Phyllis runs the Real Estate Book of 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 island 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. Everybody 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 households. 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.
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