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Considering Move to Big Island of Hawaii

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#1 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 06:00 PM

Hello All,

In searching for a good place for retirement (some years from now), the idea of the Big Island of Hawaii has come up. Does anyone on this forum live there? Would anyone be willing to share thoughts or opinions on what "back yard" (e.g., from your own roll-off, not up at Mauna Kea) observing might be like on any given night: cloud cover, humidity, sky quality regarding darkness, seeing, transparency? I realize that the west side of the island is the dry side. But can the observing be really good from your house? There are no Clear Sky Clocks for Hawaii, and I am having a difficult time finding good information.

Thank you for any info!

Christina LeGrand

#2 kfiscus

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 07:20 PM

I think you can contact CSC and have a place added. Besides the seeing what about the cost of living? I've heard that to be a real buggaboo.

#3 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 08:00 PM

Hello Ken,

Thank you for your note. The cost of living is high there but it should be manageable. It could be worth it if you can do quality observing from the back yard. I was on the Big Island once, but was not thinking of it as a future place of residence at the time.

Thanks again for the post,
Christina

#4 docchilie

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 09:07 PM

I do business on Maui and Oahu on a regular basis and know a lot of people who live there. There are two types, those who stay forever, and those the islands shrink for every year until they run screaming. Most of the people I know are middle aged so it might be different for those that are near/at retirement age. The split seems to be 50/50. So that is my first warning.

As to the rest, I know cloud cover can be a problem in places as well as LP.

#5 psandelle

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

Stay on Kona-side and it's very good, clear, dry weather. And there's full-on light ordinances on the island (because of the observatories on top). I'm going to get a house there in the future as a place to hang. Very pretty skies.

Paul

#6 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:29 PM

Thank you for the input!

#7 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 10:31 PM

Thank you for the input! It is good to know that the weather is good on the Kona side, and also about the lighting ordinances. I appreciate the info - thanks again!

#8 bunyon

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 08:20 AM

I've had a few observing sessions higher up and they were spectacular. I know absolutely nothing of prices in the area, but if you're looking to move for night skies and not ocean access, I'd try to find something at higher elevation on the west side. It may lower the price of land/house quite a bit (though, again, I know nothing, just that it seems most people retiring to Hawaii are doing it for beaches and warmth).

The other not inconsequential feature is that it is a good bit farther south than CONUS. Lots of cool southern treats pop up high enough to see. Good luck.

#9 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 01:08 PM

Thank you for the info! We have observed up on Mauna Kea, and it was spectacular, as you mention. While my husband and I are also certified open water divers, we mainly want to live there for the astronomy, and would plan to locate away from the actual coast. And yes, regular access to those southern objects would be fabulous! Thank you again for writing. Christina

#10 kenrenard

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 01:10 PM

Stephen O'Meara lives in Volcano Hawaii according to his books. He says the skies are world class. I would tend to believe a very skilled observer as he.

Good Luck with your Move. Hope you have warm weather and clear skies.

Ken

#11 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 03:59 PM

There is a long-time member of Cloudy Nights named "Erik" (that's his CN name) who moved to Hawaii a few years ago. He runs another astronomy site: http://www.starstuff-forums.com and you could probably contact him there.

Mike

#12 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:03 PM

Wow - thank you, Mike! Will do! Best Regards, Christina

#13 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:46 PM

Thank you for the post, Ken! We had met / spoken with Stephen O'Meara at TSP a few times, and remembered that he at least used to live there, being a volcanologist as well as an astronomer. One year, I won one of his books at the TSP door prize giveaway event ("Must be present to win!").

It would be great to speak with him about this topic!

Thanks again for the post and Best Regards,
Christina

#14 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:50 PM

Wow - thank you, Mike! This site looks like the keys to the kingdom! Thanks again for your post - I will join that forum immediately! Best Regards, Christina

#15 kenrenard

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:03 PM

Thank you for the post, Ken! We had met / spoken with Stephen O'Meara at TSP a few times, and remembered that he at least used to live there, being a volcanologist as well as an astronomer. One year, I won one of his books at the TSP door prize giveaway event ("Must be present to win!").

It would be great to speak with him about this topic!

Thanks again for the post and Best Regards,
Christina


Christina,
That must have been quite an honor. I have two of his books and enjoy them very much. Looks like you have found a new home. Wish you well

Ken

#16 Taylor

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:02 PM

Christina,
You have just given me the bug to start looking into the islands. Thanks for that ;)
Looks like an incredible lifestyle, I checked out Erik's blog, looks like he's having the best time.
Too bad most of the locum tenens jobs out there require 2-5 years of experience, so it may be a little while for me.

#17 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 02:07 AM

Wow - thank you, Mike! This site looks like the keys to the kingdom! Thanks again for your post - I will join that forum immediately! Best Regards, Christina


I have some non-astronomy friends in Hilo that I can talk to also. They just had a cold snap down to 59 degrees! Good luck and I'm envious!

