January 13th, 2011 Kona Dave
Let me tell you that moving to Hawaii is not easy. And it is not for the faint of heart. If you don’t have a strong personality and good problem solving skills along with a lot of patience I suggest you don’t even consider it. And on top of that it is VERY
costly to make the move if you move all of your stuff over.
I had a lot of questions about moving. Even though it is now 2008 I had started my search for answers on how to move to Hawaii back in 2005. Back then I found a website related to Kona that had a moving to Hawaii forum. I created an account and registered for the forum and asked my questions. As is typical of forums I got back many answers. Some helpful, some not so much. Some answers were answers to questions I didn’t ask. While most answers were helpful, the best answers I got came from a guy named John Rabi. John Rabi has lived on the Big Island for over 20 years and is an expert in the real estate market there. His answers to me were always thoughtful and honest. Sometimes brutally honest. I would rather have brutally honest answers than answers that try and keep from hurting my feelings. I guess I am a no BS kinda guy. Sometimes John would give some witty answers. Most of which were sarcastic but never mean. During my quest to get my questions answered some poor woman posted that she was being physically abused by her husband. She was asking for referrals for a good divorce lawyer. John Rabi answered her and told her she could save a lot of money and trouble if she would just hire some Tongans with baseball bats instead. While I found his answer to be quite funny (The majority of the participants on the forum did as well), a select few people found his answer in poor taste. I personally did not find it in poor taste but some people complained mercilessly. So John did what I thought was a nice thing and he publicly apologized to the woman and all the people who complained. After that the owner of the forum decided to kick John off of the forum forever.
There were 30-40 of us that were outraged that the owner of that website would kick John off after he graciously apologized. Especially considering there were so few who were offended. And there were even fewer who supported the owner’s actions. It was obvious that his move to remove John was political. After posting numerous times that I felt the owner did the wrong thing and having all my posts erased, I did what I thought was the right thing to do at that time. I started my own forum and invited John and all of the 30-40 protesters to come to my forum and participate without fear of being removed. My forum name is The Kona Forum and you can click here: Kona Forum to see it. The actual forums are here: Forums and as you can see the forums are quite active and full of great moving, real estate and local information. John has been a big part of providing answers to many of the questions and providing his own brand of humor that makes the board a lot more personal. The rest of the website is a huge resource for everyone who is moving to Hawaii and wants a one stop website to get the answer to all the questions they may have. You can search for anything Hawaii and Kona related. And if you can’t find your answers then all you have to do is register in the forum and ask your own questions. I guarantee you will get many useful and honest answers.
Now back to the year 2008. Thanks to John and the Kona Forum I already have most of my questions answered. But I still need to make out my list of things to do. Here is my master list in no particular order:
- Make a list of all unneeded items that I want to sell off or give away.
- Make a list of all unneeded items that I want to keep.
- Make a list of all items I intend to move/take with me to Hawaii.
- Use the list of movers found on the Kona Forum to call around to find movers for household items.
- Use the list of car movers (found on the Kona Forum) and call around to find the best price/service.
- Sell or trade in our BMW’s.
- Buy new/used cars for use on the Big island.
- Fix up our house (Painting inside and out, new carpet, etc.).
- Find a renter for the house (call my realtor in SoCal).
- Purchase one way airline tickets.
- Rent a car for the last day(s) in SoCal.
- Rent a car for the first few days on the Big Island.
- Find a place to stay for a couple of weeks in Hawaii.
- Start looking for permanent housing.
- Call gas company, power company and trash to cut off service.
This is not a complete list and it is not prioritized yet. It sort of became a living document as I went along. The first thing I did was to make a list of items I absolutely had to bring with me to Hawaii. I had things like computers and parts, guns and ammo, coins and stamps, kitchen items, cars (not our BMW’s). I decided to sell off all of my model trains and all other collectible items and collections. My thinking behind all of this is that homes in Hawaii are smaller and have less storage space than houses on the mainland. So I felt that I should really only bring what I need and cannot live without. So I went through this list again and again and decided to sell or give away all of my computer parts but keep my 3 computers. I decided to sell off most of my gun collection and keep only a my self defense guns and a couple with sentimental value. I decided to sell off all of my coin collection and my stamp collection. I sold everything I could before I moved. I decided to keep only my bedroom furniture and sell/give away all the furniture in the spare bedroom. I decided to sell/give away all my old living room furniture and buy new and bring it with me. I kept all of my kitchen and bathroom items. We gave away our dining room furniture and everything in our den. In hind sight we could have given away or sold another 25% of our stuff and we would never have missed it.
