One Year on Kauai

Today is our 1 year anniversary of our move to Kauai. We’ve had  our ups and downs, but honestly mostly ups. So today I will look back on our genesis of life on the island.

We arrived on April 7th, 2015 (with cats in tow) to our new home in Kalaheo. It’s a cute little yellow house.

 

Our belongings arrived two days later (much to our surprise!), including our truck and car. We were very happy to have all of our things come across so quickly. We had done a lot of planning (particularly with making sure that all the cats’ paperwork was in order) in order to make sure things went smoothly. For the most part they did. 🙂

Expectation and  Reality

As you can imagine, we did a lot of research on island life and we had some expectations of what life might be like (good and bad) before we moved and some of those things are what we expected and others were not rooted in reality.

  • Expectation: We were going to have to change our eating habits drastically because the food we ate was either not available or too expensive on the island. Reality: We have been able to find most of everything we like to eat here. If we shop at Costco for the main stuff the price is only slightly higher than San Diego. But if you shop at the ‘regular’ grocery stores you will pay a higher price. The fruit has been free for the most part because we have neighbors who periodically leave us fruit and veggies on our doorstep. there are also the fruit stands that people set up around the neighborhoods where we can get bananas, citrus etc. for very low prices. Papayas grow wild around here and its not too much work to walk down the street and pull one off a ‘volunteer’ papaya tree. I definitely eat more papaya than I used to! Definitely there has been some adjustment because the produce for things that aren’t grown on the island like broccoli, cauliflower and iceberg lettuce  are quite bit more expensive.
  • Expectation: Gasoline is prohibitively expensive on the island. We are really going to have to cut back on driving. Reality: The gas prices have actually been less expensive than what we were paying in San Diego (if we get it at Costco). Plus the lower speed limits mean we get better gas mileage and everything is closer (we are on a small island!) so we actually spend a lot less per month on gasoline here than we did on the mainland.
  • Expectation: Utilities would be very expensive on Kauai. Reality: The electricity is quite expensive here. For the first few months we were very frugal about our electricity usage – the price per kilowatt hour was about 44 cents. We ended up installing solar panels on the house to reduce our utility bills. Water on the other hand is very inexpensive compared to what we spent in San Diego. Cable TV/Internet is comparable in price to San Diego.
  • Expectation: Bugs, bugs and more bugs!!! Reality: Not that bad. Yes there are plenty of bugs here and some do get in the house. The mosquitoes love how I taste. But honestly it’s not a big deal.
  • Expectation: Life would be simpler and more laid back. Reality: Yes and no. It is definitely a simpler life here and things just move slower. But the process of finding our way kind of negated the laid back part. Plus we are both busy with work and my travel to and from the mainland keeps me pretty busy. Plus we have a new big project we are working on. More on that later

The First 3 Months (April – June)

I won’t lie to you. The first 3 months had some challenges. Here we are – 2 people on a new island. We have left behind a life on the mainland that we were familiar with, quit our long-time jobs and left our families in order to move here. We also went from living life in the city to a life in the country on a tropical island to boot. We also had the hurricane warnings/watches and had to prepare our home in case on hit. It was amazing to see how fast the plywood flew out of Home Depot! As you can see below, it wasn’t looking good for awhile there.

Here come Kilo

5 day forecast showing Hurricane Kilo

On the good side, I was lucky enough to have secured some clients to work for remotely and we had stockpiled a bit of cash as backup in case we couldn’t find work right away.

There were some times where we questioned whether we had made the right decision, but we had promised each other that we would give Kauai two years at least before we gave up on it, and we determined to to do just that.

The Second 3 Months (July – September)

We started settling in, trying to find a routine. One of my projects on the mainland began to require me to fly back every 3 weeks or so. My first trip back was very challenging as I had caught a sinus infection the week that I was to leave. At this point we didn’t have health insurance yet, but I was able to get some antibiotics from urgent care. Unfortunately the antibiotics side effects were insomnia and a general feeling of aaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!  I had to cut my first trip short because I felt so crappy and return to the island. Not to worry though, my client was very understanding and once I was healed up, I was able to resume travel back to the mainland for the project.

Meanwhile, we had been working on the yard and the house. We planted our papaya, orange, tangerine and lime trees as well as a continual planting of pineapples (eat one, plant one).

Here are some then and now photos.

We also worked on projects around the house such as the carport bathroom upgrade. Here are some more before and after photos:

 

The Third 3 Months (October – December)

Finally we are settling into somewhat of a routine. Barb is getting used to her job at the school and I am getting into a routine with the work travel. I still am not that fond of traveling this much but it is part of the deal. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do work that I like and am good at and also to be able to touch base with my friends on the mainland periodically.

