Every year thousands of people move to Hawaii, buy a home, and begin to live their dream. Starry-eyed people come here with high hopes of living in paradise, in a beautiful house on the beach, surfing everyday, and sipping margaritas out of coconut shells. Here’s some things to know before buying a home on Oahu. Check out my step-by-step Hawaii relocation guide, and see my tips on moving with children.
1) Hawaii is an island state
That means it’s harder to get some of the things you like. Things are more expensive to ship and slower to arrive by Fedex. Fedex overnight means 2 days here. Even if there are a few stores on Oahu that carry what you want, that doesn’t mean that they’ll have it in stock on a given day.
2) Oahu is paradise on earth, but it’s not heaven
There is still traffic and crime, and there are still some rude people in Hawaii like anywhere else. People tend to live for about a year in the honeymoon stage, still euphoric about living in Hawaii. Then reality sets in. People in Hawaii still get sick. Life still throws you a curve ball in paradise, and your stuff begins to rust, no matter where you live on the island.
3) If you’re not local, you’re haole
If you didn’t grow up here and have parents of somewhat Hawaiian/Asian decent, you’re a haole. It’s not racial, not usually. However, most haoles fit right in, make lots of friends that are locals, and even get elected governor.
4) Housing is expensive
$800,000 will buy you a small house in Manoa or a large condo in Waikiki. It might be single wall construction, meaning there are no studs in the walls. Your yard might be smaller than you’re used to, especially in Honolulu, and the dirt will be bright red. However, if you go out a bit to the west side you can get a great home for about $500k in Ewa, Kapolei, Royal Kunia, and Makakilo.
5) The ocean in Hawaii is wonderful, but you won’t be in it as much as you think
People ask me if I surf everyday. They think I sit on Waikiki beach and type my blog or handle my escrows, etc. Nope, I sit at a desk in my office, just like you. We do go to the beach often, maybe 3-5 times a month. We prefer Kailua Beach to Waikiki, and sometimes we go to Portlock’s small beach. There are still plenty of empty beaches in Oahu, and if you buy a house here, I’ll show you some of them!
6) It rains a lot, suddenly, for about 10 minutes at a time
If you live in Manoa, Maunawili, the North Shore, or Kailua, it rains more than in town, the Leeward side, or Hawaii Kai. Usually within a few minutes the sun will come out and dry everything off. So stop walking around with an umbrella, you look like a tourist.
7) Everything rusts
Especially on the windward side of Oahu, which means Kailua and Kaneohe. Things rust quite a bit in Manoa, where it rains most of the year. Everything has to be replaced more often because of the salty, humid air. My bike took 1 year to turn rust. Your car will be dirty most of the time. You might repaint every few years. Mold will grow in 2 days if you leave anything wet anywhere.
8) All your friends will visit you the first year
And you’ll have to cart them to the North Shore, to Waikiki, to the Dole plantation, and Kailua Beach. You’ll have less visitors in the second year, until finally you get 1 or 2 visitors a year—forever. It helps if you visit them once a year, and have them visit you once a year.
9) Everything takes longer in Hawaii
Things that take 5 minutes will take 10 here. Things you might get instantly in L.A. could take days in Hawaii. You need a contractor to come give you an estimate? How about 2 weeks from now? You need a dentist appointment? How about next month? Life in Hawaii is in sometimes in slow motion, and we like it that way. Even in our real estate transactions, we work slow. Our average escrow is 45-60 days. Learn to drive slow, walk slow, and live slow. We enjoy the drive along the coast at 35mph, just enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian views.
10) Some people end up leaving Hawaii after a few years, and then regret it for the rest of their lives
Whatever the reason, many people who move here end up leaving after only a few years. And one person every week tells me how much they regret ever leaving Hawaii. Most people who sold their Hawaii real estate would have made hundreds of thousands of dollars if they would have held onto it. So don’t come thinking, “I’m going to try out Hawaii.” Instead, make up your mind and say, “I will make it work no matter what, I will buy a house in Hawaii, I will make it my home.” People give up their dream of living in Hawaii everyday, they quit and leave paradise. For those of us who make it, it becomes more like paradise than we thought at first. Here are the first 10 things to do when you move to Hawaii.