Are You Moving To Hawaii? Embrace What Is Here And Leave Your Old Life Behind


As you may know, many folks are deciding to move to Hawaii Island to “escape” the mainland. Some are just coming for a short time to work from home until “things get better” and some have decided to go all in and move here full time. I created the 365 Kona Newbies group to help create community for people moving to the island. It has turned into a valuable place for people to connect, but also for me and older residents to help encourage and educate new residents about life here . This post is for the folks who are considering a move, recently moved and those who read my posts because you may want to pick up some new insights.

Leave the Mainland on the Mainland

I just read a post on the Newbies group from someone moving here from Seattle. He said he wanted to ship the things that made him feel comfortable in his old life to the island. Let me tell you, friends, you will find that if you truly want to fit in here, and I mean dig  your feet deep into the lava fit in and feel good here, you can’t take the best of your old life and create a new one here while hanging onto your life in the big city. You can’t take the white bear skin rug, black upholstery couches or dark grey accent tables and try to fit the cold minimalism of city living into a warm tropical environment. Why would you?

How you surround yourself in your home is a lot like how you will surround yourself living here. Will you spend time seeking out the familiar by finding people from your “native” city so you feel comfortable and they “get you”?  Will you find yourself avoiding meeting locals and learning how they live life here?

If enough people who move here think that way and act that way, it will do the one thing that most people who love Hawaii are afraid of- it will change the culture. And I don’t mean the Hawaiian culture, but the cultural lifestyle of the island, the one that was created by the values of the Hawaiians.

Words of Advice That Will Help “Save Hawaii”

Things ARE different here. Celebrate that. Dig in. Let go and leave as much of your “stuff” behind as possible. You will step into the door of a new life here much easier if you do that than simply moving your old life here and then start looking here for your old life.

If I can offer 15 years of advice after living here..don’t look for the things that you had in your old life in Hawaii. (I’m pointing at you folks who want a Whole Foods to go into the shopping centers here!)

There is a saying I hear over and over from “old timers” towards newcomers who say things like, “Well, where I came from we had this or that, we should do that here or we did things better/differently/etc where I came from.  “If you loved your life so much on the mainland, and want to change what is here in Hawaii to reflect what you left behind, stay home.”

This is being said louder and with more force now than ever by the local residents as the island is seeing such an influx of new residents who want to get away from COVID, can now work at home, and find housing here affordable vs the big cities on the mainland. Our island is pretty rural. That kept people away for a long time, but now it has become the draw. Rural is not “modern minimalism” and Hawaii is not grey, white, black and silver, either.

As I was formulating this post, it went from being about stuff, to design, to attitude. It’s all about the same thing. BEING HERE IS DIFFERENT AND AMAZING! EMBRACE what is here, CELEBRATE the culture, LISTEN and WATCH to learn about the people and community and LET GO of the stuff you may bring here to change Hawaii. Let Hawaii change you. That is how you will be in concert with the island. And when there are more people honoring the island and loving what is here and remembering why they loved it before they moved here instead of trying to keep the attitudes and culture of where they came from, then we can keep what we all love here vibrant, alive and intentionally cultivated. It is going to take an effort on both sides of new residents who are willing to listen and learn and older residents willing to teach to keep what we love here alive.

I invite you to understand and live the core values of Hawaiian culture:

Core Values
Kuleana: Being responsible for, ourselves, each other, and the land
Pono: Practicing and working with integrity in every endeavor
Ohana: Family, caring, nurturing and inspiring one another
Malama ‘Aina: Serve as good stewards of the land with the goal of sustainability
Laulima: Working collaboratively with each other
Aloha: Respecting each and every one of us as equals
Kokua: Being thankful for one another, our providers, and community
Ka Lā Hiki Ola: Instilling hope and promise among those around us

Opportunity for Learning and Listening

If you would like to learn more about the culture of Hawaii from a well known “Kahu” (keeper, historian) get to know Danny Akaka who holds monthly Talk Story events called, “Twilight at Kalahuipua’a with his wife Anna up at the Mauna Lani Resort area in South Kohala. For 26 years they held free “Talk Story” events near the full moon on the grounds of the Mauna Lani. You can now check out their virtual talk story events during COVID.

Here is one they did in January 2021:

and November: 

My small part:

If you are considering purchasing a home in West Hawaii, I created a new service called “365 Ohana” where I offer free resources including my book, “How to Move to Kona” to help you understand what is needed to acclimate successfully to the island life, access to my network of expert real estate and mortgage professionals, as well as inclusion in private Facebook groups to help build community, network, answer questions, be part of live market updates and attend private events, including talk story with Hawaiian elders. I don’t encourage people to move here, but for the right people who are called to live here in harmony with the land and people, I offer my services!

Go to to learn more or email me at [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 and 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

  • Linda White says:

    My husband and I had been visiting the islands since 1980. It has always been a place of peace and love and very special in my heart. We have traveled and lived many places but the call of the islands has always been strong. We now live on Whidbey Island and just purchased a home in Kona. We have dreamed of being in this place for many years. We are now in the twilight of our lives and felt the draw to the island be very strong. I have dreamed of learning the culture and language of its people. If you can guide and teach me this it would be a dream come true. I am taking very little of our current live with us. It has been good for us to purge and lessen our load now. I look forward to being in one with this beautiful place. You have made me feel welcome. I am inspired by your words…

  • Jess says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for your malama aina!