6 Personality Characteristics Needed to Live in Hawaii


Do you know how many friends I have here in Kona that secretly divulge to me that they are introverts and really don’t like being in large groups of people? Or people who come here who leave within two years because they are lonely or can’t seem to fit in?

(You can also see me read this in a YouTube video!) 

I am not a psychologist and I am writing this partly tongue-in-cheek, but here is some of my experience:

1.Personality Characteristic – Lone wolf or introvert

 If you are surrounded by your best friends and are having drinks out on the drive way every Friday night and waving to your neighbors as they drive by while you send up a “Cheers! Come join us!” or if you have your family over every Saturday night for BBQ to catch up, you most likely have no desire to move 2500 miles out into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. People who move here tend to be folks who see the opportunity for adventure in front of them, not hanging on to their childhood friends and memories behind them. Moving to Hawaii means you have to start over in finding new friends. Or not. I have quite a few friends whose spouse is their best friend and they are plenty happy just hiking, swimming, dining with that one person. And that’s ok by them! There ARE people who create community here by being social, but if you ask them, they probably have an introverted spouse at home.


2.Personality Characteristic – Avoidance of Collecting Stuff

If you lovingly touch all your tchotchke’s and dust all of the figurines you’ve collected for decades and revel in reclining in your LaZBoy  while soaking in the satisfaction of your book collection on floor to ceiling shelves in front of you and the photos in frames all over the walls, you may have a problem with getting rid of your stuff. You need to let go to move to Hawaii. After running my Kona Newbies group for almost 9 years, the number one bitter sweet and sometimes heartbreaking moments come when the garage sales have to happen to lighten the load to move here. My mom surrounded herself with a treasured collection of penguins, DeGrazia figurines, Moran sculptures, cook books, and antiques. When I suggested she join us in Kona so she could watch her grandchildren grow up, I could see the struggle in her eyes of having to get rid of all the things she had in her home that made her happy. Sometimes the pleasure of being surrounded by your stuff outweighs the pleasure of sitting on a beach with the sun in your face and the sound of palm trees rustling in the breeze or even your grandkids!

3. Personality Characteristic – Strong Sense of Self

Reinventing Yourself in RetirementIf you can’t wait to show up at the next party in your fancy car or your luxury brand clothing or can’t seem to help yourself asking what people do for a living and how much money do they make, well, you won’t like living here (especially on Hawaii Island!) No one cares. And no one is going to compete with you either. One-upmanship may be a form of sport on the mainland, but it’s the fastest route to being shunned on the island. People who have to impress others with what they can buy for themselves may live in second homes here, but living here full time? No one wants to play that game. You may have to take your Harry Winston marbles and go home. People who give generously of their heart, their time and their wisdom are esteemed here..you may call that sharing Aloha. You CAN do things differently!

4. Personality Characteristic -Cultural Awareness 

Hawaiian catches octopusIt’s not a hidden secret that the Hawaiian culture is strong here. Hawaiians value respect of their culture, their land and way of life. You have to take your mainland ego and check it at the door to learn the history, the language, the values of this culture in order to feel you belong here. We all come as haole’s, we just do. But watching, asking, learning, participating, and caring goes a VERY long way towards happiness here. I hear stories of folks saying that they encountered “angry locals”. I always ask, “What were you doing?” If you were trying to pick up a sea turtle for a selfie, or walking past a sign that said, “Kapu” to explore further, jumping into a sacred pond or snapping your fingers (or the equivalent) to get someone to move quicker, well, you’re receiving the same energy back that you are putting out there. Say it with me..R E S P E C T.

5. Personality Characteristic- Open to New Things 

When you live in a place for a long time, you get comfortable with how things are. You get so comfortable that you would believe that any new place you go, you would want the same things in the new place as you had in the old place. You may even think that if you went to the new place you would try and change the new place to the place you came from. If you live in Hawaii, you HAVE TO LET IT GO, and accept, appreciate and embrace the new things! So, if you are a creature of habit, you find that you can’t be happy unless everything is to your liking, and being in a completely new environment is stressful, maybe an island with a WHOLE other culture and way of life is not for you.

6. Personality Characteristic – Adventurous 

Have you read the quote, “Throw off the Bowlines”? Let me refresh you if not:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

If THIS is your motto, you should move to Hawaii. If this scares the hell out of you and you don’t feel comfortable throwing bowlines, leaving safe harbors, dealing with tradewinds, hurricanes, lava flows, pandemics, dengue fever, earthquakes, tsunamis, or cultural upheavals, well, maybe you should unpack your suitcases and stay put. Because living in Hawaii is an adventure. It is full of uncertainties, and soul searching, and wondering if this was the best decision you ever made in your life, and missing your friends and family, and..well, so much more. You need to have an extra well of resiliency to live here.

