A couple days ago, I was Negative Nelly, listing reasons why you might not like living in Hawaii. Today, I’m happy to report that I am now Positive Pollyanna, here to tell you why you should live in Hawaii. Because despite the challenges of living in Hawaii — high cost of living, limited job opportunities, etc. — there are good reasons why some people choose to move here, and why locals stay put or return after living elsewhere.
Good place to raise kids
Yes, many of the public schools in Hawaii leave something to be desired. And yes, a white kid attending a school with mostly non-white students is bound to face some racism and peer-testing. But for those parents who can find the right school for their children, Hawaii can be an excellent place for kids to grow up. The warm weather and numerous beach parks encourage kids to spend more time playing outside — swimming, biking, surfing, skateboarding, or just walking around with friends — instead of staying indoors and participating in unhealthy activities.
Neighbors tend to get to know each other in the smaller confines of Hawaii’s island towns, and are more apt to question neighborhood kids (0r their parents) if they seem to be getting into trouble. And exposure to Hawaii’s cultural diversity gives children invaluable life skills in appreciating and getting along with people who are different from themselves.
One of the many simple pleasures to be had in Hawaii: Fishing with your kids. (Photo credit: Keoni 101)
Many things in Hawaii are expensive: housing, food, gas, etc. But there is one area of your budget that you can save a lot of money on if you live on the islands — entertainment. There are so many outdoor activities here that are free or cheap, and the wonderful weather makes them all the more enjoyable: Swimming or bodysurfing at a beach, picnicking or barbecuing at a park, hiking a trail, biking around town, sightseeing in a state/national park or botanical garden, attending a cultural festival, and lots more. All beaches in Hawaii are public and free to enjoy, and on the weekends it’s common to see extended families relaxing under a party tent at a beach park, having a barbecue potluck and “talking story.” It’s simple pleasures like these that Hawaii residents make the most of.
As a resident, you can also take advantage of free activities offered to tourists — for example, there are free Hawaiian cultural classes offered at the Royal Hawaiian Center and Mana Hawaii in Waikiki, as well as live music, fireworks, and outdoor movies. And if you do find yourself having to pay for something, most places will give you a kama’aina (resident) discount if you ask and show your Hawaii driver’s license or state ID card. For example, Waikiki Aquarium gives residents a $3 discount on their general admission price.
Good place to be a senior citizen
Hawaii has an aging population — the state’s Executive Office On Aging projects that by 2020, 25% of all residents will be age 60 or older. And while this is a big concern for a state that already faces a critical shortage of openings in nursing homes, those seniors who are in relatively good health will enjoy some nice perks. Currently, Hawaii’s senior citizens benefit from a couple of state tax laws: Their Social Security income and government/employer pensions are exempt from state taxes, and those who are homeowners enjoy reduced property taxes.
There are also programs that provide seniors with subsidized public transportation, housing, cleaning services, prepared meals, prescriptions, nursing care, and more. These benefits — along with Hawaii’s year-round warm weather and traditional respect for kupuna (wise & beloved ancestors) — make the islands a good place to maintain an active life as a senior citizen.
Perfect weather year-round
Did I mention how nice the weather is here? In Honolulu, it’s around 80 degrees (Fahrenheit) every day, all year long. Yes, it does also rain every day, but it usually last for just a few minutes, and then it’s sunny again. Depending on where you live in Hawaii, you might get more rainfall. But it’s never really cold outside here, and I absolutely love that. As far as I’m concerned, it’s summertime all the time, and that suits me just fine.
There is also less of a change in the amount of daylight there is throughout the year (compared to the rest of the U.S.), because Hawaii is closer to the equator. I used to get depressed every winter in California, because I would go to work in darkness and return home in darkness. That doesn’t happen to me anymore now that I live in Hawaii, because in wintertime the sun rises just one hour earlier and sets only one hour later than it does in the summertime. This is also why Hawaii doesn’t bother to observe Daylight Saving Time — no turning the clocks back and forth, hooray!
A little friendlier & less hectic
When I first moved here, I thought I noticed that strangers were more likely to smile back at me if I smiled at them in passing. At the time, I chalked it up to being in a “honeymoon” phase with my new home, where I saw everything through rose-colored glasses. But when a friend of mine who was visiting asked, “Is it just me, or do people smile more at each other here and just seem happier in general?” — then I knew it wasn’t just my imagination. Some Hawaii residents who live in other parts of the state may disagree with me on this, but based on my personal experience living here, people seem to be generally a little friendlier, kinder, more courteous, more patient, and less hurried.
That’s not to say you don’t have your bad apples here — I’ve heard people honk their car horns unnecessarily at other drivers, and once even witnessed a case of road rage in Waikiki in which two locals came close to exchanging punches after one cut the other off in traffic. But I’ve also experienced a great deal of kindess from others, like when I lost my cat and received an outpouring of sympathetic phone calls from complete strangers. There still are people here who practice aloha in their daily lives, and the good news is that it’s contagious.
Coming up in my next post: 5 more reasons why you should move to Hawaii!