For Thanksgiving, my Aunt Justine and her daughter Monique and family were on-island. We had a lot of fun with them on a kayak/hiking tour and we ate a low key Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant near Kalapaki Beach. At Christmas, we traveled back to the mainland to be with family for the holidays. We stayed with Barb’s brother, Dave and had a great time visiting with everyone. I was worried that Barbara would want to move back after visiting her friends and relatives in San Diego, but it turns out that we were both anxious to get back to Kauai. While we wish we could spend more time with our old friends and relatives, we couldn’t wait to get home. A subtle change had now made Kauai ‘home’ in our minds. We missed the green, the slower pace and (believe it or not) the humidity that envelopes us on the island and keeps us from drying out.

The Last 3 Months (New Years’ until now)

We spent New Year’s Eve at Poipu Beach to watch the fireworks with our neighbor’s Jan and Rodney. It was a very good time but next time we will bring our own food. It was a mob scene at the food places. The fireworks were excellent!

We finished up building a new enclosure and gate for our outdoor shower. We also installed pavers as a pad to stand on instead of just the gravel. The gravel itself is now contained behind a low rumble stone retaining wall. Much cleaner, private and nicer to use than before. I actually prefer to use the outdoor shower over the regular indoor shower.

In February, my sister Tammy and her husband Kent came out to visit. Our first house guests! It was a lot of fun to have them around and the house seemed kind of empty after they left. We were able to see some whales from our lanai while they were here so we want to thank all the whales that were so instrumental in making that happen.

In March we had our second set of house guests. Jon and Debbie came over and stayed at the house for a bot 5 days and then we all hopped over to Oahu. We went to Pearl Harbor and had Easter Dinner at the Disney Aulani Resort. The resort itself is phenomenal but very crowded. But that is what Disney is. We actually weren’t staying there -we were down the street a block or two at the Marriott.

Some great sunsets from Oahu!

Again, it was good to get back home from Oahu even though we had a great time there.

The Present

OK so now what? Well, we are in the process of buying a small lot up in the development of Kakela Makai in order to  build what will become our dream house. The view from the land is amazing – ocean views from Poipu west as well as mountain views. We have been meeting with builders and architects in order to get something that falls within our budget. This also means that we will be selling our current home. Hopefully we can find a buyer or investor who would be able to rent back to us while our new house is being built. So we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we hope to be in the new house inside of two years. So stay tuned to this blog as you will get to ride this new roller coaster with us.

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And now…

So I have been writing this blog for the last year or so. Many of you already know me but some of you don’t. I haven’t really posted any pics of myself and have kind of kept my name out of the posts. But I feel like we are old friends now 🙂

My name is Dave and I am a Kauaiaholic.

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About akiva96

I lived in Southern California my entire life - until my wife, Barbara, and I decided to quit our jobs and move to Hawai'i in April of 2015.

6 responses to “One Year on Kauai”

  1. Loralei Baldwin says :

    You have face hair now! I like it. Glad to hear you are settling in and feeling “at home”. I always wanted to visit Hawaii, swim in the ocean (I hear the water is warm) and catch a sunset on the beach where there isn’t a haze over everything. I’m afraid if I went I would never want to come home, at least until winter. I would miss my snow, although on the Big Island you can drive to it. There is something to be said for watching it snow and cover everything in a big fluffy white blanket. For me, that is. I am happy to hear that you are happy with your decision and good luck with the new adventure.

    • akiva96 says :

      Yes – face hair. I’ve had it for a while now but it’s been too long since I last saw you! I hope all is going well with you and yours. Thank you for the nice comments!

  2. Patty kast says :

    Nice post Dave, it really makes me feel good to see you and Barb doing so well! I miss you guys, can’t wait to see you soon and talk about everything!

  3. Loralei Baldwin says :

    I think you should look into the vacation rental thing instead of selling, I’ve wasted some time looking into vacation home rentals and it seems to me that if you do it right, you should be able to make enough to pay for your payment plus rent on another place….rental property is charged off differently on your credit report (income property – I assume the bank won’t let you carry 2 or 3 mortgages without the added income) and then you can ultimately sell when you have more equity built up. Seems to me that renting it back is just throwing away money. Anyway…..just thinking, might check with a CPA or someone who knows about these kinds of things. Unless someone had a pretty substantial down payment, they would have to charge at least what you are paying now if not more for rent. Or maybe just LIST it as rental property and rent it for yourself…….ha ha…..that’s beating the system, except you have to pay taxes on the income…..or list it as empty and take credit for the “loss”…..hmmmm. Surely you know someone who knows a business manager or something like that.

    • akiva96 says :

      We are looking at all the options right now. The main problem is that we need the money to put down towards the construction loan so we need to get that equity out before we can build. We will be sitting down with our lender in the next month or two to see what we can do. My fingers are crossed 😊

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