No One Else Should Be Allowed To Live on the Big Island


Active Lava Zones Make Housing Development Difficult

I wrote a post about current real estate conditions on the Big Island of Hawaii, and specifically West Hawaii this week and I posted it on my 365 Things to Do in Kona page. Lots of fans enjoyed the helpful information. Except for one person. And maybe that one person may speak for quite a few.

That person basically said, “Stop encouraging people to move here. We don’t want to end up like Oahu!” I have heard this sentiment repeated after each time I do any publicity online for my book, about how to move to Kona. And now with my real estate update posts. Today hit a chord.

Living in Silicon Valley for quite a few years, I was involved in something called the Greenline Initiative. It basically stopped housing from being built on the hills to preserve the skyline for future generations. I am NOT pro-development. A Realtor friend of mine, who knew how anti-development I was, said, “Oh, I see. You move here and shut the door to everyone behind you. Is that fair?”  I saw his point.

The interesting thing about West Hawaii in particular, is that they are not building that many new homes. They just aren’t. The recession took its toll on developers and construction costs have ballooned. This has led to a very tight housing supply, both to own and to rent. Prices are increasing because the supply and demand are off. This is happening all over the country right now, but on an island, our island, you feel it even more. I checked the rental availability this week on CraigsList. Dismal.

However, people continue to leave the island, and new people fill up those spaces. We don’t have new high rises going up. We don’t have acres and acres of land being turned into high density housing. Which brings me to my point.

Should We Allow Others To Live on The Big Island?

We are not going to be like Oahu, or even Maui. There is a plan for this island and that plan says 70% will remain undeveloped. I wrote a post about it. Of course, having large parts of the island covered in fresh lava, kept for open ranch land, some on national park land and large parcels forever to be used as farming, there is not much left for housing. So, telling people that you have your spot on the sand, with your beach umbrella and your dreams fulfilled, but no one else gets to dip their toes in the water nearby, is not fair.

I recently had a woman reach out to me and say that the call to the Big Island has become a constant hum in her life. She can’t figure out how to make moving to the island work and yet the call persists. She doesn’t have an idea of how she will make it work, but she wants to bring her healing techniques to the island. These are the kinds of people that want to live here. Sure, there may be second home owners, who can only sample life here, but they make it possible for others to come and enjoy the island, boost the economy and lend their energy to the island, too.

Note: the Auntie who posted on Facebook clarified that what she meant was that new people always want to change things, for instance, widen the roads so they can go faster. I get it!  However, many people just don’t want more people on the island. When we say, “YOU DON’T GET TO HAVE SOME OF WHAT I HAVE” it just creates a negative energy circle. An older gentleman in his 80s shared with me a story about how the Hawaiians welcomed everyone who came to Hawaii onto their beaches. They said the land was not theirs. It did not belong to anyone. It belonged to Pele and was for the enjoyment of this generation and all the generations forward who respected the Aina. Private property rights brought about in the Great Mehele changed much of that, but the spirit of sharing the land to those who respect it still remain.

As many of you are aware, there is a large amount of turnover on this island. People come, and for a myriad of reasons, can’t stay. They had their adventure and they leave space for someone else to taste what we have here. It’s part of life on the island. Let’s remember our Aloha and yes, be vigilant that the quality of life is not diminished here, but to still be open to allowing new people to experience life here.

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

  • Patricia Thurston says:

    Good piece and to the point. Loving Hawaii like I do, I would love to live there. We would have built a house and moved there but couldn’t find what we wanted, prices were going up and so many roadblocks and the final straw was being told alot of quality contractors were almost 2 years out. So we will be renters when there and also live on the mainland. It’s ok because it’s so special and I can savor the time I’am there.

    • I’ll tell ya..if everyone was able to move to the Big Island who wanted to, we WOULD have a population issue! There seems to be a naturally occurring valve! It’s like the island has a self regulating “E-Ticket” ride line. 😉 Thanks for your note. I am glad you savor the time you are on island!

  • Bu Kang says:

    Hi, I’m glad I found this site for read more about Big Island specially KONA.
    My name is Bu Kang. I’m a your Facebook follower and I most read your writings and memo. I was there couple of time because of my daughter live in there at someplace.
    I’d not know where she live at now. But I’ll visit to there meet her soon. If time is come can I contact to you with my daughter?

  • Jim McMillan says:

    My wife and I are recent arrivals. We looked at relocating here from Los Angeles in 1997, but decided it was too small, too expensive, and too “fiddly” to live here then. We instead ended up in Australia. We reevaluated our living situation last year and after a visit decided Kona had “grown up”. We now live in the Waikoloa beach area, and are mostly happy with our decision.

    In our view the big change in “livability” here are Costco & Amazon. Costco has brought pricing sensibility to all the merchants on the island. And Amazon has brought easy access to the mainland lifestyle. Despite that, resident turnover is still very high.

    The reason for the high turnover is simple – no jobs. Other than tourism, the jobs are low-skill service jobs. Technology-related jobs are in my view the most compatible with the infrastructure and culture here, and would provide a reason for young people to stay instead of pursuing their careers off-island. If government leadership doesn’t figure out a way to encourage technology jobs into the island, there is little driving the economy forward. A woman with “special healing techniques” is exactly what ISN’T needed here, sponging off the public purse and putting little back.

    • Julie says:

      Aloha Jim: Thanks for your feedback. I created TechConKona in 2012 to get people talking about bringing more tech jobs to the island. My friend and local innovative leader, Guy Toyama, was CEO of NELHA and we were going to find solutions to bringing good paying jobs in the tech sector to Kona-the Silicon Valley of the Pacific. Then he passed away and with him went the energy and connections. I know about jobs. Still working on this issue!

  • Leeanne W. says:

    “Build it and they will come” I’ve heard – so I say, build it slowly, teach people to understand the history of the Aina and to respect the vibe of the culture and the regions in which they wish to set down roots. I am originally from Chicago, moved to Arizona (and was met with the same philosophy of “don’t encourage them to come) 23 years later – I am embraced and have made a wonderful home here. However, I just spent 10 of the most beautiful, magical days of my life on your island of Hawaii. I truly believe that the people that want to honestly commit to relocating their lives to the Big Island will immerse themselves in the Island way of life. My husband and I found peace on the Island that we thought we had lost forever. I hope to return soon to experience more Aloha Spirit and maybe someday spend the rest of my days in the sun and water – I hope I will be welcomed. I can absolutely understand the fear that the locals or long time residents of Hawaii must feel but if they practice kindness and patience and Aloha and show the transplants the true Island way of life then I’ll bet they will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Mahalo to the people of the Big Island and to the spirit that rattled my insides from the minute our plane touched down in Kona. I am in love with everything!!

    • Sounds like you got your “soul cup” refilled. Good! Thanks for the note..keeps everyone focused on keeping an eye on keeping the best of Kona alive and well for everyone.

    • Jeremy says:

      Bravo!!! You nailed that feeling description and your words of wisdom are much appreciated. I concur. I want to add value in many ways everywhere I go., it’s just who I am. It’s the equivalent of Aloha imo. Once you know, you know.

  • Well said. There’s always plenty of space down south, if you don’t mind a bit of a beautiful drive. 🙂