Interviews

        In this section you will hear from 13 people about their experiences in their various Honolulu neighborhoods. You will learn how they chose the area in which they live, if they would make that same choice again, and why. They will tell you who they think would like their part of Honolulu, and who would not. And finally, they will tell you what they do for fun!

Andy Pike
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 con-dominium. The zoning is just a peculiarity of the way the town ordinances are applied.
Where is Waipahu and what’s 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 child-care 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 neighbor-hood that doesn’t clear until well into the next day. That’s one thing everybody looks forward to every year.

Justin Willingham
To Waianae from Michigan
Justin was a beloved member of Team Lally who we tragically lost much too early in 2011. Although he is gone, we’ve chosen to include his interview in this book in order to help his spirit and expertise live on.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself. 
        I’m a single 21 year old with no children. I repair computers for RE/MAX as well personal computers. I was born in Macomb, Michigan,which is highly known for General Motors.
How long have you lived in Waianae?
        I’ve lived in Waianae for 6 months.But when I was younger I lived here for 3 years.
Is your home a house or condominium?
        My rental home is a 5-bedroom,1-bathroom house.
Where is Waianae and what’s it like as a community?
        It’s set far back toward the west side of the island. It’s in a very quiet location.
Is Waianae more of an urban or suburban environment?
        I think it’s more suburban because it’s not a huge city. It’s also very laid back.
Do you worry about crime in Waianae?
        Yes, crime is everywhere. I just do not choose to seek it out.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Waianae?
        It was hard because I normally stay to myself. But soon I started to love the people and began to open up.
Do you work in the city of Honolulu? What’s your commute like?
        I currently work in Kapolei and the bus takes awhile but it’s actually nice to have “me”time.
Would you have any advice for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Waianae and the city of Honolulu?
        Honolulu, don’t be a person with “RoadRage”because from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. the traffic is horrible. Really the bus is the most amazing thing on the Island. It’s cheap and much less expensive then gas.
What surprised you most about moving to and living in Waianae?
        The cost of rent for the 5-bedroom house I live in is $1,750 per month.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Waianae and Hawaii should be sure to experience?
       I guess the “can’t miss event”is during the holidays. The people of Hawaii band together to take care of each other.That is really a true event … to see people helping each other.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
        Ha, ha. Waikiki. But really the Island is a mixture of everything and without tourists Hawaii would not be Hawaii. So we must take pride that we are not in as bad of shape financially as the rest of the U.S. So we embrace the tourists!
Did you live in Hawaii before you moved to Waianae and, if so, how would you compare where you lived before and living in your neighborhood?
        The funny thing is I’ve always lived in Waianae,even when I lived here before as a child. Being from the mainland I’d much rather live in a city environment.The quiet calm area just isn’t enough for me.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Waianae or in other parts of Honolulu? 
        Yes,a small little place called Waianae Chinese Kitchen. They have the most amazing food. Also, in Ala Moana the Curry House is a place that I’ve just discovered.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Waianae or living in Hawaii?
        The fact that it takes almost 2 hours to get into town, and an hour to get to Kapolei.

Joe W
To Waianae from Germany 
Joe W. works at Schofield Barracks as a civilian employee.
What part of Oahu do you live in and how long have you lived there? Is there a specific name for your neighborhood?
        I actually live out in Waianae on Oahu, which is about 35 miles Northwest of Honolulu Oahu. My neighborhood is called Sea Country, which is actually a planned community with a community association. I’ve lived here since August 2009.
Did you move from somewhere else to Waianae and what are the most striking differences about Waianae?
        I lived in Germany. Needless to say, there are major differences be-tween Hawaiian culture and northern European culture. Both have their strengths. The people here in Hawaii are very warm and friendly in all aspects of life. The German people are more reserved but not unfriendly. They are very industrious but also convivial. They value their technological achievements and enjoy the arts.
Where did you live on Oahu before you moved to your neighborhood and, if so, how would you compare where you lived before and living in your neighborhood?
        I lived for a couple of months in an apartment while I was house hunting. I did a lot of looking. I think that being patient and thorough and working closely with an agent is the key to buying real estate any-where, but that’s especially true on Oahu.
Is your home a house or condominium?
        It’s a duplex house.
Do you have your heart set on Waianae or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Honolulu and on Oahu?
        As I said, I had an open mind and took my time.  I think looked at about 35 properties all over the island.
Would you consider Waianae more of an urban or suburban environment?
        It’s definitely suburban, and it has a rural feel to it too. In Waianae, there’s the advantage of being close to both the ocean and the mountains. I have a place closer to the mountains. There is my house and right across the street are the mountains.
Do you worry about crime in Waianae?
        To a small degree, yes. There is some petty crime, but I do have an alarm system that I think guards against that. 
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Waianae?
        No, not hard at all. The people in the neighborhood are friendly, and, like almost everywhere on the island, my neighborhood is multicultural, which I like.
Do you work in the city of Honolulu or elsewhere on the Oahu? What’s your commute like?
        I work at Schofield Barracks. I’ma civilian employee of the Defense Department. My commute takes between 30 and 45 minutes in the morning. Depending on the route you choose, Schofield is anywhere from about 20 miles to 35 miles away. But this is an island, so there’s always going to be considerable traffic no matter where you’re going.
How’s the parking at the base?
        There’s no problem with parking. They’re plenty of spaces for the people working there.
Would you have any advice in general for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Honolulu?
        Having a GPS unit is very valuable. One thing is true that people new to the island might not realize is that it’s a beautiful drive no matter where you’re going. But there’s always going to be some traffic to a greater or lesser degree.
How has the real estate market changed since you bought your house?
        I’d say it’s been somewhat static. Since I moved here in 2009 there’s probably be a five percent decline in values, but now things have leveled out. 
How would you characterize the quality of life in Waianae and all around the island and in Honolulu?
        It’s very good. There’s beautiful weather with all of the mainland amenities. It’s sunny here 11 and a half months out of the year. And it never gets to hot or too cold.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Waianae and the Honolulu area should be sure to experience?
        Well, there’s more than one. There’s the beach, the ocean, diving, the mountains and many cultural attractions. If you’re looking for one single thing for a family, it would probably be the beaches at Waikiki. I would also recommend the Bishop Museum because it traces the history of Hawaii. For instance, you learn about how the early Polynesians were able to navigate over miles and miles of open sea using just the stars. Most people don’t realize that Hawaii consists of eight islands stretched out over an area of 1,500 miles.
Culturally, are you pleased with what Oahu and Honolulu has to offer? 
        The Polynesian Cultural Center is a great place to go. Another place to go is Hawaii’s Plantation Village, which is basically a restored plantation that includes the buildings like the houses and community buildings. The Plantation also reveals the many ethic groups and cultures that were involved in running a typical plantation, such as the Hawaiians, the Chinese, the Portuguese, and even Puerto Rican, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino peoples. Then there are the Pearl Harbor historical sites.
What are your favorite places to go for entertainment and recreation in around the island?
        I like to dive and take the trails around the mountains. I like to go to Waikiki. I also spend time in Kapolei, it’s known as the Second City of Oahu. There’s lots of theaters, restaurants, cafes.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
        Funnily enough, that would definitely be Waikiki Beach, but I enjoy going there, even though it can be a little overbearing. For me the tourists actually make the place. I don’t mind the guys walking around in Bermuda shorts and straw hats. That’s part of the interest of the place.  
Does your neighborhood have any recurring block parties or community activities?
        There is a community center with swimming pool and the residents of Sea Country can arrange for events there. And, as a matter of fact, this year the Community Association is in discussion about putting together a neighborhood block party.
Do you consider Waianae and Oahu generally to be an expensive to live?
        Some things are expensive but you can minimize cost the cost of living. Things like Costco and savings club really reduce the costs of things, though it is true that the cost of living here is higher.  As far as house prices, I think they’re comparable to the mainland even though the per-square-foot cost is higher. I take the point of view that this is mainly due to the fact that there are no basements. But setting aside the fact that you don’t have a basement, prices are comparable to the mainland.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Waianae and on the island?
        Well, I miss the change of season. You don’t see the fall leaves or the kind of coming to life of things that you see in the spring.  Another thing is that a flight to the West Coast takes about five hours. And it really takes about 18 hours door to door to get to the East Coast.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting on Oahu and in Honolulu and especially in your neighborhood?
        You have to realize that the Hawaii market is different from the mainland. You should really communicate with your real estate agent. Look at all parts of the island. Don’t limit yourself to just one part of the island.
Do you have anecdotes that encapsulate your living experience on Oahu and in Waianae?
        I have to save it’s been an amazing journey but not without its bumps. But in the end, I landed in an amazing place.
 
