the rest of their lives.
Whatever the reason, many people who move here end up leaving after only a few years. And one person every week tells me how much they regret ever leaving Hawaii. Most people who sold their Hawaii real estate would have made hundreds of thousands of dollars if they would have held onto it. So don’t come thinking, “I’m going to try out Hawaii.” Instead, make up your mind and say, “I will make it work no matter what, I will buy a house in Hawaii, I will make it my home.” People give up their dream of living in Hawaii everyday, they quit and leave paradise.
For those of us who make it happen, it becomes more like paradise than we thought at first.