“We are going to move here someday”
Those were the very first words I uttered walking through the Honolulu International Airport in 2004. My wife chuckled (this was not the first time or place she heard me say this) but I realized that there was something different and unique about Hawaii as a balmy tropical breeze blew over me in the open concourse. Years of stress from work and 11 hours at 35,000 feet faded away and I felt a strange feeling of familiarity, as if I was returning home.
We chose Hawaii as our vacation destination that year because we wanted to travel with our girls, both young adults at the time and still living at home, but one loved the beach, the other loved the buzz of the city and shopping. Hawai’i seemed like a good compromise. Waikiki has world class beaches and a downtown shopping area a block away resembling a tropical 5th Ave, NYC. We also planned a Maui visit on the same trip.
We spent a day relaxing and then I spent the next week and a half excitedly asking every person who would listen about where the most affordable real estate in Hawai’i was. I quickly discovered that Oahu was way over any budget I could have considered and Maui was not far behind. That left Kauai and Hawai’i Island. Since our plans that year did not include a visit to the Big Island we focused on unwinding and enjoying our current trip while finding out as much as we could about Hawai’i, moving here, and how our life would change. We also decided that we would return the following year to visit another island.
We returned home and I spent time researching properties for sale on the Big Island because that seemed to be most aligned with our budget and Kauai while beautiful just seemed a bit small. We arrived at the Kailua-Kona airport in 2005 (“Wow! It looks like we’re landing on the moon!”) and after looking at several potential properties we purchased an empty lot in the Ka’u district. Our plan was to build on this lot when I retired which was several decades away.
Fast forward ten years to 2015. The “Hawaii Life” TV series was a huge hit with us. We loved watching the featured clients go through the process of selecting and purchasing their future piece of paradise. There were several episodes of “Hawaii Life” featuring the Big Island which really caught our attention. We still owned our original building lot but we were surprised to see that there were houses available at unexpectedly affordable prices. We gave Hawaii Life a call and were put in contact with one of their agents, now a friend and colleague, who immediately went to work finding us a home. When we arrived we met with our agent and saw several properties that looked promising. At the time we were looking at the bottom end of the price range at homes we could afford to purchase with cash. That didn’t work out - my wife helped me to appreciate that I really didn’t want to spend all our vacation time in Hawaii fixing a house since much of my time in NJ was spent doing the same so we upped our budget a bit. We had to return to NJ but our agent continued the search sending us pictures and videos of properties that she thought would work for us. Eventually, after several potential properties fell through, a house turned up that checked all the boxes for us and we quickly moved forward on it. We returned to Hawaii Island in 2016 and closed on our new Hawaii home.
Our plan was to vacation in Hawai’i and retire here ‘some day’ since I was working full time as a software engineering consultant in New York City. However, the long term project that I was on ended and I found a new fully remote position. With no remaining excuses we set a target date and began preparing for a 4800 mile move. We moved in the fall of 2019 and are now living full time in Hawaii.
We love Hawai’i. We chose the Big Island because it is lush and full of nature. It is a slow, relaxing pace in contrast to the hectic Northeast that we came from. There is room to spread out, we cannot see our neighbors’ houses or smell what they’re having for dinner. I plan to get back into cycling and running and the weather here makes outdoor activities a pleasure. Hilo has a certain ‘old world’ charm that is irresistible. Driving north through Hamakua affords breathtaking vistas of tropical jungles giving way to spectacular ocean cliffs. Driving south through lower Puna to Kalapana you can see Pele’s work up close and personal. Living in a tropical paradise helps you discover new interests and pursuits that add richness and joy to life. Life in paradise is easy to get used to.
I decided to share my love of Hawai’i and desire to help others by leaving technology and pursuing real estate as my career. Let me help you find the same joy and satisfaction that I was able to achieve.