Author Topic: "Mini-retirement" in Hawaii (MANY questions, both financial and geographical)  (Read 8826 times)

steevven1

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I am 24 years old, and I recently got married to my high school sweetheart (aww). We've shared our finances for several years, and we been living the Mustachian life since graduating from college together (never been happier, by the way). I am a public school physics teacher ($42k/yr), and she does marketing work ($38k/yr). I also do a lot of odd jobs (including photography), and we churn credit cards, totaling a few thousand extra dollars of income per year. Our net worth has reached 4-6 times our low level of combined annual expenses, and it's parked in paper investments and some cash (no house, no debt).

We never took a honeymoon because neither of us has any interest in week-long luxury vacations. We are more of the adventurous type, and we both enjoy a great deal of change in our lives as often as is realistic (no kids), and we even prefer our vacations to have a "challenge" aspect to them. As our "honeymoon equivalent," we are quitting our jobs and moving from Florida to Hawaii in June 2015. We have never been to Hawaii. We don't know if we'll want to stay 3 months, or 6 months, or forever. The goal is to work as little as possible in Hawaii while maintaining a constant net worth or only slightly increasing our net worth. This is supposed to be a mini/partial "retirement," with the plan of going back to full-time work (in Hawaii or not) after 6 months or so.

The tentative plan (with questions bolded) is:

-Arrive at the Honolulu airport and rent a car. We'll need the rental car for at least a week, perhaps two if it's not expensive. I have never rented a car. How much should I pay for a car rental? How do I do this most efficiently?

-Spend a few days driving around the island and evaluating the answer to the questions, "Is this a place I want to live? Am I in love with this place like I thought I would be?" We'll be combining sleeping in the car, sleeping with two friends we have on Oahu, and sleeping in Marriott hotels paid for by credit card rewards points.

-If we decide we want to live on Oahu somewhere, immediately rent a place, hoping for month-to-month rental or a 6-month lease if possible. We'd like to rent a studio apartment for maybe $900-1200 per month. We know we want to live as close to the ocean as possible, but not in a big city (Honolulu). Our #1 priority is natural beauty where we live. Secondary priorities are price, proximity to decent grocery stores, Walmart, Costco, etc., and possible client base for our skills (details to come below). Any suggestions on where to look?

-If we decide we don't like Oahu, we will fly to the big island (Hawaii) and look at living in Kailua-Kona, which we think we will like. Anyone with first-hand Hawaii experience have any strong opinions about trying this first?

-Once we've confirmed housing, we will purchase one car and two bicycles, all used. On the car, we'd like to spend under $6000 on something reliable with good resale value (since we might move away in several months again). We'd really like to have a small and efficient convertible if it's reasonable, but I know nothing about cars. Any suggestions on the type of car to buy, how much to expect to pay, where to find a car, or how to evaluate if a car is a good buy, reliable, well-maintained, etc.?

-Once settled, we'll begin finding sources of income. I have a B.S. in physics and an M.A. in science education. My wife has a B.S. in journalism. My wife already has an ongoing remote freelance job which brings in $500/mo with very little effort. She is working on increasing her remote responsibilities and bringing in up to $1500/mo remotely, but this is not guaranteed to happen (maybe not even likely). I am a professional photographer, and I will attempt to market myself locally. In addition, with an education in math and physics as well as experience as an educator, I plan to market myself to local high school and college students for math and physics tutoring. Any advice on other potential sources of income or on how to market oneself?

-Once our monthly cashflow is net zero or better (hopefully by the end of the first month), our only focus will obviously be enjoying ourselves. I'm very into bicycling, and we both love photography and the ocean. What are the must-dos (especially those off the beaten path) in Hawaii?

-If things are extremely comfortable financially, we'd like to consider flying to other Hawaiian islands and/or Japan. Other suggestions as well as details about how to make our ideas inexpensive and awesome are welcome.

Just some side thoughts:

Everyone tells me that the cost of living is "insanely high" in Hawaii. Any comments on the cost of living, how to keep it reasonable, and if these are just complainypants comments from others?

