Living in Hawaii
I retired from my government job last May, 2010 and moved to Hawaii in July, 2010. I came bringing my wife and her 4 four legged critters in tow. I thought that I would relay a little information about the transition while the memories remain fresh and does not fade with the list of other experiences that I have forgotten over time. While I have learned a little about the other islands, my specialty is the Big Island of Hawaii.
Evaluating Pros and Cons
Before you come to Hawaii, you need to count the cost in other forms outside of the financial implications. Since I have been here over the last 6 months, I have had time to calmly assess the wisdom of this decision to move from Colorado, the Mainland, and relocate here. I will start ‘positive’ with the advantages here:
Perfect climate; This applies if you are truly a ‘fair weather friend’. There are no ‘cold snaps’ here, such that can make the oranges fall from the trees in South Florida and the Keys. While San Diego has a great climate, this area stays comfortable and temperate even more consistently. It makes Los Angeles look like the North Pole. At this stage of my life, ice anywhere outside my beverage glass or the refrigerator is a hassle. They used to say in Colorado, ‘if you don’t like the weather, don’t worry it will change tomorrow”. The island climate here is more dynamic. The day can start with rain and look as if it would rain all day. However, within the next 20 minutes the deluge ends and the sun comes out and you would have never believed it rained at all. This climate is not truly tropical like you might find in American Samoa or Guam, where it is terribly muggy, and in American Samoa, with a temperature variance of only 10 degrees or so on any given day. Here, it cools into the sixties at night making it comfortable to sleep without having all the windows in the house closed. The pleasant trade winds keep humidity down. So if there ever were an “Eden”, it is here. We simply do not get the hurricanes associated with the Caribbean area having temperatures ranges similar to ours. The Big Island is very diverse and if I want to see the snow again, I just drive up the mountain range and get all I need.
Low Stress; After retiring from a ‘high pressure’ job, this is a place where one can truly move on. Everyone seems to take their time and no one is in a hurry to go or to return from anywhere. The weather, people and surroundings virtually scream at you ‘RELAX’, so what is your hurry? The air is pristine and the environment is practically pollution free. Combine the two and you have the makings of a long and healthy post-retirement life. I have loss 15 pounds from that stubborn middle age spread over the last 6 months that I have been here. You guys know what I mean. When looking for an explanation, if anything, I have been less physically active then before. So, I have come to the conclusion that Stress Kills. I was irritated on a day driving home from Hilo. An old gentleman wearing a straw top hat in the car ahead of us was taking his sweet time. He was driving a sky blue 1959-61 Pontiac convertible having fins, with the top down. A bumper sticker on his car read,” IF I AM TOO SLOW, YOU ARE ON THE WRONG ISLAND”. So, get use to slowing down because people and circumstances will make you if you don’t volunteer to do it on your own. Your comfort level has a lot to do with how you feel and look. I find that attractive, I certainly hope this is something of value to you, as well. Statistics show that the average life expectancy for any one state within the United States is greatest in Hawaii and Minnesota. While Minnesota is a beautiful state (I have had the pleasure of paying a visit), I would still have to choose Hawaii between the two.
City of Hilo
Physical Move-The move to Hawaii, if you want to relocate your household is more daunting than trucking household goods across the lower 48. The ‘Missus” and I are still bringing things over piecemeal. If you can come over prepared to make a fresh start in this way, you may well be better off.
No Regrets-Once you decide to come here to the “BigIsland” be prepared not to look back. There is a profound sense of isolation that comes with living 2,500 miles from the Pacific West Coast, and it goes beyond geography. You are separated from your family by more than a state or two. While I cursed the daily commute across Denver’s infamous ‘mousetrap’, the point where I-25 and 1-70 intersect, to get to work each morning, I now realize that I wasn’t sure that I wanted it ALL to go away. Much of the conveniences: shopping, services, selection and all of that have gone away. If you like the city lights and activity, you should go to the Island of Oahu and make Honolulu your home. There are just 50,000 people in Hilo, the largest town on this island, hardly your big city environment. Yes, we can always go to Honolulu for those big city amenities, but dealing with the airlines and rental car companies can discourage this. But, when things settle a bit more, we will go over to go to a show, go dancing or something. Don’t forget the time difference, during daylight saving time; it is 3 hours earlier from the West Coast and 6 hours from the Eastern Seaboard. Six hours is the better part of day when there is business involved. So, be prepared to make a ‘clean break’ when you come here to stay.
