These critters fly in Hawaii!

As a tropical paradise, Hawaii is verdant with the soft humid air redolent of exotic blossoms.  Rainbows (double rainbows) appear after every rain.  It’s always around 85 degrees, and the air and water are clean.

But after living in Honolulu, Oahu for 5 years, there were certain things that I could not get used to.  Those things were:

a) Bugs

b) Hot humid weather

c) High cost of living and housing

d) Lower quality of public schools

Let’s start with the creepy crawlies, shall we?


Hawaii has many varieties of cockroaches everywhere–in homes, restaurants, office buildings, in cars, buses, and even the beaches!  It’s infested, but just a fact of life.  The locals deal with it by never leaving food out and getting their houses sprayed with pesticide routinely.  The flying cockroaches are attracted to light and appear at night.  So when you open the door to your house–they tend to fly in.  Hawaii also has cane spiders (which look like tarantulas but are harmless) and huge centipedes (harmful).  Terrified of cockroaches, I would stress and clean my kitchen and house obsessively.  Yet, we ended up getting little cockroaches after a year, and had to get sprayed.

Hot and humid, yah?

When we visited Hawaii before we moved there, we stayed in the touristy areas like Waikiki which have beautiful air-conditioned hotels and is near the ocean breezes.  But when we moved into a house where local people really live, we realized that locals do not use air conditioning!  Electricity costs are one of the highest in the US, and very few people have houses with a central AC system.  Locals rely on the trade winds, fans, or window/portable air conditioners.  Some fancier houses have split AC units, which are very nice but expensive.  The weather gets very humid in August-October, frequently hitting the 90’s with high humidity.  When I moved there, I went to the beach without drinking enough water and stupidly got heatstroke and had to go to the emergency room.  Cooking dinner every night would get me sweat soaked and irritable from the heat.  It took my body about 2 years to adjust, but then I got cold in 70 degree weather!

Have to be Chang!

As I wrote in my previous blog post, the high cost of living in Hawaii is a reality of life that locals get around with creative solutions (Costco).  Added to that is the high cost of housing in Hawaii that requires even more creativity and a level of Chang that is challenging.  Being “chang” is local slang for being very cheap/frugal.  I learned to be more chang when I lived in Hawaii–learned it from my neighbors.  My neighbors were over 40 years old but lived with their aging parents to save costs, and because other housing was unaffordable.  There are some beautiful houses/condos in Oahu, but they cost millions.  Affordable housing in town, which is Honolulu city, is very old, thin walled construction or tiny boxy apartments.  In order to get a 3 bedroom house that is newer construction, you would have to go to the west of the island past Pearl City or north to Kailua area.  If you have a job in Honolulu (town), then that means at least an hour commute in crawling traffic.  We went around with a realtor all over Oahu, but could not find an affordable home that was updated enough, near good schools, or close to our jobs.

Deliver Pizza to Pay for My Kid’s Private School

A good education is a high priority for me.  When it comes to my kids’ education, I get kind of mama bear about it.  We selected our rental house because it was located in a public school district that was one of the best in Honolulu.  Our elementary aged children attended Mae Mae Elementary, which is an excellent public school with very loving teachers.  However, I was worried about the middle school and high school.  Public schools in Hawaii tend to score lower than many California schools, and I wasn’t sure that we could afford to send them to private school.  Most families that care about their kids’ education in Hawaii send them to private school.  One of the top private schools is Punahou, which President Obama attended, and the tuition for the 2017-2018 school year is $23,850.  Private schools admissions are also very competitive, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted all that pressure on my kids, even before they have to worry about college admissions.  I heard stories about parents taking on second jobs, such as delivering pizzas, to pay for their kids’ private school education.  One of the main reasons we left Hawaii was because Domino’s Pizza was not hiring.  🙂

Those are some of the things about Hawaii that was difficult for me to get used to.  But these things would not bother a young single person who loves nature, bugs, and would love to surf and live in a shack by the beach.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

The next post will be about all the wonderful, one-of-a-kind things about Hawaii that I treasure:

a)  The friendly aloha spirit of the locals  (I miss our friends.)

b)  The beaches–outdoors fun–SURFING!

c)  Simple and slow pace of life

d)  Magical wonderland for kids

So You Want to Live in Hawaii (Pros and Cons) Part Two

What Is It Like to Live in Hawaii?