It takes a tremendous amount of work to sell off collections of things. I spent almost every waking hour working on selling everything I ever collected. And it turned out I realized it was going to take more time than I had to sell everything. So I decided to prioritize which collections to sell first. I started with the collections that took up the most room and worked my way down to the collections that took up the least amount of room. I was so busy putting my coin and stamp collections up on eBay that I hradly had time for anything else. All of my stuff sold well and I put up every auction starting at $0.99 and no reserve. I had to get rid of it all! And get rid of it I did. I sold my guns through a local dealer. I asked full retail and got it for every gun. It pays to keep your firearms in good shape no matter how old they are. The dealer took his cut and I was satisfied with what I made on them.
The next thing I did was to start bagging and boxing everything that went to charities. Most of what I gave away was old clothes. I gave away all my clothes that didn’t fit anymore. I gave away all long sleeve shirts, dress items like suits, ties, socks and shoes. I kept one pair sneakers (which I have worn a total of 3 times in 2 years), one pair of slippahs, and my work boots. I kept a pair of dress shoes but they got lost in the move. I kept all my short pants and t-shirts, blue jeans and sweat socks for work. I kept one flannel shirt and one sweatshirt for those few cool nights. You won’t believe that I had to make two trips to the Goodwill drop off using my new pickup truck that I filled to the max! I never in my wildest imagination realized that I had that many clothes!
December 19th, 2010 Kona Dave
Fast forward to 2008. All I have been able to do for the last few years is dream of the day I can move to the Big Island and live in my house in Ocean View, Hawaii. I have pictures all over the walls of my cubicle at work. All I can talk about is how beautiful it is there. Now I feel like the rabbit with the proverbial carrot being held out in front of me. Boy, I can’t wait to reach that carrot! The harder I try the farther away it seems to get. LOL!
At this time I am working for a high tech company. I am making good money, living in a great neighborhood in a nice little house and driving a BMW Z3. And I am working 50-60 hours per week. The company I work for is thankless. My boss is a micro manager. I miss spending time with my wife and I have been giving up spending time with my family to work in the evenings and on weekends. Needless to say I am totally stressed out. But worse, I am completely burned out. I am having a hard time sleeping which only compounds my stress and feeling of doom. Another thing that was bothering me that I did not realize at that time was that I stopped working on my hobbies. In other words I was not doing what it took to help myself keep from being stressed out. Most of my hobbies require a fair amount of energy to do and I no longer had the energy. Things are getting worse at work. The product I am working on, which is the product that provides 90% of the company’s income, is becoming obsolete. The company is demanding more productivity and even longer hours including even more weekend work. I am quickly reaching my breaking point.
That is when the company reorganized my department. Funny thing is, they created a new group. And in this group are mostly my fellow employees and managers whom I had heard were top on the list of being laid off if the company needed to shed a few pounds. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The only problem is, I am a part of that group as well. The writing is now on the wall. A layoff is coming and I am going to be a part of it. While I am not unhappy about losing this job, the economy has already been in a downturn and I am starting to wonder if I am going to be able to find another job. I don’t relish being unemployed for 6-12 months. Last time I was unemployed it took me 6 months to find another position. There are two big differences this time. First, a lot of high tech companies, especially in Southern California, have closed up shop. And a large number of other high tech companies have moved out of state due to the unfriendly business and tax atmosphere in California. The second difference is I am now almost 10 years older than last time. I am the second oldest engineer in my entire department. Even the managers are all younger than me. And age is a deficit at high tech companies. They rather hire younger, less well paid, and less experienced college grads over the older engineers. When you combine all of this with the state of the economy at that time, things don’t look very good for me anymore. I started looking for a job before I have to endure the embarrassment of being laid off. I found exactly what I thought, there were few if any jobs available in Southern California. There were a few jobs available in San Jose, Arizona and Colorado, three places either my wife or I did not want to live. If I had to I would probably commute.
I decided one day as an after thought, to look for tech jobs in Hawaii. The majority of tech jobs are either on the island of Oahu or Maui. But alas, there are no jobs available. As a matter of fact there are VERY few jobs of any type available. It was about that time I remembered seeing a job posting about a year ago and thought I doubt they would have found anyone to do that job. The job was for a testing technician that tests construction materials such as concrete, asphalt and aggregates. The job entails physical, non-destructive testing of these materials. This was my first real job right out of high school. This job is a skilled labor job that is highly technical and requires strong math and engineering skills. It is from this testing technician job that I learned to be a Building/Construction Inspector. I was in the testing and inspection business for over 16 years before I started in the high tech computer industry. I started searching and found some archives from which I was able to find the ad I had seen a year prior. I contacted the company and spoke with the HR person. It was no surprise to me to find out the position was still available. The skill set required to do this job is difficult to come by on the mainland. It is even harder to come by on an island in the Pacific Ocean. The HR person read off a list of qualifications. Most of which I either had done or was familiar with. That is when she asked to set a date for an interview. At the same time the County of Hawaii was looking for a Construction Inspector and I already had an interview date with them. My interview date for the County job was on a Monday on the Kona side and my interview for the testing technician position was on the following Tuesday on the Hilo side.