I will still have free health insurance through my parents, but my wife will be losing hers. We were planning to just buy the highest deductible plan possible for her privately. Any suggestions on what to do about health insurance?

We probably won't be dumping loads of cash into investments as we normally do during this time, since our income will roughly equal our expenses. Does this warrant a temporary change in our asset allocation (more conservative)?

I can't think of anything else to write or ask...Maybe you have questions for me that would enlighten the discussion? Maybe you thought of something I didn't mention at all? Please share!

THANK YOU!!!

velocistar237

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I'll answer some of the financial questions.

How much should I pay for a car rental? How do I do this most efficiently?

Will one of you be at least 25 years old?

If you can take a shuttle away from the airport, car rental prices might be cheaper. There are buses, but they are slow, but then again, so is most traffic in Hawaii.

Any advice on other potential sources of income or on how to market oneself?

If you're up to the challenge, there's probably a premium to be made on destination wedding photography, if you can figure out the online marketing.

Any suggestions on what to do about health insurance?

The ACA should work well for you, since your income will be low. There are other posts in the forum about how to establish evidence of income level when signing up.

Does this warrant a temporary change in our asset allocation (more conservative)?

If you expect to not need it, no need to make it conservative. Keep those dollars working.

Sojourner

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Are you familiar with the term "haole"?

steevven1

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How much should I pay for a car rental? How do I do this most efficiently?

Will one of you be at least 25 years old?

If you can take a shuttle away from the airport, car rental prices might be cheaper. There are buses, but they are slow, but then again, so is most traffic in Hawaii.

Any suggestions on what to do about health insurance?

The ACA should work well for you, since your income will be low. There are other posts in the forum about how to establish evidence of income level when signing up.

I forgot you have to be 25 to rent a car! My wife is 25, so no worries there.

Interesting to hear about the ACA. If we both quit our jobs, and she wants to IMMEDIATELY sign up for ACA health insurance, can we show that our income is very low that soon, or does it go by the last year's tax return?

Thanks for the reply!

velocistar237

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Interesting to hear about the ACA. If we both quit our jobs, and she wants to IMMEDIATELY sign up for ACA health insurance, can we show that our income is very low that soon, or does it go by the last year's tax return?

Not sure how it works. I know that Massachusetts works on projected income for the year, and people on other threads have talked about sending investment withdrawal statements as demonstration of future income after FIRE. I don't know the details of cost vs. jobs lining up with year or not. Shouldn't take too much digging to figure it out. Whatever you do will get fixed on the following year's tax return (I think), so it's all good if you have the money to float in the meantime.

Are you familiar with the term "haole"?

Are you suggesting that it's bad for mainlanders to move to Hawaii, or just to be culturally sensitive if you do?

Quince

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As far as near the water, you should go with the idea that on Oahu, EVERYTHING is "near" the water. You aren't getting beachfront apartment for 1200, but Oahu is not that big. Also, Oahu is crowded.  Inexpensive apartments are either going to be in geographically undesirable areas, or the city.

The bus system is pretty complete. You should be able to do bikes/bus pretty easily.

As far as the haole comment...yeah. I'm not sure how well the vacationing people who have never been in Hawaii before are going to market themselves to locals...Unless things have changed a LOT since I grew up there, there's a bit of grumbling about non-locals being about and contributing to the crowding, especially when they venture outside of "tourist" areas. I actually think it's worse nowadays, and I visit annually.  (My grandparents HATE that Kailua is now a place tourists visit. My mom hasn't lived in Hawaii for a decade and she's irritated that tourists now go to the beaches she grew up going to.)

The cost of living is high in Hawaii, because it is a place such that people who have never been there before decide they might want to move there, because the climate is awesome and it markets itself as an exotic getaway.  Housing is costly. Food is costly. Costco helps.  The cost of living seems extra-high to residents because wages are not really inflated, and the biggest industry is the tourist industry, which is heavily service-related (so not high wages). 


