Hawaii full time- Pros/cons

ginrummy53

Hi everyone. Long time lurker and joined a little while age. I am in great need of info and opinions on living somewhere in Hawaii full time. My husband is once again on a quest to find the One Perfect Place to live. We have done this multiple times without much success-according to him. We have tried having two homes, as we have now, but there is always something that doesn’t work out.


His requirements are tennis and golf year round. I am an introvert with a hint of recluse, so my need is to not be cold. He thinks that our daughters and their families will be happy to visit. One is outside Seattle with the grands and the other in AZ.


I know it is expensive to live in Hawaii, but what else do we consider? Which island? Health care? Weather?

Please help.

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Elmer J Fudd

A couple we're good friends with retired to Maui after many happy vacation visits and a long consideration of alternative retirement locations. We visited them twice, we've had numerous Hawaiian vacations over the years, at least a dozen. They moved back to the mainland after about 3 years. Why:

-Too much like living in a small town with limited choices and limited availability of products and services

-Poor and limited healthcare options ( something that KT regular chisue also encountered)

-No access to a "larger city" for things not available locally

-Limited entertainment/cultural events

-Going to the beach and playing golf gets monotonous - they wanted more variety of choices for activities

- The distance from their family and the required travel costs and time limited visiting

It's not for everyone. I'm sure it works out well for some. For us, moving to a new area for "retirement" was never considered. We live in a good weather place to begin with and don't want to isolate ourselves geographically from friends, no matter what the destination. That alone is something to consider for many.

Good luck

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Annie Deighnaugh

Expense is the the biggie as *everything* has to be shipped in, except maybe pineapples.

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cooper8828

My sister lives there. It takes forever to fly back to the mainland. Everything is very expensive. She also says you can get "cabin fever". She lives on Oahu. Also, when she had some serious health problems a couple of years ago, she was seriously considering flying to the mainland due to a lack of specialists in the area she needed.

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ginrummy53

Thank you all for responding. I hope Chisue sees this and chimes in. I don’t think Hawaii is going to be the idyllic place my husband is seeking, so I want to know the realities up front. And we are used to the dry southwest, so what is the weather really like year round on the various islands?

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maifleur03

Several times when I was there in early May 2019 the trade winds stopped and it became very hot and humid. They do have tropical storms some of which turn into hurricanes most originating off the coast of Central America. Each island has a slightly different weather.


Prices are much higher but the things I found being highest were fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. I always try to go to at least one grocery and a farmers market. My husband's ex worked in the hospitals there and agreed with Elmer that for some procedures patients must go to the mainland. Depending on health condition that could be via air ambulance.


I too had thought about moving there but decided that the disadvantages out weigh the advantages. Perhaps going for an extended vacation or vacations at different times of the year is something you should suggest to him.

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Annie Deighnaugh

All I remember is, when I was there, I made it rain on the dry side where they only get 2" of rain a year. I think much is dependent on location as Waialeale's summit is supposedly the wettest spot on earth with 450" of rain per year.

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Lars

You might consider San Diego. The inland parts of the city away from the beach are warmer and less expensive, and it still does not get cold in the winter. The inland areas would be too hot for tennis in the summer, but it is cool enough near the beach for playing. Palm Springs is great for golf and tennis, but only in the winter.

Another city that is not expensive is Long Beach, CA. This would be good for tennis, but I don't know about golf. I think Ventura, CA is also affordable, and it is a nice place, close to both Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

If money is less of an object, you could consider Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, or San Luis Obispo.

People I've known who lived in Hawaii thought it was too remote and isolated. It's fine if you are reclusive, however, and it does attract a lot of people who appear to be hermit-like and do not like visitors.

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sushipup1

We never ever considered leaving Monterey California, but at age 68 in 2015 we were facing retirement (Jim's company had been sold and whole departments eliminated) as well as increasing health problems. We opted to move closer to our son in the Philly area. Yeah, a shock, but he and his family are two miles away. Jim's driving is very restricted now (MD) and soon he won't be able to drive at all. If anything should happen to one of us, at least we have family right here.

When I was counseling seniors and their families, I often had people coping with unexpected health crises, and doing a forced move to be closer to family. I would never recommend moving farther away from family.