A few weeks later I flew in to Kona on a Sunday and interviewed with the County on Monday. After the interview I drove to the Hilo side and stayed at a friend’s rental home. Tuesday morning I went for my interview in Hilo and by that afternoon I had an offer for the testing technician job! I immediately called my wife and discussed the offer with her. It took about 1 second for her to tell me I should take it! I had already wanted to accept it but I always want to hear what she has to say just in case she has some thoughtful insight as to how it would affect her/us. The next day before I headed back to the airport I called the Hilo company and accepted the offer and set a start date about 3 months later.
Guess what? I am moving to the Big Island of Hawaii!!!
December 18th, 2010 Kona Dave
I have written an article about the pitfalls of buying a house in Hawaii. I did this in order to help others to not make the same mistakes I did. You can find the article here on my own website the Kona Forum: http://www.konaforum.com/bguide.html or you can find my article here on eZineArticles: http://ezinearticles.com/?Buying-Property-on-the-Big-Island-of-Hawaii—A-Beginners-Guide&id=187267.
My first mistake was to think buying property in Hawaii is the same as buying property on the mainland. The experience can be quite different and very frustrating. The offer I authorized Tom to make was lower than the asking price but not a lowball offer. Tom called me the same evening and informed me that the real estate agent for the owner rejected my offer and told him not to bring an offer less than asking price. I believe the real estate agent for the owner is required to bring all offers to the owner no matter how ridiculous. At this point I am mad that the letter of the law is not being followed. But as I am learning this is how things are done in Hawaii. So I went ahead and offered the asking price. I believe that the owner is required to respond within 24 hours. I finally heard back after 48 hours. While I am disturbed by this I am elated that it was accepted. I signed all the paperwork and write the good faith check and wait for the owner to sign the paperwork. Many days later the paperwork is still not signed. Tom has been calling the other agent everyday with no results. I asked Tom to inform the agent I will sue if she doesn’t have the owner sign the paperwork within 24 hours. Tom receives the signed papers the next day. In the meantime my mainland mortgage broker (who is licensed in Hawaii) is busy getting everything together.
After a week I got a call from my mortgage broker. It seems the company that has “Written thousands of mortgages in Hawaii” had never heard of a lava zone before. It just so happens their funding source has heard of lava zones before and refuses to fund my loan due to the fact that my home is in Lava Zone 2. I called numerous other brokers and they all said the same thing. So I started looking for a local broker but I had no luck. It appears I may lose this house and my good faith check. That is when I called Tom and he recommended First Hawaiian Bank and gave me the name of a loan officer he had previously used. At this time I am desperate because the sale can fall through and I really want this house. The loan officer and the bank was very easy to work with. The only problem with using a bank is the cost. Fees are much higher and the loan rate is higher. At the time I could get a home loan from a mortgage broker at 5% to 5.5%. First Hawaiian wanted 6.5%. Then they added 3/8% for it being an investment property. Plus they wanted an additional 5/8% for the house being locatded in lava zone 2. That works out to a whopping 7.5%!!! What a ripoff!!! But I really wanted the house so I take the screwing. I’m feeling a little better now that I have financing and it looks like I will own this house after all. Even though my payments went up a lot due to using a bank over a mortgage broker I am excited about owning this house.
The next item on my to-do list is to get homeowners insurance. I called my insurance company and they informed me that they don’t insure in Hawaii. Great, another obstacle to deal with. So I started calling insurance companies in Hawaii and they all tell me they won’t insure my house in lava zone 2. Apparently, lava zone 3 is the cutoff point. I found out that the only company that is currently insuring homes in lava zone 2 is Lloyds of London. I called them and I got a quote of $3,500 per year!!! I just about fell out of my chair. I am devastated!!! I am having a hard enough time dealing with, and figuring out how to afford the extra mortgage payments and now this happens. There was one more insurance company in the yellow pages that I had not called yet. The company is Liberty Mutual. The reason I mentioned them here is that they saved me from losing the house. They were willing to insure my house in lava zone 2 at a reasonable rate. The only requirement is that I have to insure all my homes and my cars with them. I agreed and have been with them ever since. I cannot complain as their rates are reasonable and my coverage is good. Since then I have been informed they have stopped writing policies in lava zone 2. They also told me that as long as I continue to insure all my homes and cars with them they will not drop the coverage on my Hawaii home.
