Relocating to Oahu...

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Barring the unforeseen, I will be relocating to O'ahu in the coming months to begin a new civilian technician position in Honolulu. With no "inside help," I will 'touch down' and proceed to inhabit a hotel until I find a stable long-term residence (and roommate?). Being five-years old, I intend to ship my car from San Diego vs. sell it here and buy a used vehicle on the island.

I would appreciate receiving feedback from kama'aina and malihini alike on life as a civil servant in paradise. My most pressing concern is establishing residency as I apparently need two bills with my Honolulu address to register my vehicle within ten days of my arrival. For me to succeed, I must also adapt to a slightly reduced salary (by 1%) with a rise in cost-of-living of 51% (per bestplaces.net).

If you happen to have relocated to Hawaii in recent years, I encourage you to share your story - the lessons learned, the unusual rules/regulations you encountered, and what made you decide to stay for life (or leave at the earliest opportunity). For me, this is perhaps my only opportunity to remain in a career field I enjoy while benefiting the nation; opportunities to become a contractor abound everywhere, but being a civil servant is far more stable (so long as a budget is passed each October).

Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.

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Solomon960 said:   Being five-years old, I intend to ship my car from San Diego vs. sell it here and buy a used vehicle on the island.
 

  Which Hot Wheels car do you own?

qcumber98 said:   
Solomon960 said:   Being five-years old, I intend to ship my car from San Diego vs. sell it here and buy a used vehicle on the island.
  Which Hot Wheels car do you own?

  I was thinking the same thing, quite a leap to unknown for 5yr old!

I am in Hawaii right now actually......1% raise to move to hawaii...don't know if that makes sense unless you REALLY love the job/location.

sharpie130 said:   I am in Hawaii right now actually......1% raise to move to hawaii...don't know if that makes sense unless you REALLY love the job/location.
Not a 1% raise, a 1% reduction. OP said: "I must also adapt to a slightly reduced salary (by 1%)".
  

Consider a short term rental while you figure the island out and find out part you like. You will find more favorable rental prices on the west side but the commute is awful (both ways). After sitting in 10+ hours of traffic a week you may soon find yourself disillusioned with your sense of paradise.


typical Oahu commute traffic
Disclaimer
Oahu is overcrowded and overpriced. Traffic is hell, rent and grocery prices can be stunning. Quality of life is degrading as more and more people pack into a limited housing supply and squeeze on to a highway infrastructure that is not keeping up with the ever increasing population. Local government is hopeless. Unless you really like the unique things about Oahu, you might want to stay where you are.

NoMoneyInMyWallet said:   
sharpie130 said:   I am in Hawaii right now actually......1% raise to move to hawaii...don't know if that makes sense unless you REALLY love the job/location.
Not a 1% raise, a 1% reduction. OP said: "I must also adapt to a slightly reduced salary (by 1%)".
  

  eeek that's even worse. that's basically getting a huge salary cut....Maybe OP loves to surf....that'd be one reason to move there.

mapen said:    Unless you really like the unique things about Oahu, you might want to stay where you are.
Op lives in San diego. Not sure it's as big of a jump

I was stationed on Oahu from 2009-2012.  Best three years of my life.  Yes, traffic can be difficult.  Yes, it's expensive.  Yes, some places are crowded.  It was frigging awesome.

OP:  PM me if you have questions.

First off, you'll find a lot more qualified answers on the city-data forums when it comes to relocating to different cities.

Second, reconsider your vehicle transport when you have to pay for it yourself.  It only makes financial sense if you either just bought a new car and would be severely underwater if you sold it, or have some kind of specialty car/or optioned out that's hard to find, in any market, much less so in a limited market. If you just have a run of the mill vehicle., sell it and then buy something from Hertz when you arrive.  So much less coordination hassle and that's what you're going to need when you have nobody at the destination to help you.
 

kenblakely said:   I was stationed on Oahu from 2009-2012.  Best three years of my life.  Yes, traffic can be difficult.  Yes, it's expensive.  Yes, some places are crowded.  It was frigging awesome.

OP:  PM me if you have questions.

  
Why not post advice for all to see? Present and future readers.

I worked in Honolulu and lived in Waikiki in a condo rental. Lived in LA for quite a few years but never seen such traffic jams. At least going from Waikiki to Honolulu. Parking practically I possible. Take the bus to work and give yourself plenty of time.

