Today is our 1 year anniversary for living on the Big Island. Overall, I have to say I think we are happy with our move here. There have been some great things about living here and not so great. But the good has out weight the bad and we are excited for another year here.
I have had quite a few people write me asking me questions over the last year and I am going to try to address the most asked questions. So, here is my list of things to consider if you want to move to Kailua Kona.
1. Can you afford to live here?
This has been our biggest adjustment. The cost of living. At times this can wear you down. Gas, groceries and electric are the most expensive in the nation.
Here is a quick break down of some of our costs:
Gas: $3.99 to $4.60 a gallon
Car insurance: $140 a month for 2 cars
Internet and TV: $89 a month
Electric: $200 a month (that is not using an AC unit or any big appliances).
Groceries: $180 – $200 a week. (feeding a family of three).
Rent: $1700 (2 bedroom house built in 1976 where houses sell in the $200s to low $300s.)
I do miss the days I could just go to the grocery store and just grab what I needed and not have to price shop every item. But when you are standing at the cash register and EVERY item that is swiped is at minimum $4 - you price shop. Every once in while I will let myself splurge and not look at prices but when I do I kick myself afterwards because I have spent over $100 for 2 bags of groceries. Oh boy, do I miss Trader Joes and buying a grocery cart full of food and only paying $100. The positive of this though is I value food a lot more now. We are not nearly as wasteful with food as we use to be and I don’t think that is bad thing. It’s also been great for losing weight. I have lost about 7 pounds living here.
2. Do you have money or a job?
If you have money – your are going to love it here. I think most of the struggle of living in Hawaii is the cost of living and finding a job that supports the cost living here. It is possible to do and people do do it. We are doing ok. Depending on what you do some people are going to find this harder then others. I do clearly understand now why people say get a job before you come. You will need a decent paying job to survive here.
3. Are you ok with paying more for less?
This one has been one of the bigger adjustments I have had to make. I think because it effects every aspect of living. From the type of house we live in, to the groceries we buy, to running around the house making sure we aren’t leaving lights on.
There are no two ways about it – your quality of living is probably going to be lowered if you move here. Unless you are able to find a job that pays really well or you have a lot of money.
I think one the biggest adjustment in this area is how much rent is and what you get for it. Now if you are from California or another high rent area- this might not be such a shock. If we were living in Arizona, with the rent we are paying now, we would be in a MUCH nicer home.
4. DON’T rent anything sight unseen.
If you are planning on moving here I can’t stress enough to rent a vacation rental or something temporary at first. I remember calling a rental company in Kona before we moved here and the agent told me they don’t rent houses sight unseen because they have had to many problems because people were expecting something much different then what they got. I didn’t really get it at the time but I get it now. Unless you have a budget over $2000 a month just for rent – you need to see the place you are considering to rent. Everything from the neighborhood to the condition of the house is not going to be the same as you could expect on the mainland. There are also so many Ohanas for rent – that if you have never lived in that type of situation before you are going to want to check it out first hand.
Things don’t happen as fast on the island. Everything from driving, to packages arriving in the mail, even shopping for certain things. Living here does require some patience on all fronts. We are literally in the middle of the ocean and things don’t get here fast nor do they happen here fast.
Here an example of that: my husband is a mechanic at a dealership here. Someone brings in their car and they find out it needs a part. Well, it is pretty normal that it will take up to a week to get that part – where on the mainland they usually can get that part in 24 hours or less. Hopefully, your car will still run without it cause if it won’t your car is sitting there for a week and there is nothing that can be done about. Fighting or getting upset about it isn’t going to do a darn thing. Your are literally in the middle of the ocean – things take time to get here.
Just like the mail. I don’t know how many times people have expressed or priority mailed me something and will call say – did you get the package? I will say no. And they will say will I express mailed it – its suppose to be there already. Welcome to living on the islands. Mainland rules do not apply here. I will get the package but usually 3 days if it is express mailed and 5 to 9 days if priority mailed. Even Fedex and UPS do not ship over night here. It usually takes about 2 days.
Although I think one of the most annoying things for me and one I have had to practice patience with is at the grocery store. If something goes on sale – MAN – does it go fast. Which is annoying because sometimes it staple items and there is none left. I have literally seen all the shredded cheeses gone from the cooler because they were on sale. So no cheese that shopping trip.
To end post – even with all these things to consider – Kona is a pretty nice place to live if you can swing it. We are happy here. I can’t imagine a better place to raise my daughter while she is young. The whole island is a awesome playground.