The last item on my to-do list is I have to start looking for a property manager to rent my house for me. I am told I can get about $1,300 per month for rent. I had a tough time finding two property managers to interview. They don’t typically advertise and like most things in Hawaii I found them by word of mouth. I interviewed both and chose the one I felt was best at the time. It took her about two and a half months to find a tenant for my house. And I have had to reduce the rent to $850 per month. Things are finally settling down and I can relax now.
I dream of retirement and living on the Big Island in my house in Ocean View…
November 21st, 2010 Kona Dave
After a long conversation with my Real Estate Agent, Tom Edwards, I have decided that this cedar home is the one I want. I really want to place an offer on it without looking at it first. But my common sense has taken over. I really need to fly over to see it. It is late 2005 and I have just started working for a new employer. I don’t have any vacation time yet and I just happen to be low on cash. I went online and checked out the airfares. It is Tuesday and I cannot fly out until Friday evening or Saturday morning. To save one night hotel cost I fly out Saturday morning and I fly back Sunday evening. Airfare was about $1,100.00 roundtrip. Hotel is $150.00 and the car cost me $60.00. Never fly last minute if you can help it! Saturday morning I flew out and after landing in Kona I rented my car. Instead of going to the hotel and checking in I drove straight to the house. Tom is going to meet me there. The drive is about 50 miles and took almost 2 hours. It seemed like it took all day to get there. To say that I was excited is an understatement.
It feels like time is standing still. I finally reach Ocean View and turn into the subdivision. So far I’m not very impressed. I am starting to think this subdivision is not for me. Yet as I drive deeper into it I am beginning to see the beauty I missed when I first turned in. As I continue downhill towards the ocean I crested the hill. That’s when I saw it. I stopped the car. I had to. I saw one of the most beautiful ocean views I have ever seen! I looked around me for a few minutes taking it all in. To be honest I was all of the sudden struck with the beauty of the area. I was completely overcome with emotion. After a few minutes I realize I am going to be late if I don’t get going. I started back down the road and within a few minutes I pulled into the driveway. Tom and his son greeted me. The cedar house is more beautiful in person than in pictures. Tom opened the place up and showed me around. This was as great inside as it was outside. The quality of the build and the care and craftsmanship that went into building this house is apparent.
I decided right there to make an offer. After I told Tom to make the offer I went back outside and walked around the yard. The house sits on 3 acres. Three acres is alot. Then I walked to the back of the house and there it was again. There was that beautiful ocean view I saw earlier. And all of the sudden a still feeling came over me. It was so quiet there. I got the chills and became overwelmed with emotion again. That is when I realized that I was home. This place is my home. I don’t know how better to explain it. For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere. I belong in Ocean View.
November 11th, 2010 Kona Dave
At this time I have refinanced my house in California and I now have the down payment for a house on the Big island of Hawaii. It won’t be in Kona as I my dream started out. But I’ll be able to visit Kona anytime I want. I have narrowed down my choice of subdivisions to the ones in the Ocean View area. I checked out Discovery Harbour, Green Sands, Mark Twain, etc. Ocean View has a couple of grocery stores, a couple of gas stations, a couple of restaurants, an ACE Hardware store and numerous other necessities. Ocean View appears to be where I want to retire and live a quiet, simple life. I can find homes far from neighbors and close to town, perfect!
Now I need to find a real estate agent to help me. I ran a search in the MLS listings and I chose 4 or 5 houses that look interesting to me. I took the next big step. I attempt to make contact via e-mail. I e-mailed the 4 or 5 listing agents of the homes I want to know more about. I waited for replies. And I waited. And I waited. A week goes by and no replies. I figure either my e-mails were not delivered or these people are REALLY busy. I decide to call them and I left a message for each of them. And guess what? Not one returned my call. Now what do I do? I want to buy a house and no one wants to help me. I started calling the larger real estate companies and I got a hold of 2 agents that were willing to help me. I explained to them that I am ready to buy and that I need someone to help me by checking out 3 or 4 houses and letting me know if they are worth buying. I told them if I could find one or two excellent houses I will fly out and make an offer on one if I like it. They both agree to help me. Also, they both ask me if I want them to send me daily listings of the available houses according to my criteria. I agree and I start getting listings but they were not the same even though they both used the same criteria. I called both back and asked them to look at the 4 or 5 homes I was interested in. The first agent balked and said he was busy and would get to it if he could. The second agent I called agreed to look at the homes and said he would call back in two days. Two days go by and I am as anxious as a kid on Christmas morning before opening presents. Then 3 days go by. then 4 days. I called him on the 5th day and left him a message. I never heard back from him. But he keeps sending me daily listings. Now what do I do? I have contacted 7 different agents and none of them will return my calls and e-mails. Did I say or do something wrong?
