If you live in Florida and are thinking about a move to Hawaii – this one is especially for you, though this really applies in many ways to anyone on the mainland. The article is an excerpt of an email written to another subscriber that is concerned about gun violence in public schools on the mainland and sees Hawaii as a better, safer place to live.
One of my subscribers I’ll call “Mr. B” moved to Hawaii in 2018 and got in touch with me before he moved here. We’ve stayed in touch since then and today I’m happy to call him my friend. We both go bodysurfing Makapuu on Saturdays when conditions are right and chat back and forth on a regular basis.
He moved to Hawaii from Florida and he recently included me on me an email he was so gracious to write to my other subscriber and describes his experiences and views on Hawaii, Florida, gun violence, and how his live has changed. I think it’s priceless. Read on and let me know what you think!
Mr. B, his family, and the move
We are in our 30s with two children. We moved everything except our cars including our dog (which is a process in itself). I work remotely and the time change has been great. I get all my work done during the day and I have my evenings free once the rest of the country shuts down. I’m going to touch some of your concerns first as well as a couple other downsides compared to Florida. Then I’ll get onto the things in which I see an upside.
Concerns of gun violence on the mainland
Your concern of gun violence is real because of how close you are to the Parkland shooting. We came from Broward County which falls under the same school district. Although the likelihood of this happening there again or anywhere else is low, the paranoia is abundant and I’m glad I’m not a part of it. It’s not healthy for the children to have that constant fear. I would describe the culture here [in Hawaii] as how things were 30 years ago. There are no fences around the schools. Anyone can walk right in at anytime. I personally love it. There are no fences because there is no need for it. That may make you feel safer or more vulnerable. The level of public education is well below what you can expect in Florida. A lot of kids have no plans to go to college and I can’t fault a lot of them because there is no real opportunity for them anyway if they plan to stay here.
What about guns in Hawaii?
I’m not sure what the gun control laws are here but there are guns. I live right near a gun range and can hear shots in the distance every day. It’s more about the people who respect one another. There is very little violent crime towards one another. I think the rest of the country could learn from Hawaii that it’s a people/respect issue, not a gun issue.
Mr. B’s concerns about Hawaii
With that said, Hawaii has other concerns that you don’t see as much in South Florida. There are a lot of homeless which a large percentage are mentally ill. You see them frequently in populated tourist areas to remote local areas. Peter has touched on this in one of his videos which give a great perspective of the problem and how hard it is to solve.
Finally, my biggest concern and the only thing that would ever drive me out of here is the state income tax. It’s the 2nd highest in the country and you get to the marginal top rates pretty quickly. I was fully aware of this ahead of time but it’s still hard to swallow the tax bill coming from Florida with no state income tax.
Why Mr. B loves Hawaii; Onto the good stuff:
I am amazed by the beauty on a daily basis. I’m in the water 4 or 5 days a week body boarding riding some of the best waves in the world. We hike as a family often. We go to the park (there are parks everywhere) and play tennis, soccer, kids play on the playground, take the dog to play with other dogs. It’s really endless what you can do outside and the weather is almost always perfect for it. All the technology is here so you can still be glued to a screen if you want to but there are options for things do to outside of technology. We experienced the exact same thing in Florida that the entire culture revolved around eating and drinking. I would gain 7 to 8 pounds every weekend where now I get great workouts every weekend just having fun in the water. On Oahu, there are plenty of places to still live a South Florida lifestyle if get the urge. I haven’t had the urge at all to go out and party, day drink, bar hop etc. The culture is not materialistic at all. We spend almost no money except for utilities, rent/mortgage, food (at home), and the car payments.
The water is accessible. I don’t know about you but I felt that it was so difficult to do anything water related in Florida. Water was everywhere but you never actually got to experience it. You can jump in at countless beaches, launch a kayak or paddle board anywhere, fish from anywhere (no license needed), or just sit on any beach which is 100% unique in its own right. East Coast beaches have very little character. [ Peter’s note: this was a big shock to me – I naturally thought that any coastal town would be like Hawaii – but I’m wrong about that!]
