10 Things You Must Know Before Moving to Hawaii

Before moving to Hawaii, I was told many different things from people who had visited, or lived here decades ago.  The main stories included horrible cockroaches, and traffic being even worse. And although I have seen plenty of cockroaches here, and have spent literally hours in traffic some nights, there’s plenty of other things to note that I wasn’t warned about.

  1. Being surrounded by the ocean, obviously means that seafood is a staple.  As a very picky eater, who doesn’t like seafood, this is a challenge.  I can usually suffice on the rice sides if I need to, but if you like seafood, you’ll fit right in here. Also, since moving here I’ve gotten really good at using chopsticks, because sometimes it is the only option available.
  2. This is a very diverse area.  There is a huge population of Japanese people, as well as native Hawaiians.  Those two being the highest, white people are a minority here.  I haven’t experienced anything negative as a white person here, but I do know people who have.  The Japanese influence is very apparent in the restaurants, clothing, and art.
  3. I wrote another post about Hawaiian Lingo, but since moving here I’ve noticed changes in my speech.  Back in Wisconsin, we like the long /a/ sound.  But here, they prefer the short /a/ sound.  I’ve gotten good at correcting myself when I mispronounce an /a/, but it did take a bit.  I also have noticed that after phrases, I say “yeah” instead of saying something like “right” or “correct”.  That’s very common here, so I guess I just picked it up over time.
  4. Being an island, there are a lot of things that aren’t here.  I really want to go to Ulta, Hobby Lobby, and Aldi when I’m back in Wisconsin, because we don’t have those stores here.  And don’t even remind me about The Dollar Tree -I miss it so much!  Or, the other issue, is that there may be the store that you want here, but only one,  and only located in the largest mall in Honolulu.  I have to plan my Barnes and Noble trips accordingly because as much as I love B&N, I hate going to that huge mall just for that.
  5. The cost of living here is extremely high.  Dairy products especially are pricey, so I have to limit my cereal eating.  Even a loaf of bread is honestly $5.00 if it’s not from Costco.  Gas prices are higher than the mainland.  Parking anywhere is usually not free (one time I seriously had to pay $8.00/hour to park in downtown Waikiki).  And rent prices are astounding! Hence why we live with roommates.  Even my Starbucks order costs more here than on the mainland.
  6. Due to the cost of living, homelessness is a huge problem here.  On my daily walk to Starbucks, I see multiple people sleeping on the sidewalks.  It’s very saddening, but understandable considering the cost to live here comfortably.  My mom was surprised by this when she visited recently, because back home in Wisconsin homelessness isn’t as apparent -yes it’s still an issue there too, but not to the magnitude that it is here.
  7. Cockroaches aren’t that bad, but the ants are.  I’ve lost potted plants to ants who have decided to move in.  If students leave any food in our classroom over night, it’ll attract ants quickly, and I’ll have a mess to clean up the next morning.  Yes, I’ve seen cockroaches the size of mice, but never inside, and never in swarms like the ants.
  8. Something that makes it difficult to live here with family on the mainland, is the time difference.  This was a struggle when T and I were long distance, so I anticipated it when I moved here. Essentially if I want to call my family I need to do it on a weekend day in the morning.  I can’t call during the week days because before I go to work, they are working, and when I’m done with work, they are sleeping.  Even to text them, I have to be mindful of the time, because half my family will wake up to the text notification.
  9. As I write this, it’s mid-December and it’s still around 85 degrees everyday here.  Obviously there’s no snow.  I wasn’t prepared for how weird it feels to have sunshine and heat at this point in the year.  I’m not going to lie, I hate snow, so I’m completely fine with it, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s almost Christmas.
  10. There comes a point when you realize that you’re literally stuck on an island 2000 miles away from anything.  The Hawaiian islands are some of the most isolated.  Even though it’s an island, I will say that it’s bigger than people think.  But also small enough that everything is attainable.  Want to go to North Shore? It’s just a short drive.  Want to go to the capital? That’s just 25 minutes away.

Yes, the traffic is a huge complaint of mine (and everyone else), but there are a lot of other things that people forgot to mention when I was considering moving here.  I am still loving every minute here -soaking in the sun while I can.  The perks to living here outweigh the cons, but when the time to move back to the Mainland eventually comes, I wont have to worry about some of these issues.

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