ETA: I don't mean that locals are likely to be verbally abusive or rude to you for being non-local, I mean that there is a definite awareness of people being "outsiders." Generally, tourists are not abused, people just go home and complain to their families about them.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2015, 02:12:55 PM by Quince »

jexy103

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As a haole on Oahu (military brought me here 2.5 years ago), I can say that Oahu is terribly crowded and expensive. It is not just complainypants. It can be as expensive or as affordable as you make it, but just to give you some references on housing costs, this is what I have paid for various places in the past 2+ years:
Kailua 450 sqft studio = $1,800/mo (privately owned, month-to-month)
Kailua 400 sqft studio = $1,850/mo (privately owned, month-to-month)
Honolulu (Red Hill area, not downtown) 800 sqft 2-bd apt = $1,675 + $200 utilities (apartment complex, 1-year lease)
Honolulu (Salt Lake area, not downtown) 1,200 sqft 3-bd top floor of split-level house = $2,200/mo and that's a steal (was listed at $2,500; privately owned, 1-yr lease)
None of these had conveniences such as in-unit laundry, dishwasher, or in most cases, even covered/guaranteed parking.

Other islands may have cheaper housing (guessing, based on economic supply & demand), but they have additional living costs such as higher prices for groceries. Everything is shipped to Oahu, then from there to the other islands. So the extra shipping costs are added to the prices. A gallon of milk on Oahu is usually over $5, and I'd imagine even higher on the other islands.

There are numerous beautiful places to live, and if you're even partway up a ridge, you'll probably be able to see the water, if only in the distance. I find the leeward side (Kaneohe and Kailua) more beautiful than townside (Honolulu), but all the islands are beautiful anywhere you go. The only questions are what price and what inconveniences are you will to pay for that beauty?

Traffic is terrible- Google Oahu ZipperLaner and read some of the news articles from a few weeks ago. It took some of my co-workers 4+ hours to get home, about 15 miles away. This is an extreme example, but just this week, there was a fatal accident that closed down two lanes and blocked up traffic across the whole island for 3 hours- everything is connected. There are a lot of obstacles to work around for roads (ridges, ponds, rivers, etc), so there are only a few good roads and no good alternates when something goes wrong, which is fairly common.

Because of traffic and housing costs, I would recommend another island, but they have their additional costs, as I said above. I also think that Oahu is used to tourists and military, where the other islands may have a little less tolerance for haoles. I've only visited two islands and only for a few days each, so most of this paragraph is hypotheses.

Feel free to PM me with any specific questions you may have. You had a lot of general questions and there's only so much one can say in a forum post, so I answered the ones I felt most strongly about. HTH.

Sojourner

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Are you familiar with the term "haole"?

Are you suggesting that it's bad for mainlanders to move to Hawaii, or just to be culturally sensitive if you do?
I was wondering if the OP is aware of some of the difficulties he may encounter being an "outsider" wanting to relocate.  It is the U.S., but not like moving to any other state.  He should at least consider this beforehand.  I attempted this move (granted, it was a long time ago), and despite being highly qualified, could not secure a position.  In interviews, I was asked about my ties to the island.  I had a sister, BIL who is native, nieces/nephews all living there and a few friends.  Didn't help.  I tried for 3 months and returned to the mainland.  I have a fair complexion while my buddy is a more local looking Filipino.  He was able to find work while I was licensed and he was not, same profession.  Buddy is still there after many years, with Hawaiian wife and kid.  He's originally from CA, but now refers to outsiders as haole  LOL

Anyway, that was just one guy's experience.  YMMV.  Best of luck.

steevven1

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Thank you for all the comments and useful information! Every bit is appreciated; keep it coming.

It's amazing to me to hear about that type of racism; I sure hope it doesn't ruin our time there. Being unable to secure photography/tutoring clients would be a bummer.

MsPeacock

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I suggest you consult w/ craigslist for apartment rentals and used cars and bikes to get a sense of cost.

Check out employment listings *before* you move. I don't know the current employment situation in Hawaii - but the schools are awful and your income is likely to be the same or lower than what you make on the mainland as a teacher (but your costs are likely to be much higher).