 
 
Bill Curtis
To Ewa Beach from Chicago
Bill Curtis owns Ohana Plumbing and Contracting in Ewa Beach, http://ohanaplumbinghawaii.com.
How long have you lived in the Ocean Pointe area of Ewa Beachand where were you living before this?
        We’ve lived here about four years.Before we came to Ocean Pointe, my wife and I lived in Chicago. Let me tell you, that’s a big change!
What part of the island is Ocean Pointe    on?
        We’re on the western side of the island in the town of Ewa Beach.
What’s your home like? Is it a house or condominium?
        We have a four-bedroom house.
What’s Ocean Pointe and Ewa Beach like as a community?
        This is an up and coming neighborhood. We have a big new commercial harbor coming in. They say it’s going to be the biggest harbor on the island. Down towards the harbor, there’s lots of golfing going on. There’s also a new Ernie Els golf course down there.
Did you have your heart set on the Ocean Pointe neighborhood and Ewa Beach? Why did you choose it?
        We weren’t really all that familiar with the different neighborhoods and towns on the island. But after we started looking around and seeing what housing prices were in comparison to Chicago, we found out that Ewa Beach is a good area for getting the most for your money house-wise. We paid around 450 for this house. In Chicago, that will put you in some pretty big houses!
Is Ocean Pointe more of an urban or suburban neighborhood?
        It’s definitely more of suburban neighborhood.
Do you have many concerns about crime where you live?
        Not really. We don’t have some of the stuff you’ll see in some of the bigger neighborhoods or in the city of Honolulu. You see some petty stuff happening like everywhere else, but for the most part, the neighbors are really nice. Everybody kind of watches out for each other.
Do you have children and is daycare easy to find in Ewa Beach?
        We have a one-year-old and a newborn. As far as daycare goes, we’re lucky because my wife’s sister looks after the kids. That’s kind of a funny story, because we moved out here without having any family living in Honolulu, but once we got here and started telling everybody how much we liked it, my wife’s sister came out here. And so, by the time we started a family, we had family in Hawaii.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Ocean Pointe?
        No, not really. The neighbors around here are real friendly. There’s quite a few neighborhood activities that people can join. For instance, there’s an informal women’s fitness group that kind of fits in to how people are living. I see a bunch of moms out in the mornings –with strollers –getting some regular exercise and socializing at the same time.
Where do you work in Honolulu and how is your commute back and forth to work?
        My situation is a little different because I don’t really have a commute. I have a plumbing business, and so I go all over the place around the island. The situation is that when you’re going around the suburbs, it’s not bad at all during the day. Of course once you get into the city and especially downtown, it does get congested. But, in comparison to where I came from, it’s really not that bad at all.
What would your advice be to the newcomer about transportation and commuting in Honolulu?
        Actually, the traffic here is really pretty good. We’re near Fort Weaver, and it used to be a real hassle getting around FortWeaver, but they put in a new road to get around FortWeaver and it’s a lot better now. Another thing is that I found that the people in Honolulu are more like defensive drivers, which is a nice change from the kind of driving habits a lot of people in Chicago have.
How has the real estate market in Honolulu changed since you bought your house? 
        Well, we got a pretty good deal on this house because it was a foreclosure. But since we bought this place, prices have gone down –I know that. But it’ looks like prices are going back up now –or at least they’re not dropping anymore.
How do you like the quality of life in Ocean Pointe?
        This is a great place to live and it’s getting better. They just built a couple of new schools out here. One is, I think, a middle grades through high school, so that’s a good thing. With these new schools and all the new developments in Ewa Beach like the new harbor, new shopping centers, new housings and new golf courses .I would say they are making a good thing better. Of course, living in Hawaii is great and things in Ewa Beach are definitely improving.
What surprised you most about moving to Hawaii?
        I would say the weather. It’s always the same –beautiful. You don’t have worry about whether you have to wear a sweatshirt. Like in Chicago, one day it might be nice out, then the next day you go out and it’s cold; so you have to go back inside and change your clothes to handle the weather. Also, we’re on the west side of the island, where it’s dry; so you don’t have to worry about dressing for rainy weather on this side of the island.
What would you say is the one can’t-miss event or activity that a family in Hawaii should look forward to?
        I would say that it’s all the great beaches and other outdoor activities. The weather allows you to do something outside anytime you want. We like to go to the beaches, but we also like to go up around Diamond Head and hike the trails. There the climate is tropical; so you’re basically walking through a rain forest when you take the trails. You see so many incredible things up there. It’s just beautiful. We also like to go kayaking on the East side of the island. You can paddle out to these small islands –they’re about three miles out –and when you get out to them, you look back at Oahu and wow!
What places should you avoid in Honolulu if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists? 
        Waikiki is really where most of the tourists hang out.
Do you find Hawaii and Ocean Pointe specifically an expensive place to live?   
         Ocean Pointe itself is pretty reasonable. Food in Hawaii tends to be kind of expensive because so many things have to be shipped in from the mainland or other places.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Honolulu?
        It’s Hoku’s. It’s located in the Waikiki area on the other side of Diamond Head. It’s a fine dining type of restaurant.
Is there anything you don’t like about living in Ocean Pointe or Hawaii?
        No, not really. But I would say that we probably would like to move over to the east side of the island at some point if we can afford it. To me that area is a little more desirable. Here it’s drier. On the east side of the island, it’s greener, more of a tropical environment.
What advice you give to people who are house hunting in Hawaii, especially in the Ewa Beach area?
        People should look for things like grocery stores and places that are convenient to shop at. Here, we just lost a food store, so there’s really only one place to shop for food right now. But the area is growing so fast I’m sure that will change.
Do you have an anecdote that encapsulates your experience living in Ocean Pointe?
        Well, it’s not really an anecdote, but living here is such a nice change of pace. In Chicago, it was always rush-rush-rush and the people seem more uptight. Here, it’s more laid back and the people are more relaxed. I think there’s also something about this place that helps with people’s attitude in living.

