Monday, March 24, 2014

How To Afford Big Island Hawaii (Part Two)

In Part One of Affording Hawaii, I explained how to live locally, cut costs on electricity, and open your home. But what about food that isn't grown locally? What about transportation? And how in the world do meet people?

Buy in Bulk
  • Get a costo card and go ham. (Ham means crazy, guys.)
  • Buy Prime bulk products like toiletries, cereals, chips, and canned goods on Amazon. Shipments over $35 qualify for free shipping and, almost always, the prices are better than in-store and sometimes Costco. Plus it ships right to your door!
  • Compare prices and clip coupons. It's boring and time-consuming, but it is a tried and true method. Safeway has cheaper gas prices with a safeway card, but Walmart has the cheapest American cheese. And KTA is always having a sale that doesn't require a membership for those specific items that Costco doesn't sell.
Resign Yourself to Getting A Car
  • Public transportation on the Big Island is almost nonexistant. I walked, caught the irregular bus, and carpooled for nearly eight months and it was nervewracking. The bus never shows up on time (and sometimes not at all). It also runs, maybe, once an hour in town. Trekking across the island or from Kohala to Kona? Goodluck.
  • Hitchhiking happens a lot and it's safer than the mainland. But it's still hitchhiking and, with twelve grocery bags on your arm, standing in the sun can get pretty tiring.
  • Get a scooter if you can't afford a car. Scooters are cheap but very temporary modes of transportation here. The chances of injury and slow speeds are high, and you'll never make a far trip. We have some big hills and those little things may need to be pushed up one. We also have some crazy drivers. DUI's are the most regular problem in the police notice of the paper so watch out.
  • Buy a used vehicle. If you can save up, get a Kona cruiser (basically a junker for $1000 or so that gets from Point A to Point B). If you can't save and you have good credit, visit the dealerships. Many high-end cars can be found at dealerships in Hawaii after their owners moved back to the mainland. They are in good condition and longer than a junker. Just make sure to do your research!
Meeting the Locals/Making Friends
  • Join and find a group. Many of my friends I met from going on hikes with people from meetup. Guess what? They were new to the island and looking for friends too! In a sea of vacationers and honeymooners, it can be hard sorting out the FOB residents.
  • Ask your roommate / landlord / boss / coworkers. They know you're new and, as awkward as it might be, they probably know people to set you up with on "friend dates" if they don't invite you out themselves.
  • Make an ad on Craigslist under the activities section. Craigslist (like hitchhiking) isn't as scary or weird in Hawaii as it is on the mainland. Check out the person on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram before you meet up. Do something in public and, before you know it, you'll be meeting weekly.
  • Introduce yourself. Ah! I know. I'm an introvert. This sucks. But go out to a yoga class, a beach, or a even the bar and find someone your age to talk to. Compliment, exchange numbers or facebook names, and follow up for coffee. BAM! Now at least you know someone in case of an emergency and (if you buy their coffee) then they owe you one anyway. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hawaii Writers Club (Kona Side)


There is finally a Writers Club on the Kona side of the Big Island Hawaii! I met up with another writer named Blake at Daylight Mind, a wonderful new coffee shop on Ali'i drive. The atmosphere is warm (It's always warm in Hawaii) and scented with coffee, fresh bread, and lovely ocean salt.

We sat on the second floor balcony under a large umbrella and overlooking the waves that broke against the volcanic coastline. There we talked of our goals and hopes for this new club. The heat caused beads of sweat to form on my forehead but the breeze from the ocean placated me.

We, as a Kona Writers Group, have the following goals for the club:

  • To start writing regularly and to write for an audience
  • To be inspired to write
  • To receive feedback and constructive criticism
  • To socialize among likeminded people
If this seems like something you would like to do, I will be at Daylight Mind at 3PM every Sunday. I will have a notepad and book (probably) and (occasionally) my glasses.

Monday, March 10, 2014

How To Afford Big Island Hawaii

I've been living on the Big Island for almost a year now and I always get the question about how expensive it is. It is much cheaper than Maui and Oahu so if you're looking for that, head elsewhere.

Yes, Hawaii is expensive as a mo-fo. But if you play your cards right, you can live comfortably on a $25,000 budget like I do.

Electricity is a Bitch
Having the latest cable/air conditioner/name-an-appliance probably won't be possible.
  • Get wi-fi so you can watch all your favorite shows without the cable bill. 
  • Live high. You won't be on the coast, but you won't need A/C either (and it'll cut those tsunami/earthquake home insurance costs way down).
  • Buy small fans or lights to use when necessary.
  • Unplug, literally and figuratively.
Go Local
Cave at the end of South Point
  • Hilo side (east side) is cheaper when it comes to rent, land, restaurants, and gasoline.
  • Find a community. You'll make a tight group of people you can count on, share rides, share food, go to potlucks when it's not a HOLIDAY, and learn where the best beach and surfing spots are (not advertised in tourist books). This is how I managed to gain 10lbs despite having to walk everywhere and cutting my food budget in half. Hooray friendship!
  • Pick fresh fruits and vegetables! You can trade with neighbors and friends oranges, tangerines, coconuts, avocados, bananas, and all that healthy junk. Many people have trees that grow on their property and will give away the extra food if asked.
Hidden Waterfall off of White Road hike
Sacrafice Privacy
  • Roommates are essential. Living alone is practically impossible. You'll need at least one or two more people to afford rent, electric, water, Wi-Fi, and everything else. I live in a studio apartment connected to my friend's mother's house and I pay $500/month, and I got lucky! Usually, you won't find a studio (even attached to someone's house) for less than $800 and that may not count utilities.
  • Word-of-mouth. Everyone will know everyone else's business. Despite being the biggest island, Hawai'i only has a small group of residents who really settle and live year-round. But this is the best way to get that cheap junker car, a nice place to live, or a well-paying job. Otherwise, good luck. You'll pay twice as much and get paid twice as little.
  • House-Sit. People buy properties on the island and leave all the time. Once you get into the community, offer to water the plants, watch pets, or keep up the house while your friends are gone. News will spread and you can be living in a coastal mansion half the year, getting paid to watch TV.