Expensive-Remember, as I have said in an earlier article, The cost of living in Hawaii is more expensive than most of the Mainland. However, it is not hopelessly so, depending on where you choose to live and the lifestyle that you want.
As the 5th and final installment in the series, I hope that I have provided information that is of use. Please drop me a line, if there are any questions you have about aspects that I may not have addressed. We are content here, may your way be as pleasant…….
Another Look Around Our Immediate Neighborhood
Cost of Living http://hubpages.com/hub/So-you-want-to-retire-in-Hawaii-I
Flora and Fauna http://hubpages.com/hub/SO-YOU-WANT-TO-RETIRE-IN-HAWAII-II
Employment/the Economy http://hubpages.com/hub/SO-YOU-WANT-TO-RETIRE-IN-HAWAII-III
General Environment/People http://hubpages.com/hub/SO-YOU-WANT-TO-RETIRE-IN-HAWAII-IV
Credence2 (author) from Florida (Space Coast) on January 10, 2017:
Hello, I am delighted to hear that you are going to take the plunge. I tended to like the Hilo side because of its lush vegetation. I certainly do not wish to place a blanket condemnation of health care and facilities on the island. It is just that my spouse had serious medical issues and there was a dearth of facilities that could deal with them. But, if you are generally healthy, it should be OK.
The Vog is a blue haze in the sky that are byproducts of volcanic activity on the island. The 'Missus', having lived there for almost 20 years swore that it was a cause for Asthma and related respiratory problems over time. I can't speak with authority regarding this and if you are relatively healthy, you will probably be OK. I lived in Southern California during the mid seventies and the smog was horrendous and much worse than the Vog on the Big Island, today. At that time, it was certainly no place to live if one was not sound in both wind and limb.
Best Regards, Let me know how it turns out. There is a nice seafood restaurant on the marina you might check out, getting around all the pieces of newly laid lava rock.
Lindytindy on January 07, 2017:
We are getting closer to moving to Hawaii, but are leaning toward Kona now. I see homes I like, you can live higher up to avoid max humidity, we want some distance from the volcano. Love Kona. We had to have some medical treatment while vacationing there and it was very good. Groceries, pretty much like California, other than dairy products. Kona has all the amenities we require. But what about the Vog? I've never experienced it while vacationing there.
Credence2 (author) from Florida (Space Coast) on January 14, 2014:
Hi Lindy, thanks for reading and commenting. Hilo is roughly 30 miles from Pahoa. I liked the wet side of the island, much prettier. As for limited amenities, it depends upon what you would miss. I don't like not having some of the mid range restaurant chains; Red Lobster, Olive Garden, etc. With the exception of notorious fast food outlets, most of the restaurants are single owned proprietorships. Medicine is a problem and has been considered not good. The shortage of competent physicians for the number of people who live here can and will be a problem if you have serious health issues. Kona has a bit more of everything, even though less populated, but not much more. The reason is that more of the affluent people on the island live there. It is dryer and has less lush vegetation, I like the pretty. Hilo does have a hospital which recently has been getting a facelift from a reputation that has not been flattering. Hawaii, will always be something special, floating in the middle of the Pacific, you always get this pristine sense. People complain regardless of where they live but you can always get past that and look at where they buy... Let me know if you have other questions
Lindytindy on January 14, 2014:
It's great to find some information about retiring in Hawaii. We have been going to Hawaii for thirty years. We are thinking about moving there for good in the next year or two. We like the Big Island because it's the most affordable and beautiful. But we realize living there is not like going there as a tourist. Your information is very helpful. We like the look of the Pahoa area although we have yet to go there. Or Hilo. How far from Hilo is Pahoa? We have yet to see the wet side of the island but we usually prefer the wet side of all the islands. I am wondering from the comments above how much a problem the limited amenities might be. My doctor also says we would have better medical resources in Costa Rica than Hawaii, although he just bought a home in Maui anyway. Does Hilo have a hospital? Does Kona have more medical resources? Or the same?