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glenda smith

Grandson was stationed there for 3 years. Enjoyed it but was glad to get back to the mainland and now in Virginia. He sure got tired of rhe multi peacocks outside his window.



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Embothrium

They all have the same general climate. With variations in average rainfall and temperature within each island being determined by altitude and topography. And the Big Island having the most height and land area resulting in it having both a snow capped peak and tropical beaches. As well as a desert and a rain forest one mile from each other.

Otherwise it's a long dribble of little specks out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - the world's most isolated terrestrial location. With the main islands all being far enough apart that commercial airlines (jet airplanes) are the dominant means of getting between them.

So for most people whichever island is chosen to live on will be where most time is spent. The aforementioned Big Island is 93 miles across. But like everywhere much of it is not publicly accessible, making how much roaming space one seems to have that much smaller.

As for California even the high income outer coastal enclave Santa Barbara got hit by fire in recent years.

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ginrummy53

I doubt there really is One place that will be ideal. That is why I thought having two separate climates would work, but there are other factors at play for him. I think this past year has done a number on his head.

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ginrummy53

And windy isn’t good for tennis or golf

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socks

Breathtakingly beautiful, friendly people, appealing culture. Kinda boring, not much to do besides go to the beach. I love it there but would not want to live there.

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Elmer J Fudd

While the weather is pretty nice and not that different through the year, I think the months of Dec-March can be the rainiest. Multiple days of heavy rain can be expected in some areas while being rare in others. The more rainy and more dry parts of each island are well known and that information is easily obtained.

I'm not sure it's clear to me that you've spent much time visiting Hawaii but you should do that and get familiar with different areas before deciding that a move there is what you want to do.

As a native and lifelong resident of the arid West Coast where warm weather humidity is very rare, I find Hawaii to be a bit more humid than California but it's much less humid that what you encounter in the Midwest, South and East Coast of the US in the summertime. There's almost always at least a slight breeze to keep things more comfortable.


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nicole___

Things to think about: Soil is hauled in since a lot of the island is volcanic "rock". Rain water catchment for household use is common....and not regulated by the health department. 2011 Tsunami hitting hilo, footage Hawaii has the 13th highest poverty level in the USA.

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eld6161

Chisue did not live there full time. She is our resident Maui expert.

Where have you tried?

Why is Az out if the equation, especially with one of your kids there?

I don’t think certain areas are realistic if you want company, and Hawaii if one of them.

Have you thought about Florida?



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chisue

Nice to VISIT. I wouldn't want to LIVE there. (Can write more later.)


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Lindsey_CA

For many years, Hubs and I went to Hawaii (mostly Maui and Kauai) every six months for two weeks each time. Occasionally we would go to the "Big Island" or to Oahu. We loved being in Hawaii, and thought about moving there, but Hubs decided it would be too much of a commute to attend Major League baseball games. He loved golfing there, though.

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ginrummy53

We’ve been in AZ for the majority of 44 years with brief stint home to MD and a short stab at living in Ashland, OR. We haven’t spent a summer in Phoenix since 2002-it is just too hot. We had been RV’ing for 9 years, but that got old. And have had - and currently do have- a mountain cabin. But DH really wants just one year round place with great tennis and golf. ( He has requirements for those too).


Having company is not necessary. He just figured it is still possible.


Florida is a no go. Too flat and humid. DH likes scenic golf courses.


We have been to Hawaii several times- Oahu, Lanai, Big Island, Kauai. But all just vacations, so it is not the same as living somewhere. Basically, I am just gathering info on what it really means to live there. I pulled up some pro/con sites on the web, so will have to show that to DH. Believe me that this is not my idea.


Thanks to you all.

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Kathsgrdn

I've only been to the Big Island once, visiting a friend of mine. She still lives there. It was nice and peaceful and I was planning to move there when I saw a clinic position open up a few years later. Too bad, when I read the fine print you had to already live there to apply.

My friend loves it there but is part of a big Filipino community. They reminded me of my mother and all her Japanese friends getting together and making lots of food with their whole families. I went to at least one of their parties and it was fun. If you don't know anyone it may get a little lonely, as with anywhere.