Joanne Barratt
To North Shore from Los Angeles

Joanne is a professional photographer and owner of Island Style Images, www.IslandStyleImages.com.
How long have you lived in Haleiwa on the North Shore? 
        We’ve lived here for nine years. Before we moved here, we (my 11-year-old daughter and I) lived in Los Angeles.
What part of the island of Oahu is Haleiwa on?
       Were on the North Shore, about 45 miles north of the city, but we’re still in Honolulu County. The whole island of Oahu is in the county of Honolulu.
Is your home a house of condominium?
        We live in a duplex.
What’s Haleiwa like as a community?
        The North Shore is kind of a Mecca for surfers during the winter. Every winter the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is held here. That’s because the waves here are huge, probably the biggest in the world. This draws not only surfers but also spectators. So there’s a lot of what you might call tourist activity surrounding the surfing here, and then there’s the so-called off season when things around here are much more small town and quiet. But one thing always stays the same. This place is beautiful, great for people who appreciate the outdoors, the beach and rural living. It’s a great place to raise children if you want them to appreciate nature and getting to know everybody in the town.
Did you have your heart set on living on the North Shore? Why did you choose it?
        Coming from Los Angeles, I really did have my heart set on the North Shore. It was everything that I wanted for myself and for my little girl.
Is Haleiwa more of an urban or suburban community?
        It’s really neither. The North Shore is really out in the country, but it’s not the country as mainlanders define it. That’s because we live on an island and everything is close by, really.
Do you have concerns about crime in Haleiwa?
        Not here in Haleiwa; It’s a safe place to live. Everybody knows everybody else pretty much.
Have you found it easy to find childcare in Haleiwa? And what about the quality of the schools?
When my girl was younger, it was easy to find childcare, but now that she’s older, it’s really not a concern. The school has an after school program, but she’s not in it. I work at home and she has so many activi-ties going on –like surfing, skateboarding and outrigger canoeing –that she really doesn’t need to be in an after school program. As far as the schools go, I think they’re amazingly good –as good as any private school. My degree is actually in elementary education. I’ve taught in schools, and our little elementary school is fabulous!

Did you find it easy to meet people when you moved to Haleiwa?
        Very. This is a very friendly community.
Since you work at home, you don’t commute, but what would you tell people considering living on the North Shore about commuting to Honolulu city? 
        Well, most people here don’t like to commute to town –that’s what we call the city. It’s only about 45 miles to town, but by island standards, that’s a long way. There’s good roads all the way there –99 and then the H2 Interstate –but once you get close to Honolulu, the traffic gets pretty bad.
How has the real estate market changed since you moved to Haleiwa nine years ago?
        Lots. It’s seems to be out-of-control expensive, to me at least. Little two bedroom shacks are going for maybe a million. Of course, most of those are tear downs, where people knock down the house and build big beautiful houses.
Do you like the quality of life on the North Shore?
        I love it! I moved here specifically for the quality of life, and I’ll prob-ably never leave here. As I said, the place has all the good things that California doesn’t have and none of the bad things that California is famous for –smog, congestion, crime.
What surprised you most about moving to Hawaii and the North Shore specifically?
        What surprised me? Probably how easy it was to fit into the community. People are so friendly here. That really did surprise me.
What would you say is the one can’t-miss event or activity that a family living in Hawaii or the North Shore should look forward to?
        I don’t know, the whole thing I guess. But if I had to say, it would be understanding the lifestyle and the culture. You need to be sure that you like it, because it’s definitely different. It’s outdoors. It’s surfing. Every-thing around here is based on the ocean. My place is only about 100 yards from the beach. In fact, I just came back from there.
You’ve probably already answered this, but how would you compare living in California to living on the North Shore?
        Well, California was way too crowded. It wasn’t a good place to raise my child. I moved here specifically because of that. It was so that she could be raised to respect nature and the ocean and being part of it rather being in a city with congestion and smog. We have no smog here; the air is clean.
Do you find it expensive to live on the North Shore?
        Yes, very. Everything is expensive. A gallon of milk is seven dollars; a loaf of bread is six or seven dollars. It’s culture shock when you move here. Now we have reverse culture shock when we go to the mainland. When we go to the store there, we want to buy ten of everything because it’s so cheap! Of course, the reason it’s so expensive here is because everything has to be shipped in.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Haleiwa?
        I like two here on the North Shore. One is Haleiwa Joe’s, and the other is Lei Lei’s Bar and Grill. There both good places to eat.
Is there anything you don’t like about living on the North Shore or in Hawaii in general?
        I would have to say the number of people addicted to crack cocaine. We don’t have that problem right here, but everywhere around the island, I guess everybody has some worries about drug crime. There are pockets in every part of the island where this is a problem. And, of course, people who are addicted are going to commit crimes to support their habit.
What advice would you give to people who are house hunting on the North Shore or on the island generally?
        Well, it does take a good amount of money to buy here. The other thing is they need to be prepared for the difference in lifestyle. It’s completely different. I know a lot of people who come from the main-land and left after a couple of years because they find out they don’t like the lifestyle here.
Can you think of a specific anecdote that encapsulates your experience living on the North Shore? 
        Well, only that when I came to the North Shore, I found home. I have a really deep connection with this area and the people –the land and the ocean. I just love it here. There are people who don’t because it’s a different lifestyle.