Note: I have never lived in Hawaii, but I am friends with people that have, and I usually make at least one visit to the islands every year.

If you're taking a 1% pay cut to work and live on Oahu, be prepared to take a serious hit to your standard of living. All necessities are significantly more expensive - anything with dairy in it is crazy expensive (milk is $7/gal, ice cream is $8 for a half gallon, etc). Meat isn't cheap, although fresh fish is cheaper than what you'll find in certain areas of the mainland. A Costco membership is almost a necessity since their prices are significantly lower than Safeway/Times/Foodland. The gas is a great deal, although on Oahu, they don't have the monopoly on cheap gas like they do on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

Good luck with housing. If at all possible, try to live close to where you are going to be working. Rush hour on the H1 begins at 5am and ends at 8pm. An accident anywhere throws off traffic for the entire island. LA traffic is horrible, but there are redundancies built into the system. In Hawaii, there are very few alternates.

I take it from your job description ("civilian technician") that you're going to be working on one of the military bases, and given that you're taking a paycut, I'm also assuming you're a contractor rather than a government employee since those folks would likely get a COLA hike for Honolulu. If all of that's true, be aware that Hawaii's economy is actually pretty stagnant. The state is highly dependent on tourism and the military, and jobs outside those two sectors are very hard to come by. Most kids that grow up on the islands that have marketable skills (CS, for instance), end up moving to start their careers on the mainland, often somewhere on the west coast.

That all being said, you appear to be single, have no kids, and few responsibilities. If perfect weather and world class beaches will make you happy, you can live a cheap lifestyle, and distance from family isn't an issue... I say go for it. It's as close as you can get to paradise on this planet, even if it's Oahu instead of Kauai or Maui .

rufflesinc said:   
mapen said:    Unless you really like the unique things about Oahu, you might want to stay where you are.
Op lives in San diego. Not sure it's as big of a jump

  I don't think Honolulu is 51% more expensive than San Diego.  Probably just where he can ship his car over from.

Take the bus, use the car on the weekends. The state and local government is inept and corrupt. WO the military spending it would be just another Banana Republic. The local got attitude, especially if you "look" like an newbie to the island. Still nice to visit once a while though.

mapen said:   Oahu is overcrowded and overpriced. Traffic is hell, rent and grocery prices can be stunning. Quality of life is degrading as more and more people pack into a limited housing supply and squeeze on to a highway infrastructure that is not keeping up with the ever increasing population. Local government is hopeless. Unless you really like the unique things about Oahu, you might want to stay where you are.
  Sounds like Long Island.  What's the problem?

El_Duderino said:   
rufflesinc said:   
mapen said:    Unless you really like the unique things about Oahu, you might want to stay where you are.
Op lives in San diego. Not sure it's as big of a jump

  I don't think Honolulu is 51% more expensive than San Diego.  Probably just where he can ship his car over from.

  Wow, so OP is going to drive from wherever he currently lives to SD to have it shipped to HI? 

El_Duderino said:   
rufflesinc said:   
mapen said:    Unless you really like the unique things about Oahu, you might want to stay where you are.
Op lives in San diego. Not sure it's as big of a jump

  I don't think Honolulu is 51% more expensive than San Diego.  Probably just where he can ship his car over from.

  I worked for the US Govt on Oahu . We got 22.5 % COLA. Seemed a little bit low but pretty close to right.

Thank you so much for the replies.

My car is a simple 4-passenger compact - nothing special. My "new" supervisor suggested driving 3,000 miles to San Diego to ship it to Honolulu (since it is in excellent shape after five years, I will not be able to buy a new vehicle with <50k miles for the $2,100 it will cost to ship it, and because plane rides from San Diego to O'ahu are "cheap" compared to leaving from other national airports). Personally, I wouldn't mind selling and purchasing anew, but I may be able to transport additional possessions in my current vehicle, which would be helpful since I have a number of uniforms that must accompany me thus limiting what else I can bring as a "solo" traveler.

