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Chapter 26 – Jan Smythe

Pukulani Native

Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

I am married and have four kids, and I work as a psychologist. My husband and I both work, and my husband is from California.

How long have you lived in Maui?

I’ve lived here a total of 30 years on and off. I was here through childhood and then moved back 15 years ago.

Is your home a house or condominium?

It’s a house. I live in a suburban neighborhood next to a golf course. The houses are modest—it’s a working class neighborhood. It’s a three-bedroom, three-bath with an office. I have an income property on my land that’s a one bedroom that we rent out to a lovely older lady.

What is Pukulani like as a community?

It’s working class. People mind their own business, but they are also there for each other if they need neighbors. Pukulani tends not to be the wealthiest part. It’s the middle of the road economically. Kids play on the street. It’s a great place for families.

Do you need to be rich to move to Maui?

It doesn’t hurt. Basically in Hawaii you can’t really live comfortably unless you make $80-$100K a year at least.

Do you worry about crime in Pukulani?

I don’t think people worry about crime in Pukulani. Like anywhere else there are occasional break-ins, but they are few and far between.

Was it hard to meet people when you moved in Pukulani?

You definitely have to be outgoing. People keep to themselves or keep to their family community in Hawaii in general. If you are from the mainland and don’t know anybody, it’s hard to make friends and connections. It can be pretty insular. But once you are in you’re in. Everybody thinks it’s a great idea to live here, but once they live here they realize it’s not perfectly easy to connect with the community. Locals tend to reserve getting close to people until they know they aren’t going to wash out.

Are goods and services hard to find or pay for in Maui?

It can be harder. Online things often don’t deliver to Hawaii in general. If you want to order you often have to find someone to ship it for you. It makes things more expensive for sure,

Would you have any advice for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Maui?

There’s rush hour traffic. Maui is really country compared to Oahu. Maui has country roads, but the infrastructure has been expanding to allow tourism. Although you have a basic rush hour, it’s not terrible. Commuting to Lahaina side or Kihei can be a real pain in the butt when it comes to bottlenecking that happens with tourism. Especially in Lahaina– there’s only one road that goes there and that can be pretty brutal.

What surprised you most about moving back to Hawaii?

It genuinely surprised me how family-oriented Hawaii is. Personally I didn’t realize that when I was a kid and now it’s really clear that’s very family friendly.

What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Maui and Hawaii should be sure to experience?

Obviously the beaches. I would also say Maui Arts and Cultural Center. They have great films, a Maui film festival, and they have amazing shows and performers that are hard to get tickets for. It’s a tiny place and you get to see the best shows there. It’s a fancy outdoor gorgeous venue.

What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?

Lahaina on the west side. It’s so beautiful; it’s absolutely gorgeous for whale watching and snorkeling so that’s obviously where the tourists are. If you want to avoid tourists you have to stay up country. You’d still see them wherever you went, but you wouldn’t have a hotel type experience.

If you were to move to Maui today, what neighborhood/town would you choose and why?

We’d move to Haiku because that’s the most likeminded community for us and they have the best public school there.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Maui?

Mama’s Fish House: it’s on the north shore and it’s right on this little cove. It’s so beautiful but super expensive.

Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Maui or living in Hawaii?

There are things that are annoying. I wish the amount that people got paid in work was commensurate with the cost of living. Moving here is a lot more expensive than the mainland. A decent 3 bedroom 3 bath place starts at $3,000/month and that’s just insane. It’s like New York City.


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