How to Move to Hawai’i

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Packing up our Stuff

After a week of loading up our 22′ shipping container from Matson, the truck came to pick it up. The boys loved watching the driver hook the trailer to the semi truck.

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To help the kids say goodbye to the house we decided to do two quick rituals to help mark the finality of leaving our house. We took some pictures out in front of the house and then then we walked around the house saying goodbye to all the rooms, the backyard, etc. Our oldest took a few moments by himself in his room to say goodbye.

Vehicle Drop in Los Angeles

After staying with friends in town for a few nights, we drove to LA and stayed at Hermosa Beach for two nights. We needed to drive our family vehicle to Long Beach Port to drop it off for shipment to Hawaii (again through Matson Shipping). The shipping cost for our 22′ container was about $4500 for door to door service and the vehicle shipping cost was $1000 (this is pretty standard with all the companies we looked into).

At Hermosa Beach we tried our first AirBnB experience. The place we rented was just a block from the beach, a really clean and chic place. It had a full kitchen with utinsils, cookware, etc; one bedroom, a really nice bathroom and a nice little bamboo courtyard where the kids could play. The even provided beach chairs, towels and umbrella, along with bikes. Our experience with AirBnB was so positive and I would highly recommend this particular place at Hermosa Beach.

 

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Traveling to Hawai’i

Having never been to any of the islands, we were flying blind, a true adventure. Our expectations were different for each of us. We flew from LAX to Maui and then puddle jumped over on a 28 minute flight to Hilo on the Big Island. Our two year old had a major melt down at the end of the 5.5 hr flight from LA to Maui. We flew over his naptime and he fell asleep right at the end, only to wake up as the plane was beginning it’s decent and his ears hurt, but he would not drink water or eat a lollipop to alleviate the pressure. Traveling without kids is surely easier.

My oldest, a very social extrovert, was making friends with other kids his age in the Maui airport. Two of the three children he played with only spoke Japanese. My son spoke to them in English and they replied in Japanese, but this did not stop them from playing, running, laughing and having a great time. They overcame their language barrier and it was beautiful to watch.

 

Maui was beautiful. The views of the mountains from the airport terminal were incredible. There were rainbows everywhere and even a huge full bow rainbow as we were taking off from the little airport.

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Hawai’i: First 48 Hours, First Impressions

Knowing someone on the big island is immensely helpful. Our friends from back in Phoenix just moved to the same neighborhood in Hawaii that we will be living in. After a long day of travel and dropping our stuff at our rental house, we drove 10 minutes over to their house and shared a delicious meal that they prepared. Our kids played and ran around with their kids and it was so nice to see familiar faces and start dreaming and scheming together. Our friends were so thoughtful and gave us a big fruit basket so we could have breakfast in the morning – so yummy!

There is so much that is different about this place, especially when coming from living in the desert. Hawai’i is a diverse place. There is volcano, ocean, mountains, desert in the north, jungle tropics in the east, sandy beaches on the west and black sand lava beaches on the east. Things grow like crazy here. It rains a little bit, about 20 mins once or twice a day, sometimes more sometimes less. No one has air conditioning because the weather is always cool and breezy. It may get just above 80 degrees for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon, but staying in the shade and using fans keeps a person plenty cool. During the summer temps average about 5 degrees warmer and in the winter, 80 degrees is the hottest it will be in the middle of the day.

There are bugs and animals and fruits and life everywhere. I met a very beautiful day gecko in the kitchen of our vacation rental the second morning. He had been darting around the kitchen all morning and then sat on my nutribullet for a picture.

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Our first full day in Hawai’i I was feeling homesick and exhausted. After all the moving and traveling and time change, our kids were becoming a challenge and my ability to help them regulate was running low. I missed the comfort of home and had a good cry. Traveling with kids is so draining! My partner was there for me so support me, let me cry and remind me of all the wonderful things to look forward to.

