SO YOU WANT TO RETIRE IN HAWAII IV

Living in Hawaii

I retired from my government job last May, 2010 and moved to Hawaii in July, 2010. I came bringing my wife and her 4 four legged critters in tow. I thought that I would relay a little information about the transition while the memories remain fresh and does not fade with the list of other experiences that I have forgotten over time. While I have learned a little about the other islands, my specialty is the Big Islandof Hawaii.

 

General Environment/People

I step off from the plane and I see this paradise, otherwise known as Kailua-Kona on the west side of the “BigIsland”. The airport facility had the feel of one in a tropical area, with its architecture of open space as if nothing ever has to be closed. The people are ‘laid back’, everything happens at a very leisurely pace.

My spouse has lived in Hawaii for a couple of decades and always reminds me how she knows her way around and that my basic instincts and beliefs are best left on the mainland. There were quite a few changes that I had to make to adapt here. She keeps talking about the mainland as “America” and this as Hawaii, while I always knew it to be one and the same. Last time I checked, Hawaii is the 50th state of the Union, is it not?

This is the most culturally and racially diverse state in the American Union, if you have a problem with that you should stay in either North Dakota, Vermont or Idaho, which has just the opposite distinction. It is ‘Blue Hawaii’ beyond the reference to the novel and film. This is a staunchly Democratic state, but they are not really ‘liberal’ in a political sense. Socially, they are quite conservative as this is a family oriented environment. If you are looking for wild and crazy, may I recommend Key West, FL. It is that in the past that the most trusted legislators here were Democrats. Remember the little ditty that was part of the film ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ referring to ‘tradition’? Well, this is what it is all about.

The village of Pahoa, close to where we live, consists of wood paneled buildings. You could throw a rock from end to end. It has this bohemian feel of yoga training, coffee houses and such. It definitely has a 1960’s feel, see the photo. I was told that many of the Hippies came to this area after the “Summer of Love” ended. Well, today, you see these guys with balding pates and pony tails, who now make their living from the rather generous social services web.

The first irritant was that it took almost a month to get the cable, telephone and internet after we requested that it be installed. For the first three months, we were gathering resources to ship our van from Long Beach. So we were blind (no TV), deaf and mute (no telephone), dumb (no internet) and lame (no car). The mix was certainly not pleasant. I lived in the metro Denver area and was use to calling for services and having the door bell ring before I hung up the phone. Not here, she said that I was being “haeolie” (sometimes derisive term for newcomer) and not to push things or you won’t get served at all.

The second irritant is the patois she falls back on whenever she speaks to local people even though she knows the King’s English quite well, it is so well practiced. Then, there is this thing about ‘talking story’. This means striking up conversations with anyone, anywhere on virtually any subject under the sun. She says that is how you know what is going on beyond the official channels, news media, etc. It is just that when I go shopping I am watching the budget and like to ‘cut to the chase’, dispensing with idle banter, when I have something to accomplish. Maybe more of that is just a ‘guy’ thing rather than just habits acquired while living in the ‘lower 48’. The chit-chat can go on for some time, and can involve everything from the weather to hemorrhoid tissues. I am reminded of that TV ad where the woman embarrasses her significant other by talking about constipation to the attendant at the check-out stand and spills her guts about their personal affairs. Don’t get me wrong, I am not unfriendly, but I simply recognize that there is a time and place for everything. I am working on being less focused and uptight.

You may see many people that looked like they got out of a leper colony. There has always has been a problem with ‘meth’ and when you see more people running around without teeth in their mouths beyond the statistical probability, you can guess what happened. All the beautiful people are on Waikiki. We reside with common working class people, nothing glamorous. We have one Wal-Mart in Hilo, which is a pretty good gathering place and a place where ‘talking story’ begins.

My spouse and I are both non-white. I am African-American and she is of some extraction as she originated in the Caribbean, but she is not Anglo. I was carefully watching to see how we would be welcomed upon our settling in. It was a couple of Anglo families that proved to be the best neighbors during the initial time when all was a ball of confusion. The rumor about antipathy toward Anglos by locals seems to have been exaggerated. If there is any racial hostility, it is pretty well concealed. The predominant population of locals and people of Asian extraction are polite and courteous for the most part. But the difference seems to be that they don’t warm up to strangers and that you have to have been there a time before you are accepted. Otherwise, they generally keep to themselves. There are too many kids for my liking. Sorry, with few exceptions, I believe children are best when neither seen nor heard. Call me a W.C. Fields throwback.

I should mention that the climate is, well, Hawaii. On the Big Island, did you know that it actually reached 12 degrees as a record low? There is a mountain range where it has been known to snow and get pretty chilly. Of course, I have had enough of snow for a lifetime and don't even like watching it on television. It generally gets warmer when you come down from the top. The closer to sea level, usually the warmer it is. It is January and so far, we have not experienced any colder than 60 degrees. The highs this time of year reach toward the upper seventies and low eighties. No problems with humidity, but it might get cool enough to the point that you might want to bring a light jacket or sweater. When I arrived in July, the mercury reached 85 degrees, yet cooled into the upper 60s and low 70's at night. There were a couple of muggy days, but nothing overwhelming. The trade winds keep any excess humidity from becoming oppressing. So far, we have needed neither a furnace nor air conditioner, how good is that!

I also threw in a picture of a scene in our neighborhood. Until next time, Aloha

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8 comments

ChristineVianello profile image

ChristineVianello 5 years ago from Philadelphia

Very beautiful! I think I am going to retire at 22, and get me some Hawaii!


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Thanks for the comment,Christine. We extend an open invitation to you to come and visit and get drunk on all the sunshine....


chm 3 years ago

The best article I have seen about retiring in Hawaii. But I will like more data about the total cost of living .. such as 1) housing 2) food 3) medical care etc and other things ..


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 3 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Sorry it has taken time to get back with you CHM. I would be delighted to provide any specific data that you want, let me know.


Bob 2 years ago

Hello from the 49th state Credence. Another government worker here contemplating what December would be like with sun and sandals. The Big Island holds considerable intrigue for me.

Questions1: What was it like bringing your 4-legged critters over? How big of a hassle was quarantine? Adjustment for them?

Questions2: We're still pretty attached to Alaska...in the summer. How feasible would it be to be seasonal residents? Does owning a house make sense in that situation?

Thanks for the great articles!


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 2 years ago from Florida (Space Coast) Author

Hi, Bob, thanks for reading and commenting. Here is a bombshell for you, we had just moved to Panama a couple of months ago. I had not had time to change my 'handle' or explain but I will soon in an article or two.

Always nice to chat with another Fed, is retirement in your future soon? I have never been to Alaska, but it is high on the laundry list of places to visit and see.

To answer your questions

As for the quarantine, yes Hawaii is unique in the fact that health inspections (documentation) is required for any and all of your domestic pets. It was somewhat of a hassle because timing is critical, as documentation had to be dated within a narrow time range. All of this coordinated with the dates of your flight and the availability of a vet to certify on the other end makes this a mission akin to a moon-shot regarding precision and timing. This is an area where you need to have a plan and prepare well.

Having lived here the past 3-4 years, I would not recommend owning a house and having it vacant for any period of time. While crime is relatively low on the big island, finding reliable renters that did more than just squat was the biggest challenge. It was hard to get the ones that we had at one time just maintain the property an a minimally acceptable manner. On the big island, it is definitely a renters-market as there are abandoned properties all over the place. It may be easier to come and rent for a time and return home. I would not plant roots, if I were you, unless you plan to stay.

Drop me a line, if I can assist with anything else.


Setya 22 months ago

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Setya 22 months ago

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