Author Topic: possibly moving to Kauai  (Read 7798 times)

clarkfan1979

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possibly moving to Kauai
« on: June 20, 2015, 02:16:31 PM »
I am a finalist for an instructor position at Kauai Community College. I was told that I will hear back late next week. If offered the job, I will probably be given 3-5 business days to make a decision. I was wondering if I could get some help on a pro/con list.

I'm 35 and my wife is 31. We don't have any kids, but hopefully in the next 1-2 years. We are currently full-time residents of Florida and part-time residents of Denver. We spend 3.5 months of the summer in Denver. I am a prof and my wife works retail. We don’t love Florida, but my dad is retired and lives 25 minutes away, which is nice. My wife’s family lives in Denver.

My current base salary is $42,600 and $48,000 with a summer course. I get a 5.14% employer 401K contribution. Based on my current position, I would top out at 52,000/year base salary, which is low. My wife currently works about 25 hours a week and makes $20/hour for a total of 25,000/year.

My starting salary at Kauai CC would be around $54,000 with a similar option to teach one extra class for a total of $60,000. They have a mandatory 3-4% raise every year based on years of experience and an additional 8% for promotion. As a result, I would top out around 115K – 120K. The current highest paid prof makes 130K because they most likely have the most years of experience.

Kauai CC is a pension and not a 401K. You get a small automatic pension without contributing your own money. You get a larger pension if you contribute your own money. I think the small automatic pension is similar to the 5.14% 401K employee contribution at my current school.

It looks like a first level 2 bed/2 bath condo with small yard is around 1500/month, within 1 mile of campus. There is a Costco near the college in Lihue, HI with great reviews. I would be riding my bike to campus and we would have 1 car.
I think these condo’s sell for 200K – 250K if we wanted to buy one. Single family homes are around 350K – 450K. In about 2 years, I would like to buy a single family home for 400K. We wouldn’t need the money to pay the mortgage, but we would like to try to rent out the house for 1 month during winter break and 3 months during summer break when we will be in Denver.

We currently pay very little state income tax because most of our income is in Florida. For Hawaii, our state income tax would be around 6-8% depending on our combined income.

Our current house in Florida has a total mortgage of $650/month. We would most likely rent is out for $1400/month and pay a management company a fee to manage. We also have a rental in Colorado with a total mortgage of $950/month and rent it out for $1900/month and manage it ourselves.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: June 20, 2015, 02:28:42 PM by clarkfan1979 »

tj

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2015, 06:21:00 PM »
go to www.bestplaces.net/col and compare your Florida city to Lihue. I suspect the $42k is going to go much further in FL than $54k in HI. Everything is more expensive in HI because nearly everything has to get freighted in, and because it's a destination where many are willing to take less $$ to live in paradise, and in many cases the jobs pay do less. (e.g. your wife's theoretical part time job).  Your flights from HI to Denver are going to be more expensive than FL to Denver.

Living in HI would be an amazing experience though, if oyu can swing it - go for it. i wouldn't buy property unless you know you will stay for the very long term.

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2015, 06:58:07 PM »
Yeah, HI is MUCH more expensive. Milk will be $8/gallon or whatever (I haven't been in 20 years, so I don't know the current price). Electricity is so expensive that 12% of homeowners have solar panels on their roofs, and much of the rest of the state is on a waiting list to be allowed to install solar panels with a grid tie because the solar energy cuts their electric bill by 2/3 (at least in the cases I read about). But once you have an HI residency, a lot of the stuff tourists do suddenly gets much cheaper for you.

But it could be a great life. Mahalo! The wahini and future keikis will enjoy it. Try the poi.

clarkfan1979

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2015, 08:59:19 PM »
Sounds like a great opportunity!

The presence of a Costco nearby is going to be a huge help in keeping your living costs reasonable -- as will the biking distance to campus/one car lifestyle choice.  Only downside I can see is that it might be a bit challenging for your wife to find another job -- can you see if there is any possibility of getting her an administrative job at the college as part of your package?  On the other hand, it looks like your rental income might come very close to replacing her retail income, so if you are thinking of starting a family/her staying home with kids this would be a great time to start pursuing that path.

If you still intend to spend summers in CO, you might want to make sure that your condo rules allow you to sublet.  Or purchase so that you can do what you want with it.
I love Hawaii and would personally leap at an offer like this.  But as you are already living in Florida maybe there is less of a draw.

For negotiation advice, I highly recommend that you check out the resources available free on www.theprofessorisin.com -- Karen does a great job of helping academics get the best offer possible.

