Moving to Hawaii
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Moving to Hawaii
My husband recently got an Assistant Professor position
(tenure track) at University of Hawaii. The ranking of their
engineering program is around 100 (it wasn't so successful
for my husband to land a position in top-ranking
universities). Well, it has been his dream or career goal to
be a faculty. However, to me, Hawaii equals 'vacation'. I
just don't see us LIVE there. We have a one-year-old
daughter. Both of us have decent jobs here in the bay area.
To be frank, I don't want to move at all. I love the life
and friends here, and moving with a young kid to Hawaii is
too huge a project. Now my husband is very passionate about
this perspective job. And I feel like for the family and his
career, I will be forced to move. Please, give me some
advice how to deal with the situation. Also please share
some insights if you know Univ. of Hawaii and being a
faculty there (Not that I don't believe what my husband
said, just afraid his picture would be too rosy). Really
appreciate your input.
My in-laws moved there when she got a faculty job at the U
of Hawaii. It didn't work out for them; he had difficulty
finding work, and they had trouble adapting to the culture
(they are white, mostly living on the West Coast). Their
children were grown so that wasn't so much a part of the
equation, except for making visiting expensive. My advice
from their situation would be to rent and get a very good
idea of the different neighborhoods before buying a house.
Also, keep in mind that living somewhere is very different
than going on vacation -- moving to Hawaii is more like
moving to an English speaking foreign country (with a mix of
mainly Asian cultures), rather than like moving to another
state in the US. The move would be easier if you are Asian.
If you aren't ready to embrace a new culture and way of
doing things, I would be cautious. anon
I hope that this isn't coming too late to be useful. I was
in your husband's shoes 10 years ago (almost exactly)... and
my ex-husband was in yours. I got a tenure-track offer
(French), which would have meant packing up a 3yo and a
newborn and moving to a tiny speck in the middle of the
Pacific, and my then-husband didn't feel like he could do
it. All of that was understandable, and I was feeling
overwhelmed about the prospect of a 3/3 teaching load, 2
small kids, and a reluctant spouse. I turned the offer down.
I didn't know it at the time, but that was a major turning
point in my life. I thought that other good jobs and offers
would come along, but the next few years didn't have much to
offer in the way of tenure-track jobs, and by the time
things picked back up I was less competitive. So I stepped
off the train: I spent a semester as a lecturer at Cal, then
ended up changing careers. Thinks have since worked out very
well for me. But even though I understood my then-husband's
decision, it was also a major disappointment that he wasn't
willing to try things out for a year or two after I had put
so many years working towards this point.
I know this sounds more dramatic because the marriage didn't
last; please be assured that there were other issues. You
don't say what field your husband is in or what the other
job possibilities are, but certainly both of you should take
into account potential long-term impacts on his career. The
view from the other side of the fence
You got so few responses that I thought I would say
something. A good friend of mine moved to Hawaii 1.5 years
ago. She likes it okay but finds it a little isolating.
They are currently planning on staying 5-7 years and then
trying to move. In the meantime, she is trying to take
advantage of all the cool things Hawaii has to offer.
Perhaps you could do the same thing?
My sister is a professor and just took a job in a place she
isn't wild about, but jobs are tough to come by and if you
take a break, my understanding is that it is very tough to
get back in. Anon
I'm not an academic, but both my husband and mother are, as
well as a few other family members. I'm an attorney, so I'm
the slacker of the family. My mother went back to school
when I was a teenager, so she entered the academic job
market in her forties. She had a job offer at University of
Hawaii in Hilo and took it. She was only there for a few
years, and then transferred to Tulane, and later to Western
Washington, where she has tenure. She liked being in Hawaii,
and sometimes says she regrets not staying there. My sister
visited and decided to go to college at University of
Hawaii, and loved it. The reality of the academic job
market is that it is much easier to find a job if you are
employed. We try to go to Hawaii at least once a year, and
it's a fun place, so I'd encourage you to seriously consider
the offer. Hawaii fan
I have a job interview at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I'd love
the job, and the Hawaiian lifestyle sounds absolutely fantastic, but we
are wondering if it's a realistic move for a family with 2
almost-school-aged kids on 2 academic-type salaries. It seems like
Hawaii is the only place except NYC where housing prices are MORE
expensive than the bay area. And apparently there's terrible traffic.