As a GS employee, I will receive a 16.37% COLA in O'ahu, which is 2% less than what I receive at my current location (very strange given the rise in cost of living in Hawaii). Ideally, I will ride a bike (that must be registered) or walk to work each day and commute one long trip each weekend to visit Costco/base commissary and the laundromat (since I cannot expect whatever residence I find to include appliances). I pray TheBus includes stops at places I want to visit (including near my residence), but such is wishful thinking given where I am presently.

I have no interest in surfing, beach-sitting, or nightlife; as I do presently, I will work, sleep, and volunteer when I can. Despite limited expenses, with the high cost of living, I will be hard-pressed to save beyond the 5% government match in my TSP but such will be an improvement versus the 0% match I currently receive as a temporary technician (two years and counting...).

The highlights of this transaction/move are the ability to specialize in one job instead of concerning myself with "everything" and everyone, to review the skills I previously learned while learning new skills pertaining to my career field, and be given some level of stability as a "permanent employee" vs going through the technician tour renewal process (where all my paperwork is shredded after a tour ends and must be recreated the very next day when the new one begins). I will be blessed to be in a work center filled with similarly trained technicians; being in a one-man shop currently (that will not be retained upon my departure due to the DoD mission transformation), the sense of "belonging" this move will bring cannot be discounted.

Solomon960 said:   
I have no interest in surfing, beach-sitting, or nightlife; 

  Then why are you moving to Hawaii??

rufflesinc said:   
Solomon960 said:   
I have no interest in surfing, beach-sitting, or nightlife;

  Then why are you moving to Hawaii??

  He said he wants to benefit the nation.  Very patriotic, to go along with his flag as his profile pic. Kudos.

mistadeal said:   
rufflesinc said:   
Solomon960 said:   
I have no interest in surfing, beach-sitting, or nightlife;

  Then why are you moving to Hawaii??

  He said he wants to benefit the nation.  Very patriotic, to go along with his flag as his profile pic. Kudos.

  how unselfish of himself to sacrifice himself to living in Hawaii for the good of the nation. I say we FWFers take up a collection.

What is your GS GRADE and any steps?

Just FYI, none of the oceanic transports will allow you have anything in the car when you drop it off for delivery.  Factory equipped items such as a spare tire, jack, floormats, etc, are allowed, but even something like an aftermarket subwoofer box is not permissible.  An inspector will comb your vehicle over carefully to ensure compliance.  Has to do with limiting their liability.
 

Leaving anything in your car when you ship it is very unwise.   Leaving anything in your car in the Hawaiian islands is just plan foolish.
Hawaii has been ruined by statehood, population growth and the environment changes caused by population growth.
I have too many good memories when I lived there to have them ruined by a revisit.
After returning to the USA continent, I worked in credit card fraud prevention. Stolen CC cards and fraud reports from the Hawaiian islands was a major sticker shock in that job.

I lived on Oahu from 1988 to 1994 and have visited several times since. I absolutely loved it, but am concerned that you have no interest in the beach scene. Hope it works out for you, but I feel that you are going to be unhappy in the long run unless you really get out and enjoy the hiking and beaches, as there is not a lot else to do (I didn't enjoy the bar scene in Waikiki that much either) Good Luck, I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did.....

Most of us that have moved to Oahu, did so accepting the lower wages and higher cost of living as a trade off for the climate, beaches, etc. I second the notion that this may not be a good idea for you.

I also agree that you'll want to try to find a short term rental to live in immediately thus alleviating the ID issue and probably saving some money. That being said, the local ID isnt a huge deal right of the bat. I got by just fine with a CA DL for several months.

Keep in mind if you ship your car, it will take about 2 weeks to get there. Send it early if possible. Not a horrible idea to ship your car as used cars aren't quite as affordable in HI as they are in Cali. Locals tend to not be willing to haggle much on price and used cars tend to be in pretty poor condition.

People are often surprised by the need to downgrade in "material" living. Most likely your future apartment will be smaller and in worse condition than the one you live in now. Your car and anything else you have made of metal will rust in a suprisingly quick fashion. If you have an affinity for the nicer things in life, you may want to reconsider. Hawaii's value to most transplants are the non-material things.

I disagree with the "51% higher cost of living" statement. It's bad, but not that bad. Something to keep in mind though, is that many of us spend more on food or a roof over our head but save on leisure as we may hike, surf, etc often. I find I spend far less on leisure as most the things I enjoy are free in HI.

