What, How and Why Not?
A few years back I started thinking about my life and where it was going. I had always been a hard worker and I enjoyed my work. I was nearing retirement age and it seemed that as I acquired more time to occupy I choose work rather than play. The area where I lived had a pretty dark, damp winter and I would feel old and unhealthy after a few months of this restrictive lifestyle. Being a California born I liked the sun. I was an “active” older person and not really a skier nor totally happy on the ice. An opportunity came up in 2003 and we went for it, rented our home in BC and came to the big island of Hawaii for a scheduled one year with the philosophy of “never come back?” Unfortunately family issues required our return that fall but since we have been spending most of our time here on the “Big Island”. What took a month when Herman Melville was twenty one you can now do in four or five hours. Instead of sulking around in some dark and dismal servitude for four months this winter you can go where the great adventurers always went during the northern chill, Hawaii!
Let’s get to the point. Royan, my wife, and I have learned the hard way how to live in two places on a budget. We’re not in debt nor are we wealthy and soon we will be living on a pension just like many of you. You don’t come over to the island and stay in a hotel, at least for not more than a week at most. Right now, 2011, it’s a tenants market and if you’re not going to buy you won’t have any trouble finding a monthly rental for the price of a week in a modest hotel or vacation rental. It might be wise for some of you to try renting for awhile but remember, this market won’t last for ever. There are already signs the economy is improving and you better believe that all the old guys and gals are going to be looking right here for there permanent or snow bird home.
Sure times have changed and lenders are now looking for people that are stable, have good credit and a debt to income ratio of less than 45% but the money is out there and it’s still at record low rates. If you have equity in you current home or that cash you’ve been waiting to invest in Hawaii don’t wait any longer or you’ll be saying “should have, could have” again. Below are a few things to consider:
Don’t rent, if you are going to be on the island for over a month buy an inexpensive car. You can either store it or sell it when and if you leave. If you going to be living on the island part time just keep your current drivers license but if you decide to make Hawaii your tax home, get a Hawaii license, it will open up a lot of cost saving advantages.
Rent a condo to start, there is a lot out there right now but make sure you get a kitchen, in fact, rent a turnkey (totally equipped) place if possible. Make sure you get a parking stall and get renters insurance for your liability.
- Digital Phone and internet:
I’ve found the best deal is to get an internet provider that offers digital phone service in one package, long distance is free. If you don’t have a good cell plan get a pay as you go deal with a toll free Hawaii number, it’s great.
I can’t stress enough that you should not kick back and enjoy the island just yet. Travel extensively and maybe even live in a few different locations before committing to any specific area. The climate varies dramatically as well as the susceptibility to VOG, SO2 emissions from Kilauea. On the clear days, when winds are favorable Kau’, region 9, and to some degree South Kona, region 8, are the most beautiful parts of the island, the least expensive and offer some of the most exciting natural experience opportunities. The windward side from Volcano, Hilo through Hamakua and Waimea, regions 1 to 6-4, tend to be wet. With the warm rains of these regions come the benefits of lush rich vegetation, fruit and generally better growing conditions than west Hawaii. Kohala, and the north west coast, region 5 to 6-8, are gorgeous, clean and sunny but they can also be very windy, and I mean winds like you’ve never seen before. Kona, region 7, has the best over all weather and if you like convenience it may be just what you are looking for. Remember with convenience comes more traffic, congestion, and noise.