Jason Cooper
To Nuuanu/Waikiki from Kailua
Jason, whose name was changed to protect his privacy, is a commercial photographer.
How long have you lived in Nuuanu and where were you living before this?
        I’ve lived here for 12 years, but I’ve lived in Honolulu since I was about 12. My parents moved here from Kansas and I grew up in Kailua, which is on what you might call the northeast side of Honolulu.
What part of the island is Nuuanu on?
        Nuuanu is near the center of the island just north of downtown Honolulu. Despite that, we are living right up against the mountains and it’s kind of secluded.
What’s your home like? Is it a house or condominium?
        It’s a five-bedroom house.
What’s Nuuanu like as a community?
        Nuuanu is a very old community. The King of Hawaii used to come here in the summer because it’s cooler here due to its geographic location in what’s called the Punchbowl. For example, it’s usually about ten degrees cooler here than it is downtown where my office is. As to the “feel” of this neighborhood, believe it or not, there is still some association with the older Hawaii when people talk about this area. It’s generally associated with what you could call “old money,” although that is certainly changing. What is here are a couple of gated communities. They are older, probably dating from the 70’s. And then there are quite a few older houses built in the 60’s, which is when my house was built. In my particular neighborhood, I think the best word for the ambiance of this place is to say it’s cosmopolitan, which is probably a good way to describe Hawaii in general. For instance, one of my neighbors was born in India and on the other side of me is a woman of Japanese decent. And, as I said, I’m from Kansas. There are also all different income levels in this area.
Did you have your heart set on the Nuuanu neighborhood? Why did you choose it?
        No, not really. It was more a function of finding the right property that is close to my work. Even though Nuuanu is pretty much isolated, it is only about two and a half miles from downtown Honolulu. It’s about as close as you can be to the city and still be sort of outside the city in the country.
Is Nuuanu more of an urban or suburban neighborhood?
        Well, this feels more like the country out here, even though it’s close in. When people think of Nuuanu, they do think about it as being out in the country.
Do you have many concerns about crime where you live?
        No, not really.
Do you have children and is daycare easy to find in Nuuanu? And how would you judge the quality of the schools?
        Well my children are pretty much grown (I live with my 18-year-old son), but I do know that there is a very well-developed childcare system in Hawaii. I think this is because in most families both parents tend to have jobs –and it’s been that way for along time. So I think that’s why there are so many childcare options in Honolulu. I would tell people that there are many different options to choose from as far as childcare goes. As far as the schools go, I think they are better than most people would say they are. There’s also a thriving private-school community.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Nuuanu?
        I had no anticipation of it being hard to meet people and it wasn’t. But I would like to say that people here –and I think in Hawaii generally –are always cordial and respectful. But there is also a tendency for people to keep to themselves to a degree. I think this is because living on an island where space is at a premium, houses here tend to be smaller and closer together. This, I think, causes people to both want and respect privacy because of the close proximity of your neighbor. Don’t get me wrong. People are not standoffish or rude by any means. I speak to all my neighbors on the street and things like that, but everybody also is respectful of each other’s privacy. I think this also has to do with the Asian influence here. There is more of Asian feel to Hawaii as far as cultural norms.
Where do you work in Honolulu and how is your commute back and forth to work?
        I work in downtown Honolulu and my commute is not bad at all. For one thing, I’m only a little more than two miles from my office. And the other thing is that I tend to go in to work at off-peak hours.
What would your advice be to the newcomer about transportation and commuting in Honolulu?
        I would tell them that while the traffic can be bad, you’re never that far from anywhere. Another thing is that Honolulu has an excellent public transportation system. It’s called The Bus, and I believe it’s been rated as the top system in the United States.
How has the real estate market in Honolulu changed since you bought your house? 
        Well, I would say that it’s fluctuated quite a bit since I’ve been involved with the market. I’ve had a property since about 86–a condo in Waikiki –and over that time period, I’ve seen a general upward trend. But from any, say, five-year period to the next, it has varied by as much as 30 percent, I’d say.
How do like the quality of life in Nuuanu?
        I love it. I think the quality of life is the most compelling reason to live in Hawaii. The real estate values are maybe too high, I think. On top of that if you are looking to have the typical house with a big backyard and maybe a pool –which you could easily afford for what the average Hawaiian house costs –then Hawaii is not for you. But I come from Kansas and the weather there –with the cold winters and hot summers –that’s tough living in my opinion. Hawaiian living is relaxed, and I think the tropical weather has a lot to do with that. As well, I think that people here have an acceptance of different ethnicities and lifestyles, which is a real plus. I think that comes from the fact that everybody is a minority in Hawaii. Finally, there is the great natural beauty of the place.
What surprised you most about moving to Nuuanu?
        Nothing, really. The only thing I would say is that living right up against the mountains there are potentially more natural hazards. I’ve never seen this, but my neighbor did tell me that a boulder rolled down off the mountain once before I moved here. It didn’t hit a house or anything, but when I heard that I was a little surprised. That didn’t occur to me when I moved here.
What would you say is the one can’t-miss event or activity that a family in Hawaii should look forward to?
        I think definitely the beaches. There are so many and each has qualities of its own. So I would advise people not to confine themselves to one beach.
What places should you avoid in Honolulu if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists? 
        Waikiki. But I really don’t have any problem with tourists, and I don’t think most people living here do, either. Most people understand that tourism is the lifeblood of our economy, and so they are very accepting of people who visit here.
Do you find Hawaii and Nuuanu specifically an expensive place to live?
        Sure, by the standards of most places on the mainland, it is expensive, but that is one of the compromises you make to live in paradise. The real estate is expensive, and you will not get as much house or acreage for the money that you will get on the mainland. Food and other necessities are also high, but that’s obviously because almost everything we need has to be shipped in from the mainland or other places. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but recently Walmart has located here, and that might put downward pressure on prices. But I don’t’ see how Walmart will alter the cost of living here much.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Honolulu?
        That would be Chef Mavro, which is on the fringe of Waikiki. I think Chef Mavro is from Provencal in France. The menu is a set menu, which means that when you order, you are ordering a full dinner with multiple courses. Each course is paired with a different wine. It’s definitely a dining experience, and you can plan on it taking a coupleof hours. So it’s not an eat-and-go kind of place.
Is there anything you don’t like about living in Nuuana or Hawaii?
        Well, I don’t have this complaint, but I hear it a lot –especially from people who are from New York City or Los Angeles or places like that. They complain that there really isn’t much of an intellectual community here, and that is paired with the criticism that people aren’t “profession-al” enough. And they are kind of right. If you’re very ambitious and into your job, this probably isn’t the place for you. In my line of work, it’s like that. I know a number of other photographers and they are not tremendously ambitious or competitive. For that matter, neither am I. Islanders would say, on the other hand, that the people who make these complaints are workaholics. And I guess I agree. To Hawaiians, your job is not the most important thing in your life.
What advice you give to people who are house hunting in Hawaii, especially in the Nuuanu area?
        Persistence is very important. And also lower your expectations, but I don’t really mean that in a bad way. I think that the average price of a house in Hawaii is over $500,000. That kind of money on the mainland will get you a large house with maybe a pool and a two-car garage. Here, that money is going to put you in a house that is probably 20 to 30 years old. You’re going to be living very close to your neighbors –easements are extremely small. It’s very Asian style. And also someone moving here should be aware of the general cost of living here. Another thing is you need to be prepared for a different culture. There is a big native and Asian influence on this culture. It’s inevitable that the culture is different because no matter what your ethnicity is, you are going to be a minority here. I find that to be a good thing. Some people might not. And so people considering a move to Hawaii should be ready to adapt to the culture.
Do you have an anecdote that encapsulates your experience in living in Nuuanu?
        Let me tell you about my relationship with a couple of my neighbors. That will do as well as anything to give you an idea of what it’s like to live here. On one side, there is a man from India. He is a professor and came here after being a professor in Madison, Wisconsin, for a number of years.I think he and I are good friends, which might seem unlikely. But to me, it makes perfect sense because we are really a couple of Midwesterners and we think a lot alike. On the other side of me, is an older lady of Japanese ancestry, a really nice lady. She has dog, and I see her most days either walking the dog or going to get her paper. We talk; we’re cordial. But I really don’t know her that well, only that she is a quiet person who likes her privacy. So you see, living here is a mixture of friendliness and reserve or a respect for privacy.

