Farming sunflowers in Hawaii

Sunflowers and Sunset by Ryan Smith is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original

I received this email a while back, and I just haven’t been able to get to it. I’ve been getting lots of emails from people considering moving to Hawaii from the mainland. A couple people from New York City actually in the past few days. Something about realizing Spring is here and the weather will get awesome… and thinking about Hawaii and the year-round amazing weather!

So, this is an email with my response below it. I’ve removed names and other identifying information – as usual. If you write me, I will likely cut/paste your email into a post like this to answer. I just can’t find the time otherwise. I wish it wasn’t true.

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Aloha Peter!

Before I proceed, I wanted to say that your blog is awesome, and very unique and helpful as being the only resource like it on the internet. I’ve been considering moving to Hawaii for a while, but never thought it possible. I am now fairly certain that I will eventually end up there. For now, I am going to be moving back to New York from Portland, OR where the job prospects are about as bright as a Pacific Northwest winter day. New Yorkers work very hard, and the job market is demanding, but at least I know I can go there, work my ass off for a few months to save up enough money to get out of there and get to my paradise of simplicity!

My goal is to save enough money to buy either a car or scooter/motorcycle and live for a few months without a job and then eventually live in an eco-village, intentional community or farm where I can teach and practice yoga, grow my own food and live off the land.

First off, I wanted to ask about your book. I think it would be a tremendous resource in helping me realise this dream, but I’m wondering if you sell this in paperback edition? I know we need to save paper and what-not, but it is much easier to have a book on paper that way I can read it on the plane, train or wherever else, since I do not have a Kindle. Plus, I’m just kind of old-school and reading a computer screen too long hurts my eyes.

Second, given the logistics of my above-stated plan, what’s a rough ball-park figure of how much I’d have to save before relocating there? In other words, are we talking about in the thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands? Just wanted to get a feel for how far off my dream is and how long I’m going to have to tolerate being miserable in New York before it becomes a reality.

Lastly, is it smarter once you arrive there to purchase an automobile like a small car, pick-up truck, or something small and simple like a motorcycle, scooter, or even electric bike?

Thanks again.


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I loved your email Jeremy, I guess because I would have really loved to do that plan at one time – and didn’t. I kick myself (lightly) for not going ahead and giving it a whirl, but, what I did instead also worked out quite well – so I’m happy enough.

Thank you for the compliments on this site. I try to make it helpful, and there is still a lot I could be doing, and then that time-factor comes into play and there just isn’t enough time in the day. I wish I could switch to a 4 hour sleep pattern. Someone should write “4 Hour Sleeps!”. I enjoyed “4-Hour Workweek” and “4-Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss, maybe 4 hour sleeps is the next book?

I hear you about the job market, I do hope it’s considerably easier for you to find something in New York. In Hawaii there are jobs in certain areas, and none in others. I am a strong advocate of the work for yourself plan. You write well, have you considered writing a book at Amazon? Perhaps on minimalism?? Yoga?

Actually, when you move to Hawaii you could do a book – “Moving to Kauai on $800 per month” or something like that. You’d definitely have some sales! Not sure the logistics would work out at that amount, but you’d know soon enough!

I’ve only known a few people that wanted to move to Hawaii and live off the land, grow their own food, etc. One is living on Kauai now. He’s doing well too. He’s an immigrant from overseas, but was able to get his green card over the years. He moved to Kauai, Hawaii about hmmm… maybe 15 months ago now? Amazingly, he has eked out a living there selling things for others on Ebay, and now he is doing farming outside at a big farm. He has an old truck and shares an apartment with someone – but, I think he must be surviving on Kauai on less than $1,000 per month. Perhaps considerably under $1,000.

Not a bad way to live. That reminds me, he wrote me back and I still have to answer! Sorry Christian!

There are motorbikes there to buy – easier and better that way. Sometimes when people move away from Hawaii, they sell their belongings for dirt-cheap prices. They need to leave on a certain day – if not sold, they end up leaving stuff with friends to sell for them. Either way – you get a nice deal as a buyer. Buy there.

Scooters are great. We use them here in Thailand all the time. In fact, I’ve put over 100,000 miles on scooters in the last 7 years. I saved a lot of gas, insurance, and car payment money during those 7 years! More so in Hawaii if you do the same. Gas prices in the islands are silly-high and whatever you can do to save cash is advised. Electric bikes I’m not too fond of, only knowing those made in China and they are not well-made. If you find a good brand – yeah, definitely if that’s your preference!

Moving to the Hawaiian islands – you have a choice of islands. If you want to farm and live off the land, live a slow life and enjoy a rather stress-free existence, I’d recommend 3 islands…

Maui, Kauai, and Big Island.

As I said, my friend lives on Kauai and does it – so I know it can be done. Two other guys I knew online moved to Big Island and did internet marketing type work, as well as whole / healthy food video blogs and teaching sessions. They did OK after the move, but I think they already had money from their online efforts coming in. I am not sure they are still there – will have a look when I’m finished with this article.

If you move to Big Island Hawaii – I think there are many opportunities to work on farms and work on the land. Some places will let you work on the land and sleep in tents. I picture fires going at night and fishing for ulua off the cliffs like I used to do on Maui and Oahu. Good times… very good times!

At the base of Haleakala volcano in Maui is a very large area called “country”, “upcountry”, or, “Kula”. There are many farms there for vegetables – and they need people to work. They offer a small place to stay and give you a paycheck (or cash) for the hours you do at the farm. It’s a laid back existence, and one that you might research to find out more. Look for Kula Maui farms on Google.

See “Kula Country Farms” on facebook here – a rather large group.

As for how much money it will take to move to Hawaii – any of the islands mentioned, I could only guess. My best guess for you, living on a minimalist budget – and with the plan you have of not working for a few months – is to bring about $5,000 as a minimum. Personally, I’d bring double that because there are a lot of amazing things to see – and even if you’re just taking the bus around the island, you’ll spend more money on food than you might guess.

Big Island is quite spread out, Kauai too… Maui has more things to do in close.

I hope some of this helps. If you do move to one of the islands – let me know so I can grill you with questions. Or, you can post an update here at the site to tell us all what is going on – and how you are doing living in paradise.

Best of luck and life to you!


Peter Kay