We moved to the island of Hawaii from California in 2007. We spent many years before our move visiting all the islands in Hawaii and spent as much time as possible in vacation rentals to get an idea of what it would be like to live in each area. After matching our priorities with what each island in Hawaii had to offer, we picked Hawaii Island. We were particularly charmed by the Hilo area on the east side of the island and here is why:
Although Hawaii has a reputation for being very expensive, our goal was to find a place in Hawaii where we could downsize our California expenses and improve the quality of our life. One of the key expenses we focused on was rent, because it was the largest part of our monthly living cost in California. We found rents in Hilo to be a third of the cost of rents in Northern California and that is for a fantastic house versus a marginal apartment. Hilo rents are significantly cheaper than other areas we checked out on Oahu and Maui and even other parts of the Big Island. As long as we eat local produce and fish and sparingly use products shipped in from the mainland, our monthly food and household expenses are significantly cheaper than elsewhere in Hawaii and California. Electricity is very expensive on the Big Island, but we have found ways to conserve on electricity by using energy efficient lighting and not using AC.
Local, fresh, healthy Food
The cost of food and in many cases access to fresh foods was becoming challenging in California. The Big Island is the best place in the world for fresh fish, grass fed beef, and tropical fruits and veggies. Fishing boats daily unload their catch of the finest Pacific ocean fish in Hilo harbor to air freight around the world. The Hamakua coast north of Hilo grows vegetables that are available in the local supermarkets and at Farmer's markets around the area. The Puna area grows all sorts of tropical fruits which are also widely available. Access to affordable food that is fresh and healthy is a great reason to live in Hilo, Hawaii. More on healthy food in Hilo.
Sunlight and Clean Air
As we have gotten older, the dark winters in Northern California began to impact our mood. The climate in Hilo area was cool enough for us to not need air conditioning in the summer. Hilo rains a lot, often several times a day, but the sun usually comes out between rain showers and sometimes even shines through the rain. The amount and intensity of sunlight keeps our Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) from being a problem. Hilo's rain keeps the days cool and the air clean and refreshing.
Hilo has a lot of shopping options including grocery stores, book stores, health food stores, boutiques, gift shops, big malls and small malls, local stores and box stores. We have lived far out of town in the past and came to appreciate being close to the type of grocery stores, shopping, and services that Hilo offers. More on shopping in Hilo.
We like to travel and having an airport nearby is comforting. Hilo's International Airport (ITO) connects Hilo to the rest of the State and the mainland and is very easy to navigate and park. It is a great little airport.
Hilo has a lot of fun and interesting things to do, activities and organizations to get involved in, and educational opportunities. It is a great place to take walks, swim, and stay fit. More on activities in Hilo Hilo has high speed internet service keeping it in touch with the world. It is hard to imagine getting bored in Hilo.
We lived in Hilo for two awesome years and had an incredibly fun time. We are now living on the west side of Hawaii Island in Kona. We want to enjoy every part of this amazing island and hope to live on every side and in every climate zone the island has to offer.
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