There is a lot of diversity here very much like South Florida but with entirely different cultures. I realize I’m the minority here however everyone has been very friendly and accepting. If you adapt to the lifestyle and culture here you will be just fine. [Peter’s note: though Mr. B casually mentions this, it’s a huge issue. He’s got the right kind of personality that has allowed him to embrace local culture but that’s simply not the case for most people as they return to the mainland before too long]
The weather is almost always perfect. The Summer can be hot but it’s not nearly as hot as South Florida. The only reason it feels hot it because most of the time you are not in the AC. If you have AC, you won’t ever feel hot. As you know you can’t go 1 second without the AC on in S. Florida from May to November. The windows and doors in our house [in Hawaii] never close all year around.
You do get a small town feel even on Oahu. Oahu is small, Maui is tiny. I can’t speak about Maui beyond that. I feel that it would be too small for me coming from such a large place.
I’m 100% happy with the move. Every time I think of where else would I rather live, nothing even comes close.
My son recently moved to Oahu with his wife, two children, and their dog. Here’s a state link that details the process of bringing a pet to Hawaii. As expected, it’s a bit confusing: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/aqs/aqs-info/ They got through it, but it wasn’t the easiest of processes.
Mahalo Greg for the link!
We too are in South Florida and are considering a move in a few years. We have already purchased a lot to build on in Hawaii(Big Island), We have no children, so schools and gun violence therein are not part of the decision. Having said that,
we live just a few miles from Parkland High. It was a terrible, shocking thing, but there is no absolute guarantee something ‘bad’ can’t ever happen in paradise–its just somewhat less likely, and if something bad does happen it should not be any
less a paradise after.
So far as guns are concerned the state of Hawaii has a higher percentage of households with registered guns than most
states on the mainland (Hawaii is number 10 at 45%). The key thing to remember here is ‘registered’ because Hawaii is very
strict about requiring all firearms be registered. There is hunting on all the main islands, mostly for deer, sheep, goats
and pigs(non of which are native species) Any current gun owner on the mainland who intends to bring any guns to Hawaii
when they move needs to be aware of the latest laws.
As stated the income tax in Hawaii can take a large bite out of your pay when you move there from Florida. Property tax
rates in Hawaii are relatively lower than in South Florida but for it us won’t come close to making up what we are likely to
have to pay in state income tax. Utilities are nothing to sneeze at either. We love to gripe about the local provider(s) in
Florida but we pay a literal small fraction what it costs in Hawaii. As in, 11.8 cents per kilowatt hour in S Florida as opposed
to what I saw as an average of 31.2 cents per kilowatt hour in Oahu(2018). Its easy to see why solar is popular in Hawaii and
we plan to install as much of it as we can when(if) we build. It is worth nothing Hawaii excludes SS payments and pensions
provided by government entities from the state income tax.
The diversity of people Hawaii is for us one of it’s most desirable characteristics. Diversity is largely why my wife decided
Hawaii is the place we need to ‘retire’ to. She is a mix of Chinese/Vietnamese/Thai/Polynesian from the island of Java
in Indonesia. Considering the “social circles” we move in here in S Florida I am already adapted to much of what it will
be like to live in Hawaii.
Having said that, there are still a lot of things which need to fall into place for us over the next few years to make a
“permanent” move to Hawaii realistic. One being that while my current job allows me to work from anywhere on
earth there is a decent internet connection my wife cannot. She needs to put in a few more years with the Sheriff’s
dept in S Florida before we are in a financial position to do a relocation. Big Island is cheaper than Oahu when it
comes to housing but it’s still not cheap!
Mahalo Nui for that wonderful contribution to this article. Really appreciate it!
Hi, Peter. I’m interested in hearing more indepth about the process of moving with one’s dog to Hawaii. I’ve read about the quarantine laws but I’ve never heard of what exactly happens and how the experience is.
Tell me more about moving the dog process. Also totally “get” the reference to a non materialistic culture.
I hope one day to meet with peter and be part of the Aloha, been to Oahu twice and can’t wait to live their.
We’ll see you at Makapuu!