What Andy Pike Thinks Of Waipahu!
To Waipahu from on base, Tampa and Boston
Andy is a financial planner with Quo Vadis Financial Management.
How long have you lived in Waipahu?
I’ve lived Waipahu for ten years.
Is your home a house or condominium?
WE live in a freestanding house, although the plot is zoned as a condominium. The zoning is just a peculiarity of the way the town ordinances are applied.
Where is Waipahu and what is it like as a community?
Waipahu is west of the city of Honolulu. It’s an interesting kind of town because there is a diverse population. It’s outside of the city of Honolulu but in Honolulu County. There is an older section that could be called “lower income” and then there is a newer section where the houses and streets remind you of a typical modern suburban setting. It’s a pretty big and diverse suburb of Honolulu.
Did you have your heart set on Waipahu or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Honolulu?
WE looked at a lot of neighborhoods around Honolulu. To tell you the truth, the price of the house was really the determining factor in where WE ended up. I was getting ready to retire from the military and so WE wanted to control costs as much as possible. So when WE worked with the realtor, it was pretty much price driven. As you probably know, Honolulu real estate is not cheap. I don’t know what the exact number is, but the average price of a house here is well over $400,000. But up until the last couple of years, house prices have appreciated steadily, so buying a house here is really a good investment.
Is Waipahu more of an urban or suburban environment?
The older part of town was, back in the day, just a small town that was not really considered a suburb of Honolulu. But now where the newer houses are — that’s much more like a suburb and there’s a lot of houses going up still. WE have a small shopping center and other things that you would see in any suburb, although WE don’t have a lot of strip malls and stuff like that.
Do you worry about crime in Waipahu?
WE don’t worry about it in our part of town, no. And Honolulu generally has a very low crime rate.
Do you have children and is it easy to find childcare in Waipahu?
Yes, WE have a nine-year-old. Of course, WE don’t worry about childcare during the school year. But after school and during the summer, my wife is stay-at-home mom, so We’re lucky. WE don’t have to worry about daycare. When WE do go out, our babysitters are the older children of people WE are friends with around the neighborhood.
Speaking of your neighborhood friends, was it hard to meet people when you moved to Waipahu?
Not really. Our neighborhood is kind of a new construction. So as new houses were built and new people moved in, WE would meet them. And people here a very friendly, and, as you know, the whole atmosphere around Honolulu is very laid back. People enjoy the easy kind of living here and they like to socialize. WE have lots of barbecues and house parties in our neighborhood.
Do you work in the city of Honolulu? What’s your commute like?
I work in at a financial planning firm in Aiea, which is east of Waipahu and quite a bit closer in to the city. It’s a pretty big established city. There’s a lot of everything in Aiea. As for the commute, if there’s absolutely no traffic, it takes me about 15 minutes to get to work. But if the traffic is heavy, it can take me as long as an hour to get to work. That’s why I prefer to come into the office early. It shortens my commute.
Would you have any advice for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Waipahu and the city of Honolulu?
Naturally, an awful lot depends on where you work because traffic here . . . well, pretty much it’s a crapshoot. Because We’re on an island, there’s really only a few ways to get from West to East, and if there’s any kind of bad traffic, then you’re just plain stuck. I live about 11 miles from work, and a few times it’s taken me about an hour to get to work. The city’s planning to put in a rail system. I think construction on that is supposed to start in 2012 and it’s going to go from pretty far out West into downtown Honolulu. When that’s up and running, I’ll probably use that quite a bit instead of driving. WE also have buses that run out here all the way into the city of Honolulu, but I haven’t used that. There’s a park-and-ride lot not too far from my house and a lot of people use that, especially if they don’t need their cars in their job or if they work in downtown Honolulu. I also know people who get up and drive into work at five o’clock in the morning — like I do sometimes.
How has the real estate market changed since you bought you house?
