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Old 07-03-2011, 01:34 PM   #81
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We are contemplating selling our home and moving to Oahu Hawaii, maybe within the next 12-24 months. We would take a bath on our present home, but hope that it would be slightly offset with similarly depressed prices there.

Since retiring 2 months ago, I have now started to do internet research on cost of living, sales/prop/state taxes, tax breaks for seniors, etc.

There are many FIRE members now living in Hawaii - Nords, Greg Lee, Koolau ( and others I do not remember ). Can I ask you folks to drop me some words of wisdom and advice as I begin to delve into this "adventure".

Thanks so much in advance, I'm eagerly awaiting your input. You are welcome to PM me as well.
Nords knows the neighborhoods better than I do. My suggestion would be to rent for a while and get your bearings before purchasing property. It's also a good idea to see if you are susceptible to "rock fever". Never a big problem to us. Perhaps because we leave for up to 3 months each year.

Find a realtor you are comfortable with and let them know exactly what you are looking for. We did that 25 plus years ago and purchased a property that we rented out until moving. I could have stayed there indefinitely, but as you suggested, SOME properties took a hit in the recent downturn. Not what you might expect, though. As near as we can determine, our "old" property went down about 5% from its peak, but the property we bought went down almost 20% (which was RARE - not sure anyone ever was able to explain it to us. I suspect the new property had "spectacular view" premium at its peak. The premium could not be sustained during the down turn).

Hawaii property values have been much more stable than those in the "troubled spots" of the nation. First of all, there is relatively little new construction on the island because of push-back from several sources (fixed land availability, zoning, environmental, "Keep the Country, Country", etc.) Second, the practice of no-doc loans and "interest only", etc. financing was never big in the Islands for some reason. So defaults are relatively rare here. Our property value has actually risen by 5 to 10 % since purchase 2 years ago, based on recent sales.

By the way, regarding traffic, it drives me nuts, but when I lived in the heartland, I used to think my 15 minute commute to w*rk was a pain - especially on Friday PM when it took almost 20 minutes to get home!! Honolulu traffic is actually pretty predictable. You learn when are good/bad times to be out. Unless there is a wreck or stall (or unusual amount of road work) rush hour is manageable for those who must endure it. I hate it, but it's really NOT as bad as SF, LA or any of the "usual suspects". After all, the entire island only has about 1.1 to 1.2 million residents in 600 sq mi. It also has a very good bus system. Naturally, YMMV.
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Old 07-03-2011, 04:38 PM   #82
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The people we want to be near are near now - near Cincinnati. More important than the area it is - which is nice IMO. Net, we'll continue live where we are and travel to other places from here.
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Old 07-03-2011, 07:14 PM   #83
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Thanks, Koolau.

Yes, I did suspect that the downturn in property values was not felt as dramatically in Hawaii as in California.

I am indeed blessed that we have enough assets to withstand the loss on our present property and be able to afford a place in Hawaii - barring any unexpected crises in our lives.

Your suggestion of renting is good; I will very seriously consider that. I have a friend who will allow us to stay at his place for a little while if we need it, he lives in Manoa.
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:46 PM   #84
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It's also a good idea to see if you are susceptible to "rock fever". ..
That is what kept me away from Hawaii, although we called it Island Fever. Being from the prairies, the idea of not being able to drive 500 miles in one stretch was a major problem.

I suppose getting away regularly would help. Or maybe being retired, we no longer aspire to such lofty goals as 500 miles at a stretch?
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:08 PM   #85
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Being from the prairies, the idea of not being able to drive 500 miles in one stretch was a major problem.
For me these days, the idea of having to drive 500 miles in one stretch is a major problem...

Our daughter (born & raised on Oahu) never got to play the game of "Are we there yet?"
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:45 AM   #86
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I grew up in Ireland (maximum length 300 miles) but when I was little, the roads were twisty and there was plenty of "are we there yet?". The longest car trip I would have taken was 200 miles, which felt like a long way at the time. But it was only a one hour flight to Britain and an overnight ferry ride to Britain or France. It took a while to adjust to the prairies! I do think I would have "island fever" on Hawaii, not only because of its size, but its distance from the mainland.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:45 AM   #87
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The first time I drove from Toronto to Edmonton, I realized that the first 1400 miles was getting out of Ontario! That has to be some kind of record!

