1. We have been a one income family so I can homeschool. Schools don't concern me if we can keep making it on under $60k/year. Is that a realistic option anywhere in Hawaii?
2. We would need to rent a 2 bedroom single family house. Is that at all affordable to rent on such income?
3. Where should we look for cleaner air ( less bog and smog) that is still commutable to a town for work?
4. What types of jobs could one find in that salary range?
Wife to DH (12.10.2009), Anchorage based doula , Proud mama to Autumn (09.03.2008), Sylas (04.25.2010), (06.11.2012), Calliope(04.23.2013) .
$60,000 in Anchorage Alaska is tough! I bet it's very similar in Hawaii but it you get of the more populated islands and go to maybe the Big Island, you can find cheaper rentals. I can't help you with the air quality though, it is hawaii after all.
I can help you. :) We moved from Texas to Hawaii eight years ago and live on only my husband's income which is less than half of $60k. We live very happily and have everything we need. Life here is VERY different though, so it won't be the lifestyle you expect or are used to now, but it's totally doable and you have plenty of time to prepare.
To begin with, jobs will be the biggest issue. It is very hard to find a job here. It takes my husband at least a year to find one each time he gets laid off or tries to find a better one. When you are just one of 50 to 100 people applying for one job, your chances are not good. Plus, jobs tend to go to locals and long-timers first. That's just the way it is.There is a lot of loyalty among people that are from here.
Add to that the fact that jobs don't pay a whole lot here. Unless you know a good trade, you aren't likely to find a job that pays that well. Most jobs that pay well are professions. Does he have time to learn a valuable trade before you move? Construction used to be great here, but I don't know if it's up or down at the moment. County jobs pay well but good luck getting one. My husband has tried regularly for the last eight years. Everybody wants them. They are awesome. You could open your own business if it's something that is needed. It will take a while so be sure to save up several thousand to live on before you come. It could be a couple of years before he has a job that makes that much money. Possibly even longer.
If he has a higher profession, maybe try a job in Kwajalein for a few years before you come. Kwaj is a little island south of here with government jobs. It's an enormous change from where you may be now, but there are no costs at all to living there, so if he qualified for one of their jobs, they would pay for everything, including your move, and you could spend a few years just saving up every penny he made which would make your move to Hawaii super smooth. Anyway, it's just an idea. My husband would love a job on Kwaj. Work there for three or four years and you've got enough to just buy a house with cash. :)
When talking money, you also have to consider that the lifestyle is way different in some parts of Hawaii than it is on the mainland. O'ahu is very expensive. Groceries cost more, you're almost sure to need air conditioning in the heat, and energy costs are high. There are long commutes and high gas prices and lots of pollution and traffic. It's big-city life with pretty beaches.
If you want cheap and you like the country, you might like where I live, on the east side of the Big Island. It is super affordable to live here - way more affordable than living on the mainland was for us. But if your expectations are to live a mainland-style life on $60k that's probably not going to happen. Your whole mindset has to sort of change when you move out here. Things become way less important, so you don't really need to buy anything.
Some ways that life is cheaper for us here include the fact that it is cool here and never gets too cold, so we don't need heating or air conditioning (some houses do get hot in the sun, so check out your rental on a sunny day in summer to make sure you won't be miserable). We use one light at night and most people line-dry their laundry. Also, though gas may be a bit more here, we drive a lot less. If you live way out in the country, you're likely to have a super long commute, but you can find ways to have a shorter commute if that's a problem for you. Food is more here, but really not that much more. We probably spend only $1000 more per year on groceries for a family of four than someone on the mainland would. Rent can be affordable here. You don't want an apartment. Renting a house is pretty affordable as there are plenty of people that own property here but don't live here. Sometimes people have an extra house on their property that they will rent out. Some houses here are duplexes for extended family to live in and people rent them out. Extra homes on one property are called "ohanas." We use to live in a *tiiiny* ohana for about $400 a month. You can find really good houses for around $900 per month. You can also rent a condo in town which can be affordable. There are two bedroom condos at Mauna Loa Shores. Each condo is privately owned and the seller will rent a furnished or unfurnished place for different amounts.
So, yeah, lifestyle changes. You need way less here. You won't get one of those mainland-style houses that are enormous and sprawling. Hawaii has smaller houses and they are more of a tropical style. Most houses are made of wood as brick is expensive and does not take earthquakes well. (we have a lot of small ones) You won't need as much "stuff." Before we moved here, I knew that we needed to get rid of everything but what we couldn't live without. I packed up boxes to have shipped over once we settled in. I only packed things I'd die to lose. When we got the boxes a few years later, I was so mad. I couldn't believe we had actually paid to have all of that junk shipped over here. Vases and silver that I thought were valuable are just trash now. I wish I'd just given it all away back then. It's surprising how little you care about stuff out here. There's just nowhere to put it. Leather molds in an instant. Nobody wears designer anything. There is nowhere to wear a pair of high heels. Really, it was ridiculous what I was expecting.