Angie Goya
To Mililani from Pearl City
Angie is an escrow officer with First American Title in Aiea.
Can you briefly tell me a little about yourself?
        I’m married and have lived in Mililani since 1977. My husband and I do not have any children.
Where is Mililani and what’s it like as a community?
        Mililani is located in the center of Oahu. It’s very family-oriented and is a typical American suburb. We really enjoy living in Mililani.
Did you live in Hawaii before you moved to Mililani and, if so, how would you compare where you lived before and living in your neighborhood?
        Yes, I grew up in Pearl City. Mililani is very similar except Pearl City is an older community and the residents are older. Mililani has younger families, so I believe there are more activities here.
Did you have your heart set on Mililani or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Honolulu?
        We actually wanted to live in Mililani.
Do you worry about crime in Mililani? 
        A little, as crime can be anywhere.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Mililani?
        We have met our neighbors, but with most couples both the husband and wife work, so our time spent with the neighbors is a little limited.
Do you work in the city of Honolulu? What’s your commute like? 
        No, I work in Aiea, which is about 15 to 20 minutes away from my home. When there’s traffic, I can still get to work within about 30 minutes, unless there is a major accident on the freeway.
Do you have any advice for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Mililani and the city of Honolulu? 
        If you work in Honolulu, try to stagger your hours. I believe this would alleviate some of the stress of traveling to work.
How has the real estate market changed since you bought your house?
        There has been so much growth in Mililani since we moved here over 30 years ago. As for the market, it’s constantly changing, as it should. This way the market is corrected as time goes on.
Do you like the quality of life in Mililani? 
        Yes, very much so. Everything we need is nearby, such as shopping, medical and more. We could use a few more restaurants right in Mililani that offer a variety of eating experiences. Maybe smaller, simpler, healthier options and not fast food restaurants.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Mililani and Hawaii should be sure to experience?
        I don’t think there is just one event or place, but there are many fairs and sports events for children. I think it’s a nice family area to enjoy everyday life.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
        Waikiki. We don’t get there often, but once in a while I like to walk through Waikiki. We don’t mind the tourists at all; they keep Hawaii alive and well.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Mililani or in other parts of Honolulu? 
        We enjoy dinner at Kunio’s in Waikele or Macaroni Grill in Ala Moana.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Mililani or living in Hawaii? 
        I have nothing to really complain about.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Honolulu and especially in Mililani?
        Take your time and be sure of the home you are buying. Get to know its location and the home itself. Be sure you are comfortable in it, financially and spiritually.
Do you have an anecdote that encapsulates your living experience in Mililani? 
        Life is simple, enjoy.
 
 
 
 
 