I admit that long drives are no longer my first choice, preferring to enjoy the trip.
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:01 PM   #88
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Zillow, hilariously, shows our retirement condo as having appreciated over $400 k in the last week! I'd like the housing market to pick up, but at that rate, we'd have a hard time with the taxes.
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:15 PM   #89
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If what I heard from a friend is correct one of the reasons why there are relatively few foreclosures in HI is that ALL mortgages are recourse.
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:44 PM   #90
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If what I heard from a friend is correct one of the reasons why there are relatively few foreclosures in HI is that ALL mortgages are recourse.
To be fair, Hawaii consistently has one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates. Statewide housing prices have also kept their value much better than most areas of the country. Yet those who bought at the top, in 2005-07, have been going through a bloodbath in places like Ewa.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:03 PM   #91
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Thanks, Koolau.

Yes, I did suspect that the downturn in property values was not felt as dramatically in Hawaii as in California.

I am indeed blessed that we have enough assets to withstand the loss on our present property and be able to afford a place in Hawaii - barring any unexpected crises in our lives.

Your suggestion of renting is good; I will very seriously consider that. I have a friend who will allow us to stay at his place for a little while if we need it, he lives in Manoa.
The smartest thing I did was rent when I first move here. So did my sister and her husband, who are definitely more of the homeowner type. It just takes awhile to figure what part of Oahu you want to live. Even simple things like thinking "It is only 30-40 minutes from North shore to Honolulu that's nothing by Northern California standards" will change after a couple of years here. The transition from Northern California to Hawaii is probably easier than from most places in the US, but there is still very distinct and unique culture which changes by neighborhood. For instance Mililiani is much more traditional suburban living, Manoa is mix of traditional upscale Japanese families, UH faculty, and of course students.

Both housing prices and rents are down modestly from their peak far less than most other expensive places in the country. I personally think there is some real risk of large decline (20%+) in housing prices here and very little risk of a big surge in housing prices in the next couple of years.

Finally, I'll recommend looking at a casual friends blog, she just moved here about 18 months ago, from the Bay Area a former editor at Yahoo. It talks a lot about moving to Hawaii.

Oh and Aloha.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:28 PM   #92
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My parents snow-birded to Honolulu for many years. They rented for 3-4 years first until they figured out where they wanted to live and what they were willing to spend.

The minus of living there is that you are disconnected from family and old friends. In all honesty it is too expensive for your children, with grand children, to visit on their own nickel.
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Old 07-06-2011, 10:48 AM   #93
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The minus of living there is that you are disconnected from family...
Depends on the family, too. In our case it was one of the primary reasons for moving here.

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In all honesty it is too expensive for your children, with grand children, to visit on their own nickel.
Grandkids are when a lot of local residents start to think about returning to the Mainland, or at least to the ninth island of Las Vegas. I think spouse and I will be paying for our daughter's airplane tix here for a long time... sort of a combination of grandkid's ransom and an advance on the inheritance.

It'll be interesting to see if our daughter decides to set up housekeeping somewhere else or if she'll return to the islands as soon as she finishes active duty. I think some of that also depends on the spouse's career or on where you want to raise your kids. The cost of living might be one of the reasons that Hawaii has such a large population in the Reserve/Guard.
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Old 07-16-2011, 07:22 PM   #94
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Fantastic responses giving me such a wealth of information to review. Thank you, Hawaii based FIRE guys.

My biggest decision is whether to sell or rent out my home ( free & clear title ) here in the Davis area. I can probably get a reasonable rent which may allow me to wait out the recession here and hope home prices go up again before I finally sell. However, the proceeds from selling would be very welcome to reduce any major outlay from our assets when buying in Hawaii.

Further, I had a very expensive and traumatic experience 20 years ago with a tenant, and I tend to be very wary about renting now, even after all this time.
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