I’ll do a couple of posts over the next few days to answer questions that came through email about living in Hawaii. Sorry I cannot answer your email unless I post it here – that way the answers can be shared by everyone that reads the blog, not just the one person through email. This email is from someone that visited Lahaina, Maui some time ago…
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My name is Joana. I currently live in NJ. I visited Maui, Lahaina to be exact, about 5 years ago on a vacation. I have always loved tropical areas and the island feel but as soon as I got to Hawaii I was in love and I’ve been attempting to get back out there to live ever since. I’m searching around for jobs, and apartments or houses to rent, in the different islands but it’s very confusing. I saw your webpage and see that your a local and was wondering if I could get some feedback from you, i.e. what islands are the most affordable but not big city atmosphere and with the most opportunities for jobs? I’m going to school for marine biology but I have experience in the restaurant/hospitality industry so I’m thinking of looking for jobs in the bigger hotel corporations until I get on my feet and can pursue marine biology. My friend and I are looking to move by August 1. Is there any information you have that could be helpful?
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Well, I’m not a local anymore, just want to set that straight for everyone. I do have friends in the islands and we keep in close contact. I created this site because I wanted to share what I do know about life in Hawaii, but I don’t know everything. Especially when it comes to helping people with specific circumstances, like marine biologists looking for jobs. I wish I could tell you exactly where to go to get jobs. I did post a job board article recently, they might have some jobs available.
I think most people want to move to a Hawaii that is not that crowded, retains some of the old world charm, and yet has jobs aplenty. That’s a fantasy that so many people have bought into, but it just doesn’t exist. Oahu has a lot of jobs, and yet, if you are not skilled in one of the areas that have openings, you won’t find it easy to get a job at all. With the exception of entry-level jobs, like waitress, sales, cold-calling, handing out brochures and other easy tasks. It is difficult for some people with their skill-set to find long-term, permanent, decent paying, secure, stable jobs in Hawaii. It is very hard to find that on islands other than Oahu.
Oahu has heaps of people. The island is 597 square miles in area and has 953,000+ residents, and many visitors each year. It is overcrowded, in my personal opinion. It is overbuilt in many areas. It is not really the paradise of peace and relaxation that many people think they’re getting when they go over for a visit. Most people enjoy the other islands more… Maui and Big Island seem almost livable to most people. Are they? Yes, and no.
Jobs are at a premium, as I said. Things to do, outside of outdoor activities like snorkeling, climbing mountains, diving, swimming, running, playing sports, etc… are not abundant. It is a different lifestyle that you really need to try to see – can you make it long-term, or not? Most people I think cannot make it for more than 3-5 years max. Just guessing, but I’d say that 50% of those moving to Oahu, move elsewhere in the mainland before a year is over. Probably 70% of those moving to Maui, Kauai, or Big Island, move away before staying a year. These are wild guesses, but probably not too far off.
Joana, if you are moving to Hawaii and think you’ll pursue college in marine biology later, it is likely just not going to happen while you are working as a waitress. It is hard enough to work in Hawaii as a waitress and just pay your bills. You will likely not be able to pay for going to university as well. Maybe you have some help from parents, or will take student loans, but still – not sure you’ll be able to pull that off. Just being realistic about it. Could you, working REALLY hard and doing 2 jobs and scrimping on everything, pull it off? Probably. I’m just saying, it isn’t likely. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that life in Hawaii makes everything possible. It doesn’t. I think many people fool themselves into believing that once there, it will all take care of itself… opportunities will present themselves, and life will go on merrily. I don’t think anyone living in the Hawaiian islands will tell you something like that.
Everyone that has made it work in Hawaii, I’m speaking about those that have moved there from the mainland USA or elsewhere in the world, has made it work for themselves. If you don’t have heaps of money to get moved and to support you once you’re there, you are going to struggle to make it work. If you are not a natural go-getter, and gregarious, you are going to find it hard to make it work in the islands.
Anyway, that’s my take on it. If you are willing to work yourself hard, you might be able to pull it off – and get your marine biology degree too. Otherwise, stay in the mainland, use your parents for support, and get your degree first before trying to live in the islands.
Here is a link to my free videos about living in Hawaii:
Moving to Hawaii chapter review of my book
Here is a link to my $5 book about living in Hawaii:
Best of life and luck to you…
[Image by lj16, a flickr.com member. Image is creative commons, by attribution.]