Let's see...cars. New cars are just not necessary. Most people drive older, cheaper vehicles. Cars are more expensive here so if you have one that you really will be upset to get rid of, maybe pay to have it shipped. Otherwise, just shop around when you get here. If you move to the Big Island, be prepared to live in the middle of nowhere. We don't have much shopping to speak of so you won't be doing a lot of spending unless you are a Wal-Mart or Ross addict. :) We did just get our first Target which was SUPER exciting. It's like living in a teeny town in the middle of nowhere in Texas. Not a lot of jobs, not a lot needed. Everybody is poor. Even the rich people here tend to be humble and live with less. That's just the general atmosphere here.
Life is super slow here. People drive more slowly. People are courteous. Complete strangers will stop and have a conversation with you. People don't get mad as often and when they do, they apologize. It's very laid-back here. A lot of people grow their own food and raise chickens for eggs. We have farmers' markets that are pretty affordable and have great food. It's important to make lots of friends which is easy to do anyway. Friends are how we get most things done. Your friends help you move, they trade homegrown food with you, you can do playdates or trade childcare.
So you'll be paying for rent and gas which will most likely be your biggest bills. If you live mainland-style, you'll have high energy bills. Water is free if you are on catchment (you have to conserve a little bit and it costs electricity to pump it) or if you live in town I think it's $30 per month no matter how much you use. Homes with propane (very common) or solar use less energy. I save a ton by buying through Amazon with free shipping to get the things I need.
Some say the schools are okay here. Most people say they are horrible. We homeschool and there is a huge and wonderful homeschooling group we are a part of that is wonderful. It's essentially a group of families (maybe about 30 at this time?) on Facebook. We post where we will be that day in case anyone wants to join up. We also post weekly events going on on the island, educational activities we are hosting at our houses, and playdates at the beach or park. Anyone can take part. There is no membership or anything and the kids all have regular friends to get together with. This month, we are doing a Dolphin Quest program where the kids all get to go to swim with and touch trained dolphins they have at a facility on the other side of the island. They also just recently did a tour of the fire station. One of the moms hosts kickball once a week and everybody goes. We have LLL meetings twice a month and babywearing meetups/playdates where we teach other mamas about wearing their babies, trade and sell our wraps and carriers and learn about new carries. Those are also fun. We had one at the beach yesterday.
Okay, about the air now. We have the cleanest air in the world. In fact, the air measured off of the Easternmost point of the island is the standard by which all air in the world is measured. We have no big cities on this island. That said, we do get vog now and then. Some areas have vog all of the time. You want to avoid those places. Some days the vog can be a little irritating, but overall, the air quality is the best you'll find anywhere. A few days a year of vog is, to me, way better than living in the suburbs full time. HOVE is really bad. Volcano Village has been pretty bad lately with the recent volcanic activity. Waimea is usually really clean, but it's colder up there (and freaking gorgeous!) and more expensive. We live south of Hilo and this whole Hilo/Puna area is pretty good and has warm, wet weather. Kona gets more of the vog and they have a lot of pollution from traffic and business. O'ahu is probably worst because they get our vog and they have a ton of air pollution from traffic and the city. Anywhere right along the easternmost edge of the Big Island is going to be cheapest and have the cleanest air.
Hope that helps. It's getting long so I'll heave-ho for now unless you have any more questions. :)
Mind if I ask you about locals. I have heard from many people that they Hawaiians are mean to the people the move to islands to live. (especially racist to the white people)
What was your experience with this?
And also, how do you feel about living where it's hard to travel? I'm in Alaska now (been here 17 years) and it's very hard to travel since you either spend 5-7 days in a car just to get into the states or $600 to fly out.
It's like being black and moving to the South. Are there people in the South that are super racist? YES! Are Southerners racist in general? Nope. Same in Hawaii. In eight years here, I have never met a single local person who hated haoles (whites). I've heard of them and I know they exist, but we've been lucky never to meet one. Now, there are certain areas that whites just don't go. We're just not really welcome there and we might get some stink-eye if we go, say all the way to the end of one dead-end road where local fisherman like to spend the day. But I have many Hawaiian and local friends and have never felt anything but aloha from them all. You get what you give. If you're being an ass, you're going to get trouble. If you show nothing but love, respect and humility, you get aloha in return.
Being away from family is the only bad thing about living in Hawaii. I miss everyone horribly. We just came back last week from a five week trip to the mainland and it was really hard with two kids. Our families usually pool their resources to get us out to visit or we use our tax returns which are generous. The cost is about $1000 per seat for round-trip to TX and back, though if you buy way in advance and get super cheap tickets, you can find them for about $700 a ticket. When we go, our stays are long and we spend a week with each family so they get time to spend with us. It's way hard on the kids, but the only way they can see their family. An overseas flight is about 5 hours from here to Cali, then add a few for any other states you have to get to. :(
I knew the produce we ate would change based on what grows locally but we are finding it soooo expensive that we are eating more junk because it is much cheaper. I've always been one of those "It doesn't cost more to eat well" sort of people, but holy smokes, it sure does here! Also we are camping the whole time so cooking needs to be simple and kept to a minimum.
Me. With 1 spouse, 4 kids, 16 chickens, 74 matchbox cars, 968,562+ legos, a dishwasher waiting to be emptied, a washing machine waiting to be filled and a lost cup of tea in the house.