I answered a forum post over on Clark Howards website (Clark.Com) concerning people deciding to relocate when they retire.
Here is my answer and added thoughts:
I lived all along the East Coast from NJ to Georgia. My last residence was Atlanta area and I tired of the tornadoes and possible hurricanes.
My company decided to downsize and many of us ‘retired’ all at once. Most most people I knew moved away.
After Clark found cheap Hawaii airfares and I took many trips, knowing that I wanted to retire elsewhere.
I’m going where the sun keeps shining
Through the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Banking off of the northeast winds
Sailing on a summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone
(Everybody’s Talkin’ – Fred Neil)
I figure that people live where they do for work. I certainly wasn’t planning upon moving to the South but I got relocated. When I stopped working I thought I wanted to downsize. So I went from a 5 bedroom house to a 2 bedroom farm, except now I have 9 acres to tend. The farm cost less than the selling price of the Georgia house! You have to know how to work the system 🙂
Still, the weather is nice, I can grow most of anything I want, oh and we never stupidly change our clocks twice a year.
Then I realized that I have answered other posts along the way with more information that would explain why I moved.
You see, people have an incorrect idea of Hawaii. Yes it can be very expensive, but doesn’t have to be. When I told people that I was moving to the state, here are three things I was consistently told:
- You can’t own land in Hawaii, only Hawaiians can. They saw it on TV.
- You will go “island-happy”
- You can’t afford to live in Hawaii, as it is very expensive.
So let’s look at these 3 points
Some land is fee-simple just like on the mainland where you buy and own it forever. Some land is set aside for people of Hawaiian descent. This is a very small portion of land and very specific. There are other lands which you don’t but you can lease. That is the type I have.
The land was originally owned by a Princess and put into a trust when she died (http://www.ksbe.edu/crbt/about/). So my farm is an agricultural lease. The trust owns the land and I own the things above ground (house, crops, etc). Leases are generally 35 years and renewable. You should understand that the lease is with Kamehameha Schools, not the state government. The school owns the land and since it is zoned agricultural I agree to grow crops of my choice but keep the land productive. I am not told what to grow (I grow coffee and fruit), but I need to report my sales so that the Lessor is assured I am really farming. I pay the Lessor a lease fee and also my property taxes which they pay to the County since they own the land.
So, technically I guess I don’t “own” the land. It is more like having a storefront in mall. Still, it is easy (if you can afford it) to buy land and own it. In my case the leased property is very much cheaper than if I had been able to buy a similar property. In 2002 I purchased the almost 9 acres with a house for $145,000. Granted, I got a deal because the previous owner had issues. Still, 9 acres with a house in Hawaii for a reasonable price! The prices today are even higher, so I have made considerable increase in value.
People seem to think that we are stuck in the middle of the Pacific. They assume that being on an island can cause you to go crazy with nothing to do, like Robinson Caruso I guess.
Granted, we are far from any other land mass. To fly across the U.S. takes about 4 hours. TO go from the West coast to Hawaii you need another 5 hours! We also are not west of California, rather south west, equal with Mexico City. We are further from large land masses than even Antarctica. However we are not without our fun.
My ‘island’ is the size of Connecticut and I’m sure there are people there who have never left the state. My island is also very rural with most people living near the ocean. We have the tallest ‘mountains’ in the world. Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes are only 14,000 feet above sea level but are another 20,000 feet below sea level to heir base. Because of their height we do get snow and have had blizzards here, although you have to go up to the summit to play in the snow. You can see snow on the summit from sea level. So in the tropics, you can see snow-capped mountains at times during the year. Almost every day it is close to freezing up there.
We have almost every kind of entertainment here including surfing, swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, zip lines, zoos, tv and movies being filmed here, National Parks, star gazing and the list goes on. We also have many of the stores you are familiar with and many local businesses which we believe are better than what you have.
We have more varied religions and ethnicity than you have and our farms can grow almost anything you can. That is because we have 11 of 13 climate zones on my island alone. If I want to take a mini vacation I just have to drive a few miles for a different climate. I can drive an hour from tropical temps to freezing cold. We have a rain forest next to a desert region. The rain forest zoo has 2 Bengal Tigers and monkeys.
We can grow coffee and exotic fruits you have only dreamed of. For example, we have over 200 varieties of avocado grown here. Here is a story about my neighbor Ken. https://hanahou.com/11.5/the-mystery-of-the-hawaiian-avocado
If we want to really travel, many residents fly to Vegas where a number of the casinos cater to people from Hawaii.
So I would not consider us island happy by any means. Life is just a bit slower and somewhat different here, and we like that!
I hear this a lot. “You can’t afford to live in Hawaii”.
When I ask why that is, they tell me “My friends went to Hawaii and it was very expensive”.
Then I ask the details. Where did they stay “A resort”, and where did they eat “Restaurants” and what did they drive “A rental car”. Of course it cost them a lot of money. They are on VACATION and are spending money to try things they don’t have at home. Perhaps they would take in a tourist venue like a luau. We residents don’t really go to luaus, they are for tourists. We go to a neighbors and have drinks and grill some steaks on the grill and maybe someone ill bring out a guitar. Personally if I am out and about and get hungry, there is a Scottish restaurant I might stop by, it is called “McDonalds”. Yesterday I had 2 Big Macs for $7. Perhaps shopping at Costco I have a $1.50 hot dog and soda. If I go to a sit down restaurant I pay $10 to $15 for entrees. I have seen people pay $30 or $40 for a hamburger at a resort cafe overlooking the Pacific. They are paying tourist prices. If I want to go fishing I would ask a neighbor to take me out (one owns a glass bottom boat).
I don’t rent cars here, I own one. I am not on vacation!
As for living here, as I mentioned I have a farm. I grow coffee and fruit like oranges, grapefruit and things like figs. If I wanted I could have a vegetable garden, but lately I get things at Costco. I could have goats or cows I guess but that seems a lot of work. I also grow some spices like allspice, cinnamon and curry leaf.
My water bill is maybe $30 or $40 every 2 months. Electricity is expensive but I have no heat or air conditioning. I use what we call “windows” to control temperature. I open or close them to regulate home temperature. Because of our reasonable temperatures I can cook outdoors any day of the year if I wish. I could sleep in the yard almost any time I wanted. Granted I consider freezing to be when the nighttime temperature drops below 70 degrees, but that’s me. Solar power is free here if you buy the panels.
Gasoline is expensive unless you buy it at Costco.
I have very few clothes. Mostly flip flops, board shorts, shorts and t-shirts. I only have a couple pair of socks and only 1 suit (for mainland activities like reunions and funerals).
When I was moving here I checked prices. I found that some things were more expensive but some things were cheap or free. It is actually cheaper for me to live here than when I lived in the Atlanta area. My property tax is low, so is insurance. My particular arm didn’t cost much and I found many things to do which cost very little or free. My health is better and I am happy.
What more can you ask?