My wife would most likely do customer service over the phone for her current retailer. There is a need for evening customer service, which would be during the day in Hawaii. We probably wouldn't sublet an apartment. We would only do it when we buy a house. Thank you for the negotiation advice but there really isn't any negotiation of salary for community colleges. You are paid based on years of experience and the degree that you have. These numbers are collectively bargained and everyone gets paid about the same.

I agree that a Costco is a huge advantage. Gas is currently 3.23 there and it was 3.39 at my friends Costco in Laguna Nigel, CA when I was visiting last week. We plan on adopting an island lifestyle. We currently don't drink milk.   

Mrs.LC

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2015, 09:40:46 PM »
Kauai is beautiful - by far my favorite of the Hawaiian islands that I have been to.  It is small, though.  Be prepared to budget airfare money to travel to the other islands for a change of scenery.  Food is insanely expensive but hopefully the Costco helps in that department.  Good luck with the offer and decision making. 

Lordy

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2015, 03:28:12 AM »
I've been to Kauai twice and it is absolutely amazing.

I would give up a lot to be able to live there. Don't make it just a financial decision, ask yourself how it would influence your quality of life. Sometimes that's worth more than a few thousand bucks a year.

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2015, 08:26:29 AM »
I live in FL and visited Kauai (flexible job and can live anywhere). It is beautiful and amazing to visit. If you have the job opportunity, it could be a great experience to try, and you might decide to stay long-term (or not!).

Financially, it sounds like all expenses will be higher than FL (state income tax, utilities, housing, groceries, vehicle fees, etc). Of course there is beautiful outdoors and laid back lifestyle.

How will you feel being so far from family? How do you like living in a small town (albeit with Walmart and Costco)? On a somewhat isolated small island (with a lot of tourists and resulting traffic)? Personally would lean towards trying it out on a 1-2 year basis before committing longer-term or buying any property.

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2015, 09:17:01 AM »
A while back I was exploring work on the big island in Kailua-Kona.   What I came down to in the end is not wanting to be $2000+ in airfare and a 5 hour flight from visiting west coast family.    If you are going to be stuck somewhere, Hawaii is a great place to be stuck, but make no mistake about it; you are very isolated.

Nords

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2015, 01:42:29 PM »
I am a finalist for an instructor position at Kauai Community College. I was told that I will hear back late next week. If offered the job, I will probably be given 3-5 business days to make a decision. I was wondering if I could get some help on a pro/con list.

I'm 35 and my wife is 31. We don't have any kids, but hopefully in the next 1-2 years. We are currently full-time residents of Florida and part-time residents of Denver. We spend 3.5 months of the summer in Denver. I am a prof and my wife works retail. We don’t love Florida, but my dad is retired and lives 25 minutes away, which is nice. My wife’s family lives in Denver.

My current base salary is $42,600 and $48,000 with a summer course. I get a 5.14% employer 401K contribution. Based on my current position, I would top out at 52,000/year base salary, which is low. My wife currently works about 25 hours a week and makes $20/hour for a total of 25,000/year.

My starting salary at Kauai CC would be around $54,000 with a similar option to teach one extra class for a total of $60,000. They have a mandatory 3-4% raise every year based on years of experience and an additional 8% for promotion. As a result, I would top out around 115K – 120K. The current highest paid prof makes 130K because they most likely have the most years of experience.

Kauai CC is a pension and not a 401K. You get a small automatic pension without contributing your own money. You get a larger pension if you contribute your own money. I think the small automatic pension is similar to the 5.14% 401K employee contribution at my current school.

It looks like a first level 2 bed/2 bath condo with small yard is around 1500/month, within 1 mile of campus. There is a Costco near the college in Lihue, HI with great reviews. I would be riding my bike to campus and we would have 1 car.
I think these condo’s sell for 200K – 250K if we wanted to buy one. Single family homes are around 350K – 450K. In about 2 years, I would like to buy a single family home for 400K. We wouldn’t need the money to pay the mortgage, but we would like to try to rent out the house for 1 month during winter break and 3 months during summer break when we will be in Denver.

We currently pay very little state income tax because most of our income is in Florida. For Hawaii, our state income tax would be around 6-8% depending on our combined income.

Our current house in Florida has a total mortgage of $650/month. We would most likely rent is out for $1400/month and pay a management company a fee to manage. We also have a rental in Colorado with a total mortgage of $950/month and rent it out for $1900/month and manage it ourselves.

Thoughts?
I think the whole pros-vs-cons list boils down to "If you don't take this chance then you'll spend the rest of your life wondering 'What if?' "

You may have already done your research and already understand the following topics, but at the risk of telling you what you already know I'll share my usual general Hawaii advice. 

