Inquiring minds want to know — and this is the place to find out. Here are some questions/answers you might find interesting or helpful. If you have a question you think should be here, please contact me so I can decide if it’s worth my time. Just kidding. I’ll almost certainly probably answer it. Definitely.
Had you ever been to Kauai before moving there?
This question is asked by locals and those back on the mainland *all the time*. The short answer? Nope. We visited Oahu twice – once in 1996 and again in 2012.
The long answer? The first time we came to Hawaii, we spent a week in Waikiki in late October. Egads. LOTS of people. And traffic. And Japanese. Apparently we decided to go during their annual holiday time. We had a great time eating steak at the fantastic steakhouse in the hotel every night, site seeing around the island in a convertible, visiting Pearl Harbor, eating pineapple at the Dole Plantation, and lying on the beach soaking up the sun.
Our next visit was in May of 2012. This time we went with my sister and her husband and stayed on the North Shore. That was like a different planet from the business of Waikiki. Our days were spent lying on the beach, swimming, snorkeling, and playing in the waves; eating shrimp from one of the local shrimp trucks every night and hitting up the local fruit stand for sliced mangos and pineapples every morning. It was this trip that got us thinking that we’d like to come back to the island to spend 6-12 months. Not a permanent move — just a delightfully long extended trip.
When it came time to make the move, we were bent on Oahu’s North Shore. But then that same sister called one day and said that we should really consider Kauai. They’d been here twice and loved it. I did a bit of research and once I found out there was at least a Walmart and Costco, we were sold and within a few days, we’d purchased our airline tickets and were frantically looking for a temporary rental.
Why did you decide to go to Kauai and not one of the other Hawaiian islands?
Besides the fact that my sister and her husband recommended it? I grew up in a tiny town on the very tip of Washington state. Neah Bay. Neah Bay is actually an indian reservation and apart from the local grocery store and post office, there was really nothing else there besides the glorious beaches, slowly winding rivers, rolling hills of tall evergreen trees, and the freedom of being able to be gone from sunup until sundown, riding my bike throughout the town and all the dirt roads around. I loved living there. And when I started looking at Kauai, I realized that the island was a lot like Neah Bay. Not too heavily populated, quiet, laid back, beaches with big rolling waves — but with a few more conveniences and warm weather year round.
As soon as we arrived I knew we’d made an excellent choice in coming to this island. I love the people here. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming. Life moves at a slower pace and with the absence of the big city life, it’s very peaceful. There are enough amenities to make life easy and we don’t feel deprived or lacking in any way.
Do you work somewhere there?
Nope! My husband and I are self-employed since 2005. We do web development and design and I do graphic design and other web-related things on the side. This supports us and allows us the flexibility of relocating to anyplace we’d like — as long as there is a good internet connection. When it came time to move to Kauai, we simply had to pack up our laptops and our jobs were ready to go.
Isn’t it REALLY expensive to live in Hawaii?
Yes and no. Our electricity rates are like the highest in the entire world. Ok, maybe not the world, but certainly in the US. Our recent electric bill was $280 and that was for something like 600 KW hours. I mean, that’s totally insane. We have no air conditioning and take only cold showers so it’s not like we’re sucking up the juice here. But with rates of $.43/KW hour, you can see that it adds up *very* quickly.
Gas isn’t too bad. In our travels around the US we actually have found that here is comparable to places like LA and Seattle. We actually do a lot less driving here since we no longer are driving to eat out or go to movies so a tank of gas lasts 2-3 times longer than it did before our move. So in that regard, gas is actually cheaper overall.
Food is a real toss-up. Some things are outrageous and others are maybe just a smidgen higher than the mainland. Luckily our diet (low-carb paleo with some dairy (cheese, sour cream, etc)) has us seeing the cheaper side of eating. We don’t buy milk so we’re not hit with sticker shock from that price (yeah, it’s pretty expensive) and other costly things like cereal and breads are just not purchased. We do most of our shopping at Costco and it is pretty much on par for Costco pricing back on the mainland.