Prices went up quite a bit until the recession hit. Our house’s value went up to about $600,000, and WE paid about $350,000 when WE bought it. Of course, like everywhere else, real estate values have taken a hit over the past couple of years. I think the last time I checked our house was valued at about $520; it’s been as low as $480,000. The market is kind of depressed. It’s seriously a buyers market. From my perspective as a financial planner, I have a lot of clients who move away from here who can’t sell because of loan to value problems; so they end up renting their houses and they can’t rent for their mortgage payments. Right now, I spend a lot of time helping people figure out how they’re going to keep their places until the market picks up again.
Do you like the quality of life in Waipahu?
Yes, it’s comfortable to live here. As I said, the lifestyle in all of Hawaii is kind of laid back. There’s not the hustle and bustle of your typical big city. I’ve lived in Boston and Tampa. It’s nothing like there.
What surprised you most about moving to and living in Waipahu?
What I would say about Waipahu and Hawaii in general is that the cost of living is a little bit higher than the other places I’ve lived.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Waipahu and Hawaii should be sure to experience?
Well, of course there are parks here in Waipahu and all around the island. WE spend a lot of time at the beach. Sometimes WE like to go to the North Shore and watch the surfers. That’s always a good show. There’s just so much of that island stuff to do. As far as activities, there’s a big Chinese festival in Honolulu every year and that’s kind of neat. Then there’s the Punahou School Carnival, which is a fundraiser for the school and it’s a big draw. It seems like half the island goes to that.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
That’s easy. You need to stay away from Waikiki. There’s also a big shopping center — it’s called the Waikele Outlet — between here and where I work that draws a lot of tourists. But WE shop there, and, you know, seeing tourists is not necessarily a bad thing.
Did you live in Hawaii before you moved to Waipahu and, if so, how would you compare where you lived before and living in your neighborhood?
I lived on one of the military bases here for a couple of years. And, truthfully, there’s really no comparison. Obviously, I prefer Waipahu to living on base. Now, though, living quarters on the bases are really being upgraded. They’ve contracted out living quarters to private companies and are building some very nice on-base housing. Basically, the first thing a private company does is tear down the old quarters and rebuild it. It’s all updated and very spacious and new. There’s still a little bit of the old housing left but that’s going to be gone soon, too, and replaced by housing that is really a big step up for military personnel.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Waipahu or in other parts of Honolulu?
That’s a tough question because there are so many good restaurants. There’s a really good fast-food kind of place WE like to go. It’s called Loco Moco Drive Inn. They have a couple of locations and serve pretty much Hawaiian food. In fact, loco moco is the name of a Hawaiian dish. It’s good comfort food and usually consists of a beef patty on a bowl of rice with an egg on top with gravy. Then there’s a Japanese restaurant WE like right here in Waipahu that’s called Kunio. Then there’s a Korean restaurant downtown called Sorabol.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Waipahu or living in Hawaii?
I’d have to say that the traffic situation is not good, mostly because there’s just not many ways to get from here into the city. Also, when I want to travel off island, it takes five hours just to get to California. And so, going anywhere on the mainland is a full day of travel and that can be a pain. But that’s the price of living in paradise.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Honolulu and especially in Waipahu?
Well, for one thing, you should work with a realtor. It’s better to have a realtor working for you than to try to do it on your own. Then I would say you probably want to scope out where your work is relative to where you want to buy. Part of the problem is that as you go east from here, the closer in you go, the more expensive houses become. The houses aren’t necessarily that much bigger or nicer; it’s just like most places — the location of the house is a big factor in price.
Do you have an anecdote that encapsulates your living experience in Waipahu?
I would say probably that the New Years, Fourth of July and Chinese New Years celebrations here are unique. People here love fireworks. Some of these guys on my block will spend thousands of dollars on fireworks. A couple of houses down on both sides of me, they really put on a show. You don’t need to go down into Honolulu on New Years because my neighbors put on shows that are just as good. One thing — you better be prepared to stay up until two or three in the morning, because that’s how long their shows go on. There’s basically a sulfur haze over the neighborhood that doesn’t clear until well into the next day. That’s one thing everybody looks forward to every year.
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