Hawaii is much more expensive than living on the mainland. It is highly unlikely you will find an apartment for $900 anywhere (or anywhere you want to live and be able to ride your bike). Bike riding from one area to another can be challenging - approaching really unrealistic - in some areas because of mountains and limited surface roads. If you look at a map of Oahu you will notice that there is a mountain ridge that runs right down the middle - if you live windward and work leeward and have to get across your only option on a bike is to go around (e.g. on Kam highway - rather than across the H3).

Hawaii is lovely - gorgeous, beautiful - fantastic - Just don't drop everything and rush off there w/o due diligence. (Believe me - plenty of people have visited and wanted to stay - you won't be the first haoles showing up thinking they can work it all out.). South park has an episode about this phenomenon - something about a Mahalo card and such.

I lived in Hawaii for 4 years - 1999 onward. At that time milk was over $5 a gallon. I have a friend living there now - milk is actually over $10 a gallon now (she happened to post a picture from the grocery store this week of milk prices). You should expect that most groceries will cost at least 2x what they are on the mainland. Gasoline and utilities are also significantly more expensive.

Your questions, meaning no offense, are extremely basic - suggesting that you really have done very little research about Hawaii before laying out your plan to move there (e.g. we will go and rent a car - but you haven't checked online for car rental prices???? You have no idea what features each island has? These questions are easily answered with basic research that should be done well before you actually "plan" your move). You know nothing about cars - maybe you should learn something before attempting to plan a move that is dependent upon purchasing an inexpensive but reliable car.

Bob W

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Skip ohau and head straight for Kauai, the garden island.   Uncrowded and beautiful.  You could spend 3 months hiking around the island and staying at camp grounds and beaches.  Check the web for some cool rentals on the north shore for 50 a night.   ACA for health insurance.  Learn to fish the waters and you will have a constant supply of fresh. Protein.  You could do it this way for under $1,000 a month.   Buy your camping stuff when you arrive.   Pack virtually nothing.   

lpep

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Why Hawaii?

You could move to lots of places in S. America or SE Asia that cost 10% of the price with a much higher quality of life (beachfront apartments, cheap awesome food), jobs aplenty, and more opportunity to travel around.

Hawaii seems fun but also like you're just making things harder on yourself.

Sojourner

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I just texted my buddy there on Oahu.  Asked about price of milk.  He responded $4-$5/gal at Costco...anyone paying $10 must be buying from the 7-11.  Made me laugh.

Kaminoge

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Ok. I have absolutely no idea about moving the Hawaii but I just thought I'd throw in a different idea in case you guys want to pursue a different type of adventure.

Have you ever considered working in international schools? Honestly you've got the perfect combination for it. You teach in a high demand subject, she's got a job that can move around. It's a pretty sweet lifestyle. If you want to know more send me a pm. I know it's not at all what you asked about (and I'm not suggesting it as an alternative to Hawaii) but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway. The hiring cycle is quite different to what a lot of people are used to (so for example it's all pretty much done and dusted for the 2015-2016 school year) so it would be perfectly possible for you to do this after you lived in Hawaii for a while.

little_owl

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I think this is a very interesting idea.

However, what happens after you come back?

The pragmatist in me cringes a little bit at two young earners at the beginning of their careers, and in ripe compounding investment years, chucking it all in for a year.

Hawaii is beautiful.  A three month sojourn there would give you an amazing experience and introduce less risk, particularly if you coulda arrange a sabbatical from wife's job and go over your summer break.

I see this as a distraction from future FIRE - and a costly one.  THAT SAID, if you are dead-set on it, my recommendation is to set yourself a limit - we will spend $x on this adventure.  (Please do the math on the opportunity cost - in 10, 15 years $X will grow substantially!). And once your savings drops below x, you're outta there / working again.

Don't mean to rain on your parade, but it feels like a potentially VERY expensive detour to future FIRE....which I assume everyone on here is striving for - one way or another.

Kaminoge

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Don't mean to rain on your parade, but it feels like a potentially VERY expensive detour to future FIRE....which I assume everyone on here is striving for - one way or another.