As it turns out I found out from my friend that it is common for mainlanders to contact real estate agents in Hawaii. And more often than not the agent runs around looking at houses for them and then the mainlanders either lose interest or find they can’t make their dream come true. So it is common for agents to not return calls no matter how convincing you might be. They are likely to deal with you if you already have purchased a plane ticket or if you are already there. But even if you are planning to fly over they won’t waste much time with you until you arrive. They need to see you are serious about buying a house. So how can I show them I am serious? I do not want to make several trips to the Big Island to look at homes just to determine if the houses I see in the listings fit my criteria. I really thought a good real estate agent would be willing to do this for me because I am serious about buying a house there. My real estate agent in Arizona was more than happy to do this for me. And I bought two houses out there and he benefited from our arrangement. All I need is for someone who is honest to go to the house(s) that look good in the listings and in photos and check to see if there is structural damage, look at the roof to see if it looks decent and see if the place is turnkey ready. And if it is not turnkey ready then what work does it need to get that way. I guess that is too much to ask.
But in my mind it was NOT too much to ask. In the meantime the houses I was interested in were either no longer on the market or already had an offer in place. One night while doing some research on the web I found an advertisement for a home in the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates (HOVE) that was in my price range. But the ad was over 2 years old. I figure, what the hell, I have nothing to lose. I e-mailed the agent in the listing. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that he replied quickly and seemed eager to help me find a house. His name is Tom Edwards and I found him to be down to earth and honest. Which is why I am giving him a plug here. His website is http://www.kauhomes.com. If you are interested in the Ka’u and Kona areas please don’t hesitate to contact him. He is the best! Anyway, he explained to me that the house I saw advertised was no longer available and then asked me what I was looking for. I wrote him back and detailed what I was looking for and asked him if he was willing to do the footwork for me that I need. I sent him 3 listings I was interested in. One of which was his listing for a blue house in the Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos (HOVR). He wrote back and explained that two of the houses were in poor shape and that the blue house was in excellent shape. I have to say the blue house was NICE! Now I had a house I was interested in and was in good shape and worth a trip out to look at and make an offer on.
That is when my luck (what little I have ever had) struck. The very next day a cedar house was listed in the MLS and it looked BEAUTIFUL!!! It was in HOVR which was another plus for me since it is on 3 acres. I wrote Tom and he wrote back and said this house was one of the nicest houses in the Ranchos and was turnkey ready.
I immediately made my plans to fly out and look at the house.
November 11th, 2010 Kona Dave
Searching through the MLS listings in the Ka’u District brought up numerous homes in my price range. Most of which were fee simple, permitted and in decent shape. At least they appeared to be in decent shape from their pictures. Some did not have pictures, though. Every listing stated which subdivision the home was in. Searches on the Internet brought up little about the subdivisions. And I had to look up the address or road so I could see the general area the house was in. Most of the time Mapquest couldn’t find the address or road, just the general vicinity. Needless to say this made things somewhat difficult to decide if the house was worth researching deeper.
There were other things mentioned in the listings. They mentioned the house was bulit on post and pier or slab on grade. Post and pier construction means the house is built on stilts. Research showed that this is the traditional method for constructing homes. Post and Pier construction allows the trade winds to flow under the house which seems to help keep it cooler. Also, it allows for fewer places for insects and pests to enter the house. Slab on grade houses appeared to be a little cheaper and allows for more places for insects and pests to enter the home. Even though either type of construction is fine with me, I decided I wanted a post and pier constructed home. Now if I could only find a house I liked.
Another thing that was mentioned in the MLS listings is that all the houses were on “Catchment Systems”. My research uncovered that most of the subdivisions in Ka’u are not serviced by the County of Hawaii with water supply and sewer services. Huh? How can it be that people live without water and sewer hookups? It seems that most homes have cesspools. If you know anything about lava, any liquid you pour on top of it will filter down and disappear. So digging a hole under the house and capping it with concrete makes the perfect cesspool. Now, catchment is a different story altogether. Every house has a 6,000 to 10,000 gallon water tank on the property. And every house has rain gutters that are piped directly to the water tank. So when it rains the water is caught and dumped into the tank. Combine this with an on-demand water pump and you get running water. The pump turns on as soon as you open a faucet or flush a toilet.
