Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Preparing for your Hawaii Move -- Access to Goods and Services

In preparing to move to Hawaii, particularly outer islands, you want to eliminate as many surprises as possible.  What I mean is, you need to do your research to learn what items (food and supplies) are readily available in Hawaii and what can affordably be ordered and shipped here.  
  • Foods/Restaurants
  • Stores/Shopping
  • Special shoes, clothing, or anything else that can't be found at Macy's or Target
  • Lack of healthcare providers and access to specialists
If you can't live without Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and you're moving to the Big Island then you might want to rethink your stance (either about your move or figure out what stores you can shop at).  Costco is nearly two hours away from the east side.  So if you're weekly shopping trips currently involve Costco, bear that in mind.  The nearest Whole Foods is on Maui and there are zero Trader Joes stores here (and likely none in the future).  On the plus side, there are fabulous farmers markets just about everywhere.  Additionally, there are some top independent health food stores that will meet many of your needs.  Amazon Subscribe and Save is also very useful (although watch your prices).

If you are more than a DD bra size or wear plus size clothing, your options will be limited.  Research your mail order sources now and make sure they ship to Hawaii (many companies flat out refuse to ship to Alaska and Hawaii) 
Large feet?  Good thing Nordstrom's has you covered and ships.  Figure out how you are going to resolve these issues before you make the move.  Personally, if you are a plus size, I recommend Love Your Peaches for both swimwear and clothing.  Junonia.com is an excellent source for intimates and sportswear and I purchase my sports bras from Enell.com

You can't go without having your weekly dining experience at Red Robin?  You are going to be disappointed.  Maybe even frustrated enough to get you thinking about moving back to the mainland.  I have heard people speak of this as a real issue.  So ask yourself some tough questions before you commit to the move and start doing your research now.    

Lack of Healthcare providers

If you need access to specialist care, you need to be aware there is a physician shortage on the Big Island.  Diabetic?  There are no endocrinologists here.  The only listings I found were on Oahu.  This is true of any of the outer islands and it is not uncommon for you to have to fly to Oahu for most specialist care, so be aware. Health care plans used to cover this travel cost, however I understand that since Obamacare was enacted, those flights are no longer paid for by insurance companies.  

There is also a lack of Family Practice physicians and I have heard it is difficult to find a primary care physician.  Thankfully, the local hospital began a residency program a couple of years ago and they have a great clinic.  So access to basic care is improving.  

You need to work now toward achieving the best health you can.

The top three reasons people move back to the mainland are (not in order):
  • Lack of jobs/low pay
  • Being too far away from family and friends
  • Miss the stores/restaurants on the mainland
Regarding the lack of jobs and low pay...

You need to think differently about earning money here.  You need to understand the local market and compensation.  

I am currently earning 50% of my mainland job doing similar work as an analyst, rather than a department manager.  For my line of work, there is literally one employer within an hour of my home.  Jobs with my skill set are needed, but are few and far between.  You need adaptable skills and you need to be willing to work at any job just to get your foot in the door.  And you better act like you like it.  I researched and closely observed the job market for my field for ten years before we made the move.  I subscribed to a Google feed for my future employer and received daily updates in my email inbox every time they were in the news.  I watched the job listings weekly for the last four years. This helped me fully understand how often jobs in my specialty came available and what I could expect in terms of compensation. 

Figure out how to live well on less money and make a realistic budget.  Find ways to supplement your earnings with a side job.  How hard are you willing to work to make your dreams come true?

Missing Family and Friends

I am not sure I have any solid advice on living away from your family -- I brought mine with me -- but if you have close friends or family members that will be far away, I would suggest you think very carefully how you will resolve those issues prior to moving.  Maybe even doing something crazy like not visiting family during the holidays one year to see how it feels, or skipping some big annual get together to truly experience what being apart feels like.  

Traveling back home for vacations does work but it is clearly not the same or it wouldn't be one of the top reasons people move back to the mainland.  With numbers like that, you have to seriously take into consideration how you will feel.  Grandkids especially can be a more powerful draw than wanting to live in paradise and I think this comes as a shock to people.

Achieving your goal of moving to Hawaii is possible, but you need to work hard now to be successful.


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