And rumor has it that the public schools aren't so great. And we'd be
even further (and 4 more expensive plane tickets) away from our east
coast families. Yikes! But it's Hawaii! I want to fantasize about us
all out body surfing with Obama, but I guess I'm getting too old not
think about practicalities. Any advice about whether or not it can be
done and how we could do it (if the job works out, of course)? Thanks!
Would love to move to Paradise...
Coincidentally, I grew up on the beach in Kailua where the Obamas
spent Christmas this year. Our neighbors lent them their house as
they were Democratic Party attorneys and old friends. (My 90 year
old dad is a sunrise beach walking buddy...)
I went to Kainalu Elementary School (public) and it was and is
still pretty nice. There is a big flat grass field there to run
your guts out at recess... One of my neighbors and best friend
growing up, went to Punahou which is pricey but, she thinks that
her UH Professor father was getting a special rate. One idea to
The Honolulu Advertiser is online so you can see actual prices. I
don't think that houses do cost more there for what you get. Houses
right on the beach are a lot. But, a block away and it's like the
hills here in Berkeley. By the canal, and it's comparable to
Commuting to Manoa is stop dead traffic comparable to Emeryville to
Vallejo here at the same times. However, the scenery is better.
Back in Manoa Valley is gorgeous and there are cool old wood
houses. They cost about the same as nice parts of Oakland. Hiking
and waterfalls abound around Nuuanu.
I think that public high schools are pretty rough everywhere. Most
Elementary schools are OK. Don't worry until you need to. I think
the quality of life trades are equal.
Aloha Nui Loa
When we returned to the Bay Area, after two years in Hawaii, we had
the notion of setting up a 12-step program: if anyone was thinking
of moving there, call us and we'd rush over to talk you out of it.
Moving there was a big deal, so we did three test-drives of 2 to 3
weeks each over a 6-month period, and loved it. So we took the
plunge. First thing we learned is that the hotels and B&Bs
typically used highly toxic stuff to beat back the bugs, and in our
own home, we had the pleasure of three-inch flying cockroaches.
Flying!!! We found substantial differences between being a tourist
and trying to live there. Many unhappinesses with service
providers: home repairs, car service, banks, movers, etc. We have
many stories. And, sadly, we found the 'melting pot' notion to be a
chamber of commerce fiction. We had never felt discrimination
before because of who we were, nor observed so much of it. And it
was very expensive, and we really missed family and friends in
California. We made regular use of the 5-hour flight to California -- and, when
the jet stream was at the right (i.e. wrong) place, they were the
bumpiest flights we've ever been on. That said . . . clearly a lot
of people love it. We are not unusually grumpy folks, and we did
meet more than a few others who were counting the days till they
could leave -- and many more who really felt they were in paradise.
(We went to several big social events -- Christmas party -- at the
home of one of the top officials of UH. Catered by Woolworths,
featuring six kinds of fried food on the puupuu platters (including
fried Spam) and Jell-o moulds.) Finally, and I'll stop ranting: an
extraordinary book called Land and Power in Hawaii, published by
the UH Press. An amazing expose of the depths of corruption in the
state government and business hierarchy. A 'good guy' social
advocate we met carried a copy everywhere, and when introduced to
new people, rather ostentatiously got it out and looked them up,
and smiled knowingly. Oh, and traffic on the amusingly-named
''Interstat e'' highway And and and . . and good luck to you.
My mom moved to Hawaii about 10 years ago from the Bay Area and
while she had anticipated it would be more expensive, she had no
idea how much more than Berkeley! The monthly basics: groceries (a
lot more for lower quality), electricity (use more for fans and air
conditioning and highest rates in the US), gas (WAY more, their gas
prices never came down from that crazy spike last year), rents and
house prices (high like here), can't get TV without paying for
cable, a lot less work to go around (may not be a problem but will
you both be getting academic jobs in Hawaii?), the schools stink
(can you afford private school after all I just listed?). Anything
you want besides pineapple has the shipping cost added in!
Hawaii is amazing, beautiful and easy-going. It's a great place to
live for many reasons. Have you thought about going for 1 to 2
years to try it out first? Keep your house (if you have one) and
rent it out until you decide?
If you do move, send your stuff by freighter(even your car).
Furniture and cars are more expensive there too!
Love Maui, can't afford to move!
this page was last updated: Sep 13, 2011
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