Some of the listings also tout that the house is at the perfect elevation. Why should I care? I’ll tell you why I should care. Because at night it gets cold above about 2500 feet or so. Cold? In Hawaii? If it gets cold above 2500 feet then how cold does it get at 4000-5000 feet? I see some houses are up at that elevation. There is no natural gas on the island. And propane and electricity is VERY expensive. So each home is built without air conditioning and heating. All of these homes have huge picture windows facing the direction that the trade winds blow in from. So houses stay relatively cool during the day. So how do people heat their houses at the higher elevations? Wood burning stoves. Now I know I don’t want a house above 2500 feet.
Another thing I learned is what is known as lava zones. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has developed a map of how the lava from the currently dormant volcanoes MAY flow if they were to erupt. This map is colored and numbered 1-6. Where the lava flows numbered with a 1 are predicted to be the most likely to occur IF the volcano erupts. And those flows numbered with a 6 are least likely predicted to have lava flow if one of the volcanoes erupt. While this is very interesting, I really don’t care. Everyone on the Big Island lives on the side of a volcano. And to the best of my knowledge very few people have been killed by lava on the Big Island. This is because the eruptions of the volcanoes on the Big Island have very slow moving lava. One can out walk a typical lava flow. So who cares? As it turns out later it will be quite significant to me and my dream to buy a home in Hawaii.
November 10th, 2010 Kona Dave
At this point I am starting to learn a few things. First thing I learned is the cheaper the house the farther away from Kona or Hilo the house is. And it seems the cheaper houses are much closer to Hilo than the cheaper houses are close to Kona. I found that I can find inexpensive homes (relatively speaking) within 15 miles of Hilo. But to find a similarly priced home near Kona I had to look at least 45-50 miles away. Then it hit me, the island is divided in half by the volcanos. The Hilo (east) side of the island gets a lot of rain (~125 inches/year) and is green, lush and beautiful. The Kona (west) side is bleak, stark black lava fields with little growth and vegetation. The weather is sunny and warm and it rarely rains on that side. I really love Kona. It is the quintesential sleepy, laid back retirement community (except for all the tourists). At this time in my life I didn’t like or appreciate Hilo and that side of the island. Yes it is green and lush, but it can be dark a lot and it rains a lot. Plus Hilo Town looks quite old and run down. More on Hilo later. Being born and raised in SoCal I enjoyed the sun, warmth, lack of rain and the starkness of the deserts. Kona side it is.
Which districts do I look in? There are 5 districts that are considered on the dry side of the Big Island. They are North Kona, South Kona, North Kohala, South Kohala and Ka’u. Through my previous searches it looks like North Kona and South Kona is out of my price range. I started looking in North Kohala and South Kohala. At the time, even North Kohala, as far from Kona as it is, has higher priced real estate. There were a few properties available but they were all fixers and in bad shape. And to my surprise there was nothing available in South Kohala. This leaves only the Ka’u District.
November 10th, 2010 Kona Dave
My first adventure into the MLS listings for the Big Island was a lesson in futility. Of course the first area (and about the only area) I knew to look in was North Kona. And of course the prices were way too high for what we could afford. So I started to search into the areas north and south of Kona. All of the sudden I started seeing houses in my price range in Ka’u and Puna. I even found a few houses I could afford in the South Kona District. But most of those were either fixer uppers or way too small.
One thing I noticed about the houses there were the colors in which they were painted. Here in SoCal most of the houses are painted muted and pale colors. The homes I was looking at were bright greens, blues, yellows, pinks, etc. And the metal roofs sometimes clashed with the house color. A lot of the houses were post and pier construction. Some were sold as-is and some had owner financing. There were fee simple and leasehold. I had no idea what fee simple and leasehold meant so I looked it up. Even though buying a house on leased land is cheaper, I want to own the land the house is on. There were even unpermitted homes and homes with unpermitted attachments.
I started searching for homes in my price range. I started in North Kona and got zero hits. I tried South Kona and I got 3 hits. One house was a fixer upper in bad shape. The next one was nice but was on leased land and the lease was up in 5 years. The third one was, kinda, sorta, well maybe it was, to be honest it was indescribable!!! The best way to describe it is it looked like a flying saucer from outer space! It truly looked like something I would see on Star Trek (Original Series). AMAZING!!! I’m not a dedicated Trekkie but I could see myself living in this spaceship. The best part of all, the house was well within my price range. There was a red flag though, the listing stated “Owner Financing Available”. This usually means the house is unpermitted, DARN!
It probably wouldn’t have worked out any way because my wife is not a Trekkie and she would not want to live in a spaceship.
December 25th, 2008 Kona Dave
I needed to find a map of the Big Island and all of the subdivisions. I went online and found what I was looking for. Then it occurred to me, I don’t know the first thing about living in Hawai’i and I don’t know the neighborhoods nor the weather patterns. It is very frustrating when you want to find out information on a neighborhood but you don’t know where to find it. Even the Internet does not have good solid information on these subdivisions. Oh well, I shelved the idea for a while.