If you are white, you will need to be prepared to become the minority. Some say locals are racist, I wouldn't go that far. It will become very evident that you are a minority in Hawaii. If you can't be humble in someone else's home, life may prove to be difficult. Sure the military isn't so loved in HI, but in reality, they are not very welcome in most places they frequent. The loud, I know everything, I am the best attitude is not so well accepted by many people (I say this as someone with several family members that are veterans and appreciate their service).

They say HI has 3 degrees of separation. Everyone know everyone. Unlike here in the mainland where one can act however you want with little to no repercussion, you do thing wrong thing in HI and words spreads very quickly. I've encountered more than a few people, local and transplants, that have done or said the wrong thing and felt the need to move away from the island. Be prepared to bite your tongue once in a while.

My last bits of advice:
- Do not start sh-t. Hawaii has relatively little gun violence but nearly everyone is a UFC superstar.
- Do not eat Mexican or Indian food, you will be quite dissappointed. Hawaii is diverse but only with certain ethnicities. The Indian and Mexican populations are minimal thus resulting in crappy food. This translates to any other ethnic population that you don't see in abundance.
- Do not litter. People actually take pride in their home here.
- Do not honk your horn (unless to say Hi to someone)
- If you have kids, the public school system is not so great.
- There is an abundance of cockroaches and lizards. Be used to it or get used to it.
- Traffic is pretty horrible. My opinion, better than LA but worse than the Bay Area.
- Don't use Hawaiian words unless needed. Don't be the guy saying Aloha and Mahalo to everyone or refer to the Aina. This is no different than the people that find a random hispanic worker at Starbucks and say "Hola, como estas".

If it's of any help, I did end up moving back to CA. As much as I love the islands, the combination of lower wages and poor school system brought me back to the the mainland.

Good luck.
 

This has "financial disaster" written all over it. Basically taking a 52% pay cut.... 1% pay cut with a 51% increase of COL. especially considering OP has no affinity for anything Hawaii draws people in. It is like moving to the bad part of town (assuming you have no interest in the shenanigans involved in living in the bad part of town) for half of the current paycheck.

I'm not quite sure how he's taking a pay cut on a government position. Is he already in a high cost area that the government rates for the same COL adjustment?

Solomon960 said:    to visit Costco/base commissary

I don't think GS DOD employees have commissary privileges on Oahu (DOD have commissary privileges outside USA, it's funny that I've had to remind some people that Hawaii is part of the USA). Maybe you know something I don't.

As for Costco, that's geared for high volume shoppers or families, single guys not so much. For a single guy who doesn't shop sales or clip coupons, best bet for cheap groceries on Oahu is Wal Mart. If you don't stick to sale items, Safeway on Oahu is as expensive as or more expensive than Whole Foods on the mainland. 

TravelerMSY said:   I'm not quite sure how he's taking a pay cut on a government position. Is he already in a high cost area that the government rates for the same COL adjustment?
Solomon960 said:   As a GS employee, I will receive a 16.37% COLA in O'ahu, which is 2% less than what I receive at my current location (very strange given the rise in cost of living in Hawaii).

I largely concur with waikikisneakie. If you are not into the outdoor activities that Hawaii offers, that is a huge hurdle to overcome. It is the major benefit to moving there and why people put up with the numerous inconveniences that are intrinsic to Hawaii (cost of living, isolation, density of Oahu, etc). Most people that move to Hawaii do so knowing that they are trading a higher standard of living for the weather and plethora of outdoor activities that the state offers.

If it's a step up in terms of your career, that's great. I don't know what you typically do for fun... but if it doesn't align with what the islands have to offer, and you have no friends/family there... expect the first bit of time to be really rough. It will literally feel like you're on exile island with about a million other people.

vegetation said:   Just FYI, none of the oceanic transports will allow you have anything in the car when you drop it off for delivery.  Factory equipped items such as a spare tire, jack, floormats, etc, are allowed, but even something like an aftermarket subwoofer box is not permissible.  An inspector will comb your vehicle over carefully to ensure compliance.  Has to do with limiting their liability.
  Things must have changed then.  We packed every inches of space in the car when we moved from Hawaii many years ago.