The little house we are staying at is on four acres. It is an old house, so not too glamorous, but cheap and has lots of nice land for the kids to explore. There is a little school on the property and for recess the children run down the hill to play on the swings just beside our house. There are at least four chickens that roam the property eating bugs, centipedes, grass, etc. They are incredibly beautiful birds that enjoy their freedom. There is also a friendly cat who was kind enough to play for a half hour with our oldest while the youngest was napping. He played cat and crawled around on his hands and knees and she let him follow her around and pet her.  We see lots of cats in the neighborhood and from what we hear they help keep the rat and mice population down. With fresh fruit dropping everywhere, that is a concern.

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Culture Shock

The one thing I didn’t prepare myself for was a bit of culture shock. With all the roads in Hawaiian language, memorizing road names is difficult. I have a hard time pronouncing most of the roads and with all the vowels, they all start to sound similar. Hilo has a small town feel, with the neighborhood we are staying in feeling even more secluded. This is ideal actually, as it is only 20 minutes to get to Hilo with it’s Target and Walmart and HomeDepot… but we get the rural effect in the neighborhoods between Hilo and Puna. I have never lived in a small town, only in suburbia around major cities, so the small town feel was a bit of a shock to me. I think I will grow to like it.

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Drinking fresh coconut under a banyan tree in the park across from the Hilo Farmer’s market

There are so many farmer’s markets around here, you can buy fresh produce any day of the week from locals. Hilo has a major market that is held every day of the week, but biggest on Wednesday and Saturday. All the little towns around between Hilo and Puna host their own markets as well. We visited the Hilo market on a Wednesday and bought so much exotic produce for only $25. Papaya, star fruit, coconut, williams banana, squash, dragon fruit, mountain apples, rollinia and some other things I am forgetting. I’ll write more about the fruits in a future post.

 

Cost of Living

Food that is expensive here is packaged processed food and meat. Since we avoid these things, food hasn’t been more expensive for us so far. We have been eating fresh fruit and veg, rice, oats, beans, lentils, and baking our own bread. If you buy bread from the grocers here it is between $5-$6 for one loaf. Baking it costs about the same as in the states. Eventually when we are cultivating fruit trees and gardens on our property we hope to only need to buy simple staples in bulk like flour, oats, rice and legumes.

We have shopped for food at the KTA, which is a local grocer, and at Target. (There is also a Safeway and other local grocers). KTA is supposed to be one of the cheapest places, and for some things it is. But for some choice items, I found Target to be cheaper. For example, Kikoman soy sauce was $4.49 and the same size at Target was $1.49. Target prices vary depending on what you are buying. Some things are the same price as in the states and some are between 10-50% more. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to what makes some things more expensive. I was looking at buying whole wheat flour at Target and the target brand (which is normally cheaper) was $1 more than the King Arthur brand of whole wheat, which was only $3.39. I think I will do most of my staples shopping at Target and fresh produce at the local markets. I might need to use the grocers for some things here and there. Costco is located on the Kona side, which depending on which roads you take, is a 1.5 to 2 hour drive. We’ll check that out soon.

Rental price is the same here as in Phoenix, Arizona; maybe less considering the acreage you get with each house. Almost all houses in this area are on one acre and most have fruit producing trees. We are still on the hunt for a house to rent while we build on our land.

Fuel prices are currently similar to those in the states. We have seen between $2.65 to $2.85 on this area of the island. Historically, fuel prices on the islands is higher, but for some reason prices have been lower lately.

Enjoying the Island

Our oldest said he likes it here and never wants to leave. That was a quick transition! On our second full day we visited Onekahakaha beach in Hilo. A man made rock wall breaks the waves so the tide pools and water can be enjoyed safely by little ones. A large sea turtle was swimming in the deeper part of the water behind the rock wall. We saw her poke her head above water and look at us a few times before she swam away. The kids enjoyed playing in the crystal clear water. The sound of the waves and the scenery was breath taking.

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Next time I write I’ll show you our property and all the outdoor adventures we have planned for the next week! Aloha!

       -Chrystine

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