Just a few thoughts in response to this.

1. Not everyone here is striving to FIRE. For one I'm not. I posted about this before but in short I like my work and without it I'd have no way of obtaining visas to support the sort of international lifestyle that I want to lead.

2. Not everything in life (and I'd argue not even most things) can have a dollar amount put on them. Sure there may be a financial cost to this experiment (although they're not planning to decrease their net worth) but what about the opportunity cost of never taking any risks or having any adventures while you're young? Yes I understand that once you've retired you have a lot of freedom but the truth is that you still can't turn back time. If I took a year off to travel now it would in no way be similar to the time I took off (on several occasions) when I was in my 20s. Back then I had no real responsibilities (I still don't have many of my own but aging parents are something I need to be aware of), I was the right age to find it easy to make friends in places like cheap hostels (I still stay in them now and it's not at all the same thing when you're older), my career was in it's infancy so a bit of time off wasn't a big deal...


chasesfish

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I'm going to add a few thoughts, I've spent over a month in Hawaii on all the islands and constantly try to figure out if/how to FIRE there...

Oahu:  Not for me.  The only two employers I could work for are downtown and I don't deal with traffic.  Additionally, they'd have to double or triple my salary for me to live in the type of place I want close enough to work.   If I don't have to work, why bother with Oahu?

Maui:  Decently populated.  You could pull off a lower quality vacation rental for a week or two while figuring out where to live.  You should also easily find work in hospitality.  If I were in your position, I'd probably try here.

The Big Island is the cheapest, but very remote in places.  You'd have the harder time living/working close together. 

Kauai:  This island is awesome, but I have no idea how folks ever work.  Very low population and one two-lane road that doesn't even circle the island.  They also have some very restrictive rules around VRBO that lock out low cost rentals.

steevven1

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I think this is a very interesting idea.

However, what happens after you come back?

The pragmatist in me cringes a little bit at two young earners at the beginning of their careers, and in ripe compounding investment years, chucking it all in for a year.

Hawaii is beautiful.  A three month sojourn there would give you an amazing experience and introduce less risk, particularly if you coulda arrange a sabbatical from wife's job and go over your summer break.

I see this as a distraction from future FIRE - and a costly one.  THAT SAID, if you are dead-set on it, my recommendation is to set yourself a limit - we will spend $x on this adventure.  (Please do the math on the opportunity cost - in 10, 15 years $X will grow substantially!). And once your savings drops below x, you're outta there / working again.

Don't mean to rain on your parade, but it feels like a potentially VERY expensive detour to future FIRE....which I assume everyone on here is striving for - one way or another.

We are trying to FIRE, but no worries; we both also tend to think the same way as you. The idea is to have a net change in net worth of close to $0 over the course of this adventure. We're striving for just enough income for a savings rate of $0 during this sort of "half-retirement." If it started draining our wealth rapidly for some reason, we would definitely quit. Yes, there is an opportunity cost to quitting our jobs, but we're not exactly high earners right now. The other thing that makes this reasonable for us is that we actively want to relocate, whether to Hawaii or another state or another city in Florida. We dislike the area we're currently in, and we only live here because we moved here for me to get a masters degree (which is done).

steevven1

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I'm going to add a few thoughts, I've spent over a month in Hawaii on all the islands and constantly try to figure out if/how to FIRE there...

Oahu:  Not for me.  The only two employers I could work for are downtown and I don't deal with traffic.  Additionally, they'd have to double or triple my salary for me to live in the type of place I want close enough to work.   If I don't have to work, why bother with Oahu?

Maui:  Decently populated.  You could pull off a lower quality vacation rental for a week or two while figuring out where to live.  You should also easily find work in hospitality.  If I were in your position, I'd probably try here.

The Big Island is the cheapest, but very remote in places.  You'd have the harder time living/working close together. 

Kauai:  This island is awesome, but I have no idea how folks ever work.  Very low population and one two-lane road that doesn't even circle the island.  They also have some very restrictive rules around VRBO that lock out low cost rentals.