waikikisneakie said:   My last bits of advice:
- Do not start sh-t. Hawaii has relatively little gun violence but nearly everyone is a UFC superstar.
- Do not eat Mexican or Indian food, you will be quite dissappointed. Hawaii is diverse but only with certain ethnicities. The Indian and Mexican populations are minimal thus resulting in crappy food. This translates to any other ethnic population that you don't see in abundance.
- Do not litter. People actually take pride in their home here.
- Do not honk your horn (unless to say Hi to someone)
- If you have kids, the public school system is not so great.
- There is an abundance of cockroaches and lizards. Be used to it or get used to it.
- Traffic is pretty horrible. My opinion, better than LA but worse than the Bay Area.
- Don't use Hawaiian words unless needed. Don't be the guy saying Aloha and Mahalo to everyone or refer to the Aina. This is no different than the people that find a random hispanic worker at Starbucks and say "Hola, como estas".
 

  
Good advice.  I'll just add on a few more tidbits.

Directions are almost universally given by landmarks rather than your typical north, south, east, west.  Mauka is towards the mountain, Makai is towards the ocean.  Ewa is west, while going east is usually Koko Head or Town bound.

Take your shoes off when you enter people's homes, no one wears shoes in their house

While there are a lot of bugs and lizards, they're all harmless.  There are no snakes, venomous spiders, or rabies in Hawaii.  Your biggest encounter would probably be a centipede.

If you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, be aware that while the weather is almost always great, we do get vog (volcanic debris) from the Big Island from time to time depending on wind direction.  It usually makes for some haziness and humid weather but something to point out.

Even if you don't enjoy the beach or surfing, there's plenty to do here.  There are also ample opportunities to volunteer, which would be a great way to meet new people and learn the culture.  Overall people here are friendly but yes, white people are the minority.  Like anywhere, just show respect and you will receive respect. 

S197 said:   
 
Take your shoes off when you enter people's homes, no one wears shoes in their house


 

  clearly I should have bought rentals in Hawaii.

I grew up on Oahu, moved to the mainland for college and grad school, and moved back to Hawaii after working briefly in LA. I agree with the advice provided by waikikisneakie and S197, especially the comments on traffic, interacting with locals, and many things having a worse price/quality ratio vs. mainland. Try to live as close to work as possible.When I moved back almost a decade ago, I shipped my car from LA. It cost about $1k one-way, I was not allowed to have any personal items in the vehicle, and the car had to be under a quarter tank of gas.Do you have anything on the mainland that you might occasionally need or want to attend? Family events, seeing close friends, medical procedures, college/professional sports games? You'll be on an island, minimum 5 hour flight from the mainland USA. And flights during periods like the holidays can be especially expensive.What's your general financial situation and what does your current/future budget look like? You indicate that you'll be staying in hotels at first -- have you priced that out? Hotels here are not cheap.Finally, you mentioned that you'll be hard pressed to save beyond the 5% match. I'm a little concerned about that, especially if you're thinking this now. Do you have a cushion or contingency fund in case things get more expensive than expected?

Good luck with the move and new job.

I don't think I'd move somewhere with such difficult award availability  Although I guess you get to Asia pretty cheaply on points from there.

Just curious, have you ever spent an extended time in Hawaii? Many transplants move back fairly quickly as your whole world is pretty small and you are quite isolated from any family back on the mainland, by distance and time.

Skipping 58 Messages...
mapen said:   L&L is a mediocre franchise restaurant chain that is on the decline in Hawaii, but expanding on the mainland. Their BBQ is not slow cooked in the mainland tradition. Their food may be interesting if you are new to local flavors like KalBi (Korean short ribs), Kalua Pork, Katsu (Japanese breaded chicken with tonkatsu sauce).

Since you are single and will be arriving with little more than the shirt on your back, and you want to save money, you may want check into staying at a hostel until you decide what to do next, if you are comfortable with that sort of thing. Hale Koa is a great value for the military but still very expensive. I'm not sure if you quality for on-post guest housing lodging but is hard to find availability.

  
LOL ..... The bbq chicken was never cooked on a bbq.  It is chicken soaked in shoyu and ginger and thrown dripping on a bed of shredded cabbage.  There is nothing declining about it.  It is the same thing I was eating 20 years ago.   The original location on Liliha street is still there.

 



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