Credence2 (author) from Florida (Space Coast) on October 30, 2012:
Dotti, Thank you so much for reading the articles and providing a comment. As for your healthcare costs, it has been my experience on a standard insurance plan with co-pays for drugs and services, that that aspect has not been any different from what I experienced in my native Colorado. Here is where I need to warn you and this was not in the article as I have experienced this some months after I had written them. Health care here is not the greatest. It is difficult to get a primary physician here as these professionals are not plentiful. New patients have been turned away and those that are on Medicaid have options but they are few. My wife needs hip surgery and I have to make arrangements for her to return to professionals in Colorado as the orthopedic people here are seriously talking to me about peg legs and steel instead of titanium, things like that. Your options may be better in Oahu though. But I will spend the extra to deal with doctors that have a track record, one having replaced my wife's knee a few years ago.
We, too, took that whirlybird ride back in 2006, it was quite stunning. In spite of the inconvenieces of the big island, this is my choice because of its geographic diversity, relatively sparse population and lower costs compared with the other islands.
So, lets get acquainted, if you decide to make this rock your home, drop me a line and I can make the transition a little easier. If you have other questions, please don't hesistate to write.
P.S. Hope you are bearing up well under the storm....
Dotti on October 28, 2012:
This was great informaton. My husband and I are strongly considering retiring in Hawaii. There are a couple of things I was wondering about that you didn't touch on in your articles. We are not eligible for medicare yet so I was wondering what healthcare costs are on the islands. Also, how much is car insurance and house insurance. We have been to the islands 4 times and are planning another next year. We always rent a car and travel around the each of the islands we visit so we get to see how the islanders live and are not just the glitz of the tourist area. We took the helicopter ride over Kilauea too. It was the most magnificient trip I ever went on. I am dying to go on it again now that Kilauea is erupting. My husband likes Maui. On our 3rd trip out there we actually bought a lot in Kahana Ridge but the kids were still in school and refused to move so we canceled the contract. It is still a difficult decision to make because of the distance between Hawaii and the continental US. We are on the east coast so it is a 12 hr plane trip for us. We are a close knit family and our grandson is really attached to his grandpa.
Credence2 (author) from Florida (Space Coast) on October 16, 2011:
Auntie, I am so glad you found the guidance to be helpful. So, you have visited before? Real estate is generally cheaper, there is a glut on the market. People who got spooked sell and go home. It is almost too quiet here. But when considering the alternative, I can live with it. We have taken the helicopter tour from the Hilo Airport 5 or 6 years ago. I think that the climate is perfect, pretty much as good as it can get. When I saw $7.50 for that gallon of milk, I almost vapor-locked. The cost of groceries is outrageous, and one has to be very careful. But watching the sunrise over the sea and the relative peace and quiet combined with the great climate, make the downsides easier to deal with. Thanks for you imput Cred2
Auntie D from California on October 16, 2011:
Well done! I finished and enjoyed all. You have continued to be very clear and provide details that cover just about everything, good or bad, a person needs to know.
My husband wanted to retire on Maui but I found it to humid. We used to vacation there for a couple of weeks every few years and stayed far away from the tourist areas. Stayed five days on the Big Island and flew over Kilauea in a tiny helicopter. We then thought about retiring there because the weather seemed better and housing more reasonable. I remember almost having a heart attack on our first trip to a grocery store and saw lettuce priced by the pound, coffee close to being unaffordable and the same with milk. But we got over the shock and made it work. Love the islands.
Credence2 (author) from Florida (Space Coast) on May 20, 2011:
Hello, agusfanani, thanks for your comment, and you are right it has been, despite a disadvantage or two, a great place to enjoy life
agusfanani from Indonesia on May 20, 2011:
Hawaii, other than its expensive cost of living, is great place to enjoy life.