I love the interesting emails I get from website visitors. Here’s a good one from a Korean woman that wants to live in Hawaii with her sons.  I indented her questions and put my responses in-between. Enjoy!

I have never been to Hawaii.

I just know from my friend, who is a professor at the Univ. of Hawaii, that it is extremely expensive to live there. He sends his kids to private schools (just like you recommended on your blogs). I was hoping to live in Hawaii for about 9-12 months for two of my kids to enjoy the nature and learn different culture in 2018. I do not necessarily need a job.

I would recommend then that you come as a visitor or tourist.  However, living here and enjoying this place for 9-12 months is going to be extremely expensive. But it will probably be the trip of a lifetime that you will never forget.

Hawaii has a very strong Korean community so in many ways, you will feel very much at home and will quickly meet many other Koreans.

Should my son go to a private school even for Kindergarten?

My son will be 5-year old next year (that is, June in 2018). I want to send him to kindergarten in September that year. Hopefully, a public one. You said public schools were a big no-no. Does that also apply to kindergarten? (We are Korean, but we have American passports, so I was hoping not to spend too much on school fees by sending him to a public school.)

If you were just going to live here for less than a year, then I would recommend renting a house in the most expensive neighborhood on Oahu which will allow you to attend a public school that will probably be fine for your son.  If you look for the cheapest place to live, you may face serious cultural challenges in public school, even for a young child.

Can we learn ESL (English as a second language) in kindergarten?

My next question is, as much as I would like him to experience different culture and environment, I would also like my son to learn English and other languages. Is Hawaii kindergarten an OK place to learn some English? He speaks just a little.

I’m not sure about that. I would recommend you contact the Hawaii Department of Education and ask if they have ESL programs for kindergarten in the specific school you may be considering.

Can we live in Pahoa instead of Honolulu?

Third, I don’t think I can afford to live in Honolulu. Is there any kindergarten (for my son, if is it OK to send him to the public schools) and private day care (for my daughter – she’s 12 month old now), say, in Pahoa, Hawaii island? I just skimmed through a rental website and the rentals look pretty affordable to me.

There is a reason why they are affordable. It’s because there is very little demand. Many people call Pahoa the “Wild West” of Hawaii.  There have been reports of actual violence at a Pahoa public school so I would carefully research the area.  You have more freedom because you don’t need to work but still need to exercise great care.

Those were my main questions. If you insist that I should definitely send my son to only private kindergarten, I would have to change my plan and maybe spend only summer time in Hawaii for vacation.

I think a summer vacation in Honolulu makes a lot more sense to me especially if affordability is a big issue. And I would absolutely, positively recommend you visit Hawaii before making any kind of long-term commitment to any particular neighborhood.

I do hope that one day when my husband and I retire, we could afford to live in either California or Hawaii. Well, that’s a whole different story. So, I may contact you again about that after 20+ years!

Good luck and yes please contact again!