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1 Year Today!

Top Row: Farewell to our house, Kirsten at 4 am
Second Row: Off the plane in Kona, celebratory mai tais

A mere 366 days ago, we said goodbye to our house and headed off on our Hawaii adventure.  It’s time to reflect a bit on how we feel, what’s gone well, and what hasn’t.

Overall Impressions

On the whole, I think the move has been in line with our high level expectations, although we didn’t have a vision for all the details (which is one of the reasons we love travel – the fun of experiences that weren’t anticipated)

Both Kirsten and I are extremely glad that we made the change and did the move.  It took several months to get any sort of consistency, but I’d say that things feel 90% routine/normal at this point.  That’s not a bad ratio – it was about 2% new in Virginia and that’s one of the things that bored us.

What’s gone great

  1. The weather/outdoor living is as advertised.  We haven’t used A/C or heat since moving here and our windows are constantly open.  That provides a wonderful connection to fresh air and overall outdoorsiness.  All the sports and entertainment options tend to be outdoors as well.
  2. We love the ocean as much as we thought we would.  That wasn’t exactly news, since we were certified divers before coming here, but there’s a feeling of both being alive yet relaxed that still comes whenever we get in the water.  Some of the tropical fish watching has gotten a little less interesting, but that’s ok.
  3. We’ve immersed ourselves in local activities.  “When in Rome. . .” is a phrase we like to live by  and we’ve done that so far.  Learn to sail – why not?!  Bike the same course as Ironman – sure! (well, part of the course).  Go to Japanese festivals – Hai!  There always seems to be something new to try.
  4. It is indeed casual / laid back here.  Not everything runs on island time, but dining and timing for social things tend to be leisurely.  The bigger difference is that almost everyone goes with the flow when things don’t happen as planned.  Everyone dresses casually as well – I wore an aloha shirt, shorts, and sandals to Ruth’s Chris steakhouse and was overdressed if anything.
  5. I love not having to maintain a house.  We haven’t had to think about what color to paint things, what furniture to buy, or how to fix anything.  I don’t have to plan on when I’m going to mow the grass.  While there’s a lot of great stuff about owning a house, it’s great not to have to take care of it.
  6. Local, fresh produce.  Many fruits and veggies still have seasons, but there’s always something growing here.
  7. Working remotely and from home has gone well.  I’d never done either before the move.  While it took a period of adjustment, I’ve come to appreciate the efficiencies of working from home.   With my job, I try to communicate frequently, and I also returned to the office for a week in January.  For consulting, I focus on work I excel at.  My clients can count on me to know my stuff and get what they need with a minimum of time spent going back and forth, which can be more difficult with the time difference.
  8. It’s awesome to know we did what we set out to do.  I’ve been more of a drifter in life, in that I just tend to go from one interesting opportunity to another.  It’s unusual to set out a large specific goal and go get it.  Feels great!

Where we’ve struggled

  1. Finding a permanent way to support ourselves.   Not a lot of great jobs for Kirsten here, and even fewer that interest her.  In the same vein, I’ve been able to get consulting clients, but they’ve all been off-island so far.
  2. Isolation.  We’ve had 4 sets of visitors in the last year, but the rest of the time has been spent on our own, away from longtime friends and family.  We’re starting to build new friendships here, but they’re not those longtime bonds that are so valuable.
  3. Vog.  The emissions from Kilauea wrap around the bottom of the island and up to Kona, resulting in a gray haze many days, which can trump the blue of the sky and ocean.  The long term effects of these emissions are also unknown.  Folks who already have asthma can have a hard time with the air.  After a few of these gray days in a row, I get Maui envy.   It’s only about 50 miles away, but the skies are much more clear and spectacular there.
  4. Feeling unsettled.  Now that the 1 year we set out to do is up, we’re starting to ponder our long term future further and aren’t exactly sure where we want to be in a couple years.
  5. No neighborhood feeling.  We had such a great house, yard, and neighbors in Virginia and have struggled to replicate that here.  The kids don’t have as much room to run and play, and we haven’t had kids in the adjacent houses here.  Our neighbors were our friends and our kids had so much freedom and fun.

Looking forward, we aren’t certain if we want to be here permanently, but we’re 100% sure that we’re not ready to go yet!  We’ll spend the next 6 months to a year getting a better feel around whether we want to buy a house and if we’re able to work out a situation that supports us economically.

We’re so glad we’ve done this and are grateful that our adventures will continue.  What’s next?  Who knows!