I'm not sure where you're getting your real estate prices.  I hope those numbers are good for Lihue but my impression is that Kauai is priced at least 50%-100% higher than that.  Your best approach is to take the rental near the campus and then spend 6-12 months getting to know the neighborhoods and waiting for a bargain (that's a relative term) to pop up.  Don't talk to any real estate agents until you're on the island-- one very aggressive tactic is to attempt to get you to put down a deposit on Hawaii real estate (only seen over the Internet) because otherwise all of the homes will be bought by Silicon Valley millionaires and you'll be priced out of the market forever.

You're right about eating local.  Costco is a good start as well as joining the loyalty/rewards programs at your local stores.  Find the farmer's markets and the co-ops.  Embrace the unusual cuisine that you'll never find anywhere else. 

I hope you have a good mentor in your department who can help you with the culture.  The behavior of the students in your classes comes from a totally different background, and what works for you now may not work for you in Lihue.  The younger adults may only be interested in acquiring job skills with the minimum amount of effort.  If you're teaching computer classes, that's no problem.  If you're teaching required History 101 then... good luck.  The older adults have the usual learning obstacles of holding down a job and raising a family, and some may see Kauai CC as just a stepping-stone to a "real" college.  There's also a firm bias toward the "life" side of work-life balance-- in a very good way-- and it should not be interpreted as laziness.  When the surf is booming, your classroom will probably empty out.  You could grab your longboard and join them.

If you're not doing so already, start reading TGI at http://thegardenisland.com/ (The other big newspaper is the Star-Advertiser, but I don't think anybody on Kauai cares what an Oahu newspaper says about Hawaii.)  You'll score bonus points for asking questions that start with "I read on the TGI website that..."

In 1992 Kauai was absolutely hammered flat by Hurricane Iniki.  A map of the last 70 years of storm tracks shows that the island is a hurricane magnet.  Everybody knows someone who was seriously injured by Iniki or had to live without electricity for three months.  Over 20 years later, some homes and businesses on the island still have not rebuilt.  It can be an emotional subject.  Hurricane readiness is taken very seriously, and lessons learned from Kauai's experience with Iniki have led to nationwide changes in the American Red Cross' hurricane management-- like allowing chainsaws and pets in civil defense shelters.

You'll also notice apparently aimless conversation known as "talking story", which is your opportunity to get to know people better.  It eats up the first 10 minutes of every meeting and all of your attempts to do business in a hurry.  (Even over the phone.)  You'll get lots of seemingly intrusive questions about your personal life.  They're trying to make a connection with you.  Since you're the "new guy" it's your chance to ask everyone else lots of questions about life on Kauai.  People will enjoy hearing about your family and your ancestry, of course, and your thoughts about Kelly Slater growing up in Florida surf, and what Hawaii activities you'd like to learn more about-- but it's not a good time to tell people how things are done on the Mainland.  You may get asked what year you graduated from high school or college: not because anyone cares about your high school or college, but because it's a tactful way to figure out how old you are.  Your new co-workers have seen many people like you come to Kauai and go through various acculturation issues.  They'll be welcoming but they're also a little skeptical about investing their time & energy with you until they find out what sort of person you are.  They're keenly aware that you may only stay for a few years before moving on... much like the visitor industry.  I've lived on Oahu for over 26 years and nearly half my life, but when I'm on Kauai people tease me about being a tourist from "big city Honolulu".

I hope that you're not the Mainlander who's been hired by the administration to take away a job from some Kauai local who should have had it.  I really really hope nobody hired you to parachute in and fix something.  I guess you'd have to tread gently around those issues until you know the history.

As you may notice from the other posts on this thread, people either love Hawaii or hate it.  There's very little apathy.  By the time my spouse and I got to Hawaii we'd lived all over the world, and we immediately decided that this is "the place".  However there are significant disadvantages to living here, especially if you expect that someday your Mainland family will need more presence from you.  People miss other comforts like four seasons, winter sports, driving long distances (let alone driving long straight lines), the food they grew up with that's not always available here (or is horribly expensive), brick houses, and seeing their professional sports teams. 
http://the-military-guide.com/2011/10/13/lifestyles-in-military-retirement-living-in-hawaii/

You'll form your own opinion about Hawaii life by the end of your first year here.  I'd hold off any irrevocable or expensive decisions about real estate and families until then. 

If it's the custom in academia, I'd ask for a moving reimbursement and possibly even paid shipping for one of your vehicles.  A free plane ticket to the Mainland once or twice a year would be a nice perk, especially if it's in conjunction with a conference. 