If employment weren't really an issue, would Oahu be an interesting and fun place to live, or is it just too overcrowded? Is that overcrowding only in the city, or everywhere on the island? Remember, we're not looking for careers here. We'll need to make enough income to just pay the bills with a savings rate of $0, which isn't much for a Mustachian.

Simple Abundant Living

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My DH and I have a dream of retiring to Hawaii. He lived in HI (mostly Oahu and Molokai) for a couple years before I met him, and we have been to Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii on vacation. My favorite of those was the Big Island. There are places there that are pretty affordable (of course, I'm looking to buy- not rent). I also hate Oahu traffic and it is not bikeable. Kailua-Kona is sunny and dry and has a lot to offer active young people, and the Hilo side is a lush tropical garden.

Personally, I would use your three months off this summer (and airline and hotel points) to plan a great vacation to Hawaii or Kauai. Then go back to your jobs and decide whether a permanent move would be feasible (and desirable). I think the suggestion to teach abroad at an international school would suit you also. I taught english in Taiwan for 5 months, and it was a great experience. I think that areas like Singapore would love to have a teacher like you. I would not suggest Oahu. Our last family trip was there and it was great for two weeks, but I couldn't do the crowded island thing permanently. Good luck!

112ontoyou

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My husband and I have always dreamed of living in Hawaii and after talking to a native Hawaiian couple in Maui on vacation at a street faire/ farmers market, we were led to the Big Island.  They were so kind and told us if we really wanted to live in Hawaii, seek housing on the Big Island because it is so "cheap" to live there.  In the Puna District, near Hilo, we were able to find a brand new home for $150K on one acre about 10 years ago.  The prices are low for long term rent, but it gets a bit expensive if you're renting just for a week.  Food grows so easily in this lush tropical paradise that we have bananas, avocados, mango and papaya all growing.  Many rentals have established food sources that you'll get to eat.  If you must be on the Kona Side, Waikoloa Village (Not Waikoloa Beach) has a lot of residents and reasonable cost monthly and long term rentals.

If you eat rice instead of bread or other options for carbs, you'll be eating a staple food which is very low cost on the island.  You can get to Costco on the Kona side for bulk protein purchases and other things, which is also reasonable.  We didn't drink milk there because we don't drink milk here, but it is expensive.  Eating out is even reasonable on the islands if you don't go to the heavily marketed and name brand restaurants.  The farmers markets have reasonable home grown vegetables and when a particular food is in season, you can get great deals.  Grocery stores have deep discounts on food, just like on the mainland, but you may need a club card (free) and you must watch the ads.  Longs Drugs has amazing deals on staples each week. 


Renting a car in Hawaii seems to be cheaper by the month depending on the season.  Of course, you also have to shop around to see if a weekly deal would be better.  We purchased a used car for about $4000 since we had a place to store it.  When we would visit before our house was rented out, we would rent a car for one night, jump start the sitting car and return the rental to the airport the next day.  It was no big deal.  It seems that if you're going to be there for several months at least, your idea to purchase a vehicle and then sell it if you leave the islands is the best bet.  If you change your residence to Hawaii and get a Hawaii DL, you'll become eligible for local discounts on travel, hotel stays, etc. 

I wouldn't even bother going to Oahu.  It is very expensive there!  The cheapest rental home would be more than what you could get on the Big Island for a three bedroom, two bathroom on land where you can grow food (or land that already has food on it for you to eat!).  On the Big Island, we rent our house out for under $900 per month on a 6 month at a time lease.  I suspect there are many other rentals in the area for about the same or even less. 

The Saddle Road was recently improved and you can get from the Hilo Side of the Island to Costco in about an hour or even less.  Walmart and Home Depot and Longs are on the Hilo Side and very convenient for every day items.