Phyllis Podolske
To Hawaii Kai from Kaneohe, Iowa, Minnesota and Oregon
Phyllisruns the Real Estate Bookof Hawaii and Oahu, www.treb.com.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your community. 
        Hawaii Kai is in the city of Honolulu, on the eastern side of the is-land of Oahu. I have a business here selling advertising to realtors.
Where are you from?
        I’m from Colorado, my husband is from Minnesota. We met in Iowa. We lived in Iowa, Minnesota and Oregon. We moved to Hawaii Kai because we wanted to. Before we moved to Hawaii Kai, we lived in Kaneohe, where it rains a lot.
How did you come to Hawaii Kai? 
        We had an opportunity to start a business here. We didn’t need to. We were living in Oregon. We weren’t really retired. The house was paid for and we watched the traffic go by. Here, we had this opportunity and we decided to become part of the traffic (laughter). Now we are the traffic. We’re not watching it anymore. I worked in Hawaii in the 90s and really loved the people here. Every-body talks about the weather, but that’s not the deal for me. It’s the people. People are wonderful.
Describe the people.
        They’re very embracing and allowing. Not judgmental people in any way. Very accepting of everyone and interested and they embrace you and include you as a part of their ohana (family). The spirit of aloha is what the deal is. People are nice to each other. People drive very differently here than on the mainland. If people are trying to merge into traffic everybody stops and waves them on. If there’s a four-way stop it’s like it’s a giant contest about who can wave the other person on the most. It’s aloha. They’re very respectful. It’s very nice.
What do you like most about Hawaii Kai?
        I like the people the most. And I love the weather. I like our community. We live on the marina with our kayak. I never thought I could live here. When I worked here in the 90s I thought it was only rich people who lived here. But here I am (laughter). Hawaii Kai is very private, quiet and on the dry side of the island. We have trade winds here in Hawaii that cause a lot of rain on the windward side of the island and on this side we get just enough rain.
What do you like dislike about Hawaii Kai? 
        (After a long pause). There’s only one road in and one road out. If there’s a car accident on the road it’s a long time getting home. But we have great shopping, great restaurants, and great weather.
Have there been major changes since you’ve moved there? 
        We’ve only been here since 2006, so there have not been many major changes. We live on the marina. There are many mountain valleys that that extend up from the marina into the mountains. There are a lot of houses up there. So there are mountain people and water people. We’ve got Costco, Safeway, Ross. We have lots of ocean sports. Kayaking, parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing in the marina, fishing, surfing, body boarding, and snorkeling.There’s a famous snorkeling place about five minutes from my house and is called Hanauma Bay, the beautiful bay that’s the marine preserve. It’s maintained by the state and has lots of beautiful fish. This is where Obama was body surfing when he was a candidate. (Can’t do it while he’s president). Surfing, body surfing and hang gliding. There are mountains and wide open areas to land your kite off a cliff. Why would someone do that? They do.
Are there many non-Hawaiians? 
        Yes. There are a lot of stories about Hawaii Kai and why Hawaiians have lost their land and have been marginalized from their land. But there’s no ethnic majority in Hawaii Kai, no majority group. There are a bunch of minorities. Roughly, Caucasians are about 30%, Japanese are about 39%, and Chinese are probably about 27%. There are revolving bunch of ethnicities who import here for about one or two decades. Many people are now coming from Brazil. Asians probably dominate in numbers. There are lots of military people on Oahu. However, African Americans are not heavily represented.
What’s the family makeup? 
        Total households are about 10, 700.There are 8,400 family house-holds. There are 3,400 households with children. There are more people like me, just me and my husband live here. More older people. Lots of retirees.
Is the cost of living high? 
        Yes. Very high. A townhome with about 1,350 square feet on the marina costs about $700k. It costs less to live in the marina in Hawaii Kai than on the ocean anywhere else, where homes can cost over $1 million. The only downside is that it’s expensive to live in Hawaii. To live on the ocean in Kaneohe would cost over $1 million.

 

Alana Dela Cruz
To Kapolei from Salt Lake 
Alanais abroker/owner and property managerwith Kama’aina Realty(http://www.alloahurentals.com)
What part of Oahu do you live in and how long have you lived there? Is there a specific name for your neighborhood?
        We live in Makakilo, which is considered to be part of Kapolei on the western part of Oahu. We’ve lived here since 2003.
Did you move from somewhere else to Honolulu and what are the most striking differences between these places?
        We were renting in Salt Lake –which is in northwestern Honolulu. We lived there for a longtime, since 1986.It’s much more of a suburban environment in Makakilo.
Is your home a house or condominium?
        It’s a house.
Do you have your heart set on Makakilo or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Honolulu and on Oahu?
        Well, I think we really did like Makakilo best. It’s a great area and we bought a great house. We really believed we could get the most bang-for-our-buck here.
Would you consider Makakilo more of an urban or suburban environ?
        It’s definitely a suburban environment here.
Do you worry about crime in Makakilo?
        There is crime anywhere on the island, but I don’t consider this a high-crime area at all. Here it’s petty crime, but nobody in our neighbor-hood that I know has even experienced that. So I would say that crime is way down on our list of concerns.
Do you have children and is it easy to find childcare in your area?
        We have three children –all boys –but I really haven’t used daycare per se. There are preschools and nursery schools, but we haven’t put any of our three children in a daycare setting. The baby I can just take with me, because I’m a property manager and can set my work times so that she can come with me and I can still do my job. My oldest is attending the University of Hawaii Math School, which is a charter school. He’s going to be entering the high school next year. Our middle child is at a special-needs preschool right now, but we’re going to enroll him at our local elementary school next year because we think it’s a terrific school.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Makakilo?
        It was very easy. Makakilo is a very friendly community.
Do you work in the city of Honolulu or elsewhere on the Oahu? What’s your commute like?
        I travel all over the Island, and traffic on an island is always going to be a problem, since there are only so many ways you can get to where you’re going.
How’s the parking situation at your job?
        I have no problem with parking. There are always spaces at the properties I manage. And we have on-street parking in the neighborhood, but everybody also has a driveway and garage.
How has the real estate market changed since you bought your house?
        Well it goes in cycles. At first values went up at a good rate. Then they went down. Now I see things stabilizing. Right now it’s a buyers’market because of the interest rates. And of course it depends on what part of the island you live on.
How would you characterize the quality of life in Makakilo and in Honolulu?
        I think it’s great. It has nice homes; it’s a friendly, family-oriented community. It’s also growing. We have a new Costco and Target. There are lots of shopping centers being built. And we’re getting the new Ko’Olina arena. We also have nice beaches about 10 minutes away. Another thing is that it’s drier on this side of the island, and cooler. We live in what’s called upper Makakilo, which is higher up and near the mountains.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Makakilo and in the Honolulu area should be sure to experience?
        In our area, it’s great to go to Ko’Olina Resort and feed the turtles. Our kids have a lot of fun with that.
Culturally, are you pleased with what Oahu and Honolulu has to offer? 
        Yeah, I think this area is up and coming. The America Renaissance Academy offers lots of cultural activities, and you can take courses there in different subjects. For instance, they have a great theater program there.
What are your favorite places to go for entertainment and recreation in around the island?
        We like the beach. We like to go to Waikiki. And Ko’Olina has great beaches, too.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
        Waikiki.  But I don’t mind the tourists. They bring a lot of money to the island, and you’ve got to remember that most of the people who live here came here first as tourists.
Does your neighborhood have any recurring block parties or community activities?
        No, we don’t have any regular block parties in our neighborhood.
Do you consider Makakilo and living on Oahu generally to be an expensive to live?
        You know, anywhere on the Island can be expensive and Makakilo is no exception. House prices in this area can go from anywhere in the low 200’s to million-dollar houses in gated communities. Generally, purchasing household necessities does cost more because we do live on an island and everything is shipped in.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Makakilo and on the island?
        Not really. We love it over here. We’re a young family and so we en-joy the area. Of course, there’s traffic all over the island.
What advice would you give people that are house hunting on Oahu and in Honolulu and especially in your neighborhood?
        First, make sure you have a good loan officer. Second, make sure to look at the neighborhoods you’re considering at different times of the day and week. Third, make sure you buy what you can afford. Fourth, don’t let an agent steer you towards neighborhoods that might not be a good fit for you.
Do you have anecdotes that encapsulate your living experience on Oahu and in Makakilo?
        We have had great experience with sports. My oldest plays football.  He’s had great coaches. His first experience was in the Kapolei leagues, and he really learned a lot and enjoyed that. And as a parent, it’s fun to watch your boys enjoy playing sports.
 