MakingSenseofCents

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2015, 02:41:24 PM »
I don't know of how much help I will be, but Kauai is one of my favorite places that I've ever been to. Everything is more expensive, but it is a wonderful place.

One thing you might want to think about is how often you may have to go back home. That could add up. However, if you don't have to go back much then just forget about this factor :)

tj

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2015, 03:17:13 PM »
I don't know of how much help I will be, but Kauai is one of my favorite places that I've ever been to. Everything is more expensive, but it is a wonderful place.

One thing you might want to think about is how often you may have to go back home. That could add up. However, if you don't have to go back much then just forget about this factor :)


In the OP, he stated they are going to Denver every summer for 3 months.

clifp

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2015, 03:28:56 PM »
 Kauai has always been too slow for me, but yes it is gorgeous.  It falls into the a beautiful place to visit, but it has always been my personal last choice of the island to live on. Lots of rain matters also.

Regarding expenses for Hawaii.  Costco + Amazon prime really helps reduce the high cost of Paradise.  My motto for the last 10 years living in Oahu is if I can't buy it Costco, or can find it on Amazon I don't need it.  Costco is the only retailer on the islands that doesn't jack up the prices compared to the mainland. A classic example is the $5 Subway 6" subs, they are $6 in Hawaii.   Amazon Prime delivers with 2-3 days for no extra charge to Hawaii.  Otherwise you can spend a fortune shipping things.

You will not need a vacation for the first couple of year living here since you'll have at least 3 other island that all are worth spending a week or so on, and you'll be busy playing tour guide for your friends loving the free accommodations.  (I am not being cynical part of the fun of living here is playing tour guide within in limits of course.)

However be aware that going home to visit family during the holidays will be crazily expensive I'd guess $1,000 or more to Florida during the holidays.

MakingSenseofCents

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2015, 11:10:31 PM »
I don't know of how much help I will be, but Kauai is one of my favorite places that I've ever been to. Everything is more expensive, but it is a wonderful place.

One thing you might want to think about is how often you may have to go back home. That could add up. However, if you don't have to go back much then just forget about this factor :)


In the OP, he stated they are going to Denver every summer for 3 months.

Oops sorry, must have overlooked that. Even with that though, that's only once per year.

clarkfan1979

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2015, 11:55:30 PM »
I am a finalist for an instructor position at Kauai Community College. I was told that I will hear back late next week. If offered the job, I will probably be given 3-5 business days to make a decision. I was wondering if I could get some help on a pro/con list.

I'm 35 and my wife is 31. We don't have any kids, but hopefully in the next 1-2 years. We are currently full-time residents of Florida and part-time residents of Denver. We spend 3.5 months of the summer in Denver. I am a prof and my wife works retail. We don’t love Florida, but my dad is retired and lives 25 minutes away, which is nice. My wife’s family lives in Denver.

My current base salary is $42,600 and $48,000 with a summer course. I get a 5.14% employer 401K contribution. Based on my current position, I would top out at 52,000/year base salary, which is low. My wife currently works about 25 hours a week and makes $20/hour for a total of 25,000/year.

My starting salary at Kauai CC would be around $54,000 with a similar option to teach one extra class for a total of $60,000. They have a mandatory 3-4% raise every year based on years of experience and an additional 8% for promotion. As a result, I would top out around 115K – 120K. The current highest paid prof makes 130K because they most likely have the most years of experience.

Kauai CC is a pension and not a 401K. You get a small automatic pension without contributing your own money. You get a larger pension if you contribute your own money. I think the small automatic pension is similar to the 5.14% 401K employee contribution at my current school.

It looks like a first level 2 bed/2 bath condo with small yard is around 1500/month, within 1 mile of campus. There is a Costco near the college in Lihue, HI with great reviews. I would be riding my bike to campus and we would have 1 car.
I think these condo’s sell for 200K – 250K if we wanted to buy one. Single family homes are around 350K – 450K. In about 2 years, I would like to buy a single family home for 400K. We wouldn’t need the money to pay the mortgage, but we would like to try to rent out the house for 1 month during winter break and 3 months during summer break when we will be in Denver.

We currently pay very little state income tax because most of our income is in Florida. For Hawaii, our state income tax would be around 6-8% depending on our combined income.

Our current house in Florida has a total mortgage of $650/month. We would most likely rent is out for $1400/month and pay a management company a fee to manage. We also have a rental in Colorado with a total mortgage of $950/month and rent it out for $1900/month and manage it ourselves.

