Do the Highs Outweigh the Lows of Living on Hawaii Island?


I was swimming at Kua Bay this morning, before most people arrived, and as I was looking down into the PERFECTLY clear blue water with the white sand 20 feet down, I was thinking how fortunate I was to live here and how being able to do this all the time if I wanted, is just one of the best perks of living here. And then I thought of all the people who would say that two hours of fun on the beach is not worth the sacrifice of moving to the island to get it all the time.

Moving to Hawaii Island IS a sacrifice. You leave your friends and family to come here. You leave much of your personal belongings. The holidays are often not spent with your close family and friends. People have to work hard to find community here. The highs of seeing such beauty, which can bring tears to your eyes, is sometimes often the YING to the how expensive it is to live here YANG. I was drinking many more mai tai’s and glasses of chardonnay at ocean front restaurants a few years ago before the establishments all raised their prices as the economy got better and they could. Our friends do more potlucks than they do meeting at Huggos’s, that is for sure. 

You do what you do to live here, like live small, as I have been doing for 12 years so I can enjoy life in West Hawaii. One of my friends noted in a Moving to Hawaii Facebook group that bread is $7 a loaf. It is. I eat less bread now! (and more local fruits and vegetables).  Here is a quote from a recent local resident, Mike: “Who cares about bread, milk and steak prices when you have the freshest food in your yard?  It’s the way you live and it is not for everyone. I thank God for being able to enjoy such Paradise!” 

When I dove down a few feet to see if I could hear the whales yet, or floating face up with light waves carrying my body, I was thinking that if it were easy, everyone would be doing it and I would have to get to the beach at 6 am instead of 8 am to be alone!

I sit in gratitude for a place that is surrounded by the energy of Aloha, the Hawaiian culture that reminds us to care for the land, the ocean and each other, and the incredible feeling of having a connection to the spirit (mana) of this island. It is an annual Christmas gift, to be sure.

Merry Christmas to you all, especially the crazy adventurers who moved here or want to move here. The ones who feel called to be here or dream of floating in a blue ocean in December happy as clams and know that they won’t be heading back to the airport in a few days.

Share your thoughts in the comments!


(For your 2019 goals, get a copy of my “How to Move to Kona” book! You can also join the 365 Kona’s I’m Moving to the Big Island and Buying A Home” group, too!)

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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

  • Kawika says:

    What a beautiful post! I too felt called here and has been somewhat of a struggle because of the eruption(was living near leilani), but now moving to west Hawaii I have found good community and I feel blessed to be able to experience the same things you mentioned. Happy holidays neighbor! Aloha!

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Glad you are on our side of the island now and enjoying the spectacular air quality we are all blessed with!!

  • Mike Rowland says:

    Julie, I really like this sight and you have done a great job with it. Very informative. I lived in Kona for quite a few years. Fell in love with the quaint town and the Aloha Spirit, which still exists. Because of my job I went back to mainland for a few years. Missed Kona more than you can imagine. Retired and now my wife and I are moving back. I still have friends in Kona and they’re concerned because the Big Island is promoted too much causing growth from the mainland and other Islands. Many, many locals have been and are being forced out because of the high cost of living, poor wages and in many cases, having to work 2 jobs. When I moved there 30 years ago I lived in a condo that was $700 a month, today the same area they’re over $2,000. I bought a nice 2b/2b condo for $104,000 back then. Today they’re over $350 to 400,000. You can’t stop growth, but it’s very sad to see locals forced off their Island, out of their homes, because of outsiders coming in and creating huge cost of living increases so we can enjoy paradise. It’s like you and your friends foregoing Huggo’s and doing Potluck, which we prefer, but wish there was something that could be done to help those that have lived there all their lives and forced off their island they love so much. I’m not being negative, because it is truly paradise and we ALL love living in Kona. Any ideas?

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Aloha Mike:
      You can blame a few things..population growth as more people are vying for all the “good stuff” including space on the islands, Baby Boomers entering retirement, and since few new homes are being built, there are just not that many to choose from, driving up price. I work with Habitat for Humanity, but they can’t build fast enough and land costs are high. I also work with the West Hawaii Assoc of Realtors and they are working on expanding opportunties for affordable housing, but it is NOT in Kona proper, as land is too expensive. It is a conundrum, to be sure.