Moving To the Big Island – 5 Things NOT To Do


DaylightMindI have been reading and responding to comments in a Facebook group about moving to the islands. These folks are diligently researching how to move to Hawaii.  (And many have read my book, “How to Move to Kona” !) Using the group page, they are encouraging each other along the path of the dream to live in Hawaii. I like to lend my two cents in the group, but  I don’t want to be TOO encouraging, because moving here IS a complete life experience change and it’s HARD. However, I don’t want to tell them HOW hard it is because each person has a different story, a reason, a calling, and a mission.

Here are my personal 5 things not to do when thinking about a move to Hawaii:

1. Too Much Research– You can research yourself right out of making the leap of faith to move here. Personally, I had a gut feeling we would be ok and we made the leap. Yes, researching is important, but someone asked the question, “Do you know of anyone who has regretted moving to the islands”. YES! Plenty of people can not make a go of it and they have to move back. But everyone had a different story about what made them leave. To tell you the truth, we made it a year. Then we rented out our condo and went back to the Bay Area to regroup and figure out a way to financially handle it. As the universe often works, my husband was offered a full time job as a resident manager two weeks before we decided to move back to our condo. I have seen “things line up” for the people who make the move successfully. If you are supposed to be here, things work out.

2. Going it Alone– Find encouragement by joining on line groups, forums and such.  Band together for a dream. You can also share research, ideas, and connections. One of the guys on the Facebook page posted a photo of he and his wife getting off the plane in Kona, and saying he DID IT! (Then he proceeded to spell Mauna Kea wrong, but hey, we all learn along the way here.)

3.  Waiting TOO Long To Make the Leap-Jeez Louise, the average life span of an adult male is around 75. (Just by living in Hawaii, you get a few more years of life!) If you retire at 65, you only get 10 years to finally enjoy your life..and that is if you have managed to stay healthy and put some money away. I see people who have always dreamed of moving to Hawaii wait until they are 70 or so. Although I came here when I was in my 40’s, I also came with my two kids to get away from the crazy Silicon Valley life that is sucking the life out of my friends right now. I can’t imagine having waited until I was too frail to hike, too worried about my hips to climb in and out of a 4WD vehicle, or worried about a fall while getting in and out of the ocean on the rocks. Just sayin’.


4. Try To Compare The Cost of Living To Where You Live-I have seen MANY people try and compare the cost of living in Hawaii to where they live. Stop. It’s not the same. Sorry. It is VERY expensive to live in Hawaii, especially if you think you are going to try and have the same lifestyle you created for yourself elsewhere. People compare rent. Well,.are you comparing the cost of electricity? We have the highest cost of energy in the nation. Have you seen our taxes..on everything you consume? Did you know I pay almost $7 for a loaf of bread at our local grocery store? Meat prices have me pacing back and forth between chicken thighs and hamburger. Although I must say that we do have relatively low property taxes compared to the rest of the nation; comes in handy when filling out your efile at tax time.   Sure, you can get some deals by shopping at Target, but for the most part, it all adds up. Plan on living a more simple life, make friends with farmers and think about a Paleo diet. (All processed food has to be shipped in..and guess who pays for the cost of shipping?)

5. Not Having Enough Faith In Yourself– To move to Hawaii you need two things: Desire and Grit. Things are not going to be easy. There is culture shock, homesickness, trying to make new friends, your kids beating you up for making them move to a new school. You have to believe you did the right thing because it was a dream you wanted to pursue and fulfill and you have to tough it out some days. If you felt called to make the move, and you know in your heart you wanted to do it, well, then you make it work. You take a job maybe doing something you don’t love, but it pays the bills. You live in a smaller place. You eat more avocados and less steak. Remember you came for the lifestyle and it takes about a year to adjust. Just have faith. And if for some reason, it does not work out, then you had an adventure you will never forget. But you had it. And that is a lot more than most people get.

A quick analogy-my daughter and her 7th grade class had to hike Pu’u Wa’awa’a (the “Jello Mold” off of Mamalahoa Highway on the way to Waimea from Kona). It is an 1800 foot elevation gain from the road to the top and it’s a 7.5 mile hike. (It’s HARD!)  Most of the class has never hiked that far in their lives. Many did the research about the hike and almost did not want to even begin because they knew how hard it was going to be. Some of the kids had no idea what was in front of them, other than a challenge. Some of the kids decided that they would do the best they could and see how far they got. The teacher never gave an opinion about the difficulty of the trail, because to some of those kids, they did just fine and the ones that were not in shape discovered their own limitations along the way. My daughter was one of the kids who tucked in with the front group and challenged each other to the top and they sat on that bench up there, with the view in front of them, high fiving themselves for their achievement. Who says that can’t be you?

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

  • Jeff Edwards says:

    Julie: My wife and I are working to come to the Big Island, and our story started 10 years ago. We live in the Kansas City area currently. We wanted a place where we could see the sun set into the ocean, and that meant somewhere on the Pacific coast, Florida or Hawaii. We wanted warm weather but not too hot, and not in California (too crazy, too many people). While checking stuff out on her PC during lunch my wife found that property in West Hawaii was a good value and we decided to come and look (without ever having been here before – it could have been disastrous but it turned out really great). It was one of those things where you get off the plane in Kona, look around, take a deep breath and know you’re home.

    We ended up buying a lot in Kohala Ranch, and have met the best people and love the area. We can’t wait to start building, and are excited every time we come over for vacation. I know it is hard to get here and stay here – if you’ve ever tried to come, you know how tough it is – expensive, isolated and there are real trade offs to be made, but we think it will be totally worth it. We have a lot to give and share, and look forward to making the move soon. Thank you for all your hard work making us aware of the challenges and the joys to be found in our soon-to-be new home.


    Jeff Edwards

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Aloha Jeff! Thanks for writing that comment to show that people who feel called here and believe this island is “home” find a way to make it happen. Wishing you good luck on your build and hope to meet you at a Kona Newbie beach bbq when you are a full time resident!

  • Lori Hempel says:

    We are making the move to the big island, my husband is retiring (62), we will be bringing 2 of our grandchildren 15 & 16, my question, will we find people on the island that will hate us, I have been reading things about discrimination to Haole

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Lori-You will only find people on the island who will hate you if you are the mirror of that hate. Are teenagers mean to each other at the high schools? Yes, but if they come in with respect and Aloha, they will go far..same thing for ANYONE who moves here. Its about being the best version of yourself with love and patience.

  • Joan Kasso says:

    My husband and I are thinking about moving to Kona. We visit there every year and know the area. Question is: is 80 years old too old to make the move??

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Aloha Joan:
      The only reason 80 would be too old is if you have a variety of health complications. You are probably aware of some of our medical limitations and serious stuff ends up on Oahu..and right now with’s a pain. However, life is short. If waking up every day to the sound of doves and falling asleep to the sound of crashing surf in a warm environment every day makes you happy..go for it. There are people who compete in the Ironman at 80 here! Our assisted living housing is scarce, but if a condo is something you can do, you will have the security, landscaping, pest, insurance, maintenance, etc all handled for you so you can enjoy your time here.


    Thank you Julie! I have been following your site for several years…And we just opened escrow on our Big Island Home!!! This site has been preparing me for the last 5+ years and I am so grateful!

    • Julie Ziemelis says:

      Congrats and that is amazing you were able to buy a home with the info you gleaned from this site! We are now selling real estate full time as Realtors, so please let others know about our services!