I would not purchase a convertible.  The weather changes from rain to sun in minutes and if you have your top down you'll constantly have to stop and ensure that the car is protected.  The locals don't seem to buy these and I think they are just heavily marketed to tourists.  You will need to protect your skin with cover when possible and sunscreen and hats when you're outside.  If you live on the Big Island and want to explore, you may want to consider a vehicle that has better clearance for your excursions, but you wouldn't have to.  If you stay on the roads, any sedan or hatchback car would work perfectly.  We've used the hidden Hawaii books to explore a lot of roads that a typical car wouldn't be able to go on. 

Hilo has a University and with your educational background, you should be able to find work there.  I bet there is plenty of work for photographers as well.

I think as far as health insurance goes, Hawaii is a social state and they take care of their residents from what we've seen and experienced.  Set up residency and see what you can get with Obama Care for your wife. 

We are still on the mainland with good jobs but fully intend to inhabit our home on the island when we retire.    You're going to love it and I hope you go to the Big Island.  You won't regret it.  Plenty of adventure, college town, Costco on the island, great weather, kind people (you be cool- they are cool), ability to be mustacian while in paradise (free food on the land).  It's a win win.






steevven1

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Wow, 112ontoyou, thank you so much for the detailed and encouraging reply with first-hand experience! Our original plan was to move to the Big Island (Kona) without giving any thought to Oahu, but we booked a VERY cheap flight using some clever discounts, and the only catch was that we have to fly into Honolulu. We have friends there, so we could stay for free for a week or so, and we figured we ought to give it a chance. Based on what I am hearing here, I feel like we were right with our Big Island idea in the first place.

New question (in addition to all the old ones): Our flight to Honolulu allows a very generous amount of luggage for free (2 checked bags per person and 2 carry-ons per person). We do have a lot to bring, especially my camera equipment, which is essential to the trip. If we decide to do so, how expensive will it be to hop over to the Big Island from Oahu? Any special tricks to do it most efficiently? Will it be cheaper to bring bags on that smaller plane with us, or to mail/ship our things from Oahu to the Big Island?

Thank you all for your help and information!

MarciaB

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I'd like to throw in my support for your plan. You're young, you're child-free at this point, and it's the perfect time for you to adventure like this. And you've both done really well with getting yourselves through school and into professional jobs. Plus being so thoughtful with money. Well done you two.

I'd also like to put in a pitch for exotic and interesting locales that aren't Hawaii. Central America, SE Asia... there are lots of wonderful places you could go to that would provide the tropical atmosphere and other things you might be looking for. At a fraction of the cost - and with more work opportunities.

Best of luck to you!

choppingwood

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Skip ohau and head straight for Kauai, the garden island.   Uncrowded and beautiful.  You could spend 3 months hiking around the island and staying at camp grounds and beaches.  Check the web for some cool rentals on the north shore for 50 a night.   ACA for health insurance.  Learn to fish the waters and you will have a constant supply of fresh. Protein.  You could do it this way for under $1,000 a month.   Buy your camping stuff when you arrive.   Pack virtually nothing.

+1

Maui and Oahu are just too busy for me. I don't know how easy the fishing is off Kauai, but the camping would be a great way to stay by the beach. Plan on a long holiday and just be there, instead of focusing on how to turn it into a career. There are a zillion entrepreneurial, creative people in Hawaii, so don't underestimate the competition.

Repeated long holidays can be more practical than total relocation.

That being said, my dad used to say that noone could afford to live in Hawaii - they just love it and find a way to stay there anyway. This strategy worked for him. When he retired as a research biologist, he got a five year contract to spend two months every year in Hawaii working on a collection at the Bishop museum. They paid expenses only -- apartment, car, airfare. My parents would spend weekends exploring other islands. (He had a similar contract with the Smithsonian, and had some friends lend them a house on the Maryland coast for six weeks each year.)

Allie

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I'm so glad you posted this thread!  We are planning to take an early retirement/lifestyle shift to the big island in a few years.  Having all of this information shared in one place is great. 

We live up in that other far flung high cost of living state.  One piece of advice I have, which I think will apply to a hawaiian excursion as much as it does to moving up north, is not to approach it as a move to another part of the continental U.S.  It's a different culture and environment.  The locals will know how to live comfortably and affordably in their environment.  If you move there willing to adapt, it will be a much easier and more successful transition!