I spent most of my days that she was working driving around the island, taking a book to the local Japanese park after picking up a snack at the market in Hilo. Very relaxing but it may get boring if you lived there. My friend has all her friends and family, work and has a bunch of dogs she would go hiking with every day.

I went during Spring or Summer, can't remember and it was mostly warm. One night it rained and she took me on a nighttime run to Kilauea because it was erupting that night. It was extremely windy and cold. No trees in the area to block the wind so you got the full force of it. It was fun but it does get cold there.

Shopping was limited but there is a Costco on the other side of the Island, I think in Kona. Kona also has big resorts/hotels you can spend the day in as a Hawaii resident for cheap. Or you could back then, about 10 years ago.

I liked the big island and don't think I'd like more touristy islands for very long.

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Lindsey_CA

I think about 70% of the total population of Hawaii lives on Oahu, and about 40% (+ or -) of the population of Oahu lives in Honolulu.

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theresafic

I lived on Oahu for about eleven yrs. Mostly in my 20s early 30s. I loved living there.

Positives about lining in Hawaii include the weather, it is nice all year. It is beautiful , full of mountains , green everywhere and lots of tropical flowers. It is multicultural, Caucasian is not the majority, lots of people from all over the world, lots of Asians.

The cons for me, it is very expensive, traffic on Oahu is horrific, I didn’t like the humidy.

I never felt it was boring, and there is lots to do there besides go to the beach, I played tennis and could play outdoors all yr. There is the same amount of things to do as in any other city. The outer islands are more rural and have smaller population, there might not be as much to do as on Oahu.

As any place, it’s much different going there as a tourist and living there.

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Elmer J Fudd

I've heard plenty of kamaaina (Hawaiian residents) express the view that they don't consider most of Oahu and especially not Honolulu to be real "Hawaiian", in deference to other islands/parts of the state. We went to Oahu once as part of a longer trip and didn't like it enough to want to go back.

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theresafic

Where did you go on Oahu? Waikiki?

it’s a pretty big island and lots of people live there.

I lived not only in Honolulu but other parts of Oahu. It was full of people living ther.e I think about 80% of the population of Hawaii lives on the island of

not sure what you mean about real Hawaiian.

Your one visit does not compare to my eleven yrs

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Embothrium

Haven't been in years but I had family there from about the time of the Civil War (Germans who came to work the sugar) until the last ones moved to Portland some years ago. (Eventually they ended up in Orlando, where one of them had 25% of their house roof covering blow off in a hurricane a few years ago. And this was not an old poorly built house).

The beach that everybody focuses on is enjoyable but in a group picture I would be the one looking in the other direction - at the mountains. If a body is interested in scenery and nature there is a lot of that to enjoy there. With much of the mountains long ago set aside as public watersheds in order to protect the supply.

As for green everywhere as I mentioned upthread the Big Island has a desert and a rain forest one mile apart. With a general tendency for there to be mountains in the center resulting in the north sides of the islands to be the wet ones and the south the dry. On Oahu for instance the two mountain ranges run more or less east and west with Honolulu being built over a former salt marsh to the south of the mountains behind it. And therefore in a drier climate area.

Also as in many other places it gets rainier as you gain in elevation, with a lot of Honolulu being down at or close to sea level also making it in a drier zone. (In fact a coral reef was destroyed by the airport building a runway over it - can't get closer to sea level than that).

Stepping off a jet in Honolulu and being struck immediately by the warmth and humidity is typical. To a large extent anyone used to metropolitan area amenities is only going to find Honolulu adequate, with all the other islands coming across as mostly rural.

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Elmer J Fudd

"Where did you go on Oahu? Waikiki?"

Not that it matters but my memory for such things isn't bad. There used to be a very nice hotel called the Kahala Hilton, it was east of Diamond Heat and so a bit quieter than ground zero Waikiki Beach. I looked it up and the facility is still there but it's no longer a Hilton. After several days there, we went to a smaller resort on the north shore that was near a closed sugar mill. I don't remember the name of it. What I do remember was that it was very windy there and pretty quiet, but for an overabundance of surfers up and down the beaches. We used that location to explore that part of Oahu and the touristic sites nearby.

