Friday, May 5, 2023

Could I Ever Live in Hawaii Again?

Could I ever live in Hawaii again? People sometimes ask me this question. My answer is always "yes and no." Yes, if the Lord moved me there. Of course I would live there again! But no if the decision were completely up to me. I'm not alone in thinking this way. I just read a report that said more and more people are leaving Hawaii for such places as California, Texas, Florida, and, of course, the "Ninth Island," Las Vegas. A few years ago my cousin Mike sold his small house in Kailua (where we were raised) for 1.5 mill and is now enjoying retirement in Oregon. There are lots of reasons for not wanting to return home to live. Here's a brief list (with my comments):

Heat: Oahu is hot. I'm talking about the leeward (Honolulu) side of the island of course. Think Ewa Beach, Waipahu, Pearl City, Waikiki, even Hawaii Kai. My home was in Kailua, which being on the windward side of Oahu had a nice cool onshore breeze you could enjoy about 360 days a year. While growing up I never once thought Hawaii was hot. Clammy and sweaty? Not Kailua. But today, when I land at HNL, the heat feels oppressive. 

Cost of living: I couldn't afford to live on Oahu. Most people can't. You pay 15 bucks for a Whopper Meal. As for housing, after Becky died I looked into getting a condo in Kailua so I could visit more often. A studio apartment starts at 1 mill. No thanks. Even if you can afford a house, you can't afford to pay the ever-increasing taxes on it. Non-residents are buying up the houses because the locals can't afford them. It's sad but it's the reality for so many kamaaina. 

Traffic: The roads are a mess. It will take you 45 minutes to drive from Haleiwa to Sunset Beach on the North Shore. It used to take me 12 minutes. On the other hand, nobody honks. If you need to make a lane change, locals are generous and patient. Give a shaka, get one back, and go on your merry way.

Island fever: I enjoy travel. That's a somewhat limited pleasure if you live on Oahu. Here in Virginia I can get in the car and drive 200 miles to the beach or the mountains. 

Crowdedness: Drive to Punchbowl and see all the buildings, plus all the new ones going up. We used to joke that the state bird was the "crane." It's only gotten worse. 

In short, Hawaii is not for everybody. It has a way of sorting out who stays and who goes. If you do end up living there, the aloha spirit will embrace you. I still think Kailua is the most beautiful place on earth. I may be a mainlander by choice, but my heart is still there. I LOVED my growing up years in Kailua. But for now I'll just visit. 

Kailua Beach, Aug. 6, 2019.