We purchased our next investment property in Arizona. It was at this point that we received a recommendation to re-fi our current home and buy one more property. My wife and I discussed this possibility and we decided that the next house should be where we want to retire. For many months we discussed several areas that appealed to us. We talked about staying in SoCal since our friends and family are here. We decided we had enough of SoCal. We discussed Northern California as well as New Mexico and the Las Vegas area.
Even though my wife doesn’t like the heat we talked seriously about Vegas because my union had built some low cost housing for retirees there and it looked like some place we could really afford. At this point it was early 2005 and we had not been to Las Vegas for many years prior. Boy, did we get a rude awakening when we went there for 3 days! It was not only built up much more than we were last there but they were building out just like SoCal and it was scary. Not only that but the one ugly thing about SoCal when you fly in is the brown haze that covers everything. When we drove into Las Vegas I saw that familiar brown haze only it was worse!
That basically left New Mexico (my wife’s preference) and Northern California (my preference). We studied the New Mexico areas for a while and found thatÂ the popular retirement areas were built up accordingly in the areas we were interested in. So we turned to Northern California and found that there was still pristine areas we could afford to live in that were not too built up. Believe it or not it was mid 2005 and by the time we re-financed and started looking seriously through the MLS listings we found the affordable places were no longer within our price range.
By this time I was feeling a little dimayed. We could afford another home in early 2005 and now where we were looking to buy was out of our reach 6 months later. One night I was just cruising the Net when I found the Hawai’i MLS Listing site. So I starting searching for houses expecting to see beautiful out of reach properties. I started looking on Oahu and realized I was looking at SoCal all over again. It made no sense to me to move to Oahu when it was so much like where I wanted to leave. So I started looking on Maui and Kauai. It didn’t take long to see that there was not much available for under $1 Million on Maui. What was available was a 1 bedroom condo with a mountain view, not even an ocean view! Looking through the Kauai listings was a mixed bag. While there were very old homes that needed work within our price range the new houses being built at the time were coming in just within our reach. But they would not be ready for quite a few months down the road. Then I started to think about living on Kauai. I am not one that needs a lot of things or to be constantly entertained. But let’s face it, Kauai is a very small island with few roads. To be honest, I feel it is by far the most beautiful of the islands but for me I just could not envision myself living there. I think it is just a little too remote for my taste.
That is when it dawned on me, I am SO DUMB! The big island is my favorite island yet I was not even dreaming of buying a home there. So I started searching the MLS listings and OMG!
To be continued…
November 17th, 2007 Kona Dave
This is part 2 in the continuation of my last post during our vacation in Hawaii in September 2004.
While my wife and I were on vacation on the Big Island we stayed at our favorite hotel the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua-Kona. The hotel is right on the water and many of the rooms have an ocean view. When we stay there we leave our balcony door open all night so the sound of the ocean will put us to sleep. If you have never fallen asleep to the sound of the ocean and the sensation of the trade winds blowing over you, you must do so at some time in your life. There is nothing more relaxing and your attitude towards life will never quite be the same.
At breakfast one day in our favorite local eatery we started to discuss buying a second single family residence for investment purposes and renting it out. We discussed numerous places that we should seriously look. We decided that Phoenix was the best place as it would be close to our other investment property. Also, it is close enough that we could drive there and my wife has family there so all around it seemed like the best place to buy. Of course the subject came up about it being nice if we could afford a house there in Kona.
I think it was at this point that the beauty of Hawaii had taken us over and we really started to feel like it was home to us. Of course we knew we couldn’t afford a house in Kona or any where in Hawaii. But I decided that I was going to pick up every free real estate magazine I could find. All over Kona you will find newspaper stands with these free real estate advertising magazines. If you have never seen one of these they are beautifully done with thick glossy pages and each picture could be used on a travel poster for the islands. Brief descriptions of each property are included along with a head shot of the realtor who is listing the property. It’s funny that I have met quite a few realtors in the last few years and the pictures they use of themselves are either totally re-touched or 20 years old! LOL No offense to anyone but I find it amusing.
I don’t want to get too sappy here but this particular trip was not just spectacular, it was moving to me. I have lived all my life in Southern California and when I plan to travel to Hawaii I can hardly wait to leave SoCal. On other trips to other locations it is always nice to get back home. But when it is time to leave Hawaii I always feel like I am leaving my home. And I don’t want to go back to Southern California. But this time is was very hard for me to leave Hawaii.