I know a half dozen people with second homes - split between houses and upscale condos- in Hawaii. Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, are where they've chosen. None on Oahu. I learned that one colleague owned a condo in a nice development at Poipu Beach on Kauai where we'd rented an ocean front unit several times before learning he owned another one there. It's called Kiahuna Plantation and it's one of several developments in that area that I can recommend.

Yes, it was one visit and on our first trip to Hawaii. We enjoyed the other islands much more then and since so I don't consider my experience to be determinative for anyone other than me. The fact that out of a not necessarily random sample no one I know owns real estate there but elsewhere instead could be a useful data bit for someone considering where to retire.

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ginrummy53

Thank you all for sharing your experiences. Luckily, nothing will be happening in a rush, so we can gather info. Trying different areas on for size will have to happen before any

purchase. And who knows what life will throw at us. Keep sharing though. I really appreciate it.

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caflowerluver

We have been going on vacation to all the islands every few years since 1980. DH wanted to retire there, but I did not for all the cons listed. Our favorite island was Kauai.

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chisue

We started taking winter vacations to Hawaii in 1979; two weeks became a month, then two months. Because it was winter, we stayed on the warmer locations on four different islands, mostly Kauai and Big Island. Our initial visit to Maui was difficult for several reasons, and we didn't return for 16 years -- then bought a condo in South Kihei two years later (which we just sold). WE liked Big Island better, but at the time it had few retail/dining/ect. options. (No Coscto then! Hawaiians would starve without Costco.)

We are exprienced homeowners, but owning there is another whole ballgame. Housing is hugely expensive: $1K+/sq. ft. at our Maui condo complex for 2BR 2Bath. This is seller's market now. There are X-many tradesmen on an island (no need to be competitive and assistant labor is unreliable). Parts come from off-island; can take months. "Island Time" is not mainland time.

Expect to make acquaintances, not friends. Islanders see manilander come and go all the time. You're not ilikely to be around long enough to invest time in knowing. People who work three jobs to afford to live don't have spare time. Educational levels are low. You could befriend other mainlanders: have 'seasonal' friends?

The 'getting there' is expensive, tiring, and can be frustrating. Medical care is sub-par even Honolulu has limited facilities. If you live West Side Maui you'll be helicoptered to the hospital in Kahului in an emergency or if the sole access road is closed (2 lanes through the mountains -- brush fires, landslides).

Weather can be challenging. Hurricanes threaten, then usually turn into Tropical Storms that linger, dumping rain that washes out roads (and homes) and erodes beaches. The Trades die, sometimes for days, and it's hot and humid. Electrical power is expensive. Heck, everything is expensive, for locals and tourists.

Some areas are completely overrun with tourists. Swaths of Maui are bursting. There's not enough infrastructure to serve all these people, but $$$$$ keeps the developments growing. There's inadequate or no public transportation, especially outside of Honolulu and environs.

OK, that's quite enough. If you want more, PM me. Hawaii is (was?) a nice place to visit.



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ginrummy53

Thank you very much, Chisue. We probably wouldn’t look at Maui. What you have said makes a lot of sense to me, but my husband usually has to find things out for himself. This has come out of the blue for me and has been quite upsetting since I thought we were set for life. I will PM you if needed.

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Embothrium

The bus thing exemplifies how there is Honolulu and then there is the rest. Because if it is still the case now the Honolulu bus system has been considered exceptional - for years I visited my grandmother (who never drove throughout her eventual 98 years) without me being old enough myself to drive us. And we got around fine by bus.

Regarding medical services when I was a teen wearing an orthodontic appliance I hated it returned the sentiment by giving my thrush during a stay in the Honolulu climate. The young blonde kind of seedy doctor who saw me quite apparently thought it hilarious that a kid had "drinker's throat".

After we completed our visit with Dr. Charm and departed my mother's post examination assessment of him was that he was practicing there to be near the beach. And that he had bad teeth.


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ginrummy53

Thank you all for contributing. I think that I have put at least a doubt in his mind about Hawaii. Maybe we do need to look at Florida. Never a dull moment at my house. LOL

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