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Moving To & Living In Hawaii
03-02-2012, 07:51 AM
Post: #1
Moving To & Living In Hawaii
*I hope this isn't in any way a violation of posting rules, but I'd already posted this in the "Ex-Pats" forum but also wanted to post this here in order to get more possibility for replies:

First off, aloha!

Second, please forgive the grammatical errors and run-on sentences and what ever else.

Alright. I was born in Honolulu in 1960 while both my parents were stationed there in the Navy. Shortly after my birth we moved to the mainland so I've never seen my birthland. Now I'm shambling into the latter third of my life and hating winters up here in the Pacific Northwest and having always wanted to live where I was born, my son and I are making plans to move to the Islands next year and have been doing as much research as possible on all-things-Hawaii and, frankly, actually having a difficult time of getting our questions answered.

As my son is a working cook/chef and has always been interested in seafood and the Japanese culture, having taken four years of Japanese in high school (though that didn't actually get him up to conversational level), and he would some day like to go live in Japan, and I was born in Oahu and want to live out the rest of my life in the Islands (not necessarily in Oahu though), we figure for him especially this would be a great stepping stone for him to work in his chosen trade, meet Japanese folks who've moved to Hawaii, make connections and maybe work in a restaurant or two owned/managed by Islanders of Japanese background and to enable him also to get his language skills up to par, as well as live in the climate and environment we've always wanted to live in. We've been Googling ourselves silly trying to get a handle on the various Island specifics on living there, especially in Oahu, and just not having much luck.

Most of what we come up with is tourist oriented, and that isn't what we're aiming for. We're not interested in the tourist vision of a "Pacific Paradise" as we know that that has little to nothing to do with living in Hawaiia and on any given island, each of which, we're already aware, is a whole different environment from all the others in terms of both natural and human oriented aspects.

Can't find any real good books or dvds to help us really get a handle on real life living there either. Everything's just tourist oriented. I even looked on the AAA site hoping for some actual practical road and neighborhood type info. Nothing helpful.

We're very aware Hawaii, especially Oahu, and Maui as well, from what one of my Islander aquaintances here has said who is from Maui, have the same or similar types of problems found anywhere in the world, that there is "real life" going on there as is found anywhere. So have been trying to get a bead on how to quickly assimilate and where to live to do so.

I'd like to eventually move perhaps to the Big Island, or at least one of the far less tourist-trafficked islands, at some point to get away from the touristy scene. But the greatest opportunities for aquiring jobs quickly for either of us are are on, according to my friend from Maui, both Oahu first, then Maui second. And I'd like to live where I was born for a few years first anyway and get acclimated to all things Hawaii before venturing to another island, so Oahu seems the place to first land.

We know that Oahu is a relatively small environment with a large year-round population and an even larger tourist population at all times so trying to determine where to actually reside can be kind of tricky if one wants to meld into local non-tourist life, find places to rent at reasonable rates, be some ways away from the more contentious, troublesome areas that would be found closer to Honolulu (so I've read), but just can;t find practical info on the island's various areas and neighborhoods.

My main concern would be theft of personal items as practically everything I've read from any comment boards from people already there regarding particularly Oahu has warned that there is a fairly high rate of theft, mostly due to meth/drug users.

There is also, apparently, and I can appreciate, some degree of racial/nationalism tension. In my job in conjunction with our university here, though, I've met many Islanders, native Hawaiians, who've told me that because I was born there I would be considered grandfathered in, despite not being native Hawaiian and I'm white, so would, between my general low-key friendly demeanor and being born there, be more "accepted" by Islanders.

I'm not concerned about that as in my personal experience having, for a time in the mid-'80s, lived in East Bay San Francisco in a predominantly black area called Richmond, I never had a problem as I always adhered to the idea of as long as one conducts themselves like a civilized human being and recognizes we're all in this together one will do fine overall.

But perhaps there's some areas, some neighborhoods, that one would be advised to not live in (as one can find in any larger city/densely populated area anywhere in the world) on either Oahu and/or Maui, and others one can live in with general ease of social atmosphere as well as relatively modest cost out-lay.

We're prepared to live modestly, even spartanly, as we're not some well-off guys. But we want to meld in as quickly as possible and not be seen as tourists or interlopers and get working and living life there according to what real life is like there. But we're having one heck of a time trying to figure out what areas would be good to look for living space.

No amount of Google Maps or Google Earth can assist in that as all they show is what they show. Sites such as Hawaii Chamber of Commerce or any government informational sites haven't been helpful.

So, after that very long introduction I'm wondering if you can offer some information or sites that can truly give us a better description of life in the Islands, especially in Oahu, what areas and neighborhoods (names of) would afford decent relatively modest and safe living spaces for renting/owning might be and anything else regarding anything such as social aspects you can think of.

No rush as our moving is a year away or a little more. But we're trying to get a handle on a section of the world that so far we the kind of information we're looking for isn't found on any of the wikipedia, Googles, books, travel shows/dvds, etc.

