Chapter 1 – Why Move to Maui?
Why Move to Maui?
Maui is one of the few places in the world that can justifiably describe itself as paradise on earth. Consider: a temperate climate, palm trees and the azure of the Pacific Ocean on all sides. Topography that ranges from snow-capped mountains of volcanic rock that poke through the clouds to countless waterfalls, and from lush rainforests and verdant plains to pristine beaches regularly called the world’s best, Maui truly has it all.
Want proof? As of 2013, Readers of Condé Nast Traveler have rated Maui the world’s best island for 20 years straight. It also regained top spot in the Top 10 American Islands list for 2013. Little wonder, then, that it has become a magnet for those seeking to retire or vacation in one of the most beautiful places known to man. It’s a playground for celebrities seeking seclusion and travelers eager to embrace a new culture. It’s equally a haven for thrill-seeking adventurers and lovers of life looking to downshift gears for a more relaxed pace. A common roadside sign on Maui has this advice: “Slow down, this ain’t the mainland.”
Known as the Valley Isle, Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian islands, and is renowned for its welcoming, family-centric culture. Nothing on Maui is too far from anything else, the relatively bustling city of Kahului and the remote tranquility of Hana only a short drive apart.
Its natural wonder and cross-cultural harmony saw Coastal Living magazine name Maui a “Coastal Dream Town.” The magazine also singled out Pa’ia Town, on the island’s north shore, as one of America’s Happiest Seaside Towns for 2013 Maui’s population center of Kahului ranked as a “Contender” in CNNMoney’s list of Best Places to Live list of America’s top small towns in 2011.
Maui is home to some of the foremost hotels in the world, which saw Forbes name the Four Seasons at Wailea one of its Top 10 Beach Resorts Around The World.
A growing and diverse population has been drawn by overwhelming natural beauty and a healthy climate, and compelled to stay by the pervading spirit of tolerance and neighborliness. Known worldwide for decades as a top tourist destination, more and more people are calling this island retreat home for good.
- #1, World’s 25 Best Islands, Condé Nast Traveler
- #1, America’s 10 Best Islands, Condé Nast Traveler
- “Coastal Dream Town,” Coastal Living
- “Contender” Best Places to Live list of America’s top small towns in 2011, CNNMoney
- Top 10, Happiest Seaside Towns for 2013, Coastal Living
- Top 10 Beach Resorts Around The World, Forbes
LIFESTYLE AND LEISURE
Let’s face it, this is why you want to move to Maui. Same reason media queen Oprah Winfrey has a 300-plus acre upcountry farm and countless other celebrities have homes here. Take your pick: Walk above the clouds at Haleakala National Park. Get romantic in historic Hana, ranked as one of the world’s top honeymoon spots by Outside Magazine. Relax on Kapalua Beach in northwestern Maui, ranked as one of Coastal Magazine’s 21 Best Beaches in America. Gaze at its legendary rainbows or breathtaking sunsets. Tramp through bamboo forests or across lavender pastures.
There’s also a vibrant arts scene. Even the tiny town of Paia on Maui’s Northern Shore was described in the New York Times in 2010 as “turning into an unlikely destination for contemporary art.”
But close your eyes and think of Maui and you’re probably picturing palm trees, a deep blue sky, pale blue ocean and fine sand gently giving way beneath your feet. That’s understandable, Hawaii’s beaches regularly take home top honors in the annual Best Beaches in America list issued by Dr. Beach, acknowledged as the world’s foremost authority with a famous 50-criteria ranking system. Maui beaches always rank highly. Kapalua Bay Beach was ranked #1 in 1991, Wailea Beach won in 1999, Ka’anapali Beach took the top award in 2003 and Fleming Beach Park won in 2006. In 2013, Maui’s Hamoa Beach placed fourth.
Should you want to do more than swim, Maui is a Mecca for canoeing and kayaking. Outside Magazine called the island one of its Top 10 Beginner Stand Up Paddle spots.
If your place is atop the waves, Maui also has you covered. Its surf is up as high as its beach rankings. National Geographic ranked Paia in the Top 20 of the World’s Best Surf Towns and Surfer Magazine ranked it #4 on its similar list. Maui also offers majestic hikes and mountain biking trails.
If you want to work on your backswing, Maui also happens to be golf heaven. It’s one of the most gorgeous locales to play the game, and has courses that consistently remain top destinations for professionals and amateurs alike. Kapalua Golf is home to the PGA Tour’s Mercedes Championship each year, and Kaanapali Golf Course hosts the Senior PGA Kaanapali Classic. The Dunes at Maui Lani was ranked among the 35 best new courses in America by GOLF Magazine, and Golf Digest called it One of the Five Best Kept Secret Golf Courses in America. Golf Digest also ranked Kapalua #17 on its list of America’s Greatest Public Golf Courses.
