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Chapter 25 – Lynn Woods

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I am a co-owner of a Keller Williams realty franchise on Maui. My husband is the other owner. We have lived here 28 years. We started in real estate when we first moved here. I took an 11-year hiatus to run the Maui Chamber of Commerce.

Can you tell me what brought you to Kula?

Kula is at a 1,300-foot elevation on the mountain of Haleakala. It’s very rural. So we chose to live in upcountry because we were also raising parrots and we needed to be in a rural zone. It’s very private. We live on a private road. There are larger lot sizes the further up the mountain you go.

How did you go about choosing where to live?

We had visited here a number of times, and when we decided to come we already knew the area we wanted to live in. Maui is quite rural, and even the major centers of population on Maui are pretty small. Kula is famous for soil and farming. It has seasons where down at sea level you only change 4 degrees a year. Up the mountain you get colder temperatures in winter and so you get seasonal changes and seasonal flowers.

What other areas were you drawn to?

I always knew I wanted Kula, but I think as people move here the choices are two-fold. Lots of people are attracted to the ocean and want to live closer to beaches and water activities. And usually that’s their first choice. After a year or so they begin to move away from those areas and into the residential areas. After a while you tend to move away from visitors.

What do you like about living in Kula that was a surprise to you?

I think the consistency of the weather. It’s just pretty much always the same. It’s warm all the time. I never have to think about snow; I never have to buy snow tires. I don’t have to wear boots. It’s gentle on your soul. You don’t have to worry about extremes unless you have a tsunami.

What sort of people would like living in your neighborhood?

I think it’s best for people who don’t mind commuting a long way. It’s great for people really looking for privacy. I’m 30 minutes away from most things. As you go up into the rural area, it’s more private.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend here?

I think, I would say when I first moved here my favorite activities were diving and hiking. We have incredible hiking on the island. We have a lot of Hawaiian cultural events, which are wonderful to partake in and are important to develop an ear and taste for local culture. I really enjoy and appreciate the Hawaiian culture.

What sort of cultural activities are available to you?

We have quite a mix of cultures here. We have a very strong and large Japanese and Chinese population. There is also quite a large Filipino pop. Because of that there are tons of Japanese festivals and Filipino celebrations.

How is the commute? Is there much traffic?

We just started getting 4 lane highways. We don’t have freeways. If we do have an accident, it can tie traffic up for a long time. Our roads don’t go straight from one place to another. It’s 45 minutes to my office even though I can see it from my home. The original roads that were built aren’t a straight line. It’s a slower way to travel here.

If you could, what would you change about Kula?

I don’t think I’d change anything. Maui has been really, really good to me. In Maui it is all about community. We live on an island in the middle of the Pacific; we have to look after each other, and I think we do a good job of that.

What advice would you give someone considering a move to the Maui area?

79% of people who move to Maui are gone within 16 months. It’s very expensive to live here, and that includes taxation. The state of Hawaii taxes everything it can get its fingers on. So we have a general excise tax on everything—medicine, food, commissions,; and there is a state personal income tax. To buy what you need to exist is expensive because it’s almost all brought in. We have a high cost and it shocks people when they move here. The other thing is if you are close to your family, it’s very isolated. Once you get here and if you are raising a family it’s too expensive to get to mainland. People who are close to families get homesick.

Do you visit the other islands often?

I do because I do business on the other islands. It’s always fun to go to another island. Each island is very different. It’s probably close to $100 one way to another island. When you go back and forth for business there are passes you can buy.

What do you do to stay out of the way of the tourists?

Just go home. I live in an area where the tourists have to be more adventurous and want to explore. The visitor industry is our economic engine. I want to see it be successful. We have the Aloha attitude. People are coming here and having a good time and we can all make a living because of that.

How are the business opportunities? Would you recommend moving here without finding work first?

It’d be difficult to find work first. People wouldn’t hire you from the mainland. Typically it’s a case of people moving here, and sometimes their career exists here and sometimes it doesn’t. Moving here requires that people have savings to live off of for a while. Many jobs in the service industry are not high paying. The best success in Maui is entrepreneurism.

What’s your favorite local event?

I love whale season. We are where the humpback whales breed and calf. They are remarkable, and there are many opportunities to go on whale watches. We are a whale sanctuary. I go out every year to see them. They are here during winter, which is our high season. They’ll be here until May. There are hundreds and you can just stand on side of the road and watch them breach.

Are there activities for children and families near you?

Where I live I find a lot of people with children try to get closer to activities down the hill. Up where I am is more populated by senior citizens or farmers.

How is the cost of living, compared with other areas you have lived?

I think the cost of living was similar from Toronto to here. We are probably about 25% higher than mainland. It costs a lot to live here. We are about as expensive as the Bay Area.

Anything else?

I think something I’d like to talk about is in terms of how you move here. There are three ways: You sell everything you own and you come; you store everything and come; or you bring everything and you come. Selling everything is the burn the bridge approach. You stay longer because you didn’t leave anything behind to influence you.

If you store everything you have the pull back. If you have that attitude, you don’t tend to be as committed to making it work. Because you still have everything packed away If you bring everything, it costs you so much money you’ll sell it all before you leave. A lot of people here furnish from huge garage sales that happen every weekend. We have such turnover there are always people selling stuff.


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Gary Marden