Thanks for any help any of you can provide.
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03-02-2012, 04:34 PM
Post: #2
RE: Moving To & Living In Hawaii
Aloha tminker and welcome to our forum!

Yes, I know it can be really tricky to research a place trying to figure out how life is like there. When it comes to renting an apartment or house on Oahu, you probably already know that there isn't really anything "cheap" if you don't consider really run-down places. If you want to live in a somewhat decent area and close to where the jobs are, then you will look at a monthly rent of at least $1200 and up. $1200 would be for a tiny one-bedroom or studio apartment and you're lucky if you find a place for that cheap.

When it comes to neighborhoods, some good ones in Honolulu where average folks live with average incomes include Makiki, Kaimuki, Moiliili and west Waikiki (around Ala Moana). There are many apartment buildings in these neighborhoods. Then there are other neighborhoods up in the hills (St. Louis Heights, Manoa, etc) which are also decent but can be quite pricey. If I were you I would first try to find an "affordable" rental that's centrally located, which will be more convenient for your job hunt/commute to work. You can later always move again, after a few months. Then you'll also be much more familiar with the island and its neighborhoods and towns.

Most jobs are obviously in Honolulu. On the windward coast the two main towns are Kailua and Kaneohe (Kailua is more pricey). On the west shore, you can find relatively affordable rentals, but this area is a lot more local (Hawaiian) and it may be harder to fit in as a newcomer, plus jobs are scarce there (so it would mean a long commute to Honolulu). Traffic is really bad during rush hour.

The north shore is pricey too and jobs there are also scarce. So your best bet would be somewhere in Honolulu as a start, until you get to know the island and meet people and network and find a job. Honolulu will also be best for your son because most Japanese live there. Kailua is a more white town, as is Hawaii Kai (Hawaii Kai is expensive too).

When it comes to burglaries, I have never had any problems and I live in Honolulu. If you're very concerned about this, there are many apartment buildings that have security on-site. Also, when it comes to fitting in, you won't have any problems in Honolulu. It's a big city and nobody will know that you're a newcomer. You'll most likely also not have any problems with racial issues because there are so many races here in Honolulu (Asians, Caucasians, Hawaiians, Blacks, etc.).
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03-04-2012, 12:43 PM (This post was last modified: 03-05-2012 06:21 AM by tminker.)
Post: #3
RE: Moving To & Living In Hawaii
(03-02-2012 04:34 PM)kaniamea Wrote:  Aloha tminker and welcome to our forum!

Ah, thank you, kaniamea!

Thanks also for your thoughts and advice.

I'm looking forward to moving to the Islands. Be a much needed adventure and major change in all ways. Pretty stultifying where we live right now. Been a long time since I've lived near any kind of oceanic environment.

I'm not too concerned about living there overall as one finds similar challenges everywhere and usually changes one set of problems for another, while gaining new positives in the mix.

The concerns regarding theft and social issues, ie, racial tension, were things the Hawaiians I've known have cautioned me about. But they've also said that with the usual precautions, locking doors, shutting wndows, bolt locks, etc, the chance of theft is minimized, but not to think of there as like where we live now which is a place and neighborhood in which I can leave my vehicles and house unlocked. And they said, as I agreed and have experienced in the past, that the racial situations, as with being a newcomer to any new town and neighborhood, shouldn't be of real concern if one just conducts themselves as a civilized human being. Basically for one to operate under the tenets of something like the Credo of the Peaceful Traveler

Grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience the world and because peace begins with the individual, I affirm my personal responsibility and commitment to:

•Journey with an open mind and gentle heart

•Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter

•Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains all life

•Appreciate all cultures I discover

•Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome

•Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet

•Support travel services that share these views and act upon them and,

•By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace.

That's how I've always tried to conduct myself. Of course, that doesn't always work when there are others who're just intent on causing grief for others. But over my lifetime when traveling or moving to another place I personally haven't had to engage others in anything beyond mere disagreement. Certainly never to the extent of blows being exchanged.

So that's how I'd try to meld into Hawaiian society.

My son and I were wondering, however, given Oahu's dense population and tad smaller size than Maui if Maui might be a better introduction to living in the Islands and still have plenty of cultural and employment opportunities.

Would you say Maui would experience far less of, say, the rush hour type of traffic? The crime, and whatever else that may make Oahu a bit of a pressure cooker comparitively speaking?

Or are they pretty much similar?

Although I was born on Oahu and would like to live on my birth island perhaps for newbs it might not be the best introduction to becoming a year-rounder?

Well. Thanks again for your kindness and attention to my posts.
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03-08-2012, 04:17 PM (This post was last modified: 03-08-2012 04:18 PM by kaniamea.)
Post: #4
RE: Moving To & Living In Hawaii
Yes, I would say Maui has much less rush hour traffic than Oahu. As you already mentioned, Oahu and Maui are similar in size, but Oahu's population is about 950,000 while Maui's is about 145,000. I'm not sure regarding crime rates on the different islands, but found this website:
But when it comes to job opportunities, I think Oahu has more to offer in terms of variety and quantity. But it also depends on what job you're looking for, in what industry.
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