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Re: From a Newcomer in Hawaii to Other Newcomers
traci

    hi andy,my name is traci. i'm 38, married with 4 kids. like so
    many other people i want to live in hawaii. my husband is
    nervous about the cost of living. we are in so. california
    and it isn't cheap but we have a big home and great
    schools. i want to know what the starting salary for
    teachers is there? also, what other type of credentials do
    i need other that my calif. one? for example, how much
    might a 2000 sq. ft home be and where would you recommend
    living? we are looking for a change but are very cautious.

    please help,
    thanks,
    traci

    On 5/12/06, Andy wrote:

    > To Whom It May Concern,
    >
    > I've recently moved to Hawaii with my family from Taiwan,
    > where I lived for more than a decade. In the year prior
    > to our move, I often logged on to the Hawaii chatboard in
    > order to get some practical advice as well as general
    > impressions of the area of the U.S. I was planning to move
    > back to. As it seems that people interested in moving to
    > Hawaii and teaching there frequently access this website,
    > I am writing to try to satisfy their curiosity on certain
    > points and to give them a newcomer's set of impressions on
    > what it's actually like here.
    >
    > First, I'd like to comment on the cost of living here,
    > about which you read a lot of negative commentary. My
    > impression at this point is that the proverbial high cost
    > of living in the islands is exaggerated. True, I lived
    > outside the U.S. for many years and am just now trying to
    > get a sense of what day-to-day costs are like in my home
    > country after being away for so long. But I have taken
    > frequent vacations throughout the years to visit my family
    > in Pennsylvania, and my sense is that, apart from the
    > costs of housing, the day-to-day costs of getting by in
    > Hawaii are about the same as on the mainland - IF, that
    > is, you shop where the locals do and avoid paying the
    > greedy middlemen who run things in areas where (often
    > extremely wealthy) tourists hang out. I've read horror
    > stories of people having to pay $6 for a gallon of milk or
    > a box of cereal, but where we shop we don't pay more than
    > $3.50 or so for either. Gas is 10&37; more expensive, but
    of
    > course you don't really feel it in most situations as
    > you're living on an island where everything is in close
    > location to everything else and the farthest distance you
    > can actually drive from one place to another is about 44
    > miles.
    >
    > The biggest difference, as might be expected, is with
    > respect to home costs. Of course, things have gotten just
    > as expensive in many areas of the U.S. mainland (and
    > probably more expensive in fact in a lot of places such as
    > California). The key thing is that you have to get used
    > to living in smaller spaces. This is relatively easy for
    > me, as I've spent the last decade living in the second
    > most densely populated country on Earth, where you don't
    > get much for your money when it comes to space. In fact,
    > I've gotten so used to it that I've come to like living in
    > modest spaces as you have that much less work to do
    > keeping everything in good condition. My impression is
    > that most people in Hawaii simply don't feel the need for
    > the grandiose spaces that people in general enjoy on the
    > U.S. mainland. The majority of people here either have
    > either immigrated from or descend from people who
    > immigrated from heavily populated East Asian countries
    > where people simply don't have so much space as we have in
    > America or in Western Europe. The other thing is that, in
    > an area of the world where the weather is so perfect, you
    > don't feel the need to have such commodious indoor spaces
    > simply because you don't feel the need to spend so much
    > time indoors. I suspect that many people from the
    > mainland who relocate to the islands, particularly those
    > raising families, (understandably) can't get used to
    > dealing with the smaller spaces associated with living on
    > a space-hungry island. If, however, you're in a position
    > such as myself, coming from a part of the world where
    > people live in similarly crowded circumstances, or if you
    > are single or don't yet have children, you'll have a much
    > easier time adjusting to the smaller spaces and will be
    > able to accept not having so much space for the same
    > amount of money.
    >
    > In short, I believe that the perception that Hawaii is so
    > much more expensive than the mainland is only correct from
    > the point of view of people who are not willing to
    > sacrifice the great amount of space they enjoy on the
    > mainland and force themselves to pay double or more when
    > they get here than what they would have to pay if they
    > were willing to make such a sacrifice.
    >
    > Second,to all the people, whether locals or mainlanders,
    > many of them apparently mean-spirited, who are constantly
    > griping about ethnic issues and racial slights on this
    > chatboard, I will say this: lighten up a bit, and you're
    > sure to a much nicer time of it. Doubtless there are a
    > lot of people who go through life looking for trouble of
    > this sort, and doubtless, in a frequently mean-spirited
    > world, they're able to find it. My impression, however,
    > is that there is FAR LESS of this sort of trouble in
    > Hawaii than anywhere else in the U.S. My daughter,
    > although she is half-Chinese, looks far "whiter" than any
    > of the other kids in her class, in an elementary school
    > where there are only a handful of white kids. She
    > certainly doesn't notice that she looks any different from
    > the rest of her classmates, comes home with a big smile on
    > her face every day, and is overjoyed to be out of the
    > crazy, high-pressure study environment of public school in
    > Taiwan. She's already picked up the local accent and
    > apparently fits right in. The other white kids I notice
    > at her school all seem to be just as happy as everyone
    > else. Doubtless in high schools you do encounter
    > problems, some of them involving ethnic or racial slurs,
    > but doesn't this happen everywhere in the American public
    > school system? Adolescents can be nasty and groups of
    > them will frequently treat poorly anyone who is perceived
    > as non-conforming, including when it comes to appearance.
    > This is a just an unfortunate part of American youth. My
    > suspicion is that the sort of kids who encounter this sort
    > of trouble in school here are the sort of kids who would
    > encounter this sort of trouble anywhere (and possibly
    > administer to this sort of trouble to other kids). And
    > I'd like to add that, while I understand that I've only
    > been here for a couple of months and likely haven't had
    > much occasion to experience certain negative aspects of
    > living here, so far I have found strangers and especially
    > people doing any sort of public service (grocery clerks,
    > bus drivers, etc.) to be far more relaxed and FAR
    > FRIENDLIER than most of their counterparts in the frantic
    > East Coast area where I grew up.
    >
    > To conclude, my experience so far as a newcomer has been
    > entirely positive, and I would recommend it to other
    > teachers or prospective teachers who are looking for a
    > change of locale and who would like to make a contribution
    > to a part of the U.S. which desperately needs more good
    > teachers. The costs here really seem to be exaggerated,
    > as do the reports of poor, mistreated haoles.
    >
    > If other newcomers or prospective newcomers would like to
    > contact me for an exchange of info, I'd be happy to hear
    > from them!
    >
    > Best wishes,
    > Andy
    >