Getting connected – Here’s a topic not covered in most relocation guides: social connections. Take this scenario. John learns that his company in Nebraska has a position open for him in Waikiki. He would have a beautiful office overlooking Ala Moana, with Diamond Head in the distance. His salary would go up enough to offset the higher expenses, private schooling, and the moving costs are all covered.
After 6 months of planning, John and his family arrive in Honolulu, and buy a nice house in Hawaii. John goes off to work, leaving his wife Jenny at home with 2 kids. After she takes the kids to school for the day, Jenny gets home and finds she has nothing to do. She knows no one, and she is lonely. After months of this loneliness, Jenny wants to go home. Understandably, she misses Nebraska, her parents, her friends, her social network. She can’t explain exactly why, but she hates Hawaii.
After less than 2 years, John and Jenny sell their home in Hawaii, John takes a demotion, and they leave Oahu to go back to Nebraska. I didn’t make this story up, at least not completely. Different versions of this story happen in Hawaii over and over every year. Thousands of people move to Honolulu thinking that paradise is going to be, well paradise. But the problem is, after only a short time, a good percentage people who relocate to Hawaii end up going back.
Here is a lesson for all you relocating to Hawaii: Make friends here. The more friends you have who live in Hawaii, the better chances that you will love it here. Yes it’s simple and not new information, but here’s some ideas for you so you can actually do it.
How to make friends in Hawaii:
Go to church. Yes I’m biased here, as a deacon in my church, I’m convinced that a church is a great place to make good friends, and of course find spiritual fulfillment and nourishment. Being a volunteer or being in a small group can help you meet lots of new local Hawaii residents. There are about 1000 churches in Oahu, so Google “find a church in Hawaii” and start going to some. Come to mine. It’s at http://www.harborhawaii.org/ We will welcome you!
Join a kids’ group, like Baby Hui, Tiny Tots, or MOPS. Getting involved in some kind of group for moms and kids is a great way to meet lots of great people. Baby Hui groups are all over Oahu and they are cheap.
If your kids are in school, get involved in the PTA or volunteer to be a teacher’s aide. The Hawaii elementary schools scored very low on parent involvement, so that means there is plenty of room for you to help out teachers. Any teacher should be willing to let you help out. The other parents will love you for it. You will meet a lot kids and their families, and of course, the teachers.
Join a club. In Hawaii, rowing is a huge social event. I’m talking outrigger canoeing here, not lake paddling. Join a hiking or biking club, a kayaking or diving group. There are hundreds of outdoor activities to enjoy in Hawaii, and if you’re in Honolulu, there are thousands of clubs that do these activities together. Waikiki has surfing clubs, running, walking, paddling, swimming, fishing, kite surfing, wind surfing, you name it, we got it. Get with people who like to do what you like to do.
Coach a sport. Even if you kids are not in them coaching AYSO soccer or kids basketball is not a huge commitment, and you’ll meet plenty of families. I have probably met 100 families through coaching soccer.
If you’re getting a raise when moving here, then set aside some money at the beginning of the year so you can either fly home twice a year or bring your friends out.
The move to Oahu or especially one of the neighbor islands can feel a little isolating, so it makes things much easier to know that you will still see your family a few times a year. If you’ve built into your salary some air fare for you and your family, you can at least know that you will see your family often. What I’ve found is that living in Hawaii doesn’t mean I have to have less total time with family, but the time with them is concentrated into a couple weeks a year. Besides, you may even find you like having them away3;
Finally, if you get here and you just can’t seem to make any friends, call me. You can go out for dinner with my family. But you’re buying.