 

Paul L’Ecuyer
To Kaneohe from Metro Honolulu and Massachusetts
Paul is an attorney who specializes in mortgage foreclosure rights(www.hawaiiforeclosureseminar.com) and is part owner of Platinum Mortgage Partners.
Can you briefly tell me a little about yourself?
        I’m divorced with one son who is 14. My hometown is Leominster, Massachusetts but I’ve lived in Hawaii since 1977.
How long have you lived in Kaneohe? 
        I’ve lived in Kaneohe since 1992 and my current residence is a town-home.
How would you compare where you lived before to living in your current neighborhood?
        Before I moved to Kaneohe, I lived mostly in Metro Honolulu areas. When I was young that was great as there was access to clubs, restaurants and social events like the theater. As you become more family-oriented, the non-Metro areas are enjoyable.
Where is Kaneohe and what’s it like as a community? 
        Kaneohe is on the Windward side of the Island of Oahu. It’s approximately 12 miles north of Honolulu. It’s a middle-class community and is a great place for boating and fishing enthusiasts. It’s definitely a self-contained community with all the basic necessities.
Did you have your heart set on Kaneohe or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Honolulu?
        Kailua would have been an area that I would have considered. However, my district in Kaneohe is closer to Kailua and the school district is aligned with Kailua. It works out well since the property tax base is lower in Kaneohe but it has the proximity to the more upscale Kailua.
Is Kaneohe more of an urban or suburban environment?
        Since it’s a large geographical area it’s really both. There are some very rural farm areas of Kaneohe and then there’s the central business district and mall area.
Do you worry about crime in Kaneohe? 
        Not really. Kaneohe doesn’t really have any large violent crime. There’s just the occasional domestic violence and drug-related incidents. Crime in Hawaii in general is very low.
Was it easy to find childcare in Kaneohe?
        My son is 14 now but when he was young there were many options for preschool and childcare.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Kaneohe?
        No, it wasn’t. Kaneohe has its own sports leagues, school leagues, Chamber of Commerce affiliates, and YMCA, so if you’re open, there are opportunities.
Do you work in the city of Honolulu? What’s your commute like? 
        I have a home office and also Honolulu offices. Even in rush hour my commute on a rainy day is 45 minutes at the most. The average time is 30 minutes, unless there are road accidents.
What advice would you give newcomers regarding transportation or traffic in Kaneohe and the city of Honolulu?
        If you don’t need to get out of the office during the day or have after work commitments, the bus express system is wonderful. It is one of the cheapest and best public transportation systems in the country and is always ranked high for safety.
Has the real estate market changed since you bought your townhome?
        Yes. I bought at the tail of the last “spike” and then saw values drop in the early-to-mid 90s. It took a decade to come back. Of course every-one knows we have seen a slide recently but that too will rebound. Kaneohe and Kailua are very desirable areas to live due to the proximity to town via the three major surface arteries.
How would you compare living in Kaneohe with living in metro Honolulu?
        Some prefer to live in metro Honolulu but you don’t get the feel of a real community there like you do in Kaneohe or Kailua.
What’s the quality of life like in Kaneohe?
        It’s a great beachside community with very few major upscale establishments. For me, that’s what makes it a relaxed place to retreat after a week of work in busier Honolulu.
What surprised you most about moving to and living in Kaneohe?    
        The biggest surprise was that the weather was not as drastic, and the commute was not as difficult, as many Metro residents claimed it to be. My commute was actually faster than when I lived in metro Honolulu.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Kaneohe and Hawaii should experience?
        There is an old-fashioned Christmas parade and lighting ceremony. It’s truly a thing of the past and feels like old-town America.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
        Waikiki, of course. As for Kaneohe there really are few tourists other than at the Buddhist Temple at Valley of the Temple.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Kaneohe or in other parts of Honolulu?
        In Honolulu, Kincaides offers good, affordable food. In Kaneohe there really are none that I can think of.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Kaneohe or living in Hawaii?
        The cost of living and the taxes are the two downsides to living here.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Honolulu and especially in Kaneohe?
        Be patient and know that if you choose townhome or condominium living over single-family homes, there are trade offs. However, it all comes down to lifestyle and time. A home takes a lot of maintenance in Hawaii due to the weather, which many people moving from the main-land don’t understand.
Do you have an anecdote that encapsulates your living experience in Kaneohe? 
        I moved here with my family right out of high school. I was here less than a month and was walking to work in Waikiki when I heard “Hey Paul.” Since I didn’t know a soul I ignored it. Then I heard “Hey L’E-cuyer” and turned around to see a classmate from high school who shared a locker with me in my junior year. He was stationed at a local military base. That happens more often than people can imagine, even though Hawaii is the most isolated land mass in the world, and is nearly 3,000 miles from the nearest land mass.It really is a small world.
 