Thoughts?

I hope that you're not the Mainlander who's been hired by the administration to take away a job from some Kauai local who should have had it.  I really really hope nobody hired you to parachute in and fix something.  I guess you'd have to tread gently around those issues until you know the history.


Thanks nords. Your advice is priceless. I understood almost all of it, except the paragraph above. Are you asking this question or are you trying to say that a local will ask me this question?

I don't feel like I'm taking a job away from a local because almost all academic candidates are flown in. The only way that an academic candidate would be local is if there are multiple universities and/or colleges in the same area. Because Kauai has no other colleges, it's pretty much impossible that someone living on the island would be qualified. 

In regard to salary & cost of living, I don't want to make it more complicated that it needs to be. In an effort to simplify, in my opinion, my first five years would be a wash. However, after 5 years I think I would be money ahead in HI because I would get consistent raises. I don't get shit in Florida. Yes the cost of living in Florida is cheaper, but I would top out at 52K. Lihue seems to be much cheaper than the north shore of Kauai.

I am willing to humble myself and learn about the culture. If I wasn't willing to do that, I wouldn't be applying for the job. Florida seems somewhat similar with hurricanes and a large tourist economy. 

To the person that mentioned Amazon prime, during my first interview we talked about amazon and Costco for about 5 minutes. I asked them if it would be ok to live in Denver during the summer. They said that it would be normal and they know of a few faculty that live on the mainland during the summer.

Thank you everyone for all of your advice. It has been really helpful. 

Nords

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2015, 12:33:35 AM »

Thanks nords. Your advice is priceless. I understood almost all of it, except the paragraph above. Are you asking this question or are you trying to say that a local will ask me this question?

I don't feel like I'm taking a job away from a local because almost all academic candidates are flown in. The only way that an academic candidate would be local is if there are multiple universities and/or colleges in the same area. Because Kauai has no other colleges, it's pretty much impossible that someone living on the island would be qualified. 

I doubt you'd be asked the question directly, but you might pick up hints that someone local wanted your job and (for whatever legit reason) didn't get it. 

It's like any other organization-- if your job could've been filled by an internal hire, and you're an external hire, then you'd want to be sensitive to the possibility that someone didn't get the promotion that they felt they deserved.  In this situation it seems that the "worst" case would be someone from a neighbor island instead of the Mainland.  But if they're considered external hires too then it's just competition in the selection process.

As a new hire I guess you'd also want to know what happened to the people who were previously in your position.  If they went upward & onward that's no problem.  But if there was lots of turnover and attrition then you'd wonder what was causing the short-term behavior.  It could be as simple as people not enjoying island life.

And yeah-- the north shore of Kauai definitely drives up the real estate average prices.

If you haven't seen one of these yet, you can buy them online or at the Lihue airport vendor:
http://www.frankosmaps.com/kauai-guide-map

Axecleaver

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2015, 10:13:27 AM »
Nords gives great advice. I spent a year in Honolulu for work, and a few long weekends on Kauai. The culture in Hawaii is very different from what you've experienced on the mainland. I found it to be wonderful and very accepting with a strong Asian influence. The business culture in particular is very Asian, with many Japanese and Korean natives in the community. There are definitely some anti-Haole feelings in the native community, very similar in nature to Native American distrust of government. Justified, as it is a disappearing culture. As with any foreign culture, if you are humble and respectful, and want to learn, people are very patient with you. Expect to do a lot of listening and watching as you learn the culture.

Regarding cheap airfare to Hawaii, consider a one-day layover in Las Vegas. There are directs from Lihue to Vegas so you don't need to hop through HNL. I believe these are subsidized or kept inexpensive somehow.

Be flexible on things like groceries - chicken is expensive because almost all of it is imported. Fish is very cheap. Beef is cheap because of the herds on the big island. Milk is very expensive because it is all imported. When I lived in Honolulu for a year I stopped eating dairy and ate fish 6x a week. I didn't eat blueberries and apples and ate mangoes and local apple-bananas. Electricity is expensive but solar is incredibly efficient, and growing very popular.

This seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity for you. At a minimum, you need to give it a try. Good luck in paradise!

clarkfan1979

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2015, 10:38:39 PM »
I got the job offer and accepted today. Thanks for all the help.

Nords

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Re: possibly moving to Kauai
« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2015, 11:07:17 PM »
I got the job offer and accepted today. Thanks for all the help.
Congratulations and e komo mai!

... and hohonu no ke kawa.

[http://kahikolove.tumblr.com/post/2967794291/hohonu-no-ke-kawa]