- #1, Best Beaches in America 1991, Dr. Beach
- #1, Best Beaches in America 1999, Dr. Beach
- #1, Best Beaches in America 2003, Dr. Beach
- #1, Best Beaches in America 2006, Dr. Beach
- Top 10 Beginner Stand Up Paddle spots, Outside Magazine
- Top 20, World’s Best Surf Towns, National Geographic
- #17, America’s Greatest Public Golf Courses, Kapalua, Golf Digest
- 35 Best New Courses in America, The Dunes at Maui Lani , GOLF Magazine
- Five Best Kept Secret Golf Courses in America, The Dunes at Maui Lani, Golf Digest
- #4, Best Surf Towns, Paia (on Maui’s North Shore) Surfer Magazine #11, 20 Best Places to Live, Triathlete
HISTORY AND CLIMATE
Maui was formed by the overlapping lava flows of neighboring volcanoes, which gave rise to its unusual topography that squashes mountains and valleys together in the middle of an ocean. That landscape means rainfall varies wildly across the island. Lowland showers are common, especially in the morning and at night, and can be heavy, but most pass through quickly. And Maui’s climate is as welcoming as its beauty. The year-round average temperature is 79 degrees, but with the exception of high altitudes, there are no extremes here. The 76-degree average for January is only 6 degrees lower than August’s average of 82 degrees. In Maui, the temperature is one thing you can count on.
The island was first settled by Polynesian peoples. A French admiral was the first European to land there, in 1786. Missionaries from New England arrived some 40 years later and had a marked influence on the culture. Whaling gave way to sugarcane as the island’s principal industry around the time the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898. Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900 and the 50th U.S. state in 1959. By that time Maui had hosted more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers during World War II.
Maui’s economy is constantly evolving. Once dominated by agriculture, and sugar cane in particular, tourism currently rules the roost. But over the past two decades, the island’s business base has become has become increasingly diversified. That’s partly why, in the midst of recession paranoia in late 2008, Forbes ranked Kahului-Wailuku fifth in a list of America’s Least Vulnerable Towns.
Growth and Expansion
Maui’s 727 square miles are home to less people than you might expect, given its bounty of natural wonder. But the word is out. The island’s population grew by almost 23 percent from 200 to 2010, when it was 144,644. Still, there’s plenty of room, with only 133 people per square mile. Compare that to an urban area Manhattan, say, which has 523 times that many people crammed in the same space.
Whether you’re looking for a permanent home or a vacation getaway, home values on Maui have beaten expectations and national averages throughout the recession. Values have rebounded strongly since 2011, driven by low supply and a steady decline in unemployment.
In 2011, Maui was in the top two of the New York-based financial magazine Barron’s Top Second Home Communities list, ahead of the Hamptons, Palm Beach and Aspen.
The Kahului-Wailuku market ranked third in the nation among 100 mid-size markets for year-over-year home price increases, with a 22.55 percent hike from 2012 to 2013. According to Trulia, the median price of homes sold in the market in 2013 was $510,000, almost back to the 2008m peak of $565,000.
There’s no way around it, Maui is an exclusive place to own property. The average price of newly sold homes increased by 17.5% through August 2013, to $669,701 per unit. Maui is a small market, so a few sales here and there can skew the trends. Properties range from fixer-uppers for about $200,000 to multimillion oceanfront homes. For all properties though, it’s clear prices have been on the rise.
Employment and Business
Maui’s universal appeal kept it a destination throughout the recession, and the future is bright.
Unemployment remained below the national average throughout the last five years. The 4.5 percent rate recorded in August 2013 was the lowest since July 2008. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations predicts Maui County will have the second-fastest job growth in the state between 2010 and 2020, with a 15.1 percent increase forecast. It’s a stable place to invest, too. In 2010, Forbes ranked Bank of Hawaii the best bank in the nation, based in part on a conservative underwriting strategy.
The island is home to globally-recognized brands including the Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation and Lockheed Martin Orincon. Structural Concrete Bonding & Restoration in Kahului was included in Inc.com’s 2010 5000 List after growing its revenue by 145 percent in three years.
The Made in Maui Trade Council produces an easy-to-spot seal to let consumers know when at least 51 percent of a product’s value was created on Maui, as a way of building support for locally-sourced products.