Gabe Amey
Home To Metro Honolulu from the mainland
Gabe is a branch manager for the mortgage company HomeLoan Financial, www.Hawaiivaloans.com
,which specializes in helping first-time homebuyers and veterans get VA loans.
Tell me a bit about your background and how long you’ve lived in Hawaii. 
        I was born and raised in Honolulu, but I left for a few years and re-turned 5 1/2 years ago.
What do you like most about living in Honolulu?
        The central location. There’s minimal traffic compared to living in are-as outside of Honolulu, referred to as ‘town.’ I have an easy commute, although traffic can be really bad for those who work in Honolulu and live on the west side of the island.We have good access to stores and restaurants. Everything is in about a 5 to 10 mile radius in Honolulu. There are all kinds of groups of people of different nationalities in one location, which is great. Honolulu is the best location for lots of activities.
Can you elaborate on the different cultures?
        There are people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Honolulu has a melting pot of different cultures. Locals, along with whites, Chinese, Filipinos and Asians are all here. You experience this diversity in the restaurants, foods and activities.
What types of activities are there in Honolulu?
        There are parks. There’s Alamaona Beach Park with its events. The Aloha Tower Market Place, which has a nice shopping area, ship cruises, and lots of events. There’s the Shell with its concert pavilion area. There are lots of concerts. There’s also Kapiolani Park with its soccer games, rugby matches, and joggers. This park is located in Waikiki on the slope of Diamond Head.
What do you like the least about Honolulu?
        Traffic is bad. The city is very crowded, especially if you want to be somewhere that’s a little more laid back and relaxing. It’s also very expensive. You pay a premium to live in town. If you buy a house in Mililani, for example, that same house can cost 50 to 100 percent more in town. A new home in Mililani for $600,000 could cost $1million in town. The closer to the beach you are, you’ll find the pricier homes.
What about traffic?
        My advice for newcomers would be to work in town and consider the traffic implications if you live outside of town. Double check the traffic to determine how far you live from how far you work.
Where do you like to go eat? 
       Honolulu has an eclectic mix of cultures. As a result, there are diverse foods, such as Thai, American, Asian, and Filipino. There are lots of different foods that can satisfy just about anyone.
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
        One is called Ono. They have great Hawaiian food. It’s a hole in the wall, but serves authentic Hawaiian food. For a party of two, you pay about $15 to $20. There’s also LaBamba. It has great Mexican food. It’s BYOB, so you bring your own booze, beer, or wine and invite your friends. You can have a party there. My favorite meal is steak and tortillas, with Spanish rice, refried beans, lettuce and tomatoes. You make your own burrito. They also have the best guacamole.This is one of the best guacamoles I’ve ever had.
What types of sporting events do you attend? 
        I don’t attend a lot of sporting events.The University of Hawaii has football games. But I don’t attend a lot of other events.
Are taxes high?
Property taxes are lowest in the country, but you pay more in groceries, housing, and gas. While the property taxes are low, most other expenses cost more in Hawaii. Gas costs about $3.50 to $3.80 per gallon.
How are the schools?
        We have good public schools. Most of the private schools are in Honolulu. There are about 10 to 12 private high schools. For example, Punahou High School, where Obama attended.There’s also Iolani, which ranks high near Punahou. And there’s Kamehameha –a school for children with native Hawaiian blood. There’s also St. Louis, an all-boys Catholic school, where I attended. Most schools have a student/teacher ratio of 1/20 or 25. There is 1 teacher for every 20-25 students. We’re also experiencing problems with the public schools. We have Furlough Fridays, which means every other week teachers are furloughed in the public schools. There are no such problems in the private schools.

Ron And Sabrina Najarian
At Home in Kailua 
Ron and Sabrina own and operate the auto repair shop RNS Automotive in Kailua.
Please tell me about yourselves. 
        We have been married for 16 years and reside in Kailua.We have a 23 year-old son and are fostering a 1-year-old boy with the expectation of adopting him.
How long have you lived in Kailua?
        We have always lived in Kailua and currently own a beautiful house in Maunawili.
Where is Kailua and what’s it like as a community?
        Kailua is on the Windward side of Oahu.We love the small-town feel with an updated look.Being small business owners, we love the fact that the businesses in Kailua respect and support each other.Kailua is also a very family friendly suburban town with beautiful parks and beaches. In fact, Lanikai Beach has been voted #1. In our subdivision of Maunawili, we are surrounded by mountains but are only 10 minutes away from the beach.
Did you have your heart set on Kailua or did you consider buying in other neighborhoods in and around Honolulu?
        It was always Kailua! We love the quality of life here.
Do you worry about crime in Kailua?
        Not so much, especially with neighborhood watch.
Have you found it easy to find childcare in Kailua?
        We have been blessed with a wonderful network of friends who al-ways lend a helping hand. It was never hard to meet people when we moved here.
What’s your commute like? How is the traffic heading into the city of Honolulu?
        Our shop used to be located in Mapunapuna.With the new H3 Freeway, getting to work was a breeze. If you’re commuting into the city of Honolulu, you should leave a little earlier during peak traffic times.
How has the real estate market changed since you bought your house?
        It has its ups and downs but our home in Maunawili has always had equity.It has doubled in value.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Kailua and Hawaii should be sure to experience?
        The Kailua town party and the 4th of July parade with fireworks to finish the evening off on Kailua Beach.Honolulu also has wonderful local plays at the Daimond Head Theatre, The Hawaii Theatre & the Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
        Waikiki would be a place to avoid.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Kailua or in other parts of Honolulu? 
        We like Willow Tree for Korean. We also like Buzzes for the salad bar, steak and seafood –and Assagios and Zias for Italian.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Honolulu and especially in Kailua?
        Check out the neighborhoods during the day and evening. Also, be sure to ask people who live in the area for the pro and cons.

Michelle Nakanishi
At Home in Pearl City 
Michelle is a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness in Aiea.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself. 
        I was born and raised in Pearl City and have lived here for 37 years. I’m married and have two children.
Where is Pearl City and what’s it like as a community?
        Pearl City is in Central Oahu and is a middle-income community. It’s more of an urban area and less suburban.
Is it easy to find childcare in Pearl City? 
        I have 3-year-old twins and have found it easy to find childcare here.
Do you work in the city of Honolulu? What’s your commute like?   
        I work in Pearl City and only have a 5-minute drive to get to work.
Would you have any advice for the newcomer regarding transportation or traffic in Pearl City and the city of Honolulu?    
         The traffic isn’t as bad as it is on the mainland. There just aren’t that many alternate routes from one end of the island to the next.
How has the real estate market changed since you bought property in Pearl City? 
        I own a house and for me the value of the property has gone up.
Do you like the quality of life in Pearl City?
        Yes, I enjoy the quality of life here and do not worry about crime in Pearl City. It’s also easy to meet people here.
What surprised you most about moving to and living in Pearl City?
        It’s surprising how it has become such a central location to live in.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Pearl City and Hawaii should be sure to experience? 
        The beach is really a can’t-miss place. To avoid tourists, Waikiki and North Shore would be the places to avoid.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Pearl City or living in Hawaii? 
        The only downside is that property tax is high and seems to be going up.
What advice would you give people who are house hunting in Honolulu and especially in Pearl City?
        It’s very important to have a good real estate person help you out.
Do you have an anecdote that encapsulates your living experience in Pearl City?
        Overall Pearl City is a fun place to live and a very good place to raise a family.

Source:Honolulu Real Estate Book

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