However, housing is very expensive. We are paying as much for our rental (condo) as we did for the last house we owned that was 2-3 times bigger with a pool in the backyard (in Tucson). But since we spend a lot less money on gas and entertainment, it all evens out in the end.
So I’d have to say that overall, we’re not really spending anymore than we did when we lived on the mainland.
You shipped your vehicle there?
Yep! When we were discussing the nitty gritty of a move from our travel trailer to Hawaii, our Yukon was one of the areas we immediately agreed upon. It only cost us $1100 to ship it here from Seattle, WA and because there are not a lot of nice condition Yukons like ours on the island, should we decide to sell it, we’ll get it a higher price here than we would back on the mainland.
But we’ll never sell it. It’s a 99 Yukon Denali that we’ve put a TON of money into. We found out after we’d purchased it that it had been in some kind of wreck that caused front end damage and at this point, most everything but the engine itself has been replaced or repaired. We’ll never get out of it what we put into it and we both love it, so the Denali is with us for the long haul. Plus, it’s super handy having the 4-wheel drive should the mood strike to drive on the beach or down one of the countless muddy dirt roads around here.
So you really only took 4 suitcases with you?
We certainly did! Besides the obvious like our laptops and clothing for warm weather, we brought along our Wii (yes, we’re nerdy), a few different kitchen utensils and such, toiletries.. that’s about it. Once we arrived, we purchased anything we needed and since our temporary 3-month rental was furnished, we didn’t really need much.
Our condo is unfurnished so we had fun looking for bargains on Craigslist and in Costco, Kmart, Walmart, and Macy’s. But surprisingly – a good number of items have come via Amazon. We have a prime membership and that has paid for itself 100 times over by this point. We purchased our tempuredic type mattress and bed frame from Amazon and saved over 50% of what that would have cost locally. And had it at our door 3 days later at for zero shipping charge. Amazon rocks!
How long do you plan on staying there?
I can’t answer that question because we have no plans at this point. No plans on leaving, anyway. That being said, we are both nomadic at heart and we may wake up one day and find the urge to wander too strong to ignore. But at this point, we both love it here so much, we feel as though we’ve finally landed someplace we can stay for the foreseeable future.
I’ve already described how much I enjoyed Neah Bay as a child — Kauai is just a larger version of Neah Bay and I am supremely happy here. My hubby wakes up every day with a smile and says “I can’t believe we live in Hawaii!” He also beams from ear to ear when one of the sudden rain showers appear. He’s really truly happy. I’m really truly happy. We both want to stay here forever.
Must be nice to spend all day at the beach.
Yeah, I agree with that. I don’t know of anyone who spends all day at the beach — wait, are you thinking that since we live here that we spend all day, every day, at the beach? I wish. Like the majority of the population, we have to work for a living so our beach outings are not as frequent as we’d like them to be.
I’m also not lounging pool side while a buff Hawaiian cabana boy fans me with a giant palm frond as I sip on mango smoothies and virgin margaritas. Sure is a nice thought though. The relaxing part – not the cabana boy part. My husband is all the cabana boy I need. >wink<
Do either of you surf?
Um, no. And you won’t catch us trying. That sight would surely clear the beach for miles around and might cause a mass panic.
Can I come stay at your house?
That depends on who is asking. Friends and family members have an open invitation to come visit. Just get a plane ticket and we’ll pick you up and give you a nice guest room for the duration of your time here.
If you’re not a close friend or family member — awkward… Right? Let’s move on to another question.
Have you done anything like helicopter rides or other tourist activities?
Not yet but those are all on our future agenda. Helicopter to the Na Pali Coast. Catamaran sunset cruise. Snorkeling off the Forbidden Island (Niihau). Horseback riding on the beach. River rafting. Off-roading on 4 wheelers. Etc. So on. So forth.