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SO YOU WANT TO RETIRE IN HAWAII III
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 Island of Hawaii.
Employment and the Economy
There are a few things that I thought that I should share with you regarding becoming gainfully employed as soon as possible after you arrive. Here on the Big Island, unemployment is very high, roughly 20%, which was contributed to by the September, 2008 downturn. There is a pecking order here, a subtle patronage not spoken about openly, but here all the same. I wanted to work as a substitute teacher here and found that there are furlough days for those that are already employees. I was told by the assistant principals from a couple of schools in my local area that the opportunities exist only if you want to volunteer your time. So if you don’t need money, you can certainly come here and find a place to volunteer your time. But, unless you are wealthy, know an influential someone in the system, or have a nice pension/annuity, that is not in the cards for most newcomers.
This is a very generous state by national standards. Living in Colorado for a long as I have, I have never seen so many young able bodied people get so many social services. This is a paradise, but to maintain that image certain sights common on the mainland is a no-no here. I haven’t seen any ‘Work for Food’ signs displayed by those down on their luck on any street corner. The social safety net is very well woven and the only people I see hungry are the newcomers that have not yet learned their away around the system to get what they need. There is a lot of ‘Section 8’ housing and tenants. There are adequate soup kitchens and such, so that no one need starve to death. With virtually no exceptions, this is a service economy. The professions, attorneys, physicians and the like do fine, but don’t they always? I have met people that live in freight containers that have been modified to be a place to live. The mild climate makes varied living arrangements possible here that would not be practical in most of CONUS. But, I would strongly recommend that you make preparations for your financial well being prior to your arrival here. Hilo is more expensive than the surrounding communities, particularly relative to where we live to the south. Unless, you can double up with a roommate, living there on the wages for service based jobs would prove most difficult. If you move to areas less expensive and commute into town be prepared for outrageous gasoline prices and, depending on which outlying area you live and when you have to be to work, the commute itself. There is a free bus system, but naturally it is not going to be as reliable as what you might find in a major urban area. I would not feel comfortable taking a bus to work from any real distance. Because of the shortage of jobs, there are many young people that offer services as handymen. We have a couple of young adults working in our yard for about $10/hour, Wal-Mart in Hilo starts at around $8.00. My wife’s health is precarious and I have a personal and marked dislike for yard work. So, it is a win-win for everybody. People, who work in the trades as plumbers, electricians, etc., are not plentiful enough, hard to obtain quickly, and expensive.
I should tell those that are interested that there are lots of vacant properties in the area and you would be surprised at how relatively inexpensive they are. I invite you to check Yahoo or Msn and look at real estate listings in East Hawaii. You may be able to get yourself a little piece of heaven for less than you thought.
The photo enclosed is just another glimpse into paradise, our neighborhood. There are just 169 people per square mile in our community. I just love ‘sparsely populated’. From the air, the place looks like a jungle with houses breaking the foliage every now and again. Check the http://www.city-data.com for Pahoa Hi, for more interesting demographic information.
In other installments I will touch on other topics related to settling in the AlohaState permanently such as:
Cost of Living http://hubpages.com/hub/So-you-want-to-retire-in-Hawaii-I
Flora and Fauna http://hubpages.com/hub/So-you-want-to-retire-in-Hawaii-II
General Environment/people http://hubpages.com/hub/SO-YOU-WANT-TO-RETIRE-IN-HAWAII-IV
Pros and Cons: http://hubpages.com/hub/SO-YOU-WANT-TO-RETIRE-IN-HAWAII-V
I will have a few photos taken with the ‘Kodak’ in and around our immediate environment that I can share with you