Trial By Fire

So, if you have ever watched a season of “Alone” on the History Channel, and munched your popcorn watching other people suffer and thought to yourself, “I could NEVER do that!”, I want you to know that at some point a giant cockroach WILL come into your life here. You will most likely deal with creepy crawly jungly type things that make you post it on Facebook and everyone will say, “Ewwwww!” But you will also see things that are so beautiful, that when you post them to Facebook or share them via text to your family they will think you are on the adventure of a lifetime.

Adventures come with sacrifice and change and uncomfortable days.

Ask anyone who has moved here and everyone has a story of how hard their first year here was. It’s part of the “trial by Pele fire”. If you have a warrior stance in your heart, it helps. If you come with Aloha and a genuine sense of curiosity and wanting to learn and accept what is here, it helps.

SO, there you have it. My wisdom of living here since 2005 spilled out for you. So, I invite you to do a gut check and see if you have the characteristics you need to have to sur-thrive here. If you choose to accept this mission, good luck!

And-if you want to have a better shot at success if you want to move here and buy a home, connect with me and my husband as we offer a real estate matchmaking service to make sure you start your road to your next leap of faith in the right way! [email protected]


Spread the word if you love what you heard! #365kona so we can say Thanks!

Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

Leave a Question or Comment About this Topic

  • Sara Sherman says:

    This is great. It does give one a lot to think about. I am a Sr. social worker which I love what I do but I am surrounded by people who need me daily. I can’t wait to have a day to myself. To explore learn and enjoy the world without having to make someone else feel better. Hawaii is the world I want and some trips here and there. So excited can’t wait to make it permanent. People do need to read this and have a heart to heart with themselves.

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Thank you Sara for what you bring to the world in caring for others. Time to do some self care in Hawaii nei!

  • Doreen Walsh says:

    very well written Julie, and truthful!
    I am moving back to Hawaii nei after 31 years of living on the mainland. I plan to take an early retirement from teaching school here. I will be on island approx. June 1, 2021. I hope to buy a small home.
    This article is spot on, thank you for all the effort you have put into helping others. you have given me a lot of valuable insight.
    Is 365 Kona a Facebook group, or a book you wrote? I recently purchased the Big Island Reveled book, it is great. I have a friend who lives in Papa aloa, and a relative in Kona. I used to live on Oahu, but lost contact with friends there.
    Aloha nui

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Aloha Doreen: Thank you for your kind words! I AM trying to get another book out the door. 365 Things to Do in Kona is a Facebook page-=check it out! I wrote the books on buying real estate here and moving to the island, too. When the time comes, please let us help connect you to a great agent that can work with you to find the perfect small home to enjoy our Big Island!

  • Glen Torikawa says:

    Hi Julie,
    I would like to Thank you so much on the great thought about putting this Topic out there , I believe you hit the nail with the hammer alright. Some of the people need to really read your
    subject Personality checks , Cultural Awareness, Aloha Spirit !
    I have enjoyed many Youtube videos with Eric and you, You have the best spirit of Aloha and Kindness , I am sure wanting to meet up with you and Eric !

    Aloha and have a Great Day.

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Thank you Glen! A spiritual friend of mine said, “Dream the right people into Hawaii”..if people who move here know what is expected of them and they have the ability to achieve those expectations of kindness, aloha, generosity, love, curiosity..well, it will continue to be a place that everyone enjoys. Thanks for your kind words and maybe we can meet up at one of our events!

  • Gerry says:

    That was a good read.I believe you hit the nail on the head.Ty.

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Thank you Gerry! The folks in my Kona Newbies group, who actually moved here within the last two years, thought the same! lol

  • Sandy (Tutu) says:

    Lived happily and easily on Maui for several years with my precious introverted hubby. Your observations are right on target. I would add that as old, OLD age creeps up, many we knew, (including us eventually) return to the mainland to be near family for help and better medical care.

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      I can see that Sandy. We don’t have long term care facilities in a way that is going to take care of all the Baby Boomer retirees coming over, so they can’t stay here forever, especially for health care issues around aging.(although there are so many older people here in great shape!)

  • Ron Blair says:

    I love that article! A lot of good information and valid points. I’ve vacationed on the Big Island 8 different times. In 2019 I came by myself and loved it! I set my mind to making the move and arrived in Kona on July 7th, 2020. Have already made some new friends after my 2 week quarantine. Looking forward to making more and exploring!

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Thanks Ron! Congrats on making the move!! Sending you all kinds of good luck and Aloha to keep making friends and making Kona your community!

  • s says:

    100% us. hope we can be part of the community in these crazy times

  • Lyle and Linda Haley says:

    Interested in what you offer for someone beginning to look at relocating to Hawaii. Seems to me you mentioned on your YouTube channel that you offered some type of program.
    Please let us know how to start.

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      ALoha Lyle and Linda: Go to http://www.MoveToHawaii365.com and click on “Join Ohana”. You can also schedule a complimentary 30 min Zoom call with us, too! (The Ohana gives you my books for free, a year long “get ready for Hawaii” email feed, and access to two private FB groups to help you create community AND get access to live events for homebuyers.