Air travel is all-important for the islands, and the airlines know it. Forbes ranked Maui’s Kahului airport, the island’s commercial gateway, and the most punctual of America’s 50 busiest airports in 2007. It ranked second in 2008, the last year the rankings were produced, with an 84.2 percent on-time departure rate. Top spot in the 2008 list was taken by Honolulu. Given that the Kahului-Honolulu route has ranked as one of the busiest in the U.S., with well over 1.5 million passengers a year, that’s good news for island residents.
Hawaiian Airlines opened a second hub in Kahului airport in 2012. Several U.S. airlines offer direct service to Maui from airports not just on the west coast but as far inland as the Midwest, including Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle.
Kahului is the only airport on Maui that flies to the US. mainland, but there are two smaller airports. Kapaulua offers some flights to Honolulu, while Hana is accessible only by single propeller planes flying from elsewhere on the island.
When it comes to getting around Maui itself, there are six main a roads that cross and encircle the island. Maui has a brief average commute time of 20.9 minutes, according to the Maui Economic Development Board. Gasoline is more expensive than on the mainland, but cars tend to drive far fewer miles here. The County of Maui operates a public transit system with multiple bus routes that run seven days a week and cost $2 per ride.
The University of Hawaii Maui College is one of ten branches of the state university system. Enrolment is about 4,400 at Maui College, which was a technical school welcomed into the state’s then-new community college system in 1966. Nestled on 78 acres in Kahului Bay, it operates an oral health center and a culinary arts facility and was renamed in 2010 to acknowledge its membership of the state university system. That designation was awarded based on its four year degree offerings, in Applied Science, Engineering Technology and Sustainable Science Management.
Maui’s 31 public schools are part of a centralized, single-district state system that was founded by King Kamehameha III in 1840, making it the oldest public school system west of the Mississippi. In 2011, Hawaii was the only state to make significant progress in all three subject areas — science, math and reading — outlined in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The largest of the island’s schools, the century-old Maui High School, is noted for its award winning marching band, which has performed at Disneyland and is set to march in the 2015 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
The Hawaii Association of Independent Schools is an affiliation of private not-for-profit schools with enrolment ranging up to 3,800. Maui is home to some of the most prestigious private schools in the country, including Seabury Hall, a top college prep school, named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The 33,349 children enrolled in private schools on Maui in 2013 accounted for about 15 percent of all school-aged kids.
What could be better for your health than the Pacific air on an island far removed from urban smog? Little wonder that Maui, along with the rest of Hawaii, ranked in the top 25 percent for the lowest instances of the seven most common chronic diseases: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders and pulmonary conditions. That’s according to the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank.
According to data from CountyHealthRankings.org, among Hawaii counties, Maui County ranks #2 in overall health, #3 in health behaviors such as smoking, obesity and STDs and #4 in clinical care in its 2013 Health Outcomes snapshot.
It’s also worth noting that the 1974 Hawaii Prepaid Healthcare Act, requires employers to provide health coverage for all employees who work more than 20 hours per week for four weeks.
- #2, Maui County, HI overall health, CountyHealthRankings.org
- #5, Maui County, HI clinical care, CountyHealthRankings.org
- #7, Maui County, HI health behaviors, CountyHealthRankings.org
A stable and pleasant climate, a healthy environment and a laid-back pace of living make Maui a plum spot to enjoy the well-earned fruits of your labor, a fact more and more retirees are starting to notice People aged 65 and older accounted for 11 percent of Maui’s population in 2000; by 2012 that had grown to 14 percent.
Maui’s beaches, golf courses, delicious foods and abundant natural appeal is a draw to people of any age who love life. But there are also financial benefits for retirees who move here. Hawaii doesn’t tax Social Security or pension income and property taxes tend to be lower because schools are funded by the state and not local governments. Wealth Manager magazine called it the most wealth-friendly place in the country for retirees.
Fortune Magazine also labeled the island one of its Five Places to Retire in Style in 2006, and AARP The Magazine ranked Maui in its Top 5 Luxury Family Travel Destinations in the U.S.
Love to stare at the night sky? At 10,000 feet, Maui’s Mount Haleakala is high enough and far enough from any city lights to make it one of the world’s most sought-after locations in the world for stargazing.
Always wanted to see a humpback whale? Thousands of humpback whales migrate to the warm pacific waters around Hawaii each year and the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation offers cruises to see them.
Whales a little too big for you? A small black sand beach in the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve known as Turtle Town is one of Maui’s top snorkeling spots. There is truly a new discovery waiting around every hairpin turn of Maui’s twisting highways.
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