#18 Darenwh

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 11:26 AM

The skies on the island are excellent for the most part from what I saw. The light ordinances truly do a good job in limiting the LP even at sea level. A property just a little inland would have great skies. I have considered moving there for some time though currently cannot. Still hoping to one day and am saving my pennies for just such an occurance. Remember, the expense is in purchasing a place to live (can be cheaper than you might think) and in every day living expenses. These expenses can both be managed. Restaraunts near tourist areas can be very expensive. There are far more affordable places to eat that are also decent places if you get to know the place. Also, once you get established (with an HI drivers licence) you should start getting used to asking for the Kamaina (local) rates when you are going to places that are more touristy. This can reduce the rate some (usually about 10-20%) but it is still expensive. If you go to visit rather than moving there consider places you wouldn't expect for things like souvineers and even just bottled water. Most souvineers can be had for much less money at the local Walmart or at out of the way small local stores and they are also a great place to go for things like bottled water. An example: At the resort I stayed at on my last visit they had bottled water (Hawaiian spring water) at the resort for $19.00. Go to the local Walmart and it was $1.50. Yes, that's a bit of a markup. Another example: picked up a sub from a Subway near the resort for lunch while at the beach for myself and my wife. Same sub on mainland, $5.00, at resort Subway $8.00, at Subway away from tourist area $5.50. Not as big of a markup but if you eat subs ten times a month that ads up to $25.00 more a month if you go to the one near the resort, and they didn't load the sub up as well. Local plate lunch at a local place was $7.50 for a chicken dish, a scallops dish, a scoop of Macaroni salad, and a scoop of sticky rice. Great tasting traditional island meal that was big enough to feed both myself and my wife. Had we gone to a restaraunt near the resort I am sure it would have cost well over $25.00 for the two of us and could easily have gone over $75 or more. Get to know the local people and the local places and you will love it and not go broke doing so. It's very possible to move there if you can get a halfway decent job there.

#19 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 12:56 PM

Thank you, Ken! It was most definitely an honor to meet, talk to, and have a book personally autographed by S. J. O'Meara. Maybe with any luck he'll be at TSP this year!

#20 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 01:13 PM

Daren, thank you for all the great and detailed information! That is great to know that the lighting restrictions do work. We would want to live near the southern tip and inland somewhat, at some elevation if possible. It all sounds wonderful. Thanks again for the very useful information! Christina

#21 Kfrank

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 03:04 PM

Can't speak for The Big Island, but I've spent a bit of time on Maui and have known a couple of people who lived in Maui. One was in his 60's and has been in the telescope building business for many years. He was living in Kahului and was working at one of the observatories on Haleakala. He spent several years there and was quite glad to get back to the Mainland. Not because of island fever but because Haoles aren't treated very well.

The locals love ya when you're a tourist but when you move there, it's a different story. From what I understand, it's even worse if you have kids in school.

I've heard similar stories from a couple of folks who moved to Maui. Big Island or Oahu might be different, but it's worth considering and investigating.

#22 hm insulators

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:52 PM

Can't speak for The Big Island, but I've spent a bit of time on Maui and have known a couple of people who lived in Maui. One was in his 60's and has been in the telescope building business for many years. He was living in Kahului and was working at one of the observatories on Haleakala. He spent several years there and was quite glad to get back to the Mainland. Not because of island fever but because Haoles aren't treated very well.

The locals love ya when you're a tourist but when you move there, it's a different story. From what I understand, it's even worse if you have kids in school.

I've heard similar stories from a couple of folks who moved to Maui. Big Island or Oahu might be different, but it's worth considering and investigating.


It can be a bit of an issue being a haole (white person) moving to Hawaii from the Mainland. I lived on Kauai in the first half of the 1980s and every now and then, I'd run across a local who wasn't that crazy about us Mainlanders.

(By the way, one of the worst things you can say in Hawaii is "Back in the States..." Hawaii is a state!)

Living in Hawaii can get very expensive. Don't forget everything has to be shipped over from overseas, everything from toys to trucks to telephone poles, and it will reflect in the budget. I can't speak for the Big Island, but I think Kauai still has the most expensive electricity rates in the entire country, or at least it did when my folks and I lived there.

I ended up moving back to California because of "island fever"--Kauai is a much smaller island than the Big Island and it drove me bats after seven years! (Although I always loved the weather, as a warm-climate boy who wants to hibernate when it's below 70 degrees. A typical weather forecast you'll hear on TV newscasts in Honolulu: "Mostly sunny with a few windward and mauka [toward the mountains] showers, highs in the low 80s, lows in the upper 60s. Trade winds five to fifteen miles per hour." That's it! No five minute spiel on what's happening with the weather in other parts of the country, with maps showing the highs and lows, cold fronts and warm fronts.)

#23 Skylook123

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:15 PM

Lots of good advice here. We made our first visit back in 1992 to the Big Island, Oahu, and Maui. We were there for nine days, six of them were constant rain, the other three made the trip worthwhile.

Later, we moved out to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands for a few years, and were always passing through or vacationing in Hawaii. We decided for a while to look into retiring there, even checked out land prices on the Big Island which were surprisingly not too pricey on the southeast. We read a couple of books of advice on considering the retirement concept. The two observations that stuck with us are that you are a long way from anywhere you are accustomed to, including family members. And, as you reach and pass retirement age, medical care access can be a concern. If you get hurt or sick, major care can be a long way away, especially if you are not on Oahu.

Good Luck!

#24 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:24 PM

Thanks for the thoughts and info! All of it is appreciated!

#25 ChristinaLeGrand

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

Thank you for your thoughts and the info! Yes, land prices on the Big Island are reasonable. We will be there in July to check everything out in person. Lucky or unlucky - we do not have much in the way of family; the family members I do have will be happy to come and visit! Thanks again for the info!






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