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 townhome.
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 everyone 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 mainland 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’Ecuyer” 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.
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