I hope you update this at some point to let us know how it went. 


irishbear99

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I just texted my buddy there on Oahu.  Asked about price of milk.  He responded $4-$5/gal at Costco...anyone paying $10 must be buying from the 7-11.  Made me laugh.

It's just over $5 a gallon on Oahu. $10+/gallon is the norm on Hawaii. I don't have much experience with the other islands, but I'd expect the costs to be similar to Hawaii since everything gets shipped to Oahu and distributed from there.

skinnyindy

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There is a series of articles in the CivilBeat.com, called Living Hawaii.  Go to:  http://www.civilbeat.com/projects/living-hawaii/  .  I have not read them all but it will give you some insight into how hard it can be to make a living in Hawaii.  There is also a Facebook page called Civil Beat: Hawaii's Cost of Living.  There is even a book about it, The Price of Paradise.  Read as much as you can find and think very deeply about this.  You don't sound like you have invested much time into really researching this.  You should.  There are many people who move to Hawaii, don't take into account the high costs and end up homeless.  It is a real problem.  And you must have the right attitude to do well no matter where you move.  No one likes a newcomer to come into their home town and complain.  Be friendly, be humble, listen more then you speak.  Though there is Costco and Walmart, there is no Trader Joes, no Olive Garden, etc.  Most companies charge high fees for things to be sent to Hawaii.  Or they won't ship there at all.  Look up ads for companies that you shop at now, like Walgreens and CVS (it is Longs Drugs in Hawaii).  Compare (by zipcode) the prices to get a feel for it.  Notice that coupons in major cities on the mainland offer much higher discounts for more products then what the Honolulu Star Advertiser (there are tons of coupon databases on the web).  Sign up for online access to the various island newspapers and check out their rental costs and car costs. Craigslist too.  Are you a good mechanic?  How will you find a good used car if you don't know who has a good reputation as a car dealer?  Where will you get repairs done? How will you know what is a safe area to live?   All of this are things you will have to figure out because you will no longer be in a place where you have friends and relatives to give you advice.  And set yourselves a specific amount that you will not go below otherwise you will keep dipping thinking it is only temporary and it may not be.  And photographers are a dime a dozen in paradise.

tj

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Since you went to Honolulu in june, how is it working out? Was it better than expected? Worse? I would be interested in hearing an update as I've often consdiered a mini retirement in Hawaii in a few years, should I remain single....

steevven1

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Since you went to Honolulu in june, how is it working out? Was it better than expected? Worse? I would be interested in hearing an update as I've often consdiered a mini retirement in Hawaii in a few years, should I remain single....

Thank you for asking! I am typing this from Hawaii right now! We decided to make it a 6-month stay, and it has worked out AMAZINGLY. We're returning to Florida permanently in 2 weeks, and you can expect a full write-up shortly thereafter!

The super short version is this: My wife and I have worked under 10 hours per week per person for 6 months, visited 5 Hawaiian islands, lived in a 2-bedroom apartment 50 meters from the beach, and will arrive home with a net worth between $0 and $2000 MORE than we arrived with. Mustachianism works, folks! Even in Hawaii!

tj

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Since you went to Honolulu in june, how is it working out? Was it better than expected? Worse? I would be interested in hearing an update as I've often consdiered a mini retirement in Hawaii in a few years, should I remain single....

Thank you for asking! I am typing this from Hawaii right now! We decided to make it a 6-month stay, and it has worked out AMAZINGLY. We're returning to Florida permanently in 2 weeks, and you can expect a full write-up shortly thereafter!

The super short version is this: My wife and I have worked under 10 hours per week per person for 6 months, visited 5 Hawaiian islands, lived in a 2-bedroom apartment 50 meters from the beach, and will arrive home with a net worth between $0 and $2000 MORE than we arrived with. Mustachianism works, folks! Even in Hawaii!

That's awesome. I look forward to the full write up, especially learning if it is not sustainable for you to stay longer than the 6 months, or if you had non-financial reasons for leaving.