The Price of Paradise

As most of you know, Josh and I have been living in Hawai’i for a few years now. A lot of my close friends and family members also know that it hasn’t always been easy to live here.

Views from Kaena Point
Views from Kaena Point

Many people think that living in Hawai’i is like living in paradise – which is a common misconception about Hawai’i. Living in Hawai’i truly does have its pros and cons. The islands really are a beautiful place to live, but this beauty also comes with a price – literally and figuratively speaking. In this blog post I want to give an overview of the pros and cons of living in Hawai’i we have discovered while living here.

Pros:

Of course one of the biggest pros of living in Hawai’i is the various outdoor and adventurous activities we get to do. I try to go hiking as often as I can to see beautiful waterfalls and amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. We also try to go to the beach as often as we can to relax and to occasionally also swim with honu (turtles). We love playing in the ocean, boogie boarding, and snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. Another upside of living in Hawai’i, particularly Honolulu, is the endless variety of foods. We love being able to try all kinds of foods from Hawaiian food to Korean food, Japanese food, American cuisine, fusion, and so on. We feel so happy that all these things are part of our current reality.

Nuuanu Trail
Views from the top of Nuuanu Trail

Cons:

However, as already mentioned there are also downsides of living here. The island lifestyle and endless summer are surely not for everyone. There are no seasons here, except one – summer, and the temperatures are almost never under 20°C. This results in basically the same weather year-round, which also means wearing the same clothes year-round. A lot of apartment buildings don’t have air conditioning, which makes the even hotter summer months an endless torture of bathing in your own sweat and sleepless nights. The warm and humid weather also results in a lot of bugs. We were lucky to find an apartment where we are not constantly having to battle cockroaches, ants, and other parasites, but we have definitely experienced otherwise.

The social scene can also be sort of difficult in Hawaii.  I don’t usually like to classify people, but I would say that there are three types of people here: Locals, those who were born and grew up here; individuals who have moved to Hawaii for school and/or for the lifestyle; and lastly military people. Hawaii can be quite transient, people constantly come and go, which can make it difficult to find friends here.

Traffic is another problem, especially on Oahu. There are too many people with too many cars on this island – this results in constant traffic jams, backed up streets, and car accidents. Also, island fever really does exist and I sometimes find myself stuck here and tired of not being able to go different places easily. It really is far and expensive to travel outside of the islands. Therefore, we usually are only able to leave Hawai’i about once a year.

Finally, there are the ridiculously high prices of literally everything: rent, food, body products, electricity, and so on. Everything is more expensive than any other place I have ever lived or even traveled to. This is the main reason living in Hawai’i is not actually “laid-back” and “relaxed” like some people claim. Of course, if you are rich it sure can be all those things, but the majority of people have to work hard to afford to live here.

So, is it all worth it? There really is no one answer for everyone, but I would probably have to say no. Don’t get me wrong, it is not like I am not enjoying my time here. I am lucky to have a job with wonderful colleagues and students, an apartment I have really come to embrace as a place where I can feel at home, and I love the beautiful scenery here. However, I also find myself working a lot, not being able to enjoy the many great things Hawai’i has to offer as often as I would like to. I am also not a fan of the endless summer and miss seasons. Mostly though, I feel stuck here; I miss my friends and family and really just want to be closer to them. I guess the island fever just got a little too real for me.

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