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Hawaii for GDER
Old 02-22-2004, 03:07 PM   #1
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Hawaii for GDER

quote author=GDER link=board=intro_board;num=1077267100;start=0#6 date=02/21/04 at 12:05:26]It comes down to affordible real estate and bugs. The latter an issue with the wife. I guess moving costs are also a consideration. Being able to retire from the service there would have been a plan, but timing wasn't meant to be. How's the rental market?[/quote]

"Affordable" real estate is tough. You're about five years too late, or maybe five-ten years too early. The real estate market had a huge Japanese-fueled bubble back in the late '80s and the subsequent Kuwait invasion hit the whole state very hard. Our rental property has just regained its 1990 value.

So although prices are rocketing up in the last few years, they're not that unreasonable when viewed over the last 25 years. I think this surge has a few years left, especially since the local concrete employees' union just went on strike and brought new construction to a standstill. With low interest rates fueling huge mortgages, a lot of loose money is chasing a limited inventory. The only threats are rising rates or a recession.

I'm afraid that you're going to have to see it for yourself. What many do is spend a few months here or on a neighbor island. If you've never been to Waikiki, get a room at the Hale Koa (http://www.halekoa.com/) and a rental car for a few weeks and roam the island with the real estate classifieds. Then get away from Waikiki and rent a condo out in a smaller town like Aiea, Mililani, Waimanalo, or Makakilo. We like south Maui and the Big Island (Hilo & south), too, but it's much more rural and there's no military infrastructure (commissaries or VA centers). Season doesn't really matter but the "worst" months are Dec-Feb (rain) and Aug-Sep (slightly hotter). Feb and Sep are probably the cheapest months but the Hale Koa staff has the experts at those questions.

Oahu rents are breathtaking-- $1000 & up for a two-bedroom townhouse, easily $1750 for a three-bedroom house. Median house sales are $400K. Median condos are $187K. Neighbor islands are cheaper for a reason.

Bugs. That's been blown out of proportion. Hawaii's mosquitoes here are much wimpier than anything I've ever seen on the Mainland. Our east-coast friends can't believe that we actually sit out on our lanai after nightfall without screens or other defenses. Even with the tradewinds blowing them around, though, we probably still swat two or three of them a week. Our cockroaches are much smaller than anything I've ever seen in Florida, and it's mainly a function of damp & housekeeping. I haven't had to kill a cockroach in months. Pet food & water leaks attract rats & ants but otherwise those pests stay outside. (We keep the pet food in Ziploc bags.) A couple times a year we'll have flying termite swarms (especially around lights) but modern biochemistry (Termidor) is winning Hawaii's termite war. Six-inch centipedes will really open your eyes (especially if you step on one) but they prefer dark & wet. If your indoors is only one of those at a time then it's not an issue, although I wouldn't go prancing around the backyard barefoot after dark.

Our geckos keep all of those bugs in check (they love free-range termites on the half-wing) but it can be a little disconcerting to see small lizards roaming freely throughout the houses & lanais. They stay away from humans & pets but they stake out their territories on ceilings and high walls. I think they're cute, but I also feel that way about the Jackson chameleons and mongoose running around our back yard.

Hawaiian real estate is still broken down by "fee simple" and "leasehold". "Leasehold" means that you rent your house's land for anywhere from 20-50 years. Unfortunately you don't get to buy it unless conversion is mandated by the government, and when you do you'll probably have to get a second mortgage to afford it. Stick with "fee simple", where you get title to the property AND the house.

One final caveat-- don't jump into raw land here. The unbuilt parcels are either culturally significant (anthropological sites or human remains), restricted (preservation, no building), or contaminated (years of sugarcane, pineapple, & pesticides). The local experts have picked all of the deals clean.

Here's a couple other links to help you start:
http://www.starbulletin.com/-- the less-bloated website of our two local newspapers. Honolulu Advertiser is the other one.
http://starbulletin.com/2003/09/28/special/-- covers many of the island's neighborhoods. You could spend hours here.
http://www.hicentral.com/-- the realtor's database, complete with search criteria & photos.

Let me know if you have questions!
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Re:  Marinas are possible
Old 02-22-2004, 09:12 PM   #2
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Re:  Marinas are possible

The military's MWR actually operates Rainbow Bay Marina in Pearl Harbor with 20 or 30 slips. I don't know how big the waiting list is now but 2-3 years was common in the early '90s, although it's probably better since they opened a new pier in the late '90s. Apparently they'll talk to you by phone or e-mail through http://www.greatlifehawaii.com/Activ...Marina&id=1496 . The nearest military lodging facility near there is the new Navy Lodge on Ford Island http://www.greatlifehawaii.com/Activ...ame=Navy+Lodge .

There's also the Ala Wai boat harbor downtown (the opening shot in "Gilligan's Island"), as well as another marina at the base of Diamond Head. Since you're bookending Waikiki with these two, you're probably talking serious money and a humongous waiting list. There may be more up north in Kailua or Kaneohe but I don't know. Rainbow Bay Marina will be able to point you to the civilian facilities and tell you the real story.

People have the impression that Hawaii is a great maritime state, but the truth is a little harsher. A few years back the state subsidized UH's Maritime Education & Training Center to jump-start Hawaii's boatbuilding & merchandising industry. It hasn't done very well because the state has no equivalent of the Mainland's Intracoastal Waterway or a continental shelf. There's just no calm, quiet water to sail after you exit the Ala Wai canal. This is blue-water ocean with swells, brisk tradewinds, squalls, and all of the other offshore hazards that are miles away from most of the Mainland's coasts. You go half a mile off the beach here and you're in 2000 fathoms of water. (That's great if you're a submariner!) The state's relatively few launching ramps are old and in disrepair, and the Coast Guard stays pretty busy.

OTOH, sailboat solar panels & wind generators work great here!
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