On the plane flight back to the mainland I scoured through all of the property magazines and found that the biggest and most expensive homes are near the front and back covers. The ads get smaller as you get near the middle and once in a while you catch a glimpse of a piece of property or a home that seems to be advertised at a price that is too good to be true. The biggest problem is they list the homes in a sub-division and I have no idea where these sub-divisions are. The seed has been planted…
To be continued.
November 9th, 2007 Kona Dave
In September 2004 we went on vacation to our favorite place, the Big Island of Hawai’i. We have vacationed on the Main Island of Oah’u, Maui and Kauai as well as Hawai’i. There are two other islands that see some of the vacation crowd, Moloka’i and Lanai. We have not visited these islands but we look forward to spending quality time on both islands eventually. Out of the 4 islands we have visited we found that the Big Island of Hawai’i was the one island that captured our heads and hearts. Without realizing it we kept going back to the Big Island even though the other islands are more popular. Here is my take on the 4 islands we have visited.
We found that Oah’u was nice but it was like living in Southern California only with better weather. As you drive away from the big cities, Oah’u has beauty that can only be found in the state of Hawai’i. This is when I fell in love with Hawai’i. It is too bad this island is so crowded and over built. This island has the best beaches in the world. If you want to be close to people and you want to live where there is great night life, then Oah’u is GREAT!
By far Maui has the best combination of beaches, water related sports, tourist traps and eateries in the state! That is why it appears to have the most expensive real estate prices of any of the islands. When I first looked at condos on Maui I found prices starting at $800K+. Occasionally I see a condo that is selling for less but I think you need at least a Million to buy in.
Kauai is by far the most beautiful of the islands we visited. The most spectacular waterfalls and rain forests in the world are located here. The island is small, laid back and the beaches are spectacular. There is not a lot to do except take in the beauty and everything closes up when it gets dark.
The island of Hawai’i is commonly called the Big Island. And it is quite large. The interesting and confusing part of Hawai’i is that it is an island in the County of Hawai’i that is in the state of Hawai’i. So from now on I will refer to it as the Big Island. This island is the most diverse of all the islands. There are 11 out of a total of 13 climatic zones there. This includes arrid desert and snow capped volcanos. The earliest recorded Hawaiian history is on this island and for me it is by far the most interesting.
The Big Island is where I dream of living some day.
November 9th, 2007 Kona Dave
It started in October 1999. I bought my first house. It is located in Southern California where I still reside. I bought it during the real estate boom at a price that I felt was a little too high. After we moved in my wife and I started discussing our future and what to do about our retirement. We discussed staying here and paying off the house and we discussed the possibility of moving somewhere that the cost of living is more reasonable.
We looked at Northern California, Arizona, Florida, Idaho and Las Vegas. While Arizona looked attractive to me, we compromised on Las Vegas. The labor union I belonged to built a mobile home park there and it looked like the best bet for us to retire there, financially speaking. When we looked at Vegas as the place we wanted to retire to we were pretty excited. Let’s face it, Las Vegas is is an exciting city. At that time the housing boom had just taken hold there and the smog was bad only a few days a year. In hindsight I can say it was a good idea at the time. I cannot believe how much it has grown in just the last few years.
November 8th, 2007 Kona Dave
Welcome to Dream Kona, my weblog of my odyssey about making my dream of living in Hawai’i come true. I have always thought about living in Hawai’i but I never imagined I could make it happen. This is my first post so forgive me if it is mostly fluff.
I will be posting my thoughts and processes that I took and will take towards my ultimate goal of moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i. I have vacationed on 4 of the islands numerous times and I have loved every minute of being there. I cannot describe the feeling I get when I first step off the plane and feel the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the tradewinds against my face. I feel like I have arrived home. When I have to leave to go back to the real world I feel depressed and wish I had the courage to just up and quit my job and sell my house and move there and live a simple, unassuming and low stress lifestyle.
I have lived in Southern California all of my life and I don’t know what it is like to live in the snow belt or anywhere that has 4 real seasons. I do know that living here has been wonderful and I feel lucky to have had this experience. Like all things that never stay the same, it is time for a change. I feel that the area where I live is no longer as desirable as it once was. I feel closed in and crowded. The cities here erect traffic signals on every corner because traffic has increased beyond the orginal design capacities of the streets. The people here yell and scream and threaten each other on their way to work every day. I am the type of driver that speeds and I no longer drive fast enough for the people around me. Life is getting faster paced and more complicated while I am slowing down a bit and wishing for a more simple life.
This is an attempt to document my thoughts, my plans, my actions and my mishaps along this odyssey of moving to Hawai’i. Please feel free to contact me and/or post here on my blog about anything you are curious about or would like to comment about. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.